Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snowed In

More Snow in Michigan

What do you do when you've been snowed in... metaphorically as well as literally?

How do you get back to work?

Yesterday, I started my third draft of my novel. I wrote a new opening, a prologue of sorts, and revised the first couple of chapters.

Today I haven't opened the file.

Gosh darn it.

It doesn't matter how hard you work at something, how long you get your routine going, how fast you're steaming along, there almost always seems to come a time when life or timing or the creative process, or the weather or whatever it is gets in your way and things come to a screeching halt.

I guess I shouldn't complain about "not being able to do anything."

In fact, I know I shouldn't complain about it, because the more energy I put into how I can't write, or can't paint, or can't get my energy going... well, the more I can't do any of those things.

It's a far more productive technique to start thinking about how I COULD make some time out for writing. Or take notes on some ideas I want to put in my novel. Or paint a lame picture that is never meant to be a masterpiece, but more just for fun.

Or maybe I could start taking walks and getting some exercise, like people are always advising me to do.... naaaah. (Did you see that snowy picture? Real life! Current.)

Anyway, what are your tricks and treats for getting your mojo going again?

I am open to all suggestions... although I'm still doubtful about the exercising thing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Story of My Days: Yet Another Cold/Flu/Bug.

A Cartoon of Part of My Day, A Couple Weeks Ago, even though Lost was on last night, this was not my yesterday.

Nowadays, I do more laying around, and napping. I've gotten some kind of stomach bug and it kind of has me unmotivated. I don't usually take naps, so the whole nap thing is a sign that I'm sick.

Anyway, that's why I haven't been posting lately. So sorry. I'm just uninspired. Today I had a couple hours where I had enough energy to make some notes and lists and stuff... then the headache came back and I took a nap as soon as the girl went down for her afternoon.

Well, a couple of hours is better than before, so maybe this bug is on its way out and I'll start to get more energy back.

Look! I made it onto the computer to post, so that's another step in the right direction.

I hope to have more to share soon. Right now there is no inspiration or creation. But hopefully soon I will be painting or writing or making stuff again, instead of staring at the tv, reading books I've already read, and falling asleep.

I'm just going with it. I've decided that I'm going to let myself feel like crap, instead of forcing myself to be productive.

I have gotten some ideas about how to fix the slow going first chapter of my novel, though... so maybe the down time has some use, other than recovery.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flying Girl in the Desert, or Sometimes The Ocean Comes To Me

Flying Girl in the Desert, or Sometimes The Ocean Comes To Me
Acrylic Paint, Watercolor Pencils on Moleskine Paper, 5.5"x8"

This is my first painting in quite a while. I've been doing so much else, but two days ago, I felt the urge to paint.

It started while playing with my son. He was watching some cartoons on tv, and they were on an imaginary boat. One of the characters got seasick. Duck, I think, from Little Bear. Then my boy ran around saying he was seasick.

I said, "Silly boy, there is no ocean here."

He said, "Sometimes the ocean comes to me."

And then I had to paint.

Had to.

It was a compulsion. Like the eyes fog over and the world fades away a bit while I run about searching for just the right supplies. The spot to paint while still being able to supervise the kids. The right underpainting. The right interpretation. The right details. The right brushstrokes.

Until it was done, and I had to run off to the grocery store and left all my supplies and art out, so when I came home with bags to put away, I had no room in the kitchen for the groceries, and the first thing I saw was the painting, open on the kitchen table.

And I said, "hmm, sometimes the ocean does come to us, even when the land is dry."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dusty Critters

The other night (last night? the night before? I don't know, it's all blended together) I decided to try making a little tiny dog, like my almost five year old asked me too. I've never made a dog. So I thought, hmmmph... how shall I do this?

I sketched out the pattern above on my graph paper, and added a kitty, just in case the first plan didn't work out.

Well. After cutting and sewing, snipping off a little extra fabric here, taking some stitches there for the correct shape, adding ears and sculpting with thread and needle, here is my first attempt at mini stuffed animals!Yay!

I call him Dusty Puppy. Partly because he looks like a little dust bunny/puppy, and partly because he looks a little bit like a wire haired terrier... which reminded me of the puppy that we adopted from the streets of the Bronx when I was ten. Her name was Dusty.

Here's is Dusty Puppy's buddy, Dusty Kitty. They like to play together. I'm still working on making their faces look more kitty and puppy like, but I think they're pretty cute, wonkiness and all.

When the kids woke up, they started demanding all sorts of things. The puppy was hungry. He needed a bowl of water. No a bone. Now he needed a dog house. Now he needed a collar and leash. "Aren't you done with his doghouse yet?"


So by the next night, I added a new Dusty Puppy. This one has a better looking face, and glass bead eyes... although I did still have to take stitches to keep his legs from splaying out.

Here's Ivy who couldn't wait for me to finish my photo shoot and decided it was time to play. She has demanded another kitty, too. At least she's let me alone about the mermaid for a while.

So this has been my last couple of days. I call it my Mommy Sweatshop. They have really put me to work, and won't let me sell any of the puppies/kitties on etsy.

"NOOOOOO! My kitty! My puppy!"

Sigh. Must go. Break time is over.

Back to work.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I Have Been Enchanted

Enchanted by this sweet little etsy shop. Sweetbestiary and her darling dolls, puppets, masks... whatever exactly it is that they are. I couldn't turn away from her shop. No I couldn't, even a favoriting left me feeling like it would be too far away from me in the breadth of the wide internet sea. So I thought I would post some of her little creatures here. So they could be nearer to me.

Then I went to her blog and continued to be enchanted. Her name is Flor and she's from Argentina but lives in London. She's starting over with her art after many lifetimes, well 20 years according to her, but I know how that feels like a lifetime. Her blog is new, her shop is new. Her art is new. And she writes in both Spanish and English, so I can practice my pitiful Spanish.
This Deer Boy is so charming. I love the stag antler boy/man thing. I once made a sculpture out of a found box and sculpee and a photo I took. He was an antler/god man thing and I gave him away as a present. But I still think about him.
These lovers are sold out already. But I couldn't help but post them here. I love the way they are looking at each other. And I love the box they are living in. Reminds me of the assemblages I used to make out of boxes, like the antler/god man I talked about above. Or a broken music box that turned into a meditation on the journey to love.

I miss doing stuff like that.

I guess with how this little shop has just swept me away, maybe I need to follow that feeling, back to something I used to do, on to something just a bit new. I'm enjoying the felt constructions I'm doing now (still must post these) but I miss the sculpting/shaping aspect of clay or papier mache.

I'm trying to gear myself up to do some papier mache, I think. How coincidental that the front page of etsy would have this little papier mache doll/creature shop.

Isn't it interesting to see how inspiration works, how it weaves back and forth between the past and wishes and chance and old loves. I love the burbling feeling of brewing inspiration.

What's inspiring you lately?

Monday, February 08, 2010

My Hand Made Felt Pins and Some Etsy Inspiration

A Bunch of Handmade Felt Pins, or What I've Been Doing With My Time
wool and polyester felt, thread, embroidery floss, thread, acrylic gel medium, acrylic paint and bar pins.

What is possessing me lately?

I do not know. The painting has mostly slid to the side, and I have been doing stuff in other media.

It recalls a younger me, I think, and all the mixed and multi media things I used to do over the course of my life. Mostly to keep my hands busy, I think. I always feel better if my hands are busy. Is that weird? I'm rather a low key person. Maybe that's where my energy goes.

I've been inspired also by other artists, who work in many media, not limited to just painting or drawing.

Like perhaps Brooke Schmidt, who I just discovered this weekend but was immediately smitten with. Wax and Coffee! (I just love this one so much. The circles and repetition, the mixed media reflection, the colors.)
Clay. (I love when the same imagery you've been envisioning pops up in other people's work. I don't know if it's the zeitgeist, or sychronicity, or chance, or I'm just noticing it more, but it's cool.)

Textiles (Look! It's wings. How can I resist wings?)

Fabulous. And look, here's her blog, which seems quite in tune with the things I'm exploring... or perhaps are too lazy to explore right this minute. Coolness. I think I am in love with the internet.

What do Brooke's pieces have to do with my little pins? Not much... although the magnet does kind of resemble them, and I was thinking about doing a cloud pin before I even saw it, I swear. But I do think that looking around at how other people are trying to integrate the different aspects of their lives, how they don't tie themselves always to the same medium or vein of self expression, it has allowed me to feel better exploring my own varied creativity.

We don't have to tie ourselves to labels, like "painter," "writer," "crafter," "mom." We can exist within all of these facets. We're not one thing, right? We're many things. Don't be surprised if I start making dolls, or experimenting with papier mache, or start painting really big canvasses (although I can't imagine where I would have the room to do that, right now.)

All I'm saying is, we don't have to limit ourselves. We can expand into realms we are drawn to, whether or not we are experts in the field or we are experts in other fields.

I keep a list of lovely projects or things I'd like to learn how to do, or things I want to research. Lately, I've been looking back at those lists and saying, why not.

What would be on your list of lovely undertakings?

PS I just noticed that Brooke's wax and coffee art work echoes the collection of pins. It's almost the same pattern. A cluster of dots. I totally did not see that before.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

What We Wore Yesterday


This was me on Saturday. See that list of things on the side that I was dressed for?

The only thing I didn't do was blog. But I was dressed for it.

I've started wearing skirts as one of my layers because I'm so almighty sick of wearing jeans. Blah. I mean, I have to keep it comfortable for the stay at home mom factor, but jeans, jeans, jeans. I need a new wardrobe. This is why I won't commit to that "year without shopping" thing you see going around. Because I've done my years without shopping (mostly) for the last 5 years, and I'm pretty much out of clothes. Well, clothes I'm excited about.

Anyway, here's part of my photo shoot from yesterday.

Gabriel with his commissioned ant pin. He has asked me to make superhero gear to go along with it. Cape. Mask. Knee pads. You know. Super hero gear. Oh yeah. And a laser shooter that comes out of the head and a cage to catch bad animals.
Here is Ivy with her commissioned pink butterfly pin... which, once I made, she refused and said she wanted a purple something or other. It was the second commission, so I said no. The first was a red bird.

This photo shoot also marks Ivy's debut as a paid, professional model. Because I had to bribe her with a quarter to put the hat on and let me take pictures.

Hm. Well, at least she will understand the value of a dollar. Uhm. Quarter.

I have been thinking about my blog and what I want it to be, and I'm beginning to think that I don't want it to be so solely an art blog. I mean, I am not solely a painter, so I'd like to share the things that inspire my creativity, or the not specifically "art" creativity things. Like cooking. You know, I spend a lot of time on cooking, and I think I'm a pretty good cook... not a master, but I'm learning and experimenting and enjoying it. I wish I had a better camera to do food styling, but I can make do with what I have.

I've also been thinking that I'd like to post more from around the web. I was keeping that limited to my other site, small and heartfelt, but she's kind of limping along in the wake of living my life. I feel bad neglecting her. Maybe I shouldn't divide my energies though. I'm here mostly. Why not be completely present, here. On this blog?

It's funny. I think this concept is related to creative everyday's February theme of Home. Interesting how these things go together. In fact, blogs and life have a tendency to intertwine. My blogs help me document my projects. They help me complete my projects. They keep me going.

A new project I've been thinking about is less about art, and more about living. A balanced life. The whole thing. Not just painting.

Now I'm not necessarily planning to be all over-sharey.... there's a difference between personal and private, but I think a little expansion is order for my warriorgirl persona.

Do bear with me as I learn to get more comfortable with a new concept.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thank The Rain for Falling

Thank the Rain for Raining Flying Girl Wish
lizard print felt, button thread, felt, thread, fiber fill, silver chain, silver embroidery floss

Today I thought I'd join in with Magpie Girl's 8 Things I Have Learned in the Past Little Bit.

So here's the kind of stuff I've been learning:

1. Don't leave the living for when life is better. You'll miss out on opportunities, fun, new things, old favorite things, and just generally be less happy.

2. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend. We generally don't beat up on friends for imperfections. We support them, rather than tear them apart. And sometimes, instead of mothering other people, try mothering yourself. Remind yourself to eat well and sleep enough. Give yourself unconditional love. Give yourself time outs for bad behavior. Treats just because.

3. Say YES to life. The one that you have. Yup. This one. Not the one that you'd rather have, or the one that looks great when you see others living it. Not the one that you'd have if you were cooler or richer. This one. Yes, this is your life. Yes, it is great. Yes, it is giving you so many gifts that all you have to do is accept.

4. Be Brave. Lately, if I realize I am putting something off because it frightens me, I have to do it. Face the fears. If you are afraid of something, and it doesn't actually offer a danger to your life, there must be some reason why you are afraid. Chances are because you really want something attached to the fear. There are some high stakes there, and you are afraid of the outcome if you go for it. So, be afraid, and do it anyway.

5. Baby Steps, Baby. This is how I manage to get anything done, because it all seems to overwhelming when you look at the big picture. So don't. Don't look at the big picture other than to orient yourself as to direction. Look instead only at this baby step you take down this road. This page of writing. This question to ask someone. This day of to do's. This "yes." This apology. Don't read into what any of it "might" mean. Just take the one step.

6. Rest. Allow yourself to go fallow. Allow yourself to sleep late, or go to bed early or take naps. Allow yourself to not be so busy all the time. It doesn't mean there's something bad about you if you are not always gogogoing. Stare out the window and drink tea. Doodle aimlessly. Watch dumb tv. Take a hot bubble bath. Accept that you are not a machine and that you need down time.

7. Nothing Is Ever Wasted. All those great ideas that you had and didn't do anything with? If they really are great, they'll be back. That education you don't seem to be using or career you left? You gained valuable skills and experience that you can pull on. Those books you've read your whole life? They've gone into the soup of your creativity. The friends who are now scattered across the world? There's always facebook, email, or good old snail mail to renew your friendships. The point is, don't mourn the loss of things no longer in your life. Realize that they have made your living so much richer, and are still giving to you, even now.


and lastly
8. Thank the Rain for Raining. Much like the last one, nothing is ever wasted, valuing the dark times of life can be the most valuable experience. We think we are failures when we fail at things. When things don't work out or we make mistakes or we don't do what we feel we should have done. It makes us feel bad about ourselves. It makes us feel as if we are worth less. It makes us want to give up, maybe. But the metaphor says something. We look at rain storms as something bad, taking the sun away, right? But no. Those dark clouds, bringing wind and rain and cold, they also bring nutrients, they clear the air, the help us take stock.
Hard times make us better people. Pain makes us more resilient. Loss makes us value what we have more. Lack makes us think creatively to create new solutions. So don't feel bad when times are bad, but accept the struggle as a really good, intense master's course on yourself. And quite possibly, those tough, rainy times will lead you to where you need to be for a new season, a new path, the flowers to bloom.

Oh yeah, and if anyone has any hints on photographing black and white things, I would appreciate some suggestions. Either the white is washed out or the black loses all detail. I'm stumped.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Lost In The Wild, or Do You Trust Yourself Enough?

Lost in the Wild Flying Girl Brooch Set
wool and polyester felt, thread, acrylic paint, pin backings
(that black one is lizard patterned. Funky.)

I have lots older stuff to show you, but I've been completely taken away by this new project of mine. I'm making felt pins!

I've been cutting out silhouettes, painting, embroidering, appliqueing, sewing, stitching, arranging. It's been lots of fun. I have a bunch of this beautiful gray wool felt, and have been spicing it up with the brighter colors of regular felt.

I've been playing with embroidery, which I really haven't done since my seamstress grandma taught me back when I was seven.

(As a little side story, after my sister and I moved into our apartment on Elizabeth Street in Nolita in 1994, an incredibly "hip" New York neighborhood, my grandmother came to visit us and told us that the sweat shop she sewed in all day was right across the street. And thus does a grimy, industrial and ghetto neighborhood become chi chi.)

I do not know where I am going with these little pins, although I have already branched out into more images and brighter colors, but I am doing them because I am having fun. I like putting the colors together. I like arranging the pins into little stories. I like that each pin I make, I like better than the last. I like that my sewing and embroidering is getting better with each one. I like the way each pin is at least three layers of felt, and you can see just a hint of color of the inside layer. Just like my paintings, interestingly.

I am planning to put these pins up in my etsy shop, but I haven't figured out the details yet. Gosh. I have so many things to list, but no time/focus to do it. Someday, I will just have half a million new works up, over night.

Now... all I need is the etsy fairy to come and put it all together for me.

Ah, well.

As I said, I am enjoying them, but I have no idea if anyone else will. I have no idea what will come of them. Maybe I'll move off into other kinds of jewelry... rings, necklaces. OH MY GOD now I want a felt cuff. I can't stop coming up with ideas here. So I'm just going to go with it, even if it might not lead anywhere at all.

I believe that if you follow your heart, and face your dreams bravely and honestly, you can't really go wrong. Even if something doesn't work out... well, you gain so much knowledge, wisdom and understanding from failure that you still end up ahead of the game.

So, now I'm asking you... where does your heart tell you to go, even if your brain is afraid it's a bad idea? If you think honestly about what would happen if you failed at that goal, is it really all that bad? Would you be able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off if your heart-goal collapsed? Do you think you are strong enough, resilient enough, brave enough to aim for what you really want, and possibly fail?

I think the real question here is, "Do you trust yourself enough to follow your heart?"

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Live in the Better Day

What I Wore Today (only not today. It was last week, before I got another bleeping cold.)

Where to start? Where to start? Where to start?

There really is so much to do, so many dreams. So many fears.

It would be easier just to watch tv everyday and take care of the cooking and the house and the kids, and think, because I don't have the ideal situation, the ideal place, the ideal time, I should put off going for those dreams.

But, over the past few years, I've watched myself give up opportunities. I've watched myself put things off for some time later when it will all work so much better. I've watched myself pretend that I was being wise by putting things off, instead of being bok bok chicken.

I'm learning that this is the life I have, and it will never be ideal, so I might as well not wait to get going.

The time is now. There is no time but the present. A stitch in time saves nine, yadda yadda.

There are so many trite phrases about this because it is so true and so common.

So now I'm left with questions...

What steps do I take first?
How do I make sure I am staying on task?
How do I manage the doing of the living in the living of the living.... uh oh, I fear I am already rationalizing myself out of doing the things I need to.

What are the tasks YOU'VE been putting off, hoping for a better day?

Wouldn't it be best if you just did them, and started living in that better day, instead of waiting for it to come to you?

Monday, February 01, 2010

This is Where Love Resides

This is Where Love Resides
Cotton fabric, felt, silver embroidery floss, glass beads, paper, acrylic paint, fiber fill, thread

My mind is not in posting today.

I am in a whirl of new creating. My mind is burbling with ideas.

I am behind on photo shoots, posting, listing in my etsy shop and emails.

It's kind of a fun period, but I do get the feeling sometimes as if somebody is looking down at me going, "what is she doing sitting on her arse all day sewing and painting and messing around when there is work to be done, kids to be taken outside and money to be made."


I was wondering what my thoughts today would have to do with this piece of artwork, which was made, really, quite a long time ago. It was the only one I had a photo of that I hadn't posted already... the only Blessing Flying Girl that I have finished so far in fabric, rather than felt. I discovered that the felt actually works better than the fabric for my purposes. I do have more things to show. The stacks of works in progress are rising, and the items that haven't had the opportunity for camera time, too.

But there it is, the connection.

"This Is Where Love Resides."

These feelings I have that I should be productive, that I should be realistic, that I should be making money and be a better housekeeper and a better mom, this is not love, this is fear and insecurity.

This internalized harangue is not where Love resides.

Where does it reside? Where I allow myself to sit and create for the duration of my cold (oh yeah, I'm sick again)? Does it reside in believing that my dreams will get me where I want to go? Sticking with it, even if the returns have not really come in yet? I have the sinking feeling that I'm going to have to give up part of my dreams to make a more concrete, realistic life choice. But then again, that doesn't mean that I have to give up the whole thing. Maybe I just have to reorganize and reorder things a bit. I do love to organize things, although you would not be able to tell if you looked in my bedroom.

(reverse) this is where Love resides

I like experimenting with art. I like trying new media and working out new solutions for my little problems.

I believe that this skill helps in real life too (and contrary to that silly idea that I see from time to time, Life is NOT Art. Life is Life. Art is how we make sense of Life). Sometimes I think I do better in Art than in Life. But, I can go about living creatively, and if I do so, perhaps I will get better at the realistic, concreteness of Life.

But remember, this is where Love resides, too. We have to temper the need for living realistically with things like Love, Beauty, Kindness and Art.

Perhaps the key to balancing the concrete aspects of living with the more ephemeral aspects is to really live in the NOW. Being present to what is there. Not putting off things that you really want, or conversely, are really afraid of. (Is that "or conversely" or should it be "and consequently"?)

Oh it all feels quite like being a juggler, dancing on a high wire, trying to keep those balls in the air... hmmm.... am I getting another idea?
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