Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Playing dress up with Oliver

On Saturday, I went to see a cat friend of mine who was at the vet’s office while the people he owns were out of town. He usually stays home when they have to be away, but he was a little under the weather so he was at the hospital. His neighbors were a little noisy- there was a grey cat named Sam staying next door & he cursed at me profusely when I arrived. He was “doing time” for getting in a fight, which it appeared he had lost. I suppose he was still a little bitter about that. In the room immediately below Sam was a Pekinese named Alan Jackson, who seemed to be the welcoming committee. He had a broken leg but was really happy & friendly, making his tail thump loudly against the side of the kennel every time anyone spoke. Oliver thought it was thumping base from loud music & surmised that Sam might believe the same thing, leading him to hang on to his bad attitude.

To keep Oliver’s attention off his unfortunate situation, we discussed his options for Halloween costumes this year. It may seem a bit early for that, but that Oliver…you can call him a lot of things, but you can’t ever call him unprepared. Don’t let that slightly confused look on his face fool you- it’s all a rouse. Here are a few options, with the last being my favorite.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When we left this place

We left this place when I was 6. As the youngest family member, others who were there have to be reminded of this when reminiscing. Things that are very vivid in their memories aren’t present at all in mine. As is often the case, I’m certain the opposite is also true. The memories of six-year olds often include as much fantasy as reality as everything is viewed through the rearview mirror. Objects are closer than they appear.

I remember riding with my mother to take my older sister to school in Lafayette, Louisiana. Mom might remember the street names or the traffic. I remember a restaurant we drove by each day because it had huge frosted glass globes dangling from the ceiling in a 1970’s effort at being modern. I thought they looked like beach balls & entertained myself with ideas about them coming loose from their tethers & the restaurant patrons getting to play with beach balls glowing with light.

I remember the shiny hardwood floors of the white wood frame building that held my bustling kindergarten school- the same building that many years before had been my father’s high school. Did he also wonder at the shine on those floors? How you could so easily become mesmerized by your reflection?

I remember the accents. Even last week, as I walked along the streets in New Orleans where I was attending a conference, when I heard the thick saucy song of a Cajun accent, I remembered the faceless voices of my early childhood.

I remember finding a good hiding place between the tall roots of cypress trees during hide & seek with my cousins, on hot summer days with the air thick & heavy with the weight of Louisiana humidity.

I remember picnic tables covered in newspaper & piled high with shrimp, metal frame lawn chairs & the laughter of people I loved & who loved me back.

These are the things I remember. Most of the rest, I forget…

which makes it that much more confusing for me- the peace that descends on me when I cross the state line, deepening the further south I go. Somewhere near I-10 I have only the most distant & vague understanding of the concept of anxiety.

My mother tells me (a little too knowingly, if you ask me) that it is because my father was healthy when we lived here. Maybe she is right, as mothers so often are- whether we want them to be or not.

I was only 6 when we left this place, when I started forgetting.

Last week I realized something… I may have left Louisiana 30 years ago, but it never left me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fear & the flashlight

I feel… I don’t know exactly what I feel. Scattered. Overwhelmed. Excited. Scared. This e-course I am taking has really brought up so much “stuff” for me- it seems as if I am cleaning out my internal closets with a flashlight Kelly Rae Roberts stuck in my hand. If you follow her blog you will automatically picture a very cute, one-of-a-kind artsy flashlight, and yet… it is still a flashlight with which to view all of the things that hold me back. She didn’t make me take it, I asked for it. Boy, did I ask for it.

Let’s see what we have here, in this hat box marked ‘Fears’ lurking in the back corner. Surprisingly there aren’t many fears in the box, but the ones that are there are pretty complicated. Nothing as simple as “I fear failure” no ma’am… there in a tangle of knots is “I fear success”. Fantastic.

I fear success? Really? That really never crossed my mind, but now that I think about it, I get it. If I succeed as an artist, as a person living a really creative life, then I might have to admit I was wrong all those years ago when I changed my major from art to psychology as an effort to be a “practical grown up”… so what, do I want to spend my life doing something other than the things that make me happy? SO what? I was wrong. That doesn’t feel so bad to say… I WAS WRONG… which brings me to fear number two…

I reach back in the hat box & pull out the only other item left after the twisted knotted fabric of fearing success- it is flat, shiny & cool to the touch like a polished rock. In large stamped letters it reads HARD WORKER. What does this mean? That’s a good quality, right? I have always been a hard worker & it was something I was proud of. I put myself through both undergrad & grad school while working full time, all but my freshman year. I graduated with honors from both colleges- not because I’m naturally very smart, but because (say it with me now…) I was a hard worker.

Why is this in the fear box? I turn it over in my hands while I think about it… oh. Oh… I get it. It’s my definition of hard worker that is a problem. Somewhere along the way, I made it into something that only exists if you are doing work that you find to be… well, hard. Meaning something you have to make yourself do- something you would never do for free, just for the fun of it. Making art is fun & I love it, so certainly it can’t be considered “work”. Not for a “hard worker”. No… I have to do something professionally that makes me grind my teeth. That, my friend, is hard work.

Now I am fighting the urge to throw these things back in the box & bury it under a pile of shoes in the dark recesses of the closet. Part of me really wants to, but I won’t. I’ll keep them out & try to alter them into something functional, something wearable. Vintage is “in”, right?

I wonder if Kelly Rae will let me keep this flashlight she loaned me, it sure is cute… & puts off a very bright light. Whether I want it to or not.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Feature Art Friday: Justice

His name is Justice; something he learned about early in life. Justice was rescued from a man who was raising dogs for medical research. Don't worry... the man went to jail- hence the justice!

He now "owns" a lovely woman named Judie, who knew at first look that Justice was meant to be part of her family. I'm not sure who picked whom; that would probably depend on who you asked... Judie, or Justice.

Justice has a "sister" named Rosie! (yes, the exclamation point is part of her name.)

He loves Rosie! & she is quite a star on the agility course, so Justice decided he wanted to give it a try.

In his first competition, Justice won a ribbon for 4th place.

I love the look on his face... "Do you see this? I totally cleared it!"

You can see more of my pet portraits here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

36 things list: comment on blogs I love

Looking back on it, I find it pretty funny that I had to put this on my '36 Things' list in order to work up the nerve to do it. As if bloggers bite, or something. I can't vouch for the rest of them, but people who blog about creativity so far seem to me to be a kind, encouraging bunch... who even respond & answer questions should you find yourself interested in sharing. I have been commenting regularly on blogs that I read for months now & love the idea that I can have relationships with these people when we may be so very different... when maybe we have nothing else in common but our shared love of Mod Podge or the smell of an art store. It's just a little bit magical if you ask me.

On another blogger-ish note, (speaking of magic & someone who must certainly have a magic creativity wand) I'm taking blogger extraordinaire Kelly Rae Roberts online E-Course "Flying Lessons" & it is blowing my mind... in the best way possible. More on that later.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Quote of the month & plaid purgatory

Preach on Voltaire… preach on.

If you fancy yourself a perfectionist & feel the need to punish yourself for anything, get yourself a canvas, some paint & brushes, masking tape, a ruler & a pencil & then paint the border of the canvas plaid. You will find yourself in perfectionist purgatory in no time, my friend. Trust me… I have been there & it is not a pretty place.

This quote would be awfully helpful for me if I could just internalize it… especially where art & creative projects are concerned. I want things to be just right- which is pretty crazy when you think about it. If someone wanted to buy something that looked “perfect” they would probably get something that costs half as much & is mass-produced. Right?

I’m not sure where to draw the line between wanting to make commissioned art that I believe the person will love & making myself crazy with my self-imposed over-the-top expectations, but it appears that wherever I draw that line at this point we can count on one thing… it will be a very straight line.

Made with a ruler.

Or masking tape.

The art with the plaid border will be featured this Friday, with lots of in-progress photos. And masking tape.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A totally done 'to do'

Remember my ‘to do’ list from the last few weeks? (Weekly updates here & here) It’s done. You heard me… put down the tomatoes & back away slowly so no one gets hurt.

The last coat of sealer was actually applied to the last commissioned art this morning before I left for work. That’s right, I set my alarm 15 minutes earlier so I could finish it & mark it off my list. That’s the power of a public ‘to do’ list. I really understand why experts say changes you want to make, things you want to accomplish, etc. are more likely to be accomplished if you tell people you want it.

The Ralph & Ron prints are edited & will be listed on Etsy as soon as the prints arrive & I can photograph them in sample frames. I can’t wait to see them in “real life” as opposed to on the screen of the iPad during the editing process.

Speaking of “real life”, I clearly don’t spend much time in mine- how funny is it that I actually convinced myself to accomplish a list of things to avoid being pelted with tomatoes?