Friday, February 12, 2016

Let It Fly

My husband left for business (Paris, France... then Bangalore, India.) Fortunately, he's currently on a plane back, and we (the teenagers and I) have successfully survived another few weeks on our own. It's gotten easier since we spent 10 months on our own in Vermont. It used to be that even a short business trip threw everything out of whack, but I guess we've sort of gotten over that given how long we were on our own.

Still. It was a hard couple of weeks for me anyway. His trip coincided with my Bermuda triangle of doctors appointments that all happened to fall within the same week. It wasn't supposed to be like that, but that's what happened. Moving out here, it's been tough "establishing care" because you have to wait forever to get in to see a doctor if you're new. Once they know you, it's like you have the secret password and they're allowed to talk to you and schedule you... BUT NOT BEFORE! We can't just schedule people! It would be chaos, woman! CHAOS!

Anyway, among those appointments I was informed that I was over 40 (you don't say) and that, lucky me, I get to go have my first mammogram! I went home and called one of the numbers on the sheet they gave me for the places that do them, and my plan was to make my appointment right away because I was being responsible. I was very proud of myself. Right up until the woman on the phone said "We could see you right now," and I actually blurted out like a whiny six-year-old "But... I don't wanna go right now!"

She laughed at me. I laughed too, but I was also completely serious. I agreed to go the next day though. That whole being responsible-thing, and all. I have to say, I got it done and endured it, but... is it possible our ta-tas (and I just looked up alternate words for them here - that was quite an adventure, I think sweater-stretchers was my favorite) well, that maybe they don't re-inflate all the way after something traumatic like that? I swear I have more room in my bra than I did before I went in. Would that work on my derrière? I'd happily submit, in that case.

The day after that, I went to the eye doctor at Target and got a prescription for new reading glasses for when I'm painting, and an education about drive-through medicine in a big box store. I can't decide how I feel about it. They had all the machines. Everyone was nice enough. It was just super fast, very uncomfortable to be in a super-bright room while my eyes dilated, and it just felt... cheap. I'm sure everything was just as precise as anywhere else, but it still felt that way. I was also told my distance vision in my left eye is starting to kick off too, but I was able to hold off getting actual glasses to wear all the time just yet. I might not have long, but I was able to squeak by this time!

Getting older bites.

On the weight front, I was doing great with my workouts and pretty decent with my food... and my number wasn't moving down at all. Very frustrating. It started moving again today, but that's always a frustrating thing and it just piled on to the whole "I'm not enjoying this" time I was having.

In the midst of that, I found out that prom is a deadly serious event down here in the south. Even though prom is in April, apparently everyone pretty much has their gowns already (and they're wicked expensive here, too!) So, my daughter and I went dress shopping. I tried on one myself, but it felt like either an "older/mature gown" or I don't know. Just... "off"

This thing was really complicated too. It has a slit that goes up to the waist that you can kind of see on the side there? Underneath, is a really complex lacy beaded secondary sheath. Also, it cost more than my first car. I was careful to hang it back up very gently. We had wandered into Saks Fifth Avenue, and had never been there before. Who pays $150 for a pair of underwear?! Who are these people?!

We eventually made it through some crazy prom shops where I think the moms were all ex-pageant contestants vicariously living through their daughters (it was very unsettling) and found David's Bridal. They didn't have a huge selection, but they had "the one" my daughter wanted, and I wasn't going to have to sell her brother in order for her to have it.

I can't believe she's going to be 18 in June. Sigh. Also, I wish they had prom dresses like these when I had prom! 1992 and 1993 was not good fashion years. At all.
I hope those photos never see the light of day.

On the work front, I just felt frustrated all the time. ALL the time. I'm trying hard to get these Alice in Wonderland commissions done, because I really need to move on. They're important, so I'm going to do them right, but I feel like I am fighting myself every step of the way. It feels like that scene in the Neverending Story where the kid is slogging through the swamp and can barely go on. It's so ridiculous at this point, I'm annoyed with myself.

Which doesn't help, just in case you were wondering.

I'm still trying to sketch out the whole Queen Alice piece. She's big, and complicated at 18x24 inches. There are a lot of elements the client needs, and I'm trying to fit them in so they all flow nicely.

Queen Alice. That's the Jabberwocky behind her, all dragonish.
One of those elements is the Mad Hatter, which is an 8x10 commission for the same client. But I needed to sketch him out on his portrait so I knew who I was adding to the big one. He's finally done, and ready for paint:

He'll look less old, hopefully, when I paint him in. I needed shadow and line markers, and they always make a person look old on an outline sketch.
And now I can add him, and the white rabbit, and the Cheshire cat... and we'll see what else is needed. It really is like trying to figure out a jigsaw puzzle at this point. I'll get there. Eventually.

I was so frustrated, that I decided to blow off steam, art-style. I started out professionally as an abstract artist... here's an oldie, but popular one from 2003:


They're really quite freeing when you've been working so precisely. So, I just started throwing paint. I started letting it fly, and just putting it where my gut told me too. Very zen of me, I suppose. I got to a stopping point, because it needed to dry, and posted a few pictures on Facebook. This one in particular set of a very unexpected reaction:


People loved it the way it was. Said I should stop. Sell it like this.

Like this?

I've done abstract, I started in abstract... but even I never went this abstract. I stepped away from it. I added a tree with just a knife to another smaller one, while I was thinking about it:

And landed a fast commission for a matching tree, and a big moon in the middle. (still working on that one.)

And still, people carried on. Liking the plain, abstract purple piece. Encouraging me to do more. Messaging me, and backing that up with inquiries.

I have to admit, I'm a bit floored. I had never considered really working that abstractly. Not to mention, I had absolutely no direction, no purpose in mind. I was blowing off steam, letting it fly... and people liked the result.

I've done a bit of thinking about all of that, and I've decided to keep with my original plan of my three series (Nyx, Elephants, and 12 Dancing Princesses), but that I am also going to do a 5 piece Element Series and put it out there to test the waters. I feel conflicted and surprised on several levels, and I imagine it'll take a bit more thinking on my part, as well as whatever happens with the series, to come to some sort of peaceful resolution... but perhaps, just maybe, a new door is opening to me that I never expected. I'd be a fool not to walk through it just to see what's on the other side.

I'm just going to let it fly, and see what happens! Perhaps that is an attitude I should start taking with different areas of my life as well. I've lived with such fear and worry and feelings of inadequacy... what good has that ever done me? I can always crawl back into my cave if it all goes wrong. Right?

So, here's to letting it fly!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Buy-Bye January!

It's almost February. I cannot believe that 2016 is already flying by at light speed (although, when trying to lose weight, the time seems much slower. It's only everything else that seems to be whipping by!)

My goal was five paintings for the month of January. Unfortunately, January nailed me with another nasty cold and a lot of time off for the teens from school, which just fed into my frustration in the studio. I only managed 3 paintings for this month. I'm really going to need to pull out all the stops and catch up if I'm going to be back on schedule! 

I finished this Rocking Horse Fly:
6x6 inches, acrylic on stretched canvas, sold

This oil painting:
"Love is Blind" 9x12 oil on stretched canvas, Sold

...and this small oil painting also:
"Love Child" 6x8, oil on canvas panel, available


The rocking horse fly is a part of my Alice in Wonderland series, and part of a line of commissions I'm working my way through. I'm actually sketching out the largest of them (18x24), Queen Alice, right now:

She (Queen Alice) was supposed to have been completed on January 23rd according to my schedule. *sigh* I'm so far behind. If I can just get in a groove though, I might just be able to catch up.

However, you see that blindfolded girl painting? Well, I was doing some research on the rococo technique, and that was my first experiment. I can't say it's a successful one, because I had to give up on the technique and just rush to finish it because I ran out of time for my deadline. Still, even so, the result is fairly pleasing. I'm a bit unsure about how "warm" it is, but at the same time it has that old-timey feel to it, and I think I want to use that in my Fairy Tale series that I ALSO didn't get started this month but was supposed to have finished one 9x12 of. (*head*desk*head*desk*)

The rococo technique is fairly involved, though. Lots of layers (i.e. drying time) and such. That's made me think about my schedule of about 60 paintings and whether I'm biting off more than I can chew. I'm going to try to move forward and see what I think, but I feel like I can't make a real decision about it until I get the Alice in Wonderland series closed out completely. It's a different medium (Alice is all acrylic) than I want to go forward in right now, and it's also a different style. I feel that I'm evolving, and I'm actually having to almost physically hold myself back in order to finish these paintings properly. 

With that in mind, Alice has become my #1 priority so I can finally move forward and not mess her up as I do. I worry about jumping between my old style and new, and I don't want it to mess things up on either end.

We did get some snow down here in NC. I felt a bit conflicted, as it finally looked like winter but it had ice which made playing in it rather pointless. Still, it was white for a little while (and now we're headed back to the 60's for temperatures which feels very wrong.) The schools and everyone shut down in a panic for several days longer than I would have expected.

So, here is my "first storm expected in NC" report: people really are nuts when it comes to winter weather. (You should know it was 43 degrees and sunny out when I took these pictures below the day before the storm.)

I went to the grocery store the day before because I needed a few things. There weren't too many people in the store, but this is what was left at 3:20pm. I checked out easily, but getting OUT of the doors of the store was hard because people were just streaming into the store. Some people had parked in the fire lane to run in and ask a manager standing in front if they had milk. I heard the "no" and the woman I was eavesdropping on as I was trying to leave turned on her heel and bolted out the door to her waiting car and said to her companion "no, they don't have any either!"

The lady at the checkout said she had people buying 5 gallons at a go. She said "you know, if you have kids, maybe it makes sense... But a lot of these people don't. I asked."




I did bake cookies though. Bad for my weight loss efforts, good for my peace of mind. Kinda. (Double chocolate-chocolate-chip.)

Anyway, I'm speeding ahead and trying to catch up as we head into February! I hope you have all had a good January!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Sniffles

My father brought with him a Christmas Cold when he came over. I thought we had escaped it, but my son started sniffling a few days later. Then I thought, well, maybe only my son would get it and I'd be safe.

Nope.

I've got the full-on sniffles and misery thing going. But I HAVE STUFF TO DO! Doggonnit! Paintings, PAINTINGS! I have almost 60 paintings to complete by November and I haven't even started yet!

I know, I know. Why am I writing a blog post, then? Well, admittedly there is some procrastination involved. However, I spent all of today working on the business side of things (finances, website, etc.) So, as long as I'm online, well, I might as well do a better job of checking in, too!

I'm searching for a reference photo of a rocking horse for my first painting of 2016, which needs to be completed by Wednesday if I am to stay on track. I have also decided to go with the 12 Dancing Princesses for my new Fairy Tale series for 2016. I found so many stories to pick from, but this one just stuck with me. Lots of ball gowns... and slippers.

In the midst of getting things rolling for 2016, I also need to find an optometrist.   I have finally admitted that I am having a horrible time seeing stuff, so it's time to get real glasses for working and reading. I have seen one who gave me a light prescription for glasses for when I work, and I admit I rarely wore them. Now, I cannot work without them and frankly they're just not right. I need a better prescription. Age is catching up to me!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Looking Forward

I hope you had a lovely holiday (or stretch of December, whatever you celebrate or don't!) We had a weirdly warm Christmas. On Christmas Eve, my daughter and I ran out to get some ingredients for the traditional buttermilk Cinnamon rolls we always make... and it was 79 degrees.

I wore shorts. I died a little inside.

I know it sounds silly, but cold weather and snow are a part of my blood. I have never lived somewhere where I am likely to have little to NONE of the fluffy white stuff. I'm not contradicting myself about the -40F the teens and I suffered through all by ourselves in Vermont last season, because there's simply no way to enjoy that. However, I have always lived where there has been a decent winter season, at least a few good snows worthy of building snowmen and forts and snuggling down in front of a fire inside and appreciating how lucky we are to be surrounded by our warm comforts in the form of hot chocolate and soft pajamas.

I know, they can get cold weather here in North Carolina (Raleigh area) too. I'm just... not very optimistic about it all right now.

However! We still did holiday decorating and baking... and the new neighbors beat me to the punch in bringing everyone cookies. It was like a reverse trick-or-treating bonanza! We ended up with cookies, ornaments, wine, and other gifts. I felt a bit intimidated just giving a bag of different cookies we baked and a miniature gingerbread house we baked and decorated, but they seemed to go over alright:

All the little houses we baked and decorated, before we bagged them in cellophane for delivery.
My parents came over for Christmas Eve dinner, where we did one gift (always PJ's, but the kids still look forward to them) and crackers!

My daughter, mom and dad, and my husband. Mom was a little afraid of the crackers, but most of them didn't go off with a big bang. There was one or two, though!

Christmas itself was lovely and low-key. I crave low-key. So, this made me happy! Not a lot of pictures from the actual day...
I did snap a picture of myself real quick, though.
Ok, it's time for studio and stuff talk!

2016 is FAST approaching! I have plans, big plans for this coming year. My thoughts are that I have finally relocated after that horrible, long, drawn-out move. I have settled, and unpacked, and even (mostly) organized my studio. Nothing should be standing in my way but me.

Before I get to all of that though, here is a painting I finished for Thrice Fiction Magazine, and I actually really like it:

"Ripples" 9x12, oil on canvas (available)


I made the decision that this year, since I am new to NC, I am not going to be seeking out any gallery representation until perhaps the end of the year. I am also not going to book any spots in art fairs or what-have-you, because I just don't know what all is out there and what are best suited for my stuff. I do plan on visiting any that look promising to scout them out. Reconnaissance!

Because I'm not doing any shows, I have set a hard schedule for 2016. I mean, really hard. I have 56 paintings scheduled. That includes finishing up some commissions and Alice in Wonderland pieces to finally close that series out, as well as auctions, and then I'm very excited to be starting THREE new series!

The first is for my surreal, that was built off my snowy elephant from my last post. I have elephants on my brain, and have had for a very long time. I'm going to do a surreal set of 12 paintings.

The second is my Nox series that I was supposed to do this year and did not. It's all about a surreal stars/sky figure paintings, another set of 12.

The last is a NEW fairy tale! YAY! I just haven't picked it yet. I need to do that soon, though. I'm trying to decide. But it will be another series of at least 12.

Balanced on my business plans is the plan to get my act together and lose this darn weight which has been creeping up for the past few years. I'm not even fit anymore, as the move put a stop to access to my exercise equipment. I have it all once again, and so that all starts anew as well! This is a big thing, because I have been having health issues I think are directly related to how unhealthily I have been living since we moved. Time to undo the damage (boy I hope I can! I hope it's not forever now with these problems. It's like being punished.)

The last thing I need to do is schedule an eye exam... because I think being over 40 has caught up with me. I'm having pain in my right temple, and I thought for a long time that maybe it was a sinus thing. And then I wondered about my eyes and how they seemed to be getting worse, so I put on my not great reading glasses and amazingly the pain was less. I think my eyes aged out on me, TRAITORS!!!

Anyway, I'm excited and all charged up for 2016! Hopefully LESS changes than 2015, and a whole lot more work and progress in the studio!  I hope all of you have a wonderful New Year!