Friday, August 28, 2015

Art in Transit

My original intention while moving was to just take a break from my business. I had been painting flat out for a very long time, lots of assignments and projects galore!

My thought was that we were supposed to be in our new house by the end of August, and that I could simply wait until I had my full studio with me! Of course, I have all my paints with me because the movers weren't allowed to touch them (something about hazardous materials. One guy who came out to estimate moving needs beforehand actually suggested that I just toss out all my art supplies and buy new stuff in NC. Obviously that guy had no idea how much art supplies cost! I set him straight on that one very quickly. Good grief!) But my canvases are all stored away with other studio equipment. If it isn't flammable or likely to explode, it's in storage.

And then we were informed that our house MIGHT be ready by mid-October (instead of August 21st.) Oh, and hey, the temporary apartment lease is up before the end of September, so we have no idea where we're going to be staying. And hey, the house still hasn't sold in Vermont. And hey, all sorts of scary things are starting to swirl... and hey I'm SO BORED, and we can't even go anywhere (although, I'm currently contemplating a trip to the Raleigh museum of natural history sometime here. Everything has to be short trips because of the dogs in the apartment.)

I need to paint.

Not want.



Even though my "studio" is a corner in the apartment that looks like this:

I have projects that are due anyway by the end of September, so I don't have the luxury of putting off working any longer. Plus, I'm going a bit batty. I tried painting at one point, but the painting ended up trashed. I don't know why, it just went sideways. I tried two more, again, sideways. I put away the paints at that point, but now I need to push through.

SO! I ordered canvas, since I can't access it in storage. Actually, first I went in person to the Jerry's Artarama in Raleigh, and when I asked about portrait fine (or super fine weave) canvas, the clerk said "I have been working here for years and I have never even heard of such a thing. No, we don't carry it."

OK, that's just weird.  Maybe out here everyone doing fine work has switched to boards? I almost grabbed those instead, but I have several and some other samples that I have yet to play with in storage, so I don't know what my preference is and the marked up prices in the store was no time to experiment. So, I went home, logged onto Jerry's online and ordered what I needed there.

When the box showed up, I was actually super excited! YAY! ART STUFF!

I had a couple quick sketches I needed to do for Thrice Fiction Magazine's upcoming issue, and I figured that was a good ice breaker. Only one of the sketches am I really in love with. It might not make sense without the written piece I was assigned for it, but here is a beagle puppy with a banana peel on his head:

About 2 1/2 inches high to the top of the banana, so he's a little guy, pencil on sketch paper

I actually really like him. Have you ever taken time off from something and then worried maybe you lost your touch? It was nice to see not everything had rusted up on me. Artist insecurity, I suppose.

After I finished what needed to be sent into the magazine, I started on some of the other work I needed to do. However, one of the things I forgot to share was a painting I started in Vermont, depicting our move to NC. I just started painting in the piece when we packed up and moved and here is where it sits today:


I'm the elephant, and I asked the family what they saw themselves as. My husband is the falcon, my son a polar bear cub, and my daughter is a tiger. The pets are represented by the turtle and three birds.  Vermont is behind us with the mountains and hot air balloons, and... well we're just going forward. I still don't know how to represent North Carolina, so I'm just leaving it as the unknown.

I tied my house to my foot because it was giving me anxiety, but I'm contemplating removing it entirely. Yes, the house was weighing us down, but you know... we'll figure this out somehow. Heck, part of me doesn't want to let it go. I know we have to, but I just yearn for that view and the sweet air and open spaces. I miss it. I feel less dragged down by the house and more wistful now.

Plus it might make a nicer picture without it. So, there's that!

That is a personal painting, but here is the first of my many to come projects. This is for the upcoming auction La Luna in the Rabbit Hole Artist Collective:

I know, I have an elephant theme going on, but I have always loved them.

I'm really excited about this painting, because it's one I would have painted without the prompt (and maybe that's why the connection to the moon is so light.) I had been doing a lot of thinking about my art recently, which I think the break contributed to. You see, our time here in finite. I'm lucky enough to be doing something I love. But if I am doing something I love but not what I had in mind to leave behind me as what I want out there in the world (i.e. always painting what someone else commissions when it's not my vision, or painting "for the market because it's what sells") I am wasting my precious time on this earth.

If you only got to paint one painting, sing one song, write one book, etc... what would it be? What would it look, sound, read like? THAT is what I need to get back to doing. More, when I do it, it still sells. My heart is in it, and the circle feels complete. I get off track because I get distracted, I just need to work harder to keep my eye on the ball.

So, I'm on the ball now. I have my little star-girl elephant painting on my easel. I have my moving painting on the side. I have a monster painting (just wait!) coming up, and more! And best of all, I'm going to love all of it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

So, This is North Carolina

I really thought I had posted before now, but it turns out I didn't! I'm sure I remember sitting down and writing something out...  Well, clearly this is just more evidence of my brain not quite managing to keep up with all the details in my life I found so easily manageable before we started our relocation. I probably complained back then too, but now I know I should have appreciated how much easier it was to keep track of things when you're settled.

So, when last I left you, I had the big move in front of me. What a bizarre series of events that ended up being! The movers showed up, but the main guy had (for some bizarre reason) underestimated the help he would need. That was the start of things going wrong. It really started going sideways when the driver couldn't navigate the truck correctly and ended up sinking about 10 inches into the wet ground in our front yard:

He had to call a wrecker to pull him out, because he was in DEEP. This left HUGE gouges in the yard, and he managed to slaughter one of my special big trees flanking my driveway:

That gouge is wider than my hand, and you can see where we had to cut the huge limb off, which made up about half the tree.
gouges and such in the lawn, off the driveway

My husband and I spent time going to a nursery and getting grass sod and tree tape, and trying to save the tree and repair the ground. This made me irrationally sad. Sad, maybe angry, is an appropriate response, but I was a bit beyond the norm with overwhelming feelings of leaving in the first place and remembering when we planted these trees, and, well... *sigh*

Now, the movers were hired to pack, load our stuff, and move it. I started helping a bit with some boxes and what I could as I realized they were falling way behind. WAY behind. The movers were supposed to be done in the early afternoon on July 2nd. We were then supposed to clean the house and get a good night's sleep and then leave on July 3rd at 5AM for our 15 hour drive to NC. However, by 3AM on July 3rd the movers still had a while to go and then gave up and went to bed. I don't fault them for going to get some rest, I fault them for not telling us that they had and we stayed up an extra 45 minutes before falling asleep on the floor.

Long story short, they finally got out of there after noon on the 3rd, and leaving us with a box of trash that they said they were going to take. A sort of last "Screw you" from them, I think. For the record, I never yelled, got mean, or even demanding. I pitched in where I could, and so on. It was just an ugly situation overall.

And then we drove. We got going over seven hours past when we were supposed to, and we knew we had to drive the whole thing through because hotels all said NO to the four of us, two dogs, a cat, and a rabbit. Even worse, it was a holiday weekend. So, on about two hours of sleep, my husband and I took turns driving straight through. We finally got into town around 3AM on the 4th of July, and we were so tired, we were literally poking each other in the shoulder to stay awake and not drive off the road. It was kind of scary, actually.

Lily thought the trip was great fun, at first. The rest of the animals were less excited than her.

This was not a good beginning to our move. I kept reminding myself that we were moving for better schools, cheaper colleges, more opportunities, and a bigger studio space (OK, that last one is purely selfish, but it's on my list!)

Since then, we've been living temporarily in an apartment while our house is being built.

Our first visit to the house when we got here. My husband has been living here since October and I've been doing the single parent thing up in Vermont. He'd been coming here often, but for the kids and I it was the first time. The kids could really only see wood, sticks... this becoming their house is a surreal concept.

I have to tell you it's been very strange doing the apartment-thing after so long. I last lived in an apartment in Chicago about 19 years ago. In some ways, even though I know it's temporary, it feels like back-tracking. No one is happy here. I can't fault the kids for feeling unhappy. We don't even have most of our things. A normal conversation is "Where is my..." "It's in storage, with everything else... sorry!" I don't even have shoes beyond flip-flops and a pair of cheap sneakers I bought so I can use the apartment gym. I was supposed to, but they all got snagged by accident by the movers. Nature of the beast, I suppose!

We had originally planned to take some family trips before school started, make this a fun and wonderful summer, but instead we had trouble figuring out what to do with the dogs and my daughter made Varsity Cheerleading so her practices started almost immediately tying us to the local area. I have immense guilt over this, as this is her last summer really with us, since she's a senior. They both miss their friends, too. While my daughter has made a few already, my son hasn't met anyone yet. (I'm hoping when school starts next week he'll meet some amazing people and be happy and excited about it. *crossing fingers*)

We did finally make it to a local lake-beach. At least that's something.

I just have "I'm a sucktastic mother" feelings going on because I pulled the kids away from their friends and didn't manage to take them anywhere fun, like we had promised (for example, we were going to drive or fly to Orlando and visit Universal Studios, but it turns out with the long drive and current schedule demands, we can't seem to make that work at all.) Normally, our summers are filled with catching fireflies and bonfires and friends. This year has been staying in an apartment and not really doing anything at all. I think I really underestimated the time I would need to make things happen.

We're STILL waiting to sell the house in Vermont. We got word that a few people are interested in the property just this past weekend, so we're hopeful! (cross your fingers for us! We need good thoughts!) So many moving parts and things still need to come together. It's funny really, because there is a part of me that just wants to go home to Vermont. Not sell the house, and just go back. That ship has sailed, of course, but it's there. I think the thing I miss most is the peace and quiet with beautiful views. I have none of that here. (It's almost the anti-Vermont. Almost. I think the total anti-Vermont would be Phoenix... ha!) It's sorta quiet where we're building, but with this being a suburban area, views are just not on the table for anyone.

I miss this:
This picture seems to represent every single thing that is missing in my life right now.
It actually makes me tearful. I took it right before we moved, from our deck.

I will say that on a general basis people do seem nicer. They also are far more inclined to chat than anyone was in Vermont. I still haven't made any friends, however. I think there just hasn't been any real opportunity. I'm actually not quite sure how to go about doing that. I got quite rusty living like a hermit in Vermont, so I'm not quite sure what to do with myself!

I'll address the art front in a later post. This one became far too long as it is, even though I have left so many things out! My sincere hope is that by Christmas all of this stress will have settled. The house will be sold in Vermont, the house will be settled into here in NC (the studio will be cranking away!)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

No-Control Freak

We're in the final stages of getting ready to move, and trying to sell the house. Part of that is finishing all pressing projects in my studio. Which I have...

"White Queen" 16x20, acrylic on stretched canvas (sold, commission)

Magpie, 5x7 watercolor/acrylic on watercolor paper (commission, sold)

Those two were finally it! Finishing those meant I was finally on vacation. I should be so happy.

I'm not. I'm not sure what to do with myself really. Sure, I felt pressed to get things done and it was hard to deal with, but I had something occupying a lot of my time too. With the kids out of school, the paintings all done, and packing to be done by the movers, I have MORE time to sit around and contemplate a panic attack when I think about moving and not having the house sold.

You know, I thought that if I just had hit my break from painting, I'd be more relaxed and feel like a weight was lifted. But all I can focus on is the fact that we keep dropping the price of the house, and the market just stinks up here. It's freaking me out, to be honest. I wish I could just let it go, but it turns out I'm a complete control freak, and I have no control in this. The only thing we can do is drop our price (which we have, below appraisal by quite a bit now), keep it clean, and just keep waiting. I'm totally not OK with that. I'm a do-er. I want to DO something!

There's only so many times I can clean the house without getting frustrated too, and I'm not sleeping as well because of the stress - even when I exercise like I'm supposed to and follow my diet (it's on and off at this point.) So... I pulled out a canvas, and I'm sketching out a surreal hot-air balloon. Because I think my studio is the only thing distracting me right now. I guess I can't just put it all away.

I keep telling myself this will work itself out, but it just feels scary. One giant ball of scary. And because of that, I am unable to close my studio down. Not yet. Maybe not until the very last second.

I wish I could be excited about everything. About starting this new chapter in my life, but not having the house under contract makes me feel as if I can't look forward to anything at all. (I wonder if that's true. I wonder if we get a contract on the house, if I'll find something else to be freaked out about - maybe the house is an excuse? I don't think so, though...)


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June Bug

Well, it's been about another month since I checked in. I know, I know. But you should also know I write at a fitness/life blog of mine elsewhere, and that's part of the reason I think I don't write here as often as I should. I think I must subconsciously think that I'm just repeating myself!

Well, that's actually coming to an end. My fitness blog will be no more. What this means in actuality is that I'm kind of a windbag, and that will likely have to end up somewhere (here... 'cause, that's all I'll have left.) I'm ending my other blog because there is just so much one can say about fitness and weight struggles before it's kind of boring. I want to focus more on my life. My Art. My world.

OK, fitness and my weight will still be a part of that (because seriously, my chocolate addiction is legendary), but I need a more positive focus. So, I'm going to share more here with everyone than I have been. More art, more life, more stuff. Stuff is good.

So, first up I have to say that I'm still waiting to move. I'll be headed down to North Carolina over the 4th of July weekend. I'm both excited, and really nervous because it's like a big cliff coming my way and I can't seem to see anything beyond it. The house still hasn't sold, but we actually have a showing tomorrow. I'm hoping that means the market is beginning to pick up (it was a hard winter and I think everyone here is just behind the curve.)

Because of that, I have the attention span of a firefly at this point. I get excited about something, get ready to work... and then it's gone. (Where am I, again?) Seriously annoying from the studio side of my life. I'm really at this point where I feel like I need to pack up my art supplies and just exist. I need to just exist. Just take care of my family, keep the house clean, start packing, and not think about anything else. Maybe a few trashy romance novels, but nothing else. Unfortunately, I have projects that aren't letting me.

In truth, I really only have two left. If I can just get them done, I plan on packing up my paints and calling it quits until after we move. The first is this little watercolor/acrylic piece that I can hopefully get done quickly:

It's a magpie/bone boat. It needs to fly far, far away, its new owner is waiting for it.

The next is, of course, my Through the Looking Glass White Queen. Now, this one is a commission and my poor client has been so patient with me. She understands that if my brain isn't in it, I'll mess it up. But at the same time, it NEEDS to get done. I've never struggled with painting like I have been this past year. It's really quite ridiculous. It has nothing to do with the painting and everything to do with my moving-brain syndrome. But here is where she is at (sorry for the blurry cell phone picture):

She's coming along. I believe she'll get done. I'm hoping. Otherwise, I won't get that break I need, and I'll be trying to paint her in an apartment with the whole family on top of me while we wait for the house to be completed.

Side note: I can't WAIT to have a real and final place for my studio! I'm so excited! Squeeee!

I did finish this painting. You might remember her from an earlier post with red and all sorts of work done beneath her. Well, the leafing went wrong, and I ended up using the blue variegated leaf over the whole space. The mistake turned into something I just LOVE (two pictures because it is hard with the metal to get a good picture.)

Without light shining right off it

And with the sun on the leafing.

It's closer in color to the top picture, but the gold looks closer to the bottom one. It's one of those that's so cool in person, that I don't mind if it doesn't sell. I'll frame it and put it in my house. I see a dark, thick walnut frame...

That's pretty much it on the art front. See how bad my attention span is right now? Yeesh. But in other news, my daughter went to prom (and I did her hair, make-up, made the corsage and boutonnière, cooked dinner since they ate here, and took their pictures. I was exhausted by the time they left!)

Aren't they cute?
That's "the boyfriend", and they've been together about 7 months now? 8? I can't remember. Sweet as can be!

 And then shortly after that, my daughter turned 17. 17!?!  GAH!  We made a triple chocolate strawberry explosion cake:

Making dipped strawberries for the cake


I gained 10 lbs before I even took a bite, I swear.

And that's been my life! I'm looking forward to all sorts of things, and I plan on sharing a lot more here as they happen!