Monday, June 24, 2013


I've been trying to do more, and have made some tiny progress on my big watercolor/acrylic painting, but it's honestly been disappointing. Not the results, but my progress. Or really, getting to the point where I can paint.

It's been wildly busy, but even more than that? The weather is not my friend. I remember when we moved here, and Vermont summers were simply lovely. You had 1-2 weeks of misery in August but the rest was all a lovely 75 degrees or so, and the windows would be open. No one had air conditioners, and it was OK - because why buy one for only a week? Ahhh, I miss it.

Instead, we've been having thunderstorms like these:

(Ignore the target I drew on the window with eyeliner, it was to give the restless natives something to shoot their Nerf gun ammunition at besides my backside.)

These storms leave the ground soggy and gross, and add to the 80-million-bajilllion humidity. Humidity that is not breaking right now, and makes you sweat when it's only 70 degrees. Once you hit anything over 80, you're in total soggy misery.

I just took this outside, not five minutes ago. It probably doesn't look as humid as it does in person - but I will point out that there is a whole other mountain range behind the one there, and you can't see it at all! Ick! More storms expected this afternoon.

The only A/C we have is in the bedrooms (window units), and we've been hiding out there. Painting has been sort of off the table (or really, left all alone on it) during all of this. I keep trying, but it's getting to the point that perhaps I should think about how to set up a working table in my bedroom. That's assuming I have any time between all the madness. Fortunately, that's coming to a head this week. If I survive until Sunday, my crazy schedule should mellow out a bit. Although, big things are stirring in my life right now. I can't give details, but it's going to turn everything on its ear eventually.

Stress is not my friend.

Speaking of friends, I went and slogged out through the yard and paid a brief visit to see how the chickens and garden are doing. Mostly, the chickens are hiding out. Everything is muddy and hot. Although Buffy (the rooster, named before we knew it was a boy - and really, it fits him) was strutting along and was happy to say hello, along with a couple of the girls (there are 23 at present, most lounging about inside the coop):

And on our row of blueberry bushes, I actually spotted something I didn't expect:

Those, my friends, are blueberries! Out of the whole row, this is the only one with them. I didn't expect any until next year anyway, as we only planted them late last year. But this one little bush seems to be an overachiever! We'll still go pick at the farm in a few weeks, which I'm really looking forward to - if I get there early enough, they should have raspberries and strawberries too.

My garden was planted late this year because of the chilly rainy weather we were getting (clearly we zoomed right past nice weather and went straight to August misery) but when we did plant, we found onions we had missed digging up last year. But they were alive, so we left them. This is what they're doing now:

Apparently, I'm supposed to harvest them immediately and they're probably worthless, but I can put the flowers into water. So, I figure that's what I'll do. I looked up onion flowers, and really they're kind of pretty! I still have different seedlings to plant (like broccoli and peppers) but I'm waiting on a truckload of dirt, because our land is all clay.

And that... well, that's what's been going on here in between melting in the heat and humidity and ferrying my kids places. Oh, and trying to not have a heart attack while teaching my daughter to drive!

Actually, I know I won't get any painting in for a couple days because circumstances put me out and about. I will, however, apparently be catching Superman, and World War Z. I wonder if that means I'll start painting zombies wearing capes...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday, Monday!

I have a goal this week. It's to actually have a more normal week! I think that's a wonderful goal, given that last week felt like a run-on sentence that never ended. A run-on Monday, maybe?

The reality is that summer is not conducive to any sort of normal structure. Kids have vacation time, which is great for them. Really. I do actually remember what it was like to count down the seconds until the bell rang and school was out for the summer! So, I understand the initial euphoria, and even the eventual boredom that sets in. But when you work from home, summer vacation turns everything inside out.

So, here's my strategy: I told the kids to research one fun thing for us to go and do each week. The first thing this accomplishes is that it gives them a mission: research. The second is that they'll have to work up a list with details and agree on some things. It will cost me a day of work, but I think it'll be beneficial for all of us. I'm also hoping it'll wear them out, so they'll be more appreciative of their ability to just go nap in a sunbeam if they want to, because it's summer vacation! (This may, however, backfire on me and I'll end up being the one napping.)

So far, we have the amusement park and the waterpark on the list. I'm not sure how well that will actually turn out, what with motion sickness practically being my natural state (I'm the only person I know who can get car-sick while I'm the actual driver! It's one of my many talents, what can I say?) I told them the rest of the items they pick cannot involve me in a bathing suit or throwing up.

My work has sat dormant, and I keep looking at it trying to decide if it's a lost cause or not:

Big watercolor/acrylic - the one that popped the block. I tacked it down, and haven't been able to work much with it since.
The masking I used was a new bottle, and it seems to have stripped the surface layer of the paper, making it too absorbent and fuzzy (in particular with my fairy.) However, it's easy to be critical when she looks weird without hair or anything else. So, I think I'm going to press on this week and see what happens with her.

I've also gotten a little further with my Queen of Hearts. I think I'm going to include a flamingo or two, as they're part of who she is, and I already have a painting of them in my series:

"Wanna Play?" Acrylic on Stretched Canvas

In addition to the flamingo(s?), I plan on putting in the White Rabbit, and figuring out how to weave in some playing cards. That last part is the one I'm having a bit of a struggle trying to figure out. I'm probably making it too hard on myself, and it'll just come to me when I'm sketching her out, but I simply cannot see it all yet. I've also decided, however, that she should be a bigger painting - 16x20", like the White rabbit. That means she likely needs more of a setting, as he got as well.

Much to ponder!

I hope you are all well!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Art of Doing Nothing

Anything you can do, I can do... later...

This week has simply been crazy for me. There have been down times when maybe a more industrial sort would have found her way to her easel, but instead I used it to stare blankly at a television, cat, wall, potted plant... you know, whatever managed to be sitting in front of me at the time.

I'm tired. I didn't mean to take this week off from painting, but it's already Friday and I've accomplished exactly nothing in the studio!

My children are now officially out of school, and on Tuesday I attended the 6th grade graduation (it went on for almost two hours. I could go on about how insane that is, but at this point I'm looking at it as more of a survival exercise.)

There were tassels, and cake, and random bouts of chatting. We're officially out of the elementary school gang. I'm now in the Junior and High school club. I was exhausted by the time we all made it back home.

To that end, my daughter also got her driving permit the next day(everyone in Vermont, look out!) It was quite the ordeal at the DMV, which sat in the middle of the floor in the courthouse where parolees meet up with their officers. There was one man who wouldn't stop watching my daughter and I, and both of us had the eebie-jeebies by the time we left. On the way home, I decided I was suicidal now was a good time to start teaching her how to drive. So, on one of the quiet country roads we switched seats and she drove home the rest of the way. There were a couple moments that I'm pretty sure I can blame for the new silver in my hair, but all in all she did well!

However, when we got home? I needed a nap. Or a glass of wine. Maybe a couple glasses. I took the nap instead.

Yesterday I intended to do many things, and did exactly none of them. It was my only down day for the week, because Friday was all about driving all the way up into town to have my daughter's braces removed:


...and then back home again for lots of other stuff.

Now it's Friday evening, and the only thing I can think about is "how early can I go to bed?"

The paints have sat dormant. My ideas are still flowing though, and I'm working and reworking how my queen of hearts is going to be structured. She's absolutely up next!

I've also been contemplating whether to include the Jabberwock at all, as he only showed up in a poem in the book, and not an actual character (as the movie would lead you to believe.)

Anyway, any art I accomplished this week has been "all in my head". Does that count at all?

I need another nap.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


As an artist working in traditional (physical) media, and one old enough to remember a time when every household did NOT have a computer (and telephone cords long enough to knit a sweater out of), I've watched the emergence of digital art warily.

It's funny how the world changes, and we all need to adapt. I was thinking about several people I know of who are near their 100th birthday. These are people who existed in a time when everyone didn't have electricity or telephones. Technology brings with it amazing change to every aspect of our world, and this includes art.

Just think, those paints you use are pre-mixed. The paper, the canvas, other mediums - likely all machine produced with technological advances that didn't exist some time ago. It's very likely that artists of a couple hundred years ago would look at our pre-made tools and supplies and scoff "You're cheating!"

I mean, I haven't pounded any minerals to create a new paint color or chased down a squirrel for my paintbrush bristles lately, have you?

We're a digital world now. More and more, computers are integrating into our lives in ways we never even imagined. I've watched the art world morph from brushes to airbrushes (back in the late 80's and early 90's)... and boy was that a big to-do when that started happening. I remember people being upset with those who air brushed, questioning the use of frisket film and more. I remember an art teacher explaining how little skill it takes to point a spray nozzle verses holding a paint brush to create something. They were wrong, of course. It takes just as much skill to create with an air brush as it does with a paintbrush, just different flavors of skill.

It was art elitism. It was easy to see, and it was just about people fighting change. I remember shrugging and still asking for one for my birthday because I wanted to try it (I still have it too! My cheap air brush! It's a piece of junk, but I can't seem to bear to part with it!)

If I so easily saw the silly prejudice against airbrushing compared with traditional art, I now have to ask myself why I have been struggling with digital art so much. Because it's here, just like airbrushing was. We've gone from brush, to airbrush, to digital-brush  The game has changed, and there is something major going on. Major, and permanent.

I've been dancing around the idea of trying to learn how to digitally paint on a Cintiq (where you draw right onto the screen as you would paper, etc), but hesitant because there are so many things you don't have to do, processes and rules you don't have to observe with digital art. Heck, where's the risk? One slip with watercolor and your piece is ruined! But on digital? UNDO! It's freakin' brilliant! I want an undo button on my 140lbs hot-pressed block, please.

It looks like cheating, right?

But it's not.

I realized that I needed to break digital art out into different categories, and then take them or leave them. I realize that most of my frustration with digital art comes from those who take from others and simply embellish. For example, when you pull someone else's stock of a lovely woman, another stock of some butterflies and frogs, put pieces of them together and change a few colors or "treat" them with filters or what not... well, you may be creating the composition, but you're doing it heavily on the backs of other's work. It's far different from than having someone model for my work. I have to be honest, I don't respect that. There may be some cool images that result from it, but I would only respect it if you went out and created all those stock image pieces yourself (or a large portion of what the final result contains.) Anyone actually can put pieces of other people's work together and create something "new" and call it art. I think that's where I draw the line: can anyone do it? It's not art.

And maybe that is a shameful elitist attitude. Maybe this is the ugly side of art-me. But I realized that's what has bothered me about digital art for so long. It's not the artists who are drawing their own creations, it's the ones sticking pieces of other people's work together like a magazine collage we all created in elementary school that bothers me.

I realize that there are many areas to the art field now. You can work in photography, sculpture, painting, and more traditional types of work. You can also work in digital, and that has even more subcategories. You do not, and should not, work in them all. It's perfectly acceptable to work in one, and none are better than any of the others. A good thing to be consciously aware of.

The last thing I realized is that I don't have a hobby. I don't have any hobbies (except running/fitness. Can I call something a hobby if I half hate it, but do it anyway because I half like it too?) Art used to be a hobby when I was a child. It stayed that way until I slowly started showing, selling, and finally took the professional path. It's my career now.

But do you know what is the best thing about a hobby? There's no risk! You can play! You can make a mistake! You can even try something and find out you are absolutely awful at it!

I realize that just because I am professional artist, this does not mean that art cannot still be my hobby! I have an impossible time sitting down and just painting for fun. In the back of my mind is always "If this comes out right, I can add it to my shop's offerings." That's pressure. That's professional. As much as I love it, that's work.

But digital art... I'm interested. Now that they have devices that mimic traditional creation, right onto the screen, NOW I'm paying close attention. I want to try it. I've spent hours researching, asking questions, and looking at other's work. I want to... play.

I finally realized that I want a hobby, I think I may even need one, and this can be it! I can learn about digital art. Play. Create. And hey, I can even fail at it. If it's not my business, and it's just a hobby, what harm is there? I can't use business hours or business funds for it, it's got to run on my personal only. But why not? And if I am successful at it, there's nothing to say I cannot apply that to my business when I am ready!

So, I've decided to take up a new hobby. To learn when I can, to not stress over it, and to hopefully enrich myself as an artist. Of course, this is a long term kind of project. I have to figure out how to pay for it first (I even looked into part-time jobs that I could take on perhaps a temporary basis to pay for the Cintiq. Of which, there are none out here right now. Major drawback to living in the country, I suppose.) I haven't figured out how to get it all rolling just yet, but at least I have a start.

All in all, I'm pretty excited! All it took for me to chase after this was over a year of research, personal introspection and facing my own art attitudes, and a lot of waffling. Totally worth it. *wink*

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June Bug

I think I have Summer-Fever. Is that possible? I suddenly want to take off time from everything, pull out a hammock, set sun tea to brewing, slice up watermelon and strawberries, and not think about doing anything I don't want to!

I vaguely remember what that was like, as a child on Summer break. I think it hasn't been that way since I was a teenager and I started working (my first paying job was as a face painter in a carnival, actually! What was yours?) It was all downhill from there!

I just want to go and play!

My children are counting the hours until school is out at this point. My daughter turned 15 years old this past weekend, and she's ready for Summer because it means more busy times with camps and learning to drive (which means more for me to do.) My son just wants out, and is "graduating" 6th grade on Tuesday. By the way, when did elementary school graduations become such a big deal? People out here are throwing parties and giving lavish gifts to their kids. Me? I'm patting him on the head and saying "Nice job, on to Junior High!" I might make brownies or something.

I must be a bad mom. I just think that when you celebrate everything, it makes those bigger accomplishments seem not as big. I don't mind a "yay! Summer is here, school is out!" sort of BBQ or something, but these 6th grade parties and gifts remind me of a high school or college graduation (some of the children when my daughter graduated ended up with iPods and laptops and hundreds of dollars. Just blows my mind.)

Anyway... *ahem*

I made it into the second round of voting for the art licensing contract, and I'm trying to figure out which six paintings to submit for round two. I'm working on one now, that if it comes out right, I'd certainly like to include.

The darn thing popped its block though, when I was layering in the background. I must like to work far too wet in comparison to the average watercolor artist. I just like to play in the water! I can't restretch it what with all the color, so I've tacked it down to some foam board with the hopes that it'll behave itself and not buckle all over the place.

I wrote my studio newsletter for June, and I realize that May didn't result in a lot of work finished. Just Alice. I can't explain it, and I'm not happy about it! My finger is still broken, and I'm not happy about that either. It should be magically better by now, right?

Ahh well. At least Summer is almost here. Maybe I will take a little time off, and work on prepping for some shows with prints and such (not that it would qualify as time off... might have to rethink that.)

Are you ready for summer? Big plans? No plans?