Saturday, December 31, 2016

Come on 2017! (Part Two: Goals)

Yesterday, I established that for me 2016 was a bad year. I also said that I am working on goals for myself. Not resolutions, but goals that can be hammered at with various levels of success without giving up. Part of establishing goals is taking a look at the state of each thing currently. For me, I can only set goals on tangible things, things that I actually wield some control and influence over.

Of course, I'd love to just say "I'll be happier!" in 2017, but that doesn't mean anything. How will I be happier? What makes me happy? What if what makes me happy is completely beyond my control?

The truth is that all goals are in the pursuit of happiness. They fulfill different needs within us that lead to contentment and happiness if we achieve them. They also offer lifelines to us when things start going wrong. Essentially, goals are about making ourselves stronger and able to withstand what life would throw our way, which makes us able to enjoy those moments when happiness is a real thing.

So, with all that in mind, here are my goals for 2017 with ideas on how to achieve them (and they're all important, so order doesn't matter here):


My health deteriorated in 2016. I gained weight, exercised less than I have in 15 years, and I have physical pain and more (some linked to this asinine behavior of mine, and others just a nifty nasty new present the universe decided to lob at my head.) I cannot live like this. I do not want to live like this.

My goals include getting back to the original program that worked for me so many years ago (that I stayed on for a few years, and maintained with.) This should result in significant weight loss, but my real goal is now health (and less pain.) This goal includes my husband, because we're in our mid-40's now and I worry about heart attacks and the like, especially in his case.

I feel like I am starting from square one again, something I haven't felt in about 15 years, and it's depressing. But it's important to remember that just because you are starting again, it doesn't mean you'll stay at the beginning. Eventually, you can accomplish so much and not feel so bad about where you are at anymore. This starting point will be that distant memory soon enough.


Every year, I do an art quilt. This has all the work I did for the year in it, and this is 2016:

What I see here is 99% of the work I completed in 2016, and how little I actually created. Depression hit me hard, and while I mostly made it out of bed, I didn't make it into the studio. My heart wasn't in it, or much of anything. I do see some growth, a gradual switch back to oils (finally!) and a few other things... but mostly, I see that I am lost.

I work in separate genres (surreal and fantasy, and dabble with abstracts still), and while I have been this way for a long time, I have lost my "voice" in all of those over the past few years. I'm not sure why that happened. Maybe it's a natural consequence of growth, and it's normal and you just have to find it again. I certainly hope so.

I had so many goals at the end of 2015, because I thought that is what I needed to focus on in my career. The problem with losing your artistic voice and vision is that more production when you are uninspired and lost isn't possible or reasonable. You think it's the answer because it means money, and you think you'll figure it out while you sell what you create in the meantime. It's the wrong focus.

2017 is going to be different. In some ways, I realize I have lost certain skills, or simply don't have what I need yet. 2017 is going to be about pulling back. I'm going to sort of cocoon myself in my studio and LEARN. I want and need to learn several new techniques. I need to paint, without the intent to sell, without that pressure, so that I can give myself the room to grow again.

Will I continue to sell? Oh, sure, I have a thriving business and that will continue... but sort of on the back burner. It's not my focus for 2017, and I'm lucky enough to be able to take the space to try and improve myself as an artist. I have a long way to go, but to me, this is worth more than selling a painting ever again.

And there you have it, my goals! I thought there would be more, but I think it is best if I stick close to home, simple, and quiet with them.

I have personal goals, but they're kind of vague. I also suspect a lot of my personal goals and feeling better in general will be directly linked to achieving my health and art goals. Mind, body, and spirit. I sincerely want my spirit to stop feeling so wounded. I feel... like I'm bleeding, all the time, everywhere. I don't believe this is linked to just one thing, and I certainly cannot share publicly the deeper thoughts and issues I struggle with, because let's face it, the Internet hordes would crucify me. You cannot be totally human any more, not in person, and certainly not online.

So, I'll simply say that I hope for better. For health, and peace, and balance that 2016 lacked so significantly for me. I cannot control the world, what 2017 will pelt us all with from the outside. I CAN control what happens within my bubble and focus on being a better me.

I expect that I will be doing a lot more blogging about my progress on these goals, because it will be moving in the right direction and I think I would like to share that.

Do you have goals for 2017? Are you ready?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Come on 2017! (Part One: The Downer)

2016 has been hard, don't you think? I don't know anyone that thinks it was a good year. Yet, I had some good things happen in 2016, big things, things that one would think would qualify it as a great year! But they don't.

I was thinking about this whole 2016-perspective-thing last night as a small spat broke out between my kids. We had been sitting outside on our porch, chatting around a little fire-table we got for Christmas (it doesn't put out much heat, so it was a little chilly, but it's neat to have one!) The conversation had been good, everything was pleasant... and then suddenly it wasn't. The evening ended on a sour note, and everyone left. When something like that happens, do you still feel like you had a good evening, or does the sour note sort of ruin all the good that came before and make you feel like you shouldn't have bothered in the first place?

My husband is the type of person who thinks that a great evening cannot be ruined by a bad ending. He immediately said it was a great evening with good conversation, and not to let the ending ruin it. My perspective is that if the evening ends with everyone feeling bad, it wasn't a good evening even if it started out well. That doesn't mean I won't try again, just that this time we missed the mark. I can see the good, but it's more of a lesson about how to maybe get it right next time (because ending bad is just bad, period. It was a bad evening.)

My husband finds my perspective disappointing because I'm not all chipper about how it went well until it went into the ditch and ended up with everyone mad at each other. I find his perspective frustrating because how on earth can you expect me to be all positive about the evening ending in a ditch?

I think we both have valid points, and likely neither one of us is right or wrong. Put them together, that's probably the most healthy viewpoint one can have. The good parts are worth building on, the bad are worth noting and maybe changing things for. I'm trying, hard, to find a way to adopt a hybrid view in general. Not only with last night, but also with 2016. Because to be honest, 2016 has pretty much just flat out ticked me off.

On the positive;

  • We finally got furniture and sorta settled into the house, including finally getting my studio organized and stocked.
  • We went to Paris, something I have wanted to do since I was a little girl!
  • My daughter graduated High School and started college.
  • My son passed his exam and got his driving learning permit, turned 16, and now *gasp* has his first girlfriend. (side note: both positives about my kids have also been hard for me, too.)
  • I made a new friend, a real not just an acquaintance friend.
On the negative;
  • I have struggled a great deal with depression. It got in the way of my art and other goals, and I guess I "let it" although I look back and I can see that I did try. Failed, but I didn't give up entirely either. I'm not going to share more on that.
  • I don't think I like North Carolina, and now I'm going to be stuck here for a good many years.
  • Trump. I don't care what your political leanings are, this is my opinion. I normally wouldn't mention political topics on here, but this is unbelievably far-reaching and has had a major impact and will continue to do so.
  • I gained a significant amount of weight. 
  • Health-scares galore in my family, especially with the kids. Add medical bills to this one, too.
Actually, I'm going to stop there. That's enough. Without going into further detail, 2016 has been miserable for me for 90% of it. Whether it's my fault or completely out of my control, it hasn't felt like a good year.

This is the last painting of mine for 2016. "Wilted" (sold) 6x6 inches, oil on loose canvas. 

This last painting, I did it as an assignment for Thrice Fiction Magazine. It's not really illustrative, it's just what sort of popped into my head. The more I have looked at it this past week, the more I realize that this is pretty much my 2016. How I felt, and maybe still feel. 

So, OK. I can say it. For me, regardless of the good things that happened, 2016 sucked. 

But you know what? Even so, I have a choice. You either have move forward and try to do better, or decide that 2017 is going to suck too. Even with my negative viewpoints, I'm not willing to just toss the towel in on 2017 and give it up. It's MY year, it's not even here yet, and I want to do better.

So, I'm working on goals. I'm working on things that are under my control, at least from my perspective at the moment (who knows what will happen) and setting goals for improvement and accomplishment. Not New Year's Resolutions, because those always seemed a bit silly to me. No, just personal goals that I can make mistakes on but keep on trying without having to say I failed at nailing them perfectly (which is how I view resolutions. They have always seemed like all or nothing.) 

I want to be better, do better in 2017. I need to, especially as it feels a lot like we're going to head into the year with the world falling apart and it's unlikely to get better. If the world is a mess, it's important to pull back and strengthen your base, your core, your safe space and self.

(part two, tomorrow with my goals)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


I hope that you have had a good December holiday, no matter what you celebrate (or a decent break, if nothing else!)

I've been engaging in a lot of thinking. More to come on that, but not for today. For today, I wish you all well!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I Want Cookies

Well, I think I want cookies. Actually, that's not what I really want. I want to feel like it's the holidays. That usually involves cookies, ergo I want cookies.

I just cannot get a handle on the southern weather patterns not having SNOW in December. I grew up in Colorado, and you would get snow off and on from about September. The only issue with that was that Colorado was the definition of bipolar when it came to the weather.

I know, I know, everyone thinks they live in a state with changing weather. I moved to Chicago, Maryland, New York, Vermont, and even here in North Carolina. They ALL say the same thing with this laugh like you'll never have heard this before; "Don't like the weather? Wait five minutes and it'll be different! HA!" Yeah. You don't even have a clue about mercurial weather.

In Colorado I went to a job interview and it was 93 degrees. I was trying not to sweat all over my interview outfit, and I was a bit mortified by the whole experience (because I totally sweat all over myself. Between 93 degree weather and nerves, I was totally out of luck at that point.) The next day it snowed over eight (*8*!!!) inches. A 60+ degree weather drop in less than 24 hours, and that was normal.

But SNOW!!! SNOW, people! Colorado was hit and miss with a wintry Christmas, but December still had some snowstorms in it. Vermont used to be just awesome with the seasons, and it was mild and lovely and almost always had snow for the holidays. Even if you didn't, your windows were pretty much shut from October on because it was chilly, and that was an excellent start.

Folks, I am sitting in my studio right now, in December, with my windows open. Now, it's a good thing I can have my windows open because I just varnished seven paintings and I'm pretty sure I saw a unicorn go walking by a minute ago, but my point is... my windows are OPEN.

Where's my cold weather? Where's my keeping warm by the fire and baking cookies on the first snow? How do people get in the holiday spirit without snow when they have always had it?

Last year, I was still all discombobulated from the move so I just chalked up my meh holiday feelings to that. This year, I'm settled, and it feels like October to me. It feels like we're just about to start putting out the Halloween stuff, when instead my house is all decked out for Christmas.

And it IS all decked out! I even went the extra step of flocking things, so I could pretend to have snow. Probably more things than I should have. You see, I did my research on the stuff, and it turns out a 5lbs bag of flocking costs the same as a 25lbs bag, so I got the biggie. I went on a bit of a flocking binge.

The upside is that I ended up saving a lot of things that were headed for the garbage:

These three trees are about 12 years old, and used to light up but don't really anymore. They also looked really awful and kind of bald. But with flocking, TA-DA! I really like them again. (I know, I need to sweep the floor... I'll get to it!)
And this sucker is another 4' tree that was at least 10 years old, and trying hard to be a stick. It was positively anemic.  I actually don't know if it'll make it past this season as it's a lot of branches and separate parts, not like the new trees in just two parts. I'm not sure how to store it all flocked like that.

I did a slew of little 2' trees that were destined to be donated or trashed too, and they came out rather well. My daughter took one to college with her. I was the cool mom for a second there.

I also flocked some new, cheap garland. This year, I picked up a very snowy (flocked) tree from the store for our foyer (I've never had a foyer before, so I'm still trying to figure out what you do with one.) The normal green garland just looked weird with it, so I needed to flock it to match. It came out pretty good, in my opinion:

We ran that garland all over the railings on the steps.  I'd show you a picture of the foyer all decked out, but the more I look at the picture, the dorkier it looks. It looks much better in person. Maybe it's something you just have to be here to appreciate? Anyway, it's very "snowy" inside. I really am trying, here.

Getting our family tree up helped a bit too. All the crazy ornaments that mean something. Bubble lights (because bubble lights are the best!)

But then. But... then.


Last night, I promised my son that I would stop work early and we would watch Christmas specials and bake our first batch of cookies! It was going to be great! Right up until I found that someone had run off with our chocolate chips. (My husband swears it wasn't him, but I have my suspicions.) We put on a holiday movie anyway and made brownies instead.

It all should have worked, but my son finally said to me "It just doesn't feel like the holidays. We need snow, or something."

*head*desk* I KNOW! 

So, anyone have any ideas of how to get the holiday spirit a'flowin' even in the face of this gosh-awful-perfectly-sunny-warm weather? I need that switch to flip in my brain! I need my holiday happy! How do you get in the holiday mood?

In other news, my shop is closing on the 10th for my holiday break, and my last shipment goes out the door on the 14th. Even though I've been out of my own planned business loops this year, I've been working a lot in the past few weeks. The post office people are starting to recognize me and contemplate hiding when they see me coming with my stacks of boxes.

In the midst of all the busy-busy-busy going on, I realized that this time of the year is special because it's the only time that I actually get to be "done".

I divide up all my projects into "Can complete by the deadline" and "Next year!" and once I get through my complete list, I am OFF! Good or bad, I'm done for the year. I've accomplished whatever I could, and it's done. A real feeling of turning off the light, so to speak, and headed home instead of always being on pause.

I really, really look forward to this. It's not that I don't love painting and my business. I DO! But sometimes, well once a year, it's really nice to feel like I have done my best and gotten to drive home from the office to stay home for a spell.

It's coming! Maybe my holiday spirit will pop in on the 14th? I'm looking into what people do around here for holiday stuff and I haven't found much.

I did, however, discover they do holiday home tours. It's totally a thing here. As in, people deck out their houses with holiday stuff and sell tickets. I kid you not. I admit, I'm mildly curious... Can you imagine, though? Having people traipse through your house like that?

Anyway... I should probably be painting, so off I go!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Back to the Art-side

A long absence has certainly given me a lot to share, both personally and art-wise! I'm going to go a bit lighter today.

As it's December, I thought I would share my official 2016 Holiday painting (this is a different painting that I create each year with the intent to release as a holiday card for myself and others to order, etc.) I got my neighbor's daughter to be my model, and I actually think it turned out rather well:

"Sequor" (original is sold, prints and LE canvas prints available)
11x14 Oil on Canvas Panel

I was happy I completed this painting this year, as I sort of failed that goal last year what with only moving into the house in October and not being settled at all. This year, my studio is set-up very nicely. In fact, I recently was able to attend Art of the Carolinas for the first time ever! I didn't participate in any workshops, but the art supply trade show is a DREAM.

I was able to get my hands on all sorts of things at a huge discount. One of the people there told me that many artists save up all year and then do all their buying at the show. I can see why, and I'll likely start doing that myself. 

I was able to purchase HUGE canvas panels for the first time ever. I always had to order stuff in Vermont and the shipping was often the same or more than the panel, and the panel was pricey too so I never went for a big one! At the show I was able to get canvases over 60 inches for less than $60. If you know your canvas, you know that's a big savings! I was giddy at the trade show! I even got a new easel. It's an art supply wonderland for me!

My poor husband endured it pretty well. I figure it's payback for all that time spent in fishing stores, or in the home improvement stores when he's "just browsing" and I get to the point where I'm eyeing the stacks of plywood and thinking "I could nap on that, right? No one would notice..."

I was also able to paw through wood panels. I have started painting on these now and again. I'm kind of on the fence with them. The ones I had were plate-smooth and this actually made it hard to paint on. I felt like the paint was slipping off, and this surprised me because I often feel like I'm fighting the tooth of normal canvases. Still, I got this one to turn out when others had failed me (or I failed them):

"Sunset" 5x7x1" oil on cradled wooden panel, available

I found some gessoed panels at the show that actually had some texture to them, and I'm going to try them and see how they work. I like the idea of painting on wood, but I have a lot of canvas to use up if that's the way I go. I also, a few months ago, found gesso (Prima) that reduces the tooth without sanding and this was a huge find for me.

Let's see. More art that has happened, and has started me really thinking about my studio and my direction:

I painted "Dawn" on a black ground, and this was a new experience for me. One that I really liked, and intend to explore more. It took me longer than necessary because I was new to it, but here is a time-lapse I shot on my phone of the painting:

This is one of the paintings that has got me thinking about my studio and "voice" which I'll touch on in another post. Until then, here is more art from this year that I haven't shared:
I just finished "Ringmaster" on 12/1. I had to turn him around in about 24 hours. I'm pleased with how he turned out! He's another little one: 5x7" oil on canvas panel.
Envy, oil on 6x6 canvas panel (available)

I have been playing with abstracts again:

"Stardust" is a large piece at 24x36x1.5, acrylic/silver leafing/gems on stretched canvas (available)

"Lark" is 9x12, acrylic/gold leafing on stretched canvas (framed, 14x17, available)
Didn't name this one, but same dimensions and info except I used silver leafing (sold)

I've completed other paintings, but that's probably enough for now. And honestly, I haven't been creating a lot this year. I know I originally had this huge plan, but I will say that I failed that. I've been thinking a lot about why, but that is for yet another day!

Friday, December 2, 2016


Every time I see "Hello" I hear Adele's song. Does anyone else have that problem? I blame my daughter for that, playing it incessantly this year while she was here and every time she visits.

I have to say, I don't know why photos from earlier posts are vanishing? I'm not going to go back and re-add them, it's just too much work. Maybe they'll show up again eventually?

You may have noticed that I disappeared for a while. I even deleted my blog there for a bit. Fortunately, blogger hangs onto it for a period of time so you can change your mind. I did, but then I still didn't post.

So much has been going on, and so little at the same time. I'm not sure if I did any clearing of my blog before I deleted it or not, so I'm not sure if I posted about life changes. As I have a draft in my folder, but it doesn't look like it was posted, I'll just assume I never said anything at all from May onward. 

I have a lot to say (and art to share), so this is going to take a few posts over the next week or two. Some might not seem art-related, but my life affects my art, so it really is!

There were big changes in my world, because my daughter graduated from High School and went off to college:
My daughter, on Graduation Day from High School

My daughter, in a painting I did of her this year. 9x12 inches, oil on stretched canvas.
(This one, I didn't sell. I have it on my wall.)

I now have an 18-year-old daughter, in college. An adult. This is a very strange marker to cross. I'm having a lot of thoughts, still, along the lines of "How did I get here?!" 

My youngest just turned 16 about a week ago. I have so little time left with "kids", and an unknown stretch in front of me with "adult children".  Also, my daughter felt it was a good time to mention that I could be a grandma in a few years. So, SO not helpful. I mean, I'll be a good grandma I think, but in my head I'm somewhere between 16-22 years old. I know I'm 41 logically... but I'm not on the inside. 

Facing this family phase of my life being over is proving unbelievably difficult for me. I suddenly understand why some people start over with more kids. Technically, I started my family at 23, so it wasn't that early. Yet, my peers/friends, people my age are actually just starting their families NOW. 

I know of very few friends who are in my position, and I know of so many who had a baby this year or a year or two past. Their houses are filled with that young laughter and energy. Mine has become remarkably changed. I noticed it when we had a neighborhood gathering here and I realized my house isn't kid-safe and it's boring for children. No more toys in any rooms or on floors (upside; no Lego's to step on at 2AM and almost die, so silver lining! Wait, is that why they call it a "silver" lining?)

I have a grown-up house now. Yikes!

We moved from Vermont to this house in North Carolina (over that long and horrible process) and we've only been here just over a year. When we moved, we purged a lot of old things. Old furniture (that it was safe to spill stuff on because after 14 years we weren't even sure WHAT color the couches were anymore), scratched and broken tables, toys that hadn't been played with in years, and so on. We got to buy new furniture here and we picked out stuff that went with the new house and our lives now. But it's grown-up stuff, most especially because the interior of the house is different... colder. It's not that we don't like it, but it's just, well, very adult-like instead of family-kids-like.

Having a child become an adult and seeing this phase of my life coming to a close is a difficult thing to face. Life really IS short. It seems so long when you're young, but it's not. 

Oh, and we're definitely not starting over with more kids. I can barely handle my husband's snoring ruining my sleep, I cannot even fathom getting up with a baby! Not NOW! I don't know how my peers are doing it. *yawn* My husband and I are both firm on that point, but I'm so sad about this part being over too. It's good my kids are successfully flying the nest, but it's heartbreaking too. 

I'm wondering what this means for me going forward. Finding my new normal. I'm not sure what that is, exactly. This is especially true when it comes to my studio and art. But, more on that later...

Monday, May 2, 2016

So, Paris

I finally got to go to Paris. I used to joke around and tell my parents that I wanted to go to Paris every time they mentioned a trip... which always ended up in reality being going camping in the woods with scary outhouses to visit in the middle of the night where I imagined monsters would pull me down the 20ft drop to my death because my butt at 2AM was just the target they had been waiting for! Really, I never considered how little self-respect a monster would have to have to live in a 20ft deep outhouse in the middle of the woods. Had I done so, I imagine my fear would have been properly placed upon the mosquitoes who DID attack me every single time (which led to some very uncomfortable hikes.)

This time, however, I really DID get to go to Paris! We took the whole family, but a lot of this was for my daughter. She's turning 18 and graduating high school, so this was a sort of last hurrah with her still being my little (underage) girl. In other words, I could still ground her... or make her go with me to the Louvre.

We went all over the city! Even with a week there, we weren't able to do everything. There was still so much we missed... but here is a quick rundown of my photos, in random order (because that would take too much thinking). I decided to leave my good equipment at home and only took pictures with my iphone:

My son got sick, and stayed in a day or two, as did my daughter, so there was a "food emergency" trying to feed them. Luckily, we discovered a pizza place for them. My husband and I were very happy about that! An unfed teenager is a dangerous thing!

The Eiffel Tower was lit up in support of Brussels because of the bombing. It hadn't been very many days when we went.


My girl, and I

My husband and the kiddos

Makes you realize why the impressionists painted as they did, doesn't it?
Louvre, outside upper entrance. Note: buy a pass in advance. Standing in line for 90 minutes isn't fun.

I have a lot of paintings I loved from the Louvre, but here is one of my all-time favorites. He painted more than one, and they're stunning. Each painting in the painting is its own painting in its own right. Just mind boggling! Check it out:

Ancient Rome, by Giovanni Paolo Panini, 1757
I'd actually buy a canvas print of these if I could find a good source. It looks like a lot of people go and take a photo and then try to pass it off at a canvas print place online. Tricky-tricky... I'm doing my research. There's got to be a reputable place!

And of course, everyone asks and you kind of have to:

I have never liked the Mona Lisa. I will say, however, she is MUCH better in person. It doesn't matter what scan you have seen of it, or whatnot, it's just not the same. I still think it's just so-so. I have far more that I love, Mona would be at the back of the line for me!

Crepes! (boy, they like their nutella there...)
Sacré-Cœur, Paris.
I found Notre Dame to be a bit creepy, to be honest... 

This is apparently Saint Denis, who was decapitated and one story had him running off with his head for a couple of miles afterward. He's on the front of Notre Dame, but also ALL OVER Paris, if you pay attention. Even in the Louvre, there are paintings of him.

We waited the longest to get into the Paris Catacombs. That is a whole different experience. You know you are going to be seeing bones and stuff, you "get" that... but it's entirely different to stand in a corridor full of bones. These were people, SO MANY people (6 million down there, I'm told) and now... they're skull hearts and weird walls. It's shocking, even if you totally grasp what you are about to see.

We actually went even more places than I am showing here, met up with some online friends who are now in person friends, and so on! SO MUCH TO DO! 

On the last afternoon, we finished our trip by going back to the Eiffel. On the first night, my daughter was sort of accosted... I don't know how to put it, by one of the Rose Men. It's a long story, but it ended with her in tears, no one going up the tower, and me googling scams and thieves here. Which, by the way, YOU MUST do if you're going to visit. The pick-pocketing, scamming, theft, and more are out of control. Every where we went there were people trying something, it was really bad. Even on the trains - we saw one guy get mugged and the thief jumped off at the last second before the doors closed and took off. The begging is beyond shocking (and mostly also a scam, if you look into it) and so on. Paris is great, but go to it with your eyes wide open, and a firm hand on your wallet.

Anyway, my son and I were the only ones to go up the Eiffel on the last day, because my husband and daughter aren't too keen on heights. I loved it! 

This is a panoramic view from the first floor, not the top.

A storm moved in while we were up there:

But we did go to the very top! 

Paris was amazing, truly!

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Well, crap. I mean, "HI!!!"

It's been so long since I have posted. I know. In truth, a lot has happened. Unfortunately, almost none of it happened in my studio. To say I have been struggling in every aspect of my life would be an understatement.

I sort of hit a wall recently. I fell into a depression for a few weeks, but I think it's been creeping up on me for a while. This wasn't a case of the blues, because the blues are excellent for painting. That's the super-productive artistic type of depression, and honestly? I sort of welcome those. I watch sappy tear-jerking movies (Beaches and Steel Magnolias still get me every time, you'd think they'd lose their power over all the years) and I paint for endless hours. My output is awesome with a case of the blues!

No, this time I had the kind of depression where getting out of bed just seemed like too much. I did it anyway, because I'm a parent and I'd die before I stopped being there for my kids... but the moment they were off to school, I pulled the shades, crawled back into bed, and tearfully went back to sleep. And it wasn't even good sleep! I swear, I haven't had a decent round of sleep for over decade.

I did things to try and loosen the hold depression had on me. I exercised like normal, thinking the natural endorphins and all that would snap me out of it. I ate healthy... then I ate poorly... then I ate EVERYTHING (every. thing.) How about painting my feelings? Nope. Not gonna happen. I even thought about quitting my art entirely. After all, what was the point? I sucked anyway, so why bother? Talk to a friend? Let's be honest here, no one actually wants to hear it, not even my husband. Nothing I tried worked.

But over the last week or so, it's started to get better.

I honestly can't explain why I started to shake it off, because nothing has changed. Where I stand now, I still want to crawl back in bed every morning but it's not as hard to fight the urge any more. I'm glad it has shifted, because my next step was to reach out to a doctor to get help. I know all too well how this depression thing works, as it's been a major fixture in my family since I was a child.

I will say, I don't think that this depressive feeling is unwarranted. I've seen others struggle with depression when it didn't come from identifiable sources. Maybe that's why I am starting to come out of this round by myself without help - because it comes from a LOT of places:

  • I have moved to a state that I'm not certain I like
  • I'm adjusting to actually having neighbors and people in my face all the time because I live in a neighborhood and there are just so many people here in this state comparatively (and I'm an introvert, so this is really hard - I've had more people in my house in the last few months because of contractors and bug people and lawn people and furniture people and plumbing or whatever people, than I have had the entire 15 years I lived in Vermont.)
  • My daughter is turning 18 and graduating High School. This is the end of "parenting" as I know it. I'm thrilled and heartbroken at the same time. This one is a biggie. I probably should have listed it first.
  • My studio is NOT working out as I had planned. I'm having a lot of art business related problems. Some are entirely my fault, while others are a product of the move, or - my favorite - being the outsider because I'm new here.
  • Family problems. But I'll not be over-sharing, so just imagine some appropriately angsty kind of stuff that aren't deal-breakers, but aren't fun either.
All that is plenty, and then I've been running myself ragged with a lot of activities. For example, we went to Paris for Spring break (PARIS! I had never been, and we figured it was a make-up trip for not taking any at all for so many years, and our last chance before my daughter was actually considered an adult.) Paris was awesome, and I'll cover that in a later post, but it was also completely exhausting. We walked 8-13 miles a day doing whatever it was we were doing. Lots to see, big city to navigate, and frankly a lot of stress because a foreign country is an unfamiliar place. (It was still awesome, though.) 

I think it's entirely possible that I exhausted myself to the point that the depression could finally put me in a choke hold. And maybe, while it wasn't ideal, maybe all that crawling into bed was something I needed to do. I don't know.

Anyway. I'm not feeling great about things, but it's getting better. I'm up, exercised, showered and dressed, sitting in my studio cussing out a few canvases and finally logging in a blog. I figure that's an improvement!

So that's the update on where my head has been for all these weeks... I'll be sure to post about Paris and more going forward next time! Here is the pitiful amount of art to come out of my studio during the previous weeks:

"My Heart" 8x10, oil on canvas, for Thrice Fiction Magazine. Available in my store.

and I finished the mermaid:

"Ebb" 9x12, oil on canvas panel. SOLD

Thursday, March 10, 2016

There's Only So Much Time

I cannot believe a month has gone by since I've updated my blog again. I feel like I'm alternately the most lazy person in the world, and also as if there is never enough time in a day because I'm just so busy with a million projects. I'm not sure how both co-exist, but they do for me.

I feel guilty for every single moment I take for myself. I think I'd feel better if someone told me how much time I am allowed for myself in a day, time that would be thought of as not being lazy and instead being perfectly acceptable as "me-time". Is there a chart somewhere? I need that...

So, since I have last popped in I turned 41.
Me, the morning of my birthday.

It was an interesting birthday because at first I wasn't going to celebrate it ON my birthday at all. My husband was traveling all over the world and wasn't going to be in town, and I just wasn't feeling it (I was also thinking about me trying to lose weight and how that wouldn't help things.) But on my birthday, I woke up and I knew I wanted to do something. My husband had a weird situation that ended up with flights canceled and him actually here on my birthday, so I took that as a sign! There was dinner, and chocolate cake. 41 years of chocolate cake seems like an achievement! (I just wish I didn't see leftover cake as a personal challenge. It's a good thing I have a teenage son willing to "help" me out on that issue.)

On the art front, I snagged a couple abstract commissions and also completed a few more paintings. I'm starting the abstracts at a significantly lower price-point because I figure it's sort of a re-entry into the abstract market after so long. I also dumped Etsy (finally!) and created my new store front and got that up and running ( So here are some of the paintings I finished in February:

9x12, acrylic on stretched canvas. Available.

This was a commission, but the client decided he wanted a smaller moon. 

Since on the last picture, the client rejected the moon being so big and I painted him another, I had this big moon canvas and I needed to do something with it, so, I added knife-worked trees and little cardinals in the branches:
16x20, acrylic on canvas, available.
I've finished others and they've sold and gone on their way to their new homes, and I have plans for a wooden panel elemental series... just as soon as I get some GAC 100 to seal the panels. (I know some people use GAC 700, but are there any other alternatives? I've always used prepared panels prior to this, but these are raw birch.)

I've started a smaller mermaid piece, and here are just two pictures of the under painting layers - I'll be adding in color today, actually!

She looks a little crazy eyed, but I figure lashes (one of the finishing touches) will soften that considerably. At least I hope it will. Otherwise, she's a little scary.

I have another surreal painting JUST getting started on the under tones with an elephant and a girl, and I also am gearing up to finish out the Alice Series. I have the 18x24 finally all laid out. I know some people are very precise in their painting sketches, but the only part that is solid in a painting sketch for me is a person's face. All the rest is sort of a landmark type of thing for me. It's loosey-goosey.

For example, the Cheshire will look at a lot better than that, and the bushes and stuff, I've just marked roughly where I want them to go. The painting is large, and complicated, but I hope it won't take too long. I'm so far behind, and the client really has been patient with me... but enough is enough! (I have too many commitments I think.)

I figured out I've been tripping over Lily almost constantly as she's become my stalker. I'll paint for a while, not look down when I go to stand up, and then suddenly be on the floor. She picks a new, sometimes stealthy, spot behind me every time, too.

And Socrates has been doing his best to distract me:

It's really hard to paint when a Maine Coon Cat decides he wants your attention. But in truth, it's coming down to me and my own distraction and needing to properly focus and get my work done.

I have to complete the mermaid and elephant paintings by the 20th, so I have very little time and so much work to do. My focus right now is to finish all the commissions I have and clear my books, and then re-evaluate my plan for the year. I had set up three new series I was going to be starting, and I haven't managed to start a single one of those and yet here we are in mid-March. I need to figure this out. Some of that might be disappearing for a while from my other social media so I can just be on a paint-frenzy and try and make a few jumps forward.

Time, and not having enough of it, seems to be my theme this year!