Yep, first full day under my belt. Yesterday was orientation, very corporate. Codes and passwords for everything from restroom access to internet access. Today, more time with co-workers, all very nice. This will work out all right.
When I took the picture above, I told my brother, as we stood in the sleet, that I was going to paint this one. His look at me would have been the definition of "askance." The side of a beat up old metal container? But really, isn't it just wonderful? And yes, I've started to paint it, a small version to warm up, a large version to come.
Everything's good and it's just going to get better.
It's been a long time since I last posted and a lot has happened in that time.
Right before Christmas, Walter the Art Guy left a message: four paintings out on approval, maybe a check after the first of the year; representation here in Kansas City at relocating Park Place Gallery in the Crossroads District; and he needs more paintings. All good. I have been so busy making outfits for Betsy and Nora for Christmas that I haven't done any "art" for a while. I came to think of my fashion creations as wearable collages. Now I need to get some work done that's not so wearable.
Last Tuesday, my mom slipped, fell and broke her wrist and tore up her arm, 20 stitches and a cast. At any age, that's a bad deal, but at 82, it's frightening for her. I think she'll be all right, but she's impatient, wants to get back to doing what she's always done. Also last Tuesday I had a job interview, went back on Wednesday for another interview, and was offered the job. Starting in two days, I will be an assistant in the trust department of a bank. Tomorrow I go in for orientation. Different environment for me, but very similar to the work that I used to do. Benefits, I hope, and a regular paycheck will help the dire financial situation, supplemented by any art that I can sell. I have had a good run of being master of my own time, enjoyed every second of it, and will miss my freedom. But it's time for a change.
I left Wednesday noon to go to my mother's house for the holiday. The first thing I see when I get to town is there's a brand new Sonic restaurant on the east side of town, basically in the parking lot of the relatively brand new grocery store there. Wow, that's big, especially since there's another Sonic on the west side of the main street, only about a mile away. Later I find out that the west side Sonic will become something else. Still only one Sonic in town, and still no street lights.
Thursday is cold, rain turning into sleet turning into snow. But my brother Steve, the unrepentant junker, and his son Chris, who has been raised in that fine tradition, picked me up and off we went to the metal recycling centers. I was looking for photographs, Chris was looking for automotive details to decorate his "man cave" in the garage, and Steve was just along for the ride. It was so cold that my camera would only work for a few minutes outside. When we finally gave up on hopping in and out of the Jeep, Chris took us on a tour of the town so I can see all the new stuff and also what has happened to the old stuff. My brother and I did a lot of "Didn't the Jones's used to live there? Who lives there now?"
The blizzard arrived Thursday afternoon, along with Matt, my son. My sister and her family and my aunt and uncle didn't even attempt to come for Christmas eve. Church services were cancelled for Christmas eve and Christmas day. I was just happy to know everyone was safe. It was a quiet and peaceful Christmas eve. . . with my brothers and I remembering what we did when we were kids waiting for Santa. The younger generation was probably pretty bored, and they all had their cellphones in hand, but they are all wonderful kids and I so enjoyed hearing about what was going on in their lives. The snow continued all through Christmas day.
I headed home on Saturday; the sun was shining, the snow had quit. The road going east had some drifting, but it wasn't too bad. The interstate going north was clear. . . until I got within two miles of my exit. It starting snowing again, the road was snowpacked, and traffic was iffy. I finally got home but there was so much snow I couldn't pull into the driveway. Yesterday I shoveled a path to the garage. And I started painting. It seems more important to use my leisure time for creating now that I will have less of it. And besides, it's fun.
The picture at the top of this post is one from Thursday's junk expedition. I actually got quite a few shots that have already inspired the beginnings of two new paintings. Wish me luck on my new venture, and remind me to keep making my art no matter what.
in the decluttering of my basement. That big ol' pile of nasty that was strewn about on the floor last week is now piled up neatly, just waiting for someone to see the potential in it. Just look at the green game board, the architectural salvage pieces, the twine winder. . .
the microscope box, the library card catalog drawer, a postal sorting box with the names of cities and states still attached, a leather box shaped like a horseshoe. So far I have met three interesting people who have come to my studio and instead of telling me they preferred a finished basement with a pool table, a bar and surround-sound big-screen televisions, they loved every bit of it just as it was: every drop of paint spilled on the floor, every inch of space filled to the brim with stuff, the old ping-pong table covered with paper, jewelry, fun stuff. Each one was an artist. . . ah, that explains it.
for Betsy's Christmas present. She loves to wear a skirt or a dress every day. And since I have no money to spend on presents, I rediscovered my fabric stash and for the price of a $2 (on sale at JoAnns) pattern and about $1.50 elastic, I came up with this skirt. The fabric to make the skirt came from leftover samples from decorators. The purple flower is detachable, but Betsy loves purple. Betsy has the perfect figure for a 5-year-old: 24, 22, 24. The skirt is 10" long, isn't that just adorable? I was inspired by the clothes on the Matilda Jane website and I think I pretty much nailed the look. I will also get a plain T-shirt and embellish it, either with iron-ons or ruffles, and maybe some tights or leg warmers, also embellished, or if I can's find the right ones, I'll just whip some up. Maybe a little skirt for Nora, too?
My mother would be dismayed at how I put this thing together. Everything is machine-stitched, even the hem. My thinking is that I want Betsy to wear this and she will play in it and I don't want my hand-stitched hem coming apart. All the seams are pressed in one direction, then zigzagged and then top stitched. I'm a bit befuddled by this pattern, because there is a yoke facing on the front, but I couldn't see where there was a yoke facing on the back because there was a casing for the elastic. Shoot, I even read the directions and they weren't any help.
I will never be the seamstress that my mother is, and my sister is even more amazing. They are both perfectionists. Not me. I experiment. I will try anything. I don't necessarily follow the directions on the patterns. Like on this one, I added the little "aprons." And, most of all, I want instant gratification. So while this is the first skirt I made like this, I will be making more, and they will be variations on a theme.
I make it sound as though I were out at sea in a desperate storm. Not really, I'm still working my way through my basement/studio. I knew when I asked my (ex)husband if he would help me clean it, and he answered, "I didn't make that mess, you know," that I was on my own. . . not really too surprising under the circumstances. The picture above shows the only piece of art that I have touched in a couple of weeks. . . it's a start, but I can't seem to get past this stage at this time. I keep getting sidetracked, finding back wonderful stuff and having to make fateful decisions as to the disposition of the fabulous stuff.
Like this shelf of old books (well, maybe not the Reader's Digest.) It's one of three shelves of old books, pamphlets, etc. I can't bear to part with them right now. Maybe later.
And what about this old lens testing kit? I love it, love it, love it, even though I will never make the collaged pendants that I had planned. The box itself is wonderful.
This picture shows a bit of the mess I will tackle today. I know, I should be ashamed that it ever got to this point. I watched a show, "Hoarders" yesterday on TV. . . this could be a segment on that show. At least this is just a small space. There's a scoop shovel in my plans for this week.
But here's a part that's been cleared and organized. Christmas ornaments and Santa collection culled to two or three crates; Halloween stuff in one-plus bin. Not sure I will put up the big tree this year, or the big heavy lit wreath that usually hangs in the beautiful arched window above the front door. I'm a bit of a Scrooge this year. I was invited to a cookie exchange Saturday night, which required that I make a couple dozen cookies. Unfortunately I fell asleep waiting for a concoction that was supposed to take an hour to bake. It wasn't burned too badly. . . I cut out the bad bits. I probably never be invited back.
Yep, cleaning out the basement/studio. This time it's serious. I ask myself: Do I want to move this? If the answer is no, the next question is: Sell, give away, pitch? What I'm showing here is some of the stuff I'm selling. I already pitched 12 big garbage of junk (truly not usuable in any form) with the help of Alex, my 8th grade neighbor. What a nice young man. Above are years of Somerset Studio magazines, Cloth Paper Scissors, etc.
Bunches of vintage papers purchased at estate sales years ago. I was never able to create anything vintage to my satisfaction.
Old games. I also got these at estate sales. They looked like fun. Never got around to it.
Just a small small portion of watch parts. Are these what are used in "steampunk?"
Just a glimpse of vintage jewelry. I was really into beading and jewelry making for a while. My plan on these was to take them apart and reassemble the parts into whole pieces. I didn't have the patience for it.
Craig's List is pretty amazing. I've had more than ten inquiries since last night. I wish etsy were like that. I think the word "CHEAP" was the Craig's List main attraction. Because I'm almost giving this stuff away.
I am chagrined at the amount of time and money I have spent on these various activities. Oh, and if anyone sees anything they might want, let me know. Make an offer, I don't have any idea on what to price these.
. . . Thanksgiving feast. Everyone from my extended family came except for my sister's family from Pennsylvania. So, sorry, Amanda and Elizabeth, you'll have to get in the next family picture. When my brothers and sisters and I were young, we had many pictures taken on the gorgeous old staircase in my parents' house. The tradition continued last night. I think Stef and Andy were trying to get a shot for their Christmas cards; I can almost assure you that this one won't make the cut.
And then the next generation took their places on the staircase at my house. They are all young adults now. My brother-in-law remarked that when he married my sister, there was only one grandchild, my daughter Stephanie. Now look at all of them.
Top row: Christopher and Katie; next row: Ali, Betsy, Hannah and Lauren; next row: Joey on Stephanie's lap, Nora on Andy's lap, and Sean; bottom: Matt and John. Quite a good looking crew, and with their parents, a wonderful family to have.
. . . a bit of art between a couple of very busy weeks. Last Friday was my Betsy's fifth birthday. She invited me to come along with her and her mother to "Build a Bear" workshop, where she created and outfitted a pink unicorn that she named "Uni." Then we had lunch at Nordstom's cafe (grilled cheese sandwich, not mac & cheese.) On Saturday I had a house showing for which I did indeed clean the house, and I went to Betsy's house to play "Sorry" with her. Joey didn't understand the rules of the game and kept trying to steal everyone's tokens or "sorry" them across the room. Last night, when Uncle Matt could be present, we celebrated with a pink and marshmallow birthday cake and ice cream. Elvis the Elf, who is sort of a spy for Santa, has arrived in the house and is watching the kids to report any good deeds or misdeeds. Joey was extremely helpful and Betsy mainly stayed out of Elvis's sight.
Last week, as though by magic, two jobs appeared on my CareerBuilder.com list that I am very interested in. One is at a bank as a Senior Trust Administrative Assistant. I figure I have the "senior" part down, for sure. The description of this job is exactly the type of thing I used to do in my previous life. The other is at a law firm as a paralegal with emphasis on estate and trust administration. Also exactly what I used to do. I quickly applied on line. . . sending in my resume and cover letter. I don't exactly like applying for jobs on line, but apparently that's the way things are done these days. Now I need to convince one of these places that they cannot survive without me. My sister told me she had read somewhere that people are showing up at work places bearing homemade cookies for the hiring staff, or having T-shirts printed up with the company's logo and something like "Hire Me." A bit extreme for me, especially the cookies. I am also going to apply at Kohl's today: I heard they were hiring for 7:00p.m. to 1:00 a.m. shift restocking shelves during the holidays. I figure I can do anything for a month or two. I hope they have jobs available for morning people, though. I can't imagine staying up much past 11:00 p.m., but going to work at 4:00 a.m. would not be a problem for me.
These pieces are 8 x 8" on wood, with no particular plan. . . just kind of playing around. The last one, although blurry, was very experimental. If you squint and look closely, you can see the outline of a dried hosta leaf. Also included are pieces of paper towels I used in the past for clean-up and even some wax paper and plastic bag bits, also used to clean up. I was surprised at how well the plastic bags and wax paper adhere. And the hosta leaf, too, for that matter. The top one is probably done; the bottom two may undergo further experiments.
Scrounging around in the basement, looking for stuff that I had stashed away (I just knew I would need it one day), I came across this funny piece that I created a long, long time ago. . .
I can't seem to call it anything but "Homage to a Survivor." Obviously it's a vintage wooden box, the back covered in corrugated cardboard. Attached to the back is a wooden block, heavily textured, with painted kebob sticks included. I can't remember where I got that little half-finial but I attached it to the block. At the bottom there's a rusty metal washer nailed into the back with a numbered storm window nail. The survivor is, of course, the vintage turquoise pin of a cockroach. Why anyone would have ever wanted a cockroach pin is beyond me. I know I bought it at an estate sale years ago. Maybe it's not a cockroach. . . maybe it's a big ladybug or some other kind of beetle. I used it as a cockroach. At the present time, it is not attached to anything, and it keeps falling off. So I just reposition it, sometimes going into the finial, sometimes creeping out of it.
I have a lot of stuff like this hanging around the studio. At one time I thought I might try my hand at assemblage (and I still might someday) so I have lots of boxes and stuff to put in the boxes. I used to paint on wood a lot, when I started doing this art stuff. Now I have a lot of really bad art on wood. I'm cutting it up into smaller pieces and using the backside of it to make new art for etsy. I'll probably just end up with piles of smaller art on wood. There's more than one way to clean out a basement/studio. Instead of pitching a lot of stuff, I'll just use it up. It doesn't look like I'll be moving anytime soon, so I'll just wait for the foreclosure notice, and then the Sheriff can haul all the junk in the basement to the front lawn. That will certainly be a payback for the modification committee of the homeowners association rejecting the dog fence idea for potential new owners. (Okay, that last part is sarcastic and mean-spirited, and I'm joking about foreclosure. . . kind of.)
More than a year ago, I had some of my photographs printed up professionally on good quality paper with archival inks. I tried to sell some of them at a show of sorts, but had absolutely no response. I matted and framed some of my favorites and they had been hanging in the house.
When I was making my chunky pieces to sell on etsy, I noticed that the width of these photos was the same as the width of my chunky piece of wood. An idea began to percolate. . .
and here is the result. I cut the long chunky board into 7.25" pieces, and sanded the edges of each piece. Then I covered the front and sides with black gesso.
Using Golden gel medium, I affixed some of my favorite photos to the chunky black wood pieces. I used a brayer to get out all the air bubbles and to make sure the photo was securely attached to the wood.
After everything was dry, I coated each piece with a product I had not tried before: Golden's semi-gloss topcoat for digital prints. The finish is great. I used up the whole sample jar, so I'll have to get more. Oh, dear, a trip to the art supply store.
I promise this blog will not turn into an advertisement for the stuff I have for sale on my etsy site. Although this little bit of inspiration is not as spectacular as, say, mapping the DNA of an extinct species of man-eating snails, I wanted to share this with you because I think the end result is successful (and with all the experimenting I do, that's something to celebrate.)
I know someday I will look back on the experience and find it funny; I am usually able to do that, even at my own expense. But right now, I'm just pissed.
I have been working a lot, getting another bunch of small paintings ready to post on my etsy site, as well as making some bigger pieces for Walter the Art Guy. I have not had a lot of time to clean the house, not that it's particularly dirty, maybe just needs dusting and vacuuming. My real estate agent wanted to schedule an open house for this weekend, but I told her Thursday morning that I didn't think I would have time to clean the house properly, so we decided to cancel it. Thursday evening, while I'm down in the studio, paint and junk splattered all over me and the space, and having just gotten my pants caught in the sander and torn a big chunk out of them, at 5:05 p.m., Central Booking calls and tells me that there is a real estate agent who wants to show my house at 5:15. A master of the obvious, I say, "But that's in ten minutes." The lady on the phone tells me that it's okay that my house isn't clean enough, they won't look at that, they only want to look at the structure. So I say okay, straighten up as well as I can in five minutes, and head out the front door to my neighbor's house, just as some jerk in a silver Lexus drives up the street and turns into my driveway.
It's over in 15 minutes. My neighbor takes off for ballet class with her daughter, and I take off back home, only to find myself locked out of my house. Usually when I have a showing, I go somewhere in my car, and I have the garage door opener to let me in, but this time I just forgot. I circled the house, all the doors are locked, all the window are locked (which is really a good thing, I guess, since I live alone) and I ended up sitting on the front steps wondering what to do. Fortunately, I had my purse and my cell phone, so I called my realtor, who lives next door, and she came and opened the door for me with the key in the lock box. There was no sign that anyone had been in the house, except all the lights were on. The jerk didn't leave a card or anything.
So Friday morning I read that I had received a comment back from this jerk realtor about my house. Basically he said that it was dirty; that I needed to hire a house cleaning crew. I cannot tell you how pissed off that makes me. This house is not dirty. I know. I have been in dirty houses, and this isn't it. It's not messy, either. No one ever goes into about half the rooms in the house, so how in the hell can they be dirty? Dusty, maybe, not dirty. Was there a big of blush in the sink? Yeah, a tiny bit. But there was no soap scum, no tiny hairs. Did I have my art pieces, envelopes, tape, bubblewrap, etc. on the counter? Yes, I did. Was it neatly piled up? Yes, it was. Was it dirty? No, it was not. In fact, I can't even think what made him write such a comment. The dust on the blinds in the kitchen? The paint flecks in the sink? What the hell, a cleaning crew for that?
I know I need to just let these comments go. . . water off a duck's back. I know this intellectually, but I'm insulted that someone thinks my house is dirty. Some stranger in a dirty silver Lexus has come into my house and found it lacking. . . ergo, found me lacking. Oh, yeah, he also says that the house in its current condition is overpriced by thousands of dollars. Because he thinks it's dirty? Maybe it is, but not for the reason he stated in his comment.
Okay, it's starting to be slightly humorous. I'm still not laughing, but I can see that I'm being ridiculous here. Maybe it will be belly-laughing hilarious after I sell the house.
My friend Leslie Miller posted some photographs of her hosta leaf collection on her blog a few weeks ago. She inspired me to go out into the yard and find art inspiration.
I found these marvelous seed pods outside. Unfortunately I have no idea what plants provided them. . . whether they were weeds or actually garden plants. . . although there's not much difference right now.
I scanned them and these are the photos I came up with, and I love them. The grays and neutral tones in the last two are so appealing, and the contrast of the gold against the black in the first one is amazing. I don't know what I'm going to do with them, but I'll think of something artful eventually. There are marvelous videos on You Tube showing how to make multi-level stencils from photographs using PhotoShop. Or how about tracing these onto a foam/plastic meat tray and using it as a printing plate or a stamp? There's always some kind of photo transfer to try, but I have absolutely no luck with those techniques. What would you do with them?
I spent much of yesterday loading up my etsy site with the small paintings I had done in the past two weeks. I really did have a lot of fun making these paintings on wood: everything from using the power tools to cut the wood to size, to making marks, using all different kinds of paints and techniques, and finishing the sides and backs. If you don't already know, here's my etsy site: http://www.etsy.com/shop/thepaintedsurface. Please click on the link and see what's in the store.
(This really looks like Kansas, kind of accidentally)
Every painting on the site is only $20, with $3 shipping no matter how many pieces you buy. I am hoping people will believe that's a bargain, and not that they are getting shoddy cheap goods. I have painted these small pieces with every bit as much care as my larger canvases. And I hope you all enjoy looking at them, if not purchasing them.
In today's paper, I read the following bit in the "Weird News" section:
"New Zealand's Waikato National Contemporary Art Award in September (worth the equivalent of $11,000) went to Dane Mitchell, whose entry consisted merely of the discarded packaging materials from all the other exhibits vying for the prize.
"Mitchell called his pile "Collateral."
"(Announcement of the winner was poorly received by the other contestants.)" (From the Kansas City Star, November 5, 2009, Page 37.
These five pieces, along with the two I posted a couple of days ago, are the 5 1/2" square chunky paintings I plan to post on my etsy site. Along with a bunch of other stuff, too. Let me know what you think.
Here are two of seven small chunky paintings that I made recently to put into my etsy store. All seven of them are 5 1/2" square and 1 1/2" deep. I loved making these little pieces. . . I got to use my big electric saw to cut a piece of wood that had been in my basement studio forever, just waiting to be something other than a door stop. I'm still a bit scared of cutting off a finger or putting out my eye with this saw.
I covered each piece with extra heavy white gesso, textured the gesso, and just painted away. I had already painted in the circles when I found some upholstery tacks lurking in my supplies, so I took the whole circle idea to a new level . . . and got to use my drill too.
Here's what I would do with these pieces: Attach two eye-rings (I think that's what they're called) to the top and bottom of each piece, then tie fishing line to the eye-rings, so that these pieces hang vertically attached to each other. You could leave a couple inches between each painting. Cup hooks would probably work too. The pieces would be interchangeable and you could determine yourself the top and bottom of each piece. This would work in those very narrow spaces that we all have around the house, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in a hallway.
I'm not quite ready to post anything on etsy yet, but the price of these little chunks of art will be $20 each. If you see anything you like, let me know, because I will sell them off this blog. I have a Paypal account too.
I hope everyone had a peaceful and treat-filled Halloween. I ran out of candy and goodies very early; that probably had something to do with Betsy and Joe helping me hand out the treats. Fistfuls in every bag. Joey freaked out over a medium-sized skeleton appearing out of the darkness and was very worried after that when the doorbell rang. He swore he would not be scared next year and that he would throw hedgeballs at scary things. We watched as Andy and Stephanie carved a cool pumpkin and and Betsy and Joe poked wooden kebob skewers all over it, just for something different. Nora did what babies do: slept, pooped, jabbered and cried.
The painting above just happened. I wanted to use the last bit of canvas off a roll, so it's kind of long and skinny. I actually rather like the results of my messing around. It amazes me how a few black marks can really make a difference. This is the last of the latest round of paintings on canvas. I have spent the past week working on small pieces on panels of wood (in some cases, chunks of wood) for my etsy shop. I've been having fun. . .
I know one thing: if washing one's hands was 100% insurance against getting the swine flu (H1N1, whatever, swine is much more descriptive), artists would probably stay pretty healthy. I wash my hands about 180,000 times a day, just to get paint or glue or other gooey stuff off them. And I don't mean just run them under the faucet with lukewarm water. Oh, no, it's hot water, lots of soap, and a scrub brush. I used to have a big tub of some kind of soap along the lines of Lava, really abrasive, but worked pretty well. Of course, after a while the skin on my hands would slough off like snake skin, but they were clean.
The other factor that may save me (and perhaps other artists) from the dreaded swine flu is that I don't come into contact with a lot people down in my basement studio. In fact, no one. In fact, I could probably go for a long time without seeing anyone if I really tried. I sometimes worry about having some kind of crippling accident at home and not being found for days. But there is no one sneezing on me, or coughing on me, and whatever germs are in the studio have been there for a while.
My little ones, however, are human petri dishes. There is usually some sort of bodily fluid escaping from them somewhere. They are pretty cute when they sneeze or cough into their shoulders or upper arms. But I haven't decided whether to get the vaccination or not. How about you?
Yeah, I saw that my last blog entry was the 500th. Wow. Seems like I should do something to celebrate, like give something away or quit while I'm ahead . . . I need some time to think about what to do . . . any suggestions?
Remember the "wonky" pictures I took before my paintings left the house? Here's another one. It's all crooked and crumbled up in the corners, but at least I have a record of it.
I'm working on some small "masterpieces" that I plan to try to sell on my etsy site. They will be cheap. . . ridiculously cheap. . . Some of them are studies for larger paintings, but I'm also recycling and reinventing some of the stuff I have had in the studio for a long time. That's as good a way of clearing out the space as any. Working with wood and power tools again is extremely gratifying. I will be able to try some collage and maybe even some encaustic on these pieces. The last time I tried etsy, I was so distracted by personal issues that I didn't do a very good job at all. This time, I'll be ready and organized. I promise.
but without much to show for the activity. Last week I had Joey at the house for a couple of days. He had a double ear infection, which seemed to clear up as soon as he got to my house. Although the days he spent with me were pretty rainy and dreary, they were warm and he played with his Barbie Jeep, we read stories, watched the Berenstain Bears on TV and generally just had a good time together.
Walter the Art Guy came on Friday and picked up all of my recent paintings. I hope he can peddle them, and soon. I hadn't taken photos of all the paintings, so I did that rather quickly before he left. So the next few photos on this blog will be sort of wonky.
Hope everyone has a fun, fruitful and art-filled week.
In opposition to the painting I showed in my last post, that came together so easily that it was guilt-inducing, this painting was a frustration from the very beginning. They were pretty much painted at the same time. I worked on this one, adding stuff, sanding stuff off, you all know the drill. Nothing was working. So, in a juvenile fit of pique, I placed a plastic sheet with leftover wet gesso on top of it and this is the result. The painting will probably not make the traveling team, but it certainly was informative. I do see some possibilities in this technique. And it is better now than it was before the gesso fit.