Category Archives: art

Outhouses, Women On Parade: I Do It All

It was a busy, productive weekend filled with nonstop activities from Friday night through Monday night. I actually went to a garden expo from 10 am until 5 pm without…wait for it…Tiny-Small! It was a much needed break from mommy duties and I also learned an incredible amount of information that will hopefully help me improve my gardening skills. Also, I got to see an outhouse on rails that could slide across three separate bins of you know what. It was kind of amazing. This guy, who happened to be an expert on living off the grid and water conservation, built it for his house. He also built himself a solar oven, a solar hot tub, and a solar heated outdoor shower. He had contraptions that collected water off of his roof and swore he only drank and bathed in fresh rain water. He even had the nice glossy hair to prove it. He was the poster child for the green party, or the hippie movement, or smart people who can solve engineering problems. If my Republican-minded family members knew I was there they would probably be playing a game called “You might be a hippie if….” Also, they would be snickering about the outhouse I’m sure, but I was so enthralled with this healthy, earth conscious way of life that I signed up for his newsletter. It was awesome to be around like minded adults and to not have to worry about Tiny-Small stealing seed packets, eating red worms, or screaming for attention the moment a presenter opened his or her mouth and well, started presenting. That was Saturday, but it got even better.

On Sunday we were planning to go watch the Women’s Day Parade because my friend Jen is running for judge (Go JEN!!!) and was going to be marching down the road handing out information about her qualifications and asking people to vote for her. I was excited about supporting her candidacy. If she wins she will be both the first woman judge and the youngest judge the town has ever had. She’s going to be making history! Anyway, I digress. Sometime between breakfast on Saturday and the parade on Sunday I got this brilliant idea that I should actually be in the parade too. Why not, right? I’m an important, productive woman in this society. I’ve got lots of stuff to say, obviously. Plus, I read in the paper all I had to do was show up and I was in. Why not promote women in the arts and beg people to read my blog? So, I got out the paints and hastily made some poster board signs and tied my hubby up with them. We showed up at the parade and Jim and my mom put on shirts to promote Jen for judge. I was a women encased in poster board barrels screaming “Support Woman In The Arts!” and “It’s A Dome Life.” Jim had one of my signs swinging from his neck so he could support both of us gals in our quest for recognition. Even Tiny-Small came along. It was a blast. Instead of running off at the mouth about it I decided to do a photo essay for the rest of this blog. I hope these men and women inspire you as much as they inspired me!

Yes, I LOVE this lady!
Jim is confident enough to be in the Women’s Day Parade…he is awesome.
Rosie The Riveter: They shouted “We Can Do It!” in Spanish…super awesome!
Tiny-Small was not afraid of the death of the American dream lady.
Woman is the giver of life and love.
Next year we are bringing Loco-Lou-Lou and she is wearing a skirt too.
Yep, even very, very tall men support women.
My favorite One!
Tiny-Small got to ride a mule. A mule with a flower in her hair.
I even handed out business cards while pretending to be a “professional” someone.

Before the parade started a woman came up to me and asked me, “What is a dome life? I don’t get it.” I told her that I write a blog about being a mom and then she said, “Well, what’s with the dome?” I told her I live in a dome. She then asked, “You mean you work in a dome or garden in a dome?” Then my friend Jen was like, “Her house is a dome and it’s beautiful.” Then I handed her my business card. Thank God for friends. Otherwise I’d be misunderstood by a good percentage of the population. If you live in the county vote for Jen. She’s always got my back and I know she’ll have yours too!

 

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
 – Maya Angelou.

Just Dump Cold Water Over My Head And Put The Fire Out

So, the creative burn seems to have come to a halt. The universe seems to have dumped a big bucket of cold water over my head and put my fire out. I cannot, for the life of me, find my muse, my inspiration, or whatever it is that is going to help me break through this block. I am not in the space required to paint something brilliant, mediocre, or even just plain bad right now. When I think about the paintbrush I just feel lazy and tired. The blank paper and blank canvas have both become my mocking enemy. I just stare at them and shrug. You win. I’m painted out. Then I go looking for a snack.

It was bound to happen. After a few weeks of having great ideas and the energy required to execute them, there has to be a period of stillness. A time for rest. A time for the creative process to start baking again. I’m in that phase right now. This is the ebb and flow of my creative work. I’ll admit it can be a little frustrating to play this kind of waiting game. Especially when I have to play it with myself and all by myself and only for myself. It can get a little lonely too.

Usually, during this non-painting phase, I cook fancy meals, get my house sparkling clean or catch up on some of the movies I have been missing. I invent new games to play with my toddler, spend more time with friends, or just hang out in general. For some reason, this time,  I have decided to try something different. I am trying a couple of things actually. I’m attempting to be proactive in the hopes I can spur on another burst of creativity.

The first thing I am doing, in my new plan of action, is to work with paint and paper daily (even though I want to procrastinate and put it away for later). I spent a few hours, one day last week, painting several canvases blue. I set them up like a bad painting factory and went to it. Once they were dry I started ripping paper up and doing collages on the blue backgrounds. I’ve done three flower collages so far and started on a tiny ocean scene complete with abstract looking paper fish. I’m playing with colors. No pressure, no stress, not really much excitement either. I’m just kind of humming along, keeping pace with my busy hands and enjoying the moment.

The second thing I am doing is doodling. When I am on the phone I draw weird little circle and line drawings. When I am making a “to do” list I doodle on the side of it while I am thinking about all I hope to accomplish that day. I even doodle on the bathtub walls while my daughter takes her bath. Bathtub crayons are a really fun way to experiment with colors and images. Especially if they come out horribly bad because they rinse off with water and nobody ever has to ever know they even existed.

Neither of these things are a big deal, but I am experimenting. Maybe if I keep my hands busy my brain will get a rest. Hopefully this rest will allow me to come up with some great ideas (and I will be back in business again). Maybe an unconscious doodle or color combination will ignite my passion and set me on the fast track to making something truly beautiful. Maybe, just maybe, staying in the game will be better than taking a complete vacation from it. It’s too early to tell if my plan is working, but if your job is making art it seems important to be making art for at least part of every day. Some of it will be boring and some of it will be bad, but I will still be learning something about technique no matter how the pieces turn out in the end.  It’s a process. I’m in a stage. I’m working through it and trying to be productive. Life is an adventure even when it doesn’t seem like it is. I’m excited to have the time and space to wait for the next creative surge. Right now I think I’ll just enjoy the peace and quiet and paint and glue my way back to enthusiastically expressing myself. I just need some patience and maybe another snack.

Celebrating My First Sale

 

There is a dance party going on right now. Yes, it’s only in my head, but I have good reason to celebrate today. I sold my first painting! I’ve finally been paid for my creativity and hard work. All of my blood, sweat, and tears have finally been recognized monetarily. Ok, so it wasn’t really that miserable. I didn’t actually sweat or bleed, but I must confess, there were a few moments of serious crying. That is all behind me now. Today I have become a REAL artist, much like the day Pinocchio became a real boy. When I tell people that I paint there is always one person in the group that asks, “Have you ever sold anything?” Now, now I can answer quite smugly with one small, yet happy, word: Yes! “Why, yes, I have sold a painting” I’ll say with a sly smile and wait for the applause. I won’t mention that I have only sold one painting. I won’t mention the little voice deep inside me that is quietly announcing, “It may be the only one you ever sell.”

For some reason, actually selling artwork validates you in the eyes of others. It means you have arrived, but arrived where I’m not entirely certain. I am sure it has something to do with something I should have learned in economics class (if I had been able to pay attention for more than five minutes at a time). In short, when someone wants something other people want it too. It’s the only explanation for why cabbage patch kids became such a big money-making machine. If I get lucky one sale will lead to other sales and I will become Little Miss Popularity like the Chihuahua’s were after starring in Taco Bell commercials. If I’m not so lucky I’ll be a one-hit-wonder like Sir Mix-A-Lot with his song, “Baby Got Back.” There seems to be a fine line in the art world between being a sellout, which is described as “painting what sells” and being a fine artist which is described as “painting only what matters to you” or maybe “painting what doesn’t sell.” Being an artist is like being a mom. If you let the baby cry you are a bad mom, but if you don’t let the baby cry you are still a bad mom. If you don’t sell your work you are not a “real” artist, but if you do sell it you are not a “real” artist either because then you are a sellout, which is apparently worse than starving to death.

I think maybe this is why I am happily an art outsider. I’m an outsider artist. I’m not quite formally trained. I don’t belong to any exclusive clubs. I’m not high up on the totem pole so to speak. I don’t have any papers documenting my art pedigree. Maybe that is a blessing in disguise because I also don’t have any preconceived notions about how to make art or how to sell art. I don’t have any rules to follow. I’m not worried about making mistakes and I’m not ruled by the words “should” and supposed to.”

 

However, today I AM a working artist. I’ve been acknowledged.  I have moved up one ladder rung towards my imagined artistic greatness and have arrived somewhere even though I don’t know where exactly. An artist friend recently encouraged me to put more effort and enthusiasm into the process of selling my work. She said I had a good chance of selling my pieces because most people just want something pretty to put on their wall. Most fine artists, no doubt, would have found this comment offensive. Not me though. The lifestyle associated with working artist seems much more enjoyable in comparison to the one associated with starving artist. I took it as a compliment because it meant someday I might make enough money to keep me in art supplies. It meant someday I might not have to starve (metaphorically of course because I’m not actually starving) to do the thing I love to do. I’m content with that. I like to paint pretty things and I am painting what matters to me. I’m a practical person. I have a bit of a business mind that was likely handed down to me genetically and through no scholarship of my own. It’s smart to make money. It’s even smarter to make money doing something you enjoy doing. So, today, I celebrate my success. Today is my proud moment. If my customer had paid in cash I’d staple the first dollar to the wall, but instead I’ll settle for attending the dance party in my mind. It’s free at least because we all know selling one painting doesn’t make you a millionaire or even a hundredaire. That is ok though because today I am so happy I feel like attempting to do the moon walk and that happy feeling is enough for me. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!