Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Joy, Creativity, and the Design Team

I am so thrilled to accept an appointment to Gail Schmidt's Tennessee-based Shabby Cottage Studio's Design Team (see nifty little badge to the right). I am so excited I am dancing around like a little girl (and the teenaged kids are looking at me like I have lost my mind!).

We had to apply to be on the design team, and I am excited to be one of those selected. Our main function will be to make fabulous art using supplies from Gail's store at Shabby Cottage Studio. Projects will be posted to inspire and educate Shabby Cottage's customers. We will also brainstorm as a team for Gail and work with specific direction as well as on our own creations.

It is funny, I was buying stuff at Gail's on-line store when I saw the call for applications for the design team. I thought, what the heck, I will send her an email and some pictures of my work and a link to my blog. I will probably never hear back from her, because you see, I am new to this art form. I have done lots of polymer clay, art dolls, rubber stamping, and even a few altered books, but I am not a published artist, no way she will want me. I told her I was a newbie and I would be happy to help other newbies get over their fear of the blank page. Goodness knows I would have loved for someone to help me get over that fear! And you know what, I guess she liked what she saw and thought I had potential, because low and behold, she asked me to be one of the six original members of her design team! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I guess it goes to show, take a chance with your art. Share it, dream big, don't be afraid to grow! And always, always find a mentor, a group of people that will share their knowledge with you, people who are more advanced than you so you can learn, and people that are not as advanced as you so you can teach (but you always end up learning more than your students anyway).

So, what are you waiting for, go to the Shabby Cottage Studio and dig in! And check back here often to see what we are working on. I will also add links to my Shabby Sisters so you can see what they are doing!

Peace Out (as my kids say)

Caffeine, Nicotine, Incense and New Age Music

Ok, how is that for a really messed up coping mechanism? I really can't eat much, the tummy is too knotted up with stress (thus the nicotine), not sleeping too much (thus the caffeine), trying to calm down and get my work done (thus the incense and new age music). Wow, I really need to pick one coping strategy or the other, healthy or destructive! Using both probably cancels each other out! LOL. I am trying to find humor in this really difficult time. I don't know what I would do without my husband right now. He is my rock, my protector, my laughter. It is funny, in really stressful situations I tend to become very strong, but the little stuff makes me come undone. Right now I should be falling apart, but somewhere inside I am peaceful. Oh don't get me wrong, I am upset, I am confused, I am stressed, I am sad, but I am not a basket case. I am not crying all of the time. I am getting housework done (which should tell anyone that knows me just how upset I am, I am not one of those natural cleaners by nature); I am getting my work done. I am getting anything and everything done that will take my mind off the issue at hand. Which I guess is good for the household, the career and the weight loss program. Always look for the bright side!

If anything though, I hurt for my family. I am closer to my daughter now than we have ever been before, forging a strong connection, becoming more friends than mother and child. She is faced with a big decision, and it is tearing her up inside, but oh, how brave she is being! She is learning to stand up for herself, make decisions based on her needs and not the needs of others, to search, ask questions, and listen for the answers. She is learning how to talk (which is a big deal because usually she keeps everything bottled up inside), to trust, to reach out for help, and to seek information before making a big decision. But she is struggling. You always want to protect your children, tell them what to do to keep them from harm's way, to keep the pain and hurt from them, but in the end, you have to let them do those things for themselves, and what a heart breaking process this is, this letting go. I think as a parent that is the most painful thing you will ever do, let your children go, let them fly on their own, without being there to protect them. Oh, we will always be there to catch them if they fall, or at least help them mend if they actually hit the ground, but every instinct inside my soul cries out to stop them from leaving the nest, for fear their wings may not be strong enough yet to catch the passing breeze that will help them soar.

My son, when did he become a man? Did it happen while I was driving him to soccer? While he was at his friends house playing? At school? While he was sleeping? When did this happen, because during this event in our lives, he has not acted as a child, full of selfishness and childish thoughts, he has become a strong, compassionate, unselfish, caring, nurturing, strong, problem-solving, comfort giving man. I look at him and go, OMG, what an incredible individual! Does he know how proud I am of him, how in awe I am of him, how amazing I think he is? I really cannot find words to express my utter admiration of this young man. They say you can tell who a person is by how they handle themselves in the worst situations, the situations where selfless sacrifice is required, where staying calm in the face of great anger is required, when you want to just run screaming and crying away from the problem, yet you find the strength to stand firm and tall and face it, that is when you find your true character, and boy, let me tell you, he has the most amazing character I have seen in any man his age, and most men two to three times his age.

And my husband, who is usually such a mild manner, logical, quiet man, who has turned into this lion, protecting his family, wanting to protect us all from harm and hurt. Oh how I admire this man, how glad I am that I found him on that plane! How glad I am that he sent me the card, got to know me, the me I didn't even know existed, the me that I have turned into, because of him. How do I tell him what he means to me? How to tell him how much I respect him, admire him, how much I want to be like him! He has stuck by me through so much turmoil, so much hurt, so much work! How do I say thank you when thank you doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the gratitude and love I feel toward him?

And through all of this, we have become so much closer as a family. I think that we have learned in the worst of time we will always be there for each other. That we will take on the pain and hurt of the other person if it means sparing them even a little bit of pain. I guess that is what a true family is, a unit that when the chips are down, are there for each other. Oh, that doesn't mean we are perfect, or that we don't aggravate each other. God knows that I could be a better mother and wife. I should have dinner ready each night, I should have the house work done, I should drive to more soccer practices and participate more in the school booster clubs, and I should be more of a Susie homemaker. The kids should do their chores without being reminded, the studying should be done without threats of grounding, and the rooms should be kept clean. My husband should not work so much, shoot more basketball with the kids, and be a Mr. Fix-It. But you know what? If that is our biggest problems we are so far ahead of most of the other families I know. The kids aren't into drinking or drugs (at least as far as I know, and I would like to think I would be able to recognize the signs if that were happening), they aren't having sex (see the previous comment), they aren't flunking out of school, the hubby and I aren't fighting all of the time, looking for comfort outside the marriage, or not supporting each other in our careers, we even present a united front in parenting. So in the end, we are a wonderful family, not without our problems and issues, but overall we are a unit that supports each other in times of need. And in the end, can you ask for more than that? I feel truly blessed, even in this difficult time.

my son and my studio

my son turned 16 yesterday. he is a great young man. but here is the funny thing. i finished organizing and cleaning my studio. and where did he spend part of his 16th birthday? in the studio! he can draw, and i mean really draw. he can draw like i wish i could. it is really amazing. he can look at something, and draw it. so he goes into my studio and asks where the pencils and charcol are. he is learning how to use charcol in his art class in high school. he also asked for drawing paper. he was looking at my files of artists i admire on my computer, i often download pictures into a special file on the computer to go back to for inspiration or to study. he looked through those with me and then wanted to work in the studio. i gave him a drawing book i have on fairies and such, and i'll be darned if he didn't spend the next hour and a half in there, iPod on, listening to music and drawing. he then asked me for chalks and he colored in what he drew. he drew the neatest warlock face! i have got to use it in my journal! i was so proud of him. the amazing part is, now that all my materials are out and accessable, and now that the space is organized and peaceful, my son and daughter both have been in there. i am so glad i took the time to work on that space. what is funnier is i asked him if he had put away all of the supplies. he said no. and i told him how hard i had worked on the space. he said he wanted to work in there some more tonight (the next day) and he only left out the books and the chalks. he put everything else back in its place. how joyous it is to see this young man explore and create art. i feel like a good mom for giving him the space and encouragement to explore that side of his personality. i didn't get to discover that side of myself until about five years ago. anyway, just thought i would share that little tid bit!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Getting to know Photoshop

Rice Freeman-Zachery gave me a few pointers about altering my photos. This is the first of my attempts to create a more "artsy" look for pictures to alter clothing with. Let me know what you think.

I am going through some family stuff right now (that I can not talk about yet) and being able to play with the photo's has really helped me escape mentally for a while. I also finished my art studio yesterday. I will take some pictures and post them later. I still need to decorate (I want to paint words of inspiration on the wall and hang some old windows I have around the room), but everthing is organized, labled, sorted and easy to grab ahold of. I put lots of stuff into mason jars so I could "see" what materials I have. I swear, I could open an art store! Did you ever clean out and realize that you have more stuff than you ever thought you did? Yep, me too. Amazing what I have accumulated over the years. Now I am excited to actually use the stuff. After cleaning I finally took the plunge and hosted my first swap. I had so much stuff I ended up sending out four computer paper boxed (the ones that hold eight 500 sheet packages of copy paper) out to the swap folks. Good grief. They are going to die when they get it. I also have tons of magazines and stamps to put onto ebay still. I just have to find the time to take the photos and create the posts. I feel a little overwhelmed by that prospect right now. The situation at home is draining my energy. The good thing, I am not sleeping much so that gives me more time to create! Well, I will close for now. Hope everyone has a great week.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What color are you? I am............

I took this little blog test thing, and you know what? I think it pegged me perfectly. Color is so important to us as artists and crafts people. This might be a fun little thing to do! Go for it, you might be suprised!

Your Psyche is Blue

You are deeply emotional and very connected to everything (and everyone) around you.

By simply understanding other people, you are able to help them heal and let go.

While you are a very deep and thoughtful person, you do have a very silly, superficial side.

When you are too blue: the weight of the world's problems hangs over you

When you don't have enough blue: you lack perspective and understanding

Friday, October 26, 2007

more altered photos, trip to the beach


when i think of the ocean, this is what my mind's eye brings forward. the colors, the motion, the total vastness of the sea. it makes me feel small, and larger than life all at the same time. when i am there, all of life's problems seem small, everything seems possible. this is as close to meditation as i get, the only time my mind clears itself from all of the daily clutter. i can become totally involved in searching the sand for shells, sharks teeth, sea glass. my world narrows down to the three feet in front of me, i see every detail of the sand, i become one with the textures, the ripples of the waves as they wash up on shore. the beach is my sanctuary, the place where i feel closest to God, the place where i belong.

i have to admit, i am new to taking pictures, new to the Photoshop program i am using. and, i often go to Nina Bagley's blog for inspiration on how to look at the world through an artists eye.

I was totally blow away by the clouds durning one particular sunset during this trip to the sea. I desperately wanted to catch the beauty, the the awesomeness, the complete "largeness" of the clouds rolling across the dunes, threatening stormy weather, weather that never came, that past us up, went south, so we could enjoy the sunset without the storm.

the last photos i will share today come from the moon rising over the ocean. it was amazing watching the sun set over the dunes and the moon rise over the sea. my friend and i agreed that it was one of the most awe inspiring, magnificent evenings of our lives. art imitates life, and life can be so sweet and touching and beautiful that it can make you cry just at the shear overwhelming beauty of it.

The List of 100 Things To Do

i saw a link to this in my sister-in-law's blog, and thought, what the heck, i will give it a try. if you are interested in this, go here to life's lists and give it a shot. it is a very interesting exercise and really causes you to think. so here is mine. And I am tagging anyone brave enough to do this! Put a link up so I can see yours too!

100 things to do...........

1. go to ireland
2. go to australia/new zealand
3. cruise alaska
4. see the cliffs of maine and oregon
5. see the grand canyon
6. have my art published
7. write my book
8. present as keynote speaker at one national conference
9. raise my children to be happy
10. to have a healthy relationship with my mother
11. meet my nephew
12. to be closer to my siblings
13. to learn how to take great photos
14. to take voice lessons
15. to make my husband smile everyday
16. to have a pet that my husband and i both love
17. to lose 75 pounds
18. to do the AVON 3 day breast cancer walk/run
19. to learn to read music
20. to learn how to play the guitar
21. to go an artist retreat
22. host a woman's retreat
23. to live at the beach
24. learn how to like housekeeping
25. learn how to ride a horse
26. take cooking classes
27. learn how to meditate
28. take yoga classes and stick with it
29. dance in a competition with my husband
30. take my daughter to italy before venice sinks
31. snorkle the great barrier reef
32. find the church to belong to
33. sing in the choir again
34. learn to spell without spell check
35. serve on a board for an organization that truely makes a difference
36. create a scholarship fund to send a single mom to college
37. make jewelry out of sea glass i find at the beaches i visit
38. grow a garden and eat what i grow
39. grow flowers and not kill them
40. be in a book club
41. volunteer at an animal shelter
42. work on a habitat for humanity house
43. decorate for christmas
44. get a hot stone massage
45. clean a river or stream
46. try snow skiing
47. keep a journal and work in it everyday
48. make handmade cards and send them often
49. keep my blog up to date and link it to others that i admire
50. chase a tornado
51. sketch in my journal frequently
52. run for public office
53. volunteer to be a big sister
54. be able to run 5 miles
55. find out my natural hair color and wear it proudly (gray and all)
56. save for retirement
57. be completely debt free
58. learn to make stained glass like my dad
59. learn calligraphy and use it
60. look through a really good telescope at the night sky
61. be the mother my children deserve
62. be the wife my husband deserves
63. to be able to look in the mirror and not critize myself
64. go on a trip with my best female friends
65. make amends to the people i have hurt on my journey to self-acceptance
66. to stop worrying so much about stuff i can't control
67. refinsh an antique piece of furniture
68. be the "really cool aunt" that the nieces and nephews want to come and spend a week with every summer
69. get my nose pierced
70. alter and wear my own clothes.....proudly
71. fill up my iPod with all kinds of music and books
72. write music again and record it
73. write down the toosie bear stories my grandmother and mother told
74. be able to be in the same room with my ex without it damaging me
75. own a really cool car that i bought myself
76. be a grandmother (a wonderful grandmother)
77. be a great grandmother
78. learn to suba dive
79. swim with dolphins
80. never to smoke again for any reason whatsoever
81. study other religons
82. sew a quilt by hand that can be handed down to my kids
83. organize and date all photos
84. wear a two piece swim suit with confidence
85. forgive myself for the mistakes i have made and move forward
86. learn to can veggies
87. learn to bake homemade bread that taste like my step mom's
88. get another tattoo
89. sleep on a beach and watch the sun rise with my husband
90. road trip cross country with my husband (preferably in a camper, one of the big one's that is popular among the retired crowd)
91. develop a sixth sense
92. do something scarey like parasailing, zip line in the jungle or driving a race car at over 100 miles per hour
93. get a tummy tuck to get rid of the ugly stuff left behind from all of the abdominal surgeries
94. learn to draw and paint
95. declutter my house and get rid of stuff that no longer serves a purpose
96. take golf lessons
97. sing in a band
98. see the mediteranian sea and greece
99. fly in a jet or a two seater plane or a hot air balloon
100. learn to live in the moment

these are in no particular order. like i said, this was a fun exercise and i learned a lot about myself. i will update when i can cross one off of the list.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

better today

yesterday i did manage to get my report done, get my daughter to her soccer game, and get some other work done. did i get all of my unfinished things done? no. do i feel better about stuff today. it is still raining, and i love it. i have been looking through teesha moore's zine called "play". i ordered some back issues, and i did snuggle down and lose myself in this incredible zine. oh my, just what I needed to get over myself. i have been afraid to start the collage process in my journal, but now, i see you just have to do it. thanks teesha for the inspiration and support you offer in your zine. for those of us that tend to freeze up because we are afraid that we won't "do it right" your zine is just what we need. you need to go to Zettiology and explore. when i ordered the back issues of play, she also sent me some great unmounted rubber stamps. oh i can't wait to play! i will need to order more. well, i have some work to do, but then i may finish the studio. the kids get out of school early today, so i will not have much time to get my work done, so i better start now. i do find that writting in my blog is like therapy. if i start my day, or finish my day by writting, then i seem to do better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

things half done

i don't want to work today. it is rainey and overcast and i should be wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea looking through art zines and playing in my journal. i don't want to write reports, research grants or create invoices for the work i have done. i want to crawl into my studio and play with paints and ink and write in my journal with the iPod playing cool jazz music in the background.

i don't want to finish all of the half done things. the studio is so close to being done, but i can't seem to find the motivation to finish the last box of "other" stuff, the little stuff that doesn't really seem to fit into any category. i don't want to finish the last bit of work that would clean out several projects. i don't want to put away the folded clothes sitting on the bench in my room. i don't want to input the receipts that would update my book keeping. i don't want to read the last few chapters that would finish the book i am reading. what is wrong with me? i am so close to finishing so many things, and i want to finish them, but not today. today i want to curl up and watch movies, surf the internet and visit art sites and catch up on the art blogs i haven't been able to read in forever. i want to order pizza and not make dinner. i don't want to take the kids to the soccer game and pick them up. i would rather take a long hot bath and eat chocolate.

maybe it is the weather, maybe it is the traveling i have done, maybe i am just lazy, but i want to stay home and not move from the sofa. the perfect day, snuggled down under a quilt, drinking tea, watching scarey movies and surfing the net (and eating chocolate, can't forget the chocolate).

i am not complaining, not really, i have to do the one report, and i have to spend some more time on the grant research, and i have to take the kids to the soccer game (they really want to support the varsity team at the sectional championship game and they should). so no snuggling down, no scarey movies, no tea, no surfing the internet, no playing with the photoshop software today. but there is always tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Musings from the road!

Here I am, on the road again............

my hubby told me when i am traveling for work i should take some time out for me. so, i stopped at some antique stores on my road trip. i found some great 1940's and 1950's LIFE magazines with great old ads in them (i use these for my altered art and charms for my bracelets). i also found a bunch of great old spoons, again for altered art and for making jewelry. the stuff i get is not extremely costly, i don't buy antique furniture or anything really expensive, just little stuff that tickles my fancy! i also found a bunch of old postcards and some game pieces. i know, like i need anything else to put into my art studio. but hey, i cleaned out a lot of stuff! more room for more stuff (jeez, i have used the word "stuff" so much i feel like george carlin). my art is taking on a more sophisticated form, so i am getting rid of all of the kid things from when my children were younger and getting different items so I can explore new art techniques. it is fun, and keeps me out of trouble. i have to admit, searching through piles of old books, and magazines, and jewelry, and silverware, well you get the picture, it is relaxing, and really gets the creative juices flowing.

when i look through the antique stores, i can't help but wonder who owned this stuff, was it important to them,, what is the story behind the item? this is why i can't buy old photographs, i can't help but think there is some great grandchild out there somewhere who would love to have just one picture of their long gone relative.

don't get me wrong, i love going to estate sales, and antique stores, and flea markets, but i also find it a little sad. the china, the silverware, the books and letters and photos. why are these not being passed down through someone's family? why did they have to sell there worldly possessions to strangers? just thinking out loud, hope the rambling isn't too hard to follow. well, i think i will go out to the car and get the magazines and start looking through them. i may sell some of the ones i don't need (or swap them) so someone else can enjoy them. i will write more later.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wow, SuziBlue


Just go here, just watch this. I gotta figure out how to put video's onto the blog. I am really inpspired by her videos. Just what I need to get going and start back in my journal. Thand Suzi!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Altered Photos for the First Time

I took some pictures tonight and used a very basic photo editing program to alter them. I ordered some back issues of Portals Zine (and I am hooked, I need more) and saw some altered photographs, and wanted to try. Unfortunately, now I am probably going to have to invest in some good photo editing software, like Adobe Photo Shop. And that is expensive. I will look into it though. Just thought I would post my first attempts. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New Etsy Store and Item for Sale

OK, I am taking the plunge like other artits, and I have created an Etsy store to sell my goods. In fact, I am even having a banner made, and as soon as she is done I will have it up on this site, and in my Etsy store. I will also have her link on this site so others can use her great work for thier sites! Anyway, here is my first item I have for sell. I have sold stuff on eBay, and I have some beads and stuff listed there, a few other bracelets, but I am trying to brand my work, so I took the plunge to have a real "store". I welcome feedback on my work. Thanks for looking!