Category Archives: Just Thinkin

A Dagwood Sandwich . . .

dagwoodsandwichOne of the best things to come from conversations with my friends Betsy and Valerie in Colorado was this analogy…

My life is a Dagwood Sandwich.

It has all these wonderful things in it that all look so tasty (well most of them – I don’t know what that purple thing is!).

But I can’t possibly eat it all.

I ran into a good friend in the market last evening.

She is a very talented artist and concentrates on one medium.

Her work is doing well enough that she will soon leave her part time job to devote all her working hours to her studio.

Something about that simplicity of purpose is SO appealing.

But, at the same time, I know that is not me. To begin with, I could not choose one medium because I have a high level of devotion to two, and enjoy a very lively relationship with a third.

That’s three layers on the sandwich already and we haven’t even started with the businesses, husband, dogs, cats, garden etc.

When I come to the realization that I have always made a Dagwood Sandwich of my life and am unlikely to stop anytime soon, it becomes clear that the ingredients to remove from my sandwich are the ones that don’t taste so good – like that purple thing perhaps.

Like stress, multitasking, unreal expectations, shoulds, hurry, etc.

The thing about being self-employed is that you work for a boss who is too demanding.

It’s almost like you have to over perform to make up for not having a “real” job.

And the lack of a “real” paycheck that comes along at a certain time, is a real motivator for doing too much, too fast.

There are things that must be done on time – like planting the bounty from AJ’s Nursery before anything dies.

But most things could be approached in a more reasonable manner, and get done when they get done, and I could drop the guilt about that.

I am the one making this sandwich, after all.

I could make it more manageable.

I learned a lot over the past two weeks:

1. I can’t be a daily blogger unless I make a sandwich of just that. And the result of blogging more was nothing to write home about. It did not increase business, slightly decreased subscriptions, slightly increased readership – blah blah blah.

2. My two businesses are seasonal. The online business slows down in the Summer, and Summer is the high season for the gallery, so shifting my attention seasonally is a good idea (thanks to Valerie and Betsy for that one).

3. I have written a MONUMENTAL amount of instruction material over the past 13 years – more than would EVER be expected of any author anywhere. So I am taking a hiatus from writing new workshops and workbooks for awhile. Instead, I will dust off and refresh existing stuff which is as good as ever, and should be made available again.

For example, I have the best digital photography course on the planet. I stopped offering the workshop because giving feedback on all the students’ photos was way too time consuming for the income produced.

But the course is great on its own, and I can make a Whenever Workshop of it, or series of Workbooks maybe.

That is just one example of many.

4. I can still keep this blog if I am true to its name “Whatever . . .Whenever”, and take the self-imposed OBLIGATION out of the sandwich.

I know it is not you, dear readers, who put the pressure on – it is me, and I can change that. I know you will be fine with whatever, whenever I manage to post.

Better than never, right?

These are not all the answers, but it is a start.

If I can’t eat that sandwich all at once, at least I can balance it meanwhile.

And speaking of BALANCE . . .

Many of you are familiar with my sister, Cassie Schindler, from past blogging days.

She is now an MBSR instructor (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) in Silicon Valley trying to help de-stress the employees of some of the biggest corporations there.

But she is also trying something new – based on what she is learning in her practice.

She is creating an online life-balancing “buffet” workshop which is individually customized to your needs.

It starts with a personal phone conference with her in which you both decide which learning modules work best for you, and that then becomes the structure of “your” workshop.

It’s a fascinating concept and the first session starts next week (AND it’s very affordable).

I know Cassie has some fans among my readership, so I wanted to let you know about this. Details are here:

Stop, Balance, Go Customized Workshop

 

What Is Your “Real” Art?

whitelilacIt’s been a very strange Spring – outside as well as inside my head.

I know everyone in the country has had weather issues.

Here, it has just been late freezes, but they have managed to reduce the Lilac blossoms to almost none.

I got some white ones, though, and did something I never do – cut a little branch to bring inside because I kew the overnight freeze would do away with the blossom anyway.

I may as well immortalize them in the journal, right?

lilacdetail
This is not my “real” art, but it’s close.

All garden work is way behind because of the strange weather, and I am only at the clean-up the hardscape stage . . .

gardem051814At this point, I consider the courtyard a blank canvas – ready for “painting” this year’s garden. I LOVE gardening.

But gardening is not my real art, either, but it comes very close.

There was a wonderful comment left by Carole on the first post of this series. Here is what she said:

A “real artist”, as I understand it, often has a closet-full of work that the world never sees, because for a real artist it’s the process that’s important and not the result or what anyone thinks of it. If it were the reverse, wouldn’t it lead to more frustration? There will always be someone (or many someones) who make art better than we do. So most of us make art because we love it…as a form of venting or as our own expression of the joy of life and the beauty we see. If you are a “real” artist will you enjoy making art any more than you do now? What if enabling others to make it IS your greatest art?”

She makes such excellent points here, that it causes me to examine what it is that I do mean by my “real” art.

I think that most hobby artists (and by that I only mean that your art does not have to float your mortgage etc.) have the freedom to create for themselves, which is great, but the price they pay is usually a day job, so their time to make art is limited.

I have never been a hobby artist.

When I was very young, I made myself a promise that I would not work for other people – I would live by my art no matter what it took. I have kept that promise.

And that meant doing anything commercial I could to make a living – as long as it was about art. So, I have been an illustrator, photographer, graphic designer, and art teacher in all kinds of venues. Other stuff too – like Cre8it.com.

This resulted in a thought pattern which divided my creative activity into art I did for other people and my “real” art, which I did for me, but ended up selling to other people anyway.

The difference there was that in my real art, somebody didn’t tell me what to create for this or that purpose. There were no deadlines. They bought it *after* it existed.

I did a lot of painting and gallery work early on, and then got so involved with my graphics firm that I was doing no fine art at all. That was when I got into fine art photography as my “fix” because there was no time for anything else.

But, photography, as much as I love it, is not my real art either.

I really do love teaching others the joys of drawing and painting. I know it shows in my workshops that I love what I do. And I get real joy when I have just finished a lesson that I know will “work” for the students. They will “get” it and do it and love it.

But teaching is not my real art either.

I don’t know how to explain this, but there is only one thing I do that keeps me in the moment and I am NOT hearing the siren calls of all the other things i could, should, would, be doing. And that is my real art.

Right now, there are two things – painting and kiln glass – that take me to that place and hold me there.

The thing is, when I “wake up” from this blissful respite, I am in trouble.

All the sirens are going full blast because I haven’t been tending the to-do list.

I want to be very clear here that all my self-indulgent navel-gazing lately is not complaining. People have real troubles in this world and this certainly does not qualify as one.

This is just about examining the parts of a complicated life (a wonderful life) to see if I can find balance. If I can slow anything down, or let go of any parts . . .

So I am not always hurrying.

So I don’t hurt myself with stress (or falling and breaking bones).

So my monkey mind will shut the hell up already.

I would do all this in private if I thought it was just something that goes on around here.

But I never meet anybody anymore whose hair is not blowing in the winds of hurry, scurry, and over-do.

I want more of that quiet soul time I get from my real art.

I want to slow down and smell the roses. Not all of them, but some of them anyway.

I want my life to last longer because I am not zooming through its scenery.

Do you have a “real art”? Think about it. Is there an activity you do that makes your world stand still – at least for a little while?

I know meditation can do that, but that is a suspension of activity and even thought.

I am wondering whether you have an “activity” that you can rest within awhile? If you do, it’s a real art..

 

The Great Posting Experiment . . .

ceramicbirdAs my loyal readers for so many years, you have heard a lot of strange things from me, but this may well be the strangest post ever.

Why? Because I am contemplating saying good-bye.

And I am contemplating out loud.

Change is a good thing, but things on the web have changed SO much, that BIG rethinking is in order on my part. I am not feeling happily engaged and satisfied.

Maintaining a personal brand in these times of social media madness is an insane thing in my estimation.

When I look at some of the blogs I follow, and some that I don’t, my eyes actually jitter with the busy-ness, the ads, the pop-up pages that won’t close, or at the very least, require a “hunt” for the little X you must click to get them out of your face so you can read the post behind them.

I am hooked on binge-watching “Madmen” in the evenings. I really abhor advertising and its affect on EVERYTHING in life. The ads NEVER stop hounding you. I understand some advertising must be necessary, but I feel like it has beaten me senseless.

At the side of most blogs is a list of TEN or more social media sites. “Follow Me” here, “Like me there”, be my “friend”. How can anybody possibly have that much to contribute to so many venues?

Blogs and artists I once followed because their “stories” were so interesting, now have nothing to *say* between the sales pitches and the listing of schedules that could kill a person.

Here, at Whenever, I have not gone that route (although yes, my own schedule could do me bodily harm – but I try not to LIST it).

This blog is a quiet place where we share some ideas and some mutual love and I like it that way. THAT is the pay-off. But, it’s not enough.

This blog has pretty much stopped producing income for me, and I cannot “spend” my time without helping support my family.

Think about that saying for a minute; “Spending time”.

It no longer means whiling away the hours in some leisurely fashion, does it? To quote Ariana Huffington, we perceive ourselves to be experiencing a “time famine” because we are truly out of whack in our understanding and management of time.

I surely feel that famine.

I am running a full time Sheer Heaven business and a real life gallery, and trying to create my own art in the minutes between. Sometimes, the whole thing is just too big a job, and to consider creating a social media circus to add to the mix is just a DUMB idea.

But how else to grow the audience here? Do *more* blog posts? Would that enliven things? Does that even make sense?

To the left and right of me, I see favorite bloggers taking extended “vacations” from bogging, and I actually do that sometimes without announcing it. You know how I can “go missing”.

It doesn’t do any good. You just get more confused about your role in the whole thing when you get back to it.

Many of you have written that you appreciate it when I share my “process”, my thinking, my attempts at problem solving with you. Sometimes, you say you learn from it.

Well, put on your seat belts because I am about to do that in a very big way.

I have so much going on right now in all corners of my art and business life that I can’t see the forest for the trees myself, and I need to ferret things out.

I have talked to dear friends and sister friends, and my dear sister, about this and their input has been so helpful.

So, I figure if I throw all this out there and share with you dear friends, even more good ideas will come from it. I truly solicit your input whatever it may be, and in turn, I will tell you everything I learn.

I will reply to your comments and we will have a conversation that may be good for us all.

I am sure there are others out there who face dilemmas and impossible choices and maybe we can all get some help in seeing the trees and reconfiguring the forest.

The goal is to land in a comfortable nest, where the pieces of my art/business life come together and make sense. To that end, I am going to get them all out, dust them off, and move them around like jigsaw puzzle pieces – until they show me a picture.

The way I am going to do this in public with you is to blog all of it – over at least the next two weeks. Today is the first day of the second half of May and I am going to post something (whatever) everyday – at least until the end of the month.

During that endeavor, I am going to watch results.

I am going to watch my blog stats to see if they go up or down. Does frequency bring more readers?

I am going to watch the “subscribes” and “unsubscribe” on my email notification list, as there will be an email notice everyday for the rest of May, at least. That might irritate some – who knows. (You can join that list here if you want to be sure not to miss any of this saga.)

Interestingly, Mail Chimp seems to be impressed that I get 50-60% of my subscribers to open the emails. They’re impressed. I’m thinking WTF?

I am going to watch sales of Sheer Heaven, my workshops, and workbooks to see how they are affected as I continue to rearrange the website to make everything easier to access – and as I tell you about that process as it goes.

I am going to return serious attention to my wonderful, proprietary product, Sheer Heaven – which continues to sell even though I have been so neglectful of its marketing, but which deserves to be treated as a very special thing. I mean, who has a product so magical that nobody else in the world has? Hello? I should surely be on that bandwagon.

I have begun creating a wonderful online Market for WOW! Gallery, which I will share as I create it. I will watch how it is supported.

This will probably take more than two weeks, but in the end, I will have answers and I will decide to stay or go.

I hope you will join me on this adventure and that you will stick your two cents in whenever you have something to say.

This could be interesting, and we can certainly learn a lot.

Spring Cleaning – YIKES!

manitouchairsThese chairs have nothing to do with Spring Cleaning except that I found this cool photo while cleaning and sorting my shots from Manitou Springs, CO. I took this in the yard of a cabin we stayed at back in 2011. Those chairs are sitting along the river bank, and they spoke to me. More about Manitou Springs in a minute.

All things change – and things go right ahead and change without you if you are not looking. Somehow, my website just grew all these parts until even I couldn’t tell what was going on there. This is not the nicely organized home page I  had a couple years ago. In fact, it’s a mess . . . cre8itsiteoldSo . . . I had to clean it. The idea is to be SIMPLE and make it easy to find things. So, I did this . . . cre8itnewPlease tell me if you think this home page makes it easier to know what is there – at a glance?

Also, please tell me if you think anything is awfully wrong with it.

It is not totally functional, but I am showing you anyway.

I am also cleaning out my mind, and you will hear plenty about that as we go along.

I’m changing lots of things that I do. One of those things is that I think something has to be all perfect and finished before I share it. Things never get all finished, so I don’t post as much as I want to.

So, I am showing you my new home page before it’s perfect. I, personally, am really interested in artist’s processes – the way they slog through whatever they have to do, to do what they do.

I even like to hear about failures – lessons learned by doing things the wrong way. If we all weren’t pretending to be perfect, we would all learn a lot more.

But, I digress.

What about Manitou Springs?

Well, as I think I have mentioned before (like in this post), Manitou Springs, Colorado is one of my favorite places on earth. And I like to take my art journal and my art-journaling friends to my favorite places on earth. I have therefore added a new art and travel journaling retreat to the roster . . . Retreat CO I found some lovely affordable lodging, and ALL the details (plus pictures) are on the description page here:

Mindful Moments in the Mountains

I am very excited, and know this will be one more of those magic times like the other retreats have been.

In all my life-cleaning, I am dropping lots of things, so the things I love can have my time. I LOVE these retreats – because they are so much fun for me, and because of what they do for other people as well.

Art Journaling can change your life, and that’s no joke.

I am playing with the idea of blogging a lot for the next month.

Do you think you could stand it?

Random Thoughts and Images . . .

desk

Last week, I put away the Windex in the refrigerator.

I think this may be a sign.

I didn’t put the roll of paper towels in there, but still.

Is anyone else feeling unplugged so far this year?

I am always operating in overdrive, I am always overwhelmed (recent ponder: is anybody ever just plain “whelmed”?), but I usually have a grip, ever so tenuous, on the steering wheel.

This year so far, I think my grip has slipped.

So, I’m just going to float along on the tides of all that I cannot control, or organize, and hope for the best outcome.

When I am in this mood, I tend to really notice details (ok, except for the Windex thing).

I was checking that my iPhone was not stuck on one of those new filters, when I noticed the scene above through the Camera app. (No, I can’t see my iPhone screen without my glasses either, but I was wearing a stronger pair.)

I shot the picture to make sure there was no filter, and because it seemed to say a lot about overwhelm. If that is just 5 square inches of my desk, what hope is there?

Anyway, many friends have that Filter problem with newer iPhones running the newest system (iOS7). You take what you think is a normal photo, and it turns out all yellow, vintage looking, or worse.

Here’s the solution to the problem.

When the Camera app is active on your phone, you will see a set of three overlapping circles in the bottom corner of the screen.

iphone1If they are shades of gray, you are ok – no filter is activated.

If they are red, blue, and green, it means a Filter is turned on.

iphone2Tap the circles icon to access the Filters control page . . .

iphone3Tap the Filter you want to be set – in most cases, “None” which is in the center. Interestingly, System iOS7 on the iPad does not add filters to the camera app.

I LOVE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!!!!

Suddenly, it’s Spring in my mind. Or maybe my mind is just sprung. It all feels the same.

I am watching the birds starting to look for nesting materials in the garden. There are lots of them because the word has gotten around that Husky fur is what the upscale nest needs, and daylight savings time is nesting time AND Husky shedding time.

I pulled into the parking lot downtown the other day, and spotted this bird in a tree . . .

amgrybirdIt wasn’t in my New Mexico Bird Identification Guide. Hmmm.

It’s one of the Angry Birds, isn’t it?

I love that somebody did this.

How can it not bring a smile – (once you figure out you are not hallucinating).

Then, I started thinking about how cool photographs are everywhere.

So when I later parked at Target, I noticed that this was in front of me . . .

targetbark© jessica wesolek, 2014

What an awesome example of texture and color harmony and wonderful, random, accidental art.

It’s out there . . . keep your eyes open.

 

Creative Process, Part 1

colorformsplates2

I read blogs more than I read anything else these days.

I would never have thought that would happen, because I don’t have time to poke my nose into other people’s lives, and in the beginning, blogs did not have much content.

But now, there are many blogs that are content-full and make me think, make me smile, and make me feel creatively inspired.

And I want this blog to be like that.

I think it already is, to be honest, but I want to take this further in 2014, and enrich the experience for you – and thus, for me as well.

In that vein, I am going to spend a few posts exploring creative process because it is a fascinating concept, and is quite present in the atmosphere of late.

Art Is a Journey . . .

I know that sentence has become a cliché through overuse, but that does not make it less true.

Art IS a journey, and creative process defines the paths we take while on that journey.

People say a lot of stuff to me (most of it good, thank heavens), but two things have been said so often that they stand out . . .

1. Where do you get your ideas? (I always say “the shower” but there is more to it than that.)

2. How do you do what you do? I wish I could follow you around for a day! (First of all, you would get all lost because even I don’t know where I’m going, but I could tell you a little bit about how I do what I do, and I will.)

Ideas are THINKING, and making art is DOING,

THINK and DO. Remember those books in early grade school? They had the right idea.

You may notice that often, when you are DOING some art, you are interrupted by THINKING of new ideas that may be related – or may not seem to be related at the time.

You are interrupted because we cannot actually multi-task, so your brain switches channels momentarily.

ASIDE: Want proof that we can’t multi-task?

Sit in a chair with a magazine or something similar in your lap. Raise your right foot off the floor. Rotate your foot in a clockwise direction.

While doing that, write a number 6 with your finger on the magazine.

Your foot will change direction because drawing a six means moving in a counter-clockwise direction, and your brain switches channels there.

Try this and try it with other people. I have run into only two folks who can do it (with GREAT effort), and I don’t know which planet they are from, but most people realize they can’t actually think and do two things at once.

SO – back to creative process.

When your brain leaves the task at hand to offer a new idea, it is making connections in new directions.

SEEING these connections and FOLLOWING the directions they suggest, is at the heart of creativity.

I will be sharing many examples of this process, and by the time I am finished, all of you will recognize it in your own journey. And embrace it – because it is good for you.

Today, I will start with a simple example.

The COLORFORMS® THINK and DO

I love rainbow colors and always have. I think most people do.

As an artist, I spend a lot of time looking at and appreciating art.

And it inspires me.

The next THOUGHT, common to all creatives, is “I would like to DO something like that.”

Here comes the copying/stealing/plagiarizing ugly subject, and yes, I know about the book, and will be talking about that later.

The truth is that great artists have always copied other artists.

If they are true artists, they do that to learn, and if they are true artists, you would never know the copy is a copy – because of creative process.

By the time they have finished a piece, they have followed the suggestions and directions of their own creative muses, to the point that they have created an entirely new thing.

And so it goes.

Follow me, if you please, along this path . . .

One of my first fused glass projects was this set of coasters, which you have already seen . . .

ravencoasters2I REALLY love rainbow colors against black and a lot of my graphic design over the years has demonstrated that.

So, when I saw this plate on Pinterest, I really liked it, and wanted to DO something similar . . .

escape-1plate2

The process is pretty basic, and it’s a very generic design which could not be copyrighted by the maker, but a funny thing happened on the way to DOING my “copy”.

(This plate can be found at the Glass Haus. by the way)

DO: I got out my black and colored glass and cut the black rectangle.

THINK: I would like colored squares better than the bars used in the original plate, so . . .

DO: I cut a square each of bright red, yellow, green, and blue, to . . .

THINK: line up along the plate with some space between them.

Already, we’re different, but watch what happens then . . .

DO: I measure things and find that the four squares will not fit the length of the plate because I have cut them too big.

THINK: Bummer – I wanted all four colors on the plate.

THINK: Then, I was “interrupted” in my pouting by the idea of cutting each square corner to corner both ways, and switching the parts so each square had all four colors.

DO: I cut them and arrange three of the composite squares on the plate. Three of them WILL fit. I pick up the piece and head for the kiln. The glass squares slide so they are all catty-wompus.

BLAM!!

BIG THINK: I am transported suddenly to my childhood and my favorite toy  - and probably the beginning of my love for bright colors and art making . . .

colorforms04Dang! That little girl even looks like me! Do you remember Colorforms?

colorformsartOMG – I even remember how they smelled (that plastic off-gassing again, no doubt). This is not my masterpiece but I made many like this, I’m sure.

Quite a few years ago, the Museum of Modern Art reissued the “original” set and I bought it for $35 (crazy, huh?) just to have it. Unbelievably, I was able to find it in the closet. You can still get your own set on Amazon . . .

Original Colorforms

DO: I ran back out into the studio with the Colorforms set.

THINK: YES! A series of glass pieces based on Colorform designs.

At the beginning of this post (so very long ago), you saw the first two pieces in the series. here they are again . . .

colorformsplates2

Here is the inspiration plate again . . .

escape-1plate2

See what I mean about creative process?

Is my plate a “copy”? Absolutely not. (The shape doesn’t count, by the way. These are done on standard glass slumping molds, and you cut the glass to fit them.)

Is this a new idea? Yes, because nobody has done Colorforms in glass.

However, this “new” idea is made up of all the parts that came before – all the way from my childhood (which is a LONG way) to my seeing that plate on Pinterest last week, and all contributing factors between.

This was a long and winding path, and just one part of my artistic “journey”, but it only happened because I was tuned in enough to follow the switchbacks and recognize the connections my brain was making in its creative process.

I hope I haven’t bored you quite yet, because I have a lot more to say on this subject – AND I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Just Sitting Around Reflecting . . .

oldgreenchair2“Just Sitting Around Reflecting” © Jessica Wesolek 2013

It’s my favorite holiday again.

I LOVE new beginnings, although old endings are often pretty complicated.

Last night, around seven, we finally closed the door on our empty gallery space here in Eldorado. We are exhausted to the point of numbness.

Much of our display furniture is now at the new downtown space, and artists will be bringing us beautiful works to fill it.

Because the new gallery will only offer handmade, the local animal shelter resale shop has been greatly gifted with a ton of new merchandise from the old one. I love their name : “Look What the Cat Dragged In”.

Mark’s truck and my new van are full of the things that nobody knew what to do with at the last moment, but we will figure all that out.

I loved all your name suggestions for my van, by the way – thank you!

I decided on “Van Go Blue”. Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters, of course, and blue is my favorite color. But an added bit is that my Alma Mater is the University of Michigan, whose rallying cry is “Go Blue”.

We have already taken our first road trip together.

On Friday, I knew if I did not take a break from all this, I would go nuts. I also had two free hotel nights earned from frequent stays at Comfort Inns, and they would expire on December 31.

So, off to Durango, Colorado, to visit my sister-friend, Valerie, in her beautiful gallery (Earthen Vessel). We always inspire each other, and this time was no exception. In just two days, I got re-energized.

I also learned that as much as you think you know, there is always something very important that you don’t know. And you don’t even know you don’t know it!

I had a road service incident because the new van would not start. I thought the battery had somehow run down. Maybe I left the map light on overnight or something?

But the Roadside Assistance Hero said the battery was fully charged. “Try starting it again,” he said, and when I did, he said “Do you have your foot on the accelerator?”

I have had my foot on the accelerator since I was 16 (in more ways than one!).

“Yes,” I said. “Is that a problem?’

Who knew that since about 20 years ago, you don’t touch the accelerator when starting the engine?

EVERYBODY but me, it seems.

I got away with it before, but this vehicle is a lot more sensitive, I guess.

All’s well that ends well, and you learn something everyday.

2013 Was a Very Weird Year . . .

I don’t want to revisit the trials and tribulations, but I am very happy to welcome 2014, and look forward to a very GOOD year.

I am surprised by how many people are glad to see 2013 in the rear view mirror. Did you have a good year?

I loved the Santa Fe Journaling Retreat more than I can even express, and I like that all the rough spots in 2013 had happy endings.

I also will mark 2013 as the year I discovered glass as an art medium, a fact which will change my life in some significant and exciting ways.

But otherwise, I’m glad to say good-bye.

Where Did All This STUFF Come From?

Of course, the gallery move has brought this home, and also, trying to make room in the studio for the new kiln and glass supplies.

Even cleaning out the old van to trade it in for the new.

How in the world did I let this much STUFF pile up around me?

It’s unbelievable.

Even my website has become crowded and disorganized while I wasn’t looking.

So, 2014, for me, is “The Year of the PURGE”.

That’s at the top of . . .

My Resolutions List:

Get Rid of Stuff and SIMPLIFY.

Be MINDFUL in everything I do, and don’t let my moments go unnoticed or unappreciated.

MORE blogging.

SLOW art. Slow art is so beneficial that I may start a movement.

Like Slow Food, every aspect of slow art becomes more special, more rewarding, more pleasurable, and more digestible when you take your time doing it.

Be GRATEFUL – and EXPRESS that gratitude. Even saying out load to yourself that you are thankful for your blessings, makes you more aware that you have those blessings, and therefore, makes you appreciate life so much more.

And, acting on that last one, I want to THANK all of you for your company, your kindness and cleverness, your thoughtful comments, and for sticking around and being friends for all these years.

I do APPRECIATE you, and I hope that your 2014 will be your most creative and BEST year ever.

Happy, Happy New Year!

 

 

Night Lights and Printers and Minivans, Oh My!

nightlights1OK. Cue the Christmas Music . . .

“Night lights drying on a paper towel . . .
Jack Frost nipping at your nose . . .
Yuletide carols . . .”

Enough already. That was terrible, but I couldn’t help it. It got you humming, though, didn’t it?

So, there you have 16 night lights – fresh out of the kiln this morning, washed and ready to be glued to night light hardware like this . . .

nightlights2

Then Mark will attach the rest of the parts when the E6000 cures.

I am loving this way of making images, which is called kiln carving. Basically, you create the image using cut up pieces of fiber paper, which does not burn up, and the glass slumps over them when it fuses.

You can use punches or draw things and cut them out. That is what I did with my signature Jessica bird on some of them . . .

nightlightbirdThe little bubbles are a given with fused glass and are called champagne bubbles.

I have been firing every day to keep up with sales at the gallery. Customers in our village out here are more prone to buying art they can USE, so I have been making things like night lights and cheese plates . . .

cheeseplatesI took another workshop on Reactive Glass Special Effects which was really fascinating. The amber white and turquoiseI  plate shows some of that effect – reaction is what causes the dark outlines around the turquoise bits.

have SO MANY ideas for more artistic glass pieces but I shall wait until we are downtown again, where art lovers are happy to buy something just to look at it – without having to slice cheese on it (grin).

Tuesday, the 10th, Was A Very Fine Day . . .

We got back the money that was stolen through online credit card fraud a few months ago. It took a long time because the bank does not cover a business account with a provisional refund like they do a personal account. That’s a federal rule and I did not know about it before this happened. It took so long I sort of gave up ever seeing that money again, but it came back! Yay!

And I bought a new car (more about that in a moment).

In the process, I found out I have a really high credit score (How did THAT happen? Who knew?) so I could get a car loan for 1.9%. Actually, could have gotten 0.0% but the term was shorter and the payment was bigger and I guess I should make sure I can keep that good credit score.

That was like Santa Claus saying “You’ve been a very good girl this year, so you won’t get coal in your stocking”

And then, they called my insurance company to transfer my policy from a 2003 Caravan to a 2014 Caravan and I was cringing, waiting to hear how much my premium would go up . . . AND . . . they have built so many new safety features into these new vehicles that the rate stayed the same!?!

Geez – could it get any better?

Yup.

Phone rings while I am waiting for the new car to be vacuumed because there was a piece of lint in it (if they only knew what my van usually looks like!).

It’s Mark at the gallery and he’s having a good day. This was the first day we had put any of my glass pieces in the gallery and he had sold SEVEN of them!!! Talk about some nice validation.

Days like that Tuesday are worth a lot of mileage.

And speaking of mileage . . .

My beautiful ice-green van had 153,000 miles on it.

When a cylinder went bad a couple weeks ago, I fixed her because I love her so much.

Some of you will remember when I first brought her home back in 2005 . . .

mistylattenewThe only thing I did not totally love was the tan interior (Really? With a jade green exterior?) Have the automobile designers run amuck?

mistylatteinteriorBut I got around it by giving her a beautiful name – “Misty Latté”.

She was used, but she had only 31,000 miles.

I used her a lot more for 8 years. We went a lot of places together and the miles piled up.

After I got her cylinder fixed, she ran great for two days.

Then another cylinder started misfiring. Drat!

With my lifestyle, I have to know that a car is not going to strand me on the side of some lonesome highway somewhere.

I had to think about buying a new car.

And THINK I did.

I drove my dear husband crazy. He was in the car business for 40 years, remember, but I can still drive him crazy.

I am not a soccer Mom. In fact, not a Mom of any kind, unless you count dogs and cats.

So, why have I been driving a minivan instead of some sexy SUV all these years?

Maybe it was time for a sexy SUV.

ME: Maybe I should get an SUV this time. I like the Lexus.

MARK: SUVs are much smaller.
The Huskies won’t fit.
You can’t afford a Lexus.

ME: Picky . . .picky.

MARK: A new Caravan will have those seats that fold into the floor and we won’t have to get a divorce because you make me take seats out one more time.

ME: I do like those disappearing seats.

MARK: We ARE moving the business in two weeks.

ME: OK. OK. OK.

I still did go out and test drive some SUVs though (don’t tell). DH was right – the cargo space is on top of fold-down deats. The Huskies would be “floor” to ceiling and I wouldn’t be able to see through them to drive.

So, here is my brand new Dodge Grand Caravan . . .

bluenew1It’s rather boxy and the same color as the only nightmare-citrus-fruit vehicle I ever owned, but these headlights are sexy . . .

blueheadlightAnd the interior is beautiful black and light gray . . .

blueinterior1And it has Stow-n-Go seats (the back two are “stowed” in this shot) so I won’t have to get a divorce (for that reason anyway) . . .

bluestoragespaceLots of room for my Trader Joe’s freezer bags.

And the BEST thing of all . . . it has that “new car” smell.

What IS that “new car” smell anyway? Such a mysterious thing. It doesn’t really smell like anything else. And no matter what kind of new car you get, it smells the same.

It is a HAPPY smell. Like Sara Lee, nobody doesn’t like it. All my friends have come around sniffing.

I like the new car smell a LOT.

In fact, I like just about everything about this new car, BUT . . .

ME: “I just have one problem with this car. I think it’s a boy.”

MARK: (eyes crossed a little): “What?!”

ME: “I’ve always had girl cars before. I feel a little peculiar about this.”

MARK: “You should feel a little peculiar about that.”

So I showed the car to my friend, Betsy, without telling her my suspicions.

“I love this new car,” she said, “HE is going to be very happy with you for a long time.”

AHA!  It IS a boy. Women just know these things.

Now I have to be careful picking a name. Can’t be anything too foo-foo if this is a boy car.

Do you have any suggestions?

Printing from Your iPad . . .

Thanks for your great response to my latest Workbook – and for your emails saying it is the best toy you’ll get for Christmas. It is.Unless you are getting an iPad for Christmas, that is. That’s the best toy ever!

To answer a question asked in Comments last time, the Workbook is a PDF. Therefore, if you put the download link you get on check-out into the Safari address window on your iPad, the PDF will open there with a button to tap to “Open in iBooks”. If you tap that, the Workbook will be in your iBooks library.

Your download link is good for 30 days, so you can also download it to your PC to have a copy there too. Just go to the Download link again and enter your Order Code again (NOT your Order number. The Order Code is a long number with hyphens – easier to copy/paste it, in fact.)

And now, for some more great news . . .

If someone can still spend $59 on you for a holiday gift, I’ve got just the thing.

epson310XPEpson Expression Home XP-310 Small-in-One™ All-in-One Printer

Have to credit my sister-friend, Vesta, for this one. It is the PERFECT printer (since my Kodaks are a goner).

Sells at Walmart for $59.

Sells on Amazon with Prime Shipping at this Link

Total ink refill cost on Amazon $37.00 (Same at Walmart.)

Wireless and great app for iPad and iPhone with EASY print window.

Durabrite Waterproof and archival ink.

All in one that makes copies and scans.

Great pass-through paper feed which handles card stock better.

I bought one to make sure it was the right answer and I love it.

IMPORTANT TIP: Choose “Best” quality when printing. “Standard” is not good.

AND, this printer is not real fast, but that’s ok, because we are part of the “Slow Art” Movement. Right?

To be honest, I  just wrote that Workbook for me September Retreat and did not have time to actually do too much playing and printing with it myself for my journal.

But now that I have, I think this whole thing is an iPad life changer.

So many times, I skip a photo that really would enhance my journal page because I don’t feel like going through all the steps of Dropboxing it to the computer to edit and resize in Photoshop and print.

But now, I can just do all that right in the iPad where the photo or illustration resides and send it right through the air to the printer. TOO cool. And I know it will  fit exactly the space I want to put it because I planned all that on my iPad.

This printer is small and lightweight too.

With my new Workbook and this printer, you can have anything from your iPad (or iPhone) in your journal in no time at all

Here, again, is the link to the Workbook (it will be on the website shortly):

http://cre8it.com/printingfromthei.html

And get you a little Epson to go with it!

Maybe it will have that “new printer” smell.

 

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Quick and Easy – NOT!

glasses2You know those moments . . . you take your glasses off and massage the bridge of your nose for a bit – as if that gesture is going to massage your brain too, and refresh your senses.

Those moments allow random “headlines” to occur to me – ones that should be typed in all caps and put on billboards all over the country – this country anyway.

Here’s the most recent . . .

ART IS NOT “QUICK AND EASY”

The odd thing is that this ridiculous idea actually came along way before the pace of our lives was ridiculous enough to warrant it.

My earliest recollection of hearing about “five minute projects” etc. is from the Aleene’s Creative Living TV Show, and the Carole Duvall Show carried on the tradition.

I think besides the fact that they wanted to jam several projects into a half hour program, the quick-and-easy thing was meant to convince people that they actually had some time to be creative.

But, as is true of most really bad ideas, this one took on a life of its own and became the rallying cry for the whole craft industry – with some spillover into the arts as well. 

Because the craft industry is the entry point into creative arts for so many people, the idea of taking your time to make something got lost.

Just try to find a tutorial that tells you the project will take several hours, or several days to complete. If you do find one, hang on to it – it is probably a very good one.

Art is not quick and it is not easy (good art anyway).

Even if someone can do a sketch in a few minutes that looks great – she didn’t learn to do that by any  quick-and-easy method. She’s been practicing for years to develop that skill.

I have NEVER been a “quick-and-easy” artist. Frankly, I think that is a contradiction in terms. Even my journal pages aren’t quick or that easy.

But I still am enthralled by artists who spend years on a project, and my timing expectations for my own art are still out of line.

The truth of this came home to me for a couple of reasons . . .

I got into glass and I got a kiln.

Toward the end of the first firing – after 16 HOURS of heating and cooling ramps, I was incredulous!!

WHAT? 16 HOURS and I still can’t open that thing and see what I’ve got?! After all that prepping and cutting and polishing and cleaning and assembling small pieces, I have to wait 16 HOURS?!? Or more!

It’s sort of like childbirth – although how would I know, but I’ve been told – It can’t REALLY be like this, and everybody knows it, and nobody told me?

OK – much better than childbirth, but still a shock.

How does anybody ever get any glass art done if every firing takes 16-18 HOURS?!

This will teach me patience, and I was put on this earth to learn patience. That is a good thing.

And then I found a tube of Aleene’s Tacky Glue in a drawer, and it all came back to me.

It got me thinking about how WRONG it is that we think art should be quick and easy in the first place.

The real joy of art making is in the journey.

Although you may smile and feel warm fuzzies when you see your finished piece (or not), that is not the same fun as being immersed in the process of creating that piece.

So, we should savor the creative process, and like we feel while reading a great book, we should not want the experience to end.

This is applicable to all pleasures in life, and indeed, to LIFE itself.

Enjoy the process, the journey, and hope it doesn’t end for a LONG, LONG time.

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