Monthly Archives: May 2014

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

 

The Dogs Ate My Homework . . .

This is a mugshot of culprit #1 . . .

chevy2He is a hundred pound Husky-Malamute, usually wearing black and white and a big smile. That is NOT a halo over his head. He goes (not comes) by the name, Chevy.

His accomplice, the famous Teddy of flower-sniffing fame, is a full breed Husky with big blue eyes . . . he’s the very picture of innocence, but don’t be fooled.

teddyblueeyesThe crime . . .

It’s Monday night, 10:30, and I am tired but still going to sit down to do a short post.

All of a sudden, I hear a big “Oh No!” from Mark who has gone out to get the kids from their final potty party in the “Serengeti”, our gigantic 3000 square foot dog run (yes, they do have more square footage than we have in the house).

The only dog he had found out there was this one . . .

skycloseupA Husky tart who goes by the name of Sky, but is also known as Twisted Sister . . .

twistedsisterAt least Sky does not run away.

The other two were long gone – leaving just a little hole they had dug under the coyote fence as a clue.

Huskies are well known for being escape artists and for having a wanderlust.

This has happened before, and Mark and I knew what we were in for . . . hours of driving the streets of our neighborhood without finding the wandering duo.

There are large green belts throughout the community, all the lots are at least an acre and a half, and it is a dark sky community – no street lights and the houses have minimal or no outside lighting.

In the past, people have seen them, coaxed them into their cars, and called us (yes, our dogs are tagged!)

But this was late on Memorial Day and NOBODY was out. Every time Mark or I saw another car, it was us.

I didn’t really expect to spot the culprits, but I wanted to make sure they were not on the busier paved roads where they could get hit by a car, if there were any cars.

By one o’clock. we decided I should stay home in case they found their own way home, and Mark would keep driving.

I was so worried.

By 2 o’clock, I started worrying about Mark too.

But just as he was giving up and making his way home, he got a call. Thank heavens there was one young man who stayed out late, and he had the dogs in his car.

Chevy is a heavy panter and heavy panting was the first thing Mark heard when he answered the phone, followed by “I think I have your dogs”. Oh happy heart!

And when man and two dogs came in the front door at 2:15, I could not have been happier. . . or madder!

But you can’t scold or they won’t come back next time. so dirty looks have to get the message across.

Needless to say, I was way past being able to do a blog post.

I know the dog thing is a lame excuse, but I’m going for it anyway (grin).

I have no excuse for yesterday except a van full of flowers to plant – the first day of no rain since I got back from Durango.

Flowers, Flowers, Everywhere!

ajsnursery1You know I am a gardening nut.

So I have seen nurseries, and I have seen flowers, but I have never seen a nursery or flowers like this.

It’s a new nursery in Durango called AJ’s and it alone would have been worth the trip.

Val and I found it on Thursday and Betsy and I stopped again as we headed out of town yesterday.

Both times I went to AJ’s, I was in less than a stellar mood because on both Thursday and Saturday mornings, the Inn’s wi-fi signal disappeared and I was unable to do many things that needed doing - including your blog posts.

Both times, when I went to AJ’s, I got happy.

How can you not?!?

All the customers in that place had a smile ear to ear – after they got over the initial jaw-dropping awe.

We told the folks who work there that they should have a recorder at the front door to catch the remarks as people come in.

Evidently, this new place is owned by people who know what they are doing. They owned a local nursery, which they sold 10 years ago, and there was a non-compete clause in the sale contract. The non-compete is now over and they are back with bells on – and absolutely fantastic low prices.

Huge baskets of cascading Illusion Begonia cost $22.95! BIG hanging baskets – $27.95 That was the tipping point for me!

And look at these Fuschia baskets! Yep – $27.95

ajsnursery3 You just have to take pictures. I took pictures of Betsy taking pictures – both with our iPads, of course . . .

ajsnursery2And then came the big challenge. Were all the flowers we bought going to fit in the van for the trip home?

ajsnursery4We opened all the doors and the tailgate.

We “stowed” all the seats in the floor.

We pushed and shoved and stacked and re-stacked . . .

And then slammed the doors and jumped in.

I am happy to report that Betsy and I and all those flowers made it back to Santa Fe unscathed.

Now to introduce them all to the garden!

Beautiful Colorado . . .

cottageprairespyThis post is coming to you from a cottage in a garden in an apple orchard in Durango, Colorado.

In fact, the door is open. Come on in.

It’s around 8am and the sun is shining, although it is a bit chilly.

There is a window seat in this cottage and this is how the sun is coming in through the trees and window shades . . .

windowseatI love the difference in color in the two windows.

Yesterday was an internet impossible day because the wi-fi here was under the weather, and when I drove into town, I forgot all about the computer and headed for the nurseries.

We lost our best nursery in Santa Fe a couple years ago, so I now make a yearly pilgrimage to Durango to get my bedding plants, and see my sister friend, Valerie, of course. There is a new nursery here that knocked my socks off, and Val’s. We spent most of the afternoon there. I  am going back and will try to get some photos.

My favorite flower is the Tuberous Begonia. Yes, I have a lot of favorite flowers, but that’s ok. There’s no maximum. Anyway, I literally could not breathe because this nursery had the biggest and most beautiful selection of Tuberous Begonia I have ever seen. Some of them now belong to me (grin).

The rest of this post is going to be photos, because I am trying not to think about anything but what is in the moment. All my decisions can wait til later.

Here is the view straight out from the porch . . .

viewfromporchand if you turn to the right . . .

viewtorightBetsy’s cottage is on the other side of that footbridge.

And if you turn to the left . . .

pond

Ponds and streams are all over the property. That’s the main house where there are B&B rooms instead of cottages.

And if I just stay on my porch . . .

rockersonporchI could sit in a rocking chair and sketch in my journal – hmmm.

Yes – I think I will do that.

Scenery brought to you by the Apple Orchard Inn, Durango, Colorado.

Product Photography and a Road Trip . . .

chileearringsAs I mentioned, I used to do a lot of product photography for catalogs, brochures, etc. and I also used to act as art director on photo shoots when I worked in San Francisco.

Sets were elaborate, lighting took hours to get right, and shoots took all day. And that was only if the client was cooperating.

At one point, we specialized in jewelry because it was a “specialty” – really hard to get right – and my partner at that time was a really great jewelry photographer.

HOW things have changed.

I am creating our online Market for the gallery, and I have to make good photos of my jewelry.

I still have my professional studio lighting, tents, umbrellas, etc.

I even have a more modern digital lighting and light tent set-up.

But I’m not using any of it.

Last Saturday, my friend, Betsy, and I went to a few of the studios on the annual Art Tour in our village.

One visit was to see my friend, Sharon. Her new work is awesome and she had already sold seven pieces by lunchtime! Yay!

Our second stop was to visit Penny Truitt, another ceramic artist I really admire.

She does some amazing sculptures for a gallery on Canyon Road, but at her studio, she also had some great little tiles she does for fun, which were also affordable.

I got a set of three I will frame in a shadow box, and another that reminded me of local adobe ruins. I just thought that last one could hang out with me in my greenhouse studio, where I have other interesting ceramic things.

And that was a fortuitous decision, because as I sat there doing some jewelry photography – with ONLY indirect daylight and my iPad – my eyes landed on that last tile and I sat my chile earrings on it.

Wow. I loved that shot (top of the post).

So, I got those other tiles out (glad I haven’t framed them yet). and set some special Jasper bracelets on top of them . . .

greenmattejade

bluemattejadeThis was such a perfect “set” for my jewelry!

NOTE: The greatest thing about this Jasper is its matte finish, which feels cool and smooth in a very unusual way. I’ve never felt anything like it, and they are hard to put down. I found a very limited supply of these in Tucson and can’t get any more until maybe next year (I hope!)

Anyway, it is truly incredible that you can now do beautiful photography this way – with just an iPad, some indirect daylight, and some artistic props. It looks just as good as the stuff that used to take us an entire day! If you had told me about this then, I would never have thought it possible. Goes to show you never know what can happen.

Betsy and I have rented a couple of cottages in a garden with duck ponds, in an apple orchard, outside Durango, CO, and we are leaving this morning for 4 days..

Sounds like a dream for art journaling, and we will also be spending time with my friend, Valerie, and her wonderful gallery.

Yes, I will be taking you along.

 

 

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..

 

I Want to Be An Artist When I Grow Up . . .

yardwork I said that to Mark this morning before he left for the gallery.

He gave me one of “those” looks, but I think he really does know what I mean by that.

I have not been “being an artist” because I have been mostly “being” a business woman and teacher of art. My focus has been on your art, not mine. That’s a weird thing, but it’s true.

During this time of soul searching, I am also searching other people’s blogs, and finding that many of the most widely followed artist’s blogs concentrate on the artist’s own work, and story, and progress and process.

I am not talking about craft and DIY blogs here – they are full of teaching, and they are directed at hobby artists for the most part.

I am talking about the blogs written by practicing artists who are creating and showing and selling their artwork.

That term “practicing” artist is one that I will want to explore sometime soon. It’s a very interesting term when you think about it.

I honestly don’t think that I would be any less interesting of a blogger if I talked about my own story. In fact, statistics show that my tutorial posts get fewer comments than the ones that are about “story”.

There are two things that get said to me all the time.

One is a question: Where do you get your ideas?

The other is a statement: I wish I could follow you around for a day to see how you do what you do.

And maybe that is what this blog should be about.

So, here’s my interesting story for today . . .

Something has happened to my art journaling process.

I have always embraced a couple of ideas about art journaling that play into this change.

My journals are “illustrated” journals based on drawing and watercolor.

I can take as long as it takes to finish a page. I have given myself permission to do that because it’s the only thing in my life these days that is not in a hurry. There is no hurry in my journals, and if I want something perfect, I will take the time to make it perfect.

To that end, I thank my iPad for its help. I ALWAYS shoot a reference photo, even when painting from life, because, by the time I finish the page, the subject will likely be changed or gone altogether – Orchids in the studio for example.

I recently ran into a new brand of watercolor (new to me), and I will share all about that in another post. I fell in love so hard that I went from owning 1 tube, to 33 tubes in one month.

And these watercolors used in the Stillman & Birn Beta and Zeta sketchbooks is something like heaven.

So, what I realized is that I have been creating some of my “real” art in my journals – instead of just preliminary studies.

This creates a big question – how do I sell them?

The originals are not going anywhere because they are in my journal and you would have to tear my arm off to get me to tear a page out.

I am going to have to sell reproductions of these paintings.

That’s ok.

I am a big fan of prints, actually. I think it allows art to be owned by people who can’t afford to own originals, and that’s a good thing.

But, in my opinion, the reproductions can’t be mass produced if they are going to hold their value as art. The artist must produce the reproduction and even sign the prints – the signature should not be printed.

Making a good reproduction is not an easy thing as those of you who have tried it know. You need archival ink and archival paper and you have to get that paper to go through the printer. And there is sizing and trimming and a bunch of other concerns.

But the end result is still a product of the artist’s hands and it’s worth the trouble.

My latest paintings are of strange neighborhoods.

I live in a strange neighborhood to begin with.

And I LOVE houses in art. Not the fancy detailed ones, but the ones that look like a grown-up version of the ones we drew in first grade.

European artists depict houses that have a mystery to them, and I love that. It keeps the houses from being too “cute”. I have been fighting my “cute” gene all my life.

In the ’80s, I was registered with the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) as a Surrealist, which is definitely what I still am for the most part – even though I love painting realistic flowers.

So, painting “strange” neighborhoods is right up my alley.

My true love is narrative art. There is a story in the painting, and I love to figure out what it is. Even in my own paintings, I have to figure out what it is, because I don’t know what’s going on either.

Also, like Rene Magritte, I think titles are an important part of the work. His titles didn’t necessarily make sense, but mine usually do – and give you a clue to the story. The titles just show up at some point while I am creating the painting.

It’s like a voice says: “Here is the title. Figure this one out.”

I am showing you my two latest paintings today. Both were done in watercolor in my Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook, so both will be sold as reproductions and I will share that process with you too, as I go through it.

Both paintings are part of a series called “Strange Neighborhoods”. That’s another thing I often do – paint in series.

The painting at the top of the post is called “Gathering” and your guess is as good as mine what that means. Whatever it means to you is what it means.

This one is called “Mending Fences” . . .

mendingfencesAgain, you can make up your own story.

I think that is the weirdest fence I’ve ever seen anyone put up, and somebody is sending somebody a message. And, it’s not like they won’t be running into each other. But, I’m not sure whats going on exactly.

I have to admit I love this series, and may even try to make those houses in glass one of these days.!

The Backwards, Decorated Hair Dryer . . .

birdbathblueI can’t even express how moved I was by your responses to yesterday’s post. Your friendship is what holds me to the whole blogging idea.

Many comments brought tears to my eyes, and one made me fall on the floor laughing. Vivian – the hairdryer backwards and decorated was hysterical.

The “hairdryer” is a little porcelain bird who sits in a porcelain birdbath and holds water for my watercolor painting. His feet are covered over with clear glaze so it looks as if he is standing in water – even when I don’t have water in the dish.

Those of you who have been around for a very long time may remember that I like to use very special containers as part of my watercolor ritual.

A tip for those who would just as soon recycle a container for their water . . . this comes from my friend, Betsy, who recycles everything.

Fage Greek yogurt containers, with their little fruit cup, make great water containers. Keep clean water in the little cup, and use the larger cup for brush cleaning water. (Eat the yogurt first!)

yogurtcupI tried this and it works great. I wish I liked Greek yogurt more.

Back to the birdbath bowl . . .

birdbathbowlredThey are created by artist, Shandi McConnell, and we carry them in the gallery ($38). I am debating whether to include them in the online Market because we sell out of them so quickly that I never know what color birds we have in stock. The bowls are all this watery turquoise blue and the glaze is crackled.

If you want one meanwhile, email me and I will tell you what we have on hand.

And speaking of special things made by special artists, I have gotten several emails lately about our handmade art journal bags. I am down to the last one in the gallery and must place an order, so once again, I will offer you a chance to get one in the color and pattern you want.

artjournalbagsClick here for full details, and you can order from that same page. The price is $36 and the turnaround time is 2-3 weeks. There is really nothing like these bags – they should be a lot more expensive.

Handmade Artist Journal/iPad Cross Body Bag

or here is the direct link to buy one if you already know all about it

Art Journal Bag Purchase Link

Now, about some of your ideas from last time . . .

Send Sheer Heaven Samples to some craft bloggers for review. This is a very good idea. Sheer Heaven has been featured on blogs and in books and magazines over the years, and that is always a good thing. I have never initiated that, however, and it’s something I should think about.

Can any of you share links to your favorite craft or art blogs in Comments below? This would be good for me, and it would be good for all of you who might like to know about some good blogs.

I also have to make a new Sheer Heaven transfer video for YouTube. Time flies and I didn’t realize how changes in YouTube quality have shrunken my video to a little fuzzy thing.

Problem is, that video has 150,000 views, which gives it a high search ranking, and you can’t just put a new video in that space. You have to start over, and the best thing you can do is put a link to the new one on the old one. See what I mean about how complicated this whole thing is?

Hanne mentioned that the iPad Studio link on the new Cre8it Home page doesn’t work. That is because I am redoing  the page it would link to.

The iPad Studio workshop was written in 2012. You all know how fast iPad stuff gets updated. There are several workbooks that need updating and I don’t have another year to devote to that, so I am dismantling the workshop, and am going to make the Workbooks available individually – as they are updated – or when I write a new one (there are now 13 workbooks instead of the original 11).

That means creating new web pages on my site. They are almost done, and as soon as they are, that Home page link to them will work again.

I’m tellin’ ya – you might get a headache from my sharing some of what is involved backstage here. It’s ok – I have some ibuprofen if we need it.

Word of Mouth . . .

This is the best thing ever. Word of mouth has been the biggest thing behind the success of Sheer Heaven.

As you know, I love to tell you about the places and things I love, and if you love it here, the best thing you can do is to spread the word.

Quinn Creative

I am really glad Quinn’s name came up.

I first met her when she took a workshop of mine at Art Unraveled. She is a lovely person.

She is also an amazing thinker and an amazing writer when it comes to things creative. In fact, I LOVE the way she creates pictures with words.

Her blog is wonderful and is on my very selective list of favorite blogs (scroll down the sidebar for that list).

Her latest book is about a new way to think about your inner critic and I haven’t read it yet, but I love her Raw Art Journaling book and plan to review it here soon. Here it is on Amazon:

Raw Art Journaling by Quinn McDonald

So, that’s enough for today. I am off to our local Studio Tour (local to our little village of Eldorado). There are 90+ artists in it, but I am most excited to see the new work by my friend, Sharon Brush. She is creating a whole new look for her first showing since she moved to Santa Fe a year ago.

She is a master ceramicist. You can see some of her past work here:

http://sharonbrush.com

I’ll be back tomorrow.

 

 

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.

Painting Orchids . . .

orchid2You may remember my excitement about buying and trying my first Orchids from Trader Joes back in December of 2012 (See this post).

I took good care of them – all five that I ended up buying. I repotted them in Orchid mix fed them, and kept them in the garden room all year.

This Spring, I have been rewarded by three of the five re-blooming.

All this time, I thought they were three different types of orchids even though they all had the same leaf (I can be pretty dense sometimes). The flowers were different colors, so they were different, right?

No.

That is the really great thing about drawing – you really SEE something. So, I finally realized that the structure of the flowers was identical, and these are actually the same type orchid - phalaenopsis orchids – the easiest kind to care for.

Above is the page I painted in my Stillman & Birn Beta journal.

The Orchids posed for me and were stellar models . . . compare this one to the top orchid on the page . . .

orchidmodel0The painting is a little less white than it should be, but that is because I hadn’t figured something out yet. This one is on the right of the middle group . . .

orchidmodel1And it turned out much more true to the actual color, and so did its pal on the left . . .

orchidmodel2

orchiddetail

Because I discovered how the use of white watercolor could help.

This was not a DUH! moment. It was an AHA! moment. Here’s why:

You just don’t use white paint in watercolor. You use the paper color to keep whites. You add small bits of shadow colors to model the white flower or whatever.

But, when you work in a small journal format, it is very difficult to blend your subtle shading with water and keep it from tinting the white paper. It just flows too easily.

HOWEVER . . . if you paint the flower petal first with an opaque white – like Titanium white, the added color around the edges etc. does not flow easily, but rather, blends softly into the still wet white. It’s a wet into wet technique just like the other method, but the Titanium white is thicker and creamier, so it slows everything down and makes blending so easy.

This was a lovely discovery and will really help with my flower painting from now on.

Finally, my third model was a greenish color – which was challenging to match. . .

orchidmodel3I used my newly discovered technique on it as well. The painted version is the bottom one on the page above.

I seem to be attracted to botanical realism lately. I know I won’t give up my goofy art or my surrealism, but there is a lot of pleasure in trying to duplicate shapes and colors as they are.

It’s a beautiful Spring Sunday, and I have promised myself that my garden clean-up will be greatly advanced by the end of it. So, off I go . . .

Have a great Sunday.