Happy New Year 2016

It is finally here. 2016 is the year that I crank everything into high gear and make my shop what I have always wanted it to be; successful!

I have set up my jewelry studio and am hard at work creating new pieces that will be posted to my Etsy shop at the beginning of the new year. I have made several new pieces that have been given as gifts this Christmas, just to make sure I am “up to snuff”. It is amazing how quickly your hands loose the dexterity needed to work with such tiny pieces, but it is equally amazing how quickly you can regain the skills.

Turquoise and fire agate

This turquoise and fire agate necklace is for a friend of mine who is going through a divorce. Her birthday is in December (turquoise) and she said she was oddly drawn to orange recently, so what better than a fire agate!

Quartz and brass triangle

Thus far, most of my work is simply compiling things from around my shop. I am not doing a lot of fabrication…..yet.

 

Brass and blue agate earrings

Copper and natural blue agate. I enjoy working with complimentary colors like blue and orange but hope to get to some contrasting combinations like blue and yellow.

Tribal bead and lemon quartz

Slowly Getting Ready to Get Back to Work

I have not been posting much content recently for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that I currently do not have a studio. We moved out to central Oregon permanently at the beginning of 2015. It took us several months to finally get my entire shop and my husbands wood shop packed up and moved. In fact, there are still odds and ends needing to be collected from our old house, which is going on the market this week.

In the meantime, I have been making do on our big front porch, piled up in yarn on our sofa and using an old card table in the laundry room as a place for the messier affairs. Most of my supplies are tucked up in an attic over our garage and I spend far too much time up there contorting myself to see what might be in a tote or digging through various boxes. It is not an ideal way to feed the creative monster and in fact, my productivity at least jewelry wise has all but screeched to a halt.

12135464_1513040165677699_1110896839_n

We do not have the funds to build a full studio yet and with winter fast approaching in a very cold climate, we have simply run out of time to set a foundation this year. So, my husband is enclosing our back porch to give me a space that is out of the house but still small enough to heat economically.  The full studio will have a wood stove when it is built. This porch has a window that we can open to let the house heat (also wood stove) in….or is it out? Worst case scenario, we have a small electric heater for additional “oomph”.

Back to the Painting!

I worked on the painting in a series of two hour blocks and then took a photo. After I had blocked in the basic composition, I started to add the layers of color. I do this by squinting at my subject and trying to replicate on the large blocks of color that I see, ignoring the details.

Aspen tree image 2

Most painters apply layers and layers of paint and I am no exception. I use thin coats of paint so that, even though you might not notice, hints of the previous color affect the top coats. There is so much going on in this scene, color wise. that when you focus on it long enough, it becomes trance-like.

Aspen tree image 3

I adhere very strictly to the idea that you must paint what you see and if you are true to what you see, it will all come together accurately in the end. My daughter, who is a graphic artist told me she had no idea that painting took so much time or was done in so many stages. I guess, unless someone had taught me how to paint, it would never have occurred to me either

Aspen tree image 4

I have waited 20 years to paint again because for me, it is something that requires 100% of my brain. It is actually exhausting, which is why I try to work in two hour blocks. I could not find this kind of isolation while I was raising my family.

I hope to get this mostly finished this weekend while my husband goes pheasant hunting in Nebraska.

First Painting in 20 Years DAY ONE

It has been a very long time since I last sat down and put my mind to starting a painting. In truth, I have always thought of myself as a painter, even though my degree focus was in illustration. I had only discovered painting in my senior year of college and did not have enough credit hours under my belt to be able to use that medium in my final project. I knew right away, however, that I was hooked….

.Aspen tree

When we moved into our house in central Oregon, this was the view from the dining room window. One of my first thoughts was of how much I would like to make a painting of this tree. Aspen trees are one of my husband’s favorites. This tree, like all Aspens, captures the seasons so clearly and this autumn was no exception.

Aspen tree layout

At first, I tried to draw directly from the subject, but the constant back and forth, as well as the light to dark was giving me quite a headache. I have never been much for drawing out my subject anyway. There is something about drawing on a vertical surface that has always been a challenge for me. I used to get in trouble in college for insisting on moving my pad of paper, no matter how large, from the easel onto my lap.

Aspen tree image 1

So, instead, I took a photo with my phone and used it as my primary reference. This was also helpful because the sun was moving in and out of the clouds all day making the lighting different every time I looked up.

With a dirty brush and a limited palate, I scratched the primary shapes and color fields onto the canvas and called it an end of day one.

Painting takes a CRAZY amount of concentration and a steady hand. These are two things that I no longer have, so I imagine this project will take some time to complete!

Jute Heads

For several months, I have been musing about the kind of display I would like for my creations. I tend to prefer scenes that are closely linked to nature, but at the same time, I like a little bit of class…..

11917813_1387138864920834_133897015_n

On my recent trip in to Portland and remembered that a favorite thrift store of mine always has a few styrofoam heads for sale as Halloween approaches. This year was no exception, in fact, they had hundreds. I ordered several spools of jute from Amazon and VIOALA! Jute heads!

The Spice of Life

IMG_1788

I am a little bit all over the place these days. Dabbling in Jewelry, collecting rocks to tumble, hiking the back woods for animal bones and some times just sitting down with a pencil and paper and seeing if I still have, “it”.

IMG_1793

My daughter recently rekindled my desire to play with polymer clay. My neighbor is requesting help making Christmas presents for the very poorest in our community and I just can’t seem to put my Ryobi away. There is always SOMETHING new to carve into or sand off.

Now, if only I could keep up with the housework……

I will post more soon.

Change is Good

P1050522La Pine Sunset 8-1-2015

They say that you should reinvent yourself from time to time. I sat down with my noggin and had a good long think about what I was trying to accomplish with my shop….my life for that matter. I wanted to make a difference, not just keep heaving handmade products onto a website and hoping by some small miracle, I was found and adored. I looked at what I have learned over the past year, what I have changed about myself and how I could best put my talents to good use.

For those who don’t actually know me, and that would make 99.9999999% of the world (including my 4 followers at this time, I believe), I have a condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The details of this condition are best left to another blog, perhaps on another site, but in a nutshell, the connective tissue in my body is slowly, painfully, starting to stiffen with age. With it comes early onset arthritis and easily dislocated joints. This is not a good condition to have when one considers themselves and artist and NEED to work with their hands. Seriously, it is second only to breathing and frequently manages to upstage eating and sleeping. Why do I mention this to you? Because as my body has become less and less cooperative and my medicine cabinet has become more and more full, I frequently find myself wondering how much time I have left to create. I wonder how others, women especially, manage to cope daily with chronic conditions that plague their every move. I think about women mostly, not only because I am one, but also because we tend to be the stoic ones. We soldior on, doing what has to be done and the world around us seems to completely overlook, for get, or be unaware of the fact that we are in pain. I know this because it is my life, and I know this because over the past year I have had the honor of talking with many other women in online support groups, who are wondering the same things I am. Most of these women do not have EDS, they have Fibromyalgia, cancer, MS, RA, you name it. I wish there was something I could do to let these women know they are not alone.

So, I have decided to start yet ANOTHER shop. This one, however, I intend to take most of my focus as it is something that is truly close to my heart. The shops name is Tough Girls and its primary focus will be on handmade healing, comforting and beautifying items. There will be chemo hats and scarves that make you feel pretty. Lap blankets that are just the right size to take to your infusion or cuddle with, Painted rocks you can heat and place on sore muscles. Scented sachets to calm nerves, and perhaps candles and lotions in the near future. I am looking for suggestions, of course. I would especially welcome any ideas from women (and men) who have experience in long term conditions. Did you ever wish you had a special shirt that could cover your IV port? A cover for your cast to keep the dirt off your toes? Ace bandages that were actually pretty? I intend to try and dabble in any and all things that might brighten the day, ease the pain or simply make a woman feel a little bit more attractive, when she is feeling her worst.

The shop is set up on Etsy as ToughGirls and while it is not stocked at this time, it will be in the near future. Most items will be by request at first so I do not put too much time and energy making products no one is interested in. I hope you will visit.