Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mountains of magazines....

I love magazines and subscribe to a rediculous number of them that cover a wide range of subjects - fashion, quilting, flowers, mixed media, dolls, sewing, health - the list goes on.  I try to read them as they come in because they can accumulate into big piles really fast.

One of the things I enjoy about magazines is feeling free to tear
things out of them.  I tear out stories, pretty pictures, things I want to make, words or phrases that catch my eye, all kinds of things.  Those, too, can accumulate into big piles!

As the piles of "tear outs" grows, I do a few things to keep them under control.  For the articles and instructions I bought a three ring binder and plastic pockets to put the articles into.  I keep the photo of the item on top, instructions in the back.  They aren't indexed - I prefer to flip through the pockets and often find a project I had forgotten about.

One thing I love to do is make collages of my torn pages.  I make them in color schemes, filling in areas as I find more things that fit the collage - it can take months to finish one as I wait to come across just the right image or word.  They are super simple to make, I use big sheets of inexpensive watercolor paper (it has more "tooth" than oaktag) and a glue stick. 

I am always seeing things that I think will be inspirations for a project, or a color scheme that I want to remember, or clothes that I want to remember for the fabric used or sewing details.  Jewelry, collage, quilts and dolls are a few more subjects that I keep a lookout for.  For those tear outs I use speckled composition books - I glue the images into the books, keeping a book for each subject.  I sometimes make notes of what caught my eye.  I collage the covers of the books to make them more fun and colorful.  They are great reference books and I turn to them frequently when I'm looking for inspiration.

I know that the electronic age is going to eventually lead to the demise of printed magazines - a very sad prospect indeed!  The electronic version of my speckled books is Pinterest and I am totally addicted.  I love that my pins are shared with my followers and that with just a few clicks, a Pin is shared with an endless stream of people.  What fun! 

I love my collages, I've shared some here - finished and "in progress".  They are SO much fun to make!

Despite all my cutting, tearing and collaging, I've still accumulated a big pile of magazines - mostly mixed media art and quilting magazines.  I have begun going through all of them, keeping only the pages/images I want.  I kind of gasp when I think of how much I've spent on all of them but then when I realize how much I have learned, how many friends I've made (through being published), how much I have been inspired, well, they are a real bargain. 

Three cheers for magazines - I hope they will be around for a long time to come! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Art Interrupted

When I last posted back in February, my big dilemma was picking out a poem for a quilt project.  Little did I to know that I would soon be facing a much bigger challenge - Stage 1 Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Needless to say, the poem project was completely forgotten as I prepared to face the challenges of lumpectomy surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  My surgery went well, since it was "only" a lumpectomy I recovered quickly and even went back to work for the rest of tax season.  I started chemotherapy on April 16th, the day after tax season ended - no rest for the weary!

I must say that the IDEA of chemotherapy had me a little unglued.  I've heard all the horror stories of the side effects and of all things I deplore, getting an IV line put in and vomiting are at the top of the list.  Lucky for me, the IV lines were put in with minimal discomfort and new anti-nausea medications did a great job at keeping me from getting sick to my stomach.  While chemo was certainly not a pleasant experience, and my journey was not without some complications, I found chemo to be manageable.  Yes, I felt lousy and tired.  No, it was not unbearable.  Yes, I was allowing poisons to be put into my body.  No, I did not have a choice - I needed to go "full guns" at beating cancer.  Yes, I am now a survivor.  No, I don't want to go through this again.

I learned a lot along the way - life is full of lessons if we keep our eyes open.  I was shocked to learn of how many people in my life have had breast cancer - now, remember, we know at least two thousand people just through Steve's CPA practice and we have a large circle of friends outside of that so the odds are we would know quite a few.  That list is dozens of people long - a big surprise to me and a reminder of how far cancer treatment has advanced as the vast majority of them are SURVIVORS.  I met a lot of people at chemo and radiation, fabulous caregivers, skilled nurses, brilliant doctors who patiently answered my million-and-two questions.  I was reminded of how blessed I am to live here, an hour north of NYC where some of the most talented doctors are trained - and then wind up in my wonderful Mt Kisco Medical Group.  I heard a lot of stories from other cancer patients, both good and bad experiences.  I learned that everyone deals with a cancer diagnosis differently and that everyone responds differently to treatments - sometimes largely due to their emotional state.

I am blessed to have been raised by an incredible mother and father who faced their share of health issues with amazing strength and grace.  My approach was to be pragmatic, learn the facts and do what was needed - all with the best attitude I could muster through it all.  I can't count the times people told me that my good attitude was great medicine and would be really help me through it all.

My hair started to fall out about two weeks after my first chemo treatment.  A few days into finding gobs of hair in my brush, I was running errands and it so happened that the only parking space was in front of a hair salon.  I decided to go in and get my head shaved to just get the hair "thing" over with.  It turned out that one of our clients worked there - I felt so bad for her, she had tears rolling down her cheeks as she cut my hair and shaved my head - I was smiling the whole time.  It was SO empowering!  I guess that is the "control freak" in me - I don't like being vulnerable and letting my hair be in charge of just when I was going to be bald just didn't suit me.  So, I showed my hair who was in charge, LOL.  I very quickly got used to having no hair and actually have enjoyed how quickly I could get ready and out of the house!

Anyway, enough rambling about the past few months.... it has been a journey.  One that I could not have handled as well were it not for the incredible support of my husband, my family, my friends and the countless people who have been part of my treatment team.  What was amazing to me was that nearly every day from my first treatment I received either a card, a note, a quilted postcard, flowers, a plant, home cooked food, a gift, a Mass Card, or some other kindness.  It was as if everyone in my life had gotten together and set up a schedule so that the support would be spread out over the months of treatment instead of me getting a pile in the beginning and nothing in the later weeks.  It was so wonderful, every day brought some little joy, an endless stream of love. 

How blessed I am.

I am now back to making ART again and that will be the subject of my next blog post in about two weeks...  LOL, my computer drives me nuts... I somehow hit a combination of keys that has me typing in italics and I can't get rid of it....  ARGH.  Anyway, I plan to be back to blogging more regularly, at least a couple of times a month or so.  Thanks for hanging in there and waiting for me to show up again! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Getting started is the toughest part!

I currently have three projects with deadlines to work on, a small format art quilt "inspired by a line of poetry or song lyric", a pair of altered shoes for a Heart Health fundraiser, and a fiber art piece for an upcoming exhibit.  I have spent hours pondering what I am going to do for each of them...

Poem after poem has been read and discarded - I like the poetry but can't come up with a visual translation that makes sense to me.  I've wandered lonely as a cloud, given up on the daffodils to find myself on a road less traveled and I've tried to keep my head when all about me were losing theirs.  I know that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree by the shores of the Gitche Gumee - I am now following the advice of Miller, in his poem "Columbus".... "Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!".  I am sailing on in my search for the right poem... here's hoping I find it soon!

The altered shoe project is a fundraiser for the "Kick Off Your Heels" fundraisr for the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.  I've got some ideas but I want to my project to be one that people will want to buy (oh, how sad it would be to be the one project that does NOT sell in an online charity auction...).

And then there is the fiber art piece for an upcoming exhibit.... I've got that figured out in my head and have even gotten the fabric out and sorted.  I need to figure out what my "base" will be and then I can get going on that one.  I do have some surface design things to work out, I guess that would be a good place to start.

Whether it be writing or an art project, I always find that starting is the toughest part.  The first line of an essay or article is, for me, the greatest challenge.  It sometimes takes me longer to write the first line or two than it takes to write the next couple of pages!   Art projects are the same way - the first swipe of paint on a canvas, the first cut into a piece of fabric - the committment to the idea, the hope that I'm on the right path and that it will all come together.....

I'm back to my search for the right line of poetry.... any suggestions?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Letting go....

I have been making art quilts and collages for  a long time, at least fifteen years.  I have accumulated a very large pile of finished work (we won't talk about the UNfinished pile...).  About forty pieces are on display at my husband/s office - the rest of them (dozens) are stashed in my studio, either in a pile, like these lovelies, or hanging around my studio.  I have 98% of what I've made - mostly because I have a problem "letting go".   
I am often asked if I sell my work, which I suppose I would do, if I ever got my act together and worked up a price list.  I think, however, that one of the reasons I haven't gotten my act together on selling my work is that I really don't want to let go of it!  It is totally crazy, I know.  I mean, how many little qults can one person posiblly hoard?  And, what is the point of creating something beautiful if you're not willing to share it with someone who will enjoy owning it?  Sigh. 
I met a well known painter at a party last week.  We talked about how hard it is to earn a living as an artist and she said she has been supporting herself as an artist from the very start.  Wow.  That is darned impressive!  I often wonder what it would be like to be a full time artist, needing to sell your work to pay the electric bill or make a (gulp) mortgage payment.  It seems to me that I would have to make a mountain of work in order to support myself!  For now, I'm grateful that my husband and I have good day jobs that pay the bills and that I just get to enjoy the process of making art, just for the enjoyment, without the pressure of having to think of whether or not it will sell.

One of my goals for 2013 is to finally finalize my website and put up galleries of my work.  I'm thinking that I will be able to sell some work after it is properly recorded on my website, I'll be able to let it go because I'll be able to visit it from time to time, in pictures.  Which brings me to a second goal for 2013, stocking the Etsy store I established last year.  Part of those processes will be to create a price list for all of my work.  That will mean I will be prepared with an answer when someone asks "Do you sell your work?".  I'll whip out my price list and see what happens. 
Until then, I guess I'll just keep making and hoarding... 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Time management

Managing time - in life, with special people, at work, in my studio, and quiet time, is a challenge.  I feel so fortunate to have a full life - a wonderful husband, a large family, lots of friends, a good job, a sweet home & a dream studio.  But, I often find myself trying to squeeze 27 hours into a 24 hour day, trying to fulfill the "must do's" of life and the "want to's". 

Obviously, I have to take care of the business end of life, which means going to work and doing things like laundry and paying bills.  Finding ways to simplify these "must do's" allows me a little more time to spend in my studio.  Little things like wearing mostly clothes that don't have to be ironed (and sending my husband's shirts to the cleaners), paying bills on-line, and spending a whole weekend cooking a freezer full of ready-to-eat meals, are just a few of the things that work for me. 

The truth is, there will never be enough hours in my lifetime for me to make all of the things I have dancing in my head.  However, I think that is a good thing - I mean, are all ideas really that good?   Time limitations cause us to filter through what we want to do and decide what is most important, or the best of the ideas we have.  Some projects get started and never finished - quilters call this their UFO (unfinished objects) pile.  My view of that is:  If I have a project that I really love, I will finish it.  If I am ambivilent about it, it will languish and may never be completed. 

Through the course of my creative journey, I have started and not finished countless projects.  Either something I was thinking didn't quite work or I became distracted by something else that caught my attention.  All of the work had value though - I always learn something, either "great, that worked well" or, "that was a bad idea".  In the end, it is all time well spent because it helps me to grow as a person (accepting failure, enjoying success) and as an artist (learning from my mistakes, building on my successes) - those lessons show up in the piles of projects I have finished.

I often say that I wish there was an eighth day in the week, as if that would mean I would have more time to do what I want, ha ha.  That joke is on me! 

One thing that is both a gift and a curse to time management is the computer.  It is terrific that I can find out pretty much anything with a quick Google search, pay my bills online, and get my work done faster.  But on the other side are things like Pinterest (which I love but can eat up a lot of time), Facebook (which is fun but can be another time killer) and the worst part, having to constantly learn how to use the newest version of whatever you're doing.  It seems that just when I get it all figured out, some wisenheimer decides to "improve" the program and I'm back to computer kindergarten (notice there are no pictures in this blog?  Guess what they changed on Blogger that I haven't figured out yet...).

My goal is to strike a good balance between spending time with my husband, family, & friends, being productive at work, enjoy our home, and feed my soul with studio time.  I don't know what I'm going to do with all the stuff I'm making..... maybe I'll sell it on Etsy someday, if I can figure out how to post pictures there!