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Saturday, February 21

what I found

Day 2 of the studio clean and reorganize. I decided that the best way to deal with the chaos without losing my mind would be to assign a small goal for each day. Yesterday was frames. I had them stored in places I didn't remember, so what I found was twice as many frames as I thought I had. That will take me easily into the first few shows. The framed work sells the unframed work, prints, cards, etc. It brings people in, but most people think it will be cheaper to frame it themselves. Listen and trust me. It is not. If you bring it to a framer they will charge you tons of money. If you decide to buy a frame and mats to do it yourself,  it will cost you more. This is not a sales pitch to buy framed work, it is a public service announcement. We get our frames wholesale and many of us cut our own mats. A frame service will charge 20 bucks for mats. It costs me 50 cents.  I usually add 20-30 dollars for a framed piece. Depends on what the frame cost me and how many mats I had to cut. You cannot do this  cheaper.

That was your consumer alert for the day :)

I also found an earring that was 1/2 of a pair I bought at Mt Gretna last Summer and absolutely loved. How it got up there, I have no idea. Now I have to remember where I put the other one.

After I finished upstairs, I baked bread and made marinara sauce and there is baked ziti in the oven.

To continue on my search for inner peace, Russell and I are visiting a local Buddhist group tonight. We have always been drawn to the teachings  and this should be interesting. A friend from work has belonged for years and invited us to be her guest after I expressed interest.

Between my cleaning and baking forays, yoga lessons and now meditation and chanting, I am going to be interesting to live with.

Stay tuned!


Friday, February 20

braving the iceberg

OK, maybe not an iceberg, but I really have to organize my studio so I can actually, you know, make stuff! As crazy as it may feel today, the season starts in about 8 weeks. I have ideas for new work, but  I need to get going on it before the muse gives up on me and moves on.

I brought our little space heater up, turned it on, closed the door. Maybe it will be warm enough to just make sense of things up there. Like frames.... I have bunches of frames from several sources. An artist friend advised me that most of my work would look best in sleek, black, modern, so that's what I have the most of, but you know what? They bore me. I may bring back my original idea of hunting down interesting vintage frames and incorporate those. After all, my work uses recycled papers and things.It seems fitting. I will enjoy hunting through thrift shops and yard sales. So, job one will be to collect, sort and store the frames I have.

The second big job will be to organize my papers. The collage uses scraps of papers, sometimes as small as an inch square. I have tried collecting and storing them by size or color or type, but it doesn't work. I get better ideas sorting through boxes of scraps and coming across a paper that triggers an idea. I think I will just try sorting by size. That will last about a week.

I have spent as much money on boxes and bins and jars and accordion files as on art supplies. Or so it  seems. And yet, I lost my favorite embellishment: a small box of tiny, baby starfish. I love them. I can order more, but it frustrates me that I can't find that box! Russell thinks it fell into my trash can and he's probably right but that doesn't stop me from searching.

We stopped at Hollanders on the way home from visiting the kids and the high, the buzz, I get from being there and buying papers usually spurs me to get going. I got some beautiful papers and they are still rolled up in their tube, waiting for me.

The interesting thing about this cold snap is what it brings into focus. Small things like walking the dogs without freezing feels as exciting as a trip to the Caribbean. Being able to use my studio without thawing it out first feels like a luxury.

It make me realize how sweet the small joys of  life are. And it also reminds me to embrace what is special about this deep freeze. A community united against a common foe :)  Exchanging cold jokes with strangers . A family snuggling under down comforters to watch TV and read books. An excuse to do just that. Hunker down, snuggle, read, watch old movies.  It could be worse.

Monday, February 16

remembering zero

I want to remember this when I am riding my bike along the river this Summer or buying peaches at the farmer's market. It is so cold that even the banister in our old house is cold to the touch. The ceramic, uninsulated floor in the kitchen was so cold when I scooted down there to get a quick it made me hop and screech and run for the rug in front of the sink. We spend most of our evening TV watching in bed, hunkered down under the down comforter with each other and our 2 dogs. They are like having heating pads tucked into your side. It is wonderful except Quincy snores like an old Grandpa. Your nose snaps shut when you try to breathe outside. Your eyes water. Even with gloves on, your hands start to feel unhappy after just a few minutes. This old house cannot heat itself enough to keep us as cozy as we like.
We love our quirky old Victorian, but there are things one must accept when you are a lover of things old. Slanty floors, no insulation, nothing is standard size so even buying a new storm door is a project. The basement is made of huge boulders and only exists under the center oval of the house. The rest of the foundation in uninsulated crawl space, ergo the scary cold floors.  But there are enormous windows and funky little fireplaces are scattered about. The ceilings are high, the doorknobs are glass, the tub has claw feet.
I wonder about the people who lived here in 1887. How did they heat the place? Where did they cook and how. I think the bathroom attached to our bedroom was a bedroom once because it looks like the hall closet used to be a hallway leading to it. And I doubt old houses had en suite bathrooms.
So, here I am, under the comforter, watching a TV show that follows people buying houses and when I listen to what they are turned on and off by I realize we will probably never be able to sell this house unless a young couple with renovation ability buys it in order to live in our currently trendy neighborhood.
I need to get my studio organized and cleaned and ready for the season but it is too cold up there in the unheated attic and I don't think the space heater would do more than offer me psychological comfort.
I have plans for new work that I can't wait to get my hands on, but my hands would be claws under the current conditions. I will have to be patient.
I choose to consider these few weeks as a hibernation, a resting place, a gift. A chance to hunker down with my warm and cozy companions, 2 legged and 4 legged. An excuse to climb up to bed early with a cup of orange zinger tea and a cookie. Before long the days will be longer than the nights and we will sleep with the windows open and soft breezes pushing the curtains into the room. We will delay putting the A/C into the window until the nights are just too stifling. I will go out to our little herb garden outside the kitchen door to pull basil and chives from the sweet soil. I don't want to forget what a simple joy that is.
I want to remember zero.

Sunday, February 8

starving artists?

I just watched a wonderful documentary about poverty in America called "American Winter" It made me think about people's perception  of the struggling class and brought me to tears a couple of times. And it made me think of artists.
I'm sure that the majority of people that visit our little canopies think we are making tons of money for a weekend's work doing nothing of value. Let me divest you of that notion.
When you consider the amount of time spent in the studio making whatever it is you make (not counting here the hours you spend pondering and hoping for inspiration and networking with other artists), the cost of materials, travel, booth fee (in the hundreds believe it or not), jury fees, only the highest of the high end are living large.
I know some scary stories. A high end jeweler had a husband with chronic stomach pain that needed a CAT scan but they had no insurance and the Dr had already done them many favors. There was no cash for the hundreds of dollars needed to pay for a scan. Thankfully, he is OK now. Another artist, after learning she had been rejected from a show that was her best income maker, lamented that she now would be unable to pay her mortgage. A woman in her 60's who is a very talented mixed media artist, lives in an unheated mobile home. Many artists sleep in their vans during show weekends to save hotel costs. Some actually sleep in their canopies and hope they don't get caught. I got a million of 'em.
You might be tempted to say "well, they should just quit this art show thing and get jobs". You probably never met these people. :)  Most of us choose to have  few luxuries in order to live a certain way. It's OK.  We do work hard, believe it or not. This life is not for sissies as I have written before. We choose to live simply for the great luxury of freedom to do as we please in a way that enriches us.
I'm not saying that there isn't a whole lot of bitchin' going on during a slow show. It gets hard to greet your potential customers with a smile when you are slowly losing money. But you do it. Because this is your choice. And the next show may be a winner.
So, don't ever say to someone (as the man said to his son, inspiring the creation this very blog) "look at these lucky people, they don't have to work for a living". We work, we do. And we are lucky. But remember this the next time you are tempted to ask an artist "can you take less for this?"
I never regret leaving the high pressure, low respect civl service job I held for 25 years. It almost killed my soul. Because every Summer I get to be an artist, surrounded by the things I have created, earning the respect that my government job never gave me (but should have) laughing with and enjoying the visitors to my tent. It's a trade off I am happy to live with.