New Home and Other Good News

I haven’t kept up on my blog this week, mostly due to complete insanity this week – my whole routine was thrown off and apparently I don’t do well with that because I’m being sort of a nutcase. Where do I begin? I attended a class and exam this week and thus wasn’t at work, I received my incredible purchases from ebay that just about made me fall on the floor, my Claudine Hellmuth class and Artfest is only a week away, and the biggest thing was (drum roll, please) we found a house to rent! Words cannot describe how wonderful this place is, I’m still waiting for the bubble to burst, to pinch myself and wake up, for the punch line, etc. How do I describe this place?

Ok, so it is a historic home (I think built in 1900) located about a block from main street Snohomish, a beautiful little mill town north of Seattle. I am a stone’s throw away from antique shops, country stores, tea parlors, a bakery, a homemade candy store, the Snohomish Arts Center, the mill, the Snohomish river, and gorgeous farmland. It’s the kind of place where it is seems like there is a legal requirement to display carved pumpkins on your porch during Halloween, to go caroling from house to house during Christmas, that sort of thing.

The house has all the original woodwork, light fixtures, and wallpaper – much of which we wouldn’t select ourselves if we were building the house, but the history of it has a charm of its own. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms (one with a clawfoot tub – GASP!), full basement and attic, hardwood floors, tons of cupboards and drawers (including those vintage flour and sugar drawers in the kitchen which I have only ever seen in the house I grew up in). It has updated wiring and new double-paned windows for efficiency, an extra mudroom & sun room off of the kitchen, and the garden area surrounding the house is chock full of iris, daffodils, wisteria, huge camellia and rhododendron bushes, and a plum tree. Our bedroom window looks out over the mill, and my art studio has a big sink and tons of cupboards in it, including a huge closet. It’s like I’m in a movie, not reality.

Assuming the previous tenants (owners of the local artist’s gallery/store in town) are out in time and the landlords (which turned out to be the landlord of our store in Country Village!) can do the things they need to do before we can move in, we’ll officially be living there on April 15th. I will have a full kitchen, art studio, washer/dryer, garden, porch, a place to grow herbs, and a bedroom that fits more than just our bed. Considering I thought the world ended when our previous house find fell through, I see now that God knows a lot better than I do. I should listen to him more often, it would save me a lot of time and trouble.

Anyway, I’m starting to go crazy again with all the goodness and excitement going on, so I am going to close for now and write more later. Today I have to shop for my last few Artfest needs, get busy finishing up my trades, and start putting some inventory up on my website. So far I have some awesome vintage/antique buttons from an old button factory, old skeleton keys, printer’s blocks of all sizes, antique glass buttons that I’m REALLY having a hard time parting with, and a couple pieces of original artwork. I bought some gorgeous paper at Daniel Smith on Friday to make some journals for sale, and the paper is so lovely I’m afraid to work with it. Once I get over that, I’ll have some various handmade books up for sale. Then, as soon as I get my back-end business stuff sorted out, I’ll have all kinds of artsy mess-making supplies up for sale – inks, paints, pens, ribbons, glass glitter, and more! Oh dear, I’m starting to get way too excited again…

Single Signature Journal

Front and back photo of the single signature journal mentioned yesterday. I wanted something simple and small to carry around with me on a daily basis, for doodling and such. Cover is a collage of hand painted found papers, using various acrylics, inks, hand-carved and purchased rubber stamps. Edges are lined with embellished aluminum tape from the hardware store. The inside pages are 140 lb watercolor paper.

Daily Devotions

I have a few minutes to write before Chris comes home from the store and we start our Friday night crash, so I thought I’d blog. I’m experimenting with the idea that I might actually be able to commit to blogging every day, even if it is just a little bit. I guess I’m having a hard time convincing myself that anyone would find my blabbering at all interesting, but I suppose those people would probably be off doing different things anyway, so what does it hurt?

Actually, there are several things that I’ve recently decided to do daily, or weekly – read a certain book I’m working through, do some housecleaning/organizing, journal, stick to my diet plan, etc. Today, I spontaneously joined the Daily Devotions 365 yahoo group, a collection of creative types that have committed to do art every day, whether it be for 5 minutes or all day, just a doodle on a receipt or a mixed media painting. I set myself several art-related goals for 2006, many of which involve completing works of art by certain times for certain things. I realized this week that in order to attain this goal, I’ve really got to get my art muscles in use again, or it will be like deciding to run a marathon without ever having run before. Sure failure! I need to do a little art every day to keep those creative juice flowing. Wednesday night I quickly whipped up a single signature daily journal and packed up a small box of art supplies, and they now go with me everywhere for impromptu art whenever and wherever. Just today during my lunch break I scribbled some watercolor crayon down on a page, and the day before I doodled a funky flower during an evening meeting.

Totally off topic, I think we’ve had just about every kind of weather today. It was cloudy this morning, then the sun broke out. By the afternoon it was raining, then the skies performed some rendition of snow/hail, and now there is thunder and lightening. What’s next?

Art Journaling on a Deserted Island

This week in my artistsjournals Yahoo! group, someone asked a couple of good questions: "If you were on a deserted island what journaling supplies would you have to have with you? Now could you answer this question with limiting yourself to just three items? How different do you think your journals would be if you didn’t have the outside contact and eye candy available to you?"

Assuming the journal itself is a given, my three favorite things would be a black drawing pen, like Pitt or Micron, a nice watercolor palette, and a set of prismacolor colored pencils. I would hope I also had a way of sharpening the pencils and a brush to paint with, so I suppose that’s five things instead of three, but those three mediums – watercolors, pen, and colored pencil – would make me happy on a deserted island.

I think most things in my life would be completely different if I wasn’t around other people to compare myself to and find new and creative ways to criticize myself and seem unworthy to do art. Actually, I did grow up in the middle of nowhere, and while there, I don’t ever remember having a problem sitting down to do art, deciding what to do, and knowing exactly what I had the ability to do. It was when I moved to the city that I started second-guessing myself. Not like it was the city’s fault, or that the city makes me feel insecure, but it can be both very encouraging and intimidating to be surrounded by so many talented and diverse people.

One thing about being in the middle of nowhere is that its just you and nature all around you, and you just don’t pay so much attention to what everyone else is doing – you just marvel at creation and digging your hands into the stuff of life, quite literally sometimes. Plus, you get to walk out of the shower in the morning, wrap your towel around you, and walk out accross the lawn to the street to get your mail if you wanted to, because no one is there to see you or care except for the trees and birds. How can you do thinks like that and NOT have great things to write and art about?! 🙂

So, without anyone to compare myself to, without deadlines to pressure me or hubbub of the world to complicate life, I’d like to think I’d do my best work. Hmmm….are there any available deserted islands anywhere????

Art, Ideas, & First Loves

I was reading over an old issue of Somerset Studio today during my lunch break at work. There’s really just something about those back issues that I love – they tend to have some really great articles that refer me back to more formal mixed media art, some that is much simpler, clean, less busy. This particular issue got me thinking of my first loves that I haven’t tapped into in quite a while, I guess because I’ve been too busy trying to be what everyone else is being. I love to read the wisdom and insight shared by the artists in these articles – they have truly thought things through, learned and grown. I was humbled by the artists in this issue, as I realized that I simply do not take the time to stretch and challenge myself anymore, because it won’t create things fast enough for me to feel like I’ve been successfully productive. I am tantalized by my first loves of colored pencil, handmade papers, simple sculptures of wood, paper, and light, oil paintings, and detail drawings. It has been too long since I’ve shared a project with them, and I miss it.

I definitely think way too hard about all the wrong things. Again, I don’t seem to stop long enough to allow myself to formulate my thoughts. I can never think of the right words for what I am trying to express, and I work way too hard to force meaning into what I’m doing. The meaning should be the starting point driving the project, not something I force feed in later. What can I introduce into my life to exercise these muscles again? Some of these things I may have already recently started, things I prayerfully chose to pursue or refrain from during the Lenten season – delving into those things that remind me of who I am and make me feel the most me. Slowing down, in general, would be good.

I wish I could take time to do art and journal every day. How do I focus without becoming legalistic with myself? I blossomed while at school, always did so well in each assignment, testing the limits and boundaries of each project given to us, finding ways to make the ideas mine. I think the main point here is that the original idea really wasn’t mine, so the scope was automatically narrowed down to considerably and I did not become overwhelmed by all the possibilities. It’s not like I can’t think of my own ideas, its that I can’t seem to manager them. Too bad they don’t teach us in school how handle our ideas ourselves, running with them instead of being run over by them. Can anyone relate to this?

Anyway, just some thoughts, stuff running through my brain this week. I’m feeling a big motivated to whip out that art journal again…