Monthly Archives: January 2014

I’m Getting Close

It’s blog time again and my regular readers (all both of you) are probably wondering how that art quilt is coming along. I only have a week and a day until my sixtieth birthday, which is also my first blog anniversary. My goal for this blog year was to finish fifty creative projects, including a 16” x 20” painting, an art doll and an art quilt. The only thing left is the art quilt and I’m obviously running out of time. I must be working on it, right?

Right. Yes. Of course. Only…it’s January and I do have other things to work on in January. My inner critic seems a lot happier if I am working on my tax spreadsheets. They’re long and tedious, but they’re easier to do than an art quilt, because I know exactly how to do them. I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to make the art quilt. While I’m puzzling it out, I get to work on spreadsheets. As you can imagine, it’s been a fun week.

I’m close on the spreadsheets, and I’ve put a lot of thought into the art quilt. I do have an idea. You have to admit that’s a start. I have re-borrowed the sewing machine that I borrowed to make the art doll. It had to go back to my daughter for a while because she needed it to make a fleece dinosaur hat for her six-year-old. Cold weather was coming and he needed a dinosaur to put on his head. What kind of Grandmommy would let her grandson go without a dinosaur hat just so she could work on an art quilt?

Some other kind of Grandmommy than this one, obviously. Now he has a hat and I have a sewing machine and an idea. I also have a Temple of Creativity (a.k.a. sewing room) full of interesting bits of fabric, including some fat quarters I experimented with when I was first learning how to dye. I’m pretty sure I want to use these hand-dyed fat quarters in my art quilt, so I gathered them up and brought them to my living room, where I spread them out on my couch.

A pretty mess

A pretty mess


Then I started trying to decide which ones would really end up in the quilt and which ones definitely would not. As you can see, I am making progress.
I think these will do.

I think these will do.


You can probably also see that this is a short blog post. What can I say? I have to get back to my spreadsheets. I mean, my art quilt.

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I Made a Doll!

I spent most of this past week not making a doll. I knew I wanted to make a doll. I had decided that it would be a cloth doll. I knew I wanted it to be a colorful doll. I was hoping for some inspiration about exactly what kind of doll it would be. I procrastinated while I was waiting for this inspiration to show up, but by Wednesday, I knew I needed to get started, with or without inspiration, if I wanted to have a doll to blog about by Friday.

I really wanted to have a doll to blog about by Friday. I decided that I was just going to force myself to start something – anything – and then my daughter called and asked me to take her to JoAnn. JoAnn sounded like a good place to look for inspiration, so I said, “Yes.” I knew I wanted my cloth doll to have yarn hair, so I thought I would look for the perfect yarn at JoAnn. I had yarn in my sewing room (a.k.a. The Temple of Creativity) but I wasn’t sure I had the perfect yarn.

I looked at all the yarn at JoAnn and finally settled on this gorgeous skein:

Colorful yarn

Colorful yarn

That was as far as I got on Wednesday. I went to bed that night thinking about my doll and inviting inspiration to visit me in my dreams, but my dreams did not include any dolls or people who might make interesting dolls. I woke up as empty of inspiration as I had been the day before, but I had to do something, so I pulled out some paper and started trying to come up with a pattern for a doll. I do not have mad skills when it comes to pattern drafting, so I kept the doll simple. The head, neck and torso were all one pattern piece, with the arms and legs as separate pieces. I worked on getting the basic doll together on Thursday, still hoping some inspiration might show up on Friday.

Doll in progress

Doll in progress

I woke up this morning with no more inspiration than I had yesterday, but I did have a faceless, hairless doll and a lovely skein of yarn, so I decided it was time to start making that yarn into hair. That was when the little voice of inspiration finally spoke up. Well, it wasn’t exactly inspiration; it was the spirit of the doll and what she said to me was, “No.” She was not having that hair. I had bought it especially for her but every time I held it up next to her head, I felt a very strong negative reaction. That was not her hair.

Now what? She didn’t want that hair, so what hair did she want and where was I going to get it? I took her into my Temple of Creativity and looked around. Something made me pick up a ball of fuzzy blue yarn. Did she want fuzzy blue hair? No, she wanted what was hiding under the fuzzy blue yarn – a ball of the most fabulously delicious hand-spun yarn I have ever seen. I had almost forgotten my precious stash of yarn that was spun by my online friend, Maitri. It was so gorgeous that I put it away and saved it for something special. Until today, nothing was ever special enough.

Colorful doll

Colorful doll

She still won’t tell me her name, but she insists that this is her hair.

Fabulous hair

Fabulous hair

I think she has a point.

Procrastination

It has been an interesting week. After finishing my 16” x 20” painting and updating my blog and my List of Fifty Things, I started thinking about what to tackle next. I still needed to finish an art doll and an art quilt before my sixtieth birthday (and first blog anniversary) on February eighth. I was starting to feel some pressure, so I did what I always do under such circumstances – I procrastinated.

Fortunately, I had other things I needed to be thinking about. It was time to count all the tie-dye and balance the inventory. Once that was done, I needed to complete my sales tax spreadsheet and pay my fourth quarter sales taxes. These are tasks that my inner critic usually gives me a whole lot of grief over, because my inner critic is nothing if not responsible when it comes to tedious and unpleasant paperwork. Sometimes I let myself get so stressed out over it, I end up escaping into video games just to calm down.

I didn’t have to do that this week; I was too busy NOT making an art doll or an art quilt to feel any pressure about paperwork. In fact, the paperwork was a perfect escape from the art pressure. While my inner critic was busy going on and on about how I should be working on a creative project, I completed my inventory and my sales tax spreadsheets as an act of pure defiance. It was actually kind of fun. Take that, inner critic!

I mailed out my sales tax return yesterday and I thought I would work on an art project today, but the resistance was strong. Conveniently, I found some other paperwork that really needed to be done. It was time to submit our yearly application to the local arts market. That market has been in existence for five years (2014 is the sixth) and we’ve been approved vendors all five years, so I thought that would be quick and easy, but they added a new requirement this year and it stressed me out. It wasn’t difficult, but it was something for which I had not prepared and that was enough to throw me into a tizzy. It was the kind of tizzy that made me run from my computer and make myself a big bowl of my favorite comfort food – cheese-potato soup.

Mmmm…cheese-potato soup…that’s better. Once I was full of heavy carbs and cheese, that application was much less intimidating. I got the new information (and references – thanks, ladies!) I needed and I sent the application off with no further angst. Whew!

I patted myself on the back and I thought about working on an art project. I really did, but the resistance was still strong. The best I could do was go online and google art dolls. Oh, my goodness, there are a lot of wonderful art dolls out there! I saw paper dolls, rag dolls, polymer clay dolls, porcelain dolls…the possibilities are endless. One reason I have wanted to make an art doll for years and never actually made one is that I haven’t been able to decide what kind of doll I want to make.

This is where procrastination serves me. I have a deadline now and it’s getting close. I don’t have time to do anything complicated. I don’t have time to learn new techniques. That rules out a lot of confusing (and tempting) options. If I’m going to get this done, I’m going to have to do something relatively simple and I’m going to have to use skills and materials that I already have.

That settles it. I’ll be making a cloth doll. With any luck, I will do that before it’s time to publish another blog post.

I Painted!

I’ve spent the last week thinking about the Big Three – the three things I have left to do before I will meet the challenge I set for myself when I started this blog on my fifty-ninth birthday. I promised myself I would make an art quilt, an art doll and a 16” x 20” painting before my sixtieth birthday, along with at least forty-seven other creative things over the course of the year. Last week, I was able to report that my List of Fifty Things was up to forty-nine, so it was time to get serious about the Big Three.
I knew I should be working on one of them and I knew it wasn’t going to be the art doll or the art quilt. Those are sewing projects and I can’t get to my sewing supplies right now because my Temple of Creativity (a.k.a. Sewing Room) is still full of tie-dye bins. They get stacked almost to the ceiling in there at holiday time because we need the dining room for our celebrations. Normally, the bins would be back in the dining room by now, but we had a cold snap. As soon as we got the Christmas tree out of there, my husband brought in a whole lot of potted plants from outside, so there was still no room for tie-dye bins. If I was going to work on one of the Big Three, it was going to have to be the painting.
Did I feel ready? Heck, no! I had materials but no skills. I had planned to get in a whole lot of practice during the year, so I could do something impressive for my official “Big Three” painting. That didn’t happen. Other things happened, including a lot of drawing, but every time I thought about trying to paint, I got scared. I was afraid my attempts would be lame and that would break my heart.
Of course, first attempts are always lame – what else could they be? I knew that, but I still couldn’t make myself paint. I just kept reading about painting, as if I could learn to paint without actually picking up a brush.
I started this week doing exactly the same thing – reading about painting. I have stacks of books and magazines about painting and I love reading them and imagining that I can paint. In my fantasies, I am a fabulous painter.
In reality, I have a lot to learn. Still, I needed to come up with something to meet my challenge, so today, I painted. I was joined in this adventure by my older daughter, who is not the least bit afraid of painting. She helped me set up a small still life and then, well…then we picked up brushes and we painted. You know what? It was fun. I had a good time. It may be lame, but I learned a lot and I have met my 16” x 20” painting challenge.

Flowers

Flowers


Hey, at least it’s not just a giant painting of a leaf.

Sketching and Beyond

I have finished the December drawing challenge. Leaves were working for me and December is the time when the leaves turn and fall in Florida, so I figured I would finish out the month with leaf drawings. Last Saturday, my husband and I went on an afternoon walk around our neighborhood and I watched for pretty leaves on the ground as we walked. That’s how I found the red, green and yellow one I drew on December twenty-eighth.

Leaf 12 28 13

Leaf 12 28 13


The bright red one I drew on the twenty-ninth was also found on that walk.
Leaf 12 29 13

Leaf 12 29 13


On the thirtieth, I pulled a green one from a plant in my back yard.
Leaf 12 30 13

Leaf 12 30 13


The next day was the last day of the challenge and I thought I would find another leaf to draw, but then I realized I was tired of drawing leaves and I looked around for an alternative. My eye fell on our Christmas tree, a fat and fluffy white pine that was probably the most perfectly shaped tree we have ever had. The perfection was broken only by a single branch, which stuck straight up while the branches all around it bent gracefully towards the floor in a smooth, symmetrical cone. I had put a single red ball on that branch. When I saw it on New Year’s Eve, it reminded me of the adorable little tree in the Charlie Brown Christmas special and I decided to draw that instead of a leaf.
12 31 13

12 31 13


Now the December challenge has been met and I’m closing in on another challenge. My List of Fifty Things is up to forty-nine. My sixtieth birthday is still a month away and, thanks to my niece and her drawing challenge, all I need to think about now are the Big Three. I said when I started this blog that I wanted to do fifty creative things before my sixtieth birthday and they had to include an art quilt, an art doll and a 16” x 20” painting. The idea was that I would be working on those three things throughout the year, while I also did other, smaller creative things.
Of course that was the idea, but I’m not at all surprised that I’m down to just a few weeks and I haven’t done a single one of the Big Three. It’s more surprising to me that I actually have forty-nine things on my List of Fifty Things. I was completely stuck and I was doing mostly nothing when I started this blog and challenged myself to do fifty creative things in my sixtieth year. I’m pleased with where I am at this point and still absolutely determined to finish the challenge before February eighth.
Thank you, Grace Makley, for setting up the sketch-a-day challenge that brought my list to forty-nine. Now that my milestone birthday is breathing down my neck, I will be putting my attention into the Big Three. I do love a deadline.