Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In Honor of Halloween: MY OWN Ghost Photo!

Okay, I must preface this with a confession: if you look at my list of DVR'd TV shows, they are almost all about ghosts, aliens, the unexplained, mysteries, and true crime... with episodes of Breaking Amish thrown in. I have always been fascinated with the unexplained and believe that there are a lot of things out there that we don't yet understand/have an explanation for.

That being said, at the beginning of this past summer, I took a trip to a beautiful little place in eastern Ohio called the Dawes Arboratum, and blogged about it HERE. I took hundreds of pictures, some of which were still sitting untouched in Adobe Lightroom a couple weeks ago, when I decided to return to them. There is this oooooold cemetery in the arboratum that I of course stopped to take pictures in, since I have a weird thing for cemeteries. None of the pictures really did it for me though, so they sat in the "untouched" pile. When I revisited them recently, something jumped out at me in this photo:

Click on it, blow it up, and tell me if you see anything weird going on up in there. If not, maybe take a peek at this one, zoomed in a bit:

See it yet? Here it is, even closer still...

Is it just me or do those look like strange white/gray legs in the middle of a whole slew of NOTHING BUT GREEN???

If I have completely lost my mind and you were not seeing what I was thinking I was seeing, I did a little circling action for you. It looks like legs right?? Long skinny legs? I swear I can see knees, two of them. If it was something on the lens, why is it clearly behind those trees? Here is another look:

I don't know. I'm not saying that I think it's a ghost, but I'm saying that it's not something on my lens and that it's super weird/creepy/scary/bizarre/I'M NEVER GOING TO THAT CEMETERY ALONE AGAIN.

What do you think? Ghost? Camera malfunction? Sasquatch? Random white tree branches? 

Happy Halloween :)

40 Works In 40 Days - Day 6 and Day 7

Has it really been a week since I started this project?? So I may or may not be a little behind on my posting - oops. Today is Day 8, but here are the works from days 6 and 7. Day 6 was completely about losing myself in what I was doing and not worrying about anything except dipping my paintbrush and making marks on a page. It's pretty disjointed but honestly represents the state of mind I was in at the time perfectly. 

Day 7 was kind of an extension of an art journal page I did a few months ago and really liked... just gluing things and doodling is kind of a zen-like experience. My obsession with graph paper continues... I think I like working with it because it reminds me of notebook doodling from high school and college. I actually still have multiple notebooks from high school and college because, well, the doodles around the edges of the pages are cool. 

Now it's day #8... and I haven't actually started anything yet. It has been a "worrying day," again. Yesterday was too to be completely honest, to the point where I was feeling like quitting my job really was a huge mistake. When I was driving home from the store, I got a thank you email from a girl who bought a print of "Beware of Artists." She got it for a friend who is an artist and is turning 65. The email made me cry, like in the car at a red light, instant tears. Sometimes it's like the world knows I need little reminders about why I am doing this. 

I had another interview today, which went great. The one Tuesday? No way: I was pretty much told the place was dead during the shifts they needed covered and they were looking for someone who wanted to take time to "build the business." Sorry, not to sound like a jerk, but I cannot afford to work for free. Today's interview was at a really popular bar that has a huge stage for concerts and is super busy. They will be making a decision on Monday and if there is one place I'd want to work it's this one. The odds of actually landing the job are pretty slim, but my fingers are crossed. 

Now it's only 10:30pm, and it's time to once again give myself an attitude adjustment. I know the stress is coming from the fact that tomorrow is November 1 - RENT DAY. Joy. Thank the lord my place has a grace period until the 5th. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to not have to worry about money. But there is a reason why I quit my job and am doing this project and am making art in general and that's because I love it. I love it with all of my heart and want to dedicate my life to it. Bad days be damned - they will not stop me. I foresee some paint flinging and aggression releasing in Day 8's piece... better get started!

Read about how this project started HERE.

The works from this project are available HERE.

Monday, October 29, 2012

40 Works In 40 Days - Day 5

Oooooh my lord is it really almost November? I cannot believe in a few days it will have been two months since I left my job. Wow.

Yesterday marked Day 5, and this is what came out of it. I have been wanting to experiment with painting on top of multiple layers using different media and this project is the perfect time to do so. Random sidenote: if you are like me and did not know this AMAZING TIP, you can soak dried up paintbrushes (I had paintbrushes from college that I was too lazy to wash... still stuck to dried paint cups) in Murphy's Oil Soap for a couple days, wash them, and they are like new. I'm not even kidding, I feel like I have a completely new paintbrush collection. Why I saved cups of dried up brushes? Who knows. But I couldn't be happier I did. 

So while Day 6 (today) is drying and I cannot scan a picture yet, I keep thinking about my bartending job interview tomorrow. Yesterday and today I have been flooded with new art ideas and the thought of giving up my time that I could be spending carrying them out is honestly painful. I wish so much that I had one more month's living expenses saved up so I didn't have to take a side job. But what ifs are pointless, right? And sometimes you have to do what you have to do. 

Today I started experimenting with the patterns I recently learned how to create. I thought they might make cute typography posters, and here are a couple I came up with:

I like the idea of them and love playing with different colors. AND sometimes it's just nice to work on something completely different than you usually do to break up the monotony. If it's one thing I don't do, it's monotony :)

So I decided to have a good attitude about tomorrow. It's not failing because I'm trying to get a part time job, I'm just doing what I have to do to make my dream possible... and why not be willing to do anything for your dream? I just hope I remember how to interview for a job, and that I remember everything I used to know about bartending and booze. The place I'm interviewing at specializes in whiskey, which I honestly cannot stand. I'll do shots of Jameson if I need something  that hurts on purpose, but it tends to make me stand on furniture. But again, maybe it will break up the monotony. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

40 Works In 40 Days - Day 4

Yesterday was day 4 of my project/experiment. In the afternoon, I started seeing comments that people left on here from the previous days of this project and I was completely in shock and overwhelmed. The creative community is amazing, there is no other way to put it. The kinship that other artists feel with one another (with people we have never met in person!) is instantaneous and powerful. I don't even know how to describe it; there are no words. I just know that I am completely and utterly grateful to be a part of it. 

That dramatic display of emotion aside, I started this guy in the wee hours of last night... okay technically this morning. But I hadn't gone to sleep, so it was still Day 4 to me. I splashed various paints on watercolor paper, had a cocktail with my friend Amber (she is visiting from Chicago and I love when she is here) while it dried, then started doodling away. I've been obsessed with henna for as long as I can remember. The intricate designs and ornate patterns are totally my thing. When I was in college I bought this book called Traditional Mehndi Designs... that link is for a used copy for only $8.24. If you are into henna patterns, I could not possibly recommend a better book. It's HUGE and every single page is just full of illustrated patterns and patterned hands/feet. I look at it almost daily for inspiration. 

I'm really happy with the way Day 4 came out; the way the designs look over the colors of paint interests me. Pretty sure I'll be doing a large-scale work with this idea sometime in the near future. Now here we are in Day 5... no ideas yet as to what tonight's piece will entail but I'm excited to find out!

Any new readers can learn how this project began HERE.

Friday, October 26, 2012

40 Works in 40 Days - Day 3

Today was weird. There are a lot of things on my mind; it's been a "worrying day," as I have come to call them. This morning started out great: I taught myself how to make seamless patterns in Photoshop and came up with this colorful explosion:

Then tonight was kind of downhill. I applied for some bartending jobs (I used to be a bartender and actually love doing it) because the worrying was so bad. I have an interview on Tuesday. I do not want to take another dead-end job and can't help but feel like I'm failing, which is so stupid. It's such a strange feeling... like one part of me is saying NO! KEEP GOING! And the other part of me is saying to be realistic and reminding me that I cannot pay my rent in artwork when it is due in five days.

So Day 3's work... I'm honestly not that overjoyed with. Maybe someday it will come to represent inner struggle or something deep like that. But right now, to me, it just looks kind of dead. I was messing around with some paint and paper this morning while I was on the phone, just for fun. So I used that, then cut out some mushrooms I drew this morning to practice patterns with. Somehow the whole thing just looks sad to me. 

I'm not a big believer in "bad days." Bad things can happen on any given day but when you go to bed at night, you are ultimately the one who decides the day was bad. Today was not my favorite day, but I refuse to categorize it as being bad... which is not always easy, but it's always possible. I mean there are still four days until Tuesday. Something amazing couple happen in between now and then and I won't have to go to my job interview and my worrying days will all but disappear. 

It's only Day 3 and this project is already making me do a lot of thinking.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

40 Works In 40 Days - Day 2

I've been working on logos and designs for a handful of people lately... which is kind of a first for me. You have to learn to take things with a grain of salt because let's face it: everyone's taste is different. What you think is awesome someone else might shudder at. But that's one of the infinite things that makes life interesting; no two of us are alike.

A couple of the logos I have been working on involve portraits/faces which I LOVE drawing. I run into trouble because a lot of people like a clean-cut, simple style... and I cannot stop adding details and embellishments and glitter and squiggles and.... I digress. 

So for Day 2, I wanted to do a portrait (really liking drawing faces lately, after a many year gap of not doing so) with no limits/boundaries/etc. Et voila, we have this crazy little chica :)

Read about how this project began HERE.

And the originals from this project are available HERE.

40 Works In 40 Days - Day 1

So I have not painted in aaaaaaages. When looking through my "scary closet" the other day (this would be the closet in my studio that houses any and all extra things I own plus my HUGE collection of Christmas decorations), a bag of acrylic paint that I forgot existed just kind of fell out. Okay, sign noted, day 1 would involve painting. 

In a college painting course I once took, my professor (a very serious dutch lady who outlawed listening to music during her class) once looked at me, arms crossed shaking her head, and told me I couldn't just sit there and "happily paint" and I needed to dig into some deep, dark place. She hated my use of bright colors. So in my next painting I tried to use "scary colors." What I ended up with: pastels. Lesson I learned: I like color. She does not. We are all different. 

Anyway, I started this by misting the paper with water in a spray bottle, then dragged some thinned acrylic over the surface. The darker spots are alcohol ink, one of my favorite game-changers (if anyone hasn't yet discovered Tim Holtz you MUST check out his stuff!), then splattered some white on top. It was so liberating and awesome to not worry about how it would turn out... which is exactly what I wanted to feel. 

Day 1 = crazy bright colorful success. Today is Day 2 and I'm already thinking of a totally different direction to try. No rules. My favorite way to operate!

Read about how this project began HERE.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

40 Works In 40 Days

Life is funny sometimes. It has been 47 days since I left my day job. A lot of the things I thought would happen in those 47 days happened in a huge way. A lot of them did not. The "did nots" resulted in my waking up yesterday morning at 4am in a sudden all-out panic attack about money, bills, rent, and surviving. I have been bound and determined to make an art career work and have believed in it with unwavering faith. Therefore I did not line up a backup plan or part time job or anything... because this had to work. It's my dream. If you believe in your dreams you can make them come true, right?

What I've also learned in 47 days is that making your dreams come true takes a huge amount of drive and there will be pitfalls. There will be hard days. There will be countless times when you question yourself and doubts creep in. But if you want something bad enough, those things don't matter. It's not easy and you have to work for it. I think that's why a lot of people give up on their dreams; they hit hard times and just go back to living like many people do, taking jobs they don't like out of necessity. Kind of coasting through life like some sort of lazy river ride.

At the risk of sounding like a total cheeseball, I'm staying on my crazy white water rapid ride. Yesterday almost broke me. My creativity has been suffering these past few days because my worries about money are 100% dominating my thoughts. I took a long, late-night walk last night to clear my head and kept telling myself to keep going. I want this, more than I have ever wanted anything. My creativity and love for every single thing in life must dominate my thoughts and feelings at all times. There is no other way.

SO, that (long-windedly) being said, I'm embarking on a project and calling it 40 Works In 40 Days. Why 40? Because it just feels right and lately I'm learning to follow my instincts. Every day for 40 days, starting today, I am going to create an original piece of art. I'm not going to worry about subject, composition, or media. The purpose of this for me is to create, to remember my passion, to keep moving towards my dream.

To keep a sort of rhythm, every work will be on a 9" x 9" square of Canson watercolor paper. I've decided to list them on Etsy, for $47.00: 47 marking the days it has been since I left a very unhappy place to go after my wildest dream. I will not be making any prints, because I also need to learn to let things go. Each piece will be signed, dated, and titled with the day number (ex. "Day 11") on the back. There will also be a typed card explaining the purpose of this project: that this is your life and you owe it to yourself to do something amazing with it.

Works will be available in my Etsy shop here:

Here's to Day 1 :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Strange, Wandering Late-Night Thoughts

So it's been about a month and a week since I left my desk job in order to pursue my dreams of becoming a self-sufficient, self-employed artist. Amongst the other 1000 things that have changed in this time, my sleeping schedule has been turned on its head. As of lately, I go to bed at 4am and wake up between 10am and 11am. I forgot what it's like to be awake so late into the night and just feel so... alive. My creativity seems to flow best after midnight. I love that. I love not having a schedule!

There is a point to this. It's 2:03am and my thoughts are wandering. I am going to a metropark tomorrow to take some (hopefully) lovely autumn pictures. I did the same thing last year, and posted this post. I remember thinking the whole time how if I was an artist, I could do that any day of the week. I remember the joy and freedom and wonder, just from wandering around the crunchy leaves and orange trees with my camera. It was October 15, 2011. Exactly one year ago today. Okay... technically yesterday. Since it's now 2:05am. But I haven't slept, so to me it's still October 15.

Isn't it amazing how much can change in one year? Last year I was dreaming of this. And while probably exactly 50% of me knew I could do it and I would be there (here, where I am now) at that time the following year, the other exact 50% of me knew I would still be at the same miserable 9-5 desk job. A pretty intense inner battle. And right now I still remember telling my boss I quit. It was almost like I was watching someone else say the words, like I had no control over the words coming out of my mouth. And here I am. October 15, 2012. I did it. Yes, Normally I would have been paid today. Therefore, all my bills are due today, since that's the schedule I set them on. This year, some will be late. My paycheck today was being able to sleep until 10:30 after staying up until 4:30 the previous night painting... because I just couldn't stop. My paycheck was getting an email from the director of a local arts festival, inviting me to participate in their December 1st event. It was an email from a designer in Australia, asking me to design a logo for their new clothing company. It was an email from the very first person who ever contacted me after I started putting my art online, just about a year ago, when she said she thought it was cool. Today her email was congratulating me on being free and living my dream.

I actually had to buy some Tylenol PM the other night, because as soon as I lay down to go to sleep, a million thoughts like this fly into my head all at once. Please don't judge, Tylenol PM is legal and non habit-forming. I guess I just can't believe it. Still. Five weeks later. Then at night you turn the lights off and lay there in the silence and your head just spins. The fact that you are in complete charge of your life, all the time, every minute of every day, has never seemed so real. The angst I am feeling right now about how I am going to pay my cable bill (which isn't even a necessity... well... I mean... not really... kind of...) is NOTHING compared to the angst I felt over spending 9+ hours a day EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE doing something that made me miserable.

It's just a lot to take in sometimes. And right now I can see my camera battery charging. And I remember last year seeing my camera battery charging (but it was a weekend last year), being excited for my day of "adventuring." Walking around, taking pictures, exploring the woods, collecting inspiration. Imagining what it would be like if doing that was my job. And right now as I watch that blinking orange light, I'm actually worried about how emotional tomorrow could be... just knowing that I did it. I'm there. Where half of me thought I would never be.

I cannot wait for tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Halloween Top 10! Things That SCARE Me.

Since I've done nothing but ramble about job-quitting and art-making and life-loving lately, here is a completely art-unrelated post in honor of the amazing upcoming holiday that is Halloween. I am afraid of an unusual amount of things and still sleep with my hallway light on. A total scaredy cat for lack of a better term. In random order, these things are SCARY:

1) Slenderman.

WHAT IS THAT THING? Thanks to my awesome brothers, who shared this urban legend/possible terrifying reality with me over dinner a few months ago, I now no longer look at trees at night in the same way. Slenderman supposedly has no face, is very tall and thin, and has multiple creeptastic dangly arms. He is pretty much the original photo bomber. Go ahead, Google image search him. Supposedly the more you are afraid of him the more he stalks you. Great news for me.

2) Grasshoppers.

Oh my lord one time when I was 11 I was swimming at this pool. I remember playing around when this giant grasshopper flew in out of nowhere and landed directly on top of my head. Okay, I have about 20 lbs of thick, wild, curly hair. I remember going under water again and again and again and every time the grasshopper got even more stuck. I remember the way his legs felt jumping against my head, trying to get away. I hate grasshoppers. No insect should be allowed to travel that far that fast if I do not have some sort of force field I can activate against them. 

3) Flying.

Please don't judge me, but I cannot board an airplane unless I have had at least three glasses of wine. Or three shots of tequila. It does not matter what time my flight leaves. 7am? No problem. Bloody Marys are good any time of day. I cannot pinpoint when this fear started, but I know that nowadays it's overwhelming. Ask me about when I flew to China. 14 1/2 hour flight DIRECTLY OVER THE TOP OF THE NORTH POLE. Every bump any plane I am on hits, in my mind, is an obvious sign the plane is about to crash. It's terrible. It's annoying. I love traveling. Of all my fears, this is the one I would pay money to get over. The world looks BEAUTIFUL from 36,000 feet, yet I cannot appreciate it because I feel like we could plummet to the ground at any moment.

4) Spiders.

Such a typical fear, I know. When I find spiders in my apartment I suck them up in my mini Shop Vac, then duct tape over the end of the hose so they can't climb out. Squashing them requires too much closeness and a possible tactile feeling. No thank you.

5) Tornados.

So I grew up in Syracuse, New York. We had snow, not tornadoes. Then we moved to Ohio. They have tornadoes. Yet people here are so used to tornado warnings that you can be in the grocery store when the tornado sirens are blaring (SCARIEST SOUND EVER) and all people are worried about is which aisle the peanut butter is in. Me? As soon as I hear the sirens I grab my cats and a bottle of wine and hole up in the bathtub, obsessively checking the weather on my iPhone until the only sound I can hear is my heart beating out of my chest. LAME. 

6) The monster from Pan's Labyrinth. 

What mentally disturbed person thought of this thing? First of all, Pan's Labyrinth is an amazing movie and I highly recommend it. Whenever this scene starts, go pop some popcorn. Watch it in the microwave to be sure it doesn't burn. Whatever you do, do not watch this thing. It eats children and it's eyeballs are in the palm of its hands. Seriously? No. Sick.

7) Aliens.

Oh yes. I believe in life on other planets. Ever seen the movie Fire In the Sky? If not, DON'T. I don't remember how, but when I was maybe 7 or 8, I was exposed to this horrific piece of cinema that is about a guy who gets abducted by aliens. If I were given the chance to offer one piece of advice to people, it very well might be, "Do not watch Fire In the Sky." It scarred me for life. I believe other life is out there and just hope that it is friendly. 

8) The Mothman/The Mothman Prophecies

Any movie that is this scary and based on a true story? No way. Why did I watch that? I honestly was afraid to look out of ANY window at night for MONTHS. Why am I such a baby???

9) Coming in contact with a bear.

Don't laugh! I love taking hikes and roadtripping solo with my camera... yet there is always this creeping thought in the back of my mind: what if I see a bear? Once again I blame this on childhood; I loved reading my parents monthly copy of Reader's Digest cover to cover starting when I was maybe only seven. Do you know how many true stories they had in there about bear attacks? A LOT. I had reoccurring dreams when I was little about seeing a bear on my friend's driveway. Bears are scary and big and I only want to see them in zoos.

10) Ghosts/Spirits/the Supernatural

I have a fascination with the unknown and unexplained... I just think it's a really cool thought that there may be a lot of things that we don't quite understand yet. Do I believe in "ghosts?" I don't know. But I do think some weird things happen that we don't know the explanation for just yet. Recommended show? A Haunting. But don't watch it at night. I LOVE the idea of the unexplained.... but I have an irrational fear of buying an old Victorian house (my dream) and it being haunted. 

Yes, I am a freak/baby/wuss/pansy/WHATEVER. I am scared of a lot of weird things, but that's just how it is. Sometimes it's fun to be scared. A bunch of my friends are visiting from Colorado at the end of October and we are going to one of the scariest haunted houses in the country... that should be interesting. The sad thing is that I could list at least ten more things that creep me out! Ahh... I love Halloween :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Creative Energy Extravaganza Explosion Supernova Thing.

I feel like I go on and on about this whole transition from a miserable 9-5 desk job to a sometimes 8am-3am job as an artist. Hopefully it's not too redundant and boring... but I just cannot help myself.

I had a lot of worries about my first few weeks as an artist. I was afraid things on my mind from my previous job (still cannot believe that is what it is now) would cloud my mind and create a creativity block - like they have for about the past two years. Perhaps it was my week at the beach after my last day of work, but all the awful memories of ringing phones, complaining people, superficial crap, and feelings that I was not working fast enough/hard enough/efficient enough are all but a distant memory.

It's amazing. In less than a month's time, I feel like I am me again. I am that freak that you see walking around the grocery store smiling for no reason. I am the person you get fussy with at the post office because I'm chatting with the employees and holding up the line. All of this energy has come out of nowhere and about 95% of it is fueling this incredible Renaissance that seems to be going on in the spare bedroom of my apartment. (The other 5% went towards the run I went on today. It had been almost a month and was miserable.)

Last night I was up until 3:30am because I didn't want to stop working. I find myself waking up early, sometimes like 6am early, because an idea will just come to me and the excitement makes going back to sleep impossible. I think there have been at least four or five mornings that I've been in my studio with a Red Bull before the sun is fully up.

It's all unreal. It really is. Sales started to pick up momentum over the weekend and I'm hoping it's not just a coincidence. Making this work and not having to get another job is a dream that I cannot even fathom. If I can make it to mid-November, then ride the holiday rush, it seems possible. My fingers, toes, eyes, everything = crossed. This has to work. It feels so right.

Wow... so after that dramatic display of emotion, here are a few of the things I've cranked out this week:

Had a blast with this one... searching for shiny things and flowers then gluing and doodling? Yes please.

Always loved this quote!

My collection of magnolia pictures from this past spring is HUGE. This won't be the last :)

"Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door." -Emily Dickinson

From a day trip to a rose garden in July :)

The evening light in the Outer Banks = pure magic.

"Do you suppose she's a wildflower?" -Alice In Wonderland

This is what I think: the world needs people who are fine with working 9-5 day jobs, even if they are awful. Without them it would not function. In turn, those people need creative people: people who do their own thing and who make it their mission to remind the world of how many beautiful things are out there. People who inspire, who laugh and smile for no reason. Sometimes the realists need to bring the dreamers back down to earth a little; sometimes the dreamers need to lift the realists up. It's a perfect balance. I'm happy to be one of the ones bouncing around up in the clouds :)