Sunday, January 31, 2016

Artist's Block Lifted! New Plans and Projects for 2016!

Last weekend, after a hiatus of several years, I decided it was time to start painting again.

And the stars aligned, or so it seems. I picked up my easel from storage and discovered a half-off sale on canvases on the same day. A few days later, I got a solo show booked for fall. All new work...which I haven't even begun yet...omg...

I selected a lovely corner of my den to place my easel. A bit unconventional, maybe, but the den is where we spend most of our time. It's the hub of the house. And I think an easel occupying a prominent space in the home send a clear, concise message to the world...

Yup, that's pretty much the message I'm talking about!

My artist self has been through a lot the past few years and she's wavered, faltered, and a few times fallen, but she is still here, and thank heavens for that! Losing one's identity and sense of self is a scary thing. Not being able to find it, to connect with and embrace it again, well I don't even want to think of how that would be, but I imagine it's akin to sleepwalking through a life that isn't really one's own. I like to think my hiatus is similar to the time in Georgia O'Keefe's life, when she destroyed all of her work at age 27. Though I didn't take it that far, I think Georgia and I might have been having some similar moments!

When you can't make art, live life as art!

So while I am pleased to announce I'll be sharing more and more of my new work on my Facebook page, Pan Pan Studios, and here on the blog, I also want to remind readers of my other page, Art is for Everyone. This is a page where I've been sharing a lot of older works that are available, largely in part to a lack of marketing these pieces on my part, or a failure of the piece to reach the right audience when it was days before we used the internet to promote our work (yes, some of these pieces are that old!)

Hi. I'm twenty-two years old, and I can jazz up your 
black and white art collection...
 A lot of my older pieces have found their forever homes through this page as people make fair offers based on what they can afford. Van Gogh believed that art should be for the people, not just the wealthy elite, and I agree!

She finally has a forever home!
I'm also excited to announce that I am involved in a book project that should be completed by the year's end. I am on board as illustrator! So it's a thrillingly creative time in the life of this artist! And to celebrate all things creative, artists, artsy people, artsy living, and so on, I hope you'll check out some of my older pieces that are still up for grabs, such as Desert Mother and the last print of Trepidation.

Do you have a place for me?

So tempted to keep this one for myself...
Many are experimental pieces, meaning I never did another in this style, and some were done for classes or specific shows, but I'd love to have them all out in the world! So if you are a lover of original art and want to support your local artists, visit Art is for Everyone and see if there is anything there that suits your taste! Stay tuned to the blog for all the new pieces, show details, and book information coming in 2016, and be sure to follow me on Facebook!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thrift Store Score Thursday...It's Not Always Clothes!

As I write this, we are currently awaiting a temporary new family member...Kade, brother to our dear Ilsa, will be staying with us for the next few days while his owner is out of town. Should be interesting...we all know how well it goes when you mix adult cats together for the first time! But I digress! It's Thrift Store Score Thursday, and here's one of the finds of the week!

Oh my golly gosh, do you know what this is???

A beautiful, hardback copy of poems by one of my favorite poets, Kahlil Gibran! With gorgeous illustrations that evoke the twenties, one of my favorite historical eras! The art, the writers, the music, the flappers! A time when a woman could be considered radical and dangerous just for wearing pants. But again, digression! Back to the book!

Thrifting can be so much fun because you just never know what you will find! I was thrilled to discover this just as Caffe 312, coffee shop extraordinaire, began hosting a monthly open mic night for poetry! Since our weather is supposed to be Carolina winter this weekend (think days of freezing temps and rain) I'm hoping to spend some time in front of the fire with this book! Reading poetry always inspires introspection, which fits my mood in winter.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Thrift Store Score Thursday! Happy thrifting!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Elegant Wine Glasses and Cheap Cheese

I can still remember dragging my exhausted, then-five-year-old son around some far away version of Walmart (if Walmart had multiple floors like a mall) for over an hour while the man I was smitten with in that time and place went from store to store seeking just the right wine glasses to take with us on a picnic. While I might have appreciated this if a) we were picnicking alone or b) he'd had the foresight to simply bring the 'right' wine glasses from home (he owned like 30), he undermined all efforts of sophistication 5 minutes later by grabbing individually wrapped processed cheese slices on the way out rather than shopping the prestigious cheese bar a few feet away.

I laughed about it then, much to his chagrin, and I still laugh about it years later. Careful, dear, your raising is showing.

No matter how far we go in life, hard we strive to invent and then reinvent ourselves, sometimes our humble roots show through simply because they constitute a large part of who we are. I have personally ebbed and flowed a lot along the path of discovering who I am, from happy hippie days...

Yes, those are adult size fairy wings. Don't judge me...

To a bit more elegance...ah, maturity...

Don't be fooled, that happy hippie still lives inside...check out those earrings!

However, no matter the phase I've found myself in, I've still managed to somehow feel like me...except when I've tried to fit in with 'my raising.'

I can't explain what makes someone who is born and bred in a certain culture feel completely alien inside of it. I just know that it can and does happen. And that it's entirely possible to appreciate and respect the culture of your place of origin while simultaneously wanting something different. Something more.

No Gone With the Wind fixations here...not that there's anything wrong with that, if it's your cup of tea!

In high school, while my classmates reveled in a Keds-based fashion paradise, I was thrilled by the flamboyant styles of 80s pop icons. I used to slip downtown to the small European-styled cafe ensconced in a (now closed) dusty antique shop and sip a cup of International Foods Gourmet French Vanilla Coffee, served in a delicate, gold rimmed cup by an aged, eccentric proprietor whose name is lost to time, but who I can still see as a blurred memory, draped in colorful fabrics, scarlet nails at the end of long fingers. The seeds were planted then. Did they bloom where they were planted? I'm not sure. A teacher with a clue showed me the path to the life and adventures I craved, basically holding the door open and saying, "Here, walk through." Only it would be years later before I had the courage to actually take a small step. She took bold steps herself a few months after showing me the way.

Now, life is calling upon me to have that same courage again. To not forget who I am, or where I came from, but to step into the next chapter. No one is holding any doors open and there isn't any easy plan laid out for me this time, but listening to a friend talk over lunch yesterday about changes she had made in her life, I had to reflect upon where I am...which is essentially only a few miles away from the long-gone antique store cafe where I dreamt of great things. Do I now have the courage it takes to boldly step into the life I want, or am I just mixing elegant wine glasses with cheap cheese?

What are your thoughts on who we are, where we come from, why square pegs might so often find themselves trying to fit into round holes, and what it takes to not bloom where we are planted but to blossom where we're meant to be? Would love to hear them!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thrift Store Score Thursday - The Devil Carries Prada

Oh my golly gosh...when I slipped away for a few minutes to my favorite thrift store Monday afternoon, wasn't I rewarded nicely!

Yep, that's a ***Prada*** bag. This devil may not wear Prada, but I'll carry it. A good handbag can do wonders, like pulling yoga pants and generic Uggs up to acceptable levels of style (a good thing, too, considering that ensemble is basically my weekend uniform!)

This little easily fixable flaw...

...enabled me to receive 25% off the asking price...of FOUR DOLLARS!!!

I was far more interested in the cross-body strap anyway. Having lived 4 years in the shadow of a major metropolitan city, carrying my bag cross-body to thwart snatching is just too ingrained in my psyche for me to be comfortable with all my pursely possessions dangling loosely from my hand or elbow. So little wire and Gorilla Glue and that - for me - purely cosmetic handle is all fixed up.

I do tend to prefer a more colorful purse, however, so I decided to jazz this up a bit by adding a zebra scarf I thrifted ages ago and never really wore.

My three dolla Prada....ain't she a beaut?

Scarves on purses, are we still doing that? Well, I am! I love the combo of the faux tan alligator skin and silky black and white fabric! And the scarf-bag combo's understated elegance will keep me from yielding to the temptation to dangle a blingy Hello Kitty bauble from it.

This three day weekend (yes!) I'll be sporting my new bag as we venture down to Columbia to see an art exhibit, hang out with friends, drink lots of coffee and visit a vegan cafe!

Bad pose!

Btw, that Michael Kors top I'm wearing was free from a clothing swap I hosted, my flare-legged cords with buttons at the ankle were thrifted for $2, and my black boots were thrifted for $3. So the entire expenditure for today's look? Less than $10, including my bag.

Better lighting...boring pose

Here's to holding on to our hard-earned money! Have you have any thrift store scores this week? Happy Thursday and Happy Thrifting!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Three Things I Will Not Do in 2016...What About You?

Last year, my friends and I watched The Secret and made vision boards to celebrate the coming of 2015. This year, however, we blasted the Rolling Stones and made Moscow Mules. It somehow seemed more fitting and, to be honest, was a bit more fun (I think all who were present would agree!)

Instead of making resolutions, however, I decided to take a close look at how and where I can make changes in order to be closer to accomplishing both my professional and personal goals. I find this a bit more helpful than resolutions because it involves a lot of honesty and self-reflection, and sometimes difficult choices. It's deciding what I am no longer going to do. Not immeasurable philosophical ideals like 'I won't judge others' but real things that take time and mental energy.

And so, after much thought, there are three things I will not do in 2016 - my 'rever-solutions,' so to say...

1. I will not have a garden.

This was a difficult decision accompanied by no small amount of Mama guilt (don't you just love that?) when my son expressed his disdain that there would be no spring planting. However, a large productive garden takes quite a lot of labor and dedication. I've headed up a community and then a personal garden where I live for many years, but in 2016 I am not going to be doing this. I may plant a few items along or behind my property, but that will be all. Luckily, I have a father who gardens and a fantastic Farmer's Market nearby, so there will be no shortage of fresh, organic veggies in our household.

2. I will not follow homeschooling, stay-at-home moms on Instagram.

Now don't get me wrong, I love all the homeschooling, stay-at-home moms dearly. I just tend to over-idealize their seemingly un-fettered lives as I'm rushing out the door for work in 20 degree weather before the sun rises with a half-awake child who still needs to complete a page of homework at my side. While staying at home to raise and educate your children is definitely an honorable and worthy path, its one that will never be mine. I know this; I'm far too independent to rely on someone else to support me and my child financially, and I don't play Powerball which means I won't be guessing my way into financial freedom any time soon. I also enjoy having a career...but those gorgeous Instagram feeds make me feel that I should be staying home to teach writing on large chalkboards hanging in the den, symmetry through snipping snowflakes from recycled yogurt lids and fractions through incessant bread baking instead of sending my son to school to learn those things while I earn a living. It's conflicting, and I don't need to be conflicted in this coming new year. So...a few clicks and Bye, Felicia.

3. I will not subscribe to fast fashion.

Fast fashion - cheap, dispensable clothing available at every turn is just so tempting, especially if you love clothes and fashion as I do...but it is also destroying our environment and quality of life around the globe beaded tunic by beaded tunic. So this year, with the exception of socks and unmentionables, of course, we will thrift our way into style - which will be the subject of a weekly post, Thursday Thrift Store Score, that I'll be doing here on the blog. I'll also feature some eco-friendly brands and sustainability tips as well. But I won't fall victim to fast fashion superstores and their lame (but effective) wooing tactics this year. Cutting up my cards to these stores was a first step in committing to this - the less you use the cards, the less they lavish you with tempting offers. I'm thinking my ignoring them like this will make them just go away, kind of like the ex whose late night texts you don't respond to eventually disappears!

So there, you have it. Three things I will not be doing in 2016. What about you, can you think of - and commit to - three things you will not do this year in order to focus more on what you really, authentically want to be doing?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcoming 2016 and the Amnesia of Middle Age :-)

Going into 2016, I feel kind of sort of like a mess...or as we say here in the South, a 'hot mess,' but that's okay. The end of 2015 was fraught with trials and complications of unprecedented proportions. I operated a lot on auto-pilot. Life as I knew it was buffering, frozen in place, and I was going through the motions as I waited for it to pick back up and continue on as normal.

It was like sleepwalking. For months. But somewhere, in the midst of what seemed to be never-ending chaos, I found something. Something I had lost.

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” 

We can lose a lot in our never-ending quest for things to remain normal, primarily because normal is an illusion. It is also a habit, and habits are addictive. In the midst of all the trials brought on by the end of 2015, I found myself over and over just wishing things were 'back to normal.' 

“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.” 
― Henry AdamsThe Education of Henry Adams

What I discovered as I picked up the pieces of my life was lost long before 2015. It was lost when I tried to make a doomed-from-the-start love affair work by molding myself into what I thought someone else wanted. It was lost when I tried to find happiness in things as they were instead of changing what I knew in my heart I didn't enjoy. It was lost when I tried too hard to do too much that, while good and worthy, wasn't what I authentically wanted to be doing with my time. 

Somewhere, in the midst of all the rubble I sorted through, and all the renovations I watched unfold, and all the subsequent scares I endured, I snapped out of whaAmerican journalist, novelist, essayist, editor and educator Peter Hamill refers to in his introduction Janet Beller's  Street People, one of my favorite photojournalism books, as 'the amnesia of middle age." 

And I remembered. I remembered who I am, which is a very different person from who someone else wanted me to be. I remembered striving to change things instead of just trying to be happy with them the way they were. I remembered what I authentically want to do with this one and only life. 

And so, as 2016 quietly rolled in, I curled up in bed and read, while fireworks illuminated the skies all around me. Because the book I had was really amazing, and reading was what I wanted to be doing in that moment. 

Living fully can look different ways for different people, but I don't believe it looks like habits that lull us into a false sense of security, or clinging to that sense of security because it's normal. And I certainly don't believe living fully can take place if one is inauthentically living. 

I do, however, believe in the amnesia of middle age, and will be careful not to slip into it again! The wake up call is a bit much! :-)

Happy 2016 to you and yours from the boy and I!