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Archive for August, 2012

Tomorrow I head back home to CO after spending the last week and a half with my family.  Though I had a fabulous visit, lots of fun day trips, hours of laughter and some of the best sleep and food I’ve had in months, I’m looking forward to getting back to David, the dogs and my ol’ routine.

Because I love to take photos and because we visited some of my favorite places in New England, I wanted to share with you a few more more snapshots of what I love about this area in the late summer…

Fresh picked peaches at Roger's Orchard, CT

Fresh picked peaches at Roger’s Orchard, CT

The sound of crashing waves…

Happy salt air sunflowers, RI

A trip to my favorite, kitchy food store, Stew Leonard’s – (if a carnival and a grocery store had a baby, this would be it…so much fun and lots of laughter and good food enjoyed!)

Seaside shops, RI

Lots of water, lots of boats

Branches loaded with almost-ripe apples, CT

Hot air balloon festival in my hometown

I’ve eaten more fresh lobster and clams this last week than I have in the last year +

Late afternoons (when everyone is leaving) is my favorite time at the beach! At the border of MA/NH

Apple cider donuts…soooo good!

Sweet cruisers are the best mode of transportation in sleepy seaside towns (though scooters are pretty great too!)

More boats in the Newport harbor, RI

I had a great time and now I’m ready to go back.  Happy twice. ;)

p.s. please know that I do not have any ads on my page – WordPress sometimes adds them at their discretion and to completely prevent them, I’d have to pay close to $100 a year.  And because I don’t have ad revenue on this page, I don’t make any money from it, so it’s not in my budget to “prevent” them either, but this is not me putting up ads.  They usually show up at the end of a post (and it seems most often when people view on Google Chrome), so please just skip them.  Thanks for understanding!!

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As a kid growing up in CT who spent most weekends from April to October camping on the Rhode Island shore, I fell in love with a little known gem off the eastern coast known as Block Island.  As the smallest state’s smallest municipality (in terms of population), this island 13 miles off the Rhode Island shore is a much, much smaller cousin of the well-known destination off the coast of Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard.  But what it lacks in size and activity, it makes up in tranquility and charm.

Via ferry service, I’ve made this trip many times before, though the last time was about 10 years ago and very brief as David was extremely motion sick and we got back on the boat only a few short hours after arriving.  This time my sister, younger niece and I made the trek via high-speed ferry (which looks like a catamaran on crack!) and arrived in just over an hour and feeling great.

My niece Sarah had never been to the island and determined to see every last bit (the island is only 3 miles by 7 miles), we opted to rent scooters instead of bikes (and being a hot, humid day, we were thankful to have made this choice by day’s end).

We had so much fun zipping around the island, pulling over every 5 minutes to grab photos of the beautiful beaches…

Capture seaside buildings…

And even a couple lighthouses…

Did I mention scooters are the way to go?  ;)

I’ve decided that I’m going to get a scooter some day…maybe not while we live in the mountains, but some day…mark my words!!

We enjoyed our lunch at this spot and had a hard time leaving with the view; our food for the day was typical seaside fare on the East Coast: clams, clam chowder, scallops and peel-n-eat shrimp (okay, so maybe those last two aren’t from around here, but it’s still fresher than what I can get in Colorado!), gelato and fudge. *Insert happy sigh here*

And 12 hours later, with sunburned skin, salty lips and barely open eyes from the day full of sun and sea air, we sang to the island in a slow, sad, nostalgic tone as the ferry pulled away from the dock.

Goodbye…farewell…to you I bid adieu…and you…and you…and you and you and you…Goodbyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Block Island.  I ♥ you.

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Yesterday we moved my niece Amanda into college just outside of Boston.  It’s been a long journey for her the past couple years, she’s had a lot of setbacks and to see her finally set out on her own (even with a somewhat worried look on her face) was gratifying.

She was excited and nervous; we were excited and sad.

It was bittersweet…as are most of life’s transitional phases.

Being back home is bittersweet too.  I take part in the activities and festivities that I took for granted before: fireworks in the local park, picnics with family, taking part in local fairs/festivities, trips to the shoreline – the salty air, the fresh seafood, ocean as far as the eye can see, visiting local farms and orchards, enjoying local treats, hours of gut busting laughter with my sister and breathing happy sighs all around.

The only thing missing is David and the dogs.  He stays back every time I venture home to CT for many reasons, including the cost of an additional flight (and I average 3-4 visits a year and the flight is typically $400), the cost of boarding 3 dogs for a week or longer (which is about $1,000) and because to him, it’s not really a vacation but more of running around and fitting into my family’s schedule (which I love to do, even the minutiae of running errands with my sister and her girls is fun and makes me feel like I’m not missing out on so much).

It’s also bittersweet because I come to terms more and more with my homesickness.  Back in CO, I can go a week without seeing anyone else but my husband, we don’t know anyone in our community and the closest friend is more than an hour away; the closest family member 2,000 miles away.  It’s very, very lonely and isolating working from home in such a remote area.  And the older I get, the more I want to be close to family.

Life, and the decisions we make in life, are bittersweet.

But this week, I’ll choose to focus on the sweet.

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I’m leaving this week to go back for a visit to CT for almost two weeks, helping my niece move to college, taking seaside day trips with my sister to Block Island and possibly an overnight to Martha’s Vineyard if we can work out the scheduling, enjoying lots of fresh seafood and seaside air and spending down time with family, making up all those missed family dinners over the year.  Oh, and lots of Dunkin Donuts coffee (have I mentioned we don’t have it here? *wink*).

Since I won’t be able to get to my booth at The Barn for a couple weeks, David and I made a trip today to spruce it up for fall; I’d rather be the early bird than late for the season.  Plus I’m hoping it’ll drive some interest to my space!

If you’re in the Denver/Colorado Springs area, be sure to check out The Barn (which is planning on having a fall decorating event in the next week, so it’ll be decked out soon!)

Fall?  BRING IT!


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Man, my mojo is back, with a vengeance!

I suffered for MONTHS without inspiration or the drive to create.  “How can I be an artist if I don’t want to paint?” I’d wonder.  I even questioned if I should keep doing artwork since painting/creating was the last thing I felt like doing.  My self-confidence wavered, I hit a bit of depression and I’ve cried more in the last 12 months than I have in the past 10 years.  It’s been a really tough year on my psyche.

David told me to take the summer off and revisit in the fall.  If I felt inspired, by all means I should create, but if I didn’t, then I need not punish myself.  He was right, I needed time to step away (and lick my wounds) before I could move on.

Thing is, I had spent most of the fall of 2011 and early part of 2012 in mass-production mode for a licensing agent, producing the kind of generic artwork they wanted.  Things I submitted were always critiqued or sent back (which I totally understand is part of the business) and I felt as though I was being asked to change everything about what and how I created.  They thought I had potential but they weren’t ready to license my current work.  I was expected to crank out hundreds of “vanilla” stuff I couldn’t stand doing.  My style began to change (not for the better) and I began to hate what I was creating.  And how could they like what I was creating when even I didn’t like it?  It was constant pressure, constant pushback, no publicity, no reward.

As you can imagine, my sensitive soul cracked and in May, I made the very difficult decision to part ways with my agent and give up on licensing.  I felt ashamed.  I felt deflated.  And I stopped creating.

Luckily I had enough unpublished material that I needed to keep secret while under contract that I was able to share “newer” stuff on my blog and in my shop, but the reality is that I was rarely creating for about 4-5 months.  I have since repainted over a lot of things I’ve never shared because I just didn’t like the material.  What really bothered me is that I couldn’t remember how to create my girls the “old way” because I was forced to change it to a newer way and I had repressed a lot of my old techniques in order to fit the mold.  When I tried to create, I hated what I was making, so I stopped.

Now I’m not knocking licensing, licensing agents or even the agent I had.  They do incredible things for lots of artists.  But what I’ve mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg, it’s the nature of art licensing and I couldn’t hack it.  I love to create what I love to create (part of why I made the leap to work for myself) and trying to create something I never had and/or couldn’t stand doing and trying to create perfection like a digital artist was killing my spirit (which let’s face it, handmade mixed media is a MESSY art form, no perfect circle/repeating patterns here!).  It’s why I love mixed media – it’s painting outside of the lines, trashing boundaries and forgoing symmetry for imperfect yet unique beauty.

It’s also the reason I don’t do commissioned/custom artwork – it’s just too stressful trying to create someone else’s vision and part of the the joy of creating art is creating from the heart.

Now, with no external forces cramping my style and having had a few months to “shake the funk” I find that my ideas, inspiration and my actual work is blossoming in incredible ways.  Though I was creating during the “gray period” I find that the quality of my work and the flow of inspiration is so much better now and I am over the moon with happiness now – conjuring up ideas, sketching, collaging, painting.  It’s like the old days where I can’t be too far away from a journal as the ideas are constantly flowing.  Now my main issue is finding enough time to keep up with all the ideas (and after being dried up for so long, this is a wonderful problem to have!).

Once again I’m not against licensing; I just encourage artists who think they want to jump in to REALLY do their homework, examine if they can work under other’s directions/expectations without feeling like their wings have been clipped (and for collage artists, I can’t stress enough about researching the legal limits/ramifications of using pattered paper, book scraps, vintage photos, etc. which takes on a whole new legal dimension when mass producing; I spent many nights paralyzed with fear over possibly being sued for incorporating the smallest piece of legible text in a piece!).

So while I won’t be reaching a national platform quickly (so long Target!) I’m happy to be sticking with my lil’ Etsy shop and meeting people who have found my work there, or in a small, family-run boutique, or on Facebook, Pinterest, this blog or with my partnership with FORCE.  That is much more validating in the long run; I just missed that notion on the sprint to notoriety.  Now it’s about slow, steady and at peace.

So what’s on the horizon?  More girls, lots of fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Holiday themed pieces, and tea!

Stay tuned!  And thanks for hanging on during my roller coaster year.  Feel like I’m out of the gray and back in full color. xo

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It’s been nearly a month since our nieces spent the week with us and though a bit after the fact, I wanted to share some photos of our trip to Mt. Evans, a popular spot in Colorado.

Although Mt. Evans is only 15 miles away from us as the crow flies, it takes almost two hours to drive to the entrance at the base of the mountain and another hour to get to the summit as we’re talking mountain passes here and the roads zig zag back and forth (not to mention that when you get close to the summit, you’re looking at frightening drop-offs, thin roads with 2-way traffic and no guard rails, so it’s slow going).

The day started off rough, we left late around 10 am and around 11 we pulled off to give the dogs a break and everyone a stretch and Sierra, our older, Cushings-disease, arthritis and hip dysplasia pup jumped out of the car before we could grab her (we always lift her in/out of our SUV); long story short, we had to turn around and make it back down to the nearest town and go to the emergency vet.  We returned back home deflated and concerned about our pup who, turns out, tore her ACL when jumping down.  David stayed home to keep an eye on Sierra and our oldest niece didn’t want to make the long drive back up now that it was almost 2pm and it would mean a very long day.  Our youngest niece, however, was insistent that we go back up, even with inclement weather predicted.  So her and I jumped back in the car and made our way back out.

The first major point of interest on the way up to the summit is an area loaded with bristlecone pine which are said to be the oldest living things on Earth.  The ones on Mt. Evans are an estimated 1,700 years old!  It started to pour and hail here, but Sarah, in the poncho above, made the best of it!

These bristlecone kind of look like large scale bonsai trees, right?

Summit Lake, at the base of the summit, is another great place to stop.  You’ve never seen clearer water!  The altitude at this point is 12,830 feet and there are a couple of hiking trails in the area that lead to breathtaking views.

Sarah was in awe of the view and a fun travel partner, especially being a teenager; she was game for anything!

Nearing the summit we saw about a dozen or so mountain goat…

The sun came out!  (actually, the weather was pretty manic – a rotation of rain, hail and sunshine every 15 minutes or so all day long).

Once we got to the parking lot at the very end of the road, we trekked up the rocky trail to get to the tippy-top…

And we made it (14,258′ above sea level).  It was quite chilly up top (in the high 40′s) so I threw on David’s hoodie for good measure!

This is the view from the summit of the road below.  Steep!  It was sunny at the top, but clouds surrounded nearby.  As we started to descend, it got stormy again…

But the beauty of the commingling of rain and sun is a rainbow…or two!

We didn’t get home until 8pm or so, but it was still a fun adventure.  This is the closest “fourteener” to Denver, so if ever you’re in the area, do check out Mt. Evans!

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As I’ve been alluding to on my Facebook page and mentioning here, I’m in a serious mood for fall and Halloween.  My friend is not having her Halloween party this year, we get no trick-or-treaters out in our rural parts and we are too introverted (and also know no one in Denver) to attend a Halloween Ball “down the hill”.

For these reasons, I have to get my Halloween mojo through the creation of art, which I am happy to do.  Actually, I’m having trouble stopping.  I’ve created 6 pieces, have 2 more sketched up and a bunch of more ideas on the brain.  Part of me says that not everyone appreciates Halloween like I do, but the other part of me is trying to not get so focused on what sells, but also what I like to create.  Plus Halloween art fits perfectly into my quirky, whimsical style.

Here are the 6 pieces I’ve created this past week…

Bat Girl, Halloween Bee, Halloween Dracula, Halloween Ladybug, Owl Girl, Pumpkin Girl

And here are two from last year that I never shared because of my (then) licensing agreement:

Halloween Good Witch / Halloween Kitty

I’ll be making merchandise with all these images, but I’ve started to list some of these originals in my shop.

Bring on the candy corn, fake spider webs and cooler weather!!

 

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So I don’t have anything major to discuss, share or ponder, so I thought it good time to have a miscellany post!

The weather this summer has been quite peculiar…yes, it’s been very hot (for us at least, I know it doesn’t compare to those of you in broiling and soupy humid climates).  For comparison, we’ve been at our house at 8,300 feet in the Rockies for 5+ years; it’s never been hotter than 92 degrees (we love it cold!).  As such, no one up here has air-conditioning…there really is not a need for a couple hot days.  This summer, however, we’ve hit over 100 degrees at the house on more than one occasion.  And because we are on a mountainside facing west, we have no trees to offer shade or relief.  Luckily, we have a sunken-in/walk-out basement which stays about 20 degrees cooler than upstairs (not so great when I’ve shivering in the winter, but awesome in the summer).

courtesy of David’s phone ;)

But what’s more peculiar is all the rain we’ve been having.  Most years, I can usually count rainy days on one hand…for the WHOLE year, it’s that dry.   For the past 3 weeks, it’s been raining almost every day, most often in the afternoon when a brooding storm passes by.  Sometimes it’ll rain hard for 10 minutes then stop, but many days it continues to rain…it’s lovely!  It’s so green up here and the fire bans have finally been cancelled and we can go back to grilling – celebration!

Now many of these storms bring hail…we’re so used to it that we pay no attention, but this past week it got loud real quick and I knew this was a bigger hailstorm than usual.  Pea-sized turned to marble sized turned to these:

It was slamming the house so hard I swore a window would break and surely our car would be all busted up, but to our surprise, no damage!

Then last Sunday, a tornado was seen at Mt. Evans (which has the highest paved road in North America and about 15 miles from us – as the crow flies).  And it was only 40 degrees at the summit!

Photo credit Michelle Ingle via Examiner.com

Just two weeks prior, my youngest niece and I made the trek to the summit…

About 4 years ago, when my parents were visiting, we took the trek up and it was so stormy that when we got to the very top of the summit to take pictures, everyone’s hair stood on end (meaning we were all sending a charge up to the sky for an imminent lightning strike if we didn’t get down fast!).  My crazy father, insistent on getting a photo on the highest rock at the top raised his hands up for a grand photo and said he could feel a static charge in his armpits!  All the other visitors at the top thought it was so “neat” – I was insistent on getting the hell out of there!

It’s a great place to visit (have more photos to share in a later post) but talk about crazy weather!

*****

I still struggle with whether my booth at The Barn is a good business decision as I’m still struggling with sales ; I’m just trying to hold out until the holiday season in an effort to make some money (or rather, make my money back!) so I still visit every other week to spruce it up and last week I re-merchandised everything and added in the items I whitewashed last weekend.

Can’t say I didn’t try!

*****

It’s been a couple of weeks since I painted artwork because I’ve been focused on stocking up my booth at the Barn, so today I sat down and started to build some backgrounds for Halloween.  I’m craving fall big time and now is also the time to get ahead of the next season (and because I LOVE Halloween, it’s easy to get motivated).  Here’s a sneak peek on some backgrounds I started building up and some girls I started working on today:

Hope to share some finished pieces with you later this week.

Fall, in my opinion, is the most

…wonderful time

…of the year!

Hope all is well on your end :)

 

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