Sometimes sadness.

This has been a tough week.  Not a lot happening on the knitting or the painting fronts as Tuesday I had to say goodbye to my sweet little Zoey girl – a mini-dachshund I rescued from life as a breeder bitch in a puppy mill 10 years ago.  This post is about her.

Zoey with bow

She had been having some health issues lately and when she stopped eating over the weekend I knew it was time.  The look in her eyes told me she was ready to go.  That did not make my decision any easier – I absolutely hate having to have a pet put down.  I’ve done it so many times in my life you’d think it would get easier, but it doesn’t – it may even be harder – I know this time has been.  She was a great dog – even though she had spent the first 5 years of her life in a cage she housebroke easily, didn’t bark much, was very affectionate, loved to go outside and play with her “Binky”.  The sound of her little paws pounding down the hall with Binky in her mouth is one I’ll never forget.  She would only played with Binky.  I guess never having toys as a pup or having someone play with her left her without the ability to know how to play but Binky came to the rescue.binky

I knew that I was going to be adopting Zoey and in preparation had gone out to buy all the necessary things needed to care for her plus a few toys.  I was surprised that she didn’t show any interest in any of them once I brought her home.  After her first follow-up vet visit I decided to stop by Petsmart to see how she would act around other people and other dogs plus pick up some recommended food.  Being a small dog she was having trouble not getting run over by the other shopping carts so I picked her up and put her in the basket.  She needed a harness so I pushed the cart down the aisle where all the collars, leashes and harnesses were, pushed it to the side so we wouldn’t be in the way and started to look for one that would fit.  On the opposite side were dog toys.  After a couple of minutes I glanced back to check on her and there she was – stretched out as far as she could go over the side of the cart trying to reach a toy.  Like the one pictured above, only red.  She managed to grab it, pull it off the display, drag it into the cart, and while holding it did that dog thing where they turn around in a circle several times, lay down with her toy in her grasp and sighed.  The biggest doggie sigh I’ve ever heard.  I was amazed!  She just picked out her own toy!  From then on, a red Binky was the only toy she’d have.  No blue ones, yellow ones or any other color.  Just red.  She tore the squeaker out of many a Binky over the years.  I often wondered what she saw in that particular toy that made her want it and it alone.

She was also a great kisser – her sloppy kisses earned her a name tag that had her name on one side and “Sloppy Kisser” on the other – I’m going to miss those too.  She came with serious dental issues that never got completely better.  Several dental cleanings had left her with very few teeth because the dental disease had moved into her jaw and there was not a lot we could do.  As teeth would go bad we had to have them removed.  It left her without the front teeth necessary to keep her tongue in her mouth on one side which gave her an additional element of cuteness.

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We did the best we could, but I think her mouth hurt towards the end – she quit giving out those precious sloppy kisses.

She became very stubborn the last few weeks – more stubborn than her ususal Dachshund nature!  She didn’t want to go outside anymore to take walks or do her business and messes in the house were becoming a regular occurrence.   We would literally have to carry her outside where she would stand resolutely at the end of her leash as if to say this far and no farther.  She planted those little paws in the grass and refused to move!  You wouldn’t think a 10 lb. dog could pull back so hard!  Eventually she would have to move – I was not taking her in until all business was attended to.  If she did out stubborn me I would regret it as a mess in the house was not far behind.

She did not like being left at home and loved to go places with us eventually spending  most of our vacations with us.  She did not like being boarded and would often become so sick from the stress that taking her with us became our only option.  She hated the water.  She hated baths, rain, wet paws, wet tummy, wet grass, you name it.  She loved being held, treats, napping in your lap, playing with Binky and until her mouth hurt too much chewing up pig snouts.

Christmas Zoey

Zoey with a “Snoozle”

She followed me around like a shadow often causing me to stumble and practically fall because she was right underfoot.  As she developed some cataracts late in life she followed me around even closer.

Winter made her shiver with cold being so close to the ground and snow was not her friend either.  We would have to shovel off a place in the grass for her to go and knitting her sweaters became a favorite thing for me to do – store bought doggie coats did not fit her well, so I learned how to custom fit a sweater to accommodate her long body, barrel chest and short, stumpy legs.

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The favorite sweater I knit for her that she would only tolerate wearing – barely.

In appreciation for all my work she tried to get them off as quickly as I put them on – when I eventually did find a store bought coat she would wear it was the only one she would tolerate and keep on for any length of time.

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Kind of giving me that “I’ll show you what I’ll wear and not wear!” look.

In all, we had 10 good years together.  I had other Dachshunds growing up but she was the first one that was mine alone.  She was my little buddy and a great friend.  Protective but not to a fault, not a big fan of kids, but she never bit anyone.  If there is a place in heaven for all our pets I hope to someday find her there waiting for me along with all the other cats and dogs I’ve ever known.  Run free in the sunshine Zoey – you’re not in pain anymore.  I love you and I miss you.  Rest in peace.

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I Did It!!

I did it – I started and finished my first painting in over 35 years.  Yes, I am proud of myself simply because I did something I thought I would never do again.  It took a lot of courage screwing up and the encouragement of a great group of fellow artists, but I did it.  Even though I had already started another small painting, it took the eclipse a couple of weeks ago to kick me out of my uncomfortable zone and do it.  And, it felt awesome to be wielding a brush again.  What have I been waiting for?!eclipe painting

Initially I was hesitant as I only had a vague idea of where I was going with this, but eventually it evolved, one baby step at a time.  First I added the rings around the moon and then the craters – which I think turned out really cool since they only show when you look at it a certain way.  Don’t know how I managed that!Step 2

The background seemed too empty to me – I knew I wanted to put something there, but what?  First, I tried paper punched stars to get an idea if stars were what I wanted…step-3.jpg

Nope.  While talking to the Stac Gallery Creativity group galaxies came up and bingo!  I had my next step.  It was exactly what it needed!  Yet there was still all this black…step 4

Next step then was to add a few stars which initially I tucked into the galaxy.  I liked that but still too much empty black.step 5

Finally, I added some more stars, tucked the galaxy behind the eclipse by widening the rings around the moon some more and viola!  Finished!!  I’m grinning like a silly person.step 7

Now – back to the other one I started before this – the background is driving me nuts!  I don’t want the leaves to be overpowering, but I’m having a hard time giving the impression of leaves while keeping it toned down.  More to come on this.first painting

 

 

Total Eclipse 2017

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This is not my first total eclipse – I was around for the last one some 30+ years ago and
I’ve been around for others, too.  Lunar, partials… I thought I wasn’t going to be all that jazzed about seeing this one, but I have to admit I am a little excited.  I think that as an artist I am looking at it differently this time.  I’m looking at the light – the changes, how it looks different today and it occurred to me that while standing outside observing it it’s almost like you can feel the earth move under your feet.  And I’m humming Carole King’s “I feel the earth move…”.  I think about all the planetarium shows I’ve seen over the years about celestial events and remember there were always sounds associated with stars and planets moving around – I’m imagining that, too.  I believe that for a few moments you could actually sense the movement of the planets and dance with the moon!  This was the best picture I could get with my phone and a solar filter – without the filter all you could see were clouds.

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Nature has always proved the existence of God to me and today was no different – Psalm 19:1-6 NIV says ”

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 
3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.
I think this is a very appropriate verse for today!  Everywhere I look in nature the wonder and marvel of it all reveals the hand of God in all of His creation.  As an artist I like to think of Him as the first artist – His works the ultimate in creative genius.  Every day He paints a new sunrise and sunset.  There have been many times I have just sat in the woods or by a stream or on a beach and listened to the voice of God.  He seems very near to me in these places even when I hear no voice at all and just feel His presence.

Clouds are partially obscuring the view here today, but with the solar glasses on you can
still see the moon starting to blot out the sun.  We didn’t hit totality, I’d say about 95%, but the dance of the planets goes on every day whether we see it or not.

And another thing…

As I continue to think about my long lost artistic self and take steps to rediscover her, I’ve been wondering where on earth do I start?  Start where I left off in college?  Kinda hard to do since it’s been almost 40 years – I don’t even remember what the last canvas I worked on was!  I’ve been pondering things like – do I want to make statement pieces – a commentary on my life over the last 60 years – struggles – depression – what?  Do I want to paint flowers, or kitties or nature?  I can see where I could really get stuck here as I am rather ADD!  And then lo and behold my friend Lori Rivera posts this on her Facebook page today:

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2012/08/the-adhd-artists-way/

And shares what she’s been working on – there is no one thing here – she’s been painting all kinds of stuff (check her out on Facebook at Lori Rivera Art –https://www.facebook.com/LoriRiveraArt/ ) and a kind of light bulb went off – just paint!  Paint whatever you want – paint kitties, flowers, nature – do it all!  I’m starting to discover some freedom here and realize now that I’m painting for myself.  Not for a deadline or a professor or anyone else.  It’s just for me.  And if it turns into something else well then so be it.  So look out art world – you’re about to be revisited by my too illustrious self!  (A criticism I once received about my work).  And to those critics from way back I say:

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Oh – and I painted another rock – because it is…

coffee rock

Scared, but not as much.

In my last post Scared I talked about how scary it seems to me to try to pick up the paintbrush again and paint after an almost 40 year hiatus.  Art often involves putting yourself out there and expressing personal emotions and while it still seems scary, today it’s not as scary as it was a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve been doing some thinking about what is holding me back and where the fear comes from.  The most obvious one to me is:

CRITICISM
Probably my number one fear – along with its friends rejection and shame.  I have struggled with trying to fit in my entire life.  We moved on average every 2 years when I was growing up which left me having to fit in with a new group of peers sometimes every year.  When I was young, fitting in wasn’t as hard – younger kids seems to be more accepting than older.  But, as I got older, the cliques formed and I was always the outsider – no one wanted to accept the “new kid”.  (One exception was in high school, but that’s another post).  Immediately I felt labeled and unable to fit in.  I began to feel “not good enough” – a feeling that haunts me to this day.

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Critical parents didn’t help with this feeling – I never felt like I measured up to their standards.  There was always something I should have been doing better, but that something was never defined.  That led to a lot of ambiguity.   I lost myself during those years trying to be someone else who would hopefully fit.  That didn’t work so I tried to be myself – whoever that was – and found that didn’t work either.   For a long time I was a doormat.  Apparently nobody liked the real me either.  To this day I am confused about myself.  I have had people I thought were my friends drop me like a hot potato and I don’t know why.  One day they were my friends, the next it was like I had the plague.  I feel a lot of shame – why don’t they like me anymore?  What did I do? Why am I never enough?  Which leads to a lot of negative self talk.  I’m too fat, too ugly, too stupid, too whatever.  I feel like I’m on the outside even when I’m in a group.  I feel invisible like I’m not even there.  And it hurts.  I hate feeling left out.  So, the idea of painting – an expression of self that will leave me open to criticism is scary.

Many of the people I would like to have as friends feel more like acquaintances – there is a wall that keeps them on one side and me on the other.  I honestly don’t reach out much anymore.  So, I continue to think and think and think some more.  I continue to keep to myself and watch life go by from the outside.  Maybe that’s just my lot in life – I don’t know.  There sure is a lot that I see going on though that makes me long for what I see others experiencing – I hope it’s not a false perception, but even that’s crossed my mind!

OTHER THINGS
These are things that are pretty trivial, but sometimes daunting because the solution isn’t always easy – time, money for supplies, a place in which to create, the right mind set, etc. These are things that are easier to work on, but can sometimes be hard to accomplish too because support is lacking.

In the meantime I continue to knit and crochet, outlets for some of my creative energy that are soothing and help me focus for awhile.  I have a very ADD brain… squirrel!

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Oh – and I painted a rock… it’s a start.

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Scared

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This is the scariest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  I am literally unable to start – I don’t know where to begin.  I haven’t picked up a paint brush or a pencil in over 35 years.  So I just stare at it… clueless.

So, I start to ask myself why.  Why does this scare me?  Why can’t I just “do it”?  And lots of reasons come to mind.  Fear of failure, fear of criticism, what if I’m not able to paint or draw anymore, what if, what if, what if…  Where do I start?  What should I paint?  Why is this so hard?

I have wanted to get back to my fine arts roots for a very long time.  I got derailed early – right after college and it seems like I just can’t get back.  I’ve tried a few times, but obstacles keep putting themselves in the way.  How to remove the obstacles?  Not sure.

So – what happened?  My major in college was painting and drawing.  The 2 local universities had fine art departments but at the time I thought I wanted to go into commercial art.  That seemed to be where all the jobs were and I wanted to be able to make a living after college.  Neither school had a commercial art program so I knew I would need to attend a school that did if I was to get a degree in that field.  Since my parents were paying for my education I talked to them about it and they initially agreed that if I was accepted somewhere then I could go.  Got my portfolio together, sent it out into the world and after several rejections, I was accepted at a school in Ohio.  I would only need an additional year and a half of classes to earn my degree.  I thought I was on my way.  Then for reasons I still don’t know, my parents jerked the carrot away.  No, I could not go.  I never got a satisfactory answer as to why not.  So, I graduated from the school I was currently attending, adding business classes that seemed to fit with my desire to work commercially and I settled.  I did the best I could.  Now – backing up a bit – during my senior year I became engaged.  My parents did not like him.  Not one bit – but never really said why.  I couldn’t see any reason not to marry him, so we made all the plans to get married a few months after I graduated.  1 week before the day I said “I do”, the carrot returns – “if you agree not to marry this guy, you can go to that art school after all”.  I was stunned – why now?  Obviously they thought this was the only way to get me to not get married.  Really?

I was very confused – everything was paid for – would my parents really just throw all that money away?  I didn’t think so.  Money was always an issue around our house.  My $40 wedding dress was too expensive.  I ran the idea by my fiance – would you mind waiting another year so I could get my degree?  Nope.  He wasn’t for that idea at all. Either we get married now or we wouldn’t get married at all.  (Should have listened to my gut at this point).  So I did what I thought was my only option – got married.  Turned out to be a bad idea – he left after I paid off all his pre-marriage debts (which were huge) to go back home to live with his parents.  There were other things, but I won’t get into that here.

So – he fled to another state, left me with the lawyer fees and car payment – both of which he was supposed to take care of and which forced me to take a second job.  Working a full time and part time job left me with no time for anything else and the paints dried up, the pads of paper got ruined when the water heater in my apartment leaked and it all had to be thrown out.  Over 5 years pass.  Met and married my second husband but even though I only had to work 1 job full time, there still did not seem to be time to pursue anything artistic.  So much time had passed – my confidence waned.  My brushes, which for some reason kept, sat on a shelf collecting dust.  I guess I gave up.

Fast forward to now.  I still really want to paint and draw again.  Despite everything that has happened, I long to do it.  But I’m scared… I don’t know where to start.  In a way this seems rather odd because after an almost 30 year hiatus I took up playing the oboe again because I missed it – for whatever reasons this did not seem so intimidating or scary.  I’ve been playing for over 10 years now and love it!  Even took up a second instrument to boot – the English Horn.  If I can do that, why the hesitation to paint again?  Should I audit a class at the university?  Take a class at a local studio that offers them?  Dive in?  It all seems daunting.  And right now I don’t know what to do.

Frustration Part 2…

I appreciate the comments on my last post – but am frustrated once again because I can’t see them on my site!  Nor can I find the post on Facebook.  AND I don’t know how to change that despite searching on Facebook and WordPress for an answer!  So in addition to being frustrated, there is also being aggravated, vexed (thank you to whoever suggested this one), irritated, disgruntled, absolutely maddening, sheer insanity (not the exercise regimen), and the list goes on and on.

What aggravates me most is that the majority of what happens is totally out of my control.  I can do something about anything that falls within my control, but other than deal with how I respond to situation I can’t do much else.  It’s like walking out the door only to be barraged with snowballs – unending snowballs.

snowball

I don’t know… I guess I am tired of having to deal with my responses to these situations instead of having them not happen in the first place.  It eats up so much time that could be spent doing what I set out to do in the first place!  And if you know how I can fix the problems mentioned above, I’d appreciate your suggestions.  I am NOT computer savvy – another source of great aggravation!

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