Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Last Classes of 2014

When I started the "little Miss" series of classes earlier this year,  based on a doll I have been making and selling for the past few years..I had no idea how my students would inspire me.  It has been both a pleasure and an adventure holding classes here in my home studio. Getting to know these women, help them grow and be fearless with painting eyes and eyebrows!!!  ;-)  Several ladies came regularly and my gratitude to them is immense.  I am only doing two more classes of this style of doll, not just for the year...but for good.  There are many reasons for this, most of which is purchasing these vintage dolls ONE AT A TIME online and paying sometimes $15 for one, just to be sure I had enough to cover the class or the multiple kit orders from loyal customers located out of state.  But mainly because I am changing my business significantly and these dollies are not part of the new "business Model" I am creating for myself.

Both of the following dolls are inspired by two students in particular...

"Miss Mary's Circus Girl"
Class is Saturday, November 22nd.
9am to 3pm
cost is $110 and includes lunch and all supplies.



The second class will is
"Little Miss Jeanine LOVES Pink"
Class is Saturday, December 6th
10 am-3 pm
Cost is $90 and includes lunch and all supplies


What you should know about my classes...we have FUN.  I am lighthearted and ENCOURAGE you to personalize your doll.  I help my students as much or as little as they need me to.  I have often painted eyes and eyebrows for much of the class.  Tiny painting can be intimidating and I am here to help you! Having the class here in my studio allows us access to LOTS of paint options.  You do NOT have to make your dolls the colors I have.  Have fun with it and make her your own!

I do have a limited number of kits available for both of these dolls, with written instructions.
Circus Kit is $70, Retro Kit is $60...plus shipping.

Email me for to sign up...daydreampainter@aol.com

Also, THANK you for all of the emails, comments, calls and texts from my friends/students/fellow artists regarding my post from a few days ago.

MUCH love to you all!!!

xoxo

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reality Check

The business of making art/craft for a living is not an easy one.  Far from what some might perceive. To many, it might seem glamourous..."how lucky you are to get to do what you love"  "how lucky you are to get to work in your studio making art".  If you are a realist, you probably see it for what it is.

Here is the reality of it (my reality that is):

Many like me, run our businesses from home.  So looming piles of laundry, housework, dishes, weeds, homework, running kids to/from school, ortho/medical appts, etc, etc...people stopping by to visit, etc.  All of these things very easily creep into your work time.  When you work away from home, these things don't happen, save the emergency call.  Imagine telling your boss, "hey wait a minute while I go change my laundry from the washer to the dryer...or wash the dishes".  There is all too often an assumption that when you work from home, that you have all of the time in the world.  More often having to say "no" to social events because you have a show looming or orders to fill.

Here is more of MY reality for you:

I have been creating "stuff/art/craft" for over 25 years. This is a short list of the things I have mastered over those years...sculpted polymer clay jewelry in the pre-SCULPEY days of using only rock hard FIMO (was my own sales rep and sold to about a dozen stores) also made silk/dried florals, sewed and painted kids clothes/accessories.  These things I sold at two weekly craft fairs, every friday night and every saturday.  I did that a couple of years running until taking care of three small boys (and babysitting other kids/caring for relatives)  took precedence over that. (I bet you can pin the decade to some of the creating I did)  I then created a line of hand painted terra cotta pots...called "Poetic Pots"  as well as painted step stools to display said pots.  These were sold with the aid of a sales rep to many stores.  After one full year of painting over 500 pots and 50 step stools, gears were shifted again, because along came vintage furniture.  Sanded and painted more furniture than I could come close to counting. (why today the thought of painting one piece of furniture makes me shudder)  Painted roses, scenes, greenery, Shabby Chic BEFORE it was a coined phrase. Crackle finishes, sponge, faux marble,  gold leaf...you name it.  LONG before fancy chalk paints.   These pieces were sold to and through several antique stores.  While doing all of this pot/furniture painting, I said to myself..."self, why not try this on a wall".  To the reluctance of my first husband, I did.  So started my mural painting business.  Mural painting really set me free...on many levels.  It is where I made the most money in all of my creative years and allowed me to move on in my personal life.  When I married my second husband, mural painting came only on weekends so I could take care of my three sons and our infant daughter on the weekdays.  Also painted furniture and sewed clothing and handbags with vintage textiles on the weekdays, while juggling the kids. Opened a small shop called "Daydreams" which lasted only 6 months.  Having an infant and three boys under 15 proved too much in running a shop (plus I made EVERYTHING that was sold in the shop). When my second husband died...now Four kids ages 3-17 yrs old...I felt lost.  Took a bit of time off from creating anything. Had some fun. Did some more mural & furniture work, then the economy started tanking...so entered the world of repurposing,  jewelry making and mixed media assemblage. (let's not forget a few Antique store booths  and Power Seller status on EBAY as well)  I will NEVER forget my excitement at being accepted into my first mixed media show called Glitterfest.  It truly felt like I had "arrived".  From there I hit the so Cal show circuit.  There were MANY months of doing 3-4 shows per month.  Often making under $500 dollars per show.  But I kept trudging along.  As the Mixed media years have progressed, I have built a following and changed which shows I do and how many.  Tried the wholesale gig too, doing a few gift shows. Money is better, but is it really "enough"?

Some really GOOD Reality:

During this time I have forged many many lifelong friendships, one the longest being my dear friend Kathy.  We met in a thrift store in Covina what seems a lifetime ago, 15 years to be exact. When she was here last week for a studio day, we still laugh about that random day.   My pals Rita and Tara are women I truly love, cherish and trust.  MANY more wonderful customers, friends and students whose lives you begin to know and follow and watch their kids grow, lives change and battles fought.  These are the things that have been the biggest blessing of all, besides being here to raise my kids.

My growth artistically has been immense too, over the years. Looking back at where I started creatively...it's amazing how we can progress and grow, not just as individuals, but artistically as well.

The Not-So-good Reality:

Despite the Good stuff,  REALITY is....we still have to make money and support ourselves.  There is no "boss"...you are the boss.  There is no company paid/assisted health plan, no 401K, no paid sick days or paid vacations(most of the time there are no vacations at all) Although I do consider spending time with my grandson,  gardening in my back yard & playing with my dogs a kind of vacation. ;-)

I could go ON and ON with stories of how my work has been blatantly, as well as subtly, copied over the years to the point of not wanting to even share anything online.  There seems to be no sense of honor or decorum in this area AT ALL.  Big box companies do it...in house designers as well as people troll Pinterest, Etsy and the internet for "ideas" all of the time.  It has become accepted to be "inspired" rather freely these days.  Not that I have not been inspired by others, but to be honest...I work excruciatingly hard at being original.  If I make something I think is original...I google the hell out of it to see if it really is...and if it isn't...it gets shelved or greatly edited because I NEVER want my work to look like someone elses.  This has become increasingly exhausting and deflating.

Oh, the quotes, "you should be honored, emulating is the biggest form of flattery"..."oh my gosh, you are so clever"..."you have the greatest ideas"...(here is one of my FAVES at a craft/art show) "I just LOOOOVE coming to these shows for ideas"(often accompanied by the stealth or not so stealth picture being taken of your work) This is when you smile kindly while standing in your booth, as you wonder how you will cover your mortgage that month.  The people who ask you how you make it, where do you get your supplies from? (sheesh, I could go on)

While show earnings have greatly improved over the years as business and followers have been built, the "reality" is...after crunching numbers, is it really enough? This year has been heavy with teaching(which I have truly, truly enjoyed), but teaching isn't a huge money maker either, not when you really calculate all of your time accumulating supplies, creating samples/kits.  Maybe if you have Large class sizes, you can get a good profit going.  For the stupid people who say, "you never get paid for your time".  Well, if you are not getting paid for your time, it is NOT a business.  Would a doctor treat patients if she/he did not get paid for their time?  or any other profession for that matter?  That comment makes me want to bitch slap the person who says it. (but instead they just get tuned out)  Move along please.

Now PLEASE don't get me wrong, most people are very sweet, well intentioned and supportive.  This post is NOT meant to offend anyone, maybe enlighten.

So, why did I pour all of this out today?  (other than sitting in the dark snuggling with a needy new puppy thinking about my life)  Truth is, this honestly has been brewing for a very, very long time.  But often the inertia of what one does takes over and it is kind of scary both physically and emotionally to jump from the train onto an unknown track. Overall, this business has served mine/my families basic needs, but I question the long term viability of it all, like never being able to truly retire or take a fancy vacation, (insert visions of dying with a paintbrush in my hand, probably not a bad way to go as long as the painting is done and it is quick and painless) ;-)

Without naming names, many artist friends I know go without healthcare and struggle OH SOOO much more than what people think.

I guess this is also a warning to those of you who like to "make things" and want to jump head first into this often shallow pond, as well as a reality check for myself.  If you are pondering this business, my Rx is, get a degree in business first and call me in the morning. There seem to be some great business courses available to makers too. (a few I have looked into, but dang they are expensive) Though, the cynic in me also wonders why so many people get away from making art to sell and switch to teaching their art/craft full time or create a business model teaching people "how to create a creative business".   Is it that they really want to share their wealth of knowledge or that making and selling one's work is truly harder and less viable than is perceived...save for a lucky few.  Plus we have become very much a DIY community with Pinterest.

So, where does this leave me?  Currently I am really not sure.  Do I want to...continue this line of work? get out of it entirely? Restructure?  Start a new career?  Go back to school? I am down to raising the last kid, getting her through high school and into college. Though this business has kept me afloat and allowed me to be with my kids before and after school, not sure about wanting to continue doing it on this level or as I have been...for hopefully what will be the second half of my life.    My values have changed over the years as well and I'd like to be more philanthropic and do work that has more of an impact on a social change level...not just making pretty things.

If you've read this entire post, thank you so much.  It has not been intended to offend anyone, so please don't take it that way if you have...just see it as a glimpse into my life's journal...the dialog that runs through my mind.

Thank you my friends, customers, students and fellow artists for your contributions to my life and our world.  Let's see what the next step will be...

XOXO ,
Lisa

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dusty

Six and a half years ago, my kids and I decided to add to our Dog Family.  Initially we set out to get one Australian Shepherd, but through a random series of events, we wound up with two.  Dusty is a month older than Sophie, so he came home first. 



They were inseparable from the get go.





Sophie and Dusty were like litter mates even though from different litters.  He was pretty dominant and always seemed to physically have the upper hand on Sophie.  Though she was much more agile and when she was done with him, she would snap, let him know it and he'd back off. I am sure the fact that I trained these dogs simultaneously at home also led to their bond.  When we went to our first puppy class the trainer didn't want me training them together, so my son Dylan came along to train one while I trained the other.  They were not too happy about that. They both wanted me.  

Dusty was to be Christian's dog and Sophie was to be Dylan's dog.  Well, Dusty had something else in mind. He chose ME and that was all there was to it. As you can see in virtually every single picture of Dusty, he is looking straight at me.  This dog was formidable in a stare down contest.  His eye contact with his humans was exceptional, our trainer was impressed with this about him and he was a super smart, super focused dog. (the swing below, they kind of demolished as puppies, but after they were done teething, they never ruined another thing)


Sophie and Dusty were synonymous, we almost didn't say one name without saying the other. Everywhere I went, whether it was on a walk, to the park, to the pet store, down the hall, to the mailbox...Dusty took the left and Sophie took my right.  We called them my bookends. They would not go to bed without me and if I went away for a day or two, or even a few hours, they waited at the windowsill sulking.  I burst into tears the first time I walked down my hall last week after Dusty died and it was only Sophie on my right. 







Now, my boy wasn't totally perfect.  He really didn't like other dogs. It was something that started when he was only 6 months old and I did EVERYTHING to curb this behavior.  He liked his pack (well, only Sophie and his people really) and that was pretty much it.  At the dog park he was actually OK, unless a dog wouldn't stop stiffing his behind.  A female Pitbull wouldn't leave him alone one day, (she must have thought he was cute).  He did a 360 flip over her and took her to the ground.  Thankfully I wasn't there to witness this, I'd have been so embarrassed.  No fight ensued, the female left him alone and Rob was there to handle it.  Glad that was the only time anything like that happened at the dog park.  I use to say if Dusty had an Indian name it would be "doesn't get along well with other dogs".  People he was overall fine with once he knew I was fine with them.

When he fell ill last week suddenly and I had to say goodbye to him.  I was a wreck.  I still am horribly sad and my house has changed.  He had a larger than life presence that you had no choice but to feel.  Sophie always followed his lead and she seems to have lost a bit of her identity.  It is such a strange thing to watch an animal grieve,  And they do.
She is stuck to me like glue and is getting blots of special love and attention.
(went for three car rides yesterday)

Rob and I have always joked (in a not really joking manner) he dreaded the day I lost this dog since we were so attached to each other.  Now, don't get me wrong, my nickname around this place is "the mommy dog)  I am like a pied piper of our pets...which is totally ok with me.
I love them all and they are pretty much ALL my pets.


Since I am now sitting here typing and crying, 
I will leave you with this very odd thing that recently happened.
About a month ago, I had a nightmare.
We were in a different home, more rural...it was dark outside and Dusty and Sophie were fighting off a pack of coyotes.  (you see, I have always had this deep sense that Dusty would lay his life down for me in a nanosecond)
Well, in my dream, Dusty was mortally wounded and bleeding profusely.  Sophie took off down the road chasing the coyotes away.  I yelled to Rob/Christian to go get Sophie as I lay sobbing trying to stop Dusty's bleeding which I knew in my heart was futile.

Then I woke up sobbing...grabbed Dusty, burying my face in his fur and loving him, begging him to live a long long time.

Ironically, Dusty wound up having many cancerous tumors,
one which ruptured and he was bleeding to
death internally.

Talk about a prophetic dream.

It's pretty clear, we had a connection that was so special
and it kind of frightens me that it may never happen again.
But I am hopeful.



I miss him.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My accidental Monarch Project

About 3-4 weeks ago while shopping at my favorite place...Armstrong Nursery.
I purchase two yellow flowering bushes.
The sign above them said, "butterfly Lover"
Yay!!! 
Also purchased two butterfly bushes that day as well.

While Rob and I have consistently planted with intention,
our yard is full of flowering perennials which attract butterflies, humming birds, moths, bees, etc. 
With our pond and two other water sources in the yard, it is also teeming with birds, dragonflies and LOTS of lizards...oh and our resident bullfrogs we raise from purchased tadpoles.




But I had never seen this plant.  Asclepias  was on the label.



The next morning while having coffee, I noticed a striped caterpillar on it.
Hmmm...what is this?  I didn't know. Der.
Placing it in a container with holes on top, it went back to Armstrong with me to have them identify..."Friend or Foe".
Thrilled was I to find out it was a Monarch caterpillar and Milkweed was their host plant.
At that point I only found three on the plants and let them do their thing.

Next day, they were gone.  Found one dead on the ground being devoured by ants who LOVE the plants too.  I was heartbroken.

Monarch butterflies are endangered.  I've read so many articles on this fact.
Pesticide use in commercial farming is the main culprit, but I will go into my own personal experience with that at the end of this post. 

Next morning while having coffee, I examined the plants to find 12,  5 mm long babies.
YAY!



Now to tackle the ant problem. 
We have long since abandoned pesticide in our yard and home, but ants are the exception,
using only ant killers that target ants.  We take great measures to target ants only. 
So we set about clearing our patio of these pests so the butterflies could not be bothered.

After doing some research online, we constructed a habitat by using an upside down mesh laundry hamper.  Seemed great, but I wanted to use the pot they were in for some planting.



Plus the other problem was a female monarch kept coming over to the enclosure wanting at the plants.  We'd lift the lid off to allow her access and watch her lay eggs.



Hmmmm.....bigger enclosure and more plants.
These plants aren't cheap either 9-10 bucks a pop.
My new enclosure is larger and on a table top.  I have containers of water under each table leg to create "Moats" too keep ants and other crawly bugs from getting up inside.
Happy I held onto the decorative mosquito net from Emily old room decor.  I knew it would come in handy for something.

Back to Armstrong we go.  Wanted plants both in and outside the enclosure...to keep the process going.  They were out of plants, but we overhead a lady say she saw some at Lowes
and she was told they were pesticide free.
Off to Lowes, but the 3 plants they had looked so stringy and horrid,  we passed.
They did have caterpillars on them, but 9 bucks each for stringy plants.
We left and went to Home Depot.  They had a few plants, by the grower Vigoro.  Not a single caterpillar or egg to be found.  Made me wonder if there was pesticide on those, so we passed.
Next morning, called to other stores, no milkweed...so back to the original Lowes.
Plants were moved to a cart off to the side.  Asking the sales guy, "are these sold?"
He replied, "nope, the vendor wanted to remove them since they looked so bad, but I told him he couldn't because of all of the caterpillars on them."
So we geeked out for about 10 minutes about Monarchs and he said he was clearancing them out and I could have them for 3 bucks each.  SWEET!
He was thrilled to hear about my little Monarch Nursery I was setting up.

So, now here is my new Monarch nursery.  At least 30 Caterpillars on 3 plants.  All at various stages of their development, called instars.








I have one plant on my hill, full of seed pods which we will let split and re-seed so there will be  more plants.
One plant is close to the enclosure for the multiple adult female monarchs in my yard, so they have a safe plant to lay eggs on.

Here is a link to my friend who also has a butterfly enclosure and check out the chrysalis'.

There is TONS of info on the web about Monarchs.  I encourage you to learn more...
if you want.




Now to tell you what we stopped using pesticides MANY years ago.
One time Rob was combatting ants and was using a typical home defense perimeter spray.
He got close to a large lantana bush and lavender bush and accidentally over sprayed.
Within hours, this is what lay on the ground...


Yes, I saved them their dead bodies, they are part of my nest collection and a reminder to us.
We have not used that stuff since.
The single wings I am going to use in an art project eventually.


Next bad pesticide...ROUNDUP.  Crab grass.  Rob was using it to kill crab grass and some got on a rose bush.  The part of the rose bush started growing really weird shaped flowers and disfigured leaves and eventually that part of the bush died.


Why the little lecture on Pesticide?

Seeing what it has done firsthand in my yard with wildlife and plants.
Do you really want to eat that stuff???


Bees are also endangered as are monarch.
Pesticides ARE to blame.  Do your own research as we have.
These pesticides are banned in Europe and most of the non corporate/government run world.
Do your part.  Whatever you can.  Boycott pesticides, buy organic, create an healthy environment in your yard.  Grow food not lawns.  No act is too small.

If we lose these pollinators, we have NO FOOD.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

"If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem"

I will be updating the status of my Monarch Project,  Please join me via 


or


Thursday, July 10, 2014

The ULTIMATE Jewelry Display

Several Years ago, I had one of my wacky ideas to build a super cool Jewelry Display with a Vintage suit case.  Think Traveling salesman opens his Case, Wagon or coat and out pops all kids of wonderful items for sale (not a flasher girls, get your mind out of that gutter). ;-)    This was my vision and plan.


Looks like a normal vintage suitcase



To map out the interior of the suitcase was the biggest challenge.  Finding just the right size items to make them fit together and close.  Putting things on hinges, etc.  It took me a few months to gather the perfect items and with the help of my Honey, we assembled it. It was a big chore, but worth it!



I have used it at several shows, but it has sat since then, so I think it is time to part with it.  Hit me up if you are interested.  $250 and it is compact for traveling and Uber cool, if I don't say so myself.



Here is a shot of the case used at various venues.




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Painting a Poem

A few years ago, I met a lovely lady named Cindy Craine at an event hosted by another lovely lady Kim Caldwell.  Cindy bought several of my art dolls and has since been an avid collector and customer of my work.  Several months ago she asked if I had any paintings for sale, which I did.  But we instead discussed a commission.  She could customize the piece to her liking in both subject matter and color.  To go with a certain decor or whatever her heart desired.   So, back in April, Cindy emailed me with an idea....She had written a poem and wondered if I thought it crazy to create a painting off of it!  Just my kind of Crazy!

I was thrilled.  Ironically, as a kid I spent hours in my own little make believe dream world, writing poems, reading, creating stories, drawing, painting, listening to music, sewing and making things out of whatever I had.  My first love is language and the written word.  Many times in my life, I have turned back to writing words for outing feelings, ideas, learning, comfort, solitude and entertainment. She too turns to writing for comfort.

Not knowing anything personal of her life, the poem revealed to me a bit of her struggle.  It referenced a health problem, so I asked and she told me of her Parkinson's disease.  This made creating a work for her even more special to me.  Her words moved me and made me cry on several occasions.  Creating a visual piece to communicate her Poem has been a truly amazing experience.  Here is her poem.
Down the Rabbit’s Hole

Shake rattle and roll
I fell down the rabbit’s hole
the rabbit was late
to open the gate
but alas he still may alter my state.
He said “follow me to the magical tea,
I have it here under this tree”.
I sat down in haste, 
oh how would it taste
this magical tea
made just for me
Would it cure my ill
without a pill
could this really be my day
to keep the shakes at bay
I took a sip then felt very odd
like walking into a cloud or even a bog
Then the shakes stood still 
like an oak on a hill
How long, I asked can I remain this way
the rabbit spoke with no delay
You have to stay here for the duration of life
this is your home now free of strife 
“But I have to return to show what you’ve done”
the rabbit smiled or was it the cat, 
looking for a bit if fun.
“You choose your fate” said the cat with a wink,
“I’ll give it in writing using invisable ink.”
Knowing my happiness was really not there
but not really here
should I return and do my little best
I’m too tired to think I need a rest.

I woke to trembles up and down 
like the shaking of the leaves as they fell on the ground
I was sorry to find the rabbit and cat
had long since gone
will they come back, I hope it’s not long...............

I wanted to find a way to not just visually interpret her words, but worked to incorporate some of the poem into the painting itself where I felt it fit. Not wanting to look at the piece and have the words dominate it, but to have them be a bit more subtle.


I love her relationship with the Rabbit.  With his wild cooky eyes
and laughing face, sloppily spilling a drop of tea like he is teasing her.

The oak leaves falling from the tree as referenced in her poem.  A background that is dreamlike.


Enter the Cat.
Cindy LOVES cats.
He too tempts her with his dangling timepiece.


This is a large painting, 48 x48.

This is by far, my favorite commission to date.

It has really made me realize how much I missed the aspect of mural painting in which the client and I collaborated on an idea which was then brought to fruition via my imagination and brush. 

But working from a poem has also inspired me.

Thank you Cindy for the honor of bringing your poem to life in a picture.
May it bring you a bit of peace and joy to look upon it
as it has done me while creating it. 

XO

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Here are the Dolls for my Doll a Month Class:


Miss Valentine was a previous class, but the other 5 sisters are part of 
my 
"Doll a Month Class Series"
which begins this month on April 26th, Starting with
"Miss Mad-Hatress"

May 17th's class is
"Miss Marie"

June 21st is
"Miss Independence"

July 19th is
"Miss Kitty Witch"

and on August 16th is
"Miss Winter Wonderland"

Each class is $90 and held at my Home Studio in Alta Loma, CA.
All supplies are included except for a few tools I will ask you to bring.
You will learn a lot of techniques in this class, including:
Painting, sculpting, hand sewing, construction and 
many tried and true tricks I have developed over my
many years as an artist.

If you took this class before, we are doing these dolls a bit differently
than before.  I created a new process in which I like the outcome much better.

You can sign up for just ONE or all 5 classes.
Classes include a delicious home made lunch, dessert and assorted beverages.
(I have a payment plan so you don't have to pay for all of the classes up front)

Classes are non refundable but they are transferrable.
(If you sign up for one class only, you can transfer)
In the event of an emergency/illness and a student cannot attend, 
I will offer a kit to complete the doll at your leisure.

Won't you join us for a fun series of classes?
You will have a really fun set of dolls to display at the various Holidays or heck,
mine just might stay out all year!

Contact me at Daydreampainter@aol.com