01 September 2015

Creative Ventures

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been in creative mode, since we've moved into the new house. Sometimes, I've even allowed that urge to take precedence over getting things unpacked, organized, put away, etc. Should I be chagrined about that?

Surprisingly (to me, anyway), much of this creativity has come out in paint. I've never been much of a painter, but it seems to be something I do these days. Part of the problem is that I can see what I want something to look like, but I don't have the technique down to get that out of my head and onto whatever it is I'm painting.

Now, I have not been exclusively paint-bound, but it has accounted for the majority of what I've done, lately. I've painted concrete, canvas, fabric, and paper. I'll show you a few of the things. Please pardon the cell-phone pictures. I don't have a good lighting/photography setup in the new house, yet. None of it is great, but there are some bits and pieces that I'm pretty proud of. It'll take some time for me to be proficient enough to do this well, though.
The first two projects were before we moved into the new house. My mom needed her paper towel holder repaired and repainted, which I did, though I didn't take a picture of it. And my aunt was getting rid of a concrete garden frog that she no longer wanted.

I took him off her hands, and took him home. He was just bare concrete, and I didn't take any before or during pictures. Wish I had, now. I had originally used some yellow paint that couldn't stand up to the elements, and it washed off the first time he got wet. I have since redone his belly (much better) with the proper type of paint, and he's clear coated and everything. He lives on my front porch and greets visitors with his big grin.

I was surprised to be invited to join a friend of mine at her painting class, on 6/30. When I got there, I found out that it was watercolor painting, which, elementary school aside, I've not done. I didn't have any supplies with me, or for that matter at all. Except paint brushes. I have tons of cheap paint brushes that I've bought over the years for various craft projects. At the class, my friend handed me some supplies, pointed me toward a stack of "inspiration" pictures, and told me to get started. That was very humorous to me, since I had no clue what I was doing. But, I did as I was told, and wound up with something that, while not great, I'm not too ashamed of.

I think someone said these are plumeria. Is that right?
Not too lousy for a first attempt at a new medium
without any instruction, eh?
I'm continuing to attend the painting group with my friend, and I'm working on quite a few other things at home, too.

Since my handsome husband and I are both nerds, I have been trying to figure out how to add elements of the nerdtastic to our home decor. Our lovely new abode is a 105-year-old stately old lady of a home. I truly want to do her justice, and therefore I am feeling somewhat torn between keeping everything true to her era origins and the reality of the fact that houses change to accommodate the years. Fortunately for me (and her), she feels like the sort of house that morphs into what her family needs her to be. She's not SO Victorian that it seems impudent to do anything non-Victorian. She's not fancy, but she is stately.

Another watercolor attempt. 
Due to the alterations to our budget, both by my layoff and by virtue of the move, I am doing my best to not purchase decor for our house. That leaves me three options. The first is to not decorate, leaving holes for things I can purchase as I budget accordingly. The second is to make do with what I have and pretend that it's fine. The third is to make, preferably with supplies I already have, anything I need to use as decor. Truthfully, I'm doing all three. There are things that I'm leaving holes for, until I have them made or bought. I am making do with what I have (read as "no new furniture or shopping sprees"), though not pretending that it's fine. And I am creating. Oh, so much creating. :)

One of the things I've done lately was to paint a few nerdy items to add to our decor. Still to come on the nerd-front are some needlepoint/embroidery pieces, which feel era-appropriate to me, while still making space for my inner geekdom. Smile.

I have long planned to do a post about fandoms and creativity and how that intersects with faith, specifically Christianity and the Judeo-Christian God. Hold tight on that. I will get to it. It might go on Choosing Holiness instead of here, but I will write it. I am writing it. It's just not finished yet.

My nod to the TARDIS. Attempted
watercolor on canvas. Not great.
Not horrible. 
Anyhoo, we are participants in multiple fandoms, as well as being Christians. Some of them are Firefly/Serenity, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Discworld (me), Star Wars (my husband), Stargate, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, Narnia, Sherlock, etc. So, it's only natural that some of these things creep into our surroundings. They make us smile (and cry and scream and sigh and laugh and stuff...), and they point us back to our infinitely creative God in their own ways.

I have started several projects, not pictured here, and have planned several others in great detail. But these two I did before I learned enough about watercolor to know that I couldn't do them. Well, at least not the way that I went about them. Heh heh. Funny how things get done when you don't know that they can't be done. Now, admittedly, there are things that I could have done to make them turn out better, had I some of the technique information that is now at my disposal, but for creating out of sheer ignorance, I'm not too upset. I will probably either do some more work on or entirely redo the TARDIS picture at some point in the near future. I wasn't thrilled about how the sky under the clouds turned out, and that's one of those technique things that might turn out better if I knew what I was doing.

This little dragon is from the Discworld series (by Sir Terry Pratchett). His name is Errol, and his original artist is Paul Kidby, who is the official artist for Sir Terry's work. My apologies to Mr. Kidby, but I love his artwork and this is one of those "sincerest form of flattery" things. I'm pleased with how this one turned out. Kidby has done some really great Discworld art, and there are many pieces that I'd like to use for practice in developing this skill set. Now all I need to do is some sort of protective clear coat to prevent Errol from being damaged.

I'll prepare some other posts for some of the other projects I've been doing. Right now, my Pinterest boards are burgeoning with ideas for various things, for my home, to develop talents and skills, and to figure out how to make some additional income. (More on the income topic is coming soon, too. See? I told you my brain is bristling with blog post plans...)

Much love,

31 August 2015

Update on Life, August 2015

My intention was to write and publish this post before I went to Realm Makers at the beginning of the month, but clearly that didn't happen. Failing that, I planned to do a post about some of my creative pursuits. Yup. That didn't happen either.

This is how I feel about being free.
Here's the update: I'M FREEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Yaaaahoooohooohoohoo!

Let me esplain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up. (Name that movie. :D )

Have you ever felt that you're so busy doing what you "ought" to do that you don't ever do what you should be doing? For the last decade or so, that feeling has gotten bigger, stronger, and hairier. I have been doing what I ought to do-- working a good job, and all that entails-- that I didn't feel like I was able to adequately do all that I should be doing.

One of the hallmarks of that is the fact that this blog even exists. Even though I don't spend much time writing blog posts, the fact that it is out there, that I can write, makes me feel like there is an outlet for my drive to write. I feel guilty for not posting all the things that rattle around in my head, begging for their own posts.

My job was important for my little niche in that work world, and I did it with excellence (if not always with as much kindness as I should). I worked hard. I worked a lot of hours. I did what was necessary, and without fanfare or appreciation for the most part. I had days that really were awful, but for the most part, I could look at my work and know that I had done it to the absolute best of my ability.

For the last year of my job, I worked in excess of 60 hours, every week. It was hard. I had weeks that my hours gusted into the eighties. It burned me out. I was fried and frazzled.

Nearly a year ago, I discovered, to my great relief, that my job was going away, and I was to be laid off. It was exactly what I needed, at exactly the right time. It has taken me most of the intervening time to heal up from the demands of that position, and particularly that last year. I am almost to the point that I feel human again, whole, able.

Don't get me wrong. I became very good at what I did. There were things about it that I enjoyed, and I learned new skill sets that I will always be able to call on. I consider it a valuable phase of my life, and I am blessed to have had that job. I will always have a fondness for many of the people with whom I was privileged to work, and I hope that they feel the same about me, to some degree.

But, it was a season that is over. And I'm thankful, now, to have had the experience. I'm also very thankful that it is no longer my current season of life.

Since my job ended, I burned off my several months of leave and severance, we sold our home in South Carolina, we moved to Kansas and bought a beautiful old home (see my last post) that I am starting to expand into, and I am learning to be a housewife. While that has always, always been my dream, it did not feel like it would be a possibility for me, for a long time. I'll write another post on that acclimatization process. :)

While settling into this new season of life, I am picking up various creative activities. I feel as though I am full-- nearly bursting-- with creative drive. I'm painting, crafting, sewing, designing, writing, editing, and planning in ways that I have stifled for the better part of a decade. I feel like I am finally able to do some of the things that I *should* be doing-- not just what I "ought" to do.

Welcome to the next season of this life of mine! I am loving this, so far, and I can't wait to share some of the things that are pouring out of me. :)


04 May 2015

New Home!

There's a really good reason it's been so long since I posted. I promise. We recently completed a cross-country move! This is our new house. Isn't she pretty?

The New Home, stay tuned for her new name!
Well, I say completed, but that's a little tongue-in-cheek. Our stuff is now at this beautiful old home. It's in there. It's not organized and settled yet, but it's in there.

In August, we put our home in Greenville, SC on the market, it sold and we moved to Kansas in December. We stayed with my parents until we were able to find, purchase, and close on this lovely home (name announcement coming). In April, we closed, about two months after we had a signed contract, and now we are settling in.

As you might suspect, anything that is over a century old needs some TLC, despite the fact that this particular house is really in great shape. We've done a few minor projects, so far, but mostly just to make our lives easier. We have bigger projects to come, and I will be creating DIY posts for some of them.

The first big organizational project on my list is our home library, which is around 500 books. When we boxed up our old house, I began cataloging them with an app on my phone and tablet, and now I'm working on an organization system to keep track of them all. I can't wait to get it finished and share it here!

One of the (minor) difficulties in our new home is the lack of shelf space, and the lack of wall space for the shelves we brought with us. Thus, the "big" bookshelf, is in our upstairs bedroom (that being one of two spaces in the house that it would fit), and the two smaller ones are downstairs. At some future, unknown point, I hope to build-in some lovely, era-appropriate shelves in some way that will provide an unbroken organizational structure for the collection. Today is not the day, however.

Wish me luck as I figure this out (without the luxury of having the office stuff un-boxed and organized) and haul books up- and down-stairs as appropriate.

I'll say one thing for my gorgeous new two-story house... It's a good workout! (Actually, I have lots of wonderful things to say about it, but that's the only one you're getting for now.)