Sunday, December 27, 2009

Here comes a new decade...

The holidays are often so frenetic and full of angst that when they are over when feels as if there is a hole, a missing something---post Christmas depression…not this year…

This year the holidays were warm and full of friends and family and genuine hugs and lights and tinsel and an old fashioned laid back feeling that I haven’t felt for years.

People hugged genuine hugs, warm loving deep hugs not just that male chest bumps I have come to expect-my sweet dear niece has a way of hugging and I don’t want to let her go I just absorb that youthful clean warm affection that hasn’t had a chance to go bitter yet.

Maybe it’s almost a year of therapy? My mental state is so much better than it was…not fully repaired (can it ever be I wonder) but more appropriate, more grounded and less fragile and all in all I refuse many times to let the anxieties and other assorted BS of mental issues get in my way anymore than they have to.

I continue to crank out the ATCs and other bits of creativity-I have ventured into some interesting areas of making little fat books for people but more and more they are infused with my original first love sketching and pen and inks-I have made the first steps towards selling on Etsy although what I sell there remains to be seen---that will evolve---but will be grounded in my drawings and less digital stuff-I need to go back and come forward again-I need to revisit and re-explore my roots in the arts and see where they are now.

Many years ago someone gave me a lovely leather bound journal and when I opened it the first entry was done for me-she had written a forward to the rest of the book where she explained that by breaking the fearful specter of the first blank white page she had driven back the phantoms of self doubt and the curse of the first entry.
I gave each or my niece and nephews a sketch book and pencils eraser and sharpener and in each book I started the first page with a drawing that was specifically for that person-I also did a comp book where I did the first entry for the recipient…sometimes I don’t think people get it.

There is theatricality to art and artists and a sense of “let’s pretend” I’m sad to say the response to that has been dull and lack luster-almost an embarrassed acknowledgement that perhaps I am a bit too eccentric.

Perhaps I am-I need and want to play-I want to embed a sense of wonder and pretending in things-I love going to wonderland where everything is just a bit off kilter and askew-it’s better there than here.

I would love to know how some crafters are able to turn out their mechanically neat and starched work so professional and tightly finished-I have felt my work is shaggy and a bit haphazard.

While friends reassure me that style is about professionalism and my style is professional at all times I guess I need to compulse less and enjoy the process more-As I have said repeatedly I know when I have done something good because I spend a long time looking at it-what I have been doing lately is taking the good stuff (or at least the pieces in which I am satisfied) and reworking them so they can be sent out for a variety of swaps and themes-something I have never heretofore done.

Originality being important to me I always employ a new idea when I begin to design but the sluggish responses and half hearted offerings I have received from some swap partners make me less enthusiastic about putting time into what I send out.

With all these disappointments and presuppositions I will have to evaluate my feelings and get past them because I also receive things that are close to miraculous, often generous and frequently pleasing and heartfelt (both work and comments/critiques).

ART, Design, all the things we do are exhausting to the system and while they lift us up they can also leave us gasping for air and out of creative breath when they come in too large a group of waves.

I think I need to prove my vitality to myself and I took on far too many swaps and projects so I ignored the learning curve and just jumped in everywhere at once and turned out huge masses of work.

I will pull back from that a bit this year.

This evening I snuggled down and watched JULIA and JULIE on pay per view-a delightful journey and full of wonderful performances-I’m sure Meryl Streep will be nominated but I wonder if the subtle and intricate range of emotions and moods evidence by Stanley Tucci as Julia Child’s husband will get an Oscar nod and the same goes for Amy Adams and the fellow who plays her husband-subtle wonderful naturalistic styles played against the bigger than life canvas portrayed on Meryl Streep’s side of the picture-the entire thing was charming and satisfying.

So now to get past New Years eve-I detest New Years activities and usually hide out-it has been my tradition for many years to find some really fine cinnamon rolls and along with a pot of well brewed coffee I sit alone and rip apart the Rose Parade designs-this year I can do it in 40inch 1081 120hz High Def-probably with a Bob’s Flower Garden candle from TRAPP adding the smell o’Vision aspect to the event.
I hope all of you have a rich, fill healthy 2010-here we are a full decade into this new century isn’t that remarkable?

And may each of us find a connection with our creativity that is new and fresh and resparks the passion that drives our creativity…

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

Frosted windowpanes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candy canes on the tree
Santa's on his way
He's filled his sleigh with things
Things for you and me

It's that time of year
When the world falls in love
Ev'ry song you hear seems to say
Merry Christmas
May your New Year dreams come true
And this song of mine
In three-quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing too

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SPARKLE

Christmas and the holiday design trends this year are really fascinating…

The colours of apple green, fire engine red, turquoise, lime and coral were everywhere.

There wasn’t nearly enough sparkle for me-luckily I had stowed away enough glitter, bugle beads and tinsel from last year to make sure that everything I touched ended up with micro glitter fallout and that’s what I love…

If I could get away with it I would be covered with micro fine glitter all the year through-always sparkly and magical-it comes in every colour…

Year ago I horrified people when I glittered a sopranos lips brilliant red for TALES OF HOFFMAN and another singers eyelids like peacock feathers—now that would be tame and ho hum.

Levels of taste come and go.

In the early 60s I used to roll coloured tissue paper into small cones and then I would cover cardboard circles with them points outward till the entire pieces was sort of a prickly wreath in interesting colours and with a dusting of icy sparkle-I also made matching cone trees in various sizes…it was considered very avant garde.

I stripped my Mothers Maria Theresa chandelier of its crystals and replaced them with glass icicles of assorted lengths-it was stunning but people didn’t get it.

I took white sprayed and icy glittered tumble weeds and wrapped them lightly in tulle and tiny white lights and sparkly glittered black Styrofoam “coal” and made fantastic snowmen but people didn’t get that either…

Luckily my family allowed me to be eccentric and now that I’m on my own I don’t have to apologize to anyone for the hot pink lights and Christmas tree in the bathroom or the vintage style aged tinsel decorations I have come to love-enough glitter mixed with loose bugle beads and packed onto almost anything makes an incredible sparkle---

In my world that sparkle needs to be made by reflected light not direct harsh spots.
There is something wonderful about frost covered lawns in the reflected glow of streetlights in the dark, ice crystals on bare branches-decorations in store windows that still sparkle long after the shoppe is closed.

That soft crazy explosion of tiny bits of light I find immensely appealing.
I loved the first year I was at Disneyland when I could walk out of the park late late at night when it was silent and misty and not all of the lights were on…that’s magic…

I can be mesmerized by the way light hits and reflects off shiny things or how a sparkly thing will insist on sparkling even when there is barely enough light to catch and reflect.

Maybe it comes from those days of standing in the wings as quiet ghosts rushed by onto the stage in costumes that glittered and gleamed even in the dark…

Sparkle is considered GAUCHE, tacky, loud, and cheap even tasteless by some…surprises me…it’s like suppressing the child inside…nature sparkles quite often especially in winter…

The haughty sit sedately in their tasteful homes with three matte finish chalk reindeer on the mantle and a few good Lennox or Swarovski ornaments allowed to shine quietly in the soft yellow white light of Christmas bulbs on a dimmer…their packages not in a ferocious jumble arrayed in foils and ribbons, here they are crisply wrapped in plain colours and with soft satin ribbons or airy tulle bows, perhaps a sprig of pine.

One year not so long ago I wrapped my packaged in chipboard brown boxes with bows of white and ivory tulle dusted with clear microfine glitter and held under the bow a single large glittered swan feather-also white…as if a guardian angel had happened past and plucked one feather from their wing as a remembrance of the occasion.

I put them sedately beneath a tree decorated with things from the sea…shells and starfish some real some glass all in colours of soap bubbles, turquoise, lavender, greens and pinks…all sparkly, softly reflectively sparkly lit by pastel coloured lights.

In my sage green, ivory and black living room with a touch of chinoisserie I thought it was quite the most tasteful Christmas display I had ever seen.

A friend who visited commented, “Well wouldn’t you know you’d find a way to be theatrical and over the top!”

I was crushed; I thought I had achieved that sedate Martha Stewart elegance that meant one has the sense to know the difference between beauty and crassness.

It took me awhile to understand that we who art live in a time warp-ahead of the trends, making the trends, leading the way…

I never again worried about what someone else might think-that one years I wrapped my gifts in Mardi Gras Colours and another years in black with pearls…My Christmas trees have been everything from insane to traditional red and green but never dull or boring and I surround myself with textures and colours and shapes that I find comforting-I am just as likely to leave a set of vintage village paper houses in their box or a package of tinsel unopened as to discard an element of the totality of its design because it’s eccentric to do so…

I like what I see and that’s what I want about me at Christmas.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wrong if you want all yellow ornaments on your tree or you made a manger scene out of plush toys…if it’s what you see encourage your vision into reality and to hell what someone else thinks.

I love to come home this year to my house with just a few precious objects scattered here and there that sparkle seductively in the reflected light of the far too many twinkle lights I have draped across the front of my small apartment-I love the difference between the way microfine glitter, glass glitter and rhinestones sparkle and how that variance of sparkle makes a texture that says Christmas to me.

The song goes, “It’s that time of year when the world falls in love…” and I do fall in love with the sights and smells and colours of the holidays be they stodgy and sedate or gaudy and bright-it’s all beautiful to me but given the choice I’ll take it all in a dim light, reflected from twinkling lights in the dark, catching the light in a subtle way like microscopic fireflies swarming on diverse surfaces.

I think it’s because in the real world it’s the closest thing you can get to living a memory.

May your days be Merry and bright…but May the best part of Christmas be the nights…

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thoughts at 3 am

I feel like, in many ways, I burned brightly but have now burned out when it comes to the digital art I have been doing.

I need to clean up my supplies, reevaluate the keeps and the recycles and start anew next year with a different perspective on the way I approach the engineering of my images.

I have good, interesting if quirky ideas- I like the swaps that challenge me to do a single striking piece that will speak to someone immediately-on the other hand I now need to start looking at making money and that will never be possible from ATCs but perhaps they can overlap with other art I make like my pen and inks.

I’m going to try it anyway.

Etsy seems to be a place where things sell out quickly if people can find them-interesting to explore and see what happens.

I MUST create-I must be creative-my calm and focus depends on it.

Sanity is overrated but on the other hand there is a nice warm centered feeling to being a bit relaxed and with goals and achievements dangling out there before you.

Simply an atypical use of colour can make me very happy, what I need to do next is not work it to death and get stuck trying to recreate the success again and again in the same way.

Variance is also important-Variety, new, fresh, unplowed fields and uncluttered unfamiliar landscapes awaiting the decorative aspects of imagination.

See it in the mind create it in reality-even electronic reality.

It’s a birthing that cannot be ignored once embraced.

On the other hand there is a grounded familiarity to taking up a pen and meticulously putting your ideas into a drawing that there is one of-an original that is only alterable after it is scanned into the computer world-and in that mixture of milieus I have had a good time making a mix of the real and the real-the original and the mixture of harvested and altered.

So wither I goest now?

Remains to be seen I suppose where I will land next in my lifetime of finding and seeking the next method of my expression.

There is still sculpture out there hovering-but I really don’t want to invest in more stuff…

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sisters of Mercy


I want to share this piece of work with you-It’s not particularly original-I got the idea elsewhere and just put my own tweek on it…

The images are mostly from a digital ephemera pack I purchased…

The reason I’m showing it here is that my work has become stale…

I was looking at early things and then at some recent things and I see that I have a set of composition styles and ideas that were interesting and then became molds into which I fit other images.

I pride myself on originality and occasionally I do something that I really like-I know when it happens because I spend a great deal of time looking at the finished product and enjoying it.

I have been looking at other ATCs and noticed that there isn’t a lot new or fresh or exciting-a lot of the work going around is getting stale and everyone looks like everyone else…

I don’t want to pick on anyone but take STAMPIN UP for instance…nice company, good products but it seems (at least from the UTUBE demos) that they are appealing to a group that is already challenged by insecurity and saying. “COPY THIS and feel better about yourself”.

I suppose that’s ok but where is the challenge and the impetus to move forward in the “copy it” school of thinking?

Most companies will say it’s a starting out point and by copying you learn (see the Renaissance art studio movement) and as you learn you will begin to experiment and move off in your own direction.

People who are frightened, insecure and feel “less than” aren’t known for their great interest in setting out into the unknown wilderness of creating armed with nothing but a collection of copies and some rubber stamps.

CRICUT (Provo Craft) is another TOOL that costs a great deal of money and does the work for you so you can layer together bits and bobs and come up with something that ultimately looks like everyone else’s.

HOWEVER-in defense of Provo Craft: They have gone an extra step and designed an ART STUDIO software program that claims you can design your own things and encourages you to explore the wonderful world of design (read: Photoshop for Crafters) – if it’s true I like it and say BRAVO Provo!!!

TIME seems to be a huge issue with people who want to craft-they haven’t any.
Maybe they just would rather watch “Dancing With The Stars” or “30 Rock” and do the paper crafts later?

I am one of those people who has HEARD a million movies but actually has seen very few-the Telly keeps me company-sometimes the radio-I listen to the Talk stations but mostly I work on my stuff-stale though it may be.

Also, as many who know me will attest I am often horrified to find that I started a project at noon and suddenly the sun is coming up on a new day and I have forgotten to eat or sleep and everything is cover with confetti and snippets and bits but I have 100 ATCs done and in their envelopes.

PASSION? DRIVEN? CRAZY?

Probably to all three-I do have a one mindedness when it comes to ARTISH things and I will ignore pain and growling stomach in the quest to finish.

Maybe therein lays my problem…

I am the same about video games.

I love those find the hidden object solve the puzzle and the mystery epics but once I start them I have to finish them (same with a good book-page one to the end in one sitting). Crossword Puzzles…

Maybe it’s all a puzzle that requires finishing and anything with pieces that must go together and end up neatly wrapped at the finish is in the same drawer high up in the great file cabinet of my brain?

There is something about this that feels correct…I may have done my own therapy.
So that would also explain WHY some people are slow to finish-it isn’t a game or a quest or a driving force with them-they actually enjoy the process and want to linger over it OR their fear of the process puts the obstacles in their path to send them away from finishing and off to do the laundry or the whatever instead.

I also am not responsible for any living thing but me-not cats, gerbils, fish or children---the latter being the most time consuming although they are often easier to entertain than CATS.

HUSBANDS, like children, also require a certain amount of one’s time…and are decidedly harder to entertain than children since they find crayons and Barbies insulting.

They often don’t know what it is they want (other than attention) but they want you to figure it out for them instead of having such a good time doing whatever it is you are after with the papers, inks and glues.

When I was teaching I actually had a husband tell me (in a menacing manner) that he HATED me because I had convinced his wife that she needed some time to work on her ART and she would rather do THAT than have SEX with him.

WELL DUH…???

A couple of hours making something pretty or 11 minutes of wonderful you?

Do the math…

Perhaps SIR, if you were to glitter yourself (after bathing) and gargled with something spicy and potpourri like? Then hide a craft store gift card somewhere on your person (don’t be crude) and play find the treasure (clean sheets, scented candles and preferably NOT at the end of an exhausting day considered).

Men, alas, seldom are this creative which is why I suggest finding them a hobby and preferably one that doesn’t cost as much as GOLF doesn’t include BEER and has no component named LOLA or TIFFANY )or GEORGE for that matter).

But I digress as I always do-I am told my brain is wired more like a woman than a man and to exist in such a state is not an easy thing…I have no intention of rewiring I assure you-since I like women better than men in most cases I am happy to share some degree of thinking like and understanding them.

ANYWAY back up above there I said I wanted to share the ATC with you not because it was so original but because of the words-my old pal Leonard Cohen…

“I’ve been where you’re hanging I think I can see how you’re pinned, when you’re not feeling holy your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.”

Be VERY kind to yourself and if no one else will GIVE you time then you MUST take it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Have yourself a MERRY...

What a trying few weeks it’s been…back problems, tooth problems, just one thing after another…

I’ve managed to keep up with my ATC production and have one or two more projects to take care of before I’m done for the year.

Wish I felt a little better.

I feel like Christmas this year, a different kind of holiday drive than I have had in the past-I am not driven to go shop and spend money, more an enjoyment of the lights and the decorations and just the feeling of the season.

I missed Thanksgiving altogether-heating pad and I spent the day trying to quell the spasm in my back.

I hate missing TURKEY and all the Thanksgiving stuff.

For a number of years my tradition had become going to the buffet at the CASTAWAY (or the Odyssey) either of which overlook the valley and are lovely at the holidays.
I always scheduled my reservations so I would be there for the pearly part of the afternoon as evening drops down misty and soft and the lights twinkle on in the homes below…pretty, tranquil and comforting.

Full and miserable I would then drive to Griffith Park for the city light show which is a couple miles of Los Angeles landmarks and holiday icons done in Christmas lights and sponsored by the department of water and power.

Always a nice way to kick off the holidays-CD in the player with some nice Christmas tunes and way too much food trying to digest but a familiar and luxurious discomfort.

For quite a few years after my Mother became ill the holidays just became a jumble-some Christmases I spent alone with her across the yard not feeling well and I couldn’t leave her alone and go off and have a good time-so I would just sulk out the day feeling sad and alone.

The new improved me would have made other arrangements.

I have come to understand how MUCH (too much) we are forced to shoulder because of guilt.

I hope I have moved right on past the period in my life-I intend to live and enjoy the things I love, conversations and friends and being where I want to be and when I want to be there not because I HAVE to but because I WANT to.

I have learned this year that we must never assume our bridges are built and secure-we must always be building new bridges, new connections with others who share in a positive and nurturing way our values and feelings.

People do not always score 100% on our click meter but there are a huge number who do better than 60% is we allow them.

Long back I ran my life by a view of what things “COST” me-no monetarily but in other ways.

Somehow when we are younger political views and social values are so much more important in the people that you hang with.

As we get older it seems to me that it is so much more important to have people who share our interests in daily life-art, crafts, books, films, TV, whatever little stuff and giggles we get that make life like the best frosting in the world-the cake is assumed and holds up the rest but I loves me some good frosting.

“People frosting” isn’t fattening, doesn’t clog your arteries, seldom has to be beaten or whipped and is just the yummiest thing when it flows on smoothly and challenges you in ways that are good and electric.

There are those bakeries that mix Crisco and powdered sugar and call it Frosting and then there are the real buttery, heavy cream and good vanilla bakeries that are worth going out of your way for.

That where I live today in the buttery, yummy world of good frosting and if I find that there’s Crisco added-well I have the right to chose how often I patronize that product-sneaking in artificial vanilla makes it worse…

I am so tired of negativity…we all have negative things and it used to be a part of my DRAMA BUBBLE-negativity is a prime component of DRAMA-think about it…

I find myself running from DRAMA and Negativity more and more-I don’t believe it’s unavoidable-sometimes it just has to be stared down or quelled I’m talking about the “somebody else’s crap that they are loving to share with any and everyone” kind of Drama and negativity-that’s the mess I just can’t be around anymore.

I am or have been for most all of my life a FIXER-I need to help people fix things even at my own detriment.

What I learned is you can’t fix anyone but yourself-so I am now a voice of reason and opinion-here’s how I would do it and take it or ignore it but that’s the extent to which I care to play.

This is probably the biggest lesson I have learned since I discovered that one can say “NO” and you probably won’t lose a true friend…

So FAH LA LAH LALA I am off to enjoy the holiday-I doubt that anyone will be able to coax me out for New Years eve-since I don’t get drunk its always obnoxious to be the sober one in a room of people who will end up caressing the toilet bowl during the Rose Parade while I will be having hot cinnamon rolls and critiquing Raul Rodriguez’s newest reimagining of the same overdone crap he’s been doing for years…and feeling so superior in the process (It’s the PROJECT RUNWAY of Holiday events).

I hope you have a wonderful whatever it is that you celebrate this year…I hope your holidays sparkle like microfine glitter in halogen lights, I hope every light twinkles just for you, I hope there is good food and elegance and your own special sinful delights (I had me a JACK IN THE BOX eggnog shake the other day-yummy)…

Tuesday I am going to the North Woods Inn with my little neighbors who come in from Minnesota for the winter-I love the NWI at the holidays-it’s just Christmas with filet mignon and cheesy bread and yummy stuff; old fashioned and about as PC as Donna Reed…

May Angel’s Music fill your dreams
And keep you through the night
May magic, love and mystery
Be seen in every light
May chocolate clouds and sugar puff snow
Be the worst of the weather you see
And may this year be the one you’ve wanted
These wishes are your gift from me


All my love goes out to you my dears and darlings and health, happiness and all things beautiful in 2010.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We hold these TRUTHS...ART in the revolution


I realized that writing on the walls…our personal graffiti as bloggers, the words that are extensions of our hearts and minds as artists bears weight in the lives of others…

When I started blogging it was to put out my message that insecurity is a widespread disease and no one is alone in their personal voyage of “am I good enough?”…

The progression of what I write and how it is written has a direct correlation to what I am producing as an artist…blogging and art are connected and perhaps are collectively an art form…electronic journaling…

Concepts assail me constantly…I am fascinated by the intricate connections that concepts create-I may be becoming a conceptual artist creating a body of work that is creating a body of work ad infinitum.

We, the collective sense of the word, we as people, artists, creative entities, all the complex things we are, we…have built so many bridges in the time of our generations…now we must decorate them…

We are obligated to (conceptually) paint the signs and begat illustrative diagramming to lead the way across those bridges and assure the generations to come that our foundations for them are firm, secure and everlasting.

As I have repeatedly postulated HATE is FEAR…fear is lack of education…people are encouraged to fear and thus supported in our feelings of hate.

If we are busy hating each other or hating concepts that we don’t understand we are divided and being divided keeps us weak.

We congratulated ourselves for escaping the Orwellian future that had been predicted for mankind.

I present to you that we are firmly enmeshed in exactly that 1984 scenario as phantom threats and menaces fill the news, VIRAL has become a word that fills our senses applied to our bodies, minds and concepts.

We fear viruses-diseases of our physiologies and our computers but applaud the viral video that rearranges our thinking and quickly spreads a concept that might otherwise go unnoticed…

Do you see how VIRAL has become” thinkspeak”?

It’s a good - bad -scary –friendly-everything and nothing sort of conundrum…how many other similar concepts infect our daily lives?

If it is good or bad, right or wrong, liberal or conservative it matters little because the spin masters have our attention and have convinced us that we are thinking on our own when we think collectively.

RUSH LIMBAUGH is paid millions of dollars a year to do exactly what TOKYO ROSE was indicted for as a war criminal-disseminate propaganda.

Being a “DITTO HEAD” is a good thing in the world of the Limbaugh conservative; we are on the eve of a new war and it terrifies me:

We are about to fight a constitutional defense of the rights of people under the FIRST AMMENDMENT to have the right to LIE and call it news…

FOX NEWS along with others like Limbaugh and O’Reilly twist and turn and tweak anything and everything they disagree with in the world they inhabit and put it out to the HATE/FEAR Ditto Heads who hang on every word and meet the other DITTO HEADS to share and stoke the fires of ignorance never once stopping to consider that what they are swallowing whole may be PROPAGANDA.

If you haven’t read 1984 you may want to pick up a copy and really read it before it’s gone forever.

ARTISTS, an inclusive term for visual, theatrical, literary and all other creative minds that produce original thoughts and images are in imminent DANGER!

Free thinkers have never done well in totalitarian worlds.

I am still aghast that we live in a world where there are people who deny the holocaust and moreover make it something about JEWS…ignoring the deaths of Gay people, gypsies, intellectual free thinkers and the physically/mentally imperfect as defined by the Third Reich…many artists of all persuasions were included in that holocaust.

There is a documentary about a school class who does a symbolic art piece about the holocaust using paper clips to represent people…in doing so they had been concentrating on religious persecution but suddenly they (collectively) realized that they were ignoring thousands of other lives that had been extinguished and had no voice…it is a touching and deeply important realization and I encourage you to find and watch this documentary called PAPER CLIPS.

“Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee is the setting for this documentary about an extraordinary experiment in Holocaust education. Struggling to grasp the concept of 6 million Holocaust victims, the students decide to collect 6 million paper clips to better understand the enormity of the calamity. The film details how the students met Holocaust survivors from around the world and how the experience transformed them and their community.”

ART built a bridge and decorated it, added signage and did all the things that being an ARTIST and creating ART demands of us.

I find that often I am troubled by thoughts such as these in the dark, cold middle of the night when I stop the racing of my mind and seek comfort in sleep, try to slow down and rest…rest often doesn’t come instead I examine my concepts or a thought bears fruit and what comes out is a painting in words (to the best of my ability) seeking to share my concerns and quandaries before they are lost in the stuff of living.

I thought my days of being a soldier for the betterment of civilization were over; retired with my tie dyed t shirts and peace signs in exchange for a more dignified intellectual sharing of my deepest thoughts and a more elegant and complex representation of my minds images via my art.

I find I may have been wrong…because ANGER is an active part of daily life for me as I hear people spew forth MEGA DITTOS to the like of Rush Limbaugh, Dark Lord of Think Speak…

We dare not ignore them, that would be exactly the road taken by people in the early days of the Nazi rise to power, we must be vigilant, active, we must even risk being considered revolutionary.

We live in a world where the profits of oil companies are more important than the rights of individuals, where the lies of a few are protected by the laws we made to protect the truths of many and where the basic concept that separates CHURCH and STATE which the designers of our constitution knew was of tantamount import to the success of this country and ultimately the world is being ignored; allowing 7% of the population to dictate their radical beliefs to the majority of the population.

As in times past it now falls to the ARTISTS to pick up the banners and amidst the creation of things beautiful and soul stirring we are obligated to use our abilities to also remind the DITTO HEADS that there are many who do not revel in the false security of lemmings running in packs toward their own doom.

Whatever we believe in our truths are based on our individual thoughts and concepts NOT a consensus of opinions dictated to us by others.

Whatever we create as artists speaks of our personal beliefs and visions not the dictates of society.

Friday, November 13, 2009

And NOW a RANT...


Did you ever notice that ART and Drama are both in the same department at most schools?

It seems that ART breeds DRAMA and frankly, to quote Noel Coward, I am Weary of it all.

Somehow it seems to me that the people who are drawn to ART are also drawn to the personality types that love to create chaos, snipe at each other and finally crash and burn in a mess that has to be untangled like the Gordian knot…

I may be being a bit too obtuse for some-people in art love DRAMA…

For a group with damaged egos and low self esteem it seems all too easy for the big emotional scenes to start in the first act and continue on and on without respite all the way to the not so final curtain…seems most of these tragedies feature an Olio where things go round again and end up where we started OR with the wounded and bloody exit stage right of one or more of the players.

BORING!

One says this and another disagrees or takes offense and off we go…

BORING!

The thing I dislike most about communicating via email and blog posts and forum quips, twitters and squeaks is we are communicating but not conversing and there is no inflection, no facial expression, nothing human to be read and digested to catch the subtleties inherent in the turn of a phrase.

OMG! Is like aloha it can mean everything and anything depending on where it lays in the sentence or fragment of a sentence twitted in some text message.

We need to drag ourselves out of the safety of our 2 dimensional virtual words rampant with state of the art graphics technology into the good old world of sweaty palms and nervous giggles where someone might have garlic breath but at least we hear them speak and see their expression and don’t EVEN talk to me about the stilted video conferencing stuff that passes for interaction-not the same, never will be…people need to touch, experience and interact in ways other than via the internet.

Don’t misunderstand, I am daily grateful for the wonders of email and face book-it does keep me connected and cognoscente of what’s going on where and with whom-on the other hand I pay for extended phone service so I could put someone on speaker phone and chat away all day as if we were in the same room so why TYPE it?

I am a dreadful typist and only in a world where spell checkers reign can my punch and peck versions of communication be deciphered…at least without some degree of annoyance.

This rant comes to you sponsored by someone who decided to be BITCHY in the worst sense…and though I agreed to disagree they made it into one of the more spectacular of the Punic Wars and damaged many relationships in the process.

This then would be the DRAMA part that I began this entire diatribe with.
WHY?

I suspect because I am a male is a sea of estrogen, one tiny drop of testosterone fighting to exist in a world where everyone is referred to as “LADIES”.

Occasionally someone will say Ladies AND Rick but often enough it is a matter of who cares what HE thinks or feels we didn’t invite him in the first place.

I have been fortunate to be in the privy council of many women…and the only male within that thin and heady air that floats within those sacred chambers…NORMAL males can’t or won’t breathe there but I who knows a peplum from a dolman sleeve am allowed on my best behavior to be included.

I have actually been welcomed and courted on occasion to join in and be one of the girls.

A friend from high school says I was (in many ways) her best girlfriend…meaning there was a relationship there that defied the sexes and achieved the intimacy that two women might have as chums.

It is quite an honor to be thus described though I wonder how many men would actually acknowledge such accolades.

I, who prefer the company of women, have no problem with it-you can feel free to discuss virtually anything from feminine hygiene to how miserable men are in front of me and I will be fascinated and probably conversant with the topic.

I agree, most men ARE pigs-however, that does not automatically put the swine mark on ME because I have male plumbing…nor do I have Vagina envy-I do not now nor do I ever want to be a woman or give birth and urination in the standing position is overrated-I actually often sit.

Having balls is not fun-ask anyone who has had a sweaty day in mid-august while wearing too tight jeans and having rumpled jockey shorts (see JOCK ITCH) or fed the apparatus down one leg and forgetting where they were swung there leg over a picket fence in an oh so masculine gesture only to have said picket collide with the sensitive bits (see KNEE TO GROIN).

Internal genitalia are decidedly superior the odd yeast infection aside.

A lady friend tried to explain to me once how it felt to itch behind her belly button due to said yeast infection-this to a man is exactly like trying to explain how to see out of our elbow-it can’t be done---as you probably know when it itches we generally scratch it.

Just a short bit here about Lesbians...

I totally understand the lipstick Lesbian, this makes sense to me, women are beautiful creatures meant to be fleshy and pink, Rubenesque in my world is a good thing.

What I don’t understand is the bad Wayne Newton impersonation that some women do in the quest to be BUTCH.

This is less prevalent now since the double knit leisure suit has, thankfully, gone the way of bell bottoms but there is an equivalent version that takes all the worst parts of maleness and distills them into the scratching flatulent, belching caricature of a man that is exactly like a bad drag queen amongst males.

It goes too far---when you are wonderful by virtue of being female, lavish yourself in things I cannot.

I have said for some time that the divine superpower was very smart to have not made me either female or a drag queen (although I did once go to a costume ball as Madame Pompadour).

If I had been female I would have probably been a hooker and as a drag queen I would have been just too much of everything and would have achieved whatever the male version of the Wayne Newton Lesbian is---one endless Judy/Bette impersonation with an occasional nod to Liza or Tina.

Now how did I get here from where I was?

OH I was defending myself for being male in what is traditionally a female enclave…
Having done that let me say that those who know me-and know me well-also know that I am the kind, nurturing pussycat that my Mother made me.

She bragged throughout her life that she had managed to raise a gentleman in a world of cannibals.

I was also raised to avoid drama.

Somehow I seem too often to wind up in the sphere of drama where I found myself recently and I do feel somewhat victimized by it…interesting because I have had enough therapy to take responsibility and not be the victim in most cases.

I don’t think I had much choice in the genes and chromosomes business although a past life reader or two have told me that I am after nine or ten incarnations as a woman playing male for a change and being forced to learn to deal with males from a male perspective---karma and all that stuff.

My sensibilities are somewhat more feminine than masculine-I am and always have been modest and avoided public nudity…have to rethink that hooker reference up above there.

Anyway all I am saying is please stop if you are able encouraging those who think that life is not worth living without some random drama occurring about them---often too many random dramas and often self induced or abetted.

I am weary of it but I love the ART stuff but not so much with the boys…ART males have egos the size of Alaska and are too often ham handed swaggering things enswathed in cigarette smoke…no me gusta!

I just want to go to lunch, do a little shopping and enjoy my girlfriends without having to apologize for intruding to someone who finds my presence offensive by virtue of my glands.

I don’t think that is too much to ask considering my contributions to the support of the feminist movement...not to mention how much I genuinely enjoy my female friends
who have all too often put up with my brand of bitchiness with good humor.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Controversial musings...PART 2


Kiss today goodbye,
the sweetness and the sorrow.
Wish me luck, the same to you.
But I can't regret
what I did for love, what I did for love.

Look my eyes are dry.
The gift was ours to borrow.
It's as if we always knew,
and I won't forget what I did for love,
what I did for love.

Gone,
Love is never gone.
As we travel on,
Love's what we'll remember.

Kiss today goodbye,
and point me t'ward tomorrow.
We did what we had to do.
Won't forget, can't regret
what I did for
Love


I have come to that point in life where more people are leaving than arriving…
Seems every day I hear about someone losing a loved one, a spouse, and a partner…so sad.

Where is he? Why’d he gone so soon?
Now there ain't no way that it used to be, what now?
And everybody keeps telling me
There are may be a lot of things I miss
A lot of things I don't know
But I do know this now...
I ain't got no love
and once upon a time I had a true love.


We immortalize our sorrow in songs…in the words of songs…

Life is a book that we study.
Some of its leaves bring a sigh.
There it was written, my Buddy,
that we must part, you and I...

Nights are long since you went away.
I think about you all through the day,
my buddy, my buddy,
Nobody (or "no buddy") quite so true.
Miss your voice, the touch of your hand-
Just long to know that you understand,
My buddy, my buddy,
Your buddy misses you.

Buddies through all of the gay days.
Buddies when something went wrong.
I wait alone through the gray days,
missing your smile and your song...

Nights are long since you went away.
I think about you all through the day
My buddy, my buddy,
No Buddy quite so true.
Miss your voice, the touch of your hand-
Just long to know that you understand,
My buddy, my buddy,
Your buddy misses you.


“My Buddy” is a song for today that was written by Harry James in 1939.

We all join in and mourn when a woman loses her husband or a mother loses her child but what about all those lonely people women who have lost the love of their life who was also a woman?

What about a man who loses his life partner of 30 something years who just happened to be another man.

Those relationships often are mourned by a few and the one who remains then carries on alone.

It seems to me it’s time now to acknowledge that LOVE is good for everybody and no matter what form that love takes it should be in balance with any lasting relationship.

What about the woman who has been with the same man for many years but never married?
You hear people say, “Well you know they were never married?”

Diminished…that lack of paper and ring has diminished the relationship to something that is less than, beneath, not up to socially acceptable behavior, but there will be support for her…some close to her anyway.

It seems there is much concern that allowing marriage that is anything BUT a man and a woman will somehow weaken the FAMILY…to me it seems that the definition of family is a bit Norman Rockwell for this new century…a little stuffy and dated.

Marriages don’t hold together like they used to, families can have one parent or three, the old die has worn out and broken already and Gay marriage had nothing to do with it.

There is amongst a younger generation the feeling that names, labels and epithets are archaic things best left behind and forgotten; sexuality is more diverse and a wider range of variables are acceptable.

Still that fear masked by hate prevails in our society and that strident voice is the one we hear as the Limbaughs of the world drone on…spewing forth hate and malice in a steady stream.

Those who hate/fear so deeply use the Bible and religion as their ruler but in a country where church and state are separated how can this happen?

Then they make it a civil matter and pass laws that defy the constitutional rights of people to find happiness based on what?

I live in a conservative part of the state of California and I must tell you that MANY of the husbands here are cheating on their wives…not with other women but with other men.

If you know where to look it is almost an epidemic of bisexuality…trust me it’s not just here it’s wider spread than that I mention the area I live in because for many years this has been the land of family values and right wing morality, big flashy churches and loud right wing voices.

Funny isn’t it what a fuss was made over Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes but how quickly they try and staunch the news when one of the right wing side gets caught in something really seedy like that fellow and his men’s room tapping foot or some congressman is caught with any human underage…or a hooker…though professional sex workers seem to be more the prevue of Evangelists at least those who haven’t been experimenting with Gay sex amongst their staff.

At the bottom of all this I am dumbfounded how fascinated so many are with the sexual machinations of the “celebrities” of our age---the constant is he or isn’t he speculations about male stars and the less than ladylike actions of some of Hollywood’s younger female notables.

But don’t you find it interesting that Ellen is less ostracized and lives an easier life as an out gay woman than most of the gay males---she did OPRAH and included an interview with her wife.

Does it mean that change is coming slowly but is on its way none the less or are we reliving the roaring and tolerant early part of the last century to be followed by a puritanical reversion to clean cut American values.

I have no answer-some of the questioning is rhetorical anyway.

Miss your voice, the touch of your hand-
Just long to know that you understand,
My buddy, my buddy,
Your buddy misses you.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Controversial Musings...

Why is it that we tend to react from FEAR first instead of from curiosity or love?

So many angry people, demonstrating hate that barely masks their terror-it’s tragic.

No one understands separation of church and state anymore---it’s all mixed up in personal vendettas and political correctness and I don’t know what else…

ABORTION…now there’s a topic!

I myself could not abort a litter of kittens-well, especially kittens---something ickier---a litter of wart hogs…

I think it’s a shame there has to be abortion in an age of birth control being so readily available.

I think once is a mistake, twice is shame on you and after than its just stupidity as one becomes an abortion junkie.

All that said-IT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS and I am violently pro-choice.

Well, now wait, it IS my business because I don’t think tax dollars should be paying for abortions I think private foundations should do that and after the OOPS one there needs to be some serious counseling.

It is also my business to be an advocate for women’s rights to do what they need to do as a woman because I don’t have to carry an unwanted child, go through childbirth and all that stuff…I don’t’ want to go back to the D and C 50’s and make abortions into a back alley money machine that is dangerous and smarmy.

What if every time a woman was denied an abortion they also were obliged to disclose the father of the kid and then HE had to have a vasectomy?

What if the anti-abortion people were the ones that had to take care of all those unwanted, abused, neglected children, many living in poverty, some born drug addicted and the pro-choice folks were excused?

It starts to get ugly and complicated doesn’t it?

I can’t imagine what a woman goes through when she decides to terminate a pregnancy.

You see these people who are reunited after years of separation, finding their children that they gave away…the emotions are intense but then what happens when the fire dies down?

A woman who has terminated a pregnancy can never reunite with that pregnancy…it’s just over.

This entry is all because someone challenged me when I said that the Male/Father should have no rights in the woman’s decision to abort…I think there should be input especially if the couple is married and of course this assumes that he isn’t cheating, beating her up on the side, mentally abusing her…so many variables…and what if they KNOW the child will be born to suffer? Genetic problems…

AGAIN I couldn’t do it…it takes a brave soul, a strong soul, resolute dedication to a plan to go and say, “I can’t go through with this.”

I have no clue in those dark tortured hours of the soul what follows that so final an act…

ANGER, murder, terrorist acts, intimidation all these words are common to both sides of this issue-JEEZ a guy just shot a doctor inside his CHURCH---makes THOU SHALT NOT KILL a real double edged sword doesn’t it.

“Onward Christian Soldiers marching as to WAR…”

So many horrible things have been done in the name of religion…the auto de Fe, the inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the crusades…

Do you even have a clue how much ART, writing and culture has been burned or destroyed, suppressed in the name of religion?

In 2009, this year, a minister burned books on Halloween including any copy of the Bible AFTER the King James Version.

What part of WRONG do they not understand?

When did God stop speaking to them, seems like he didn’t just go to sleep after the dark ages nor do I think he enjoyed the bonfires…Faggots were for burning…why torture and kill your earthly self to wash men of sin and then go on torturing and killing men because of the way they thought?

A selfish. angry and vengeful omnipotent super being---way too scary.

I thought GOD is/was LOVE.

Love the sinner hate the sin? Where is the forgiveness in that?

Love one another as I have loved you…that I understand…unconditional love.

I couldn’t abort a litter of Cobras but I could drive someone to a place to have it done, I could understand why they had to do it and I wouldn’t think less of them afterwards---so long as they didn’t make a habit of it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lonely in a CROWD

I have been absent in many ways the last few weeks.

I have concentrated on arting and haven’t felt like writing.

When I am into my art I don’t feel like eating, or doing any of the self medicating things that I normally need to do to get through a day.

Art is my favorite version of “Xanax”.

I love that feeling of connecting to my inner creativity-when the circuits are jumping all is well with the world-I seldom have a “dry” ART day.

The sad parts of my life continue to lessen although the anxiety is high-I have a lot of decisions to make and I don’t care for tight rope walking…never have.

What I want, all I want is a sense of safety and security beyond that I don’t want for much.

I am getting the three year itch-I was told It would come-when you make a major geographic move you seldom land exactly where you want to be unless it has been well planned far in advance.

I love this quiet beach community but I’m not at all sure I love Southern California anymore.

This end of the state has its own set of issues and congestion might be the biggest negative.

Just TOO MANY PEOPLE in too small an area.

Odd when you consider that the Los Angeles Mega-Plex stretches from Santa Barbara in the north to the Mexican border south and almost 100 miles inland-an unimaginably huge continuous city huge on diversity but maybe too full for a child of mid-century America.

I grew up amongst the Orange and Avocado trees out east of Los Angeles-the real suburbs of the 50’s with the community feeling and neighbors in neighborhoods-I miss that sense of community and knowing people.

It has become harder and harder to know people in Southern California-we have developed invisible but substantial walls around ourselves and we travel a little scared and nervous-Life in the post 9-11 land of the impending BIG ONE is about be suspicious of all those around you, internet scams and who is getting what that they don’t deserve and how can I get some too.

Not how I planned to spend the final third of my life.

“Loneliness is such a sad affair and I can hardly wait to talk to you again…”

I spend DAYS without seeing and sometimes without speaking to anyone else although I am well connected to the internet…I communicate but I don’t converse.

Not in any interactive, spontaneous way at any rate.

So I’m treading water…trying to decide what next while busily being involved in what’s now, not the best way to be but at least not shut down and exhausted, fragile as I was a few months back.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MOURNING - the art of sadness



William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
Premier Deuil [The First Mourning]
Oil on canvas, 1888
79 7/8 x 99 1/8 inches (203 x 252 cm)
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires

Touch my heart, challenge my mind, know me but don’t get too close…

When people get too close I get nervous…

Ask me and I will answer, need me and I will be there but once I give you my trust, you may never go away.

I have lived through one of the most horrible plagues that ever touched mankind, AIDS…anyone who says this is God’s wrath or that it’s killing all the right people needs to stay FAR away from me.

I have watched as some of the most talented, caring, loving, generous people ever placed on earth withered, lingered and died.

If that’s the God you believe in, a vengeful, Old Testament beast that not only kills but tortures we live in worlds that are very far apart indeed.

You will need to forgive my lack of tact but I am in mourning.

The first person I personally knew to have AIDS died in 1984 the last in 1997 in between I buried more than 25 of my best friends-I was elected because I wasn’t sick, I was able to do what it took to fight red tape, families, prejudice and fear.

In those early days when AIDS was even scarier because no one really knew how it was transmitted ,dinner trays were shoved across hospital floors in the general direction of people who were too weak to feed themselves much less get up and find their food.

Wasting diseases aren’t pretty to watch and they require a lot of help and care to afford the patient dignity and comfort…back then fear overtook any sense of humanity.

I saw just about the entire repertoire that AIDS has to offer from Kaposi’s sarcoma on.

13 years ago a man who was my vocal coach, accompanist and friend died a nasty death as his brain rotted away from some exotic mold, lingering over months, disappearing mentally and physically a little more each day.

Despite his protestations that he would take his own life and never spend a day in a hospital at the end he became a warrior.

All of us have that will to live strong within us and just when we might allow ourselves the luxury of letting go and slipping away we rally and we start to literally fight for our lives.

I didn’t have time back then to mourn-I needed time to do what needed doing for everyone else and in between I had to make my own way and make a living.

In a life that busy and full of things too horrible to comprehend your emotions shut down, there is no time for tears or self pity; we just do what we must do.

I am an advocate of mental health and how the mind and the body work together, if we are sick we go to the doctor if we are mentally ill (and doesn’t that sound ominous? Mentally ill---conjures up all those visions of strait jackets and padded cells) we also go to a professional who can help us get better.

I found I had shut down.

The years between that last death and this year haven’t been easy for me; I have had a series of losses and health issues of my own.

There is truth to the adage that you don’t need to worry about the sick you worry about the caregiver…

I have never been one to allow anyone to worry about me-I’m about “I’m fine!” especially when I’m not.

It all finally caught up with me this year, too many things, too much stress, too many little bits came together and I finally was forced (despite my protestations) not just to slow down but to actually STOP and take care of all that I had ignored for all those years.

There’s a song that says:

“I never knew that men could cry, never knew they felt so deep,
Never knew they shed tears, never knew they had fears…”

I learned this year what it means to cry.

I have never thought much about crying, tears were allowed in my family-we were especially a clan of angry criers---instead of screaming we would cry from frustration---different thing.

I have a great therapist as well as a great doctor.

He gently but firmly led me to see that I had never mourned all those friends who, one by one, had gone off and left me behind, alone and abandoned.

“Sola, perduta, abbandonata…”

Alone, Lost, Abandoned… Manon Lescaut, Puccini…

Did you ever consider that often WE must tell people to die, that it’s OK for them to stop suffering, that we will be OK and they can leave, but they very seldom ask US if they can go?

One of the great frustrations of death is that it is SO final and to whom can you complain about it?

I wasn’t ready, I needed one more day (hour, minute), and did I say all the things I needed to say?

One day not so long ago, seated on a very unattractive but comfy sofa in an office not too far from where I live, I learned what it means to cry-to grieve…to mourn.

Something primal happened where I knew what was going on but it was far beyond me and I can only say that the closest thing I can describe that feeling to was vomiting tears.

That day was a gift…it was the start of my healing.

I hadn’t done anything creative for some time and for me it’s the same as saying I hadn’t taken a breath in all that time.

I have watched as my art has reflected my various moods from dark and somber to lighter and airier, colours have changed, textures have smoothed and my sense of humor is returning.

So, I am in mourning…at last, much delayed but it is the state of things that we need to mourn so we can STOP grieving.

I share this with you because I wonder how often just the act of sharing is healing.

It not only is a balm to the wounds of my soul but perhaps we are meant to share these feelings so others can begin their journey and know they are not alone or abandoned.

I know I am getting better because I was able to write this entire post without shedding a tear-maybe when I reread it to edit it…

Funny anecdote-I love the movie STEEL MAGNOLIAS…guaranteed for a good cry and some good laughs.

I watched it so many times I know the dialog by heart---catharsis---I don’t watch it anymore---don’t need to.

All of this is a part of why ART is so important-don't just look at what you do, look at what it says about you.

ART can be, NO, IS a part of healing, my healing anyway.

We aren't just showing the world our talent we are opening a window on our soul.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Poor Alice...LUCKY ME



WE'RE ALL MAD HERE
Artists Trading Card
Rick St Dennis 2009
edition of 4

It’s absolutely astonishing how many of us live in the happy lands of WHAT IF, IF ONLY and MAYBE SOMEDAY.

Frankly they’re not happy places at all just safe because they are familiar.

I love to teach and I love to learn-I am on an almost constant foray for higher knowledge and it takes huge restraint upon my behalf to NOT teach-not say something when I have a little extra knowledge on a subject that I feel might benefit someone.

ART for example is one of those areas-I can do RAH RAH for you endlessly but what will you gain except a RAH RAH mentality?

On the other hand if I point out to you that while what you have done is fine it could be improved and here’s how…do you even want to hear that?

MANY do NOT.

I know when I have done something good, I know when it’s not so good and I know (on most occasions) when to abandon hope and bin the entire program in favor of a new start.

“Make it work” can often mean stand back and assess what you’re doing and see if you're even in touch with anything valid, don't beat yourself up, just take a breath and start again.

Listen when TIM GUNN says it on Project Runway but also watch his face-I feel he and I could talk on and on about under working and overworking and knowing when to edit.

I have no idea if Tim Gunn has any design ability but like myself he can see the road getting dim for others and help pull them back onto the path and he does it with kindness and stern, loving caring.

The way you learn is to trust and the trust comes from seeing that someone has your best interests in hand and they know what the hell they’re talking about.

I want to go back to teaching again this time concentrating not only on creativity but also on attitude.

So many people are talented and they don’t see it-it’s a pity.

Your level of talent has nothing to do whatsoever with anyone else other than yourself-it’s not a contest and if you must make it a competition do something else or better still compete with yourself.

Don’t berate yourself but give yourself “very good advice” as Alice said as she sat dismal and lost in Wonderland (a nearby neighbor of the land of IF ONLY).

“I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it.”

How true is that?

How many of us know exactly what it we need to do, how to do it and even ways to get around some of the less attractive bits required in order TO do it but do we bother with any of this at all?

Not often.

We are busy feathering our not so comfy nests in the land of Maybe Tomorrow, when the time is right, when I feel better…there are so many kingdoms-thank God we have so many queens (and princesses).

Time to not languish in that place of whenever/whatever and move to sunnier climes-don’t you think?

It’s not an easy move; first you must lighten the load and declutter the dusty closet of “I’ll take care of that later”.

That task alone can be daunting and time consuming-I have been on it for over six months now and every time I think the shelves are bare I find some nasty little jiggery bit huddling in a corner which must be dealt with.

My next post will be about that journey.

Damn exhausting is what it is!

One can also become side tracked-an old adage referring to the days when less important trains were placed on sidings (unused tracks) where they moldered for hours or even days until the tracks ahead were clear.

Here is some free advice: There will probably never be a better time than NOW.

Yes there are things you should or might do first but that doesn’t preclude you from doing THIS too.

PRIORITIZE but then don’t procrastinate, later is HERE…when the bloody hell do you think things are going to be so perfect and uncluttered that you will do what you want when you want to your heart’s content?

Come out of there; whatever secret garden, left corner of hell just to the right of I GIVE UP where you have exiled yourself and rejoin the human race---or at least try---make a step.

Make a contract with yourself, make sure you are a good agent in the negotiations and that the rewards are all worth the efforts-now go for it.

I LOVE Alice in Wonderland and I do believe that “We’re all MAD here”.

Mental health aside we (Artists) are as interesting as people get (the rare total dolt aside) so ART because you can, CREATE because you must and get back in touch with passion…not the sweaty, sticky kind (well, then again…) but the “I rise in the morning ready to see what I will make from and during TODAY”.

You will thank me for this post.

I have already thanked myself…I give myself very good advice and I am FINALLY learning to follow it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ending NEEDLE PHOBIA...

I apologize for being behind in my blogging-I have been busy ARTING and that is all consuming…but to rediscover creativity after you have been away from it for awhile is like back sliding into addiction-art is seductive and also a demanding mistress.

I want to talk about an odd thing but one that will be valuable to many who bother to read this blog-hang with me-there is some great info coming especially if you haven’t got an angel for a doctor like I do…

I am incredibly needle phobic…I mean sweaty, fainting, nauseated, scared little boy phobic-or at least I WAS…

Being a conscientious citizen I always made sure I had an HIV test once in awhile when the epidemic started but it took an act of God, a really huge, kind, bear of a male nurse at a little clinic in Silver Lake and lots of VooDoo (not to mention a butterfly) to get that sample.

Nothing is ever an accident and I was led to my wonderful Doctor, Christine Szeto who is responsible for my changed attitude about needles and things medical and lots of other concepts as well.

Dr. Szeto is one of those amazing people in whom God has instilled healing as a gift-when you visit her you come out feeling better and just a little perkier even if you dragged yourself into the office in the first place…I do not exaggerate, all who know her share this opinion---

The gifts from above aside she is a wonderful person, solid in her faith and committed to her profession.

She is also committed to her patients and for that gift there are many of us who can never thank her enough-she has seen me through my first hospital stay, anxiety disorder, Rheumatoid disease and everyday complaints.

I have known her through the birth of her children, the evolution of a bright young girl into a successful mature doctor and when there has been time we have shared our spirituality, our love of music and even the gift of laughter…so much in so many years... patient, doctor, friends.

I met her because I was addicted to prescription drugs…another doctor who had sworn that addiction was not in his vocabulary let me become dependent and then abusive of Xanax and Doctor Szeto detoxed me and helped me move on with my life.

Another thing she did was get me past my fear of needles and if you have a great doctor who will listen they can also help you or someone you know get past the fear as well.

EMLA…

Write it down and carry it with you---being sick and hurting is bad enough-it always annoyed me and scared me that we had to hurt more to get better.

Diagnosis needs needles, flu shots, antibiotics, all of it comes with a shot, a hypo aimed at your sensitive and defenseless self-it’s not fun and not fair.

I had a couple of horrible pediatricians who were guaranteed to meet you at the door with a needle-from those experiences we become phobic adults-I thought a blood test was a stick in the finger-the first time I had to have a vein punctured I was about 12 and it took two doctors and several nurses to hold me down and get the blood---I still wonder today WHY it was so important for those doctors to WIN against a boy…I didn’t have a life threatening disease, they just wanted a blood test to rule out any possibilities.

Back to EMLA-there are two variations and it is now available as a generic-it is a white crème and is a double dose of topical anesthetics-specifically Lidocaine.

I apply it to the area to be stuck and slap a wide bandage over it 2 hours before I see the doctor and I feel NOTHING…not even pressure… when they take my blood.

WHY the use of EMLA is not standard practice is beyond me-there would be many less teary eyed, white faced, dizzy, fainting people in the world with a little EMLA spread around by medical professionals.

I’m not going to discuss the reasons why it has almost been pulled from the market several times and how it can be abused-let’s not put fodder for the naysayers on the internet.

If you have ANYONE who is truly afraid of needles they need to have EMLA and they need a doctor who understands that “It’s NOT just a little stick” for some of us.

I remember Dr. Szeto sitting next to me and holding my hand, calming talking and distracting me in the early days of recovering from the needle phobia, then I had to have “Marjorie” do the blood draws-I trusted her as a nurse and knew she could find the right spot-I went to the hospital with Pneumonia covered with EMLA patches and with a directive on my chart that there were to be no needle sticks without EMLA.

I have become an evangelist, a lobbyist, a fan of EMLA---I don’t ever want to see a child crying or an adult sweaty and scared, feeling embarrassed because they need a blood test and are frightened.

After seeing the doctor today and having my regular blood work I thought WHY don’t I blog on this information and get it out there to help others?

I take Methotrexate for my RA, it can make liver problems so I have to have blood drawn every two or three months-THANK GOD and Dr. Szeto (and whomever is responsible for discovering EMLA) I am able to have the sticks without days of dread and compulsive worry.

EMLA is prescription only and is not cheap-however used correctly one tube should get you through a year-I took Rhemicaid for awhile which is an infusion for RA and EMLA was my buddy through that experience as well.

There are good things in the world that aren’t widely known-there are simple things like taking away the fear and pain surrounding needle sticks that can make a person’s life a little better.

At the end of her life my Mother (who had never had a problem with needles) was just flat out of patience with the painful needle sticks for IVs that had to be started and restarted-she was one huge bruise and besides everything else she felt terrible, enough was enough…I had to play patents advocate and insist that there be no needle sticks without EMLA-so maybe it made the last days of her life a bit better-I hope so.

I wish I had known about it when my friends faced Chemo or the other miseries of Cancer and Aids-other diseases, so many needles over the years that could have been a bit more comfortable or gone unfelt…adding pain to pain just isn’t good medicine, it’s about haste and a disregard for the feelings of people, patients.

“It’s just a little stick.”

NO, it’s not…reverse the situation doctor and you would rather not feel that little stick right? So take the time and Rx the EMLA and get over your exasperation with people who are fearful, genuinely fearful of needles.

I never thought in my life I would be going to a woman doctor.

I always said I can’t explain MEN things to a woman and it’s very hard for a woman to explain a yeast infection to a man-plumbing differences make life experiences and sharing them on any level other than theoretic, IMPOSSIBLE.

I bless the day I asked Christine Szeto to take me on as a patient and I thank the powers that be that she is still there for me, taking care of me and caring for me all these years later.

Her biggest gift to me may be the understanding that doctors are people who we work WITH in the cause of our health and to that end we as patients have the right to make requests and even reasonable demands that we are cared for in a professional and compassionate manner.

I have the tools now to see a specialist and know that my rights include using a product to make my experience more comfortable and less painful or frightening.

I hope this post has empowered you to takethese tools and incorporate them for use by yourself or for a loved one.

One CAVEAT, in an emergency there isn't going to be time for EMLA-but hopefully if there ever is such an emergency the needle phobia will be in a realm where it isn't the all powerful monster that has haunted some of us.

EMLA a simple thing but a powerful one when used correctly.

Dr. Szeto…irreplaceable.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

lack of communication


Silence

by Edgar Allan Poe

There are some qualities — some incorporate things,
That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
There is a two-fold Silence — sea and shore —
Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
Newly with grass o'ergrown; some solemn graces,
Some human memories and tearful lore,
Render him terrorless: his name's "No More."
He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Beads, Jelly Beans and EGO...



YOUR DREAMS ARE MINE
Artist Trading Card 1/1
September 2009
Rick St Dennis//all rights reserved
collection of DIAN CRAYNE

I am currently consumed with Artist Trading Cards-what a satisfying art form!

Whoever thought of it and got it moving was a genius and it seems they will go on as an inexpensive and fun way for Artists and crafters to express themselves and their creativity.

The ATC is also rapidly becoming a way to express ones personal issues and even are parts of programs to collect cards on specific topics to make a statement.

A spousal abuse/domestic violence group is asking for cards about having a voice against violence and a bride will cover her gowns skirt with ATCs on the topic if they can get enough participation.

Artist Trading Cards are supposed to be traded never sold but the internet is rife with many people asking ridiculous amounts for their work-like one fellow who beads sports cards and then sells them for three hundred bucks each…having ruined the card by defacing it there can be no intrinsic value in the card itself and from what I saw on the website the work isn’t so spectacular that it deserves such lofty prices-but that’s my opinion who knows if the poor fool is actually selling any?

I remember back ten or so years a woman in the east who made quite a name for herself doing beaded sports and other trading cards but what she did was to actually BEAD a copy of the card onto aida cloth using thousands of beads in creating a single 3 ½ by 2 ½ inch piece.

Doing a card took many days and she even did one for whomever the sitting president was at the time (which is how she got noticed).

There was also that outfit that did famous paintings or portraits out of Jelly Bellies-another labor intensive and time consuming pursuit-seems like rhinestone or sequin versions also were around at the time.

The point is how various artists value their work and how those values are perceived by others.

I think many things in ETSY are very inexpensive-I wouldn’t hand crochet wash cloths and then sell them for a couple of bucks for instance-seems far too cheap for such an endeavor.

Remember those scarves that were made from Italian fibers back a few years-very popular and simple but time consuming and the materials were expensive-they had a fur look and at upscale department stores and boutiques they could be several hundred dollars.

You’d see really nice versions at craft shows and people would be complaining because they were fifty or sixty dollars---I always love it when a group of people walk into a booth and one is interested in an item and one of the others says “Oh don’t buy that, I’ll make you one.”

HELLO? Am I sitting here or do you assume that artists and crafters are immune to rudeness?

I always wonder if they ever do actually go home and knock out a Xerox copy of something they saw at a local craft show.

"Why is it so expensive?", is another question I used to think was really nasty and rude-but here I am complaining about some guy who wanta a few hundred dollars for beading a football player-not actually even the entire card-just parts of it-why IS it so expensive?

Oh, oh my other favorite-"Do you do these by hand?"---as opposed to...?

I thought it would be funny to get a t shirt that said-NO I USE MY FEET-but then I would have been in trouble again-political correctness sure has an impact on a sarcastic sense of humor.

I knew a woman who prided herself on being a Xerox machine-she would steal ideas from anyone and everyone she knew and was quite vocal that she had no real creative ability but she was really a good copyist.

She made a lot of money so she was doing something right; man did she hate it when the tables were turned and someone copied one of her copies…get out of the way because the volcano was about to blow!

I, myself, would be upset if I thought that my work was perceived as anything but original and my own.

That’s me; I like coming up with new ideas and even if I were influenced by someone’s work I would certainly not intentionally copy them.

Difficult in this altered art style, since we draw from the same sorts of images and ephemera to seem original.

I have been exploring dark subjects and more technique that an actual attempt at a style-funny that in trying not to be like others I have developed a style that is quite identifiable and am now trying to diversify away from that formula compositional form.

I seem to be fascinated with Vampires and somehow semi-lesbonic ideas neither of which as a topic are particularly fascinating to me but they seem to come up again and again in my work-also carnivals…but those ARE of interest to me and a friend Debbie (I think she uses Deborah professionally) Christopherson was the bearded lady in Showtime’s series CARNIVALE which I loved and hated to see end after 2 bizarre seasons.

Maybe I should get interested more in less warped images and try to do things that are happy and uplifting? Whimsical even...

I certainly won’t be doing anything with beads and sports cards-jelly beans… none of that stuff.

Three hundred dollars…if nothing else he has confidence…or is delusional…or both.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Craft Fair to Craft Business Part 4

In my previous 3 posts I have given you a huge amount of things to think about when starting down the road to selling your creative efforts to the public (in person).

The internet is a new market and sites like ETSY are becoming busy and popular sources for imaginative and unusual items, surely more such sites will follow.

I understand that in the near future cable television will be joining the direct home sales market and you will be able to purchase time on a “virtual” store channel and have your wares beamed into millions of homes in your target market at reasonable costs to you, the artist.

Just a few more thoughts and suggestions in this final chapter of what is rapidly becoming the Gone With The Wind of BLOG posts:

Think, listen, make notes and move slowly and steadily towards you goals-don’t make jumps that will demand more than you can successfully deliver-it’s a sure road to depression and failure.

Believe in yourself and listen to your instincts-if you have done your homework and have really planned out your course of action you will be fine-exhausted but fine.

DO NOT start out in business so deep in debt that you can’t ever climb out and NEVER jeopardize your home, family or personal security for the sake of an art show.

If you aren’t making a profit set a date when you must give up the idea of doing craft or art fairs for now-you can go back to the idea later. DO NOT continue to lose money or start charging up your credit cards thinking things will get better.
Be sure to read my section on keeping your business finances and personal finances separate-this is very important!!! Keep good records and every receipt that you get-even if they go in a large manila envelope-you will need them for the tax preparer and they should be kept for 7 to 10 years after you have settled your taxes.

If you start doing the Art thing as a full time business be sure to pay into Social Security-the tax preparer has forms you send in quarterly-I didn’t keep up with this and now I’m sorry-I will be retiring far further in the future than I might have wanted.

You CAN NOT make a business producing products with supplies you purchase retail with the exception of ART (paintings, drawings etc) and even then there are many ways to improve your profits by buying wholesale or from discounters.

Be careful of overbuying-wholesale buying is like dancing it requires agility and balance-think before you start investing in grosses of items unless you know that it is a component you will use in several ways or are regularly selling out of.

Wholesale buying is a drug and frequently buying a half gross saves over buying a dozen and buying a full gross saves over buying a half gross-then you start getting into master packs and all sorts of other levels-next thing you know you own ten thousand of something and you saved a lot off the wholesale price but what are you going to do with them?

THINK…CONSIDER…then move-your instincts are better than you might think and they will become honed with time.

I have known kind, meek, mild people who become ferocious monsters when it comes to negotiating purchases.

Start small but think big- GOOD ENOUGH is not GOOD ENOUGH: Your name will be on your work make sure you are proud of what you produce and how it is presented-always be professional in manner, grooming and appearance…ALWAYS!

MEN especially can become very sloppy when they are hot and tired and are doing a show out in the sun in mid-august---that doesn’t explain why you didn’t wash your hair this morning or clean your nails-and you can carry an extra clean t shirt so if you get sweaty setting up you can change into a clean shirt to sell-they have travel size everything so toothpaste a toothbrush and deodorant can go into your tool box.
I think I have labored my point long enough-the ART biz can be lots of fun-I enjoyed it for many years and at some point I might find myself doing fairs again-I don’t know.

What I do believe is that the information I have shared with you is solid and based on many things I learned the hard way-with this knowledge I could have been even more successful and much more organized.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From Craft Fair to Craft Business PART 3

The cream of craft shows are the long running circuits that offer TV commercials, heavy newspaper advertising and bring in the crowds because of their careful jurying process.

The Country Folk Art Shows (CFA) are a year round tour that mainly covers the east coast but has tried shows on the west coast as well.

The Harvest Festivals (THF) have been doing some of their locations in California for over 30 years and most for at least 25-they are primarily a California Tour but at times have tried shows in several western states and Texas.

These shows usually run 3 days Friday through Sunday and sell you nothing but floor space-everything else is extra and you must meet strict rules and levels of talent to get into the shows-CFA runs from $400.00 to $1,600.00 for a space depending on size-there is also a premium charge for a corner and a charge for electricity, your work must match their theme, you have to build a 3 walled booth and it also must be themed.

THF is about the same price but their corner premium is double CFA’s however THF has a wider range of artists and the work is more contemporary-many of the artists in THF shows are also in galleries and top juried art shows as well.

CFA has no food or entertainment THF has both-both have an entry fee for customers and actually use some of the same venues for their California shows from there however they are very different.

CFA can bring in the high end buyers and people are there to shop especially at shows like Edison, New Jersey.

It is not uncommon for the aisles to be so full that customers will step into your booth and shop just to get out of the crowds.

CFA also has an early buyer policy on Friday evenings-they charge a higher admission for the privilege of getting first shot at the merchandise but the crowds are there and so are the sales-some of the best shows I ever had money wise were at CFA shows-and comparing apples with apples CFA in Pleasanton, CA was worth more than triple what THF brought in.

In Los Angeles it's not uncommon to see well known celebrities shopping at THF.

That’s MY experience it doesn’t mean that other artists don’t do better than I did or worse at either show.

I have also sold to the walls-that means totally empty shelves-on both tours.

When you decide to go with this kind of show tour you really have to have your products and production methods solid and you have to be ready for the expense of doing 3 to 6 or more of these shows in order to cover the fall season leading up to Christmas-this also means having merchandise that includes fall and winter themes, gifts and home décor items that are still within the look and rules of the shows.

It is also not uncommon for artists and crafters to have other fall favorite shows and split their wares between a city sponsored show and a convention center show on the same weekend (Half Moon Bay used to be one of those split weekends with THF.

I always did the Vegas Christmas Spectacular show instead of the THF Pomona Fairground show strictly because I could make far more money in Vegas.

No one can teach you how to do these shows, each has its own feel and flow-and each city they are held in has a diverse group of buyers-you feel your way at first and after doing the shows for awhile your display techniques and product choices become almost automatic.

I found THF shows too constraining and had a better time at CFA where I could literally set up a gift shop with a widely diverse collection of products-also Rhonda and Keith Blakely the producers are personable and friendly and their dedicated regular exhibitors get good spaces and exposure because they are more hands on as producers than THF-this said I haven’t done THF since they changed management, my opinions are based on the days when they were also owned and run by two families of producers.

Many tours like Southern Lady and others seem to come and go so research your geographic area to decide whether or not there are enough shows for you to do and how expensive it will be to do them.

I have also included a few links at the end of this post with some regional listings I do not endorse any of these companies other than as information for you to peruse.

As I mentioned we drove across country and did shows in the North east and Florida as well as California and Colorado with CFA-you have to plan enough time to get across the country in order to arrive the day before set up in the first city-that means motels gas and food for several days-then you need to stay in the city where the show is over the weekend-CFA offers a host hotel generally with a discount rate for exhibitors many artists travel in RVs so they carry their accommodations with them.

We always planned for 3 or 4 shows on a trip so we might do Rochester, New York, Edison, New Jersey and a third city in New Jersey or Pennsylvania-the producers plan the tours so the shows are an easy day or so drive apart-in between you can do a little sightseeing or you can work on your products and get ready for the next show-we often did a combination of both.

You need to be ready for the huge onslaught of buyers, restocking the booth while it is full of people, long hours on your feet and weeks of travel away from home-many people have product shipped to them at the convention center where the show will be held so it’s there when they arrive-however this can be risky if the boxes go missing-you also have to be ready for dealing with unions, breakdowns (car, merchandise, mental) and how to do your banking on the road-We arranged with a bank manager to accept deposits by mail-we would go to the Auto Club and buy travelers Cheques with the cash we were sending for deposit and stamp all the checks and credit card slips then Fed Ex all that to the bank back in California-I also have been known to walk around with several thousand dollars in the toe of my boot or to have a money belt full of hundreds when we couldn’t find an Auto Club with enough Travelers Checks on hand.

Thankfully we were never robbed nor did we have any major problems with our vehicle or our bodies but we knew people who had their cars and vans stolen, were mugged and had major illnesses or injuries while far from home so you learn to be ready for anything.

I remember well a show where we took up a collection of cash so a couple from Arizona would have enough money to buy gas and eat on the way home-their shows were not good and they were, literally, broke and stuck in Upstate New York-not fun.

Artists are usually kind and generous people so they were taken care of although we never saw them again so I guess they changed their plans so far as the art business was concerned.

In my career I have been through rain, wind, thunder, wild fires, tornado warnings and electrical storms, empty shows when I had too much merchandise and packed shows when I was short of goods, I have watched while junk sold for big bucks but my better items sat there and had the thrill of selling something I was proud of for a price that it was worth to someone who really loved it---ART can take you everywhere.

During my career in Arts and Crafts Faires I visited 41 of the lower 48 states and parts of Canada.

It is a thrilling, infuriating, wonderful, horrible,exhillirating, exhausting and challenging business and I know several exhibitors that are still doing shows in the late 70’s/early 80’s-it can be a good retirement job.

Whether you do one show in your local park a year or you travel the country I hope you have even a fraction of the fun and rewards that I got from the Art business.

In the final installment I will sum up some of my experiences and add some tips for those who are leaning toward trying this as a profession.

http://www.countryfolkart.com
http://www.harvestfestival.com
http://www.artandcrafts.com
http://www.craftmasternews.com/

From Craft Fair to CRAFT BUSINESS Part 2

You have made it through your first craft show in the park and you did OK-your costs were not too high and you enjoyed the experience.

What did you learn?

Hopefully what sold and what didn’t-what colours were popular and what kind of person is your customer.

For most of my career my best customers were women between the ages of 25 and 45.

You can’t tailor your ART to sell to a specific group=but you can edit it to weed out the things you thought were “sure things” but you packed away when the public was unanimously indifferent to them.

My rule on that area is this: Give anything 2 or 3 shows in different areas, if it is still a slow seller or worse a NON-SELLER donate it to a thrift shop or throw it away if there isn’t any part of it you can salvage.

Did you listen carefully to peoples comments and questions-customers will often give you great feedback and suggest items you might not have thought of-keep one of those blank journals in your tool kit and write down those ideas.

Did you start building a mailing list or an email list? This is a good thing to do-just don’t abuse it-send people only important info on where you will be showing-I also always send really high spenders a thank you note- HANDWRITTEN-to remind them of me after the show-if you’re going to do that do it within 10 days after the craft faire otherwise its wasted and be sure to include-"I hope you are enjoying the pink and purple zebra you purchase from me"...or whatever, if they are big spenders they may have purchased lots of stuff but they WILL remember the item from an artist who cares enough to send a thank you note.

How did your displays work, did you keep your booth well stocked, what else could have worked better?

Think about, journal about, talk about every detail to anyone who will offer constructive input-we don’t need naysayers-and again make notes.

Plan your next show: Remember you will have good shows and bad shows once in awhile a GREAT show and occasionally a total dud.

I found in my business that I did better when there was a gifting occasion coming up shortly following the date of the show but not too shortly-people tend to shop well in advance so a show 4 to 6 weeks before Mothers Day might make you some extra sales while a show two days before Christmas finds the checking accounts empty and the credit cards full.

CREDIT CARDS!

Are you going to take credit cards? In my day fully 70% of sales at many shows were on credit cards so without them I would have had lower income-these days people are more careful about credit but DEBIT CARDS are popular.

Something to think about-there will be a person at your bank who will help you with the credit cards and setting up a business account-all the financial stuff you need to do if you are going to continue doing craft shows.

THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!!

Keep your personal money and your craft business SEPARATE-do not pay the gas bill or the kid's dentist out of the business-pay yourself a specific amount and mark that on the business check then put the money in your personal account thats where the dentist gets paid from the personal account.

At tax time you will learn how to get deductions for your home business; your tax person will be very happy if you keep things separate and have good records.

Conversely don’t buy craft supplies with your personal credit card-borrow from yourself and put the money in your business account then later pay yourself back for the loan and use that to pay your credit card-you are two separate entities in one person - crafter and yourself - keep them financially independent of each other-TRUST ME on this one I know what I’m talking about.

All of your proceeds went into your business account, you figured out the costs and profits-HOW MUCH will you reinvest in the business AFTER you have broken even-I like 25 to 50% of the profit to go BACK to the business-that’s the way the business can grow.

Even if you are doing this very part time you will need entry fees and new tablecloths-whatever, there’s always something and craft supplies go on sale-wouldn’t it be nice to have money put aside to be able to buy some and not feel guilty?

Keep your receipts for everything!

Check the current tax laws but you may be able to deduct business in the home fees and many more items-when you buy paper towels sell part of them to the business if you use paper towels in your work-that way they are a deductable business expense-COSTCO can be your friend! You are buying for two now-but don’t try to deduct jelly bellys or beef jerky unless you eat them exclusively at craft shows-the IRS is not going to buy that as a business expense.

I actually used to make tins with candy in them and decorations on the outside and top-in that case the candy was prepackaged and I kept the Costco receipt with just my crafting food purchases along with the receipts for the tins and the supplies to make this item-never had a problem deducting it.

Do NOT do your own taxes when you are in business unless you are a former accountant and even then only if you are up on tax laws-you will be filing IWO or three returns depending on your romantic life-have it done by a professional!

To RECAP:

Keep Notes
Keep Receipts
Make your business a business
Keep your personal stuff and your business stuff separate
Make new things, get new ideas and have fun

Remember magazines, periodicals and anything that is exclusively for the craft business is a tax issue and may be deductable so keep the receipt separate-if you buy Martha Stewarts Living it may not be a deductable as Altered Art magazine or Crafters Choice-copy of the check from the business account stapled to the receipts and all filed away=well done!

I would say it takes a good 6 to 12 shows over the period of a year or so to decide if you are going to be successful as a professional crafter and if you can make it a business.

You may enjoy doing it but if you aren’t making money…
HOBBY is the word that comes to mind.

Also some crafters stick with home and church boutiques, it’s less work hours staffing a booth and setting up-often you just drop off your stuff and an inventory list and then go back and collect what didn’t sell and a check.

I would miss the PEOPLE doing just those kinds of shows so I decided to make CRAFTS my life.

The next step up is to look for professional promoters who do shows in malls OR there may be a crafters area at your local county fair (you’re not ready for the STATE FAIR yet-even a county fair can be weeks of work days from early morning to late at night and cost thousands of dollars to do-we want to move up carefully and within the learning curve.

You need to read the information from promoters carefully-they may do several shows a month but you may not qualify for all the shows-some malls only allow flat art, jewelry and pottery no crafty things-others have specific exclusions-it all depends on the mall association-remember your sales cut into theirs even though you are what is supposed to be attracting bigger Crowds to the mall-that’s why they do mall shows.
I did a few and didn’t love them-so I moved on to convention center shows like THE HARVEST FESTIVAL.

You are now moving into a higher level of expectations of quality and content-you will need better displays and you can expect higher sales although they may or may not materialize.

The first year you try a bigger show circuit sign up for no more than two or three shows as close to home as possible-you can expand later-I would actually do ONE and learn from it.

Read the promoters info carefully-you will probably need your own lighting, walls, carpet, things must be flame proofed-no more sheets for table covers now you have to step upward and you will be paying way more for a 10 x 10 space…show fees are often hundreds of dollars plus electricity.

I would not DO a show that I had not attended=and go when the show should be busy like Saturday at 1 pm-how many people are there? Are they buying> WHAT are they buying? Do you see a lot of booths that look like yours (if so forget this show-too much competition) how is the quality of the work at the show, are the artists friendly?-there are also esoteric things to consider is the show crowded and there are not enough bathrooms? Is there food and drink for sale and is it TOO expensive? Are there places to sit down and relax or is it shop, shop, shop?

Customer comfort is very important-if they are paying 5 to 10 dollars to PARK, then another 10 dollars to get into the show and have to pay 20 bucks for a sandwich and a beverage-how much are they going to feel like spending more money for your work?

All you can do is go with your gut feeling and try it-use the same principals we’ve already discussed-prorate reusable investments, stick to a budget and get ready for the show with a reasonable sales projection-I would also schedule a “fall out” show for a week or two after a convention center show the first time you do one.

That gives you an answer when a customer ASKS where will you be showing next and also gives you a chance to sell anything you have too much of after the BIG show.

ALWAYS be courteous, smile and be exceptionally well groomed when you do shows-be VERY aware of your breath, be sure your fingernails are clean and watch out for cologne and perfumes-better to smell like a freshly bathed person than a perfume counter-I wear a slightly spicy cologne and very little of it at shows-spice tones and powder/soap smells are the least offensive to people-heavy floral can be deadly and drive them right out of your booth.

I had a beautiful booth with a lavish look at a show.

I invested in expensive rose chintz curtains for my displays-the whole booth was shabby chic with antique lace valances and that beautiful rose chintz so I thought I would guild the lily and used CASEWELL AND MASSEY essential TEA ROSE oil on the curtains in a mister so people would see roses and SMELL roses.

Do you know how many people are allergic to Roses?

Not only customers but my neighbors as well.

In part 3 I will move on to more information about circuit shows tours.