Finding My Way

Now Voyager


“The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.”

Walt Witman 1819-1892

Time to begin.  

After researching this whole internet social media world, and refusing to blog because I have absolutely nothing to write about, I have discovered their is a need to blog if you want to be recognized, remain relevant, and avoid redundancy.  Now that being said, I am sure, that I will fall into the cavernous hole of one of the “3Rs” just because I am old, a woman, and I’m whiter than white  of Caucasian extraction.  Someday, I must research where my motherland really is, because Ancestry.com has me no where near the Caucasus Mountain Ranges.  (However, I did make an interesting discovery a few months ago – of course that would be interesting to me and me alone.  If one makes an error in calculating the longitude and latitude of ones’ address by one digit, Google maps will take one to the top of the Himalayan Mountain Ranges.) But I digress.

My task today is to blog at least 500 words and maybe a 1000 using keywords that relate back to what ever I am on social media about.  In fact, I feel so overwhelmed by all of this, that it wouldn’t take much to toss this whole venture in the big round filing cabinet.  I know nothing about SEOs, CSS, YOAST, or Adwords.  When I ask for help, I get, the routine “Oh, I don’t know nutt’n bout birth’n babies, Ms Scarlett!”   Why does all this have to be so complicated.  WAA WAA WAA….I’m  over it.  On to YouTube – there must be a tutorial just waiting for me…

Good lord, that’s the other thing.  I need to figure out how to get video onto my web pages.   You see, video takes longer for folks to watch, thus they remain longer on your page, thus, increasing your relevancy to Google (you remember the 3Rs!)

 

Following the Bliss

Yes, I have been a devotee of Joseph Campbell’s for many years.  If I could have attended just one of his classes, I would have cleaned anyone’s house for a year for free, including the windows.

The other day, a friend sent me a YouTube video of Bill Moyer’s interview with the man.  It was her first introduction to him, and she was hooked.  We chatted about him and his views on life, the ego, the bliss, story telling, myths and slaying the dragon.  I just love him…Campbell, not my friend….but I digress.

So after this brief, but totally enjoyable discussion, I prepared to go to the Market where I peddle my art.  Packed everything with care – tent, eight hand painted trays, several hand painted boxes, samples of my work, and a sign up sheet for my newsletter.  Threw in the table coverings, and my sign.  Got to the Farmers Market in record time.  Feeling energize, and full of my bliss.  You must know, dear reader, there was a time when I was a nurse that upon arrival to the hospital to work my shift, I would sit on the parking lot and cry for at least twenty minutes.  I mean cry…not just a whiny whimpering simpering  “Oh lawdy, lawdy, whoa is me” cry,  but a gut wrenching sob.  When finished, I would pull myself together and enter the hospital to serve my fellow man.  I made it through nurses training, praying each day to get thrown out, but instead graduated with flying colors.  How on earth does something like that happen?  Thirty-nine years of nursing.  Fearful every day of those thirty-nine years that I would hurt someone due to my own negligence, yet knowing full well, I was a good nurse, and a caring one.  How on earth does something like that happen?

Well, today, as I was following my bliss, I was happy.  My little blue tent was up, my tables were full of beautiful colorful art.  The sun was shining.  The birds were singing.  I sipped my coffee waiting for the market patrons to show up.  Slowly, they began to trickle in, two by two, sometimes an mother with several children, some young folks – all wandered by my tent to look at my wares.  Many complimented me on the art.  A few chose to have me do commission work with their vision of how they wanted their personal piece of art to turn out. 20170805_121441516_iOS

It was a pretty good morning until…

…at about 11:30am, a group of well dress young women dropped by the tent.  They didn’t appear to be really there for the vegetables and fruits, since they didn’t have market bags, or baskets, and they were a bit dressed up for the morning at the market.  I was speaking to another customer about a commission piece, when I heard the young women discussing my work very loudly.  “BeBe, look at this box.  What is this suppose to be anyway?  Just look!”  The tight snicker of nasal laughter accentuated the comment.  Three of the women, turned to look at what the other woman had in her hand.  Again with a snarky sarcastic voice, “How cute is this.  They had little children decorate the box tops!”  Again the sarcastic laughter and “I hope they didn’t pay those first graders for these paintings!”

I tried to maintain my composure as I continued to negotiate my commission with my customer, but my customer was also hearing what this incredibly rude female was saying.  I looked at my customer, who put her hand on mine, and slightly shook her head. When I started to turn to the well dressed blabber mouth (WDBM), my customer’s hand grasped my hand firmer, which gave me pause and I did not engage with the the WDBM.

My ego wanted me to engage in a fierce conversation with the WDBM in the worse way.  The little girl from the south-side of St. Louis was starting to awaken, and the hairs on the back of my neck were tingling.  However,  my Bliss put my customer in my way, saving me from a gut level reaction I would have regretted, to a more genteel and professional approach of just ignoring the bitch. They were only at my tent, I am sure, less than a minute, before moving on to smell goat soap..

So Saturday morning, I slayed my dragons, silenced my ego, and lived to sell my art another day.

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My Dragons

I wonder if there is a word that means the opposite of namaste? I must research this for my next engagement!

Gerry

Just a real Pissy Way to Start October

Yesterday, way back there in September, we went to the store.  Now you must know that we went to the most expensive grocery store in our area because we were going to buy fish, and this store has the freshest.  Then, while we were there we would just pick up a few incidental things.  Yes, to the tune of $212 of incidental things.  Got home, lugged everything in from the car, and got them into the fridge or freezer.   Yes, that was in idyllic September.  Sometime during the night, the freezer died.  My ice maker melted all over my hardwood floors, and the Rocky Road is now Rocky Puddle.

This Whirlpool boat anchor was 5 years old.  There is no reason in the world for any appliance that costs $3300 to expire in 5 years.  Of course the warranty ended 8 months ago. So did the three year extended warranty.  If Mr. Whirlpool was here right now, I would poke him in the eye.

Then, I get the invoice from Etsy.  Yes, I am one of those fools that thought “Oh, let me sell my art on Etsy.  It will be a great thing.  People in search of affordable original art will flock to my site and buy the digital downloads to hang in their trendy lofts”  Can we say ghost town, tumbleweeds, whistling winds?  Been open since June.  Sold two trays and no prints.  That’s fine.  I’m good.  But I am tired of bleeding money into someone else’s pocket. I’m keeping it open until after the holidays cause word on the street is this is the time when it will all be worth it.  We will see.

I don’t want to sound disingenuous,  because of no sales.  But Etsy makes this process of selling on their site so ponderous, that a one woman shop doesn’t have a chance at success.  How do you get found if there are thousands of others doing the same thing?  Not only that, but you have to research keywords and engage Google Adwords ($$$$), and then to keep relevant, you have to keep researching keywords as the Etsy algorithm changes almost weekly, make your titles longer, then make them shorter, and then you need to change offerings as the seasons change, and then there is the photography ($$$$$) and Instagram and Pinterest  which you must post on several times a day to the point of becoming OCD.  And then there is the bookkeeping.  I am not an accountant.  I am a nurse and a creative.  I do not balance my checkbook, but I can figure an IV drip rate without much difficulty.  The Feds didn’t help things when the passed the law that all online business are responsible for paying sales and use tax to the state where the purchase was made – thank you Amazon for failing to use your clout to smash this one.  Do you have any idea how many tax rates are in each state?  Well, NC alone has at least 8 of them that vary .5-1% of the purchase price.  Of course, accountants do not volunteer their work, so that is another bleed into a pocket not mine.

Shall I whine on….

The Hurricane – Florence, to be a little familiar with the beast – blew the leaves right off my recently planted wisteria vine.  Yes, it gets worse and I am still very verklempt about this issue – I volunteered my efforts to the Red Cross.  This occurred before Flo had land fall.  Being in NC, I knew there was going to be a need for nurses, so unselfish as I am, I thought I would get a jump on it.  I am retired, I have no life, but I would like to have some control on what little I have of it.  I filed all the paper work.  I got a notice the Red Cross got my information, and they would let me know when the background check was finished.  A few hours later, the email came over and said I was good to go.  Stay tuned for the next email.  From that point on, the Red Cross has asked me to register as a volunteer no less than 6 times.  After I filled out the forms for the 4th time, and received a calendar of areas and shifts to sign on for, I made the huge mistake of asking for direction to one of the health clinics.  Lo and behold, it threw me back into the “Thanks For Your Interest in Volunteering for The Red Cross.  Please fill out the application and we will get back to you after we do your back ground check.”  I finally gave up.  Then last Friday, I get a call.  Guess who from – yep, that crazy bunch at the Red Cross.  This sweet little gal on the other end of the phone started to ask me if I would be interested in becoming a volunteer for The Red Cross.  They had openings as an air port greeter and a transport person.  With my most reserved voice I explained to her my dilemma.  With a gasp (and I could just see grabbing her chest and her clutching her pearls!) in a very loud voice says, “YOU’RE A NURSE! We need nurses.  I will have someone call you back.”  That was three days ago.  So far, I have received three more applications to join the Red Cross.  I am pretty sure,  I am finished with this, too!

This is not an ad, but if you are interested in looking at my crap that nobody wants, you should be able to pull it up at this address – do let me know what you think.

https://morganarts.net

 

Ms Florence and Squeek

And so Florence made landfall with a wimper as Cat 1 – not to degrade her presentation and reputation – she still packed a wallop as a Cat 1, and continues to wail like a banshee, but a Cat 4 as predicted would have blown NC off the map.  Some of the coastal piers have all but disappeared, flash flooding in the lowlands, power down for a few hundred thousand folks, but so far, no issues with evacuations or tornadoes.  I am one grateful gal.

All night I worried about Squeek.  Where would she go with all this wind?  She weighs less than an ounce (officially 8/10th of an ounce).  The winds were reaching speeds greater than 25 mph.  I had visions of finding her little body plastered to the siding.  My imagination was on overload. I blamed myself for not finding a way to trap her to keep her safe.

Early this morning the  wind and the rain were bearing down.  My potted fig tree flew out of the pot.  My big brave dogs refused to go outside to pee.  BUT  Squeek and a friend were doing the Flying-J maneuver and feeding as if it was a sunny day in the neighborhood. There they were doing their best Cirque du Soleil act.  Imagine trying to stick a straw into a soda can while it’s being blown about in a storm. I have to tell you I have a new appreciation for those flying cigar butts!  Honestly, they are truly amazing little critters.

As the storm continues to progress today,  I will be keeping up with my little friend, Squeek.

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Change

Change comes easily for some, no so easy for others.  But change will come.  We can fight it, rage against it, use magic creams, dye our hair, but those changes  will come.  I think I  take slowly to change, especially the body changes.  I hate it for what it means. I hate, we in the Club Being, must be mortal.  We have no choice.  We must eventually either by suicide or nature give up this mortal coil.  And I am angry about it.  When you are young you don’t really give it a thought – its something that happens to old people, its not eminent or relevant.  If they attend a funeral, it might be thought of for a hot minute while gazing into the casket – seriously, how often does any normal person see a dead body.  To see one all dolled up seemed to me really weird, and therefore, displaced to the back of the brain for later consideration and discussion.

I was an only child in a family of multiples – lots of grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and cousins.  So when folks started to pass away, I mean it was in droves.  I was in my late teens when the tragic 3 started.  Does everyone have those 3 clustered unexpected deaths of loved ones you cared about so much that their deaths changed your normal  daily routines?   I think that  is when I started really thinking about death and all that it meant.  Then after a few months, a new normal appeared, and so death took the back pew.  In my 40s the grands, aunts and uncles started their decline and left us.  Over 11 or 12 years, we lost about 20 people in our family.  Then my parents died, my husbands parents died, and there we were.  We had elevated ourselves to the level of Family Elders – which simply meant our departure was now relevant.  We should have had a big block print NEXT tattooed on our foreheads! 

When I was a young mother, sitting on the front stoop with my neighbors on a hot summer evening watching the kids playing, my friend Eleanor turned to me and said. “Going to Sears tomorrow. Want to go with me.  Got to get a new washer and dryer.”  After a short discussion of why she had to  buy the high end Kenmore washing machine , she rationalized it like this -“Well, Ed and I aren’t getting any younger, and these will be the last washers we will probably buy, so I want to get real nice ones.”  That absolutely brought the whole mortality issue back with a punch to the gut.  Out of the clear blue.  There it was.  There IT always is.  Death and all that it means.

I think we, especially those of us in the free world, experience a lot of choices.  We go to a fast food drive threw and it takes 10 minutes to figure out what you want – the menu is endless.  We go to buy clothes – the selection is endless.  Groceries – holy cow, where do I begin?  You want to put your money in the bank – you get to choose several tiers of savings and checking.  We are flooded with choices.  So when the body says its time to go, the most natural thing to do in a world of choices is to ask for a deal.  However there is no deal.  Death becomes evident and relevant – always their, but tastefully hidden behind the self.

So what do you do?  You live the best you can.  You go about meeting your needs and the needs of others.  You are kind to small children and animals.  You try not to be extravagant so you have some money to leave to your loved ones.  You live your life in the Shadow of the your pending death.  How can you think any other way about it?  You plan.  You get your advanced directive filled out, make a will, put stickers on doodads, and buy a prepaid burial plan….yes, we did it all.

Have you ever seen the little video “Duck, Death and the Tulip”  Its so sweet.  I’ll try to include it here for you to see.  I think this way about Death now, even if I still rage against it.  I have to many things I still want to do and see, and try and taste.  I am spoiled.  There is no excuse for it.  So many changes  I want to see, if I am dead, I can’t see.  For example,  the technology available to us now, and those evolving from those current technologies will be awesome.  I will miss that, and I am not happy about it. 

So I rage on.

Back to Basics

Christmas and the holiday season are quickly approaching.  It’s about this time that I start preparing for the holiday gift bazaars and fairs held in my little town.  I suppose I could venture into areas far and wide, other towns and even other states – I suppose -but that would be like work.  When I create something, it cannot be like work.  If I do, the product suffers.  I get angry and petulant like a child told to sit in the corner.

I know a lot of artist approach their art like its a job.  They get up, put in so many hours writing or painting, take lunch and then head back to the studio or the desk.  If I do that, my stuff looks contrived and stilted.  I guess this has to do with discipline.  I fail at discipline.  And you know why.  I will tell you why.  I have had to be disciplined my whole life – disciplined in school, church, job, home, playground and even the toilet.  I decided when I retired for the last time, there would be no D word dominating my days.

So  of the million types of visual arts I chose to play I think I chose two of the most undisciplined kind – digital art and alcohol inks.

Digital Art is just about the only stepchild in the art world at this time.  Everything else is considered art – multi-media art, fine art (?), pop art,  etc.  Photography is art.  But it is not digital art by my definition – rendering a picture through the manipulation of pixels on a virtual canvas.  I really enjoy drawing with my Apple pen on my iPad using a simple app that gives me the virtual canvas and the ability to mix my colors.  Doing it my way, without an instructor telling me it needs to be looser, it needs to be tighter, it needs to be brighter, it needs more this or it needs more that to be finished.Of course, if I would just follow an instructors direction, I might be a famous artist and sell a billion dollars worth paintings – or just be frustrated, hateful and rich.  There is an example of me drawing on the home page of my website so I could explain to others how the drawings happen without photo shopping, cutting and pasting.

 

The alcohol inks are free spirits (pardon the pun!)  Watercolors with attitudes! There are ways to control them, but they do their best work if you just let them have their way.  Incredibly beautiful abstract landscapes appear like magic – and that’s where the beauty really hides.

Look at this painting.  Those dragons just appeared after I threw some ink on a 6×6 tile.  I take credit for the placement of the eyes, but the rest just happened with the ink and canned air.  Whats not to love with this medium?

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My Dragons

Here is another one that I love, but unfortunately was sold.  I hope the new owner appreciated the fact the art created the art.  This looks so powerful to me.  Just two colors, a white mixative, some canned air and 99% Ethyl Alcohol from the Dollar General Store.

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Then there are these three paintings done on 4×4 tiles that are totally controlled but remain  true to the nature of the alcohol inks.

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Starting on the YouTube tutorials seems to help me focus on the “work” to encourage others to try their hand using digital art or the inks.  I have four new ones now, and I think the last one I just made is the best.  If you are interested in the process, I have listed them on my web page under Tutorials.

The end of the month is the day my newsletter gets published.  I have been doing this for almost two years now, and it has grown in subject matter and circulation.  As it has grown, so have I.  Samples of previous months newsletters are posted on the web page if you are interested in content.  (Please sign up for the newsletter.  I promise never to Spam you, or sell off your address to any other entity.) Now, with this new website and blog, I am growing even more in many directions.  That little town I spoke of in the first paragraph has grown to include other continents….amazing.

Gotta run.  Take care.

Gerry

Charlotte and Squeek, Part II

Honestly, there is no delight greater than Momma Nature.  She never ceases to amaze.

Today my self-taught class in the  use of my new DSLR Canon Rebel T6 began with earnest.  I specifically wanted this camera because of the WiFi control.  That being said, I haven’t done a thing with the app or the wifi.  But I have been taking a huge batch of pictures of Squeek and her tribe.

But let me backtrack here.  I know absolutely nothing about photography, dslr, f-stops, shutter speeds, or ISO (in my world it means “in search of”, which isn’t to far off of the photography meaning for me!).  Everything I learn is by trial and error, which I suppose is the best way for this adult learner to learn.  So the first batch of photos of the hummingbirds were phlops (another word I made up for photo flops.)  I shot from the automatic setting, and got nothing but blurry looking flying cigar butts.

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Then I decided to google “How do I use my Rebel T6 to shoot Hummers?”.  Well, let me tell you there is plenty of help out there if you know a bit of photography speak.  I don’t, but I managed to get through a few of the articles and gleaned a bit of understanding.  I felt like I was in a foreign country asking Juan Carlos how to build an analtooter.  It seems that even experienced photographers with expensive equipment have difficulty getting a great shot of a Hummer.  What on earth could I manage to get?

I decided before going back out into the wilds of my front porch, I would need to eat at least two left over cupcakes from this weekend.  After fortify myself with those and a cup of coffee, I grabbed the Reb and off I went to my lawn chair poised directly in front of the hummingbird feeder.  Once I made myself at home, I held on to the Reb, flipped the “mode” nob to the icon that looked like a running man falling over on his side – that was suppose to be the automatic sport mode.  I figured if it was designed  to capture a football team making a run, surely it would capture a hummer.

So I waited.

A guy walking his dog in front of the house, saw me with the camera, which happened to be pointed in his general direction.  He waved at me and said “I have bags, I’ll pick up any mess she leaves!”  I thought that was a great idea, since he is the one that normally leaves the contribution on the lawn anyway.  If I made him feel like I was out to catch him in the act – even better.  I gave him a friendly wave and he and his little friend walked on.

Just about then, I heard the song of the hummingbird.  Not sure why they are called Humming, because it’s really a squeeeeeek!  Three were swooping in at 9 o’clock.  I was ready.  With my Reb poised tightly in my hand, supported by my arms held securely to my sides, and the view finder resting over my right eye, I hit the button and fired off a dozen shots.  Then waited.  One more came in at 2 o’oclock.  I fired off anther dozen shots.

Driven by curiosity, I left the porch for the computer room so I could review what I hoped with some really great shots.

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This was one of the first shots of the second round.  I don’t know about you, but I think this is like at least an 85% improvement.  I also think me and my little Reb are in for some big fun this fall.

Tomorrow, Charlotte will get some love, if I can coach her out of the bush she has been living in since the earlier tragedy.

Thanks for stopping by.  I am open to any tips or suggestions you can pass on, and very eager to learn!

Gerry

Blog and Flog Part II

(Just a mention ……big storm happening now.  Lots of thunder and lightening.  So if I get knocked off the web, and if the program doesn’t draft me, I will be back after I regain my composure.  I have been side swiped by lightening three times in my life, and I am not trying for four.)

Before I get too far into all of this, I just want you to know this is going to be a gripe session, a pity party, or what ever you want to call unabashed self defacement.  (See, I make up words and spell check loves them!)

I am a digital artist.  I am other kinds too, but mostly digital.  I don’t Photoshop my renderings.  I draw free hand using the virtual canvas and colors God gave me.  Can anyone give me a good explanation why juried art shows will not consider my work?  The juried shows want originals.  I suppose I could give them my iPad, because that’s the only place some of my art can boast originality. If I had unlimited income, I would do that very thing.  However, living on a fixed income and budget, I have to submit a print, which the judges just pass on.

You know those prints ain’t cheap, Mcgee!  I us Finerworks.com and they do a fabulous job.  They have called me to tell me to re look at a download because I failed to put my signature on the saved jpeg.  That is going the extra mile for your clients.  But they are expensive, compared to Walmart One-Hour glossy 0.09 cent specials.  And that is just too much to waste on a judge who will just toss the print aside because it wasn’t the original.

Here’s the other thing.  Why do artists need to be in juried shows?  The money?  I don’t see major award in the competition ads.  If they advertise  $5000 winnings, they are usually divided up into a $1000, with multiple smaller award following.  So it cannot be this.  There must be another reward for entering – not to mention the entry fee for the judges to  reject my rendering.

What is your reason for entering competition?

Okay, there is one more gripe needing explanation.  What is with these cliquish art associations, leagues, and/or society?  I suppose self appreciation is better than no appreciation at all, but some of these border on the ridiculous.

Do you belong to a League?  What does it do for you?  I suppose I just haven’t connected with one of any quality or substance.  If I do, what should I expect from the association?

Enough for one night.  Its almost two in the morning.  I will probably be up all night cleaning in the studio.  I am planning to do some video work in there, and I shutter to think anyone would see my mess.  Clutter is distracting.  I totally get this.  I hate clutter, yet I still haven’t learned to pick up after myself.  Good thing I am paper trained!

Gotta run.  Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!