Category Archives: musings

random thoughts and ideas

bright light city, gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire…

Ahhhh….Vegas.

What else CAN you say?

I’m kind of mad at myself after my trip. Not for the reason people usually get mad at themselves after a weekend in Sin City. I’m mad at myself because really, I didn’t take enough photos.

I didn’t even bring my good camera. I thought about it, but who wants to lug around a big DSLR when you’re hitting up bars and clubs? You have to worry about it getting broken, lost, stolen…and it took me too long to save up for a nice camera to want to worry about that. Plus, the reason I was even in Vegas was for my sister’s bachelorette party. The weekend was all about her, and going out, and having fun (as it should be). There wasn’t a lot of down time, or time alone to go wandering with a camera. Still….part of me is a little annoyed with myself, because I keep saying I want to improve my photography. I had my little Canon Powershot and my phone camera, and I did take some pictures. I just wish I had taken more. After all, the place is nothing but eye candy, and who knows when I’ll make it back?

I’ve noticed that it’s very, very hard for me to shoot great pictures without being very intentional about it. Meaning, I have to wander off alone without any other distractions. It’s just too tricky trying to capture a moment or a scene when you’re immersed in the action. At least for me it is. It’s almost like I need to separate from it, to view it with an artist’s eye, and block out everything else. I need to stop every couple seconds, find a vantage point, and interesting angle, or combination of neon colors.  I need to wander aimlessly. I need to be slow. For me, photography is a very solitary endeavor. Maybe that’s a skill I need to improve…the ability to capture moments on the fly.

Still, I had a blast. It was the way it should have been. As much as I wish I’d taken some great shots, I wouldn’t trade the fun I had for an entire album of them.

It just gives me a reason to go back.  😉

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there’s no place like home…

So… no posts for quite a while. And that’s probably for the best. The last month has been a mad frenzy to find a new place to live after informing my old apartment that I would NOT be renewing my lease (one reason being, among others, that they used cheap, crappy materials for EVERYTHING, and that at any given time at least three things were broken, and I felt like I couldn’t have maintenance inside my apartment to fix anything without me there because of their track record of stealing stuff…but I digress).

Of course, when I gave my 60 day written notice I had no idea how difficult it would be to find a house to rent. I don’t know what the rental market looks like in the rest of the country, but around here houses are going INSANELY fast. As in, I get an email about a brand new listing on Wednesday night, email our agent ten minutes later asking if we can view it, and by the time he gets back to me mid-afternoon Thursday they already have three applications handed in and aren’t doing any more showings. Crazy, right? What’s even crazier is that there are TONS of houses for sale. I never really noticed until we started keeping our eyes open for rental signs in people’s front yards, but very, very few were rentals. In fact, every rental house we looked at was for sale as well. I guess owners are figuring if they can’t sell their house, they might as well get it occupied and not be losing money on the mortgage.

But I digress AGAIN (sorry, I do that). As I was saying, it’s probably best I haven’t posted much, because it would have been a steady stream of bitching. House hunting was getting to the point that it was like a second job, all of my belongings were packed away in boxes, and I moved not once, but TWICE in two weekends. Why would I do that, you ask? (and no, it’s not because I have some crazy masochistic streak) Well, because my lease was up on the last day of the month, which was a Thursday,I figured that I’d need a few days to really clean out my apartment in order to get my security deposit back.  That’s much easier to do in an empty apartment. Plus, it’s CRAZY hard to find friends to help you move in the middle of the week. It was hard enough scrounging up a few people over the weekend. Anyway, since I hadn’t found a house yet (and no, I wasn’t lazy and waited until the last minute…I started looking in February!) all of our stuff had to go into storage before I handed over my keys.

And wouldn’t you know it….I handed in the keys to my apartment around 6pm. I went back to my mom’s house (where my temporarily nomadic family would be staying until we found a house) and got a call that we got the rental house we wanted around 8:15pm. Talk about everything coming together at the last possible minute!

So…I got the move AGAIN the next weekend. Only the second time it wasn’t nearly as bad. For one thing, we weren’t moving furniture down three flights of stairs in a building with no elevator (even remembering makes my entire body hurt). Plus, it’s a lot easier unpacking stuff into a place that’s BIGGER than the old place.

Anyways, all that business has pretty much been consuming my life lately. Now that it’s over (or will be officially over once I’m fully unpacked) I can get back to normal life. Plus, the most exciting thing is that instead of parking my car in our garage, I’m going to turn it into my studio (at least during late spring, summer and early fall). It will be no less than awesome. I love the idea of opening the garage door and being able to paint “outside.”

Funny though, to have the weight of the world suddenly off your chest. Makes everything we have now seem so much sweeter. Our new place is beautiful, and spacious, and has brand new appliances, and we’re thrilled with it. After a couple of months of life doing an unfair amount of dumping crap on us, everything is starting to really look up. It’s like the call that we got the house is the beginning of a whole new chapter. I’m excited.

To be continued. (Dot dot dot…)

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frazzled, overstimulated, and in creative hyperdrive

Why is it that when life gets chaotic and even the idea of spare time is a joke, that’s when all the creative ideas come pouring out? It’s never on a lazy Saturday afternoon when the kids are napping, or one of those rare (exceedingly rare, actually) days when someone else is watching them and I have the day to myself. Nope…it’s when I’m stuck at my desk at work, wading through a sea of emails and desperately plowing through my “to-do” list…that’s when inspiration strikes. Or when I’m sitting at a stoplight in the car with the music on full blast, and I hear some song lyric that strikes a chord and turns on the lightbulb above my head. It’s when I have my little sketchbook in my purse but can’t a single pen. Or pencil. Or highlighter. Or crayon. Ideas just LOVE to pop us when I have no time to actually execute them.

Life has been slightly insane over the last few months. Between looking for a new house, packing everything to move, sick kids, sick babysitters, crazy work…I’ve barely had time to breathe. Yet, oddly enough, I’ve been bombarded by idea after idea for art projects. Maybe my brain is so frazzled and overstimulated that it’s just gone into overdrive and started firing off ideas like crazy. I’ve filled the little sketchbook in my purse with 30 second scribbles I HAD to get out between emails at work. I have a list of words and phrases scratched out in a notebook that I’m just SURE have the potential to turn into something. There’s that fear that if I don’t get the seeds of these ideas OUT and physically recorded somehow, that I might forget about them and I’ll lose them forever.

I’ve redesigned my website in my head but haven’t had time to pick up my Dreamweaver book to refresh my memory and really dig into the project. I painted over a half-baked canvas on my easel that just wasn’t working out and sketched out the framework of my newest idea over it. I started a new marker piece, thinking it would be easier for me to work at that for minutes at a time (because sometimes that’s all I get) than working on a painting with all the messy supplies involved.

What gives? In a way this rush of creativity is awesome, and in a way it seems horribly unfair. I just want to get these ideas OUT, bring them to fruition, and get at lease ONE completed piece out of this whirlwind of creativity. But so far, I haven’t. And I almost feel like I need to build myself an arsenal of ideas to come back to later, for when I do actually have time (ha!) but I’m feeling somewhat uninspired. Because I guarantee, as soon as I have the time again, this gush of ideas is going to slow down to a trickle.

All I want is a day to lock myself in a room and paint for ten or twelve hours, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. So I guess the best I can hope for is for those ideas to just keep coming….

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toys and art and fun and whatnot (or why Spirograph is one of the coolest toys ever)

Spirograph - the old school 1980's version

I had a blast from the past yesterday that left me wondering…how much of our artistic future is seeded in our childhood toys?

My mom got my daughter a Spirograph for Christmas. Remember those? You probably do. I even vaguely remember my mom saying that she had one as a kid. I remember the one I had as a kid had this little clip with spikes on it that you used to keep the ring from sliding all over the paper. No matter how cool your design was, you always ended up with these two holes punched into the paper…an ugly scar on your beautiful creation. You got an assortment of various sized rings, circles, and other various oddly shaped gears that could be rather difficult to trace around the ring. Sometimes the gear got stuck, or your pen slipped, and you ended up with an ugly imperfection in your design where the lines no longer lined up in perfect symmetry. You also got a couple of colored pens that dried up almost immediately, and it was always an ordeal to find another colored pen that fit into the tiny hole on the gear. Crayola markers were usually too big to fit, and who wanted to make an awesome drawing using only black or blue bic pens? Not this girl!

...and the slick new 2011 version

Despite all it’s flaws, that toy was nothing less than awesome. I would spend HOURS experimenting with the infinite combinations of shapes and patterns that could be created. I filled out page upon page with beautiful kaleidoscope like circles, each completely different from the next, just by altering my technique in some slight way.

Fast forward to the present. I’m working at a painting at the kitchen table, and my daughter digs her Spirograph out of her arts and crafts cart. I’m immersed in my own work and don’t really pay much attention to what she’s doing, until I look up and see that she’s just tracing her pencil inside the stencils that came with the kit (they didn’t have that when I was a kid) and around the various sized circles. I don’t really think she understands how it’s supposed to be used. So I show her.

She was AMAZED. Intrigued. SO PROUD that she can create something so intricate and complicated all on her own. She played with that toy for the next hour and a half.

Until she got one, I had completely forgotten that Spirographs ever existed. Now that we have one in the house, I can’t help but think it might have had just a little influence in the artistic direction I embarked on. You be the judge.

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jack of all trades, expert at none (or why I can’t paint monkeys in space suits driving 1964 VW Bugs)

I’m interested in too many things. It’s a problem.

Why? Because everything you read about establishing your career in art gives the same advice: Focus, focus, focus. You should create work that’s instantly attributable to you and only you. If you paint, paint pictures of one thing. Painting cars? Not focused enough. Painting Volkswagens in acrylics? Still not focused enough. Painting 1964 VW Beetles driven by moneys in space suits in orange and green acrylic paint in an Art Noveau style? Possibly focused enough…but probably not.

I can’t do it. The problem, and one of my biggest fears, is that I just can’t focus that much. I want to do too much. I want to be good at EVERYTHING. And being good at the things I already know isn’t enough. I want to be BETTER. And even that isn’t enough. The list of things I want to get really good at keeps getting longer and longer, and I know that for every one thing that gets crossed off, two more (at least) will pop up to replace it.

The more you know, the more you realize what you DON’T know. And WANT to know. And HAVE TO know. It’s very easy for me to see how people could spend their entire careers as academics. I honestly love acquiring knowledge. I would be a professional student, if I didn’t need to have things like….oh….food and shelter.

So, here’s the list of everything that I want to be amazing at. Some of them I’m already pretty decent at, some I dabble in but want to get better, and some of them I’ve never even tried. I figure if I just get the list down, and out into the universe….that’s a start.

  • Glass blowing
  • Stained glass
  • Video editing
  • Photoshop
  • Silk Screening
  • Oil painting
  • Acrylic painting
  • Photography
  • Cake decorating
  • Ceramics
  • Interior decorating
  • Metalworking/jewelrymaking
  • Animation

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Snowmageddon 2011 (stock up on alchohol and wait to die!!!!)

Here in the Chicago suburbs, (along with pretty much everyone else in the Midwest) we just got NAILED with snow. On the Snow-Wussiness Spectrum, I like to think we fall somewhere between the middle and the end. I realize that there are states where half an inch falls, and the world screeches to a halt. Then there’s the people up north and in the northeast (way more hardcore than us) who have to tunnel through drifts higher than their heads, shovel out their cars, and drive to work in three feet of snow pretty much no matter what. Now, around here we take pride in the fact that we don’t usually wuss out over snow, but we got about twenty (!!!!) inches the other night, and the world pretty much shut down.

 

We always get so much hype from the weather reports before these (supposedly) big storms. STORM OF THE CENTURY! SNOWPACOLYPSE! SNOWMAGGEDON 2011 (my personal favorite). YOU WILL BE SNOWED IN! YOU’LL BE BURIED ALIVE! YOU WILL DIE!

Then we usually get about three inches, and everyone goes to work and school as usual. L-A-M-E.

So as you can image, most of us were a little cynical about this “Storm of a Lifetime.” The biggest snow since 1965, or 1999….or something. I can’t remember. Nonetheless, I was grateful that we got out of work at 2pm when the official blizzard warning took effect around 3:30pm. I didn’t want to be on the road when that nonsense kicked in…just in case.

It starts snowing slightly before they let us out of work. I get home in two hours…from what’s supposed to be a 45 minute drive. We’re already stocked with snacks, beer and dinner. That’s love. By 6pm the snow is coming down thicker, but it’s still no “Storm of the Century” We scoff at the dusting on the sidewalk, (which we can still see) and go back to the TV.

A few hours later we hear shrieking outside….thunder, lightening, ice pellets hitting the roof, lights flickering in and out, the sound of what might be parts of the building flying off. Is this really happening? We look at each other and finally admit…this storm is SO COOL!!!

A couple beers, some s’mores in the fireplace, and some tv shows later, we go to bed. I wake up to a text at 7am…now it’s OFFICIALLY a snow day

It’s not often that everything completely just shuts down. It’s nice. I’ll admit, I was almost giddy with joy. Adults really should get snow days more often. I’m willing to bet we appreciate them much more than the kids do. And it’s nice to be reminded that, no matter how jaded you may be, sometimes cool stuff actually does happen.

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down, down, down the rabbit hole…

…burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.  In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again….”

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved the story of Alice in Wonderland. I guess even then I was drawn to Weird. I loved the idea of a world so off kilter and bizarre. I loved the idea of it being so near that one might walk past it every day, but unless you sought it out and were willing to take the dive down, you would never know what existed at the bottom. I wanted to be Alice and explore that world, where weirdness was normal, and normal was weird.  I remember my mom taping “Alice in Wonderland” off the Disney channel when I was a kid, and watching that VHS tape over and over and over until it was practically worn out. I remember getting older and reading the book by Lewis Carrol and absolutely falling in love with John Tenniel’s illustrations. Sometimes in life you can’t explain exactly why something appeals to you so strongly…it just does. 

When I took a web design class last spring and had to come up with a theme for my art portfolio, “megandowntherabbithole” seemed like a natural fit. Creating art is nothing but following your own personal white rabbit.  You never know where he’ll lead you, but it’s always guarenteed to be interesting.

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