digging...daniel smiling for the camera...
who put up the wall?...
digging...daniel smiling for the camera...
who put up the wall?...
In my (what seems like) perpetual research regarding design for our artist retreat I bumped into an architect that might be perfect. Alas the friends made on the island last year are apologetically overwhelmed in their own architect world to help us, so I have been scoping far and wide for someone who might sympathize with our little dream. I ran into Frank Harmon. His work is amazing, artistic, insightful...
and probably out of our price range. But you never know until you ask.
Of course looking at the work of a world class designer is one thing, actually talking to him is quite something else.
What the heck, I'll send him an email. What is the worst that can happen? (You think I'd learn about adventurous emails ;-)
So a few days ago I did. I described our little project and what our hopes and dreams are. And his firm replied back in a very friendly fashion. Frank was out of the office this week but will be back next week. Our proposed project sounds "very intriguing" and the eco-friendly part is "very appealing". So they prompted me to send more specific property details to be followed by a phone call with Frank.
One more step closer to mondo.
It has been a busy week. I have been packing in the projects and my body is sore and my house is slightly askew, but all is well because I have that momentum sensation.
Momentum. Moving forward. it is something I need and upon reflection it is probably how I gauge if I am living successfully (or fully). While experiencing the sensation of momentum is when I am at my happiest.
Working hard on avisualplanet.com and our new Espanol section has been business. Digging in the dirt to prep for building that three-teired retaining wall has been household. And of course I have been doing various forms of art which is what keeps me inspired. It all flows together, one inspiring the other.
But I am not the only one. Someone else in our house seems to be experiencing momentum. Right now I am sharing my creative space with him which is working out much better than I thought. Daniel is going off to work in the morning with Bryan, having landed a gig doing some design/media work. So by day he is working off some of that hefty MICA tuition. Which means I get the space during the day. By night he is using the space.
This is what greeted me this morning as I entered my studio stretching and yawning. I guess Daniel was up pretty late.
It is about six feet tall.
And if that isn't enough, since he has been home he has redesigned his website. It is very cool and shows his work very well (i think, but you know how bias us moms can be).
Don't miss the art pages.
I have to say he is firing on all thrusters. Learning how to balance life with art is one of the biggest challenges of the creative soul. Once you have found the sweet spot the creativity flows exponentially. It is a place of balance that some artists work a lifetime to understand, and some never get it, choosing to work in the extremes instead. It does my heart good as a mom, to see him seeking this balance.
It appears that Daniel is experiencing a sweet spot.
Today was my day to deliver my first batch of jewelry to that sweet little Silver Spring gallery called Alchemy. My paintings are soon to follow in giclee form, as I spent the morning with the fine art printer going over the fine tuning of the shots he took of my originals. Upon leaving the photo studio I rushed home to finish pricing and creating an inventory list of the small batch I had finished the day before. I gave the gallery owner a call asking if I could bring the work over and she expressed her excitement over the phone.
Every experience should be like this.
So I gathered my stuff and off I went. Alchemy is only about 20 minutes from my house which is such a great thing. But the super great thing is the gallery owner, Brenda. She is genuinely excited about every artist in her shop. After greetings and some chit chat, she showed me my display case, while grabbing some windex to spruce up the shelves. She let me arrange my work as we talked. After I had set my work out she excitedly showed me some fabulous hand died silk shawls that another artist had brought by earlier. I even tried one on. Beautiful stuff. But it is her excitement that makes the place so special and helped motivate me to get my stuff together. Upon our initial meeting I had left one necklace with her for her to wear (because she loved it so much) until I came back with inventory. So last week I get a frantic email that informed me that someone had seen it and wanted to buy it, except that I hadn't priced it. And I hadn't given her my phone number! So when I got the email I gave her a quick call and we priced the piece and it sold that day. At that point she gently inquired when she would be getting more.
So last week's artist date was spent with torch in hand.
And I have to admit, it is fun again. After years of doing this and ending those years because of a combination of pain in my hands, business burnout, a couple of bad gallery experiences, and getting really ripped off by an international dealer (which was the final straw) I can say it is fun again. This is a big deal for me, because for so many years after quitting I could walk into a gallery and not even feel a spark of interest.
But the spark is back.
Apparently time does heal all wounds.
And so does kind and excited gallery owners.
This summer's uber project is that pesky retaining wall over our pool. Last year we managed the tearing down part, which left the lovely mud piles and random bricks throughout our yard. Now we pick up there and start to hopefully make progress. And what better motivation to get things going than to have tons of stone delivered.
Now it has to go somewhere.
Now you might think that this is an exercise in perpetual frustration. But really it is a choice. We like a challenge, and it has the potential of being a good workout. And some people pay big money for that.
So Bryan and I spent a good part of the weekend digging, tamping, digging, measuring, and digging some more.
I think projects like this are good for the soul. Looking at the big picture is too overwhelming so you kind of have to take it one chunk at a time. As much as I love closure, this kind of thing is a good exercise in patience, concentration, problem solving, and the value of the incremental.
I think for the most part, soulwork is incremental.
Ok yea, sometimes you get the giant life changing events that are like spiritual earthmovers that make big changes in your spirit. I think of these as defining events. Things that fall into this category are usually painful, or at the very least so challenging that they bend you just to the breaking point. But the incremental stuff is, at least to me, the way most big things get done, spiritually speaking, or in the practical.
Moving dirt definitely falls into the latter.
But with each shovel full I am reminded that the work of the soul happens in the day to day workings and often the mundane. God teaches us so many things in these less than glamourous moments. It is in this that the practical informs the spiritual. So this weekend as we poked away at this huge project I was reminded not only to pay attention to the value of the incremental but to welcome it and sit well with it.
And just like with big backyard projects, the spirit grows one shovel full at a time.
Here i am with the tamper. Notice the big pallets of stone above my head. The cinderblock portion of the previous wall still has to be taken down.
Bryan creating a border for the crusher run.
a little progress to celebrate.
I am presently laughing my head off. Today brings another breed of tree "man" into my yard. This one is the kind that grinds the stumps with big machines. And they are apparently not nearly as macho as the climbers. I just left five of them in my back yard after hearing them scream like little girls. I looked out the window from my desk and saw them scatter. Loving a mystery I ran out to see what the fuss was.
Next to the offending tree stump (that they are going to grind down) was a stack of bricks. Nestled and coiled in between the bricks was what had all of these burly men "rattled".
I happen to like snakes. Ever since my big brother handed me a black snake when I was five I thought they were intriguing creatures. But I do understand the need to rid your yard of them if they are a threat. And this one although undefined, was about three feet long. So, as the five men stood around reluctantly poking the snake with a stick, I ran to get a shovel. When I returned they had managed to encourage the thing out of its nest only to slither down the hill toward our shed. I had the shovel at the ready and considered dispatching the thing right there but figured that might be insulting to either their environmental sensibilities, or their macho sensibilities. Who knows. But when I left the scene they all looked like they had seen a monster and were doing heebe jeebe style body language which is what got me laughing so hard before typing this.
The big sissies.
Too bad I didn't get a picture. But it looked like this
It is a common eastern garter snake. Totally harmless.
The older I get and the older our son gets the more I realize that my mother is amazing. The more years that tick by the more amazing she becomes because with the passing of years comes my own experience paralleling hers. Each experience has me reflect and think...
how did she do this?
We all have our unique gifts and challenges specific to our time in history, our place geographically, or educational restrictions or whatever, but there is something about being a mother that brings out the true grit type stuff in a woman. My mother just exemplifies what is possible.
What can I say? It's all about the food. Here you see my sneaky husband adding Reeses to the flower arrangement. The man truly has the keys to my heart. Mimosas in the morning followed by french toast and a cap. Yummmm.
Flowers and two lovely cards from my guys. Touching things written by my son that brought tears to my eyes. These are the moments that make being a mom the best thing ever.
Then we got ambitious and hung Daniel's new painting in the living room. Which then facilitated completely rearranging our bedroom in order to find a home for the artwork that was in the living room ;-). I call this the domino effect. It happens pretty frequently in our house. The start or change of something often times effects other things that have to be tended to. So the new painting in the living room... changed our bedroom.
My sweet husband made divine lamb chops for dinner. Lamb chops with cherry and fresh mint from my garden, and couscous. Like I said... its all about the food.
Other special acts of love on this day included Bryan hooking up my new torch for silversmithing. Then we took a trip to Pier1 for some new pillows for the couch...
because the old pillows clashed with the new painting in the living room. ;-)
Many things still exist on our home remodel list but this year we are finally putting a dent in the outside. What I lovingly refer to as "the trailer" is getting a makeover. Yes this will probably take another few years with all that needs to be done, but this particular day brought a special breed into our yard...
The tree trimmer.
What I did not know about this particular stereotype is not only does a tree trimmer trim trees, they climb them. Witnessing this improved my mood that had been previously tainted by the tree guy starting the morning asking me for coffee "cuz he had a big job ahed a'him) a la "little lady" speak which can be really annoying. But I just had to laugh as Bryan and I watched out our kitchen window that looks down on our "urban forest" (that is tree surgeon speak-who knew). I wasn't expecting this guy to climb sixty feet into the air and start whacking branches. His previous macho-cheuvenistic type attitude suddenly became novel and maybe even likable in a westworld sort of way. I kept thinking that his poor mother must have had a time when he was four or five because judging by the zeal this guy had for his job you could just picture his mom scolding him for climbing to hazardous heights.
Now he gets paid for it.
So all day we watched as the big trees in our yard that had become deadwood, or needed a trim got some attention. The hard one was the HUGE oak right in front of our front door. Bryan and I both were having a slight moral dilema over that one but was reassured that in its current state (leaning toward and over our house) a good strong wind might spell certain disaster. Sure they make their living chopping trees, but these guys loved what they did, and knew a thing or two about an "urban forest".
Here is tree climbing Chuck with nothin holding him up but spike boots and a tiny rope. Yikes!
Here is tree trimmer "Bobby" who's expertise seemed to involve the bucket truck. I was disappointed that nobody yelled, "timber!". Maybe that is lumberjack-speak.
Bobby choppin the big tree.
Ok there are a bunch of photos in this post, but it basically chronicles the day. Except the first one picks up at a CLEANED out apartment. So I didn't chronicle the packing, which, to his credit, Daniel had most of it done when we got there. Most of the work involved hauling boxes and canvases down two flights of stairs and out to the Uhaul. We had to rent a 10' truck to accommodate the huge canvases. I teased Daniel that if he were a musician he would be the tuba player. I also asked him if he was the only freshmen doing work this large. He hadn't really thought about it until then but realized that, yea, he probably was. In our many trips up and down stairs, passing other parents moving their kids, we were clearly the only ones with GINORMOUS canvases. He didn't really have an explanation for the "why so big" question. It is apparent that for some reason he just does what he does. Overall his professors were pleased with the progression of his work over the course of the year. One said that in one painting (posted below) he had jumped from freshmen to junior level. He is now a declared painting major (who knew), and I currently have a living room full to show for it.
a stop for lunch
the packed uhaul
unpacking the uhaul
the amazing painting (but bad photo)
our living room, Yikes!
Ok, now I really wish we had built that garage!
Off to pick up a Uhaul this morning that will then go up to baltimore to pick up tons of books, canvases, sculpture, and of course a cappuccino machine.
Oh, and of course, Daniel.
He comes home for the summer...
Lots of feelings happening in me right now. A mixture of excitement and a weird sense of not knowing how to behave. I've missed him, but I have adjusted. Now I have to adjust back.
For some reason I didn't sleep well last night. This has happened twice now in the same week. Waking up and not being able to go back to sleep because my brain wont quiet down. I wonder if this is related.
Oh well. Today should be an interesting day. I hope I don't get snarky from lack of sleep, and that the tone of the day is celebratory not pensive or stressed.
Ok so I just up and composed an email to the owner of a local gallery/shop about my work. I attached a few images of my paintings and some jewelry from my former life as a metalsmith. I gave a little backstory about being a metasmith and giving it up and yet after walking into her store I kinda got the itch, but was not interested in becoming a slave to it again. Just wanted the fun of creating and maybe to make a little cash if someone saw fit to buy something. And as for my paintings, well..(I wrote) I really had no intention of pursuing anything with them, but the stack of finished canvases is growing and they need a home. So would she consider taking them on, or maybe at the very least some prints of them. I hit the "send" button on my email, heard the familiar whoosh sound as it went off, and went about my business.
This is how I do things sometimes. Setting something in motion in the normal course of a day without calculating the possibility of a positive outcome. That day was tuesday(three days ago).
What the Hell was I thinkin'.
Well, you guessed it. The owner emailed me back wanting a meeting ASAP (her words) and could I come in wednesday (the very next day)? Or thursday, or friday...
Ok so now I have opened the door and have to take steps to walk through it. We set up a time for thursday. She wants to see whatever jewelry I have left, five paintings, five prints...
wait, I don't even have prints yet.
So I start googling for places that do Giclee printing (that is that fancy word for new tech inkjet printing used for fine art prints these days...used to be lithographs).
I find a place in Wyoming that seems to know what they are doing and make a note, but over dinner that night Bryan reminds me of a little local place that may do it too...mental note. I thought they were mostly a photo processing place because it is where we had all of Daniel's slides done for his art school/scholarship applications. Hmmm... maybe.
Wednesday, I dig out what I have left of my former life as a metalsmith and ponder what I REALLY want to do with this experience. I need a new torch if I am going to make anything new...
I go online and order a torch (I swear, what would I do without the internet?)
At this point I vow that I am not going to allow this to become a high stress situation and seek the fun and joy that I used to get from my craft instead. So whatever I have to show is what the shop owner gets to see. But I still need to have a plan in place about the prints before we meet. At this point I feel like my brain is going to split in half because these two art forms have to be handled so differently. The jewelry thing I did for years, but the painting thing is new and makes me feel somewhat vulnerable.
Ok, just be cool.
Our meeting is for 1:30. So the normal morning routine of making coffee for Bryan, but this time I fill two 'sippy cups" (as we lovingly call our coffee transport containers) and I get in the car with him (because we only have one car and in order for me to go anywhere I have to ride up to baltimore with him, and drive back). Anyone who knows me understands that I hate to drive. Partly because of my height (4'11') makes it hard to see in some vehicles and I have never really like Bryan's car. Anyway, this is an added stress (I know I sound like a BIG BABY but hey, it is part of my reality...)
So I drive back from baltimore (and get lost, ha, yes more stress) to prepare for my meeting.
I still haven't solved the print issue, so I go online and check out the local place that Bryan was talking about. Sure enough they do the printing. But are they any good, can they shoot the work...
I get on the phone and call and speak to "Dave". Yes to all of the above. And judging by the way he talks, he loves what he does and conveys a feeling (through the phone) that he really cares about the artist.
So I do the math and suggest that I drop the paintings off after my meeting with the gallery/shop owner. I have the car today (the last time was in january) so I have to maximize my time.
Can you feel the momentum? At this point it is about 11:30.
I collect my paintings from around the house. Some were hanging, some were stacked in Daniel's room, and set them by the door. I pack up a small collection of jewelry that has been siting in a box for years. At this point I can't believe how unprepared I am, nothing is priced...and it has been so long...
I put the box by the door and it is 12:30. I need to load the car and go spruce up a bit and change my clothes. I'm cool.
Loading the car. I am putting the last painting in the back seat, adjusting each one, bent over with my butt hanging out the door when from behind me I hear...
"You must be an artist".
I pull my head out and standing before me is a young african-american man with a big smile on his face.
"Yea, but that is pretty clear since I am loading my car full of canvases", I say and smile back.
"So am I". And he pulls out a slide sheet filled with slides of some pretty incredible artwork. I take it from him, lift it to the light, and marvel at the work while simultaneously do a mental WILD TAKE of the moment, how weird it is, and being slightly aware of how little time I have for interacting with anyone, but this is such a unique situation.
I feel myself pulling away from what is coming up at 1:30 and instead mentally being fully present with this young man. Of course the reason he is even in my driveway is because he is in one of those programs that kids accumulate points to go to europe by selling so many magazines...hey that's what brought him to my driveway, but clearly there was more going on here.
One of those cool cosmic moments that REQUIRES pause otherwise to be missed in the fray of life. Missing that kind of moment would be a shame...so I take a breath.
I ask him about his work, tell him how wonderful it is, ask about his plans, tell him what I do and shift into avisualplanet recruiting mode. Of course while doing this I am hastily filling out a form for a magazine subscription (hey when these moments come along-they are my offerings). All the while I am encouraging him about his talent.. I hand him the cash (he can't make change, oh hell just keep it) and my business card and encourage him to email me. Thank you's and god bless you's...
Its now 1:00 and I haven't changed my clothes, (or brushed my hair for that matter).
This in NOT how I normally do things. Ah well...
So I throw an artsy shirt over my artsy t-shirt and jeans, pull the pony-tail thingy out of my hair and fluff while grabbing my keys praying that there is no traffic.
There wasn't. I made it. I was even a few minutes early.
I met with the lovely lady that owns the gallery in question and the meeting was great. Her shop caught my attention a few months ago when Bryan and Daniel and I bumped into it after a breakfast outing in Silver Spring. It is not where I would have originally envisioned (if at all) my paintings to land (think white walls and snooty gallery keeper). Instead it is a mishmash of handmade art goodies from a bunch of local artists. Charming in its eclectic nature with a grass-roots kind of feel...that is what caught my attention. The owner (Brenda) is very involved in the Silver Spring community, doing an outdoor market twice a month, and various community minded type functions. And she's really into the artists. The artists set their prices and create the art THEY want to create which is probably why the place has an eclectic (bordering on trashy) feel. Once you are in, you do what you want.
So, after determining that...yes of course she wants my work, but seeing that she has limited wall space, I tell her that I will get back to her about the originals and promise giclees at the very least. She was also excited about getting an appointment with Daniel to see his work as well.
It may not be SoHo, but there is now (officially) a place that wants my paintings.
And now, of course, the ramifications is to follow up which is a whole 'nother chapter.
So when you are in an impulsive mood to click SEND on an email that might take on a life of its own...
think before you click.