Thursday, December 27, 2007

beauty and choices


beauty is found in the spaces
beauty is found in the spaces between,
mixed media and encaustic on cradled birch, 8x8 inches


Although the three of us were sick and had to cancel all of our Christmas plans outside of the house, we had a very nice Christmas. I also celebrated my 32nd birthday yesterday. A big holiday, a birthday and the end of the year all seem to lead me to think about this past year and to what is ahead. These past few days being cooped up in the house I've been doing a lot of thinking of what I want for this next year. I had felt like I was in a dilemma-choosing between my art and being mom. But I think the dilemma was more in my head than anything.

This year has been amazing, in terms of becoming a mother and watching and helping Noah grow and thrive. It's also been an amazing year in terms of painting and getting my work out there in the world. I created A LOT. I still can't believe it when I look at my database of how many paintings were made this year. And sold too! I am so grateful for the opportunity to do this.

And yet...there is a toll. I am exhausted. We don't have any help, and I don't want to hire anyone to watch Noah. I am not open to any type of daycare for him until he can talk and go to the bathroom and communicate to me what his experiences are. I don't trust anyone to take care of him as I would. Besides, I want to take care of him. I want to be there for him.

But what about my work? I am fortunate that I don't have to leave the house and work. With my income from amanobooks I used to be able to be able to cover important expenses such as health insurance, medical bills, college loans, business expenses, and other miscellaneous bills. And even though I've sold quite a bit of paintings this year, my income is just a fraction of what I used to make selling my journals. So, yes, it is my work, yes, it is income, but no the health and security of my family does not depend on my income. It used to in the the earlier years when I first started my business. But now, not so much.

So, why am I killing myself to further my art career?
1) I need to paint for my sanity. It's me, it's who I am. There's no way out of that.
2) Ego? Something to prove to myself?
3) Self-worth?

But really, years from now- am I going to look back at these years and think wow in 2008, I made this painting and it got into this show or it sold, etc? Or do I want to look back at this time and think of Noah's first steps, creating memories with him, spending quality time together as a family rather than me running off trying to get work done in the limited time I have on the weekends? I am proud of my art accomplishments that I made this year and I wouldn't take it back. But I think I need to take a breather. Or more like, give myself permission to relax a bit.

So, I think that not much will change except that I am going to put less pressure on myself. If opportunities come up, I will not turn them down. But my focus will be more homebound, family-centered.

I am not giving up or letting my dreams go, they are just on hold for just a little bit. I will keep on painting and creating. I can't stop anyway. And I will try to do little shows here and there- local things like coffeeshops or stores. I will do some open studio sales as well. I have a series of paintings brewing in my brain. I will work on that. Slowly, steadily. Letting it unfurl at an unhurried pace.

I am lucky. I have a choice. And I have a husband who tells me that he wants me to do whatever makes me happy. And if it turns out that in a few weeks or months that I start to lose my mind and I need to get more studio time, then we will juggle our schedules again. Because if "mama isn't happy...then no one is happy".

It's all about balance. I've been teeter-tottering, holding up as well as I can. And I am proud of what I've accomplished. But teeter-tottering all the time is not the healthiest way to live. This next year I want to be filled with laughter, health, and creativity. Growth. Contentment. True balance.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

.....Merry Christmas.....

Just wanted to wish all who celebrate Christmas a very merry Christmas. And for those that don't, wishing you peace and a happy day anyway! Wishing everyone a new year filled with promise and endless possibilities.




much love,
bridgette

Friday, December 21, 2007

mail love

oooh! I got a totally surprise gift in the mail today! I had emailed Jen Worden a month or so ago asking her about this painting because I really loved it from the moment it appeared on my flickr contact page. And then a package came from Canada and wrapped in tissue paper was the painting!

jen worden


To truly appreciate Jen's work you have got to see it in person. The textures are just amazing. Is that actual rust on it or is it paint?? I still don't know with it up close. And when I have a piece of art in front of me and it leaves me wondering...I just love that. Thank you Jen!

I also received a beautiful card from a local Seattle artist Megan Noel who just started a blog on blogspot, although I have known her on LJ for awhile now. She and I have been hoping to do an Open Studio together this coming up year. Hopefully we can work it out. I own several pieces of Megan's- a purse, a cuff, an ink drawing. And even Noah has a knitted sweater that Megan made for him when he was born. She is so talented. Thanks Mei for thinking of us!

...I wish I were better about sending out handmade cards and gifts. Something I will work on this year, not necessarily for Christmas. It's so nice when something unexpected shows up on your doorstep. I struggled just to get out our Christmas cards to family this year. I made 50 cards and mailed out the last batch last night. whew! Sometimes I wish I could be happy with sending a store-bought holiday card, but of course I'm not and I have to make each and everyone of my cards. I still have one more to mail out to my family in Guatemala. That's going to be way late anyway, so I'm not rushing it.

Soon, I will get back to art posts. I promise!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

and the stockings were hung...


stockings


I finally finished making all of our stockings this week. They look like a row of stocking rejects, but I love them anyway. The first one on the left was crocheted out of scraps of yarn. I got the pattern from knit sonya. It's a very easy and fast project. Mine looks a little, er, odd, because I was too lazy to go find my crochet book to brush up on my pattern lingo and ended up not decreasing correctly which resulted in a stocking with a big old funny looking foot. This is my stocking.

The turquoise and lavender stocking is my dog's stocking. I made this one out of wool sweaters that I bought for cheap, cheap, cheap at a church rummage sale. I felted them and cut out the shapes and sewed them together by hand.

The red stocking with the white buttons is Noah's stocking also made out of a felted wood sweater. And the last funny looking stocking is my husband's, made out of a fuzzy gray sweater and the same felted red wool sweater. I made the pocket out of an old t-shirt of his from college that was headed for the rag pile. There is a squirrel printed on that little piece of fabric. Long story.

I don't have that many ornaments since we've only had a christmas tree up maybe 2years. Last year we didn't have a tree because I was on bedrest. The year before we went to Chicago to visit family. I think the year before that we had our first tree. So this is our second year of having a tree! I inherited a lot of the ornaments from my family. I have little straw baskets that came from Guatemala. Little angels made out of dried palm leaves from the Philippines and some miscellaneous wooden ornaments that have barely survived throughout the years.

Below is an ornament that was a wedding gift from the wonderful and generous Carla Naron. She and a bunch of other mixed media artists like Donia Nance, Tara Finlay, Colette Copeland, Celine Navarro, Donna Albino, Lela Stetch, Luna Hartsong from Minnesota(My memory is failing me because I can't think of Luna's last name, but hartsong is her LJ id, so that's how I think of her), Patricia Anders, Raine Klover and my sister, JoAnn, were so kind to make dangly ornaments for me as decorations for my wedding. They are now part of my Christmas tradition.

heart


This tin angel comes from Mexico and the very creative Heather had attached it to a Christmas presents as the gift tag to my sister. I, of course kept it all these years because I thought it was very cool.

angel_tin


I'm not sure where this little angel came from...hmmm. My ornaments may be a little odd or have broken hands or missing a wing, but they all have stories. Even if they are forgotten ones like the angel below. Now that I think about it, it probably come from Heather too. She's always been so cool.

angel

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

endlessness

endlessness
endlessness, mixed media on birch, 5 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches


While I was working on this mixed media piece last Sunday, I was listening to NPR and there was this young girl talking. I caught her story in the middle so I don't know what her name is or even how old. I'm thinking maybe 12 years old or younger. She was talking about her life and feeling like she just drifts by. Her voice was so clear and young, a little unsure, but still clear. I felt like her words could have been spoken by a 12 year old me. She said how she felt like if she had a good circle of friends then maybe she would stop drifting, then maybe she would feel anchored.

I felt that way then and still feel that way now at times. Less emphasis on the friends, and more wanting to be near my family. She went on to say that she loves to go to the beach. Not a sunny beach, but rather a gray and windy beach. (me too!) She liked to stand there and look out at the ocean because she "loved the endlessness of it all...".

The photo that I used above was taken at Golden Gardens in Seattle last March. This park overlooks the Puget Sound and faces the peninsula. The trees are right on the beach. I remember when I took the photo and feeling in love with that spot. The grove of trees standing stoicly in front of the cold gray blue of the Sound. A feeling of endlessness on top of endlessless.

The little girl ended that sentence though by saying, "I love it, but at the same it kind of scares me. Like I can get lost in it". I understand that feeling. I searched for an audio recording of the segment, but couldn't find it. I would love to hear it from the beginning.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

journaling

dec16_07


I am a firm believer in the practice of creativity. What I mean by that is that we tap into our creativity by constantly doing it. Even if you don't feel like it. Even if you feel like you are empty. You come to the table/easel/computer and just start. In my experience I have found that when I commit myself to practice, then it becomes easier.

If you've ever played the piano or an instrument then it makes sense. You practice and practice until your fingers have memorized the piece. Even now, years and years since my last hated piano lesson, I can still play pieces. My fingers know what to do. It's the same thing with art, I believe. Something about practice makes coming to the canvas similar to your fingers hitting the keys. Instinct takes over.

I'm talking about this because I have fallen out of practice. With all that life demands I don't get to the canvas everyday. So when Sunday rolls around and my studio day is before me...I feel anxious. Rusty. A little scared. My fingers feel stiff and unsure.

So I've decided to start each studio day with a simple collage in my journal. I have been inspired by visual journalers like the amazing Mary Ann Moss and the recent blog entries by Sculptress Studio. I always like to start my studio day with a journal entry- to clear my mind, state my intentions for the day, etc. Now I will add to the journal entry a simple collage to flex those creative muscles. A pre-workout, in a sense.

The photo above was today's entry. I used a piece of left over torn image from a photocopy that I had used for an encaustic transfer. Glued down a torn dictionary page. then just doodled around with acylics and pens. I did have to use some fine pumice gel on top of the paint so that I could write on top. I still have yet to find the perfect pen for writing on top of acrylics. I hear Pitt pens are good as well as Copic markers.

Friday, December 14, 2007

a book for a book

gerris_book
journal by Gerri Newfry


Gerri is a book artist from Chicago and we have been talking about trading journals for a few years now, it seems! It's always been difficult for me to find extra time to work on trades, and even moreso now. But I am so glad that we were able to do this. Her work is incredible and I feel so lucky to now have one of her journals in my possession. Her covers are made out of polymer clay. The photo I took with the journal in my lap is not the best. (sorry Gerri!) But you can see a better shot of it here at her blog.

I actually met Gerri in person back in March 2006 at artfest. It was very brief, too brief, but anyone who has been to artfest knows how crazy it can get. But we've known each other online for longer than that. It's nice to have a little bit of Gerri with me here. I feel like I should get a cup of chai tea and sit with my little book.

Now what to use this very special journal for....hmmmm.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

this time around


hands_ornament


Working lots of retail during my college years pretty much ruined christmas for me for a good long while. But now with Noah, there is a sense of renewal. A spark of memory of what Christmas used to be about.

...except today when I had to go and do some christmas shopping. I really hate shopping. With all the nieces and nephews and godchildren between the two of us, I had a dozen kids to shop for. I'm trying not to focus on the consumerism of the holidays because that is not what it means to me. It is hard though when it's all around.

I have been feeling like I'm falling behind. Constantly trying to catch up. Emails to write. Cards to send out. Web sites to update. Presents to wrap. My to-do lists are piling up. I have art work that I would like to post about but just don't have the time to do so. Hopefully I can manage to get everything under control with the appearance of being under contraol, and just let myself enjoy the beautiful moments that I am blessed with everyday. Like the one pictured above~decorating our tree. Noah's first Christmas.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

ten


ten
ten, mixed media and encaustic, 6x8 inches


This past Thursday, my husband, Noah and I attended the opening reception for the "Silence" exhibit out in Kenmore. It all looked really wonderful. My painting in the show is my largest painting that I have ever done at 48 x 36 inches. One of the people that had bought two of my minis (4x4 inches) the past Saturday at the Open Studio sale was there and was so surpised that the huge painting was mine. Like I said in the last post, I change depending on the medium and the painting in the exhibit is very different from my little mixed media pieces. She was so nice and told me how much the large painting moved her. It always feels good to hear the impact that a painting has on someone.

Ever since the opening I have felt a huge sense of relief. The last of all things planned was finally behind me. I cooked a lot, cleaned, made a Christmas stocking for my dog out of felted scraps of wool, worked on special request orders for amanobooks.com, started a new journal for myself, did some christmas shopping. And in between all that, I just relaxed and played with Noah.

Lots of pondering on how I envision this new year coming up as well.

I finished the above panel this morning. I started this panel many months ago but thought it was a total disaster, so I let it sit. Today it just clicked and I knew I could save it. I am happy with the outcome and glad that I didn't toss the panel in the trash as I had wanted to several times. The title is pretty boring, but sometimes I just have a hard time coming up with titles.

That's the nice thing about working with wax. You can usually salvage it. What I did was used a sharp razor blade and scraped up as much of the "disaster zone" area of the piece that I could and then just reworked my original idea. Layering torn pieces of sewing pattern paper helped to add texture as well as cover up the parts of the "disaster zone" that I couldn't lift off. I use a small quilting iron to attach small bits of this and that into the wax. Today my iron started to smoke quite a bit. I think it's time to get a new iron...it's been through a lot these past few years!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

voice of the wind

voice_wind
voice of the wind, mixed media panel, 6x8 inches


I have been working on mixed media panels to be bound into journal covers. I am finding that I have missed this quite a bit. It's very strange how differently I work if I'm presented with a canvas panel versus a stretched canvas versus a cradled wood panel. I don't know the why or how of it. And I don't know if I should just stick to one.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

patterns often overlooked


patterns overlooked
patterns often overlooked, encaustic on cradled wood, 6x6 inches


This piece has been almost done for a few weeks now. I only found time today to finish it. All it needed was a smudge of oil stick and a wipe off of the rag to call it done.

The image is of one of those wild plants that is probably some sort of weed. I don't know what it is. But I thought it was beautiful. Finding beauty in what is often overlooked is a trait for us creative types. Although I imagine that if this plant were growing rampant in my garden and I had to take care of it, then maybe I wouldn't be so generous in my assesment.

We were able to update amanobooks with 5 new mixed media blank journals today. I have a few more mixed media panels in the making. I don't know when those will be done. But at least they are started!

Monday, December 03, 2007

shops


hold me print available in my etsy shop


I can't believe it's December already. Not only that, but it's the 3rd day of December! Time is just racing by. I am so excited to not have anymore deadlines hanging over me now. Phew. All my planned shows are done. I have an opening to attend this Thursday for the "Silence" exhibition, but that's the fun part. No more preparations. No more To-Do lists.

So now I'm going to concentrate on my online resources in a relaxed pace. I am excited to announce that the online shop that the Fifth Avenue Art Gallery created for my October exhibit has been transferred over to me. I've actually had ownership of it now since the beginning of November, but have not had time to work on it. The design and layout is still in progress, but the shop is up and running. I will be adding more paintings to it when I get the chance. But check it out!

bridgette guerzon mills mixed media art

And last night I added some prints to my etsy shop as well as some small original encaustic pieces. The photos on etsy of the prints don't look the best, but I didn't have time to resize to their specifications. My web site shows the true image of the prints.

Today I plan on getting amanobooks.com updated with my latest mixed media journals.

It's very, very rainy here today, so I am thinking that Noah and I will be staying in today anyway. So there is a chance that I may be able to get stuff done. Maybe. You just never know.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

...and then it snowed

forever
forever, mixed media, 4x4 inches
-sold-


So, yesterday was my first time ever doing a group sale type of thing. I've always thought about it doing it, but just never did. And I never really had to as my online sales through amanobooks.com kept me busy enough. And always present were my own fears that kept me from applying to holiday art and crafts shows. Which is dumb, but there it is.

As I've written before that ever since I went through the scares of my pregnancy, I don't get anxious about these things anymore. There are so many more important things to get scared about than putting my art out into the world. It sounds ridiculous even to say that. But I think that other artists and writers, or anyone who is following their creative instincts can relate.

But still, there's always the "what if no one buys anything" or "what if people are rude about my work" types of questions that run rampant through our minds. As I'm learning though, I can't let these questions stop me because my worst fears never ever actualize.

Yesterday the whole Seattle area was hit by its first winter snow storm. It was bad. Anyone who was out on the roads was pretty much trying to get off the roads and get home. So we did not have that many visitors, but I still managed to sell several paintings, a couple of prints, some journals and a lot of my blank cards. I don't even know how that happened. But I am grateful for it. And two of my friends stopped in to visit me which was so so nice of them because the roads were terrible. I got to know Angela Rockett and her husband better too. They are really great people. I feel honored that she invited me to participate in her open studio show. Thanks Angela!

I hesitate to write about my past fears here in my public art journal as I have always felt that if I show insecurity, then what would translate into people feeling less confident about my work. But if I can maybe help someone else take that step and to believe in themselves and their art, then it's worth it. Besides this is my art journal meant to record my journey in getting my art out into the world. This was an important lesson. And I'm learning. All the time, I'm learning.