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Bottled-Up

What brought me here today:

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about the most recent group of dolls that I’ve been creating. Their collective name for the time being is ‘bottle dolls’. The three largest are Eugenie, Phyllis, and Sondra. I then created three additional dolls, Clarisse, Nadia, and Doreen. These three are slightly smaller dolls. Georgie, Liza, and Jane are close to completion. And I’ve decided that they too shall have a base, with a clear, plastic drink bottle as a cloche.

There have been some questions regarding my use of the clear, plastic drink bottles as cloches. One commenter felt as though the use of the plastic bottles detracted from all of the work I put into the dolls themselves. Another very kindly sent me links to businesses where I could purchase a wide variety of cloches, both plastic and glass. The suggestions offered to me regarding my choice to specifically use plastic bottles as cloches for my artwork were all taken in the spirit of kindness that they were offered.

That being said, I do want to make sure that not only I can explain my materials usage to viewers and patrons of my artwork. But also to help me make sense out of my choice other than a it-felt-right-so-I-did-it kind of way. After all, my artwork is not only my therapy, but a means for me to make money.

Expense:

My use of the recycled plasic drink bottles as cloches is cheap. Free, to be exact. I’ve saved the plastic bottles that I thought would make the most interesting cloches for my artwork. The lables were removed. And the plastic cleaned inside and out. A little measuring and cutting was required to remove a small portion of the bottom of each bottle so they would sit flat on a base. It took me around half an hour to get the cloches for the three large dolls measured and cut.

I could choose to purchase newly manufactured plastic cloches. But I feel as though I’d simply be helping to create more plastics that won’t/cannot be recycled by doing so. There are jobs for people that I would also be supporting if I bought newly manufactured plastic cloches. The people who make th cloches, pack and ship them, etc. Then there are the shop owners that I would help to support as well. But that kind of seems like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Someone will have to pay for all the plastic use at some point.

Recycling:

My husband and I recycle. I’ve been a recycler since my early 20’s living in Indianapolis. O’Malia’s grocery store downtown had glass and metal recycling bins that were super-convenient to use. It was my father who first told me that I needed to start recycling. He was an avid recycler who kept his recycling bins neat and organized. I still remember him hollering at me because he could tell by the sound of the metal clanking together that I’d put an aluminum soda can in the steel can bin!

His interest in recycling came after he read some articles and research about modern landfills and how they do not allow the refuse (that will break-down, like paper) within them to actually biodegrade. There’s not enough air for the organisms needed to do the breaking down of the trash. My father showed me photos of core samples taken from landfills in the 70’s showing completely readable newspapers, packaging, etc.

Recycled, plastic drink bottles are everywhere. I know that some plastics are recyclable. But let’s face it, not enough of them actually are recycled. You can take a look at this information from the EPA to see how much plastic ends up in landfills in the US alone. It will take a lot more action by the government to change this. But until the corporations decide to change what they sell, and how they package it, plastic recycling will be a problem.

Influence:

Explaining the meaning of using a clear, plastic drink bottle cloche is either going to make me sound like a pompous self-centered windbag. Or it may end up sounding like much ado about nothing (in particular). Either way, here we are. And I need to make some bit of sense out of it at least for myself.

I’ve talked previously about some of the dolls that have influenced my artwork as a doll maker. Liddle Kiddles were a series of dolls marketed in the US during the mid 60’s to beginning of the 70’s. I don’t know if I was given my first Liddle Kiddle dolls, or if I simply took them from my older sister. As a toddler, I had some pretty sticky fingers. But I also know that dolls were never a big deal to my sister. She may have just given them to me to get me out of her hair.

There were different series of Liddle Kiddle dolls. The one that I absolutely adored were the Kola Kiddles. Shirley Strawberry was my favourite. I’m not sure why I became so mentally and emotionally attached to these tiny dolls. The ability to adequately explain myself here 48 years later still eludes me. To me, these dolls were just the whole package. They were tiny, cute dolls that had their own little bottles (homes, displays) that kept them safe.

Art school:

When I was in art school, I remember creating a series of drawings and prints (etchings) that were bottles with corks in them. I drew bricks or a cinder blocks inside of the bottles. Granted, it wasn’t incredibly subtle, unique, or even mildly interesting imagery. But for some reason I created quite of few finished pieces utilizing some version of the bottle, brick, and cork.

I think that the reason I created these pieces was due to the fact that I was listening to Reggatta de Blanc a lot. If memory serves, it was glued in the tape deck of my car for most of a summer. This coincided with my (as yet to be diagnosed) clinical depression becoming a larger and harder to ignore component of my mental state. I was beginning to understand how my depressions cycled. And how it made my relationships with friends and family difficult. Any S.O.S. that I might manage to send, might as well be a brick in a bottle. Sending for help was a useless endeavor for me.

Hunting and gathering:

I’ve already talked about how the happiest I remember myself in the past was when I was around 6 years old or so. The world hadn’t gotten it’s hands on me yet and made me loathe myself completely. But even as I write this, the world and all the people and things in it were getting their icky little lingering finger prints all over my sense of self when I was that little girl.

But even while I was in the midst of the not-so-fun-stuff, I still had these little precious pieces of who I was before everything changed. You know, the parts of yourself that you don’t share with anyone. They’re yours and yours alone. And the insanely weird thing is that those precious pieces and their happiness exhisted within the same exact space as the not-so-great-stuff. Which doesn’t seem at all possible. How can a good and bad thing exist within the same space with in my memory? It doesn’t make one part better or worse either. They simply coexist.

My creation of the Bottle Dolls is my attempt to make sense of how the good and bad within my own life can have occurred at the same time. Perhaps I reached out to find something that would be a means to keep my head above the water? That’s a large job for a set of such tiny little dolls to accomplish.

So…uh…

It should be noted that these Bottle Dolls are a long way from being finished. I’ve been working on the text that will accompany each of the dolls. And how I plan to finish the cloches as well as the bases as well. In fact, when I’m finished with this blog post I need to place a wool felt order so I can keep working on them.

So, now what?

I know that my small efforts to be more knowledgible about the tools, materials, and supplies that I use in the creation of my artwork will not make the tiniest dent in this world-wide plastics problem. I’m also completely aware that my artwork, in the long run, isn’t of vast importance in any way that visual art can be important. I know how completely and utterly insignificant I am. However, my artwork allows me the ability to generate a modest income, while keeping me mentally healthy, all without making my carbon footprint larger. This makes me able to sleep a little better at night.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Art Museum

What brought me here today:

Last Sunday, Berin and I went to the Delaware Art Museum. It was our first trip to this museum. It’s free admission on Sunday. The busses don’t run on Sunday to that particular part of Wimington, so we walked. It was around 6 kilometers (approx. 3 miles)  round trip. It was a nice sunny day for a walk. It was a little windy though. My windbreaker kept me nice and warm during our time outside walking.

I didn’t realise how incredibly convenient the centrally located museums were in Jyväskylä until now. The Jyväskylän Taidemuseo and the Suomen Käsityön Museo are both less than an American city block’s distance from where the #12 bus would let me off downtown. Fridays were free museum days. With the central location, Berin and I were very frequent museum visitors. We didn’t have a lot of money, but many times purchases small items, like postcards, from the gift shop. This helped us feel like we were contributing at least a little to the museums financially.

The Delaware Art Museum is a lovely museum. It’s beautifully situated and has had larger, more modern wings (galleries) added. I was quite impressed with the exhibits that they had to offer currently. As well as the other fascillities, like the gift shop and cafe. The staff were all welcoming and helpful as well. Free Sunday admissions continue through the end of this month*. Berin and I will be walking to the museum for the next two Sundays to re-visit exhibitions and to see what we haven’t gotten to see yet.

Amazing exhibit:

There were exhibits that Berin and I are eager to see again. One is Afro-American Images 1971: The Vision of Percy Ricks. I don’t think I can adequately put into words how incredibly amazing this exhibit is. There’s an array of styles and mediums that are so, so, so impressive. I’m personally drawn to the more modern styles, of which there are just breath-takingly sublime offerings. Humbert Howards work in particular evokes a physical response from me. I would like to purchase a poster of his painting Black Orpheus (1969) for our apartment.

This exhibit is a recreation of the Wilmington Armory show in 1971. Originally, Percy Ricks approached the Delaware Art Museum to show the exhibit in 1971. The museum didn’t even respond to him. The exhibit went ahead and was shown at the Armory in the Little Italy neighbourhood in Wilmington. Here’s an eye-opening  article from NPR with more of the history of the exhibit. I recommend reading it. The amazing contributions to visual art that so many Black MUST be acknowledged. And made part of the historical artistic record!

Belonging and separation:

I cannot remember a time in which I didn’t feel at home in an art museum. From an incredibly early age, I went to museums with my parents and family. These trips were integral in helping me to become the artist and art teacher that I am today. My eyes opened to different places, people, and time periods. All in a way that was unique to visual art mediums. I love strolling through galleries filled with artwork made by other artists. Getting to see what’s inside their creative minds. I’m surrounded by kindred minds and spirits of fellow artists.

As I’ve grown older, the feeling of belonging has becomed tempered with a feeling of distance. A feeling of belonging and separation at the same time is hard to explain. I don’t know that I can adquately explain it even to myself. Sometimes I think it’s merely the venue of the museum that’s creating these conflicting feelings. But I’m not sure.

Experiences will differ:

Being a visitor to an art museum is a different experience for every individual. Dewey’s Art as Experience covers a lot of how individuals react and interact with art. The book is not an easy read. I love Dewey too. But man! This book is a hard chew! I’m more drawn to Duchamp’s explanation of art interaction. Badly paraphrased it goes something like this: art changes according to the person viewing it.

As an art creator, I have working knowledge of many different artistic mediums. When I look at a lithograph I have practical experience. Stone lithography is something that I’ve personally done. I have the ability to actually feel what it’s like to grind a stone down. The sweet, oily smell of the ink. How the press feels when I turn the press wheel. The little ‘thunk’ noise that can happen when you’ve cranked a little too far, and the roller comes off the stone. All of this adds to my overall personal experience of the art before even considering the image or object I’m looking at.

All of these viseral reactions are a part of how I personally experience that art in museums. It can help me connect with an artist and their work. While at the same time making me question why my own art work will never be considered good enough or relavent enough to be be displayed in a museum. OH! Then my imposter syndrome kicks into high gear. All these emotions make me feel like a fat, whiny baby. And then I want to go home and crawl into my art midden to hide.

I should have gone left at Albuquerque:

I’m a person who has made art history and the creation of art a central part of my life. It should be no wonder that I do think about how or even if I become at least a very minor artist footnote. Maybe. Perhaps. I don’t know. Then I get thinky about what will happen to my artwork in the future. This is when I become mentally axle-wrapped and write a blog post about how going to a local art museum has given me a tiny existential crisis.

So…now what?

I’m sitting in my art midden right now writing this blog post. I’m surrounded by my artwork and art supplies. My chair is comfortable. I’m wearing my super-cute teddy bear socks to keep my feet warm. There’s a sunny day outside of my window. When I’m finished with this blog post, I’ll return to working on Eugenie, Phyllis, and Sondra for the remainder of my work day.

I will continue to think about my recent trip to the Delaware Art Museum. And how much I’m looking forward to walking over again this Sunday. Where I will stand in front of amazing pieces of artwork that make my heart and mind each sing two different songs that sometime clash and sometimes harmonize.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

*  The museum is located in a part of town that is quite wealthy. As much as I enjoyed my trip to this museum, I think it’s strange that the one day a week in which the museum is free is on a day in which no busses runs anywhere near it. I cannot help but interpret this as a means of keeping the museum and it’s artwork for people who don’t live on my side of town. And by ‘my side of town’, I mean a much poorer side of town. This is my own personal observation. And even admitting it to myself made me feel the incredible socioeconomic divide between the part of town where the museum is and my own apartment.

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51

What brought me here today:

Many years ago, I had a late night conversation with my maternal grandmother Wilma. We were standing at the kitchen sink in the house I grew-up in. She was taking some pills before bed. I think that she was in her early 90’s. I asked her what it was like to have lived a life that encompassed so much of the 21st century. So much had happened in the world since she’d been born in 1907. I thought for sure she’d have some thoughts on the subject.

Wilma looked out of the kitchen windows for a few seconds and then laughed and said, “I guess I never thought I’d get to be this old!” And with that statement, she was off to bed. This seemed like a typical answer from my grandmother. Not a lot of detail, and ending in laughing a little at the apparent absurdity she saw around her at any given moment.

The older that I get, the more I know that a fair bit of my personality is much like my grandmother Wilma’s. And tomorrow is my 51st birthday. I can say, with a chuckle, “I do and don’t feel like I’m 51.” Then the Gen X part of my chronosphere kicks in and makes me wonder if there’s some commonality between my grandmother’s generation and mine. HA!

Age:

I’ve always looked a little younger than I actually am. There are a couple reasons for that. Or at least that’s what I think. First, I’ve never been a smoker. It’s a revolting habit and I was vehimently anti-smoking from a young age. Second, I’m not a big drinker. There was a time, when I was younger, when I drank more than I should have. I come from a family that has addiction problems. And feel fortunate that I was able to halt my alcohol drinking before it became abuse.

The third reason I feel as though I appear younger than my age is because I’m fat. I remember Rosie O’Donnell saying something about how the fat “poofs-out” the wrinkles. Or something to that effect. While my face is chubby, it’s not overly fat. I still keep looking for crows-feet and other wrinkles. The ones that I find are kind of small. The biggest wrinkle I have is between my eyebrows. A vertical ‘thinking’ or ‘paying attention’ looking wrinkle.

I am getting some age spots. Mostly on my hands and arms. And I do notice that the skin on my hands looks a bit ‘crepe-y’ too. My skin is so fair that I sunburn easily. Most of my time is spent indoors creating art. Not outside in direct sun. When I do go outside for long periods of time in the summer, SPF 50 is my best friend! I know I have some sun damage. It just doesn’t look as bad as it could I suppose.

Physical:

I won’t lie. I’m beginning to feel my age. It takes me a little longer to recover from physical stresses and strains nowadays. Older injuries from surgeries and broken bones are beginning to I guess flare-up, you might say. My eyesight continues it’s inevitable decline. I have to use readers now to do most of my embroidery and hand sewing work. My husband bought me a lanyard for my readers because I kept dropping or misplacing them.

Menopause is right around the corner. Okay, maybe not quite ALL the way around the corner. I can maybe see it in my peripheral vision a bit. Some ‘items’ have shifted around a bit in transit as well. And some new and interesting occurances have made an appearance here and there. All of them are perfectly normal too. Which is another reason why I need to have that Bette Davis quote, “Getting old ain’t for sissies” embroidered onto something soon.

My husband has been ordered. Yes, ORDERED. To let me know when the mood swings arrive. There is no way in hell that I’m subjecting him to those. Been there. Seen that. So HRT is in my future. I just don’t know exactly when though.

Appearances can be deceiving:

I don’t exactly act my age. At my age, most of the people I went to high school with are grandparents. This kind of blows my mind a little. My husband and I don’t have any children. Which I suppose could be interpreted by some people to mean that we’re frozen in some adolescent stage of development. I don’t see it that way. But sometimes the way that I interact with the people and world around me could make people think I’m not an adult.

I spend the greater part of each day creating my personal artwork. All of my time and energies are put into creating my artwork and growing my small business. My days are largely up to me to schedule. When and how I work is up to me. I sometimes wonder if people my age see the life that I’m living and assume that I’m forever stuck at being sixteen years old?

Truthfully, I know that I don’t sound or act like I’m 51. I lose my shit when I see someone walking a dog down the street. (I had to stop writing because my neighbor was coming back from a walk with her two pups and I had to look.)Every flower I see while walking needs to be looked at, talked to, and a picture taken. I mutter strange things to myself like “What’s molentum?” and sing/hum little made-up songs to myself all the time.

What if?

Earlier in this post, I said that I do and don’t feel like I’m the age that I am. The curiosity and creativity that I seem to ooze out of every pore  marks me as different from some people my age. But I don’t have the same stresses and responsibilities that some people my age have either! We don’t have a mortgage, kids, credit card debt, cars or tuition payments. None of the stereotypical ‘American Dream’ sorts of stuff. (I’m Gen X! I was jaded by the age of 10!)

Do I wonder what my life would have been like with a mortgage and kids and two cars, and the life that comes with it? Yeah. Sometimes. But I know I’ve chosen the life that I want to live. And the way that I want to live it. This birthday, in the badly paraphrased words of Henry Rollins, marks me as “crossing the 50 yard line marker of life” and now I’m “running towards life’s goal posts of death“.

Would I change anything if I could. Hell yes! But not the things you think I might. But that’s fodder for another type of blog post.

So now what?

I have plans for my birthay. The second holiday pop-up sale is tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll make some more money for my new (and more expensive) cell phone. Today, Berin and I are headed to our favourite local deli (Rosenfeld’s) for a ruben and to pick-up some cake for my birthday. If my new business cards are finished, we’ll pick those up too. The back to my Midden to finish-up a few angel doll ornaments for tomorrow.

Berin already bought me my birthday present. A Met Museum book, Surrealism Beyong Borders. Dada and Surrealism are my favourite art movements. We aren’t sure if we’ll get up to NY to see the exhibit though. The book is HUGE and has so many artists from around the world that I didn’t know about! The perfect gift for me!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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58

What brought me here today:

My husband Berin’s birthday is tomorrow. He turns 58 (my two favorite numbers). I don’t talk a lot about my husband here. This is done purposefully by me. I’m not the kind of person to write about someone without their knowledge of my doing so. I know that Berin likes to keep certain aspects of his life, and our life together as a married couple, to himself. However, I’ve decided that I need to write a blog post about him. It’s the day before his birthday after all!

Berin is a stone-cold amazing man who shoulders so much responsibility. I will never be able to adequately thank him for the never-ending love and support he gives to me in all aspects of my personal and creative life. Yes. He is my best friend.  And partner in crime. There has never been another person in my life who understands me the way that Berin does. Even when I’m at my complete weirdest, he gets me. And strangely, likes me when I’m at my weirdest.

So, in honor of Berin’s birthday, I thought I’d share a little about him (and us). Just for funsies.

How we met:

We met through a mutual friend. Berin had recently moved back to Albuquerque after living in Arizona for too long. Many of his close friends still lived in Albuquerque. Cinamon and her husband, John, hosted a weekly D&D game for several friends back then. I had been brought into the group through my friendship with Cinamon. Originally, she had hoped that I could be a possible girlfriend candidate for another D&D player. This player had no interest in dating me though.

The first time Berin and I met was at a movie. Our D&D group met to see Avatar at one of those mega-google-plex movie theatres. I drove myself. There was a short introduction by Cinamon I think. I don’t remember Berin saying anything other than, “Hi” to me. He was more involved in texting. Or at least I thought so. In an interesting twist, that player who was not interested in dating me was also a good friend of my future husband. They had even come to the movie together.

I thought he hated me:

Berin quickly joined the weekly D&D game at Cinamon and John’s house. There were a couple of games in which I felt as though Berin was mercilessly teasing me. You know the kind of teasing where a guy and another guy start teasing a girl and they’re just being kind of stupid and making references the girl doesn’t know. Then the guys laugh and point, and make more jokes she doesn’t get? Yeah. That’s what my future husband and another player were doing to me.

I just tried to ignore them as best I could. They were just being dorks. But something changed durig the next game night. Berin wasn’t being such a jerk to me. He started being nicer. Long story somewhat shorter, I knew I could possibly “like” him when his character saved mine from a witch by pushing a potbelly stove on top of her from a great height.

You know what I mean by “like” right? It’s the thing where a person kind of starts to think that another person is someone they want to spend more time with to see if maybe they could get to the “like-like” stage of emotional attachment? The precursor to maybe, someday, kind of falling in love with a person stage.

Accidentally dating:

Berin and I started dating by accident. We would make plans with our group of friends. Then one by one, they would cancel. This would mean it was just me and Berin going to a movie. Or a local event. This gave us both a lot of time to get to know each other a lot better.

I honestly do not remember a single thing I said during our first “official” date. He took me to a Thai restaurant we both loved. We only left because they had to close. After that, we were officially dating each other.

He moved to Finland for me:

We hadn’t been married long when we started making plans to move to Finland so that I could study for my master’s in education. I was still working as an elementary school art teacher and wanted to get my master’s. The cost of getting the degree in the US was cost prohibitive though. There was also no guarantee that I would ever be able to make enough money as a public school teacher to justify the expense either.

Berin and I had the same idea on the same day one summer. I was working during the summer, teaching art during summer school sessions. While coming in through the back gate, I heard Berin in the kitchen and said, “I have an idea about school and travel”. When I told him my idea about studying abroad, he took me into our studio and pointed to his whiteboard. This is where he had written, “study abroad”.

With not quite three years of marriage under our collective belts, we sold and gave away almost everything we owned and moved to Finland. Where we lived for seven years. The two of us have more experience as a married couple in a foreign country than in the US!

Goodness of fit:

We both maintain that we met at the right time for each of us. I had arrived at a point of contentment with myself and the life I was living. In other words, being single and never getting married wasn’t going to bother me. Seriously. Three months after I came to this conclusion, I met Berin. And yes. I knew by the third date I wanted to marry him. Which still somehow just pisses me off. Mostly because of all of the smug married couples who said, “Oh. You’ll know if you want to marry him right at the beginning.” GAH!

Basically, each of our individual weird personality bits and pieces compliments the other’s weird personality bits and pieces. Things that I do that have bugged the crap out of friends and family members, he thinks are cute. And vice versa. This means that we just function well together as a married couple. Honestly, being married to Berin is the easiest relationship I have ever been part of in my entire life.

Stereotypes and gender-conforming roles:

Yeah. That’s not how our marriage works. Berin loves meal planning and cooking for us. I cannot remember the last meal I cooked. Much less planned! I do enjoy baking though. So I stick to cookies and cakes. Honestly, it’s a relief. If I did all the cooking, we’d eat nothing but tortillas and cheese and coffee. Oh. And maybe cookies and the occasional cake.

If social media is any measure, apparently Berin and I don’t have enough fights. The kind where the wife gets mad because the husband leaves his crap everywhere. He never cleans. Or takes care of the kids. Husbands who get mad that their wife doesn’t know where to she wants to eat dinner. Or that she takes too long to get ready to go out. That kind of stuff. Berin and I disagree plenty. But the aforementioned types of disagreements? Nope.

Our most recent argument:

We’re both AEW fans. One of the newer wrestlers on the roster is Jamie Hayter. She’s got this mane of hair that was just defying all the laws of physics for me. It was reminiscent of Natasha Lyonne’s locks in Orange Is the New Black. ANYWAY. Berin and I kept going ’round and ’round about her hair. Was it real or a weave? Maybe she had extentions? Perhaps her hair just took curl and product well?

I maintained that it was her real hair. Berin didn’t. He looked at her Instagram and showed me this picture. She’s a brunette instead of blonde, like she had been since she joined AEW. I had to admit. The brunette looked more like her real hair instead of the lion’s mane of blonde hair she’d been sporting. Berin said the picture he found was proof that the blonde hair had not been her real hair.

Yeah. This is the kind of argument we have.

So what does this all mean?

It means I married the right person. During the time we’ve been married, we’ve grown and changed together in a direction that we’ve chosen together. I’m not extremely good at expressing lovey-dovey kinds of emotions. It’s not that I don’t feel them intensely. I’m just clumsy attempting to express them in words.

Perhaps it’s because some of the things people say about their partner or spouse all tend to sound the same. “He’s so smart and talented! And kind! He’s so handsome! Oh! And so, so, so funny! He loves babies and animals too!” It begins to sound incredibly fake after a while, doesn’t it? Berin is all of those things, but a lot of not so great stuff too. Just like me. All of our good and not-so-good stuff all matches up in the best possible way to make us compatible in marriage.

I have my own train car full of emotional baggage that manifests in all manner of weirdness. But Berin’s chosen to stick around and keep me company until I invariably get squished by a car because I’m looking at squirrels instead of on-coming traffic. I love him completely and unconditionally.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Halloween Weather

What has brought me here today:

There’s a large part of me that is having a difficult time getting into the flow of the weather here. This seems like some sort cognitive dissonense. I think the weather should be colder. The days shorter, with less light. Almost all of the leaves should have fallen off the trees. Birds should be flying south. Frost should be on everything in the morning. And perhaps some snow should be falling as well.

Then there is all the Halloween decorations and reminders in the shops! There are signs in different neighbourhoods announding Halloween parades for children. Then there are venues holding Halloween events for children, in lieu of trick or treating. Some of the houses in our neighbourhood have lots of terrific Halloween themed decorations as well. I mean, BIG displays too!

Background:

As a child, I adored Halloween. I loved figuring out what I wanted to be for Halloween. Then getting the costume together. We always had homemade Halloween costumes. A mask or some additional details for the costume might be purchased. But the vast majority of the costume was made at home. My older brother made some cool costumes for us. I rememer my bother and I were a pair of dice one year!

Then there was trick or treating! Dear God! That was a miraculous event for a kid like me. The kind of kid who has not just one sweet tooth, but a whole mouthful of them. The concept of dressing up, going door to door, and getting free candy was all that was needed to pique my interests. Free. Candy. Oh! And candy that I was in complete control of too. No one could take it away. Or prevent me from eating it either. It was all mine.

There were candy exchanges. Every American kid who has trick or treated in the past can attest to this. My younger brother and I would go through our candy loot and make trades for favourite candies. I was a sucker for Smarties and anything chocolate. Jolly Ranchers were also a favourite of mine. Except the grape ones. Gross. Fortunately, our older brother (who sometimes took us trick or treating) loved grape Jolly Ranchers.

Worst Halloween:

The Halloween of ’78 suuuucked. A few weeks before Halloween, the chicken pox ran rough shod through my second grade classroom. I still remember my teacher coming over to my desk where I was working. She wanted to know why I was scratching my forehead so much. I remember her putting her hand under my chin and making me look up at her. She told me to put away my work and go directly to the nurses office. I was the third kid in the class to get chicken pox.

I still have scars on my face from my bout with chicken pox. It felt like I was sick forever too. In 1978 there wasn’t much to do about chicken pox other than send the kid home. And let the virus run it’s course. Oh. And lots of calomine lotion. Ick! I don’t rememer much of the fever part. The itching was the thing that got to me. I was miserable! Like I said, I scratched so much that I still have scars to this day.

There was no way I could go trick or treating. My face was a mass of big, red bumps and scabs. I wore a sheet and was a ghost to hide my face. My older sister and her boyfriend took me and my little brother out to a couple houses of his family members on Halloween night. One of whom was my second grade teacher! There was candy. But not nearly enough for my sweet-tooth-heavy sensibilities!

Present Day Halloween:

I did not think that the short time away from the US would make me so sensitive to some holiday decorating. The lifetime of accumulated experience prior to break from Halloween should have more weight. Or at least I think so. Finland doesn’t celebrate Halloween. There were never any big displays in shops or neighbourhoods. No trick or treating either. It’s too cold for that!

The thought of getting trick or treaters got me excited for Halloween. I may not be able to dress up and go get free candy myself. But I can make damn sure that the children who come to my door get awesome candy and someone who will tell them their costumes are awesome! But there’s no trick or treating in the neighbourhood we’re living in this year. The Halloween parades and planned events at different venues are safer for the kids. And I completely understand that. There will be other Halloweens.

Weather:

Many of my Nordic friends are posting pictures on Instagram of the weather. I honestly never thought I would actually miss the weather in Finland. But I do. Perhaps that’s incorrect. I miss all of the things that come along with the weather turning colder. Hygge is the word some people might be familiar with in the US. Everything gets more warm and cozy once the weather starts turning colder in early October in Finland.

The month of October, (Lokakuu: mud month) is the last bit of autumn that’s pleasant before November (Marraskuu: dead month, not a direct translation). Marraskuu is sometimes referred to as “the month that shall not be named” because it’s just miserable all the way around. It’s cold, wet, and dark. Most of the time, there’s no snow. Only rain. I cannot express adequately to you readers how completely miserable this month is. Cold. Increasingly dark. And so, so, wet.

Your reward for getting through November in Finland is December (Joulukuu: Christmas month). A month of tremendous HYGGE! And SNOW! Centimeters  and centimeters of lovely, white, noise dampening, easy-to-walk-on, light-reflecting SNOW! October is the reminder of the cruddy stuff that we have to get through (with the help of hygge) so we can enjoy Joulukuu.

My brain:

Right now, my brain is not seeing any of the above. It rained and was overcast for most of the day yesterday. Today looks like it’s going to be more of the same. The thing that is unnerving me is that there are green leaves on the trees! How can it be colder and rainy and the trees still have green leaves?! My brain is just not allowing me to adjust as quickly as I would like it to.

All the reminders of Halloween in the shops and the neighbourhoods combined with the off-kilter weather makes me feel unsettled. Like there’s something wrong. Global warming has a part to play in my current feelings of off-kilterness. I’m sure of that. Another part is that we’re living so much closer to the ocean. The weather is just not going to be like I remember it was as a kid. Or when I was living in central Finland.

So, what now?

I do plan on eating Halloween candy. As an adult, I can buy it and eat it for dinner if I want to. I won’t eat it for dinner. Maybe. The weather is just something I’m going to have to become accustomed to over time. There’s no way to hurry this process either.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

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Back-Up

What brought me here today:

My insane need to document every step in my creative process with photographs. Actually, I had intended to write something else entirely. But here I am, banging away on my laptop about my bizarre habits as a creative. Well, I’m doing that while periodically glancing at my phone and wondering why Instagram is not uploading the seven photos of my work in progress that I just took and created an Instagram post of.  All the while wishing that all of the above was not causing me as much agita as it is at this very second.

BREATHE.

Some recent history:

Long time followers of my Instagram account (katie_kinsman_artist) know that I take a lot of pictures. Until a year or so ago, I posted pictures of my artwork in process several times per day. Every day of the week. I decided to reduce this to posting once per day on my personal Instagram account. What I’d discovered was that I was losing a chunk of time during my working hours just creating posts for Instagram.

Reducing the amount of posts to Instagram was not the result of taking less photographs. I would still take a lot of photos, but only publish a few. Now that I have Twitter and Imgur accounts, some of those additional photos are published on those social media platforms. If a person from any of my social media accounts finds me on another one, they’ll more than likely see some new content.

History from further back:

As a graphic design student in the beginning of the 90’s, I learned the hard way to back-up everything I created on computer.  I lost an entire magazine layout for a design course once. And it wasn’t really an entire layout! I had to create the entire thing again. I had to use a very early back-up copy that was nowhere near finished. The whole thing just made me so mad at myself. It was all my own fault. Creating a back-up can be time consuming, but it can save your like (time) when you have it.

Everyone who works with a computer on a daily basis, or for whom the computer and its documents are of paramount importance can identify with the need for a back-up copy. When I worked as a secretary, I backed-up everything that I thought I would need in case of some kind of catastrophic computer crashing incident. I also kept paper copies of important things as well. Everyone needs a CYA file, right?

My peculiar idiosyncracy:

Even for a trained graphic designer, I take an un-godly amount of photos. I use my cell phone for much of this photography. My photography skills have never been stellar. And I know this. As I said, many of the photos I take aren’t posted or displayed anywhere digital or physical. About 70% of the photos I take are just for me. So why take them at all? It’s not like I’m documenting anything of historical importance.

One of the reasons I sometimes placate myself with is; so I remember how I created a certain piece. Or perhaps, a reminder of the specific technique I used. There are times in which I cannot, for the life of me, remember exactly how I created something. Or at least all the steps I use. Photos can make remembering those steps a little easier.

I also think that there’s a part of me that knows I might need proof that I was the creator of a specific piece of art. I’ve had artwork copied/stolen and no credit/money given to me. This kind of thing really sucks. Having the proof that it was me making the piece gives me a certain peace of mind I suppose.

Yeah, psychological reasons:

Part of my identity is being an artist. A creative person. The artwork that I make are the parts of my insides that I pull out and make real in the physical world. Therefore, my artwork is me. For someone to take my work without concent or compensation feels like a personal violation. Having the photographic proof that my work is “my work” seems to be a small thing I can do to give myself psychological peace of mind.

Physical ramifications:

Well, that’s great, until I end up in a digital avalanche of photo files. Honestly. I thought that creating some back-ups of my photo files from my phone and computer would be a cake-walk this morning. But here I am, writing a flippin’ blog post about it instead of finishing, proofing, and posting the other blog post I wanted to post today. (It’s okay. The other blog post wasn’t very good.)

This morning, I discovered that I had not just a few hundred photos to back-up, but around 59 megabytes of photos to deal with. OH! And not just photos, videos too! Okay. No problem. I’ll just get them sorted. Do a little file compressing and get them all backed-up to the 4 terabyte back-up drive.

Nope:

That was what I was thinking this morning as I got everything set-up. I grabbed a book to read while transfered the files around between my phone, laptop and external drive. Four hours later, I was still nohwere near completing this set of tasks. I did finish two chapters in a Neil Gaiman book though. My frustrations burbled-over at about the midway point. So I decided to write a blog post instead.

The thing that’s killing me right now is that I’d rather be working on the four Imp Dolls instead of farting around with backing-up my files and photos. Or even writing a blog post. Being a small business owner who can be an emotional bag of squirrels in a Katie-shaped suit is not all that it’s cracked-up to be today.

So now what?

This is just one of those days in which some things have gone sideways in a way I hadn’t prepared myself for. I’m feeling rather crabby and I just need to put some things down and walk away for a while.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Creative Boredom

What brought me here today:

I recently watched an episode of Bill Making Stuff on YouTube that I thought was very well done. In my opinion, all of his videos are well done and funny. Plus I learn something new in almost every video he produces. But this video dealt with what to do when you have no idea what to create. Everything that Bill suggests in his video are the things that I do if I feel creatively bored with my artwork. There are a few things that I do a little differently. Those differences are just a matter of personal tastes though.

I’m extremely fortunate in not having creative blocks, or running out of ideas. What I want to create always seems to exceed my time to create it. There are times in which I find myself mired in the ‘creative blahs’. I attribute this to creative boredom concerning ideas and techniques mostly. Sometimes I just plow through it and keep working. While other times I just want to stop working entirely. This gets me into a weird grey area of knowing when and where to just sisu myself through a piece or project I’m working on.

Put a finger on it:

It’s hard sometimes to know I’m in the creative blahs until I’m up to my rear-end in them. Sometimes it’s just a creeping suspicion that something just doesn’t feel right to me while I’m working. This can mean that the work I’m creating isn’t going the way that I thought that it would. There are other times that challenges keep getting in the way while working. I may be missing a material or tool that would make the entire process easier.

There can be times in which I just want to push the unfinished artwork off my desk and start something completely new. I rarely, if ever, do that. I hate wasting supplies and materials. The finished piece may not be what I would consider acceptable, but there may be important lessons to learn in the completing of the piece. These lessons can be applied to future artwork. And it makes me feel just a tiny bit better when completing sub-standard artwork.

Moving forward:

Okay. Now that I know I’m being creatively jammed by a severe case of creative boredom (blahs), or incorrect materials, or my own poor planning, I can do something abou it. Assess the situation. Can I even keep working on the piece? Is it a total and complete lost cause? Perhaps I can set it aside until I can lay hands on the correct supplies or tools?

It’s also important to remember that my own emotions can affect how I create my artwork. I don’t mean that I’m being adversely emotionally affected by working on a piece of artwork. Most of the time, my mind is wandering all over the place while I’m working on a piece. Sometimes my mind stumbles around and stirs up thoughts and emotions that cause me useless agita. In those cases, I just need to let it pass. Then I can get back to work.

During the past nine days or so, I’ve had a head cold. It was super-annoying. And it prevented me from working as much as I wanted to. Working myself to a nub while sick isn’t doing myself any favours. I gave in and took naps and tried to take it easy so I could heal up and get better. Forcing myself to work on a piece while coughing and sneezing isn’t good for anyone.

It’s not that:

If I’ve gotten through all of the above and am still at a loss as to why I’m just not wanting to work on a piece of artwork, then I need to try some other remedies for the creative blahs. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Bill from Bill Making Stuff had some good suggestions in his video.

Sketchbook:

I keep a sketchbooks and notebooks. The sketchbooks are for the ideas I want to create. The notebooks are for how I plan and design installations of my artwork. As well as useful information regarding materials and supplies. When I feel as though my artwork is getting stale, I just start drawing shapes. Then move on to forms. And then the forms are combined to create something new. I more or less just let my mind take me where ever it thinks looks interesting.

More often than not, new ideas start banging around in my head. They get me curious and excited about new ideas. Sometimes I combine older ideas with newer ideas to create something completely new to me. I use different media in the sketchbooks too. Watercolor paints, markers, chalks, crayons, etc. Whatever I have on hand. And most importantly, whatever excites my imagination.

Clean:

I’ve talked before about my ‘art midden’. There are times in which I’m tripping over my recycled materials and supplies. If I’m creatively bored, cleaning and organizing my materials, tools, and supplies can spark enthusiasm for me. When I’m cleaning and organizing, I’m taking inventory of what I have to create artwork with. I try hard to have a neat and organized workspace. But no matter how much I try, it gets messy and cluttered.

Along with the cleaning and organizing, I sometimes change-up my work space so that I can use it more efficiently. I’m currently still getting used to this new studio work space. A few weeks ago, I did do some shifting around of some tools, supplies, and materials that I use on a daily basis. This did help me a great deal. It also made me decide that I do need some very specific shelves for my work space. Now I just need to find them!

Daily journal:

When the creative blahs are firmly entrenched, I just need to work on something that won’t take-up a lot of bandwidth. Organizing the upcoming month in my daily work journal can be just what I need. I’m still working on something that will benefit me. While at the same time not stressing my brain out too much.

My daily journal is an important tool in my business-building machine. Because of this, I use it in conjunction with the sea of post-it notes I have on the wall in front of my desk. Giving myself some time to work within my daily journal and on my larger business plans can also spark some creative interest for me. Especially since I have specific places to add now ideas for projects and pieces of art.

Distance:

Sometimes nothing seems to work. I’ve cleaned and organized my supplies, materials, and studio space. My daily journal has been worked in. There are three new ideas that I’ve added to the giveaways section of my Patreon plan. Heck, I’ve even tried just pushing through it, and just kept on working on a piece. Nothing has worked.

This is when you have to get away from your work space and go elsewhere. This could mean taking a walk, running some errands, or doing a different activity. Sometimes that distance can be in reading a book, or meditating. I’m not particularly good at meditating, but I do try on occasion. Mostly connected to yoga and relaxation techniques.

Other creative outlets:

If I feel as though I’m creatively bored with working on physical artwork, I sometimes just switch-up the art that I’m creating. There is always work that I could be doing for the Go Marielle stories that I create. This ranges from taking pictures, to writing stories, to organizing the files. I’m working on a house plan for Marielle and her friends at present.

Another creative outlet is my twice weekly blog posts. I can always brainstorm and plan topics that I want to write about. In fact, this blog post today has been just that. Me exploring a different creative outlet in the hopes that I can pry myself out of my creative blahs. And look! At the end of this, I have something creative to show for it!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday!

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Settling In

What brought me here today:

At this point, my husband and I have been living in Wilmington for over two months. It seems like it was just yesterday that we arrived. While at the exact same time, like it was ten months ago. That must mean that we’re settling-in to our new home and new city. There are some things that I’m still having a hard time getting used to though. This seems weird to me as a person who was born and raised in the US. I can’t deny how I feel though.

Some things are pleasant surprises. While others are either confusing me, or making me shake my head.

Advertising on television:

We don’t watch broadcast television. There’s no ‘must see TV’ nights for us. There weren’t really any Finnish television shows that we watched regularly either. The Duudsonit (The Dudesons) that we would watch if we saw it was on while flipping around the channels. It was fun to see the weird stuff they did for the show. That being said, we didn’t actively seek out the program. The same can be said for a Finnish police show that was kind of like Cops in the US.

What we mainly watch is YouTube, AEW, and a few things on Netflix and other platforms. There are creators on YouTube that we’ve been following for quite a while. Many of these are creative people. Writers, researchers, historians, artists, cooks, musicians, etc. Most of them have sponsors, so there’s usually a sponsor ad done by the YouTube creator somewhere within the video. It’s not annoying to me. And these creators have to pay their bills just like me. So go make your coin!

Big differences:

Most Finnish ads on YouTube or television seemed low-key when compared to American advertisements. On network television, Finnish ads ran at the top and bottom of the hour as well. To me, they seemed less intrusive. American advertising during a television program, and during YouTube feel so incredibly manipulative to me. They seem to be taking every page from B.F. Skinner in their attempts to condition me to buy-into consuming their products.

The main objective to most of the American commercials seems to be “Buy this product/service and you will have a better, more fulfilling life’. Instead of the product being in the forefront, it’s what the consumer will feel like after purchasing the product/service. It’s a pretty common advertising tactic. It just feels slimy to me. Some plastic doo-hickey, or app for a phone is supposed to change a person’s life?

My husband and I are no where near being  the targeted demographic for most of the advertising we see and hear around us. It may be that I’m overtly sensitive to advertising’s attempts at manipulating my thinking. I never felt like Finnish advertising was trying to sell me a ‘lifestyle’. More often than not, they were telling me that Fazer chocolate is tasty, and perhaps some Paulig coffee would be nice to drink with some chocolates. Oh, and buying it might be a  very thing for the Finnish economy.

Getting around:

My husband had an epiphany a few days ago regarding how we were having some difficulties navigating the city. Wilmington is very hilly. In  that way, it’s similar to Jyvaskyla. It’s impossible for us to stand outside on our street and see downtown. We can see the buildings, but not where the street extends. No vanishing point. It’s lead us, erroneously, to believe that places we need to go are further away than they really are.

Wilmington has a smaller population than Jyvaskyla. But the population is much more centralized. Whereas in Jyvaskyla, it was much more spread out. There were so many hills though, that you could easily stand on one hill and see exactly where your destination was. With the way the houses have been constructed in Wilmington, (mostly two story, flat fronts, close to the sidewalk) everything is all pushed up against itself on the hilly ground.

Figuring it out:

Our regular Sunday outings to explore the city have helped us to figure out that many of the places we need to go are much, much closer than we first thought they were. Part of this is due to the way in which the city curves a bit. And with how the main highway runs through the city, close to downtown.

We now know that we can get to the grocery store and post office on foot. We don’t need to take the bus. There’s also a Dollar Store that we like that once seemed  million miles away, but it’s really not. The walk is pleasant. And there’s a small local corner shop that sells Italian ices right along the way!

We still have a lot more exploring and learning to do. Like, where does this particular #40 bus go that runs even on Sundays? Needless to say, we have many more Sundays in which to explore our new city.

Sugar:

I’ve stated multiple times that every single tooth in my head is a sweet tooth. But after eating Finnish and European produced foods, American food tastes incredibly sweet to me. There seems to be sugar in products that it has no business being in! Pasta sauce? Oat milk? Soy milk? Sandwich bread?! My husband has been doing the cooking since before we were married. I’ve never been quite so happy about that since returning to the US. This has cut out sugar intake down quite a bit.

The sodas are another thing I just can’t seem to get used to again. They all taste thick and heavy. My gastrointestinal tract is not happy when I drink them either. The one soda that doesn’t bug me is Jarritos. It’s one of the treats I pick up at the Dollar Store. The mandarin orange flavour is my favourite. It reminds me of Jaffa. My husband noted that Jarritos uses sugar, and not corn syrup, which may be why American sodas are upsetting my stomach so much.

We finally found some carbonated drinks we like. Yeah. We’re the old people who have to use reading glasses and drink seltzer water. The ones that we like the best are the no calorie, no sugar/sweetners kind. It doesn’t upset my stomach and I’m not sucking in un-needed sugars. Win-win in my old lady book.

Now, it’s habit:

I first thought it was so incredibly strange to order groceries and have them delivered. Now, it just seems like a good practice to keep. Mostly because the current pandemic situation seems to fluctuate so much, regarding variants and exposure, etc. There are still times in which we physically go to the grocery store. It usually coincides with another errand we’re on though.

Ordering my supplies online is still strange to me. This morning, my husband placed an order for some polyester stuffing for me. We won’t be heading out to the mall where the Michaels is for another week or more. I knew I would be creating more dolls, so the order was placed. It will be here tomorrow. I’ve also ordered felt and thread online as well.

Again, this seems a prudent choice for us from the standpoint of wanting to reduce the chances of being one of those break-through cases of Covid that can occur in the fully vaccinated like us.

Pleasant surprises:

I’ve really begun to enjoy having people smile and say hello when we’re out and about in the city. When the cashier at the Dollar Store said, “Oh! I remember! You bring your own bags!” it kind of made me feel like I was becoming ‘a regular’ at the store. The bus is still mostly quiet, but people are friendly and will chat with strangers like me. Again, it makes me feel more at home. Less of a stranger in Wilmington. Usually, I want bus-time to be my private internal thinking time. But not here. I chat away with whomever strikes up a conversation.

Dog owners take leases seriously here! All of the dogs we’ve encountered are on a lease and follow the directions of their humans. I’ve not seen a single stray dog or cat since moving here. In fact, I’ve only seen two cats period! Both had collars, and no time for my nonsense. Interesting aside: the squirrels here seem to like me. The amazingly cute, little, red Finnish squirrels did not. I have no idea why.

Amazing arrays of new types of plants and trees are everywhere in Wilmington! There is not a single outing in which I don’t discover some new variety of flowering tree or plant that I’ve not seen up close and in person before. Kousa dogwood tree, crepe myrtle, several hybrids of Rose of Sharon, are just a few. There are so many different oak trees and even walnut trees! I’ve got my eye on a couple of the walnut trees and am planning on snagging a few. The husks makes a good dye and the walnuts taste amazing!

So now what?

So, yeah. I’m beginning to settle into our new city and being in the US again. Right now, I think I’m going to use up the last of my stuffing to create some new witch dolls. What are you planning on doing this week?

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday!

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My Circus; My Monkeys

What brought me here today:

Last Friday’s Blog Post, Showing My Butt is why I’m here typing today. I knew as soon as I published my blog last Friday that I was going to need to do a follow-up blog post. There were several points that needed to be addressed. That blog post was an incredibly petulant diatribe! But I think I needed to get it all out before it started doing too much internal damage.

After spewing out Showing My Butt, I did feel quite a bit better. Not completely a-okay, but better. I had some good conversations with a few people who had read the post too. They helped to make me feel that I was not alone, while simultaneously jerking a knot in my tail at the same time.

How do I feel now?

I do feel better, but it’s not because the jealousy and envy magically went away. Feeling better has more to do with getting my feelings out. Most people don’t do that sort of thing so publicly. Simply put, I’m the sort of person who will tell my life story to the person sitting next to me on the bus. Admitting to being jealous and envious of other artists and artisans that are making more money than I am, is something I had to do so I could get past it.

In talking about it, I’m not embarrassed about it anymore. The shame of having those emotions no longer has control of me. Those twin beasties Jealousy and Envy have been cut down to a much, much more manageable size. Instead of being huge and scary, they’re small and annoying.

I can no say to them, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re there. I know. Go back to your cage. I have things to do.” instead of letting them run all over  my mind, getting sticky, stinky, little foot prints on everything they come into contact with. Making everything they come into contact with stink. With me, trying frantically to get them back into their cages before my whole brain is coated with them and their nasty smell.

Things are not as they would seem:

Another thing that I had to remind myself of is the fact that much of what I see isn’t real. Just because those artists and artisans have lots of likes, or thumbs up, or an Etsy shop doesn’t mean that they’re achieving the success that you think they are. Or for that matter, the success that the artists and artisans want to achieve for themselves! Nothing that we see, hear, or read online is real. It’s what the artist and artisan wants you so see.

No artist is going to show themselves three-days unbathed, hair sticking up, wearing ripped and stained sweatpants, no bra, working at a desk that looks like a goat exploded on. It’s not what a potential customer wants to see. They want to see a happy, successful looking artist. Sitting in an immaculately clean studio space with light and flowers. Hair done. Make-up on. Waiting for inspiration from some kind of mythical muse.

Yeah. That’s not how this works. Not at all. And we all know it.

Possible solutions:

A friend who read the previous Friday blog post gave me some excellent advice about potential customer groups.  I had never thought of any of these groups before. Getting my work to be attractive to these groups won’t require a huge amount of change of my small doll work as well. There would simply be different contexts in which the dolls would be presented. It won’t take a tremendous amount of change either. I can broaden my customer base. While still allowing me to be as creative as I want with other pieces, like Elodia and Daria.

Another friend made a suggestion that I have been wanting to do; stickers. I’ve been looking for a place that can print stickers of of my doll work for a month or so. I’d like to have a local print shop create them. Hopefully those will be coming before the end of the year. Along with stickers, I’ve been thinking about other peripherals like postcards, and downloadable and printable things.

So, now what?

As always, getting back to work. I’m seeing how I can plug-in the aforementioned good suggestions into my “Big Plan”, which includes Patreon. I think that part of my jealousy and envy is that I’m having to wait to move on some of these plans until some other things (out of my immediate control) happen. I’m not terribly good at sitting-tight until all the pieces are in place either. This doesn’t matter much, because I have to just…wait. (Dammit.)

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Showing My Butt

What brought me here today:

A large part of my on-going attention to my mental health, is identifying the emotions I’m feeling. That might sound odd to some, but for me, it keeps me on top of regulating my emotions. Anything that feels odd or out of place is scrutinized closely, so it doesn’t snow-ball into something potentially scarier and harder to deal with further down the road.

Another reason I do this ’emotional pin-pointing’ is so that I don’t become, what my husband calls, ‘axel wrapped’, i.e., completely immobilized by my emotional states. When I get axel wrapped, everything I do more or less comes to a screeching halt. Nothing gets done until I tease apart what has gotten me so twisted up inside my head.

Lately, I’ve been feeling dogged by intense feelings of envy, or perhaps jealously regarding my lack of success. Success being interpreted as: followers on social media platforms, sales, traffic to my website, and people reading my blog. I do not like feeling this way. So I need to take a closer look at my emotions.

Defining the emotion:

A lifetime of being a middle child has securely tamped-down most of my feelings of jealousy. There’s a part of me that kind of shakes it off and says, “Yeah. That’s just the way it is.” and I move on. But then there are the rare times in which I can’t seem to just shake it off and keep moving. Something works it’s way in and starts to irritate me.

Initially, during this most recent emotional irritation, I more or less ignored it. Figuring it would go away on it’s own. But the more I ignored it, the more insistent the irritation became. I wrote about this, in part, earlier this year. However, this post was more about the doubts I have about my own creative worth as an artist. And only peripherally about being jealous of other creators perceived success.

What’s in a word?

I thought that what I was feeling was jealousy. But upon closer inspection, and a bit of lateral reading on the internet, a more accurate description would be envy. In American English, jealousy and envy have become interchangeable. In fact, they’re two very different emotions, rooted in the same base emotion of fear.

I’m experiencing a little of jealousy and envy to be honest. Feelings of low self esteem are not an uncommon occurrence for me. Part of me is feeling incredibly uncertainty about the future of my business. Jealousy seems to be tied more to interpersonal relations. I have no fears my husband will leave me. What I’m feeling seems to tick off more indicators on the envy checklist.

Intense feelings of inferiority (creative and intellectual), sadness towards other’s (i.e.; artists that are much more successful than I am) accomplishments, as well as some resentment regarding my own status within the larger arts community (being seen as a ‘crafty person’ and not an artist).

Not a little, a lot:

Okay. I’ll be honest. I’m more or less rolling around in the poison that my envy of other artists and creators have stirred in me right now. Even when I know, I KNOW, that what I’m doing as an artist is in many ways different from the much more successful artists and creators I know/or follow. It’s the success part that’s just sticking in my throat right now.

I do not sell enough work to be profitable. Not in any way, shape or form. I need to be able to contribute to the household expenses. It’s incredibly embarrassing to be such an absolute failure at being able to sell my art. And don’t try to placate me by saying things like, “You’ll be so famous after you die!” Well, at least I don’t have to pay rent, or go to the doctor, or eat anymore after I’m dead. So, yeah. I’ll have that going for me.

Sorry. Envy makes me pissy and more sarcastic than usual. Buckle-up for the next section. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.

Possible solutions:

Last night, while I was working on three new tiny dolls I started running a simulation in my mind. To make more money, I need to sell more work. Maybe I should just design a doll that I can make over and over again. You know, make them as exactly the same. Give the group of a dozen or so identical dolls the same name. Then, put them in my online store for like, $5 each.

I could eliminate a lot of embroidery work too. I could just draw the simple faces on the dolls with fabric markers. And instead of sewing the hair onto each of the dolls heads, I could just do a quick glue job instead. Braids take a while to create, especially the braided buns, so those will have to be dropped. I’ll use the cheaper 100% acrylic felt to save money. No more boots either. The same goes for the stands. I could stop wiring the arms and legs so they are posable. All three take too much time.

That would make me around $60 if I sold all twelve of the dolls for $5 each. This is before shipping though. Maybe I could just offer free shipping too? So, out of that $60, I might have to eat around $30 in shipping charges. But that’s only if I send them the cheapest letter rate. Which means the dolls have to stay small enough to be shipped that way. So if I just stick with a super-stripped-down doll, I might make a small profit.

Did I lie?

Sorry for the pissy, whiny, sarcastic rant, but I needed to get it out. I know that no one owes me anything. People either like my work and purchase it, or they don’t. There’s nothing I can do about that. I sometimes am just so insanely envious of those who can take one or two ideas and turn it into a fabulous, money making creative business.

I’d been told, way in the past, by someone I didn’t like a whole lot, that I needed to lower my prices because I was an “unknown entity”. Translated art-speak: I wasn’t famous enough yet to command $50 for a piece of my artwork. The gallery owner declined to show my work. It kind of felt similar to those job listings that are listed as entry level, but demand ten years of experience and two advanced degrees just to apply.

So now what?

You tell me. I’m putting together a Patreon, but I am so fearful that it will fail. The traffic on my website is flatlining. And, don’t forget, creating art is my therapy. So…when I feel like crap about my artwork not selling I can always, uh…go make more artwork that won’t sell either. Yeah. I guess I’m still being incredibly pissy, whiny and sarcastic.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.