Aint No Time Like The Present!

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Well, this is it.

Today is February 1st.

I told myself the day after Christmas that I would work on opening an Etsy shop until February 1st and then I would stop and go back to painting.

I only got 39 items listed.  I probably have 100 more items to add, but from here on in, it will be in fits and starts.  I need to paint.  I haven’t painted since September 1st.  That’s almost 5 months!  How can that be?  It is definitely how it feels.  I’m terrified to start painting again because I feel like I’ve forgotten everything I learned!  I’m hoping it’s like riding a bike :)  I’m also hoping the break cleared my jumbled mind from all the concepts I stuffed inside it.  I get to start with a clean slate and see what my intuition has decided to keep and what ideas and information it will politely decline. Mmmm….I have absolutely no clue what will come out!

OK. Back to Etsy…

To celebrate, I have created a coupon code:  GRANDOPEN1  https://www.etsy.com/shop/BeCreativeMary

This entitles shoppers to a 20% discount on items in my new store.

If people could share, favorite or promote my shop in anyway, I’d really appreciate it!  It stinks having no likes,interactions or feedback, but I know, I know, …you have to start somewhere!

I thank you all for continuing on my journey as I navigate all things creative.  I don’t always know what I’m doing, but I don’t mind sticking my neck out there to on trying! ;)

Here’s to a knew year of painting and pottery.  I am so excited to get my feet wet!

The Simple Joy of Taking Photos

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Still quiet on the creative front.  Without “producing” anything, I almost forget to blog!

But as I reflect on the month, although not robust or showy, I still am embracing the creative daily.

For the past month I have been painstakingly & slowly photographing and loading my work onto Etsy.  I knew it would take a long time and with this knowledge I have pushed it off for years.  But my intuition has been saying “NOW” and “DO IT” and “GET IT DONE” and who am I to argue with the big voice inside me?  Heck, it generally knows more than my ego bird brain!  … so I sit day after day, at my computer.  I have read up on Etsy strategies.  I’ve been struggling to understand the best way to calculate shipping…day by day I am learning, tuning in and observing.

It’s through this quiet process that my photography has greatly begun to improve.  It could also be that I am always rushing and I don’t give the lens it’s proper due, but in this month I have really stopped and tried to take better photographs.  Here are some examples:

These two images above were taken on white fabric using a light box.  They are perfectly acceptable or one might say perfectly average.

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Now these photographs were taken incorporating backgrounds and visual texture.  As I read the Etsy strategies, it was explained that a better approach to photography is to try to incorporate where or how someone might use the product.  If you have a piece of jewelry, photograph it on a dresser where someone might put it in their own home.  If you have a piece of pottery, photograph it on a hutch or filled with flowers, giving ideas to the person on how they might use it.

More examples:

Above plain old backgrounds… or….

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…the products can become more personal and interesting.  You can better envision incorporating them into your life.

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Again, above is a plain photo…… or…

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Show your potential customer how they can use your product.

So, if you are a creative you might be saying “Big Duh!” to this simple concept, but for me, I sometimes forget these big duhs!  I was totaling planning on plowing through all of my inventory with the trusty old light box.

I’m glad I took the time to read some of the Etsy tutorials and slow down enough to pay attention.  In doing so, this project which I dreaded for it’s monotony and data entry foibles has become quite fun and enjoyable.

When I look at my little Etsy store and how it is coming along, I can now take pride in my work , I can see my progress as an artist and I can see the joy I exude from being creative every chance I get. It feels really good.

…..Amazing Awesomeness Baby!!!

 

Bird Totems

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Wow, dust this off.  I just looked up when I started these ceramic birds and it was July 2nd, 2015!  Here were the beginning stages:  https://becreativemary.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/birds-taking-formation/

You see, this is what happens when a month or two pass and you never got around to finishing that thing you were working on.  You walk back into the studio a month later and you look at this strange idea you had and you think to yourself  “What was I thinking?  These bird totems are absolutely ridiculous and non-functional???”  Those were my exact thoughts and so every time I walked past them I’d think “I should really finish these and get them out of here” but in my next breath I’d think “why bother what in the heck am I going to do with 6 strange bird totems???”  Obviously this battle in my head played out for quite some time, since 6 months went by!!!

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But alas, I finished them off.

I still have 50 walking sticks I collected off a beach in Block Island and forced my husband to attach to the car and take home with us.  I insisted I would be attaching these birds to them….and it was going to be great….and of course highly functional!!!!

Oh my dear husband :)

This spring I will have to attach the birds to sticks if only so I can slightly wipe the grin off my husbands face for thinking I am a total freak!!!

But let’s face it.  He knows, you know and secretly I know, that either way I will still be a freak that took six months to finish some strange ceramic bird totems!!!

Amazing Awesomeness

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 Amazing Awesomeness #2 – A Gift from the Goodwill Gods

Power in the Divine I say.

Thank you person who received these for Christmas and were appalled at their brightness.  Really, when kicks are this crazy what on earth would you wear them with?  And so they were donated with the tags still on them.

Imagine my bliss when I walked into the thrift shop and saw the clouds part as a white beam of light shone down on the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

I swear it is like the universe wanted me to have these.

And don’t you worry, I am absolutely sure I can find something in my closet to wear them with!

Quiet on the Creative Front

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I cannot believe I haven’t blogged in two weeks. How is this possible?

I feel like time is moving EVER SO SLOWLY and yet I blink and two weeks went by? …jeese.

It does sum up this month for me though.

I am regrouping.  Paying bills. Processing all of my financial activity over the holidays and tackling a few things that were on my personal TO-DO list.

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#1.  Make myself a duvet cover to brighten up the cold winter nights.

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I hate to admit I bought the fabric in October and never had a free moment to sew it!

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Let’s just say my cat thoroughly enjoyed the process … and she still is!  At this very moment kitty is snuggled up and slumbering swimmingly …lucky little cat.

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#2 on my TO-DO list was to create an Etsy store.  I’ve had it on my list for 3 years and never felt like it’s been the right moment to launch one … Well, as they say “There’s no time like the present!”  So I have been photographing and painstakingly logging in the twenty points of data for each item that I want to put in my store.  I’d say I have 50-60 items which is quite ambitious considering I have only been able to load 5 items a day.  I decided to do 5 items a day start to finish as opposed to photographing all 50 and then data processing all 50.  Somehow 5 seems do-able whereas I might spend 7 days photographing everything and then never get around to loading the pieces onto Etsy.  This way, at least something gets manifested each day!  I’m proud of myself for taking this route, it is very “unlike” my personality to pace myself :)  However, I better get to loading 10 pieces a day or I’m going to get stuck in data processing land for way longer than I can handle!

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I’ve been keeping up with pottery.

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I hand-built for the past 4 months and thought it was time to get my butt back on the wheel.  My pottery instructor is always saying you have to throw a hundred pots to get to that mastery state, and she doesn’t mean 4-5 pots every three months. She means crank them out over and over continuously until you build up that pottery mastery muscle.

Hey, being part humming bird / part Gemini – I’ll do my best! But I always find myself wandering into something else …can’t help it.  I’m starting to embrace this about myself and not spend so much time thinking of this is a character flaw, but more a CREATIVE ASSET!

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A lot of this month has been just that.  Reflection.

I’ve made my vision board for the new year and a couple resolutions to boot.

1.Embrace myself as perfectly amazing exactly how I am.  I spend so much time worrying about what the world wants from me and I am giving that up this year.  Where should I be? What should I be doing? Am I using my time the best way possible?

My affirmation for this this year is that I am exactly who I need to be.  I will do exactly what I feel I need to do and there is no right or wrong.  Also, however long this takes is exactly how long it needs to take.

This is a pretty tall order of a resolution to infuse into me, chicken Little’s BFF, but I’m feeling really strong and at peace on this the 13th day of the new year.

2. Is very personal.  I blocked out all sorts of emotions as a child.  Mostly anger, lonliness and the feeling like I had no control over my life.  I think I’ve figured out that my childhood asthma was directly related to holding my breathe in hopes of holding back my emotions.

I was pretty successful, by the time I was ten I could numb out my body to all of the sadness and anger I was feeling, but it had a cost.  -I numbed out feelings of joy, gladness and optimism too.  I can’t be scientifically sure, but I think I rewired my brain to not feel any emotions good or bad.

This served me well through my teens and early twenties.  I could look at everything as black and white.  I could give myself a moral code and push on through life.  And I did, quite successfully actually.

However about mid-thirties I started to realize I was a bit different from those around me.  I could stare at profound beauty and understand very clearly that I was not absorbing, processing or enjoying it to it’s fullest.  I was numb and I didn’t want to be that way anymore.  The difficulty of a troubled childhood was in the past.  What ever defense mechanisms I had created no longer serve me.

This is still an ongoing affliction in my life.  I know the answer is in stillness, meditation and simply ALLOWING.  I have to take a little bit more time than the average human to process and embrace.

This is hard for someone who never sits down, tackles twelve projects at once and fires off ideas in her head like dandelions embrace a field.

This is big for me.

I have various ways I will be working on this in the upcoming months, but I can’t tell you how amazing the blogging process has been for me.  It forces me to stop for a moment, reflect on what I’m doing in my life and astoundingly see such amazing things.

Blogging in itself is a therapy for me.  It helps me embrace gratitude which leads to a feeling – dare I say joy?

I always have my camera or phone in tote.  As an extra creative gift to myself, I am going to spend the year documenting the very small amazing parts of my life.  Daily reminders of gratitude and looking for the good.  I will name it AMAZING AWESOMENESS.

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Amazing Awesomeness #1.  My child in slumber with ice cream on his nose.

As a mom, I might have been a little disgruntled that this little rodent ate dessert and then passed out on my bed obviously without brushing his teeth.

But no.

I saw the absolute beauty in a kick-ass day.  We played hard. We ate ice cream. We passed out.

This is the sign of an awesome life.  NO war, no violence, no pain, no suffering.  All your needs are taken care of and you are overly loved.

I can feel this thank God.  I can feel the gratitude for this and every time I look at those rosy cheeks, red lips and beautiful eye lashes I know that he is blessed and I am blessed.

and then he wakes upwhich is another story!  ;)

So, if you see a pic with the title AMAZING AESOMENESS, you will know why and I hope for all three of you that got to the end of this 1500 word blog, that maybe you will join me in documenting your own amazing awesomeness.  Just think of what kind of year we could have!

Naughty or Nice? Silly or Serious?

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Man do my kids LOVE their elf!

But, like most parents, Charley our elf is the bane of us – their parent’s, existence!

When our elf wakes up in the same place as the day before, the kids are devastated and for some reason, remembering to move this felted num-nut is unattainable!

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Luckily, I figured out my husband and I are parental failures a long time ago!

This is when I decided Charley wasn’t going to show up like the other Elves on the Shelves the day after Thanksgiving.  No Charley was going to come by mail from the North Pole roughly every December 15th thus relieving the pressure on the poor Walsh parents who now only had to remember to move the elf ten days instead of 30!

Now this can be very disappointing to children as they hear stories from all of their friends about what their silly elves have been up to.  But you see, I thought of that too.  Our Elf comes with a note each year telling the kids why it always comes so late!

Ya know, if you are going to lie to your kids to keep up this “Magic of the Season” then you might as well go all the way ;)

So at first when they were younger, the letter’s from their elf would say “I am in charge of toy manufacturing and we have been really busy” or “I am in charge of the naughty and nice list and the list took longer than usual to fill out” you know, stuff like that.  But as they have gotten a little older I started getting a little more serious. Charley started leaving maps of New Orleans and the destruction from Hurricane Sandy. He might work at a homeless shelter or hospital helping people who needed it.  You have to remember, Charley the elf is one serious elf, he is like second in command to Santa. Charley isn’t sprinkling glitter in toilets or nibbling Christmas cookies, Charley is late to the Walsh house for VERY IMPORTANT REASONS!!!

Well, this year I may have gone too far.  Being an anti-consumer borderline hippie, I may have sat down to write the letter and thought a little too much about what’s going on in our world.

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Yeah, this one may have went a little too far :) It sounds way more like their mom than their elf!

In hindsight, how could I have forgotten to have Charley stop in Paris for the environmental conventions?  I mean the North Pole is going to turn into a tropical island resort in the next few years  and I haven’t heard a peep from Santa or his elves. Republicans?  Hmm…

Oh well, ya gotta seize those teachable moments when you can!

If I get my kids to think about others for even a moment, it will have been worth this ridiculous masquerade!!!

And as for old Charley, he is hiding very well thank you.  We are on day three and no slip-ups thus far.  Let’s hope he keeps the magic until Christmas ;)

Hmm…My thoughts on Craft Shows

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Well I made it through!

Generally, I am sick as a dog at this point but instead I’m cool as a cucumber. Doing holiday bazaars has put me through an entire range of emotions.  Each show I did was an entirely different experience.

At my first show I was positioned right next to the chocolate popcorn lady.  Very quickly, I realized this was about what people who attended this show wanted to invest in! Popcorn was flying out the door and I was wondering what I had gotten myself into!   There was one saving grace.  There was one silver lining and that was my friends.  This first show was also the closest to my home and so many wonderful people stopped by to give me a hug, invest in some of my work and keep me smiling.  I will not forget their kindness.

The second show was a complete dud for me!  It was completely overwhelming.  There were over 70 vendors, yet not too artsy, it was primarily knitted Afghans, Tupperware and more of that chocolate popcorn!!!  There were 4 of us vendors tucked into a corner that was completely bypassed by traffic.  This was incredibly frustrating.  I made my investment back, but the day very much felt like I was selling used cars rather than something I feel very strongly about.

The third show was just the right fit.  The photos above were of me setting up for this event.  The biggest difference was that my first two shows were school affiliated events and the final show was at an art center.  The Jamestown Art Center.  The venue was small.  Only about 20 vendors and mostly artists.  There were printmakers, painters, potters, clothing designers and overall very unique artisans.  It took place in their gallery so the lighting was beautiful.  The final wonderful attribute was the clientele.  I’ve never met such an enthusiastic and curious bunch of people.  Too many to count would come up and engage in conversation about my process, my interests and where I was from.  Oh man, does that make the time fly!  And many people bought some of my work and would tell me who it was being gifted to and how excited they were to give something hand-made.  WOW.  Is that the difference?  Finding shows with like-minded people?

Your thinking BIG DUH …right?

If only it was that easy!  Apparently you have to kiss a few toads before you find your prince show!

Overall, I thought for sure I was going to swear up and down that I’d never do this again! But, in the end, I stayed calm (well not really – as calm as I could!), I didn’t take it personally and I absorbed it all as a learning experience.  That them there means growth I believe!

I leave you with some photos I took during the events while trying to keep myself occupied.  There were definitely some characters.  Life would be so boring without them!

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I Had a Vision

 

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I’m in pretty good shape.  I have my ducks in a row, but dare I say I am exhausted!  That’s why it was nice to escape last night and have a girl’s night out making vision boards.  Vision boards are a way to “visualize” concepts, ideas and inspiration in hopes of drawing focus on aspects one would like to attract more of into their lives.  General categories include family, friends, romance, spirituality, and health and wealth.

For this new year, my focus will be experiencing & savoring happiness and letting go of my own preconceived notion of my role in this world! I’ve spent so many years worrying about being good enough, creative enough & contributing enough. That I think I’m done.  I hope I am.  Will I be mature & wise enough to let go of all of my roles and self-expectations and simply be?  For me it would be a personal paradigm shift.  That is what the Fibonacci spiral in the center of my board represents. Am I as tiny as a perfect nautilus shell or as expansive as the universe?  I think little Mary will stop focusing so much on asking the big questions and concentrate her efforts towards simply being.  Being in a constant state of questioning one’s purpose on this planet, leaves one in a perpetual state of questioning.  It’s time to make a transition from questioning to Being.

Hence the I AM.

Thank you to my beautiful friend that created this night for us.  I usually create a vision board for New Year’s, but it feels very good doing it amongst all the holiday mayhem.  It’s taken my focus off my immediate circumstances and allowed me to see the big picture.

That’s a Good Thing.

Christmas in Rhode Island

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Remember when I was working on all those little etchings?  Well, I finally finished water-coloring, matting and packaging them all! Take a look:

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For those of you a little far away, let me fill you in on the significance of each image to Rhode Islanders.

Del’s is a special lemonade native to RI that features lemon bits and shaved ice. We are obsessed! This is what you’d buy your kid after a ball game.

Our state bird is the Rhode Island Red Chicken, hence the bottom illustration, but a very close second would be the seagull.  There everywhere and personally, my favorite bird.

My two little ones have already started surfing.  I only thought it naturally Santa would too!

The Big Blue Bug is a Providence land mark.  NE Pest Control put this 20ft bug on top of their building years ago and everyone on the highway looks forward to passing it and checking out what silly adornment they’ve attached to the bug.  Christmas is always Rudolph, but this summer the bug was sipping an Awful Awful which is another RI specialty.

That brings me to lobsters or as the locals call them “lobstas”.  It’s just not summer without hitting the docks and picking up lobstas right off the fishing boats.

Speaking of fishing boats.  I added some Christmas lights to a lobster boat.  When you look out to sea, you can always spot a lobster boat. Even at night sometimes you can see their lights.  It also reminds me of Block Island because they do a Christmas boat parade where all the owners decorate their boats.  It’s an awesome sight to see!

My final etching is of an angel or should I say mermaid?  It’s a little nod to Christmas in a maritime town.  I also thought of the angel who pointed the three kings towards the star of Bethlehem.  Hmmm…this angel might guide them with her siren song …grrr!

So that’s it.  I’m just boxing these up to display this weekend…

…oh yeah, that reminds me  …back to work!