DAY #333 – CHRISTMAS ALREADY?

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Thanks to our failed state of capitalism in America, I have been averting Christmas music since Halloween!

With children, this is hard to do. They’ve been waiting all year for Christmas.

My rule is NO CHRISTMAS UNTIL AFTER THANKSGIVING! I’m old-school like that.

Well, today was the first official day “After Thanksgiving”.

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Now I’m not exactly sure who is worse, my stepmother or the kids, but by noon the tree was decorated, cocoa had been consumed and Christmas carols had been sung.

The floodgates have officially been opened!

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By 2pm, our “Meme” had started a girls verse boys gingerbread house decorating contest.  There is nothing worse than competitive adults.  There were secrets, strategies, hidden materials…and collapsing gingerbread houses, but as soon as the icing set up, we were good to go!

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The girls house…

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and the boys house…

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Of course the trick is not to eat from under your foundation, but luckily there were left-overs.

I’d say the cousins had an awesome day. They were absolutely tuckered out.  I have to thank my Christmas-crazed stepmother.  She has definitely started a new family tradition!

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If that wasn’t enough, I had to try to get a little of my driftwood sculpture series done today as well.

I got half-way through my little folk-art dog, but then my youngest begged me to snuggle him to sleep.

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t think of a better way to end my day.

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DAY # 332 – THE EARLY BIRD

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Happy Thanksgiving!

The Holiday season has officially begun!

I have to say I am feeling incredibly unorganized. I feel like I should have created a token piece of turkey art today, but that would have required at least three days of planning.  Three days ago I was trying to figure out what I was going to make three days ago, so if you catch the trend, you’d know I’m barely hanging on!

I decided to keep going with what I’ve been working on this week.  Today was one of my favorites, a really twisted couple pieces of driftwood I found.

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I just marvel at mother nature.  Can you believe I found a piece of wood with such a perfect bird face?  The wings are separate, yet they seem like they could have come from the same tree.  Not so. I found the wood at two different beaches.

I nailed the pieces together the other day and today I decided to paint it as well as create a pedestal with a dowel to suspend my bird in the air.

I had to be at my family’s house for noon which meant in order to create something for today I needed to be an “early bird”.  Get it? That’s how I came up with my name for today.

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I had to pack my kids luggage for the next few days, prep some appetizers for Turkey Day and then pack up some art supplies to travel with for the next few days.

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This was the other bummer.  All the appetizers came out and I was stuck on the floor in the naughty corner working on my art for today. It’s really hard to stuff your face and paint ya know.  Don’t you worry though, some how I managed!

I have to thank my family for this year.  They are such troopers.  I’m always off in the corner doing my own thing and they step up.  They help with whatever I would have been doing if I wasn’t making art and cheer me on at the same time.  I can’t tell you how many family members sternly looked at me at 8pm tonight and asked if I had gotten my blog done yet!  This 365 challenge has not only impacted my life thus far, but also EVERYONE around me.  Especially my husband.  Man I don’t even know where to start.  When they say 99% of your life’s happiness depends on who you marry, I constantly pinch myself that I could have been so lucky.  Thank you husband.  Then there’s those kiddos of mine.  I don’t think they even remember mom before this year.  Mom didn’t volunteer at school as much this year, she missed a lot of field trips,  her afternoons were generally spent finishing up some crazy project, she wound up on the computer every evening and I’m sure she has come off just a little bit crazy, tired and unorganized.

The truth is, I can’t do it all.  If you are 100% committed to one area of your life, then the other areas of your life take a hit. However, I did stay home with my little cherubs for the past eight years and all my creative juices went directly to them.  So, we’ll say by the end of this year -we’re even!  I do need to thank them.  They go with the flow, they roll with the punches and still show nothing but love.

The upcoming year will be spent trying to find a true balance.  I need to find an outlet for creativity, yet honor my family and other areas of my life just as equally.  I’m pretty sure this is a struggle for most of humanity.  I know I’m not alone. It’s so very important though.

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I leave you this evening hoping you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving, family and friends.  Today is a great day to take stock of your life, figure out who needs to be thanked and what there is to be thankful for.

I hope you feel as blessed as I do.  I really do!

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DAY #331 – WILD GOOSE CHASER

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I finished my “Wild Goose” sculpture made from driftwood found at the beaches here in Rhode Island.

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This is how the raw pieces of driftwood looked.  When I found that top piece of driftwood on the beach and I saw the natural eyes that could be created from the wood knots, I instantly thought bird head.  I just love creating things out of what you find.  It reminds me of looking for images in the clouds.  If you stare long enough, things begin to emerge.

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This is as far as I got the other day.  Today I decided to add a back fin or a hump.  I also added color to the head and details to the feather patterns. I also began to paint four lengths of driftwood in black and white stripes.  I was going to make legs for my creature.  It then occurred to me that geese have two legs not four.  Two would not balance this heavy wood structure, so I abandoned the idea.  It has been good and windy the past two days.  I am going to try again to head down to the beach and see if I can find suitable legs.  I think black and white striped legs would be a fun addition.

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For now my silly goose is hanging with some of my black and white decor in the living room.  It’s cool painting your own sculptures.  Magically they tie in to my personal style.  Fancy that!

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving.  I will be hanging with my family and playing with my niece, nephew and our kids.  We usually have a game of capture the flag and assassin (you murder people throughout the day with a wink or handshake, if you’re killed you need to drop to the ground and act out a dramatic death, then everyone has to figure out who is the assassin). I know. I know. It doesn’t sound all that festive and Thanksgiving-y, but the kids love it, so thus it shall be our family tradition!

I have a bit of traveling to do over the Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas holiday.  I only have 36 days left to my creativity challenge, but the upcoming month may be the most difficult yet!  It’s a super busy time of year.  The only way I have figured out how to make it through the past 331 days is not to worry about tomorrow.  So that’s my plan.  36 days of not worrying about it.  On days I have time I will push myself as far as I can go.  On days where I spend 5 hours in the car with whining children, I shall go easy on myself.  Either way, creative opportunities always seem to present themselves.  The unexpected always seems to go better than the over-planned. 

It shall work itself out.

After this I have a whole new something to worry about…what do I do when I’m done?

The answer is I have no idea.  I’m hoping my near future will unfold in some perfect design.  I hope this, because I really don’t know what comes next.  It’s been nice knowing my objective for a year now.  I’ve always felt like I don’t know what I’m doing.  It’s never very concrete. This challenge was a great way to put a label on my life.  To have some way to answer when people ask what I’m up to. I’m done though.  It’s served its purpose and run its course.  It’s time for me to reassess and pick another direction or simply rest.

Rest. Now that sounds very good :)

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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Day #330 – TOO BROWN FOR ME

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Would you use these mugs in your home?  Many people I know have kitchens that would tie in with this nice warm earthy color palette. Unfortunately, my house isn’t one of them. I don’t own a lick of brown!

I was kind of bummed when I got my pieces back today because I didn’t apply any brown glazes yet that’s all I got.

I was expecting most of these pieces to have a Chartreuse green crackle glaze and to be bright and cheery.

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This mug was supposed to be a pink-purple color on top with yellow-green crackle throughout.

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This one was supposed to be yellow-green on top.

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All three of these were supposed to be a bright yellow-green and instead, I got brown. The Chartreuse crackle glaze didn’t work.  On all of my pieces it either turned clear or brown.  The glaze is new to the studio and it hadn’t been tested yet. I guess we can call my pieces the testers and guess what, the test failed.

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These two mugs came out as expected.  They are fun, playful and colorful.

You do realize that when I complain, this would be like a 1 out of 10 on the importance-meter.  Meaning – not at all important. It’s simply a self-critique. They still will hold coffee and I still had a great time making them.  It’s just when you build your expectations up high, you have a vision in your head of one thing and then the reality is way off, you can feel a bit down.

What do you do when you feel beaten? When you feel like a pottery failure??

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You make more pots!

I was so angry, I took that frustration and began the process of making more mugs. I learned a lot from this previous batch. The hand-built upper walls of these past mugs were an idea to fix a mistake.  I like the look so much I am going to try it again and they are going to be straighter and fastened smoother. I have some ideas on using under glazes to gain better control over the color outcome too. I will get this right I tell you!

This will be my third attempt this year to get “the mug” perfected. I think my poor husband has seen at least twelve mugs come in and around twelve mugs move out.  I keep giving them away before my latest attempts come out of the kiln.

I promise hubby I will keep this batch of mugs until the new ones are finished.  But as God is my witness, I vow to continue the mission, the mission to create THE PERFECT MUG!

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DAY #329 – WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE

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I thought for sure I’d finish this goose in one day, but it wasn’t to be.

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I started bright and early 8am.

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I created a feather template from my recycle bin. I assure you, when I am through, they will look a lot more like a feather motif!

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By 3pm I had mostly only completed the under-painting.  I’m not sure if this is due to my driftwood goose’s size, which is around 2 ft high or the fact that the dried out wood sucked up so much paint I had to go over every area 2-3 times.

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Whatever the reason, I’m only half way there on this creature.

I still haven’t figured out what I want to do for designs on the head.

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I also plan on adding some of these corks too.

Either way, I love having these brightly colored 3-D objects around the house!

Tomorrow is my favorite day of the week, pottery day.  Maybe I will try to be disciplined enough to leave the pottery studio when I’m supposed to.  I generally stay an extra two hours.  I will try to leave early and finish this goose. I better. I still have five other driftwood sculptures waiting to be transformed!

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DAY # 328 – LUCKY DUCK

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Today I was a glutton for punishment.

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I still need some key pieces of driftwood to complete some of my sculptures, so I decided to hit the beach.  If you are not from New England, then let me fill you in on the weather.  It was about 20 degrees today but with the wind chill, it was estimated to feel about 9.  Great day to go to the windy beach!

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I wised up this time and brought a wagon.  My arms are still sore from lugging driftwood.#328- Lucky Duck (5)

The beach I went to was an absolute disappointment.  I came home with a headache and an ear ache from the wind and only about 6 small pieces of driftwood.  None of which were what I needed to complete my pieces.  It was so windy I thought I was going to blow over.  I love having the beach to myself, but there was a reason I had it to myself today, it was nasty!

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I came back home and it seemed like all my wooden sculptures were waiting for me.

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We got back down to work, my daughter and I, we had wood shavings, nails, wood and saw dust all over the place.  There was absolutely no way we could work outside in this weather, so we moved it all inside.

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I have to say my 9-year-old daughter was way more productive today than I was.  She tells me all the time how much she doesn’t like art and how she has no interest, what a liar!  On her own, she decided to create some Christmas decorations.  I just love this snowman see-saw.  The snowmen are corks.  She nailed them all together and created a functional lever and fulcrum….show off!

I, myself, was all over the place today.  I couldn’t figure out what I wanted.  I started with painting the block orange and the duck magenta, but from there, I didn’t know where to go.  This is what I started with:

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I wound up adding a log for visual interest and I’m glad I did.  The faux-bois log is my favorite part!

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I had also found this rusty wheel shaft on the beach.  I thought it would be great for an eye. Unfortunately, I thought I could drill two small holes in it which I couldn’t, I wound up cracking about 3/4″ inch off the side of it.  That stunk. It was absolutely perfect, but I went with what was left and it still adds some visual interest.

You know, originally I was thinking of painting this bird to look like a seagull, but then I thought about how many people in the world have painting a seagull out of driftwood.  My second thought was to go with something wild from my imagination which I think was a good call.  My driftwood duck is wild, over-the-top and oh-so very colorful.  It ties in with all my art kicking around the house.   I have to say I am truly digging the 3-D element to these pieces as well.  With all of the paintings I’ve been creating, everything winds up being some form of a rectangle.  These pieces are adding some dimension to the room.  Who knows, some of these creatures might wind up permanent dwellings in this place.

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I plan on tackling my goose tomorrow.  I’ll have to dream up some crazy color combinations tonight.  I already have a fun idea for the neck.  It’s going to be crazy!

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DAY #327 – SOMETHING’S FISHY

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After hunting and dragging half of South County’s driftwood back to my patio, I am getting to the fun part.  Painting the driftwood to bring my creations to life.

Weekends are always a different can of worms.  If you have a patio full of wood, power tools, saws, hammers and nails, the children will come and like a moth to a flame, they did.#327- somethings fishy (5)b

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My son decided he wanted to make a giant catapult.  He’s painting it red.

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Any guesses on this one?  My daughter’s favorite animal, the platypus.IMG_8072

Here’s another little detail.  I used a bottle cap and gun shell casing  I found on the beach.

I plan on heading back to the beach to find a few more pieces of driftwood.  Now that I’ve started this project, I know what I need. I’m looking for some head shaped pieces of driftwood and stumps if I can find any.  I hate to say I’m disappointed we didn’t have any hurricanes this autumn, but there’s slim pickings on the beach!

My dining room is beginning to look like a wooden zoo.  What on earth will I do with all of these sculptures when I’m finished?

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#326 – BEGINNING TO TAKE FORM

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Yesterday’s post was all about the hunt for driftwood, today is all about figuring out what to do with it now that I found it!

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Of course because I needed to sit down and inspect every single piece of driftwood, it rained.  Murphy’s Law.  I manned up, grabbed a hat and scarf and sat out in the rain trying to find figures amongst the debris. This added an extra step to my day since I now had to bring my desired pieces of wood inside and place them by the fire to dry out, but hey, got it done!

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While the wood was drying, I got out all the tools I’d need to assemble wooden sculptures.

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A little hammering, a little drilling, a little sanding and from the wood came life.

There are a few pieces where the knots in the wood lined up perfectly to create eyes and other poignant details.

I’m going to add color of course.

You didn’t think I could possibly leave them natural did you?

First things first. Tomorrow I will create pedestals and posts for some of these pieces. I may even hit up another beach.  I need some better “head” shapes.

…we’ll see where the day takes me!

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#325 – THE SCAVENGER

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I had the most peaceful & glorious day.

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I went to a favorite old hunting ground looking for driftwood.  I plan on making some sculptures in the next few days.#325 - THE SCAVENGER (8)

I spent 4 hours today hunting, scavenging, hauling logs, filling my car with at least 300 pieces of wood, shells and beach debris.

And then I went home and organized it all.

These were my categories( The top photo going clockwise).  Human trash, tree bark, squiggly roots, shimmer shells, stumps, small and medium driftwood, sea glass and an awesome brick I couldn’t pass up.

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It’s too bad I don’t live in NYC.  This found-object industrial wire sculpture is straight out of MOMA.

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I title this work of art “Sea Legs”.

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And this one, “The Serpent of Green Hill”.

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This one “Nesting”.

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And this one “Peak-a-boo”.

I had these beaches all to myself today.  In four hours I only saw one other human being.  A fellow artist I enjoyed speaking to.

Every day I am more certain than ever, just how much I enjoy being a hermit.  I LOVE being alone.  It is the most quiet and focused part of my day.

Of course it’s great to have friends and family to reunite with at the end of my day, but I’ve really learned a lot about myself this year.  I don’t want to work in an office, classroom or storefront.  I want to work alone.  I love it.

My husband is going to be just thrilled with what I’ve done with the patio.  There’s about a 20 foot long pile of beach debris for him to navigate through.  I’ll have to keep the neighbors dogs away too!

OK.  I’ve collected my materials, now let’s see what I can create with them… stay tuned.

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DAY # 324 – I STINK

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There is nothing worse than receiving a text from your best friend that says:

“Hey bugger! You forgot my birthday again!!! I can’t stop crying!”

Notice the use of the word again? Right through the heart, I forgot my best friend’s birthday second year in a row.

Now it’s not that I technically forget per say.  On November 1st I think “best friends birthday this month”.  The day before, I knew it was time to get ready to call. I even get an email alert for birthdays for almost everyone I know. Last year I went to call my sister on her birthday.  I didn’t get a response, so I decided to try again later on in the day….Yep. It never happened. I um…forgot.

I stink.  I do. I totally stink.

Time and dates are my complete and total downfall.  I show up to kids birthday parties a week early.  I’ve knocked on doors with casseroles for BBQs a week late. I even had my sons birthdate wrong in my head for the first six months of his life.

So of course I feel bad.  No body wants to be the person who forgets important things. No one.

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The only remedy I could conjure, was a childhood favorite, oatmeal raisin happy face cookies on a stick.

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My mother has made these happy face cookies for us kids for our entire lives.  Birthdays, college, even when my best friend got stuck in the hospital with pregnancy complications, these cookies always show up for life’s events.

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I wrote all sorts of messages on the cookies for my girlfriend.  Words like “Smile I love you”, “Happy Birthday!”, ” Happy Lateness”, “Sorry”, “Your still my favorite” & “BFF’s???”

When you do something stupid, bribery through baking is the only way out, right?

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I wrapped them up, stuck them in a box, and shipped them out today.

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I sure hope this works.

With the amount of birthdays and special events I forget, I may have to become a full-time baker!

To all whom I love dearly.  I stink at keeping dates straight.  I may know your birthday is on Friday, but if I am fairly unaware of what day it is on any given day, how do I know when Friday is?  I sort of float through life like a snow flake, drifting wherever the wind takes me.  The calendar is this strange grid with days and numbers which I still seem to incorrectly comprehend.  It’s amazing I’ve made it to day #324 of my creativity challenge.  But even with this, I just know to show up every day.  I only know what # day it is by quickly glancing at the number of the day before it…I am capable of math thank goodness!

So Day #324 goes out to my best friend.  Will you forgive me?  Will you love me with all of my inherent flaws?  I got plenty.  But when it comes down to it, I love you. It’s been 25 years that we’ve known each other.  One day…twenty five years…what is time but a snowflake? …it seems like just yesterday.

Oh shoot. What was yesterday?  Did I forget something?

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