Street Performer

General Info, New Art
the view from my studio

I have unwittingly become a street performer.

Relocation often brings about changes to more than physical space. New schedules emerge, new habits take form and new places become open to exploration. Such has it been with my relocation from the northeast to central Texas. Changes abound. For one, the housing is different. There are no (or rarely any) basements in these homes and the basement is where my former home studio was housed so, what to do? I’ve found that probably 98% of Texas garages do not shelter automobiles but rather are mainly used for storage. Of course, my studio had to be set up in the garage.

For the most part I find that I enjoy working from the garage. I have natural light and fresh air and the weather is more often than not sunny and warm. Even on hot days the garage stays fairly cool and during the spring and summer months I know I have 10-14 hours of daylight to work by.

Almost every day I pull my easel to the front of the garage, turn the music up, and paint. Eventually come the dog walkers, the joggers, people going to and from work, the school bus passing by. Delivery trucks make their rounds as does the mail carrier, and food delivery, and I paint. Before long they all wave, call out the greeting of the hour: “good morning”, “good afternoon”, “have a nice day”!  I reciprocate the greetings and I paint, or draw, or organize, or read but always with my easel sporting a work in progress and facing the street. It’s open studio on any given day.

In the past year this practice has leveraged 7 commissioned paintings, two paint parties, direct purchases from my inventory, and a new student – each customer a neighbor. Turns out they have an appreciation of seeing the paintings progress from beginning to end, to watch the transformation from blank canvas to finished product, to witness something emerge from nothing, to watch an artist practicing her craft.

I don’t have an upturned hat or jar for tips but everyday I get a smile from some passerby, or hear a horn blow as a car slows and the driver throws a hand up to wave.  And everyday I perform for an unknown audience … my public awaits.

HBD2Me

Event

So, the other day I did a thing. I celebrated my birthday. It’s obviously not the first time and I hope not the last for many, many years to come. What was different about this birthday? For beginners it was a milestone year – 62 and eligible for Social Security – officially a senior citizen.

What else was different was that I woke up feeling really blah. Anyone who knows me knows that I celebrate from the 1st of the month through the 31st.  March is my month. All hail Pisces. Everybody’s invited to the party!  But I didn’t do much of my usual fanfare this time around.

Even though my feelings had nothing to do with the number I am actually kinda feelin my age this year. I’ve gained a few Covid pounds, my knees hurt, I’m tired and I would really love a vacation from all this nothing going on. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. I sat on the edge of the bed and cried. When my husband asked what was wrong, I had no answer for him. I could only accept his hugs and sob.

And then quite suddenly the tree just outside my window filled with a flock of mourning doves and cardinals and I felt like everyone I was missing, friends and family, came by to say hi and to tell me that all would be well. I slowly began to get dressed.

My husband left and came back home with the most beautiful Bromeliad plants, a group of three, that he said reminded him of my MOJOVE brand named for my mother and my two lifelong best friends. A remembrance of them that I can physically care for, something tangible I can look at and touch. And he chose the colors because I am an artist. I think this has been his most thoughtful gift ever.

Next the text messages and the phone calls started pouring in and when I opened FB there were already too many birthday wishes to count – 40, 68, 92 – and they kept coming.  The evening followed with a wonderful dinner at a 5-star restaurant where the food was delicious, the service was exceptional and my date most attentive.

Finally, a quick stop to my son’s house who was “uncle sitting”, to retrieve my brother who is under our care, only to be surprised with a beautiful Orchid, a cake, some serenading and the most thoughtful cards that said the most thoughtful things. I know it was my birthday but everyone really made me feel extra special, even more than I would celebrate myself, as if the universe knew I needed a little extra boost to get me through the day. Thank you all so much! I needed that pick-me-up. Happily for me the month is still young and mine to enjoy.

Happy birthday to me.

Another EOY Recap

Event, General Info, New Art

Well, we made it! Happy? New year!!

Like so many others around the world, I lost family members and friends due to the pandemic and I too am weary of wearing masks and social distancing from the rest of my family and friends. And in the midst of all this, my husband and I took on the job of caring for my brother. The role of caregiver is sometimes funny, oftentimes tedious, but mostly sad to see someone you love so much decline so rapidly. So, even though the new year has begun nothing yet has changed.  But we press on.

2020 was not a total bust however, as I managed to complete 18 paintings and numerous drawings last year. That may not seem like a lot but it is a new record for me. I am pretty proud of many of the year’s art projects and hopefully this year, in 2021, they will see the light of day at some exhibit venue somewhere, anywhere, outside of the studio.

I really enjoyed working on my series “Ode to the Old Masters” having completed 7 of my planned 12 renditions of some famous paintings. I also completed 6 commissioned paintings and a few artworks that were born of the re-birth of social unrest in America. Some of these brought me great pleasure while some hurt me to my core. But what they all have in common is the passion and fire and freedom I felt as I painted, with the need to express myself as a person of color, which is something I didn’t do often because on the most basic level as an artist I wanted to appeal to “everyone”, create art for sale and profit. 2020 made me realize that I no longer care to appeal to the masses. Discounting the few commissions, the rest of the paintings I did for myself, including my series, so that I could see myself in my work. It’s not really that I don’t care any more what others think about my art but, then again, it kinda is. I’m so much happier when I create just for me. And so much better.

Also, in 2020 I had an unsolicited interview published by PoseSpace that I thought was pretty neat. You can read it here. Careful, site contains nudity. Finally, I received the first inventory shipment of my newly branded artist supplies, by MOJOVE. I started with a set of brushes and have plans to add other items later this year. First, I need some of you, well a lot of you, to buy up some of this inventory that can be purchased here 😉.

My New Year’s resolution? My only goal in 2021 is to harvest every heartache, squeeze every pain, stir up all the misery that presented itself as lemons in 2020 and make a helluva sweet, refreshing lemonade to sustain me for a very long time.

Wishing you all peace, love, prosperity, and plenty of lemonade.

Lemons to Lemonade

General Info, New Art

Here we are in the throws of the last month of 2020 and what do we have to show for it? I can’t speak for you but Covid-19, quarantine, social unrest, and these past 9 months has had me up, down, and all turned around, unaware of the day or time, frustrated, enraged, depressed, and tired. lemons

 In the last 9 months, I have lost friends and family members to Covid. I could neither visit or speak with them while in the hospital nor attend their funerals. Additionally, hubby and I, in our retirement, have taken on roles of caregivers to my brother who now lives with us. By all accounts 2020 has been a pretty sucky year and it doesn’t look like 2021 will start off much better.  more lemons

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, any of the holidays or any given weekend that normally involves family gatherings have all been altered. A lot of family members will be sitting alone at the dinner table without the company of children, grandchildren, distant cousins, or friends; without the laughter, conversations or even the drama that occur on these occasions.  so many lemons

But here’s the kicker: 2020 has also been a blessed year. I had immediate family and close friends either sick at home or hospitalized due to COVID-19, yet thankfully they survived. Everyone in my house has pretty decent health insurance that we have not needed to use since this all started and we are all retired so we were not subjected to loss of employment or wages, and staying home – well, that was already a thing with us.  add sugar

Despite the challenges there are still many blessings to be counted. We’re not hungry and we have plenty of toilet paper. 😊 We have a roof over our heads and though we’ve been cooped up in the house for months on end we still like each other. We have worked long and hard enough to be able to live comfortably off of our pensions. Mileage and maintenance on the vehicles are practically non-existent. add water          

I made some new online friends that I meet up with virtually on a regular basis. I’ve learned a few new recipes. I am especially thankful to be able to still create, and in the past 9 months I have COMPLETED a record 18 paintings, five of which were commissions and two others of which I have sold prints. And oh yeah, I realized a dream to start my own brand of art supplies by introducing my MOJOVE artist brushes in September. stir

This year has better instilled in me renewed humility, tolerance, patience, perseverance, gratitude and hope. 2020 – the year I made lemonade.

Safe Travels

General Info

Life is not a straight road. It turns and twists and sometimes circles back on itself, offers up forks for you to choose your own direction.

Life is not a one-way street that you travel alone. You pass other people coming and going. Some are moving faster than you, slower, traveling in the same or opposite direction. Some will help you along the way, others will try to run over you.

Life has never been “fair” and often comes with road blocks and detours but it’s up to you to push through, to find your way, to overcome the obstacles. No one owes you anything.

Generally, in life you get what you give. Defeatist attitudes with a “woe is me” mentality will never move you forward on life’s road. Set your destination and move forward without regard to what others are doing, thinking, failing at or accomplishing. Be patient and kind and loving and it will come back to you.

Your life is yours, and only you can make it worthwhile. Keep your head up, eyes ahead, and move step by step in the direction of your greatness.

And if I happen to see you along my paths, I’ll try to lend a hand if you need it, give an ear to listen, pull you up if you stumble, sit and rest with you when you’re tired, cheer you on when you are discouraged.

Just remember that I am traveling too – sometimes weary, sometimes sad, sometimes headed down a dead-end street. But I will never blame you for my misdirection nor will I fault you for the decisions that I make. Those are mine alone.

I merely wish you safe travels.

No time for April Foolery – It’s scary out there.

Event, General Info, New Art

We have all been stuck at home for the past few weeks and looks like we will be for a few more. As individuals we all approach this time differently. Like eyewitnesses at a crime scene, we all have skewed versions of the event but for the most part we all share the experience in similar fashion. Most creatives like myself have enjoyed our “free” time to delve into our respective cultures, be it music, painting, dance, theatre, poetry, comedy, needlework, etc. But even we are susceptible to cabin fever and stress and simple boredom.

I have been using this time to work on a new series that I hope to unveil when all of this over. I have completed half of my goal of 10 paintings – my nod to the Old Masters – including Matisse, Renoir, Picasso and more. So, my plan for the next few weeks is to continue to stay put and buckle down to complete the remaining 5 paintings. It seems that I am turning them out in record time but then again, never before in all my years of creating, have I spent time painting all day every day. Silver linings abound.

I hope you all are staying in and staying safe. I hope that you are all keeping busy physically and mentally, and lifting up each other. Prayers and kudos go out to those essential personnel who put themselves on the front line going about the necessary work that will soon bring a sense of normalcy back to all of our lives.

All in the Family

Event, General Info, New Art

My cousin Chrissy (Christine Lawrence Trice) makes these wonderful shadow box assemblages that are full of history and intrigue and just plain fun. She has mentioned that she doesn’t have my eye for art but her eye, how she puts things together is nothing short of incredible. Her found objects are great collector pieces for art collectors and historians alike and each one has a story to tell.

She’s a few years older than I am so we didn’t really grow up together but now that we are both women of a certain age, 🙂 we communicate well, we find that we enjoy the same things, and we get along swimmingly. I still look up to her like I did when I was a little girl, and when she “kidnapped” me one week a few months ago to give me respite from a stressful family situation, I got the chance to really look at her collection and experience her thought process.

I was there when she sent the email, introducing herself to a small gallery recommended by a friend. I was there when the response came back a noted recognition of her genius – and the interest in her having a solo show. Yay! We were both so excited.

And so it comes to fruition, her very first gallery showing. So, if you happen to be in Millville, New Jersey this month stop by the Quirky Turky gallery at Village on High to see her work. The Artist reception will be March 20, 6-8:30 pm. You will definitely love the exhibit, I promise. Don’t slack because I am confident that she will sell out. But don’t look for this little diddy shown below as I absconded with it when I left – happy birthday to me!

You can see more of her works on her Instagram @momsnacks but you really should check out the gallery showing to see them up close and personal. Enjoy!

b-bye 2019

Event, General Info

As per usual at the end of the year I do some sort of recap of the paintings I created and other artistic things I accomplished during the year, charting my progress or lack thereof and making plans or listing goals for the coming year.

I guess it’s safe to say that this year ran the gamut of life’s events. There was a marriage, a death, a birth of another grandchild, and a debilitating illness in the family. I suffered disappointment in my business and personal life and, still trying to rally back from each, I continue to push forward. So, I don’t know if I would classify 2019 as an extremely eventful year or just your every day, run-of-the-mill, what makes the world turn, kind of year.

At any rate I am grateful that my highs outweighed outnumbered the lows and I look forward to traversing new peaks and valleys on my journey. One of my highlights of 2019 that I’d like to share with you came smack dab in the middle of the year, one I didn’t expect nor reach for.  

“… I wanted to post a special hashtag#thanks2you to Cheryl Handy – Miss Cheryl had the most beautiful art gallery right in Red Lion when I was in high school, and my absolute favorite memories of that time are the hours I got to spend with her there. She taught me best practices when displaying work, gave me art advice, and continues to support me today. I thank my lucky stars every day that I was blessed with Miss Cheryl in my life. You’re who I think of when I’m seeking inspiration to keep making art…”

For me this balanced the scales of 2019, validating both my business and my personal selves, leveling the playing field as it were, so I can go into 2020 just being me, win or lose, and come out on the other side – balanced. Thank you so much Jen and all of you who supported me and cheered me on throughout the year.

I wish all of you and yours a healthy, happy, prosperous – and balanced – 2020.

Thanksgiving 2019

Event, General Info

3 WEEKS

For three weeks I’ve been contemplating this year’s Thanksgiving post, and these last three weeks have been a doozy!

About 5 months ago my husband and I retired and relocated across country and I left 99.5% of my family on the east coast and moved to the Southwest. Three weeks ago, we received notification that one of my mother’s brothers passed away and so we planned the trip north. Fly or drive? Even in our 60’s we are both still road warriors and we figured the cost would be comparable, so we took to the highway. Two days later we arrived and immediately realized that something was amiss. Later, after the funeral, we would find that my brother had been suffering a series of mini-strokes until that one that put him in the hospital.

Had not my uncle died, I would not have been in town and staying with my brother at the time of his stroke. Had I not been living with an EMT for the last 15 years I may not have noticed the signs and alerted my husband – “You better check him out!” Had we not gotten him to the hospital when we did, his prognosis would be much worse. Had we flown instead of driven, we most likely would have caught our return flight prior to his incident and there was a good chance he wouldn’t be here with us today.

So, on this Thanksgiving, 2019:

  • I’m thankful that we had the financial means and the time to up and go without having to worry about taking off from work or how much it would cost.
  • I’m thankful that God and my uncle/ancestors put us in the right place at the right time to be with my brother when it was absolutely imperative that he not be alone.
  • I’m thankful that I have lived the type of life where I can call on a friend or relative at a moment’s notice and be welcomed, sheltered, and fed with no questions, no conditions.
  • I’m thankful for friends and family who were genuinely happy to see us while we were in town/on the road, if only for 15 min – some of whom went out of their way to make sure our paths crossed.
  • I’m thankful for the Auntie that coupons and sends us on our way with items from her “store”.
  • I’m grateful for new tires, a reliable vehicle and traveling mercy.
  • I’m grateful to return home to a house intact.
  • I’m grateful for the technology that allows me to speak with my brother face-to-face over 1K miles away so I can continue to encourage his recovery (and threaten him as needed).
  • I’m so very thankful that this entire year prepared me for these last three weeks and the weeks to come.

We never know what the day will bring, or the next 3 weeks, but whatever it is, I will be glad in it – even through hard times and heartache – and be Thankful!

lost in space

When Business & Emotions Collide

General Info

ON THIS LABOR DAY 2019

I have worked more than 40 years so far in my lifetime and it’s time to sit back in retirement and enjoy the fruits of my labor. For me that means painting at my leisure. Now, instead of picking up my paintbrush only on weekends and after hours in my “spare” time, in between raising kids, 2 careers, cooking and cleaning house, homework, board meetings and mandatory hours at work, I the freedom to paint, explore new techniques, show up when I want to, or sleep in if I so desire. And I get to work MY business full time (or part time) as I feel.

At my last day j-o-b, I wore as many as 10 different hats, juggling various tasks, taking care of multiple people. Today I am a one-woman show wearing just as many hats, juggling just as many or more tasks, only now I pour a lot more effort and passion into the roles I assign myself. I think any entrepreneur will tell you that passion plays a huge part in getting your business off the ground, expanding your business, running your business day-to-day.    

Fueled by my passion to keep this lil business of mine going in retirement, I created a new brand under the Handy Concepts umbrella: MOJOVE. Mojove was is to be my signature brand for art supplies, a small product line in addition to my paintings and services. I researched, tested and invested in an artist brush set as my first item to rollout, while planning the second and third items in the que. I advertised and marketed the product, created packaging, sold pre-orders, and my excitement grew. Then time passed, and more time. I contacted my supplier and was informed that the shipment was held up in customs. And more time passed. Back and forth communications to date has yet to yield a product and now my emotions are stepping on my passion.

You see, MOJOVE is an acronym I created to honor the 3 women in my life who mean the most to me. These women helped shape me, supported my dreams and pushed me to do my best, and who, I know, loved me unconditionally. So that brand is extremely important to me. It is intended to sustain me in more ways than a couple for the remainder of my life.

But as I post this, I am at the same time refunding money to customers who purchased pre-orders, suspending my advertising, removing “shop now” links from my sites and feeling a little defeated. Months of work and preparation and planning are now a learning experience. My feelings are hurt, badly, and I will spend this Labor Day somewhat wallowing in my emotions. I apologize to my customers for not delivering on my word. Somewhere in the US on an unknown tarmac there are more than 3500 Mojove branded paint brushes still hoping to find their way home.

In the interim refunds are on the way and also discounts should any of you want to get something in the future.

I still have my passion though, to keep me in the game. Mom, Joni, and Velda, I know you are with me, watching me, guiding me, sending me your blessings, pushing me forward.

– and tomorrow is a new day.