Archive for December, 2007

To The Future

So being the last day of 2007, it is time to set my goals for the new year, (business wise that is.) This is an annual practice for me but it wasn’t until I read Maggie Stiefvater’s blog that I got the idea to post it here.

I tend to be a short sighted individual when it comes to running my business, so goal setting is extra important. I know where I want to go but I don’t have all the details worked out as how to get there. It’s much like a hundred mile walk begins by taking one step and then another. Or as I read recently, a car driving at night. You know the destination and you set out only seeing a short distance ahead. But you can make the whole journey by continuing to move forward in this way. Frankly, I get overwhelmed when I have too many things to do at once. And since my art business is multi-facted, new ideas and new directions to explore can add up pretty fast.

So here are my 2008 business goals.
1. Increase earned net income by $10,000
2. Do 2 new events (either horse or art)
3. Work more effectively with my husband Mike at the gallery and art related projects.
4. Do energy work and visualization every day
5. Blog at least 4 times per week. Create email subscription for it. (My blog is new so this is a serious commitment for me)
6. Network more. (Join ARTSLIVE!/ Iowa Equine Directory/Art Calendar Forum/Blog Links)
7. Write a full year of articles for Apples N’ Oats magazine. (This year I skipped an issue during my heavy season of summer art shows)
8. Submit at least 1 art article for another magazine
9. Make 3 news contacts for wholesaling. (Back in the Saddle/ SF Zoo/ liscensing?)
10. Take adequate me time. (Walk daily/ actually take a day off at least once every 2 weeks/attends horse events for fun)

So there it is. Nothing too mind boggling. None the less, I will print out a copy and place it on my tagboard so I see it regularly. And at the end of 2008 I hope to see most of them accomplished. Some should be somewhat easy and some will be a real stretch. But it is important to keep pushing outside of my comfort zone.

Best wishes to all of you in the new year. Here’s to happiness and health!

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Man Plans, God Laughs

I have a sign hanging by my drafting table with the statement: Man Plans, God Laughs. I made it shortly after we moved to Iowa because we had big plans for our new life. And shortly after we moved here, we both had some serious health issues. I got a lung infection from stripping wallpaper out of an almost 100 year old farm house. (breathed in black mold) And just as soon as I was well enough to be able to walk 15 feet without falling short of breath. Mike got badly burned along one side, his arm and neck. Truly made me question what we were doing here.

It has been a long time since I took Psych 101. So I don’t correctly remember all the stages of grieving. But currently I am at the Anger stage. Or is it Blame. Lets just call it Blame/Anger shall we, or BA. (also appropriate acronym for Bad Attitude.) And who do I blame . . . God. Yep. That’s right. The big Kahuna himself.

Perhaps, he has struck me down for my hubris of a week ago. When my art group was over, I was talking about how I would like another dog but certainly wouldn’t get one as long as I had Oliver. As it would upset him far too much. And so I said And I expect to have him for at least another 10 years. Those were the words that did it.

In truth, I believe in an all loving God. However, I grew up with a Lutheran background. Where the eternal hellfire of a vengeful God was the usual Sunday staple. And so, when bad things happen I kinda fall back to that. My BA is already going away. I imagine I am on my way to the Acceptance stage. Before you know it, I will be talking about how grateful I am for the 4 years together that we did have. And had I not plucked him out of that ditch, one cold winter morning, his life would have been so much shorter. I will carry on and continue painting in the space that we shared. And life will slowly resume to normal.

Hey, wait a minute . . . do I hear laughing?

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Little Hellcats

Okay, so they don’t look it. But trust me they are. I took this photo the day Oliver died. (That is of course before I knew) I had planned to blog about them that day but lost all heart for anything once I found Ollie.

Three cute little kittensSo here they are today (3 of 4 in the photo). They are looking up at me because no way, no how was I getting down to eye level to photograph them. These are the late (born in November late) litter of barn cats that we moved into the porch because they never would have made it outside.

Two cute little kittensNow don’t let the big eyes and sweet expressions fool you. Thats how they lure you in, yes siree. That and the fact they make these adorable little cooing noises every time they see someone. They are held in half of the porch by a 4 foot piece of tin. So they sit there and coo and look at me with slow blinking eyes. And I think okay just for a little while. I ease myself into the enclosure and sit down on the bench. They tumble around me like little drunks and almost immediately one climbs up into my lap and commences purring loudly. So I know what you’re thinking right now, Umm Mona…what is all this about hellcats? Well let me tell ya.

After approximately 43.6 seconds they transform. One will be chewing on my shoe and one will be dangling from my sweater. Yet another is on top of my head trying to pull out my hair while simultaneously giving me a deep acupuncture treatment. Now the one on my lap at this point usually begins to do one of two things. Either it will be chewing on my hand while I flail feverishly about with my other, trying to nab the one off my head. Or it may have just decided to sharpen it’s claws on my knee. As quickly as I remove one kitten from my tender flesh another is digging in and biting my butt. Seriously. I can only handle them long enough to clean their litter and feed them. Their mother Little Grey has the freedom to come and go from the enclosure as she chooses. (And, she chooses to do so often)

So after all my sad talk of losing Oliver I thought I’d show you some new and bright little spirits in the world. I seriously thought of adopting one in as the new gallery cat but none are really the right personality for me. Besides, it’s not like they could replace Oliver. If you lose a friend, running out and finding another doesn’t stop the pain of the loss. Still . . . a pair (or is it 2 pair) of tiny kitten feet is awfully tempting. Tomorrow I will be at the gallery for at least 6 hours. A long time to go it alone.

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Ghosts in the Gallery

So today I went in to the gallery for a total of 3 hours. Cried only twice. Came close more times than I could count. The rooms are full of him. I move something to find a toy. I roll up some thing and think of how he would have grabbed it. I sat at the computer and thought I heard him meow in the other room a couple of times. Occasionally I thought I saw him out of the corner of my eye.

He had this thing where he would walk up to me while I was on the computer. Stand up and ever so gently put his paw on my arm, then push lightly. Of course I would look at him and then he would meow in a drawn out sort of way, wanting me to push back some from the keyboard so he could climb up on my lap. I thought this happened once today (the gentle push thing) and it actually startled me.

The thing is, he was always with me. When on the computer he sat on the back of the chair and rested against me purring. When working on a painting he would sit on my lap. When doing picture framing he was either under the table or sitting on a chair watching me or napping. He was very vocal and I would talk to him as I would a person and he would meow back and give me kitty winks. (For those who don’t know it is an expression of love. He makes eye contact, then slowly closes his eyes and opens them again. A very (very) slow blink.)

The place is just so empty and hollow without him.

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Coping With The Loss

I woke up this morning and my first sensation was the emptiness and the realization that my Oliver was gone. I have spent the day trying to cope as best I can. Distraction is the key. I spend my time vacillating between Deprivation and Gluttony. Deprivation because if I feel something uncomfortable it takes my mind off the pain of loss. And Gluttony because it is a distraction and the moment I stop, I remember why I really feel so miserable.

Deprivation includes:

  • Not eating anything regardless of hunger.
  • Feel cold and doing nothing to alter the state of it.
  • Feel tired but ignore the urge to sleep. (as I am doing now)
  • Avoiding the gallery. I have gone in every day (when not at an artshow) for over 4 years. Today is the first day in all those many years that I have not. And tomorrow will be the second.

Gluttony includes:

  • Eating food to fill the void. Mostly this has to be something really desirable or I will prefer to starve.
  • Cyber entertainment. PS2 and web surfing (again as I am doing now)
  • Watching hour upon hour of vapid and shallow tv programming that has no redeaming value. (TV currently providing background noise. Shallow show on is Janice somebody’s modeling agency.) This worked really well all day until that commercial for the aspca came on with the big eyed puppies and kittens. You know the one with that In the Arms of the Angels song playing in the background. Complete emotional breakdown.

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A Tragic Loss

OliverI went into the gallery today and called out to my cat Oliver as I have done for the past 4 years. Today I was greeted with silence. This bothered me because usually he would meow as soon as he hears me jingling the keys.

OliverOliver passed away sometime last night. I am at a total loss. I held him and cried for hours. I railed against the Powers That Be for the senseless cruelty of it all. Somewhere deep inside I hoped he would come back to life. I have never had an animal just die on me. All of my animals have lived very long, very healthy healthy lives. And then at the end, I would struggle with when I should finally end their suffering by taking them to the vet. All of this ritual gave me a chance to say good-bye. A chance to adjust to the loss before it even happens. A chance for closure. Not this time.

OliverYesterday he was healthy and playful and every bit himself. He antagonized Mike and cuddled with me for over an hour before I left for the night. He then ate his supper and used his box and then died. We had 4 years together and I had expected to have 10 more. I have a gaping hole in my life and I can barely tolerate the thought of going into the empty gallery where his ghost will be around every corner. He was my constant companion, always with me in every room. He was a joy and made me laugh every single day. A gift like that will be so very much missed.

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Fur in the Paint

Proof of FurSo it’s official. I have decided to call my blog, Fur in the Paint. Blog Me! was just sort of a filler title. I kinda hung on to it because Blog Me! Reminded me so much of F@&k Me! Which is actually my favorite curse. (This may come as a surprise to even those who know me quite well.) Usually stated in a bit of a whine, such as “Oh, f@&k me!” (Hey, what can you expect from someone who was raised by parents whose colorful references would have made a drunken sailor blush.)

But I decided that this was not really the energy I wanted as the masthead of my blog. So I went with the far more cuddly version of Fur in the Paint. Which is a reference to me constantly picking Oliver’s hairs out of the oil pastel. As previously stated, oil pastel never completely dries so it binds in the cat hair quite nicely. Mike likes to say that’s how you really know you have a Mona original, by the cat hair.

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All Decked Out

All Decked Out draft horse painting completed So here it is as promised. I had to rush to complete it in time to actually use for this Christmas, and not the next one or perhaps the one after that. And to top it off, I actually got most of my cards written and mailed off, with a whole 7 days to go before the big day.

I had a dream last night about a flamingo. Not being one to often ignore my muse. I think I may give it a try. I have yet to do a bird in oil pastel so it may prove interesting. Plus I am in need of painting some insane colors like pink and turquoise. (They apparently aren’t found all that often in horses.)

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So … umm… it is Sunday. And today, no matter what, My 2007 Christmas card design will be called complete. At least as far as using it for a card. I settled the red thing by adding purple and removing both the pink and the orange. I fell back to using my old mantra which is, when in doubt…add purple. And it worked. Well it worked sufficiently. I will post a picture as soon as I scan it for the cards.

I am sitting here, occasionally blowing on my fingers. I just came into the gallery and the place is still quite chilly. I’ve got Oliver the gallery cat draped over my left shoulder for moral support and proof reading. My warm and purring fur muff.

Speaking of frostbite in the gallery. Yesterday I had my art group over for our get together. I had the heat cranked way up and yet everyone had their hands clasped tightly in their armpits as they hunched over in the fetal position, swearing repeatedly that the room temperature was just fine. (Sigh) The problem with a big brick building plopped on a large cement slab in the middle of winter, is that it just doesn’t warm up. I can have the thermostat at 80 and the room temp in the front room will be 65. Now, I have been in this building for almost 8 years, so I just take it in stride. Sorry girls. I should have provided thermal undies or something.

Anywho, back to group. It is officially called 20/21 which has to do with women artists creating in both the 20 and 21st century. We are around 10 artists (some come and go) of all very diverse backgrounds and artistic styles. I am the only self taught amongst them. This can occasionally become uncomfortable for me. But that is only because of my issues, not anything anyone else does. We try to get together every month but lately it is closer to every 2-3 months. Most of the time it is a real joy. We bounce ideas off each other, show our latest work and talk art in general. It not only gets me in the mood to create, but to create better art.

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Finding the Right Red

Well I am getting closer. I am two days in and with any luck (silent plea to the painting gods)I will complete it tomorrow. Definitely the next day. And absolutely positively by the day after that. Guaranteed no later than this weekend.(Fingers crossed)

I am putting in the red tassels and the red coloring looks so strong and vibrant against my somewhat muted color palette. I started making it more pink and that just didn’t look right. (my husband concurred) So then I started making the highlights orange. Yikes! Not right either. So at the moment I have a strange (slightly revolting)little mixture of pink and orange going on. Not pretty, but it will have to wait until morning for better lightening before I try to fix it.

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