Just Be.

I’m tired. More than normal, even. I think it’s a combination of our rather busy schedule (my kids decided THEY SIMPLY MUST PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL and they have several games/practices each week) and my trying to spiffy up my gift/Christmas sections, because I had no time last fall and was completely unprepared for the season (I sold completely out of journals). I’ve got plans, they’re gonna be wonderful, and …. blah.

So Mr. Wordsremember told me I should just get some coffee, cuddle on the couch, and watch our Winter Wonderland (that’s killing my pretty flowers … such is life). I snapped this picture to show my brothers (they live in humid Houston) and I thought “I need to write about this” because I’m not the only creative who sometimes stays too long in overdrive.

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And it’s so easy to do, isn’t it … we have such lovely ideas and the power to bring them to fruition so we say “just one more …. ” and then neglect to recharge the batteries. So today, after fulfilling orders, I’m going to do my best to recharge. Relax. And Just Be.

TGIF, and Art On … just make sure to relax every once in awhile;)

Intersecting Life with Art

Like many youngish Americans, we have a noose made out of student loans hanging around our neck.

How does that involve art? It does, I promise, and I’ll get to that bit. I have a horrible backstory compulsion thing going on that must be satisfied first.

So we made the decision in our mid-twenties to go back to school. Mr. Wordsremember (I’m adopting this conceit as of now;) had a good job, but we were drifting, I was in the midst of PPD, and we had to do something different. That something different involved knowingly acquiring debt. Looking back I can see how we could’ve acquired less, but at the time we made the decision that seemed best.

We graduated (meaning Mr. Wordsremember, but I supported him financially those last few years so I think if it as “we”) in late 2013, with an engineering degree and lots and lots of debt. We got a good job, enough to purchase a house and pay the minimums on our student loans.

It wasn’t enough.

And thus Mr. Wordsremember started looking for a more interesting job. And he found one. So we moved (again), sold that other house, bought a new one, and in the middle managed to pay off 1/3 of our student debt (go us!). And that’s where we are right now … amazing job, amazing house, in an amazing school district … and it isn’t enough.

So as we do, we went for a drive (a drive means the kids are contained;). And we discussed what we really wanted to do when we grew up. We’ve had this discussion before, we’ll have it again … but this time I think we finally stumbled upon the solution that we’ve been chasing for quite some time. You see, when I first met Mr. Wordsremember, he wanted to be a writer. I didn’t have many dreams, he’s my dreamer, but I wanted to own my own business and escape the 9-5. Those dreams seemed a mere pipe dream at the time, so we made no plans to truly pursue them. And then we stumbled upon Mr. Money Mustache and something clicked; there are so many good financial gurus out there but sometimes one of them speaks a language that resonates, and this blog did that for us. And on that discussion in the car we decided that we want Mr. Wordsremember to retire early, with enough money to fully fund our writing and artistic business ventures (there! I brought art into it;).

He ran the numbers and it’s doable, so doable, but only if we cut our yearly budget back. A lot. We’re making steps that seem crazy (to me, anyway, good little middle-classer that I am): he’s giving up his cell phone, I’m keeping mine but when I’m able I’ll be leaving our major carrier for one of the cheaper options because I really only need it for a few things. I got rid of Netflix, he’s getting rid of some of the subscriptions that we got because we had a good job and had “arrived”. We’re already down to one car (note: we have a public transportation system here that enables us to do that), we’re taking measures to cut our utility bill, and we’re also slashing, and I mean slashing, our food/entertainment budget.

And I’ve rarely been so happy. Because although I don’t enjoy cooking, don’t enjoy doing many of the home improvement projects that are now on the docket … what I’m doing counts. I’ve wavered about whether or not I should get a “real” job; I love running Wordsremember, that’s what I want to do, but I’m not making as much as I would if I dusted off my resume. And now I’m seeing that it might be possible, in conjunction with my efforts, to achieve an artistic lifestyle I didn’t think would be attainable.

So I’ll be writing about some of my efforts to cut back on spending and make more of the everyday things that we use. Specifically the beauty products that I usually buy and now am thinking about making, and also the gifts that I plan on creating (rather than buying). I’m not sure whether or not these things will make it into the shop, but they might, and it’ll be both useful and fun (something that’s important to me).

And Art On, my friends. Never give up those dreams … it’s never too late to finally figure out what it is you want to do when you grow up;)

I don’t know all the words.

I’m an artist who doesn’t really know how to talk about art.

I know terms like “abstract” and “modern” but any further breakdown into categories and I’m completely lost. The same with techniques: I’ve probably done a few of them but that’s just experimenting; I’d look at you blankly if you were to give those techniques a proper name.

More recently I was wanting little tags with the word “wanderlust” stamped on them. I described it in my seller’s group exactly like that, and was later informed that the word I was looking for was “engraving” (done in the kindest way).

With bookbinding I’ve expended a bit more effort and know many of the names, as I think a luxury boutique selling journals at my price point should be knowledgeable, but there are gaps, especially when it comes to leatherworking: I know how to use the tools but not what they’re called.

My point is, though, that I know how to do all these things. I’ve stumbled my way into the art world, blithely ignoring textbooks and guides and simply doing, sounding like I don’t have a clue but creating nonetheless. And I think art should be approached this way. I’ve seen many people blanch at the thought of taking an art class, overwhelmed by the terms/supplies/techniques … and really all they need to do is put pen to paper or paintbrush to canvas. The rest can be learned on an as-needed basis, as you figure out what mediums call to you and what you want to accomplish/speak with your art.

So Art On, my friends, and don’t worry about figuring everything out. Just do;)

A tour of my studio. In black and white.

I’ve been waiting for the moment I clean everything up and put everything back in place, but I am one of those people that destroy in order to create and putting it all back together takes precious time away. Not to say I never clean up, I do, but it never looks “amazing” and like those awe-inspiring artist’s studios various organizations feature. So I took pictures on a normal day in black and white, because that felt more forgiving;)

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Where all of the bookbinding and photo shoots take place. On the left is my bookbinding table (it’s ALWAYS a mess) and on the right is my photo shoot setup (it actually remains somewhat organized). In the middle is where my journals/leather/book sculptures are stored, strategically placed by energy-efficient curtains so the sunlight doesn’t warp the pages.
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This used to be my center of operations because that’s where my laptop goes. Since we rearranged our house the tv that was near my studio is gone, so my youngest gets to watch shows here instead.
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My paper station. I’ll sometimes bring my journal supplies to our tv room so I can watch the kids while I work, and here you see how I “cleaned” it up (I dumped it right here;).
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My shipping station. I keep all cardboard boxes and filler that I receive and I reuse the bits that have no logos on them. I also keep a supply of USPS priority mail packages, all other packaging supplies, my tea stash, and my scent warmer.
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Here you can see the influence of my youngest. Apparently spilling water all over the floor and shredding bits of tissue paper into it was amazing fun;) To the left is my printer station, although I had to move my professional printer closer to our router because it was stopping in the middle of printing. Hopefully once we get a booster I can put it back.
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A closer look at my photo station.
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This is why I have a hard time finding all my tools, this desk really does get messy. Also note my stack of textbooks: when you don’t have a bookpress you improvise:)
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And this is where I work. I didn’t have enough of a lovely mermaid-ish leather to make a larger journal so I’m preparing a shorter piece to be sewn with another glittery piece so I can utilize every last scrap.

And there you are. My studio in all its messy glory (although all products are treated with gloved fingers once they’re completed).

Art On, my friends!

Spring is coming.

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I’ve noticed that now we live in an area that experiences the four seasons we’ve become cyclical … during the winter our activity slows down, we tend to watch more shows and read more books, and we both tend to pack on a pound or two. But once spring starts showing up we dust off our running shoes and start living outdoors more, that pound or two drops off, and we glory in the nature that is all around us.

I think the seasons affect my artistry as well (effect? I have trouble with that one). I’ve had visions flash through my head but it’s cold, the weather is dismal, I don’t want to draw. I made journals instead, journals that you can hunker down with beside the fire and a steaming cup of coffee. But even that is changing: I bought bright spring-y fabrics this week and introduced a new line of colorful journals into the shop.

So today I’m going to bask in the sunshine and delight in the flowers making their shy appearance and let the inspiration flow.

Art On, my friends:)