Friday, January 28, 2011

The Waayyaaiting is the Hardest Part...

Nothing like a little Tom Petty to:
A. Date me
B. Send me back to the 80's
C. Get me dancing around the kitchen

Sooooo, it's been a week since my second interview.  As if I wasn't already having trouble sleeping, last night I was filled with anxiety about getting an answer or not getting an answer.  Or not getting a job, etc, etc... I was hoping to hear back Wednesday afternoon after they had finished their other second interviews.  At this point all I can assume is that I did not get the job. But then I hear Felix Ungers voice in my head "When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me."  Awe, the Odd Couple.  Now that was a sitcom!  :)

5 pm 1.29.2011 update - received an email that they are still deciding.  I will hear back by the end of next week! I'm looking at this as a positive sign!

Sadly I forgot to take photos of the good ones!
In other news, found another print exchange to enter but the due date is January 31st. Sooo Tuesday I designed, cut and printed another 15 prints.  I mirrored the image I had made for Leftovers and removed the birds and added some clouds.  The ocean changed a bit too. I used black paper and silver ink.  Mailed them off yesterday!  For future reference here's the info! Cascade Print Exchange V  I'm pretty sad I didn't get any good photos.  I didn't think to photograph until they were in the mail!

I just finished painting my bathroom, second coat today.  Tearing paper AND now I will work on a new reduction method multi color print I started last night.  It's my first attempt at this method! I'll post pics when I'm finished!

Happy Friday!  I hope your weekends are filled with creativity and friends! Mine will be!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Leftovers!

Amy at Wingtip Press came up with a great idea last year for all her leftover paper! A print exchange called Leftovers!  I heard about it from Anniepod Press. 


It's pretty simple.  I make 14 prints from my leftover paper, mail them to Amy and she sends me back a random mix of 12 prints. One set will be used to raise money for a charity and the other will be used for shows.  Pretty dang exciting if you ask me!

So today I rounded up my leftover paper.  Sketched out my design, redrew on to my linoleum and started carving!  
I cut out my original design to trace - Is this cheating? :)

I usually draw on a scrap piece of paper and then decide which way the design will look best. The way I drew it or flipped.  It still happens once in a while that I forget my design will be a mirror image once I print it!
Thanks for the press Nancy!

This is my first time using unbacked lino.  I wanted to get a more even ink transference by using the press I'm borrowing from my dear and fabulous artist friend Nancy.  I can't use a backed block in this mini press.  It is much easier for me to carve a backed piece, but I'm sure I'll get use to the unruly unbacked lino! 

Leftovers 2011
I'm pretty happy with the results and I'm really excited to see what I get back!  I'd love to be able to see the entire collection at a show too.  The deadline is March 15th and the cost is $12.  Please see Leftovers for more information!

Happy Tuesday and Happy Printing!

Monday, January 24, 2011

An Update -

Unfinished Owls
I just wanted to thank everyone again for all the support over the last couple of weeks after the break-in!

Plywood Art Window
I'm still not sleeping very well, but it's getting better.  I finally have all the insurance crapola sorted out.

Thanks to my family, friends and a couple of strangers too, I was able to sell enough to cover my deductible!  I'm amazed at the all the kindness. Thank you, thank you, thank you!  My Mom, aka my biggest fan, wins the award for most generous!  :)  It made me feel so much better to provide art to the people who helped! 

The downside of the event. Besides not sleeping well, "Fred's" computer was NOT covered under my homeowners insurance policy.  So that was $1800 out the window, literally.  Since he is considered a renter in my home his items are not covered.  He took it much better than I did.  I almost puked when the adjuster told me.  

I've ordered my replacement laptop, "Fred" was given a 10 year old crazy computer from his work's recycle bin to use until he can get a new one.  It sounds like a jet!  My replacement window is also on it's way.  The flooring and furniture are next on my list to have repaired and replaced.  
Thank you Diane!! aka AnniePod
Today I received this in the mail!  Talk about making my day! :)   

Things like this make it much easier to move on!  I can't wait to put this all behind me!

Thanks again everyone!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Idealist and the Snare

I woke up this morning wondering, I'm an idealist?  I looked it up.  "Idealism sometimes refers to a tradition in thought that represents things of a perfect form, as in the fields of ethics, morality, aesthetics, and value. In this way, it represents a human perfect being or circumstance." Thanks Wikipedia!  (Side Note:  I can't remember what it was like before the ablitliy to look up anything you'd ever want to know in seconds!)


Work friends took me to lunch, even when I was out of town!
Maybe I have become an Idealist along the way.  Yesterday in my interview the question was posed "What does your perfect work day look like?"  "In a perfect world" I said, "I'd be making art all day.  In the real world I'd work for a company that I like with people I like, feeling that said company was making some difference in the world."  Reasonable answer.  And true. 



I love beets!
Where is this post going?  Good question.  I think my point is, that maybe due to this idealism, I've been missing the obvious solution to my financial woes.  A part time job at a company I like!  Duhhhh, as I would have said in this 80's photo of me.  I think I was sooooo fixated about not working at a job I hated again, that I forgot the obvious.  There are companies I would like to work for.  For instance, when I was loaned to SERA Architects, I worked a bazillion hours but loved every second of it! I will spare the details of why I really liked it, and why they really liked me.  Just know it's true.

Why didn't I think of this as an viable option sooner?  Idealism? The current economic crisis? The lack of jobs in my field? Blinded by art?  But, aren't I still an artist even with a day job?  And as an up and coming artist, in my humble opinion, wouldn't it be nice to pay the bills and eat!  Starving artist really isn't a misnomer.

So, to whose the benefit did I write this?  The aforementioned potential employer who may or may not be reading this? The kitties? My Mom? Nah, I think for myself.  Though I'm sure the kitties will be happy that I'm looking for ways to put food in their bowls!  
Some times work friends are the best friends!

Happy weekend everyone! Now get outside if there's sun!  If not, make something!  Even if it's just a happy mess!  :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Hold Out.

I've been holding out on you.  I know, I promised to be open and honest.  To discuss the toils and turmoil or unemployment as well as the handmade struggle.  The big secret?  I had a job interview two weeks ago.  The morning of the break in.  I honestly wasn't sure how it went, but now, I'm preparing for my second interview in a couple of hours.  I'm torn.  Conflicted.  Nervous. Excited.

On one hand, I need money and health insurance would be nice.  On the other hand, I feel like I'm cheating myself and my art by going back to working a "day job".  And I'm not willing (yet) to take just any job. I need it to be a good fit for me.  I need the culture of the place to be thriving and uplifting.  I'm not afraid of hard work as long as it's not in a stifling negative environment.  In my first interview I asked a lot of questions about the company and culture.  The answers sounded good.  That coupled with the information on their website seems positive.  They have two positions available. One full time and one part time.  I would love the part time position if the pay etc. works out.

I've worked a lot of years at jobs that made me miserable a lot of the time.  I feel like this is my chance to finally do what I want, when I want.  But is this realistic. Am I really willing to live in a van if it means not working at a job I dislike?  I want art to be only second to my loved ones and pets.  Not a job that isn't fulfilling.  Life is too short to continue to do things that make us miserable.

Am I crazy to post this info on a public blog, where any potential employers can see? Maybe. But they should know who I am. What I stand for and why.  If I take a job I will do it to my best ability.  And if I'm not happy there I will look at why and do all I can to change it.   All I'm asking for a is a good fit.  For me and the company.

do i look smart? :)
And now I'm off to finish preparing for the interview.  Clothes, notebook, maybe my reading glasses. I hear wearing glasses to an interview increases your chances as you are perceived as being smarter!  :)

Sorry for the rushed writing!  Hope for the best and wish me luck!
Thanks!


ps. Writing this post made me break out into a sweat!

pss. The interview is with at least 5 people, that's almost like public speaking!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January Print of the Month Revealed!






My Print of the Month for January has been released.  Because in this digital world who doesn't need some real mail?  And a surprise! I'm already excited to work on February's! More info at Almost Monday's Etsy store.  It's not too late to sign up, but January won't be a surprise. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Intentions


Intention.  What a loaded word. 
–noun
1.  an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.
2.  the end or object intended; purpose.
Today a couple of lovelies joined me for a little cutting and pasting in the form of intention boards.  Well, in our case, intention mason jars. That may or may not have lights added later.  

Armed with scissors we began flipping through catalogs and magazines looking for images that represented things we wanted to see happen in 2011.  Cut out our images, words, and symbols with which we decoupaged into our jars.  We discussed some of these intentions aloud, or tired to.  Reinforcing our dreams and hopes. Others remained personal and silent. 
Scoop Full of Comfort!
Now I'm not the most woo woo person you'll meet.  In fact I'm at the other end of the scale, but I do believe that before we can work toward betterment we must know what that betterment is.  This could be physical items such as better shoes, or a fancy house, or a better state of mind.  As depicted in this photo of a spoon instructing "a scoop full of comfort", a pie server stating "a slice of happiness" and a cheese knife with the words "a dab of decadence".  Pretty fitting given my current state. And love of cheese.  Yesterday I mentioned to one of my new internet friends that I didn't want to waste a bunch of time being depressed.  But last week was a battle for sure. 
Traveling for Art!
I'm intending to make this week/year much better! Also on my Jar of Intention I places flowers, tomatoes, travel, and of course cheese.  A kitty, camera, Italy and France.  Birds and bikes. Simplicity, peace, love and joy.  Last but now least, art.  My intention is to survive via art. Making art, selling art, and teaching art.  And why not?  Isn't that what I was made/intended/born to do?  It sure feels that way to me.  I do struggle with the expectations of the "norms".  Such as having a bigger house, health insurance, a new fangled car, designer clothes, and the worst offender, a day job.  And I might succumb to one or two of them. But they aren't what matter to me.  Those things aren't want make me who I am.  Loved ones (not just the humans), my freedom, and the feeling that I'm making a difference to someone, make me who I am.
"Blind Date" by AnniePod Press
Art has the ability to heal, give hope, provide entertainment and of course joy.  To some this might look like a crazy print of a tom cat knocking on the door for a blind date. To me it's instant pure happiness! 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Insert Catchy Title Here

I've felt a little crazy eyed like this octopus!
Getting back on track slowly but surely.  Waiting on the insurance company.  I've got all my ducks in a row and sent everything off to the insurance adjuster.  What a pain.  I'll have to wait until next week to update that nightmare. 

Sleep deprived and jumpy, I'm still trying to make art the priority!  I printed my Print of the Month subscriptions yesterday and mailed them off today!  Yay! I'll have them online Monday, but wanted the subscribers to see them first as they open their mail!  I'm so thankful for the people who supported me on my etsy page! Between that and my family I did in fact reach my deductible goal!  I'm amazed at the kindness of my friends, family and even a few complete strangers!  A million bazillion thank yous! 

A couple of dear friends took me to a delicious dinner last night to take my mind off things. At dinner I shared how humbling this entire experience has been.  Though I think I said humiliating at first.  Which isn't too far off.  At 41 I never thought I'd need to ask for help.  Aside from house or car loans, the only time I remember asking for assistance was once when I was 18, I borrowed $25 from my parents for gas until payday.  During my divorce I did rack up a lot of credit card debt that I never want to do again!  I had my first job at 12 and worked almost consecutively since 16, except for a couple of short stints.  I worked full time while taking 12 to 18 credits during college.  Any way, you get the point.  I've taken care of myself, and it's really weird to struggle and require assistance. 
I love red bikes!






So, art!  I've also been hand coloring my artist proofs!  I forgot how fun it is to color! I'm trying to get a larger selection posted to Etsy. I've had some technical difficulties since the programs and some of the photos I had ready were on my laptop.  I'm improvising!  I'll leave you with a couple of photos! 
Shouldn't all bikes have tassels?

February 14th is coming!









Thanks again for all the support!  Financial and emotional! It truly does help knowing there are people out  there looking out for me in the interwebs! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fight or Flight? The Fine Art of Adrenaline.

Setting:  3:35ish AM January 7th
I'm sitting straight up in bed due to a loud crash and now the falling of shattered glass.  Fred(names have been changed to protect the innocent) grabs me screaming.  Instantly I knew what was happening.  I push F. off of me and leap the 20 feet from my bed room to the dinning room.  I feel glass everywhere, I'm still not seeing clearly in the dark.  I turn and run back through the living room, yelling at F. to call the cops.  I'm out the front door in a flash!  I'm now turning from my driveway to the street yelling HEY! HEEEYYYYYYYY! Only to see and hear the truck door close and speed off.  I run another 3 houses down chasing after the truck, yelling, trying to see anything.  All I get was that it's an older dark colored truck with a loud engine.  No light above the license plate. Nothing shining about it.  Just dark and loud.  F. is yelling at me to come back.  I stop and turn back toward the house.  I again instruct F. to call the cops.  He's still in deep sleep confusion asking me what's wrong, what happened.  That's when I tell him our lapstops are gone both stolen off the dining room table.  He's swearing getting his phone and I'm totally adrenaline crazed.  I walk back toward the house, F. is on the phone with 911.  On the walkway, by the front door,  I see the hunting knife and sheath left behind, apparently used to cut the screen and dropped on the walkway in the chaos.  Shaking with anger, I make my way into the dining/kitchen, F. has turned on the lights.  It's totally covered with glass.  I don't know how I didn't cut my feet or hands.  I remember patting my hands on the table to confirm the laptops where gone.
Crime scene

The police arrive in no time at all. Took all the info, tell us it was probably a crime of opportunity. Some dude walking around with a flash light checking in windows to see what he could smash and grab.  The funny, not so funny thing, about this is we've been really careful not to leave anything on the table because we knew it was easy pickings.  But we were both tired and just didn't bother moving them. I had even forgot one day last week, and came home from where I was to move them.  It is possible that the person had been casing the place for some time, we don't close our blinds and sit at the table most of the time since we'd only been heating the kitchen to conserve money.  Using a wool blanket as a curtain.  Which I'm assuming is why the robber probably didn't realize just how small the house was when he flashed his light in the window. I can lay in bed and see the window in question if the bedroom door is open.

the rock from my front garden thrown through window
The police did take the knife for prints and sent a forensics guy out to dust and take some of the window glass, as they saw some prints that were in between the two sets of frames so were most likely from the robber.  But we haven't heard anything from them yet.

The good news is I have home owners insurance and the insurance adjuster will be out Tuesday morning to access the damage.  Loss of two computers. Mine was fairly cheap around $500 but F.'s was $1850, and he had upgraded it a couple of times.  My table was chipped, chair cut and scratched up and my marmolium floor dented by the rock.  Oh, and of course the window and screen.

The bad news is my deductible is $1000, and my policy will go up 50% (another $275 the first year) at renewal for the first year and slowly go back down over the next 5.  That's $1000 more then I/we really have right now.  As you know if you've been reading this blog, I'm unemployed and my house payment is already kicking my fat arse.

I've thought about a fundraiser of sorts, a meatball and beer party with a donation jar or promoting my paypal link and changing if from tea and art supply fund to deducible fund.  But I feel really strange asking for financial help.  I feel like I should just keep quiet and put it all on my credit card and go about my business.  But I promised my self I wasn't going to go into crazy credit card debt during my unemployment.  So what would be optimal is if 10 people signed up for my 6 month subscription of my Print of the Month at my etsy store.  Then I could pay the deducible and not feel bad about asking for money, since they'd be getting some awesome, reasonably priced art in exchange. Maybe I should do all three! :) 

glass every where!!!
I'm still finding pieces of glass today, even tho we cleaned like crazy. I'm hoping the kitties will remain glass free.  They are still pretty jumpy too.  I had the worse headache I've ever had yesterday and couldn't open my eyes out of pain for about 6 hours.  I hear that's the after effect of a sever adrenaline rush.  Haven't been able to sleep very well either.  Wake up listening for someone creeping around.  I'm really emotional and feel like if someone even looks at me funny I might want to fight them.  I'm sad that my home no longer feels safe and that I have to close my blinds.  I hope these feelings go away quickly, it's really no fun! 

Screen, power cords and more glass!
So what have I learned that I can share with you?  Don't leave valuables in plain view. Back up your computers onto a separate hard drive or online or somewhere!  Encrypt and for sure password protect your documents!!  I lost many photos of my day job work, that will be near impossible to get again, making my day job portfolio really sad.  Thankfully, I have most of my travel photos backed up!  I did have bank statements, tax documents, and other sensitive information and only a simple log in password.  So I've had to think of all my accounts and log ins and change every password I can think of.  I will also be contacting the credit bureaus to alert for potential fraud under my name and social security number.

I've rambled on long enough.  I did arrange a temporary computer until I figure out how much the insurance company will actually give us to replace the computers.  I'm thankful to be able to communicate fully again with my online friends and continue to run and promote my etsy store. I'm looking forward to making some art this week!

Oh, and the reason F. was screaming and grabbing me?  He thought the house was under gun fire and I had been shot. So things could have been worse!  

Peace and safety to you! 
Serena

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Cold Hard Facts don't come with a Side of Sugar Coating?

Which words don't need caps in a title?  I forget.  I'll Add that to the list of things to do/ look up later. 

Day 3 week 9!  Crap, I have to keep counting the weeks.  There's got to be an app for that.

Yesterday was frustrating.  Well, just the convo with my mortgage company.  {Note to reader:  Short on time? Skip this lengthy paragraph!}  After being on hold for about 30 mins and a few transfers, I eventually got through to a "customer service" rep who sounded bored out of his skull.  He proceeded to ask me EVERY security question known to man. Finally he wanted to know if my address was a street or avenue.  Hell if I knew!  I never list it as anything other than the numbers and the street name.  He couldn't help me. Ugh. I located a piece of mail, and lo and behold it was listed as a street.  I live on a street!  Now that he's sure who he's talking to, I proceed to tell him why I've called.  I'd like to talk about my options and how my monthly unemployment doesn't cover my living expenses.  His first question was "is your intention to stay in the house?"  WTH? Would I be calling if it wasn't?  I'd like to, that's why I'm calling, i said with blatant irritation at this point.  After another 10 mins of financial questioning he informed me that I couldn't afford my house payment with my current income. I know, that's why I called, this time laughing out of ridiculousness of how this call was going.  He then said "I can offer you a pre-qualification for modification temporary workout due to missing valuation."  Huh?  "Do you agree to this?" Uhm, agree to what? I ask.  What are the terms? Will it hurt my credit?  How long will it take? How long will it last? The lovely call center worker couldn't answer any of my questions but did tell me that the process can take between 3 - 9 months, with no guarantees. WHAT? How can I agree to something that may or may not actually be anything? Really?  I finally told him to forget I called. He'll note my account as such, he said.  I sure my account is now red flagged and they'll be harassing me if I'm a second late in paying. 

The good news: For now I'm able to make my payment as long as NOTHING else changes. No sickness, or accidents, no pet disasters and the roommate keeps paying etc. I won't list all the other cost saving measures already in place. At least not today. 

The bad news: The house I love is feeling like a burden.  When I really think about how much it's costing me, and I consider my living off social security  in 20 years, i can't afford it.  I can't afford it now.  I can't afford it later.  I can't sell it.  I can't refinance it.  At some point this cute little house that I've worked so hard for, so hard on, just isn't worth it. But how do I know when that point is?  AND how do I convince my perfect credit score ego that it's ok to walk away? Is it ok?  I break out in hives if I even think I might be late for anything, even paying a bill.

So now what?  Do I just keep making art and having a good time?  I'm not willing to work for another company I don't like just to pay the bills.  It makes me feel like a hypocrite.  Not to mention the lack actual jobs available that I qualify for.

I ask again, now what?  My conclusion for today?  Put my hope in art! Live simply. Live day to day. Love the people that matter to me and work hard at what I love. Try to stay focused on the goal.  The goal? To make a living by creating.  To make a simple, happy, creative, hopeful living.  So here's to Art!  Prost!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Midnight Special

It's not quite midnight, but still. and youtube sure does provide some awesome musical distractions.  Currently I'm in the 1970's listening to various guest appearances on The Midnight Special. Check it.

Love Birds in Nest
Today was pretty productive. Multiple listings updated and relisted. My goal is to keep at least 25 items listed on Etsy at once.  More is better I hear. I have 30 as of right now!  Just listed my Print of the Month 6 month subscription.  I'm pretty excited about it.  Not only does it give the buyer an awesome print at a reduced price but also builds in a deadline for me! The prints will relate to the month they are printed in.  For instance January is national hot tea month.  That's one idea. And who doesn't like a hot drink in winter?
I also listed my valentine print today, click the link or see above.  I'm fairly happy with the results.  I have a final tweak to do but listed the last one I printed anyway.  Can you see ET? haha A crazy side effect I hadn't anticipated.  My mom noticed it first.

Small complaint: I've been having a hard time with the black speedball ink.  It's just not working well for me.  I need to try some other inks.  Bought some new ones, but not black.

It is now after midnight.  January 3rd 2011. Week nine, day one, as far as I can tell.  I wish I would have wrote myself a letter 20 years ago telling myself were I'd be now.  I'm sure I would have never guessed.  Unemployed and Etsy obsessed!  I would have guessed that I was making art though.  My list of goals is coming along.  But not quite there.  Some decisions are harder to make than I thought. I was imagining that January 1st 2011 would roll around and I'd figure out the rest of my life! ha. Well, I'm on my way.  Breaking up my goals into group time lines helps a bit.  90 days 1-3 years 3-5 years 5+ years.  Some decisions I'll have to wait longer to make.  and now time for some sleep.