Wednesday, November 19, 2014
My fabulous new career as an AR-TEESTE
If we're friends on Facebook (and if we're not, what is UP with that?), you know I've been busier than a one-armed paperhanger. I haven't been writing, or blogging much, that is TRUE, but I have regressed to my second childhood and have been painting like a madwoman.
No, not the basement. (I painted that last month.) Actual paintings. Like, art, dude. Like, I'm an ar-TEESTE now, a Group of Sevenish legend in my own mind.
Yesterday I cracked off two paintings. Two. I am feverish about my new thang.
FB friends have been asking, "Wassup with you? Did you always paint?" And stuff like that. So I figured I should blog about it, not only to answer their questions, but also because I'M SO EXCITED I CAN'T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.
I know. I'm obnoxious. Apologies all round. Go watch Ellen or something if offended. She's probably dancing, which is not obnoxious at all. <<< I LIED JUST THERE, btw.
So NO, I have not always painted. But I have always drawn, coloured, sketched and occasionally painted. Art was my favourite subject in high school. I had a brief fling with folk art in the '80s. I painted a billboard and a few backdrops for an environmental fair I was involved with. Mostly, though, I remember, with great fondness, the hours upon hours I spent with my cousin, Kelly, sitting at the kitchen table at our summer cottage, making our own comic books. We drew them and wrote them and coloured them and yakked and giggled and had the best time. Kelly grew up to be a social worker/psychologist with the Canadian military. In short, she was a very smart, very successful professional. But she never gave up her art. When she retired from the army, she became a full-time artist and has had many successful shows, including some in foreign countries. (You can see her amazing artwork on her website.)
Me, I went to journalism school because my life goal was being a reporter. Writing was serious business; art was something I did for fun. After 20-some years as a writer and an editor, I turned to the graphic design aspect of newspapers and rediscovered joy in the act of creating something pretty. After several years of graphics, I discovered I missed writing, and so started blogging. Blogging led to writing Friday Flash and Friday Flash led to writing a novel, and for a while I was hot and heavy into that world.
After my novel came out, and my collection of short stories, I lost interest in writing. I felt like I had reached the pinnacle of my writing career and, try as I might, and I did try, beginning and not finishing several projects, I just couldn't rekindle my interest. For a while I got really down on myself. I couldn't get a newspaper job anymore, because those just don't exist. (Graphic work is mostly one in India these days.) And I'm too old and fat and decrepit to be a reporter. You have to have good legs to be a reporter and my knees are toast. I literally cannot go shopping without being in severe pain.
My short term memory is also toast. I've been taking anti-depressants for many years and they've been playing havoc with my brain. I seriously can't remember stuff anymore. I mean, for the most part, I function OK, but sometimes I absolutely have no memory of things happening. None. It's like it never happened, and that's scary. For a while I thought I had early onset Alzheimer's, but am now sure it's the anti-depressant. I tried switching to a different pill and I had a terrible crash. Was not a good idea. From being on and off meds over the years, I now know I will be on anti-depressants for the rest of my life. That's OK with me, and I'd rather have a poor memory than be suicidal.
Anyway, sorry this is depressing! (Go watch Ellen!) As you can see, I am basically unemployable. I can't remember stuff. I can't stand on my feet all day. I'm fat and I'm old and I'm wrinkled. Nobody wants to hire someone like me. No, you don't have to reassure me, it's just the simple truth. And, gawd, don't tell me to diet. I lose weight, I gain it back and then some, I lose, and gain... bah. Talk about disheartening...
Dave works really hard to pay the bills and for a while now I've been wondering how I can contribute. Just recently it came to me. After we painted the basement apartment white, I yearned for some kind of artwork. It was just so stark. But I couldn't afford to buy art, of course, even cheap stuff, and so I thought I would paint something. Besides, I had been thinking of painting a picture of our cat, singing, for some time. Every night I would lay in bed thinking about painting Ben, the kitty we had to put down this summer because of cancer. The urge to paint was getting stronger.
Finally, I went to our cupboard and pulled out all my paint supplies. I had them for years, and never really did anything with them. (I started one painting and never finished it. My son Sam liked it, though, and now this half-finished painting hangs in his hallway, which is adorable.)
I had taken a photo of the Canadian prairies a year ago, because I thought it would make a good painting (I always see this in photos, but never act on it). And because I never do anything by half, I painted TWO canvases, to be hung together, as one. I painted them in a day (above). My paintbrush FLEW. For a few happy hours, I disappeared into the work. When I was done, I was pleasantly surprised by the result.
A couple of days later, I painted the cat (below).
The next day I painted something else. And then something else after that. Pretty soon I was painting every single day. And then it occurred to me: maybe I should do this as a business. I opened a shop on Etsy.com, and began posting my work on Facebook. It wasn't long before I had sold my first painting (below) to my dear writing friend Lou Freshwater, who I love beyond belief. And, since then, I have sold four more. That is not bad considering I've only been doing this for about a month.
Right now I am busy amassing a "body of work" for my Etsy shop and for farmers markets in the spring. I'm also painting a number of Christmas presents. But mostly? I am busy having FUN. Painting is so much more joyful than writing, which for me is done all by myself, in a closed room, with no music and no distractions. It's work, pure and simple. When I paint, I listen to the radio, or music, or I have the Food Network blathering in the background. I talk to friends on the telephone. I drink coffee. I take breaks and go do housework. I am energized, I am happy and I feel like I am contributing to our income.
I'm not pretending to be a Great Artist. In fact, I describe my style as Hokey Folky. Basically, I'm hoping that the bright colours might put a smile on someone's face, and if I can do that, and make a couple bucks in the process, well that puts a smile on my face, too.
Oh, by the way. That little cow? In the corner of every painting? That's my signature. Because my initials – unfortunately – spell COW.
If you feel like visiting my Etsy shop, I'd appreciate it if you could "Favourite" it. It's kinda like Facebook, in that the more people who like it, the better exposure the site gives you. The link to my shop is here: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/ColdLakeCathy?ref=hdr
By the way, I'm not the only blogger with shops on Etsy. Joanne Noragon, better known as Cup on the Bus has her shop here: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/JoanneNoragonWeaver?ref=pr_faveshops Joanne is a long-time weaver. She recently sent me some dish towels, which I LOVE and use every single day. (Thanks Joanne!)
Writer/blogger Icy Sedgwick sells some beautiful jewellery in her shop: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/IcyHandmade?ref=pr_faveshops
Writer/blogger Scotti Cohn also does some terrific jewellery in her shop: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/JewelryByScotti?ref=pr_faveshops
And my niece, Jennifer Baldwin, isn't a writer, but she does have a brand new Etsy shop. Jen makes wonderful "arm woven" scarves. She made me one recently and I wear it all the time! (Thanks Jen!) You can buy her work here: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/jenniferknitcrafts?ref=pr_faveshops
If you have an Etsy shop, please list it in the comments so I can come visit!