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, 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:

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: 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:

Writer/blogger Scotti Cohn also does some terrific jewellery in her shop:

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:

If you have an Etsy shop, please list it in the comments so I can come visit!


  1. Glad you got back into it! I really like the way you do trees. Cool you set up an Etsy shop.
    I can relate to how you feel about writing as music gives me more joy.
    I'm not on Facebook or I would definitely be your friend.
    And how wild - the ad below this is for the pre-order of the IWSG book!

  2. I love that second image!! And thanks for the shout-out :)

  3. Those are great! Being self-employed is very empowering. Hope your success grows and grows.

  4. Wonderful works . Glad to hear all is going good ! Thanks for sharing , Have a good week !

  5. Your paintings make me smile Cathy - thanks :)

  6. As you know from my comments on FB, I LOVE your artwork. So glad you are doing it and I wish you much success! How did you find Etsy? I had a store in 2010 but it was a pain in the butt to list. At least for jewelry it is. Pages and pages of info....tag words, materials it's made from, so many shipping options to choose from....all my pics had to be resized too.

  7. I don't play FB.
    I love, love, love your sunny art - and even more that you are having fun.
    Aren't Joanne's towels amazing? Sooooo soft.
    Good luck with your Etsy shop - from another overweight, old and unemployable person. Without your talent or drive.

  8. Lovin' the cat whimsical.

  9. I'm particularly drawn to that first painting, Cathy. This is a good way for you to express creativity. Your style reminds me of one of my cousins. She paints as well... my dad has an old handsaw that has the blade painted with a mountain scene.

  10. The direct kind of art I've always been drawn to. As basic as cotton. And thanks for mentioning me. Now I'm going to find you on FB.

  11. Your paintings are such fun. Love them all.
    First one looks like Muskoka.
    Dave is peeking over my shoulder as I write this and thinks your work is really great too.

  12. What a beautiful story! I'm so glad you got your art fingers back. Very heartening. I gave up painting years ago, and I keep wanting to resurrect my skills. One of these days… But you! You're doing it. Keep at it!

  13. A wonderfully heart-warming story. Go, Cathy, go!!! See you on Facebook and Esty.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

  14. Your paintings are beautiful.My two favorites of the ones you posted are the cat in the bowl and the first one with the island. Great personal style, not hokey in my opinion.

    Very cool that your found your happy place.

  15. Your paintings are wonderful! I especially like the prairies and the one with the mountains behind the trees.

    And I am so incredibly happy for you - it sounds like you found your way home. :)

  16. Doing what you love is fantastic. I say go for it!! Keep painting. And if you can make some extra money doing it, all the more reason to keep going.

    I totally hear you on the "unemployable" front. I have NO memory and a foggy brain 90% of the time. Also, there are many days I can't even get out of bed because of health issues. I try not to get too down on myself for not contributing- The Hubs is really great about it. But I feel so bad when he is working double overtime and my fat ass has been in bed for two days straight. It's disconcerting to say the least.

    I wish you all the best with this new creative outlet!! I don't do Facebook but I will go and check you out on Etsy, for sure.

  17. I found this post incredibly inspiring. Your artwork is colorful, imaginative and happy. Fantastic that you've found a way to earn money using your talent doing something you love. And isn't it great that Etsy is available as a way to market your work? I'm sure you will do very well with it!

  18. Karen sent me here! Your paintings are really cool--I love the colors and the quirky, whimsical style. Very Grandmother Moses, a favorite of mine. I think you must have been fated to do this.

  19. I love your enthusiasm! Go go go I say and I lOVE your signature cow, it's brilliant like you. Thanks for your kindness, support and the advertising, you continue to inspire me. And see how you inspire others just by telling the the truth of you, I love you!xoxo


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