Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Today and Tomorrow

I don't have much to say today, but I have a lot to share.  I might have more tomorrow, when I post another Bathroom Diaries (hee hee). Because you know, this is my creative playground, and I can write about a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g I find interesting.  And I guess you like it too, based on stats and comments and the hugs you give me.

The training for the AVON 39 has kicked up to official levels of lunacy.  I walked 30 miles this past weekend.  And saw that heart on the ground (pictured above) at about mile 18.  Thank God - I needed that boost.  The race is in two weeks btw.  Wish me luck.

My sister, Kathleen, who is an artist, had our family over for Easter Sunday.  Her house has all these interesting vignettes in it, not to mention flowers.  You could even say - flowers galore.

The woman Kathleen bought her house from was a master gardener.  And it shows.  Have you ever seen an iris that color?

Kathleen recently added bookcases in her Gallery to show her work.  She is also doing a show soon at Brookwood, if you want to try to catch it and see a large amount of her things at once.

Even the clover blooming on the grass in her backyard is
well . . . picturesque.  I used no editing in any of these photos,
that is how beautiful everything is at her studio.

One little girl even found a roly-poly who she became
instantaneous friends with and had a hard time letting go.

Some of Kathleen's work in progress for her next show.

And up in the corner, you can see my mom taking a stroll
around Kathleen's place looking at the flowers with Chuck.
Chuck used to work for Tara (my sister who was a florist) 
when she had large events.
He is an artist, and now collaborates with
Kathleen at times and is Kathleen's neighbor.
Surrounded by flowers, working with Chuck, I think Tara
would be pleased at how Kathleen's new life in Texas is working out.  Hope you had a lovely Sunday too.  Hugs.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kelley Devine - The Highs and Lows of Being An Artist

"There is no part of this job that is not a lot of work" was what kept ringing in my ears after leaving Kelley Devine's studio last Friday. The myths of being an artist, specifically a painter, swell in the minds of people - people who might want a different job and think all they are lacking to be a painter is talent.  They might fantasize about setting up a canvas and slowly painting the day away, much like doing yoga, while breathing in and breathing out.

But the life of a painter is something Kelley told me that she doesn't wish for anyone.  The struggles she has gone through to get where she is today are something any freelancer or solopreneur can understand and applaud.

"Think twice before doing this.  I love it, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  I have a bi-polar life.  I'm not bi-polar.  My life is.  Welcome to the highs and the lows."

Here is an example of a low.  Kelley had a one night show in the gallery of her studio.  Her husband was flying in from out of the country to be at it.  200 people had replied they were coming.  And it rained.  It didn't just rain, it was a monsoon.  All that work - all that money she was banking on, now washed away.  And to top it off, she felt as if she was failing in front of the one person she wanted to see her succeed the most - her husband.  After this, her rule was no more one night shows.  

Here is a high.  Last year, her business tripled.  So much so, she was unprepared for the success.

"You have to do so much to get by, that when you do start making money, it's a surprise."

Quickbooks is now her friend.  She had to stop, while riding this exuberant wave, to buy it, learn it and set up a system.  Now when pieces sell, the exact amount for taxes is taken out.  Every artist I have represented has found themselves in this exact same situation. It's hard to be an artist, an accountant, a marketer, a photographer, and everything else it takes to be successful.

"Sometimes I give a piece to a place like MAX's Wine Dive and then I remember, I forgot to take a picture of it or make the label.  That type of stuff takes a lot of time.  I have to stop thinking like an artist and think of it as a business.  Then, when that's done, pick up my brush and think like an artist again."

When I ask her what was the hardest thing she did when starting this, but is now one of the easiest . . . it's something all creatives struggle with and that is talking to people about her work.  When people would show up at her studio or she had to talk at a gallery, she used to feel uncomfortable.  

"Took me awhile to get used to talking to people that came in the studio.  90% want to know the story behind the painting, and others just hand me cash and I get out of their way.  Once you do start talking to them, you have to learn to shut up.  You have to learn to read people."

Maybe selling water door-to-door in her twenties might have built up a lot of the muscle needed to read others and talk to the general public.  

"It's hard to put yourself out there and get kicked in the teeth.  And for no particular reason.  When I started I did not have thick skin, now I have (as she knocks on the chair she is sitting on) skin as thick as this."

Part of that skin thickening is having your studio accessible during one of Winter Street Studios open studio nights when the general public is walking through to see your work and meet the artist. People will come in, look around, say nothing and leave. Sometimes that might happen 5-10 times in a row for the first hour and as an artist sitting there, waiting, it can be excruciating.  

Meeting Kelley 5 years ago, I see the growth in her confidence not only about her work but the worth of her work.   Artists normally have two problems when it comes to their work:  talking about it and pricing it.  When I ask Kelley about that, she says . . .

"People often ask for discounts.  I don't give discounts. I now say 'This is what my work is worth.  If you love it, buy it.'  And I no longer hold my work.  People would come in and ask me to, and I would to be courteous, but now, I just say 'I don't do that.'"

One thing she and I shared, that I wonder if other creatives think about as well, is the constant self-talk and anger at ourselves for not starting the work sooner. Because then we would be farther along in our careers, but maybe we wouldn't.  Maybe starting later helped us succeed faster. 

"When do you appreciate what you do?"  I asked.

"When my husband appreciates it.  When my kids appreciate it.  When someone buys a piece or tells me 'This means something to me.'"

Kelley is the mother to one boy, Nate, and one girl, Elle.  When I ask if they like to draw and if she encourages them to be artists, she says . . .

"Nate still likes to draw, more like an engineer.  He also does a lot of origami.  Elle normally draws things more socially oriented.  And I encourage them to be doctors. This life is not for everyone." 

Kelley is also a competitive bike racer.  I've seen her fly around the track at Memorial Park at speeds where I think - one poor move by any biker and you are going to the hospital.  Yet, she thinks her art is more dangerous than her hobby.

Painting is like bike racing.  You can't slow down, because someone else will go faster.  It's really competitive, because there is no stopping.  Just because you got paid today, doesn't mean you will tomorrow."

Being represented by Esperson Gallery in downtown Houston has helped Kelley's work get noticed.  They were the link that got her pieces in the new Marriott downtown, an installation worth making the trip to see. Kelley was impressed with how the staff at the hotel is required to learn about the artwork.  When she walks into the lobby, people at the front desk say, "Hi, Kelley." Kelley felt as if she wasn't just decorating their walls, they were valuing the art.

When I ask about hiring help or an assistant, we look at how that would work.  What they might be able to assist with, what might take too long to teach or what might be too hard to teach.  An example of the hard to teach might be stretching her own canvas for all of her paintings, because if she buys it ready-made, it has to much 'give' to it and is difficult to paint on.  It's hard work, and on her best days, she can only get 3 canvases stretched in a day. Sometimes it is more tiring to think about the energy it would take to show someone else how to do what you do, then to just do it yourself.

Kelley's inspiration wall of sorts in her studio

Focusing on how she can give back this year is how she answers my question of what her primary focus for the year will be.  Having her mother currently fighting cancer, taking part in her care and recovery, and being an advocate for her has opened her eyes to the issues surrounding the body.  Thoughts of starting a class at MD Anderson with the focus on loving the body after cancer have been on her mind.  She is donating half of the proceeds from her April 18th Biannual Open Studio Event to a fund benefiting The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  

There are two things I always love and admire about artists: their generosity and their candor.  When I first started doing this, I was amazed how they open up and tell me anything and everything. Kelley is no exception.  She clearly loves what she does.  But she doesn't sugarcoat the struggle of what it took to get to this point. Supporting two children on her own for many years (she is recently re-married) as a full-time artist, made her often think - I need to give this up and get a damn job - to I can never give this up and get a damn job.  I think we can understand her comments of having a bi-polar life.  Keep going Kelley, because if you don't, someone will get to the finish line before you and my bet is you not only want to get there first, but you will.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bathroom Diaries - Bayou Bend & Raven Grill

I don't mind saying I like good interior design.
I'm not unusual.  But you know what is unusual?
Good Bathroom Design.
If you missed my last post on this, please look here.

And gentleman, please take note of the following when
creating bathroom design.  The Raven Grill has numerous
small touches I want to thank them for.

I don't know about YOU - but don't ya
think having a shelf like this to put your purse on
 in every ladies' room should be a law? 

Having a hook or a shelf, 
instead of the floor (yuck)
is always appreciated.

And a stool by every sink, so you don't have to 
hold your toddler up to wash their hands?
And get your dress all wet.  And theirs.

And a beautiful lamp next to the sink so
we can look in the mirror without fluorescent lighting?

And a mirror that tells us . . .
"You look very pretty!"

Whoever did this bathroom, I want to
give you a hug.  You are thoughtful.

And then over at Bayou Bend,
I want to covet their counter material.

I have never walked in and seen a better 
shock of surprising color.

This is the edge of the surface, which had me more confused.
I am in design showrooms a lot, but I cannot tell what
type of material this is - can you?

If you are unfamiliar with Bayou Bend or
haven't been in awhile, you might head that way
now, because the Springtime is the best time to see.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Paper, Stationery, Calligraphy - Oh My

In a former life, I designed things like these . . .
business cards (my favorite consult time with people), 
custom monograms (probably my favorite thing to design), wedding programs, invitations, basically anything to do with paper.

(Sources: business card is SMOCK, correspondence card is Vera Wang for William Arthur, and wedding program is Crane & Co.)

Now, I get excited when planning my own soirees.
Not because I like to cook.  I don't.
Because I like to send invitations.
And cards.  Letters.  Folded notes.

(Source: Anna Griffin designed by Lucia Lupia)

Here are my business cards.
Yes, I ordered two different stock colors from Crane & Co.
Both are engraved with copper ink, 
but depending on who the recipient is,
depends on which color I give them.

I've been posting old samples of my stationery collection
on Instagram using the hashtag, #athankyounoteaday.
 And actually getting followers.  Go figure.
I started doing it for my own personal cataloging and
I guess it has sort of grown into a way for me to share
my greatest passion: P-A-P-E-R.

(Source: Crane & Co. engraved on handmade rag paper)

I've saved old cards like this one from my grandmother,
but I wish I had saved more.  I have a stack from my
Great Aunt Ginny, tied with ribbon, that I will save in a fire.

And I have boxes of letters from my dear friend, Mary Lou,
who I did a paper exchange with for many years.

We even invited Katie, from Katie & Co., to join us years ago.
In fact, one of my very first blog posts was 
about Katie's stationery store (pardon the dinky pics - it was 2008). 
The only place I recommend, as the girl knows design.

Mary Lou sent me New Year's cards, Valentine's Cards,
not-to-mention all the other Holidays.  Plus notes showing off her 
new stationery or saying something like "looking forward
to our lunch on Friday."  She was the example of note writing.

I'm not as good a letter writer as she was,
but I long to be.

(Source: Vera Wang Fine Stationery)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Unposed Moments From Yesterday

So impressed with this brave step forward from Starbucks.
Their "Race Together" campaign had me thinking this week.

I had some interesting writing assignments to work on - 
a business consultant's new website, and writing a Kickstarter
for a local R&B Singer.

Walking with Scooter - the gold standard among dogs.
If you have never had a dog, believe me when I tell you,
Everyone would have a dog, if they could have one like Scooter.

Hanging out this past week with this kid.
Some visits to Goode Co. Tacqueria when the weather
gets this beautiful are mandatory.
I love capturing the shake dripping, him grabbing his ear,
his DS (which will be obsolete 10 minutes from now).

My mother-in-law, Susie, was visiting from Oregon.
She's what I have dreamed of for a mother-in-law for let's say, my whole life.  She tells me things like I have pizazz, that my house looks ORGANIZED (I asked her to say that louder so my husband could hear), that I'm a good mom.  She was an early childhood development expert making her infinitely patient with the littles.
I'm sad to see her leave tomorrow.

Something I saw on my walk yesterday.
I love the cone shapes of the kale and the boxwood, don't you?

A sign I definitely want to hang on my chair at Starbucks.
I'm an introvert.  I like my space.

The window display at The Jung Center.
Notice the label names on the library card drawers.

My training for the Avon 39 mile race is going well.
This Saturday, I will do 17 miles and Sunday 8 miles.
My friend Monica, told me, "If you follow the training plan, you will do fine.  You will wonder when you do 12 miles for the first time and 6 the next day, how you will do 14 and 8 the next weekend, when you feel you barely made this one, but you will."  Thanks Monica.  I no longer worry.

Sort of looks like what I think London would . . .
love seeing things like this on my walks that make
me feel I am in an unknown, foreign land.

I saw this Guerilla Art pole with the MFAH (The Museum of 
Fine Arts, Houston) stickers for admission
that people had slammed on here.
I sort of want one.

And then there's these two.
Biggy and Marc.
I don't know who loves who more.

But this is the picture I loved more.
I don't know why.
Sometimes the unposed ones,
tug at my heart.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bathroom Diaries - The Condemned

Common Bond Bakery

Occasionally, I am completely baffled when...
I walk into a bathroom of a swanky hotel,
or talked-about restaurant, etc., and find
a complete hole-in-the-wall powder room that is
ACTUALLY a part of the establishment but seems like
it was designed by the drunk uncle of the owner who 
ran out of money when it came to designing this restroom.

I feel especially qualified to make these comments as
I work for an interior designer part-time, and am in tile 
showrooms weekly, see costs and know how little it 
takes to create a well-designed space.

For a restaurant that has spent this much money on branding,
packaging, and merchandising to even do a wall as if an Anthropologie visual merchandiser laid it out . . . 

Imagine the surprise of walking into the ladies restroom to find 
nothing on the walls; no art, not even wallpaper.

Instead of a sign about hand washing framed with
beautiful typography, there's this -

Pretty flowers?  Well . . . there was this.
Which happened to be
the only decoration.

When I used to post pictures on my Facebook feed
about the lousy state of bathrooms I run across, 
I started doing this for 3 reasons:

1.   To open a discussion on something overlooked
2.   To photograph small spaces - I like a challenge
3.     To get the privilege to re-do one of these

Somebody, give me your budget and let me improve
your facilities.  I promise I can do better.