Friday, July 29, 2011

Occupational Hazards

So what is a job?

Is it just a way of getting money so a person can pay bills and buy food and have a roof over their head?  Simply put-- just a means to an end?  Let's start off with the topic of money, before we get to that.

Here's a little something about myself.  I regard money (in the context of MY money, not currency in general)  as simply a way to have fewer worries.  It's not power, it's not prestige, it's not a way for me to feel good about myself or to feel superior through the acquisition of "things", nor the conspicuous consumption that so many sad, foolish people try to convince themselves is great substitute for happiness.  Money is simply a necessity, and a way to have less anxiety in this life-  a way to enjoy my limited number of years on this planet a little bit more and make sure my family is a little safer.  When you forget that money is simply what I described-- then you use it as a crutch for your whole existance....and money becomes your life, not just an incidental part of life. And, if that money were taken away- you snap like a twig. Your world collapses.

  Some would argue, "No one NEEDS money!  It's a fabrication of man, and we don't need it to have peace in our minds or calm in our souls!"  Well, you may have an excellent point there.  But, I live in the United States, in the year 2011.  I am the mother of 2, with a mortgage, credit card bills, medical bills, a computer with internet access, 2 cars, and a  whole slew of worries about the future.  I am not a Buddhist monk who lives on a mountain with no family to support or future to plan.  But let me tell you, I certainly do admire and envy the Buddhist monks...  Anyway, I just wanted to let you know where I'm coming from.

No, not THAT kind of monk...


So- how does one get this money?  Providing goods or services, as my highschool economics class teacher would say.  And what I provide is both.  Art, and  the service of portraits.  Plus my day job, of course.  But I chose art as a career not because it was the sensible, practical choice.  It was because that's what I'm good at, that's what I enjoy, and that's what I need to do to feel like myself.  Anybody on the planet can choose an occupation just for the money.  They can hate every minute of it, but spend years doing it , just for the money.  Meanwhile they get more and more miserable, their souls shrivel up a bit more every year, and they get further and further away from the way they were before they made the decision to sacrifice their soul/happiness/family/peace of mind for an extra zero on their paycheck.  And year after year, they have to cling to the excuses and falsehoods that let them sleep at night even more.  But then again-- we all do that.

   Still, I can't criticize without reservations.  Money has its benefits, obviously.  Some days I can't decide if money truly changes people, or if it just allows them the opportunity to be what they truly are- good or bad.  I don't know.

A ha!  You're not a KISS reject, you are Max Weinberg, the drummer for Bruce Springsteen!
Whatever.  As usual, I am babbling about an obvious topic way too much.  It's all opinion- think what you want.  Hey, I can wrap this up by letting you know that I've got a couple people interested in my paintings!!  Cool, huh?  Also, I've gotta send some prints to family members.  I've got an in-law in Italy that needs a print, and I'm making a custom painting of a crow for my artist friend Sam!  She's so cool.  Plus, the backpacks are selling!  WOOHOO!  People are asking for different characters, now.  Gotta get crackin'.  Here's my Etsy sight, for those of you who want to contribute to feeding my kids and putting gas in my barely-functioning car. :)  Plus, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that the art you purchase is made right here in the USA, and no steroids were used, or animals abused in the making of this art.

Gotta run, boys and girls.  Time to turn the air conditioning on and wear my FEAR NO ART t-shirt.  Now please exit in a quiet, orderly fashion.

Peace out.


Saturday, July 23, 2011


I like Wisconsin.
I didn't actually see these guys, but I probably would have if I stayed a couple more days. They seem like the quiet, introspective type...

  Every year we spend a few days in northern Wisconsin.  My parents relax and visit with friends up there, and we usually bring the family and hang out, cook, float on tubes, and listen to the loons.  I mean the actual birds, not crazy people.  I can listen to crazy people whenever I want right at home.

This is an actual loon.  They make cool sounds, and they carry their babies on their backs.

This is just a the crazy kinda loon.  Amusing, but kinda dangerous at times. He breaks things, dresses inapproprately  and  makes noises that offend people.
  Northern Wisconsin is different from the south end.  People are a bit tougher, the food is heartier, the lakes more plentiful, and cell phone towers fewer and farther apart.  All of which is can be good or bad, depending what kind of person you are and your purpose for going there.  In my case, I didn't want to fish for muskie, or birdwatch, or kayak (which seems to have been taken over by pretentious granola-eaters that have too much time on their hands) .  I just came there to eat grilled steaks, drink some Amstel and float around on a lake- and possibly check out a couple antique stores for my usual items.  When I say "usual items", I mean vintage Halloween postcards, old horseshoes for my husband, and animal skulls.   I got 2 out of 3 on this trip- my favorite place only had one skull, and it was a little too pricey.  But, we got a horseshoe that was big enough to come off a  Clydesdale, 3 or 4 Halloween postcards (one was from 1912!) and some sort of trap that was probably meant for raccoons.

"Stop talking!"

I'd like one of these skulls- but I don't think the museum will let me borrow it.

Here are a few random photos of my silly trip, in no particular order.

The dock in front of our cabin.  No, this photo is not photoshopped!  The lake really looks like that.
This is what greets you as you go upstairs...

This was my dinner on my last night. Lots of cheese, fried fish, starch. One of those fries is still stuck in the left ventricle of my heart.
okay, so what the hell is this?  Are the 3 elves going to eat the pigs after the goats trample them??
Now THAT is a nice looking ashtray.
Thank goodness for the reading material in the cabin.  And all this time I thought geography was boring!  Boy, do I feel like a fool!

I kept Death and my iphone on my nightstand.  There's some sort of deep symbolism there, but I choose not to get into it....
...And then I came home.

Back to reality, back to my vinyl box in the 'burbs that has depreciated by 28 percent or so.   Whoopedee-doo.  Well, at least my garden had 4 big bell peppers and 2 cucumbers when I came back.  :)  And yes, I brought home cheese and fireworks from Wisconsin, just like everyone else on the planet.

 I've also gotten some orders for the backpacks I'm selling on Etsy!  People are requesting a large version, so that will be for sale by Sunday.  Watch for it, you Etsy lurkers.

 My vacation set me behind schedule and I gotta catch up.  I should be working instead of writing this nonsense for you people.  Moderately-priced artwork simply doesn't paint itself, you know.  Oh, I joined the Plainfield Art League by the way.  They are a VERY nice bunch of people!  I like 'em.  So now I'm part of the Chicago Artist Coalition, the Plainfield Art League, and the Society for the Resurrection of Vincent Price.  Okay, I made that last one up, but I am thinking of forming that group.

Gotta make some more backpacks, and paint stuff.  I don't care what you do, so long as you do it quietly.  Now I've got work to do-- go make something out of clay or do some macaroni art.

- Christine

Saturday, July 16, 2011

If I squint really hard, I can see the monitor.

I think I need new glasses.

Maybe this guy heard that Evil Dead and The Crow are being re-made, and he lost all faith in humanity and was weeping uncontrollably...

Actually, I don't even wear glasses-  yet.  I wear reading glasses (on sale at Menards,  and quite fashionable), but I've never worn glasses in my life until now.  Apparently I am far-sighted, because I have to keep my work at arm's length to be able to focus on what I'm drawing.  I am officially old.  I'm in my early forties, but my eyes are apparently slightly older.  Stupid eyes.   I'm trying to wrap up this commission I'm drawing, but my eyes aren't cooperating.

Jeez...point those things away from me!

I don't like the idea of wearing contacts.  I don't relish the thought of touching my eyes with ANYTHING.  It just bugs me.  My husband told be about the time he was using a bench grinder, and a piece of metal got lodged in his eye.  When he went to the optomotrist, the dude literally used a credit card to flick the metal fragment out of his eye.... Glaaahhhhhhhh.....

Get that thng away from my eye!!

The French impressionist Monet started painting on HUGE canvases later in his life.  Many people thought it was just so the viewer could see the detail, or it was a new phase in his style of painting- but the truth was that he was going blind!  It was the only way he could see what he was doing and produce something beautiful.  Sometimes the best outcomes are simply a result of getting around an obstacle.  One of my favorite quotes (it's actually hanging on the wall in my office) is by the English author T.S. Eliot.-

  "When forced to work within a strict framework, the imagination is taxed to its utmost- and will produce its richest ideas.  Given total freedom, the work is likely to sprawl."

He may have been a brilliant writer, but he shouldn't be allowed near a comb, or Wesson oil.

So basically, he is saying that true creativity comes from getting around restrictions and obstacles.  I completely agree with that.  Creativity hardly has any need to exist if there is nothing in the way of reaching your goals.  Without obstacles, without challenge-- we atrophy, we become lazy and ungrateful and unimaginative.  Like spoiled children.  That's just the way we humans are.  So once in a while we have to be grateful for some of the adversity in our lives, because we need it to become fully human. 
I will motivate you, Private Pyle!!

Apparently it doesn't mean you have to spell correctly either.

 Okay, enough of the existentialist poop.

There's a statistic that might come in handy...
Anyway, I've still got some work to do on the pencil drawing, and lots to do on the adult size back packs.  We had some quality issues with my source for the bags, but it should be worked out now.  Hopefully the rest of the items I am selling will be flawless and perfect.  Yeah, and I might be eating unicorn-kabobs for lunch tormorrow.  Anyway, I'm tired of blogging for tonight.  If  I'm going to stay up this late, I should be either eating pizza rolls, watching a horror flick or getting reacquainted with my friend Mr. Bacardi.  Or some combination of the three.  Check out my stuff on Etsy, if you so desire-

Now go away.  I can hear you breathing.

- Christine

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Mime is a Terrible thing to Waste...

Why is it that some people feel the need to make themselves feel morally superior when the opportunity arises?  Why can't they fill the emptiness in their lives with donuts or infomercials or ping pong or something more entertaining?  There is a big difference between doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing (which is often thankless and difficult ), and simply picking and choosing when and how you can display your morality and depth of "feeling" simply to make yourself feel good, with no real sacrifice on your part.  Ugh.  Never mind.  It's like shouting at a mime-  it doesn't do any good, and you end up looking foolish for trying.

So who was the first professional mime?  Were there at one time roving packs of mimes spread across Europe, but they were eventually hunted nearly to extinction and only survive in mime-protected areas?  Should mimes be a protected species, or are they more of a menace than anything?

Seriously, where did they come from?  Who first thought, "Hey, I'm going to paint my face, wear a beret and a striped shirt & gloves, and pretend to walk against the wind for people!  Yeah, that sounds like a solid career path!"?  It doesn't make any damn sense.  Mimes have been infuriating people for well over a century, I would imagine.  You'd think that after the first mime-beatings,  most would consider pursuing the miming arts a bad idea.  How many mimes have been beat up just in the last 20 years?  I'll bet the numbers are pretty high. I suppose I could simply just look it up on this internet doo-dad, but I find it more entertaining just to rant and rave and speculate on the origin  and statistics of mimes and mimery ( I think I just made up the word "mimery").

It's the Mimetrix.  "I know kung fu..."

He could at least wear some normal shoes.  Look at those things.

 Hope I didn't offend any mimes out there.  Well, that's not true.  I really don't care very much about offending mimes, because I'm pretty sure they're evil.  Or at least kinda evil.  Or just annoying.  Is there a crime based on annoyance?  "Creating a public nuisance", maybe?  That sounds like it was written with mimes in mind....  Maybe we can make a new law about practicing mimery...

Well, that's a little extreme...

Admit it.  Less believeable movies have been made.

This is so fake.  In a real match, this dude wouldn't have made it to the ring without being beaten with 26 folding chairs.

I'm pretty sure the guy in the blue has a gun.

Ok, I'm out of  witty remarks and clever observations.  I think you've had enough, anyway.  I need some food.  Pizza rolls should do nicely, tonight.  Mmmmm...pepperoni....

Now put the mouse slowly on the floor, and kick it away. 


Friday, July 8, 2011

Kingdom of the Spiders

You know what I hate about summer?  Bugs.

I have to say, I can't stand bugs.  I can't stand the flies that sneak in my house, the wasps that try to make nests on my eaves, the mosquitos that leave itchy welts on my family, or the spiders that somehow find their way into my bathroom.  And don't get me started on the ants.  In our old house, every single summer, we would have a trail or ants leading into our kitchen. That nearly drove me insane,   The idea of a whole parade of bugs (that apparently couldn't be stopped my any means we could find) marching into the area where we cooked and stored food was just sickening.  I don't mean to sound phobic or OCD about it, but it really bothered me.   We went nuts spreading Diazanon and ant traps and drilling into walls to get at them.

Luckily we don't have the ant issue now.  Mostly just spiders.  At least spiders eat other bugs.  Isn't it bad luck to kill a spider in your house?  I read that somewhere.   There are a LOT of bizarre "bad luck" practices.  Everyone has heard of the opening the umbrella indoors, breaking a mirror, blah blah blah.  But here are some weirder ones.  And the second to last one I just made up.

Putting a hat on the bed is bad luck.
Putting your shoes on the table is bad luck.
Sleeping at the table is bad luck.
Wearing opals, unless opal is your birthstone is bad luck.
Chasing anyone with a broom is bad luck.
Getting out of your bed in the morning on the same side which you got into it the night before.
If you drop a dishcloth, you'll have bad luck with dinner.
If you're juggling 4 weasels, it's bad luck to whistle a song by New Kids on the Block.
When fishing, you must throw back your first fish. The others are safe.

Now here are some bizarre ones-

Pictures of an elephant bring luck, but only if they face a door.

It is bad luck to cut your fingernails on Friday or Sunday.

If you catch a falling leaf on the first day of autumn you will not catch a cold all winter.

If you spill pepper you will have a serious argument with your best friend.

Salty soup is a sign that the cook is in love.
Why do/did people believe this stuff?  I have little doubt that some it is based in practicality- such as a hat being more likely to be crushed if it's on a bed rather than being on a hat rack.  Or sleeping at the table is just plain rude to most people. But the rest just seems to be an attempt and making sense out of our world, and getting comfort from the imagined ability to predict unpredictable events. That's what we humans do; we desperately want to make sense of, or maybe just pretend we have control of a largely unpredictable, uncontrollable world, even if the methods we use are completely without logic or merit!  We're all just scared children, when you really get down to it...we each have our own security blanket.

Okay, I make myself sick if I wax poetic about the human condition too much.  Nobody wants to hear it.  Anyway, I'm still messing around with the string backpacks.  I got a hold of some adult-size ones, and they seem to be working fine.  I should have them up on Etsy by this weekend.  I've already got pre-orders from a few friends and artist buddies!

  And we're crankin' out prints on the fancy-dancy new printer we acquired.  That thing works great, once you figure out all the little quirks.  It even allows you to  print directly onto CD's and DVD's- not labels, I mean directly ON the DVD's!  Pretty cool.  The watercolor paper we use is so much nice-looking than using plain old photo paper.   I've got a couple new ideas of painting on some non-tradional surfaces, too.  And hey- here's the art cabinet we salvaged.  Instead of rebar handles, we found some cast iron ones dirt cheap.  Still in the process of  "distressing" the cabinet...

And here is the Barbie Deathwagon so far.  Gotta attach all the skulls and stickers to it.  This plastic-bonding paint we used apparently takes about 4 days to fully bond to the plastic.  We won't let our daughter play with it,  so she just stares at it and asks if it's dry yet...

That's all I've got.  Well, that's not true.  But that's all I can show you now.  Gotta have a Hostess fruit pie and go to bed. I kinda wish they made blueberry.  THAT would be good.  Alright, I've had enough of you people for tonight.  Disperse.  Show's over, folks.