Neigh Saying

It seemed like it took weeks to finally get to Saturday.  I was so excited to have a day at home. It was a lazy morning and I enjoyed every minute of it. However, there were things that had to be done, things that were neglected like my yucky house.  I spent the morning trying to knock out the things I hated doing the most first.  I had only scratched the surface with my new guitar project, figuratively and literally.  It sat in my studio all alone.  I even went to look at it once as a reminder that it was waiting for me to finish.  I quickened my pace, even more eager.  Then it happened.  I had to leave my home to take my son to an event.  Noooooo!  The distraction I was afraid of.  I knew once I went out in public my social skills would kick in and my Saturday would evaporate.

We went and yes, it was a wonderful social engagement.  I was surprised by my ability to stay on a good schedule and return home in a timely manner.  This was probably due to my son not being the social butterfly that I am.  I returned home with time still left in my day.  I was focused. I was ready.  It was time.

I set up the guitar and began to sand.  I was shocked at the layers of this particular one.  I had already used a blow torch to burn the clear coating and most of the paint off.  (Side note:  Sometimes adequate ventilation is still not enough, nausea is a good indicator that a mask should be used as well.)  It was after the paint was nearly sanded off that I realized it had a layer of what appeared to be Masonite.  I would not stop until I had bare wood.  No mater how long it took.  One hour later I was there.  Finally.  I took off my mask, and wiped my glasses to take a more careful look at it.  Awesome beginning.  Then I looked around my garage.  What a mess!  I had completely coated everything, including my dog, with dust.  It was so thick it changed the color of my sons bike and my husbands old car.  What had I done.  I had successfully created another Saturday cleaning project.

I was so focused, so narrowed in my purpose I didn’t see all that was going on around me. Once I got started it was like I had on blinders.  Just like the horses I used to watch on Little House On The Prairie.  I looked up why some horses wore blinders.  I never really gave it a lot of thought before but, evidently horses are considered animals of prey.  That is why their eyes are on the sides of their heads.  So they can see nearly all the way around their body.  Their only blinds spots are right in front of their nose and behind their tail.  Without blinders, young, shy horses can become frightened by the wagon they are pulling and they are used on race horses so that they only focus forward, the finish line.  However, a horse with blinders must be led.  It will not go or turn on its own where it cannot already see.  Some people feel that the use of blinders is cruel and inhumane.  I will not debate this since I lack any substantial knowledge on the subject.  In Russia, they do not use them at all.  Horses there learn not to be shy and become more focused over time.

Why did I just give you a short history lesson about horse blinders?  Well, since you asked.  I had my blinders on Saturday.  All day they kept me working toward my goal.  Not too bad a plan but when I got to that goal they limited me.  They caused me to create another task that will take away more of my precious time.

Do we become dependent on things such as blinders?  Maybe people or excuses?  Becoming shy and limited by a harness.  Sure, being focused during the day will help you get to your goal but be careful.  When you have blinders on, you will not go where you cannot see.  You will not see where you do not go.  And you will easily be led to places you shouldn’t be.

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Courageous Freedom

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As I journey through this year of self discovery as an artist one of the things I would like to do is to continue with my guitar re-creating.  It would make a great series of pieces. I have chosen the title Courageous Freedom for the series.  I will reveal to you the next guitar will be a bass guitar but the rest is a secret until it is finished.  Hopefully, it will not take the 5 years it took me to build the Thorny Guitar I revealed a couple of weeks ago.  I chose this series title because it is a combination of two of my favorite words.

I posses the greatest respect for those 2 words separately but when you put them together, volumes are written.  I have touched on bravery numerous times in my blogs but it is just that important to me.  Courage is required to take risk, to step out on the mission field, to march into a new career, to get rid of those comfort zones, to make decisions about things you have invested countless hours and money into, to marry, to start a family.  I think you get the picture.  Each day we make same courageous decisions.  Where there is risk there is the opportunity for courage.

It takes courage to create freedom.  Yes, freedom can be created.  I learned that from my time in the military.  We are not born courageous.  We learn it from acts of bravery, from managing fear and from Christ’s empowerment.  When my army reserve unit was activated and sent to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm I learned really quickly what courage looked like.  I was surrounded by it everyday.  I was pretty scared at times but you move forward.  At night in my tent I would just say God protect me.  After rolling my socks over my boots to keep the scorpions and spiders out I would go to sleep.  I do not remember staying awake or worrying about anything.  I had been gifted with the courage of Christ.

It also takes courage to accept freedom.  Too many people are afraid to move into a life of freedom.  It is much safer and easier to stay in the same restrictive rituals that bind our faith.  I have broken down walls in my own life recently that I had built up for protection because I had been hurt many years ago.  I lacked the courage to allow myself to feel what was outside those stone walls.  They were cold and dark and left me incapable of truly feeling all that Christ had to offer.  Love was a very difficult concept when I was cowering behind that impenetrable barrier.  Those walls shackled me.  I felt little and lived a numbing life.  It took courage to break the walls down and step out into the light.  The love and emotions that hit me at first felt like stepping out into bright light from a dark cave.  I could only describe it as an emotional hangover the next day.  It took along time to manage all that and how to handle all this new freedom.  But I haven’t regretted a second of it.  The passion, love and courage I now have are wonderful friends.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” —Plato

Victory

I am still feeling the wonderful after effects of victory.  After battling all the decisions and time that went into making my thorned guitar which, I revealed last week, I have spent this week soaking up a since of accomplishment.  I can’t describe the natural high I get hearing it played and seeing it complete.  I am trying to stay humble but I will say all the compliments have been so encouraging. It has inspired me so that I have not been idle.  I have found my next one and started a two-dimensional piece as well (more on those next week).

I have always tried to answer a compliment with something like, “thank you it’s not that hard” or “I still have a lot to learn” or “you should see…”  or even “but did you see the problem with”. Sometimes I even start pointing out the mistakes in the piece.  Why did I think that humility meant lowering myself, elevating someone else or deferring the conversation.  Could it be that I love being affirmed so much it scared me?  I didn’t want to be arrogant or obnoxious but where do you draw the line.  How can an artist be confident and promote themselves without being too overwhelming or boystrious?  Well, now that I am a mature woman here is what I have learned.

If someone gives you a compliment you must accept it in its entirety.  It is a gift given to you and should not be returned. You should not try to best their gift by giving them a bigger compliment either.  Allow them to bless you and always say thank you without a but at the end.  No pun entended.

Next, never point out your mistakes when receiving a compliment.  I have mentioned this before.  Focusing on the negatives only brings you to a negative focus.  I know that is redundant but it is true. The complimenter is enjoying something you did so don’t ruin it for them. It reminds me of when you go to a movie and with no knowledge of the story you leave the theatre thinking how much you enjoyed it. Then your book nerd friends start trashing it. Before you didn’t care that the main character was suppose to have blonde hair or that there were not suppose to be an elven heroine.

Lastly, deferring is disrespectful to the giver of the compliment.  They are complimenting you and not someone or anything else.  Be respectful and accept it for goodness sake.  There is no arrogance in that.

You can live in victory each day without coming across as boastful and conceited.  It is victorious confidence that Christ gives us.  Why would we belittle ourselves as less.  As long as we carry ourselves with love first the belief in one’s self will keep us grounded.

Cue the choir it’s the big reveal!

Ahh! Can you hear the choir holding out that long note and see a yellow light slowly getting brighter as if the sun were dawning in super fast speed?  It is the big reveal day!

It all started about five years ago when I bought a guitar that was greatly abused. The finish was dotted from BB shots and the wiring had come unsoldered.  To those of you who know something about guitars it was a Lyons by Washburn and had tribal art on it.

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I decided I would reclaim it, so to speak.  After removing the neck, all the hardware and electronics it was time to find out what was under the paint.  I read and Googled and read some more.  I then choose a process of removing the finish I had never heard of before, blow torching.  It was so much fun!  Just like popcorn flying everywhere and in no time at all the finish had popped off down to bare wood.

I really do not want to bore you with all the details but I do want to hit the highlights.  Yes, they are brutal but if you look closely they have a beautiful quality about them.  Not only do most plants that have thorns produce brightly colored flowers but the vines themselves have wonderful details.  I drew the design and outlined it with a hobby knife. I have always had an appreciation for thorns.  After lots of tedious hours of sanding and carving this is what I ended up with before finishing.

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I finally made my decision on finishing it off by torching it and using a satin poly. A friend of mine recommended a Seymore Duncan pickup and set it up for me. This is the final result.

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I hope to have a video of it being played next post.  As well as the beginning of my next project.

Not that I want to over think this process but when I began with this project this guitar had all the signs of a rough life.  If had skulls and beat up marks and didn’t even play.  It was a long process but with lots of loving care it has become a beautiful work of art.  It progressed quickly at first and then sat wrapped gently in a soft towel, protected, unfinished and unknown.  With it finally out and finished I want to proudly show it off.

Let God give you that re-purposing.  It may take a long time but do not be content with being protected and set aside.  Step out of your comfort zone and BE so He can proudly show you off.

Now Is The New Later

Expectations of 2015

Expectations of 2015

When things are not done that I ask my kids to do I usually get one of two answers, “I forgot” or “I didn’t have time”.  This usually prompts a short lecture on time management and procrastination.  Don’t put things off until the last minute or until later because you may run out of time.  Simple concept, do it when you think of it so it gets done.

As the week progressed I found myself not in my studio…at all.  Why am I not working on “the project” that I couldn’t tear myself away from earlier.  Yes, I have been busy since I went back to work after a two week holiday break and I have had a couple of evening obligations but did I really have no time to work on it, to even touch or reflect on it.  Could it be that my kids learned from the best?  Yes, I am one of the best “I’ll do it later” people in the world.  Not many can procrastinate like me.

The weekend came and I knew I had to get on that project.  I did not want to write a blog that I had failed to make any progress on my journey.  Saturday came and so I had my usual relaxing morning with the knowledge that I had all day with nothing scheduled to pull me away from working on my project.  After relaxing for three hours I realized lunch wasn’t too far away so I decided to clean the kitchen and hit the studio after I had eaten.  Lunch came and went.  The kitchen wasn’t even close to clean and there I sat.  Pulled in.  Almost in a trance.  Suddenly, the proverbial light bulb went on.  What had robbed me of all my time this week?  The goal bandit.  The great thief of my productivity.  It was the television.  Did I gain any worth while knowledge by watching the television?  No.  Was my life expanded or enriched by those hours in front of the television?  No.  Was anything memorable or a treasured moment made through the experience of watching it.  No.  Did I loose valuable time that could lead to achieving my goals.  Yes.

With this awakening I decided the kitchen could wait.  My project could not.  I left the kitchen half done with chairs left in my den from the unfinished mopping.  I could no longer use the later excuse.  It was time.  I went to the studio, sat down and began.  It wasn’t long until time was lost, but this time it was enriched and memorable, it was productive and another step in my journey.  I was creating, being, and dreaming.  Where is this project going?  Plotting and planning each mark of my blade and rotary tool.  Applying sand paper every now and then.  Still imaging colors and the possibilities.  My mind flew completely free with all the unencumbered choices.  Even when I needed to stop two hours later there are so many decisions to still make.  Loving that every one takes me down a different road to a different finished product.  No one better or worse than the other just different.

Every Journey Begins With A Step…Which Way

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” -Laozi

I have been thinking about the beginning of my journey and which direction to go on day one. I ask myself where do you want to end up this time next year. I hate to call this a resolution because I typically do not do those but commonly set goals throughout the year. Most deal with fitness or career. Not this time.

I want to apply for a fellowship in November which means I need at least 6 completed art pieces by then. I also want to finish a project I started 5 years ago and set aside. But more importantly I want to just create consistently.

With these objectives in mind I am ready to set out. The first obstacle is my studio.  Not a very inspiring place right now. We added it about 10 years. The last few years it has become the “junk” room filled with music stuff and larger items I wanted to get out of the way.

I am a pack rat as I find all art teachers are with the mind set of free supplies. I find items like wadded up brown paper and think, treasure maps; potato and onion sacks make great textures and cream cheese containers hold lots of paint. Guess where I store them.

Now that I have a rough map of where to go with this it is time to get off the couch and take a step.

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How To Begin? Let Me Count The Ways.

This is my first blog ever so please bear with me. I consider English my second language.  No, I am not bilingual but as an artist, visual communication would be my first language.

I am torn at my direction. Yesterday, Christ affirmed my idea through my pastor. To be brief, the theme was to follow your dreams.  Too many people loose their dreams as they age because of the struggle of a life surrounded by societal responsibilities.  This year I would like to select some of my dreams and begin a journey to live them.  What am I torn about you my ask?  Which dream.

I have started this blog to be accountable and to explore that direction.  I am notorious for not finishing projects and crowding my schedule with “stuff” to the point that my personal time is brushed asside. Life is too short.  On a side bar I am turning 50 this year which brings me face to face with time.

It will take some time for me to get the hang of this but through it I am making a commitment.  To?  Sorry not to you, the reader, but to myself.  I will post on Wednesdays for now.  Please leave encouraging words and journey with me.  There will be an extra post this week as this one is a “teaser”.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.  -Earnest Hemingway