To wrap up last month’s Art Show in three words, I’d use “breezy,” “grateful,” and “normal”. The weather was breezy both weekends, and the shoppers were grateful to be able to do something normal for a change.
This is a pastel of my booth with some shoppers in it and their very patient doggy waiting in the front. He was a lot more interested in what was happening in front of him than behind. Since he’s facing the check out tent, maybe he was attracted by all the flapping tissue paper as we attempted to wrap up the more fragile items without everything flying away from us. It was sunny, yes, but also very windy! One of the perks of living near Lake Michigan is there’s almost always a breeze to be had.
All in all, it was a pretty successful couple of weekends. One of the things we heard over and over was how nice it was to do something “normal.” Normal in this case being an art show. So many events got cancelled this year, it was nice to have a show and put up signs and sell stuff. So I’m calling this piece “A Little Bit of Normal” because that’s what it meant to so many people.
Laurie says she’s done with art shows after this year, so I may have to stage one of my own. Stay tuned. I have some ideas about this and they involve a new studio space in my own front yard! It’s going to be so cool. I can’t wait.
Thanks for coming out and supporting us. It’s one of my favorite memories from this year so far.
If you’re interested in purchasing this piece, email me.
Hey, now’s your chance to see my Old (Dead) Masters show up close and in person at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts in October!
The timing for this show is too perfect! When I got a message from Ludington Area Center for the Arts saying they had a last minute cancellation and could I possibly bring in my Old (Dead) Masters paintings to display in the Performance Hall Lobby, I said yes, yes, yes!
I love this time of year. Of course, skeleton art is appropriate at any and all times of the year, in my opinion, but especially in October. It rocks!
This show features all the Old (Dead) Masters pieces that I have, each in a beautifully appropriate skull themed frame. You have to see them, they’re too cool!
So if you’re looking to get into that spooky skeleton mood this year–not that there’s anything not terrifying about 2020 so far, mind you–please make the trip to see my beautiful Old (Dead) Masters show. The art is fun and not too scary, so appropriate for all skeleton lovers, no matter their age. And it’s only up through October!
Bonus activity: see if you can correctly identify each of the famous artists/works that I parodied for each piece!
If you want to get people to come to your yart sale, you have to give them a sign. About 30 of them, actually.
Laurie Carey, who hosted the sale on her front lawn, is an absolute genius about making signs that draw people in. These were hot pink, stenciled with the days, times and address and with huge black arrows on them pointing the way. We put them at every major intersection leading into town and they did a great job bringing people in to the sale!
All weekend long, people would come up and say to us, “The signs were awesome!” I swear, Laurie ought to teach a class because she sure knows how to host a sale.
We all sold a ton of art, met a lot of new fans, and had a great time doing it. Best Yart Sale ever! Let’s do it again next year!
I moved my studio/gallery/office this past spring. Same building as before, but now I’m in the way back. Like, really far back. Like, so far back that no one really knows I’m there yet.
Which is kind of a relief.
To be honest, the space at the front of the building, with the big plate glass windows, felt too exposed. Anyone could see in.
Sometimes I’d put the closed sign on the door, just so I could relax a little bit. You know, roll out the yoga mat, do some stretches, take a nap, adjust my attitude.
There were days when I dreaded going in because the place was such a wreck. When I paint I have this tendency to pick pastels up and then drop them on any available surface and then it might be a day or two before they all got put back where they belonged. Yes, all right, it took months sometimes.
This was a problem because someone might see. But I couldn’t seem to stop making a mess. And then I’d feel embarrassed. Which is wrong, because a studio has to be able to be messy. That’s when the creativity happens for me. When every possible thing is floating around inside and outside my head. When it’s all loose.
But the old space was also a retail space and an office. So I was feeling some pressure to keep it looking nice.
The new space is not so nice, if you know what I mean. The brick walls are crumbling in spots. The drywall on the ceiling needs to be painted. The floor is plywood with gray paint on it. I’ve got frames and paintings everywhere.
My handy husband made me this huge table from two by fours and a varnished closet door and I’ve spread all, and I mean all, my pastels out on it. I can see every color of the rainbow all the time! It’s like living in a Froot Loop fairyland.
Anyway, I hope you stop by and visit the new digs. I plan to make lots of art and a ton of messes and I don’t care who sees.
Yesterday an older gentleman stopped by while I was out in front of my studio, writing at my little café table. He’d been walking around town all morning and needed to rest for a bit before returning home. He asked if he could sit down. “Sure,” I said.
We got to talking and he told me he’d worked on the carferries for 30 years in the engine room. “20 days on and 8 days off,” he said. “But sometimes the boat would get stuck in the ice and you couldn’t start your time off until they got to the dock. That was hard.”
I liked listening to him and imagining what Ludington looked like when there were seven carferries sailing to three different ports on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan–Milwaukee, Manitowoc and Kewaunee. He listed all the boats on his fingers, “The Pere Marquette 21, the Pere Marquette 22, the Spartan, the Badger, the City of Flint, the City of Saginaw and the City of Midland.”
I thought about how the town harbor must’ve bustled with people and trains and boats. It’s still a little bustly with the Badger running half the year here.
The man that sat down to talk didn’t ask about my skeleton art but I got to thinking about it and I wonder if he’d have liked the commission that I painted early this spring, about a skeleton carferry captain racing back to port. The owner of a local restaurant wanted me to paint a skeleton picture that had Ludington, the carferry and House of Flavors Restaurant in it. Oh, and could I do it in ten days because the giftee was leaving town?
I’m a glutton for punishment so of course I said yes. As it turned out I also had to get the piece printed as a canvas wrap in time for the going away party, but once the original was done that part was easy peasy. I love it when a plan comes together! Bonus, it was a really fun piece to do.
Do you suppose the old guy I was talking to yesterday would appreciate a card with that piece on it? If I see him again I’ll be sure to find out!
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Art Ramble in the Woods was last week, and truthfully, I wasn’t expecting a lot of traffic. Loon’s Moon Studio, where Deb Albrecht and I were set up, is pretty far out in the pickers. It’s off Stohlberg Road, which is so small that you can’t even call it tertiary, much less secondary, and then 32nd Street is a quarter mile long dirt driveway that goes all the way down to Tallman Lake. It’s absolutely lovely once you get there, and Joan’s gourd art is sublime, of course, but there’s tall grass, a downed tree and mobile home trailers mixed in with the cottages and cabins, so a pretty unusual spot to have an art show.
Deb Albrecht’s awesome stuff.
Laurie and Craig’s place, The Art Full Codgers Gallery, is a bit easier to find and Lonni Pratt’s The Art Shack is right around the corner from them. Of course, without Laurie’s terrific signage, we’d all probably still be out there, twiddling our thumbs and wondering where everyone was!
It sure was heartwarming to see how many people came out for the event. They drove in steadily in ones and twos all weekend. I’d ask them, “How did you hear about us?” and they’d say, “Well, we were curious about all those green signs in the neighborhood,” or “We saw the story in the paper,” or “It was all over Facebook,” which was really great to hear, because everyone worked their butts off to advertise this show.
Steve’s tie dyed shirts
Art shows are up against some tough competition any time of the year, but especially in the summer. People are busy. There are reunions, weddings, vacation plans and just a lot of regular ol’ stuff, you know? So it was sweet to see people come out to say hello and even buy some art.
And then this happened: Saturday afternoon we were standing around, talking with some folks who’d come all the way out from Baldwin, when we heard noises coming from the lake. There were loons calling and when they started getting louder and more frantic-sounding, we quickly walked over to the water’s edge to see what all the fuss was about. High over the lake was a bald eagle, which was pretty cool all by itself, but it turned out he was interested in some loon chicks that were out swimming with their parents.
We watched, spellbound, as over and over again, the eagle dove down towards them. One adult loon stayed with the young ones, and whenever the eagle got too close all the chicks would dive under the water.
The other adult loon positioned itself about twenty feet in front of the family, between them and the oncoming eagle. At the last moment he would rise up out of the water, trying to knock the eagle down or off course. (We learned later that if the eagle got his wings in the water, he’d be at the mercy of the loons, because he wouldn’t be able to easily take off again.)
It was pretty intense to watch, and, unlike a television show, we didn’t know how long the loons would be able to fend off the enemy. He was so huge compared to the tiny loons. Eventually though, the eagle called it quits and flew off over the trees. Whew! The loons were safe, but the drama lasted for several minutes and it was truly one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen. I’ll never forget it.
I guess you just never know how things will turn out. But if you try really hard and work your butt off, sometimes fantastic things happen. I’ll never forget all the love we got last weekend and the drama on Tallman Lake was the perfect capper to a wonderful weekend. Thanks again, from the bottom of my out-in-the-pickers heart.
Earlier this spring, when I was juried into ArtPrize Nine, I hoped this would be the event that put my skellies on the map. I was gonna get 1,000 new sign ups for my newsletter. I hoped to sell not just one, but all seven original paintings. I imagined being carried through the streets of Grand Rapids by my adoring fans in one of those little tent things on poles.
When I walked into my official venue at the bitter end coffeehouse on the first night of ArtPrize Nine, ostensibly to see how my paintings had been hung, but secretly hoping someone would point at me and yell, “Look! It’s her! The artist who made all these awesome skelly paintings! Oh, please, would you sign my coaster?” there was a huge line out the door and every table was occupied. I held my breath. But as it turned out, everyone there was either doing homework or standing in line for coffee.
I thought, is it possible I have seriously overestimated the importance of skelly paintings in the minds of perfect strangers?
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I didn’t win ArtPrize Nine. I also didn’t get a thousand new names on my mailing list. I didn’t sell any of my original skelly paintings. And, adding insult to injury, no one carried me through the streets in a giant palanquin.
Does this mean ArtPrize was a disappointment? Of course not.
Every day that I was there was a great day. Lots of friends and family stopped by to drink coffee with me and chat. My brother and his wife put aside a cold beer with my name on it every evening. My husband picked up my slack so I could be away every weekend during the show. My mom even refrained from telling me how much she doesn’t like skeletons when I’d stop by to give her an update, which was kind of amazing, really. She’s nearly 95 and doesn’t have many governors left.
To everyone who took the time to come and see me, who smiled and encouraged me and told me they were proud of me for participating in the biggest art show in the world, I just want you to know that it was you that made the event worthwhile for me.
Putting my stuff out there for a chance at fame and fortune may have been my original motivation, but friends and family turned it into something way better. Success is not about the quantity of people who love me, it’s about the quality of that love. I’ll never forget how lucky I am to have all of you in my corner. Thank you.
Faces of ArtPrize Nine
Below are some of my favorite pictures from ArtPrize Nine. You guys all rock my world.
Selfies are harder than they look…
Just take the freakin’ picture!
Thanks for making me feel like a big deal.
Last, but not least, one of my favorite sculptures from ArtPrize Nine. This crazy bird is just a tiny part of why I was happy to be included in ArtPrize Nine. See you at ArtPrize Ten!
Summer’s gone now. The trees are starting to turn. I saw a pair of brilliantly colored trees, red and orange, on my way down to Grand Rapids to drop the skelly paintings off for ArtPrize Nine.
I’m sorry summer’s done but I’m enjoying the cool mornings for walking in the woods with my dogs and it’s nice having seasons again. Makes me think of football games, raking leaves and the smell of burning stuff in the air.
Last week one of the neighbors had such a big burn pile going that it made a fog over our entire back yard. The sun was low in the sky and it lit up the smoke, throwing the trees in silhouette.
Part of me was thinking, “I hope I don’t die as a result of all this toxic smoke in the air,” and the other part was thinking, “This is so cool looking!” I ran in to get my phone for a picture but by the time I came out again, most of the smoke had dissipated. I can still picture what it looked like, the branches all backlit and peeking through that huge cloud of smoke.
Signed, sealed and delivered
Frida Skelly with Monkeys, 12×18″ pastel on sanded paper.
You’ll be happy to know all seven Old (Dead) Masters paintings are officially delivered to the bitter end coffeehouse and by this time next week lots and lots of people will have a chance to see them up close and personal. I’m excited and nervous and feeling a lot of dread right now.
Kind of like I used to feel right before a particular fundraising auction in my previous life as a Rotarian. Back then I’d have nightmares about nobody showing up and then to add insult to injury, I’d get what I called my “Christmas Cold Sore” on the day of. It never failed.
My contact at the bitter end wasn’t there when I arrived but his father, Mike, was. Mike told me that when he and his son, John, first saw the skellies they knew right away they were perfect for their place.
“We’re on the fringe of ArtPrize so we appreciate art that’s also kind of out there,” he said. “We had another exhibitor a few years ago, and she had twelve pieces featuring the role of underwear during the course of a person’s life. It started out with diapers and it ended with them, too.”
I think I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect place to exhibit skeletons in, don’t you? Meantime, I keep feeling my lip for impending cold soreness. So far, so good.
Last June I moved into a new studio space at 307 S. James Street here in Ludington, Michigan. It’s awesome. There are a lot of new businesses around me so I’m in good company and it’s fun to watch people walk by my big picture window. But there are some things I’ve learned since going from a work-at-home artist to a work-in-the-public-eye artist.
Having lunch at my skellified table…
Are you going to eat that?
Lunches are a challenge. My space is pretty small. No room for a microwave and no windows for ventilation, so there is a whole list of things I can’t eat here, like any kind of hot food (I now eat soup for breakfast), legumes (I hadn’t realized beans would go through me quite that quickly), and anything odiferous like tuna or smoked fish. I use a freezer pack in my lunchbox and eat salads every day. I feel virtuous all the time now plus I’m more regular than I’ve been in years.
Look, rainbow shoes!
What are you wearing?
I have to wear nicer clothes than I did when I worked at home, or at least, matching ones. Also I can’t come to work in shirts with holes in them (mine get holes right where I press up against my work table, at my belt line. It looks I have moths living in my navel), or pajamas, or anything that I wouldn’t want to meet the mayor in (he hasn’t shown up yet, but it’s a small town. You never know). All the tie-dyed dresses my husband Steve made me so long ago are getting a real workout this summer. They’re bright and artsy and you can’t see where I’ve dribbled vinaigrette on them.
I no longer smell like vegetable soup
I can’t tell you how many showers I’ve taken since mid-June, but it’s probably at least four times as many as I did in the last twenty years. But is this is a good thing? I mean, Steve appreciates it, I’m sure, but I find myself wondering if this is how people start losing their hair. Is it possible to wash it too much? Also, if I’m too clean, how will he find me in the dark?
Blankety blank blank
Every once in a while my computer does something really stupid and I yell at it in a not very lady like way. And then I take a quick look around to see if anyone heard me. Recently, I got mad enough to kick a cabinet (that’s better than kicking the computer, right?) and thought I broke my toe. Fortunately, I just stood on the freezer pack from my lunch in my stocking feet for a while (hardly any swelling). I’m learning to curb my tongue better than I used to, but computers never fail to bring out the crazy in me.
Time to do something with this pile!
Have you seen my…?
I am a natural slob. Did I mention the space is small? This means that whenever I do anything at all, I have to finish it and then put away everything that I took out to do it with before moving on to the next thing. I’m not used to this, but it’s starting to grow on me. I used to have piles of projects in various states of doneness all around. Now I can’t let them become piles in the first place. It’s neater, if a little alien to my nature. The big advantage is that I know where everything is now because it’s always put away. The disadvantage is that I’m always putting things away. How did I live with myself before this?
I love my Pilot G-2 gel pens. I should buy stock.
The life of an artist is often misunderstood
Now and again I take some ribbing from the people passing by. My favorite is, “Have you finished my homework yet?” which happens when I’m sitting out front writing in my notebook. I think people don’t associate writing with art making but it’s a fact that you have to write about what you’re doing if you’re planning to share it or sell it. I like to sit at my skellified cafe table and put pen to paper. There’s usually a breeze, occasionally I have company to talk to, and it’s fun to watch all the people go by. Once someone called out that he wished he had my job because it looked so much easier than what he was doing and I nearly told him to go jump in the blankety blank lake, but I thought better of it. After all, he might have been the mayor.
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So I was pretty proud of myself for ticking “Frame Skelly with a Pearl Earring” off my to-do list, right up until I flipped the framed picture over and discovered that both screws for the hangers had pierced through to the front of the frame. Damn it, Jim!
I screwed up
After a day or two of kicking myself, I went back to the same Goodwill where I’d found the frame in the first place and was delighted to find a second, identical frame!
What luck! Another, identical frame was at the same Goodwill. Next time, I’ll save myself a trip and buy all identical frames at once.
After I got it home I found a scratch on the glass, but, since I still had the glass from the first frame, everything ended happily after all. Which just goes to show you, measure twice, screw once.