An Art Goal: Use Only Supplies on Hand

The comedy show we were planning for Project Graduation 2017 was a success. It made a decent amount of money. That is good! It was a tremendous amount of work, but the event was a tremendous amount of fun, so there was a built in reward for the work. Juston McKinney did a superb job performing for a crowd consisting of students, parents, teachers and grandparents.  When we booked him, he agreed to do a PG show appropriate for teens and adults. I think he hit the mark spot on. I would recommend him without reservation for your event, if you are looking for a comedian for a show. 

So now I am working on taxes.  Printing out documents of last years art supply purchases steels my resolve to only make art from materials on hand.  I got some books and supplies at Christmas that I am looking forward to using in the coming months. I have a few areas I want to learn about - the books above give a hint.  I will probably be working on two dimensional works for a while as that is easier to fit into how life and family are working right now.  

The Kind of Art I'm Doing

I've been helping to organize a fundraising comedy show for Project Graduation 2017 featuring Juston McKinney  on March 18th at our local high school, Hampden Academy.  You can purchase tickets here at Brown Paper Tickets if you are in the greater Bangor area. Juston is a very funny guy - and a national comedian who has appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has also done TWO Comedy Central specials.  You can see view some of Juston's comedy clips on Vimeo.

One of the challenges in designing the poster was all the information that needed to be on it! So, in true Dixie fashion, I didn't just design one poster, I designed about 50 versions until I got something that felt good.  Not perfect, not right, but serves the purpose.

Good is my new goal in life which is way better than "unfinished."  A decent meal is better than no meal at all.  Although if you are a surgeon, I want your goal to be finished and if not perfect, at least very, very close to it.  ;-)

Posters need to look good, but that's not the only goal.  A poster's purpose is for people to find information quickly. I wish I had taken more graphic design classes when I was in art school, although I have learned some along the way by doing.  Here's one of the final versions that made the cut - it has the image provided by the comedian as well as information about the event and the generous businesses who have helped make the event even happen.

Soon poster-making will settle down and I will get back to art-making. With Christmas money I bought myself a book on antique tavern signs.  I want to experiment in some new areas in addition to art doll making: printmaking, sign-painting and also a return to fine art paintings. 

Lighten Up, Kitchen!

There is nothing wrong with the kitchen above.  It was designed nicely 30 years ago by the previous owners. It has a functional layout.  But it always felt dark in winter to me.  This past year I took Nesting Place's Cozy Minimalist course and it helped me to see I could change my rooms and have them reflect my taste.  I like a cottage - coastal - eclectic feel. 

So I decided to replace the black laminate countertops with lighter gray and paint the cabinets for a low disruption budget makeover.  

I had decided to go white on the cabinets, but it didn't feel right. I finally settled in a blue inspired by antique furniture. 

With that decision made, these kitchens below helped me hone in on the feeling I wanted.  I ended up painting the cabinets Benjamin Moore "Hemlock" and installing Formica laminate "Elemental Concrete" to get close to the bottom left and bottom middle kitchen (they are the same kitchen).  I also replaced the kitchen sink and the faucet.  I went with a Blanco granite sink to get a soapstone sink look.  

This was a big job! I started painting in late September. I finished in early January.  I did all but 10 doors myself which I sent out to a painter I know.  I paused for soccer season, Thanksgiving and Christmas. For 4 months some section of my kitchen looked like this: 

Here is what it looks like now.  You can see I had used the adjacent office as a storage room.  That's the next thing to deal with! 

Until I decide on a backsplash, I'm painting it and hanging pretty vintage and antique plates. 

The cupboard above the fridge is a nice display spot now. 

A reminder of the before and after: 

Paint is transformative.  I still have some "styling" to do, but am enjoying it as is for now.  It is definitely lighter! 

It was a long process: 

1. Clean cabinets with Krud Kutter. 

2.  Sand cabinets with 180 grit to take down the shine. 

3.  Wipe sanding dust off with tack cloth. 

4.  Prime with bonding primer.  I used Benjamin Moore's. 

5. Paint first coat. I used Benjamin Moore's Advance paint which is an alkyd based paint.  It needs to dry 17 hours before recoating. 

6. Scuff sand first coat of paint. 

7.  Wipe dust off with tack cloth.

8.  Recoat. 

9.  Ta da!

10.  Learn to cook again!

Planning to Laugh

I've been working on a fundraising project for Project Graduation.  The team decided to bring a comedian to the high school as a fundraiser.  Researching this has been so much fun. I have laughed a lot while viewing video clips of Maine and New England comedians who would be good for teenagers and adults.  And planning to laugh in March after a long winter makes me smile. 

Last night we decorated our tree while listening to swing music.  My oldest and I danced in a silly way until we laughed.  I loved seeing his beautiful smile, and hearing his wonderful laughter.    

Not Feeling Christmasy?
Remember Christmas in 5 Ways

Each year I repost this because *I* need to read it.
But it seems to resonate with others, too. 

(This is a repost from Christmas 2011, but I thought it bears repeating). 

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that
 he was not feeling very Christmas-y. 

I replied, 
"Define Christmas-y."

I'm not trying to discount his feelings.  What I mean is,  

"What makes you feel like it's Christmas?"

When we don't feel Christmasy it's because we're comparing our "now" with some memory from the past or some image that's presented in society.  And often it doesn't measure up.   Sometimes we have real reasons that we're feeling the Christmas blues.  Maybe we're lonely or depressed.  Maybe we're overwhelmed and harried.

Many years ago, when my son who has autism was small, I had to adjust my views of Christmas.  In my growing up, Christmas was about a big toy opening fest on Christmas Day.  I thought I would bring that to my family tradition when I had kids.  But my son at the time had no interest in toys.  So shopping for Christmas presents was painful.  It highlighted that the path we were traveling was a different one, and I didn't know the way.  Sometimes I still feel that twinge when I walk the toy aisles.  Going to Christmas events was either impossible or very hard when my son was young.  My husband and I spent quite a few family Christmas parties off in another room sitting under a blanket with my son, who was completely overwhelmed   I was sad during this time.  And I felt lonely.  This wasn't the expected path.   I had to come to terms that the Christmas season for us was going to be different from what I had envisioned  It wouldn't be a recreation of my childhood Christmases.

Here's the manger scene 
as set up by our son with autism....
I'm not changing it. 

Yesterday I saw a friend at the grocery store who wasn't going to be able to do all the things that Christmas brings because of a busy work schedule.  My suggestion to her?

Pick 5 Things to Do

Pick 5 things to do that if you don't do them it doesn't feel like Christmas.  And forget the rest.  That list will be different for everyone.

Here's our list:
  1. Get a Christmas tree and decorate it as a family.
  2. Listen to and sing Christmas carols. is great for this.  Type in your favorite Christmas carol, your favorite artist and listen to lots of wonderful Christmas songs.  
  3. Hang lights.   This year we hung some colored outdoor lights that remind me of the giant ones that used to hang at Granddad's house when I was very small.
  4. Make cookies and/or cinnamon dough ornaments.
  5. Read the biblical Christmas story at Bible Gateway.   Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20.  
Of course, there's more.  I didn't put presents in, and we do that.   But you get the idea.  Make a list that is YOUR list of what preparing for Christmas means.  For some people, it means putting up 12 Christmas trees around their house.   For others, it means volunteering.   

Accept Your Un-Christmasy Feelings    

Accept that in this year, you may feel like the tired shepherds away in the fields working the graveyard shift.  You may feel like Joseph trying to find a place for his family to sleep in a strange city. Or like Mary, waiting and wondering what is to come.  Perhaps you're the harried innkeeper trying to wedge in another paying customer.  Or maybe you are like old Simeon and Anna, who had been waiting a long, long time for the birth of the promised Messiah.

Christmas still came for all of those people,
despite how they were feeling. 

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden


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