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. 

12 Things to Say Yes To

Worth reading again for me, so I'm a reposting. 

I am going to make a big ol' sign 
for my family room that says YES.  

Below is a list of things I think people should say yes to.  It's not exhaustive, so please comment below if you have things to add.

Say Yes to Being You

I've been seeing this quote by Dr. Seuss posted on Facebook a lot lately:

Today you are you, that is truer than true. 
There is no one alive who is youer than you.

It's catchy, but it's also profound.   It is easy to go through life trying to do and be what other people thing is important and miss what is uniquely YOU in the process.   Everyone of us has a unique skill set which combined with our interests makes us profoundly unique.  If you are creative, chances are you like to learn things and you can be a pretty good jack of all trades.   But after you've acquired a skill set of about 12 things maybe it's time to really say YES to going deeply into one of those that fits the sweet spot of your interests. 

Say Yes to Setting Goals

Accomplishments don't happen without planning.   I have to work at saying yes to this because I like to try and do some many things.  But making a list of what fits with what is uniquely YOU and pursuing that is important work in becoming who we are meant to be.

Say Yes to Working Hard
Once you've decided on some goals, say YES to working hard.   This means focusing and not doing some other things you'd like to do. 

Say Yes to Getting Help

This relates to Saying Yes to Being You.  Since we can't do and be everything and we're saying YES to doing things that are unique to our skill set and interest, it leaves some things un-done by US.  I remember reading in Randy Paush's The Last Lecture that he thinks we should pay people to do things.   Recently I did that in getting our trim painted in our house.  I could do it, yes, but would I rather use my time to make an artwork, or design a new pattern or to paint my trim?  Since I can't do everything, and I really want to make artwork because that's uniquely me, I opted to get help painting the trim. 

Say Yes to Rest

You must get rest.  Everyone needs a different amount of it, but having some restful living every day will contribute to being healthier and more creative and more uniquely you.  If you're creative, chances are your mind is always working, and it's important to turn it off for a while.  I'm not advocating drugs.  But here is a link to an article on how to get a good night's sleep

Say Yes to Being Healthy

Eat your greens and reds and violets and all.  Colorful food = healthy body.  Healthy body = ability to do things.  You don't have to cook unless that's uniquely you.  Bagged salad and veggies work fine.  An apple is easy.   Moving doesn't mean you have to do something you hate.   Maybe it means dancing with your dog (yup, did that yesterday, she thinks I'm crazy). 

Say Yes to Trying Something New

Making things with our hands is rewarding and relaxing.  Learn to knit or paint or rug-hook or cook.  Or if you're an artist who sells your work, it is really, really important to make some things that you have no intention of selling when you make it.  You can decide later to sell it if you want, but give yourself some time to color outside the lines. 

Say Yes to Smelling the Roses

Ten minutes in a hammock on a beautiful May day can totally recharge your batteries.  Listening to the surf at the ocean can reduce anxiety.   Time spent building sand castles with kids and grandkids builds memories.

Say Yes to Helping Others

Chances are this is not your problem.  But it is worthwhile to get involved in some way in your community helping out others.  It gives us a wider view of the world. 

Say Yes to Failure

Really, Dixie?   Well, what I really mean is to try something and be at peace with it if it doesn't work out.  Sometimes you won't be successful, but if you don't try something which has the possibility of failing, you might never get anything important done.   Safety is not always safe.  Some of the people we consider to be huge successes only got there after a thousand failures. 

Say Yes to Success

"Well, duh, Dixie.  Of course I want to say YES to Success."

I don't know if we always do.  Sometimes we can sabotage ourselves without understanding that's what we're doing.  We choose not to take the next step out of fear, or we worry about what will happen if we really do succeed.  Or we overload ourselves so that there is no way we can possibly accomplish some of our heart-felt desires.  Or maybe that's just me?  ;-)

Say Yes to Saying No

You knew it would ultimately come to this, right?   Our time is finite and we can only say yes to so many things.  Which means we must say no to some things.   There is a book called "Yes" or "No": The Guide to Better Decisions by Spencer Johnson. One of the helpful tips in the book was to ask yourself the question "What Would I Do If I Weren't Afraid?"   For me, the answer is often, I would say "no" if I weren't afraid of disappointing someone.  Or I would do X if I weren't afraid of falling on my face.

Another way to figure out what to say Yes and No to is to pit things against each helps to then identify ways we might be wasting our time

make a painting or shop for sales at the mall
check facebook or do the dishes (uh-oh)

you get the drift...

I'm wondering what you will be thoughtfully be saying yes to?  And maybe that's another thing to add to the list....say yes to taking time to decide whether you're going to say Yes or No....

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

John Wooden


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