"Do not let what you cannot do
interfere with what you can do."

~ John Wooden,
Hall of Fame college basketball coach

Changed the Title and Content, Kept the Pictures

Note - some of my viewpoints have changed since I wrote this post. I do not support Jenny McCarthy's viewpoints about autism and consider her push against vaccinations to be dangerous. Dixie, 2012

Primitive Folk Art Doll Figurine

Above you'll see a gift my husband gave me (which I picked out at the local antiques mall). I love this doll figurine. About the 10th time I visited this primitive guy in the glass case I knew I wanted to buy him as a gift to myself from my husband.

What's to love about this guy, you ask? The figurine, not the husband ;-). Well, first of all, the tag said he came from an attic in Searsport, Maine. I'm descended from folks from Searsport, so that little nugget caught my eye. He's carved in one piece head to toe and his arms are nailed in so that they have some slight movement. I think they once were able to go down but because of the splitting and warping of the body it restricts downward movement. He is carved either from a buoy, or a newel post, or driftwood. Hard to tell. But water has been part of this guy's history. He kind of reminds me of a character from Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. If you look closely you can see eyebrows, and there are marks on the sides of the head to indicate ears.

I've tried to imagine who made him, and here are my current choices. A young boy just learning to whittle? A granddaddy making a present for a grandson or granddaughter?

A sailor or fisherman? Maybe he was the mascot in some sea captain's cabin? That's probably not true, because the carvings done by seamen are usually exquisite.

So I've settled on it being a present that an older brother just learning to whittle made for his little sister.

A Confession

I have a confession. I have FOUR blogs.

This blog, Northdixie Designs, is my first and original blog. I started it about a year and a half ago. It's a mixture of my thoughts and things I'm working on as an artist.

My second blog, Northdixie Designs Mercantile, is where I intend to sell dolls, paintings and other creations of mine. It's in development.

My third blog, Izannah Walker Chronicles, I started on January 1st of 2008. The focus of that blog is to be a resource for those who love Izannah Walker dolls. My main mission is to collect photographs and writings about original Izannah Walker dolls, and to follow what's up in Izannah Walker auction world. I started it because I wished there was such a resource on the web for me when I started learning about Izannah Walker.

And the other day I started a blog called The Roving Consultant. The Roving Consultant is the place I will write my observations that begin with "Why did they?", "Why don't they...?", "When will they...?" You get the drift.

Why, you ask, do you have four blogs? Well, my first answer is - I really like to write. My second answer is that I don't have to consider someone else's needs, wants or opinions in these writing adventures. This is a nice balance to other aspects of my life.

Little Izzy Dumpling is Done!

This little Izzy doll, whose nickname is Dumpling, is now listed on Ebay. Click any of the pictures in this post to go to the auction. Thanks!

One Thing Leads to Another...Maria Robinson Found in Berlin!

I used a quote by Maria Robinson in my earlier post today. I wanted to know more about who Maria Robinson is. This search led me to some site called, Think-Exist.com. Apparently this is a site where you can find quotes very easily.

But I wanted to know more than the one quote. So I Googled Maria Robinson and Change and went to a site where some student was asking who Maria Anderson is and they provided the following link...

But is the wise Maria Robinson of the quote below? I'm not sure. She's a writer, and has an edgy humor to her writing. I found this link on her blog to a site that has Relationship Obituaries. It's a crazy world, people.

Here are two more Change Quotes that I think are worth reading and thinking about.

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
~Mary Englebreit

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
~Charles R. Swindoll

Change Is Certain...

I received an email in response to the bit I wrote about change from a family member. It was short and to the point and a bit cryptic.

"Change is certain, progress is not."

Huh? What's that mean? And who wrote it? So I did a search of the saying to find out who wrote it - Will Durant. Will Durant's biography is quite interesting. He wrote The Story of Civilization, but didn't begin writing it until he was 41 years old. I found this a very encouraging nugget of information. The book took him 50 years to write...

Reading about Will Durant and the changes in his life led me to search for other quotes about change, which is interesting reading. Here are a few I'd like to think about.

"To change and to change for the better
are two different things."

~ German Proverb

Just because everything is different
doesn't mean anything has changed.
~Irene Peter

It is not necessary to change.
Survival is not mandatory.
~W. Edwards Deming

He who rejects change is the architect of decay.
The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.
~Harold Wilson

We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
~W.H. Auden

He that will not apply new remedies
must expect new evils;
for time is the greatest innovator.
~Francis Bacon
"On Innovation," Essays, 1597

Things alter for the worse spontaneously,
if they be not altered for the better designedly.
~Francis Bacon

This is the quote I want to leave with. I have no idea who Maria Robinson is. She's probably famous but she might just as well be the cashier at the local convenience store. But there is quite a bit of wisdom in the statement. I guess now I'll go Google Maria Robinson. ;-)

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.

~Maria Robinson

Denise Aumick, Artist, Quilter, Experimenter!

I haven't met Denise Aumick in person, but I've chatted with her on some artsy boards, and I've purchased a few of her small works, and she owns one of my paintings. :-) I consider her an artist friend. Her blog is such an interesting place to visit - she is always experimenting with new techniques.

In fact, Denise used a technique I shared on the Caat board! I got the technique from the book The Acrylic Painter's Book of Styles & Techniques by Rachel Rubin Wolf. Denise has really experimented with this technique! She has a featured article in the April/May issue Quilting Arts magazine, which is on sale now, about using paint and rubbing alcohol in her art quilts.

I thought I would post some pictures and details of a couple of Denise's works that I own. I love them, and people always comment on them. The tall one is near my desk - I love the viny pattern on it, and I look at it when I talk on the phone.

The other piece, which is larger, I mounted on a board in a purchased frame. I may mount it differently, but that's where it is for now.

Mini Izzy Update - My Small Izannah Walker Inspired Doll

A dress can make a huge difference. Reminds me of the saying, "Clothes make the girl." Where did that originate, I wonder? Anyway, this little doll is 11 inches from the top of her head to the tip of her boots.

I'm trying to decide whether to make her into a Little Red or not...

Change or Don't Change?

Don't you wish all multiple choice tests were this easy? I mean, the test giver has given a visual hint as to what the correct answer is. I'm the test giver ;-) I cropped a section of yesterday's picture of the clouds at camp. It struck me how things are always changing - the sky is one example.

The definition of insanity
is doing the same thing
over and over

and expecting different results.

~ Benjamin Franklin

I hate it when these nuggets of wisdom apply to me! Recently my camera batteries keep losing charge. I keep plugging them into the charger, and they keep losing charge quickly. Hello, hello? Buy a new battery, Dixie. Those batteries are done for. There are a wealth of ways I could apply this metaphor.

I don't want to imply that change just for change's sake is always good - sometimes that can just be a shell game you play with yourself. The old "geographical cure" can be one example - where you think that moving to a different place will solve all your problems. But then, after you move, lo and behold, you have the same problems in a different location. A clue that the problems are from within, grasshopper.

Evaluating what is working and what is not working and why is very important. Otherwise we are like those cartoon characters lost in the woods who keep racing past the same tree again and again and again. And waiting for someone else to come along and tell you what to do doesn't work that much either. I'm not discounting prayer and spiritual guidance here, but sometimes I can be waiting for that when God is saying, "I gave you this great gift, Dixie, called a brain, to make choices with. Please use it."

Beautiful Maine Day

They say the ice will go out on the lake around May 1st. Brrrrr! Cold swimming in early summer, that's for sure!

Another Work in Progress

I have given myself a challenge to make an Izannah doll without "scuffing her up" to quote a friend. I'm finding it very, very hard to do this. This little girl measures 11 inches in height. These small dolls take just as much (or more) time than the big girls I make. I put the spice can in so you can get a sense of scale.

Outsider Art? Folk Art? Maine Art? Living Maine Artists?

People like to categorize things, don't they? I picked up the magazine Maine HOME Design because it was "The Art Issue." As an artist, I do try to poke my head out of my studio every once in a while and see what's going on around me. It was interesting to read the people that had been designated as Maine Artists....which begs the question "What is a Maine Artist?"

Is a Maine artist someone who is an artist who lives in Maine? Is a Maine artist someone who paints pictures of Maine? Is a Maine artist someone who lives in Maine and paints oils on linen but sells in New York galleries? Is a Maine artist someone who sells their art? Is a Maine artist someone who paints buoys and sells them at roadside stands?

I'm not really picking on Maine HOME Design. It's a beautiful magazine. I love the design sense in it, and I actually LOVE that they have an Art Issue. I guess it the idea that art needs to be categorized. But it stands to reason that a Maine Home Design magazine will show artists that are somehow connected to Maine.

The whole categorization of art is very interesting - Outsider Art, Art Brut, Folk Art all seem to have a sense of being outside of the loop of art galleries. I don't sell my art through an art gallery. Does this mean I'm an Outsider Artist?

Tomato Girl Painting - Work in Progress

I was going through some paintings I began last year and set aside and found a tomato girl painting I'd begun. It was on canvas. I don't usually paint on canvas - I usually paint on masonite panels or cradled wood panels. Seeing the painting made me think about a conversation I had with my younger sister on the phone about last year's Tomato People paintings.

"So.....why Tomato People?" she asks. I think she's thinking, Should I be concerned?

"Why not?" says I.

"Well....er.....they are a little bit strange, Dix."

"Well, actually, I wanted to paint something inspired by an Ammi Phillips painting that wasn't a direct copy. So I decided to flip the colors around and put the red on top and the lighter colors on the bottom. I wanted to refer to folk art paintings but in a whimsical way."

"Ohhhhh. "

I essentially ended up repainting this whole painting. She started off red, then I painted her green, then I went back to red again. And then before I knew it she had a mask on - where'd that come from? Is she getting ready for the Masqued Ball? I wonder if I'll get a call from my sister?

As you can see, I have a very fancy palette. I use a masonite panel and wrap it with tin foil. Then when I want a clean palette I can just take it off and then recover.

Sometimes I play around with the paint program
and see what might happen if I changed something.
For instance, I can try out a black mask
and it totally changes the feeling of the painting.

20,000 Visits

Sometime this weekend one of you will be the 20,000th visit to this blog. Thanks for taking the time to read it!

Itty Bitty Izannah Walker Doll Challenge

I have been a procrastinator for the first 3/7 of my life. They say procrastination is rooted in perfectionism...or laziness. ;-) But that's going to change, along with some other things. Because if I'm 45 and have lived 3/7 of my life I'm planning to live a long time ;-) And if I want that to happen a number of things have to change. But I'm getting off track...

The last challenge that the Coffee with Tea group had I put off and put off and didn't get the project done in time. I will get it done this time! The deadline is two months away, but I'm sure that with some focus (and less perfectionism) I will do it. The challenge is to make an Izannah Walker inspired doll that is less than 8 inches in height. Considering that my last couple have been almost 30" that is a challenge indeed. Small dolls are harder than big dolls. Their only benefit is they require less material. Here's my beginning...

If you don't know who Izannah Walker is then you go to the Izannah Walker Chronicles, a blog I write, and learn about her. :-)

On Being Illustrative and Picture Cropping

I started this painting in October of 2007 - this is the one based on Psalm 126. I've written about it before. It has a few things that work and many things that don't. I may just leave it as it is, anyway, or I may repaint sections or I may prime over the whole thing and begin a new painting. When I was in art school, sometimes a teacher would say, "Your work is very illustrative." It was not a compliment. But my brain works in an illustrative way, so that is that. Sometimes when I have a painting that is okay but not wonderful, I like to take pictures of it and crop the painting into sections. You can discover ideas for new paintings that way:

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

John Wooden


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