Creativity: Disappointment

New doll pattern cut out of linen canvas material

New doll pattern cut out of linen canvas material

Today I was working on a new doll pattern. This exploration has given me the opportunity to share a piece of the artist’s life with my readers. Not everything comes out the way you hope it will. I have experienced disappointment before. I’m used to it. For those young (or young at art), beginning artists out there, you are not alone! Even seasoned artists have to face disappointment from time to time. All you can do is try, and try again.

I wanted to cut some of the steps in my pattern, so today I drew up a new pattern with the arms and legs connected from the beginning. My other pattern had to be sewn piece by piece with the arms and legs connected to the body after they were sewn and stuffed. I am not thrilled with the result. The legs kinda look like chicken drumsticks!

New pattern, sewn and turned, you can see the holes in the leg seam

New pattern, sewn and turned, you can see the holes in the leg seam

One issue I hadn’t considered, is having to sew up the doll at the top of the head instead of at the bottom where the legs are connected. The head is rounded, which makes it really difficult to hand sew it shut. There is a reason the pattern was made the way it is.

The first doll I started today didn’t work out because I stitched the seams too close to the edge. I ended up with holes in the seam. The linen canvas I used was also a bit too stiff, hard to turn right side out after sewing. The red cotton fabric was easier to work with, but I still have the issue of sewing up the head. I may still be able to salvage that one, we shall see.

New pattern using the red cotton fabric, this one may still be salvageable.

New pattern using the red cotton fabric, this one may still be salvageable.

Another problem I discovered was putting the body together from the beginning was not a good use of my fabric. I had to use a much bigger piece to get the whole body cut out. When the arms and legs are detached, I can use more scrap pieces and less fabric overall.

I learned my lesson today. Back to the drawing board for another idea. Next time, I think I will keep the arms connected to the body, but leave the legs detached so I can sew them to the flat bottom and then sew up the body from there.

Both unfinished dolls, with stuffing the legs look even more like a chicken drumstick! LOL!

Both unfinished dolls, with stuffing the legs look even more like a chicken drumstick! LOL!

I hope to have something more interesting to share with y’all on Thursday. Today? It’s a wash, I will chalk it up to a learning experience and move on.

Living in the Land of Enchantment: Salinas Pueblo Missions

Abo Mission ruins

Abo Mission ruins

One of my favorite places to visit in New Mexico is actually split into 3 separate sites. The Salinas Pueblo Missions has three missions, Quarai, Abo and Gran Quivira. They are all located around Mountainair, NM. The Abo ruins are 9 miles west, Quarai ruins are 8 miles north and the Gran Quivira ruins are 25 miles south of Mountainair. I love visiting these sites and imagining a time when they were bustling villages. I wonder how they lived and what they did everyday to survive in this desert environment.

Quarai Mission ruins

Quarai Mission ruins, the largest of the 3 missions

Because of their remote location, there is rarely more than a couple of people wandering the ruins of any location. The Abo Mission is most visited as it sits near the highway to Mountainair. The Abo and Quarai Missions were built using red sandstone and the Gran Quivira Mission and pueblo was built with white/grey limestone. The red sandstone is especially beautiful when covered in snow.

Gran Quivira Pueblo ruins

Gran Quivira Pueblo ruins

All three were built during the 17th century during Spanish occupation. Although all sites were built as Spanish Missions, they also included Kivas in their buildings which could have been a concession to the beliefs of the Native Americans who lived there alongside the Spanish settlers. Nobody knows why all three sites were abandoned by the 1670s. My personal guess is they may have been abandoned after the pueblo revolt in 1680, when the pueblo indians from all over New Mexico chased the Spanish settlers out of the area. They would not return for 12 years. I would imagine, like other abandoned sites, water could have had something to do with it as well.

Salinas_basin

If you are looking for a day trip from Albuquerque, the Salinas ruins are a great choice. Make sure you fill up your gas tank and maybe even take a picnic lunch, as there isn’t much in the way of gas stations and food in the area. Mountainair does have a cafe or two, but gas can get expensive in those remote, rural areas of New Mexico. Pets are welcome, but must be kept on leash and cleaned up after.

Ruins of the Gran Quivira Mission

Ruins of the Gran Quivira Mission

All three sites are partially handicapped accessible and have handicap restrooms. All sites also have visitors centers with Rangers on hand to answer questions. All sites are open daily, 9 to 5 in winter months and 9-6 in the summer months. Of all the ruins I’ve personally visited across New Mexico, these three are most interesting to me. I highly recommend a visit next time you are in the area!

 

Creativity: Throwback Thursday

 

We have a friend visiting from out of town today, so I haven’t had any time for creating. What better time to share a #TBT post?! A couple of weeks ago I posted about my 25 years as an Artist.

Clarksville Methodist Church, pencil drawing

Clarksville Methodist Church, pencil drawing. Not the greatest photo, it was sent to me by a fan. I honestly don’t think I have a photo/copy of this drawing anymore.

In that post I talked about my first drawings being of historical buildings in Tennessee. For today’s Throwback Thursday post, I decided I would share some of my pencil/charcoal drawings and portraits. The church was done when I was 21 years old, just a baby as an artist. All I knew was drawing with pencil, I hadn’t had any experience with painting or selling my art.

"Nate sticking out his tongue", pencil drawing of my youngest son at around 2 years old, 2003

“Nate sticking out his tongue”, charcoal drawing of my youngest son at around 2 years old, 2003.

I surely didn’t know anything about computers back then. The World Wide Web barely existed then, at least the way we know it now. I was still 6 years away from owning my own first computer. At the time, I still had dreams of becoming an architect someday. I’ve always loved drawing buildings. I love architecture, especially older buildings. It fascinates me how much detail and work was put into buildings before the turn of the 20th century. Nothing was rushed, it was art. It’s sad to me that in today’s rushed world, buildings are put up in record time, with little to no architectural details. Little boxes everywhere you look. Big box stores, little box suburban sprawl. Boxes everywhere. I could go on forever about the loss of beautiful architectural pieces.

"Bryan and his big wheel", pencil drawing of my eldest son at around 2 years old. Circa 1997

“Bryan and his big wheel”, charcoal drawing of my eldest son at around 2 years old. Circa 2002

At the same time I was drawing historical buildings, I was always working on a portrait. Whether it was one of my own kids or commissions of other people’s kids, I used to really enjoy portraits. After drawing who knows how many portraits, I took a portrait painting class and did several watercolor and then oil portraits. Then one day, I was tired of painting portraits. I was good at it, not to toot my own horn, but faces are really not all that different. I knew I needed something more.

"Can I Hold the Baby?", watercolor portrait of my middle son holding his newborn cousin, 1997.

“Can I Hold the Baby?”, watercolor portrait of my middle son holding his newborn cousin, 1997.

For years after that, I drew and painted landscapes. Actually, all of these phases overlapped each other. I was unsure for many years which direction my art was headed. Portraits were always the best way to make a living as an artist, but also the most nerve wracking process. It was stressful doing commissions and never knowing if the person paying for the commission would be happy with the end result.They usually were, but that stress of self-doubt was hard for me to deal with.

"Martinez grandkids", commissioned portrait painted in oils, circa 2004

“The Grandkids”, commissioned portrait painted in oils, circa 2004

What it eventually came down to was I was searching for something deep down inside me that was MINE. My truest form of expressing my creativity. Not something I saw and wanted to copy, but something that came from my soul. I finally found that expression with my peace paintings and my spiral abstract series.

I will share my landscapes and Peace works in another post. Stay tuned for my next #TBT Creativity post!:) Thank you for reading my blog! If you like what you see here, please subscribe to my blog in the upper right hand corner of this page.:)

People Who Inspire Me: The REAL Aaron Lewis!

Aaron Lewis with his Taylor Guitar

The Man and his Guitar

Now that I’m blogging 5 days a week, I’ve had to work on planning my posts. It’s not easy to come up with a post everyday of the week! I’ve decided to write a series of posts for different days of the week. Mondays are “Living in the Land of Enchantment”, Tuesdays and Thursdays are “Creativity”, Wednesdays are “People Who Inspire Me” and Fridays are “Friday Funday”.

Today is the first of the “People Who Inspire Me” series, so I decided to start with the person in my life who inspires me most. My husband and soulmate, Aaron Lewis. Aaron inspires me to be the best person I can be. He leads by example. Sometimes it gets on my nerves because I can’t imagine how someone can be so authentically nice to everyone he meets. He rarely has anything bad to say about anyone. He is a determined musician who has followed his heart and makes his own style of music with no excuses.

Me and Aaron at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens

Me and Aaron at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens

Aaron was the one who convinced me that I could be a singer and perform in front of audiences. He encouraged me and pushed me and I’m so grateful for that. He has helped me achieve so many of my dreams and stood by my side through it all. I won’t get into all the ways that he has inspired and stood by me in my personal life too. That’s a whole other blog post of it’s own!:-)

Aaron began as a heavy metal guitarist at the age of 14. That’s how we met! Aaron and my brother were in their first band together. He switched to the Blues for a couple years in his early twenties and then went to college and earned his BA of Music with a concentration on composing and classical guitar. He has released 3 CDs of solo guitar music, 1 CD of electronic “alien” music. In 2012 we started playing folk music together as “Sunlight” and Aaron’s songwriting talent came full circle from the first song he wrote as a teenager. He also composes for guitar and multiple other instruments/groups of instruments.

I titled this post “The REAL Aaron Lewis” because he has been told he’s not the REAL Aaron Lewis. This guy is more real than anyone I know. He keeps it real for me everyday! He is true to himself and his music. I love him for that. Who cares about that “other” guy.

Sunlight Superman photo by Karl Horodowich

“Sunlight Superman”, this is a great photo to show his sense of humor, he’s always making me laugh! Photo by Karl Horodowich

I asked Aaron several questions for this post so you can learn more about him straight from the horses mouth, so to speak.😉

Paula: If you had the power to change ONE thing in this world what would it be and how would you change it?

Aaron: I would alter the way we look at our prison system. We have always viewed our prison system as a way to protect society. I would change our prison system to be a positive environment or as I like to say they should be “love factories”. What do I mean by that? All crimes are committed because of a lack of love. People steal because they see no other way to get the finer things or make it in this life because their dreams were crushed at one point in time. People murder because of fight or flight instinct, jealousy, it gives them a rush. I think all of them can be reformed except for those who do it for a rush(serial killers). All people who are in prison because of addictions need to be in rehab centers not prisons. Those who were caught selling to minors need more time and help but really all a drug dealer is is a misguided entrepreneur. I would change the programs at the prison to fast track people back into society because we are a stronger society if we can help one another as opposed to lock ’em up and throw away the key. I would also lose the drab grey paint and fluorescent lights that are used and replace with skylights, colored paint, and positive affirmations on the wall and mandatory guided meditation for 30 minutes a day.

IMG_3346

Aaron Lewis

Paula: What or who inspires you?

Aaron: What inspires me is music itself. It is a fascinating language made up of 12 characters and has been interpreted in so many ways both for the good and the bad of mankind and both approaches are fascinating and inspiring.

Paula: Who has had the biggest influence on your music?

Aaron: The biggest influence on my music would have to be God or Universe or whatever you may want to call it. Sometimes I write music for classical guitar. Sometimes I write songs. Sometimes I write electronic noise soundscapes. When I start to write I have an out of body experience and when I come back one of the above styles is written and I have to admit wholeheartedly that I don’t have any idea how that music came about but here it is.

Paula: What do you want your musical legacy to be?

Aaron: I would like to be someone who is remembered for changing people’s minds about music. That music is not something a few privileged people are able to do but it is a gift for our souls so lets all belly up to the table together with our voices, our instruments and feed each other’s souls with the universal language that has been such a gift for centuries and will continue to be such a gift.

Thank you Aaron for submitting to my questions, I must admit it was cool to read your answers!:-) Check back next Wednesday for my next post of “People Who Inspire Me”.

Creativity: Daisy Sunshine Hippie Girl Doll, DONE!

I worked on her for a few days, but she is finally done! My first Love doll made with my own custom art fabric. Daisy Sunshine was made using my Yellow Daisy fabric design.

She is just as I imagined her, I hope you love her too!

Daisy Sunshine Hippie Love Doll

Daisy Sunshine Hippie Love Doll:)

My next creativity project will be another painting! I must admit, I’ve missed my daily painting sessions. I also need to make more dolls, they are much more popular than I thought they could be. I’m so grateful to all the people who have adopted my sweet babies! It’s time for some new fabric designs as well. I have so much work to do, I guess I’d better get to it! Have a fantastic rest of your day! Please subscribe to my blog up in the upper right corner. Thank you!:)

Living in the Land of Enchantment: 10 Things to do in Albuquerque

There are so many places to see and things to do around here, it’s really hard to pick just one to write about! This week, I decided to write about 10 (make that 11)  things to do in the area. Technically, it’s more than ten, as I fit more than one into each number. Next time someone tells you there is nothing to do in Albuquerque, direct them to this post!:)

  1. Ride the Rail Runner from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.

    The ride alone is worth the trip as it takes you through the lovely New Mexico landscape. The tickets will only cost you $16 round trip! There are many stops along the route to start and if you take the train to the end of the line, you end up in the Santa Fe Railyard which is only a few short blocks away from the Plaza. The Railyard also has galleries and the famous Tomasita’s restaurant.

  2. Ride the Sandia Peak Tramway.

    This May will be the Tram’s 50th anniversary, and though I have lived in NM most of my life, I STILL have not ridden the Tram up the mountain. It’s just one of those tourist things locals rarely do. One day very soon, I plan on it! I have heard from MANY sources that it’s something one MUST do. I guess I prefer hiking up the mountain to riding up!

  3. Hiking the Sandia Mountains.

    Speaking of hiking, the Sandia mountains just East of Albuquerque have many, many miles of hiking trails! It can take a full day to hike to the peak, where the tram takes only 15 minutes. I have hiked to the South Crest several times and LOVE it! Please, make sure you go prepared. Water, jacket, hat. Many people have had to be rescued from these mountains because they don’t realize how quickly weather can change in NM. The weather can be warm and sunny in town and cold and rainy at the top of the peak.

  4. Petroglyphs National Monument.

    This is one of the largest petroglyph sites in Northern America. Volcanic rocks were carved by Native Americans and Spanish settlers up to 700 years ago, leaving behind interesting designs and symbols for us to ponder over. Another cool place to visit, related to the petroglyphs, are the volcanoes on the west mesa overlooking Albuquerque.

  5. Bio Park, Botanical Gardens/Aquarium/Zoo.

    Albuquerque has an awesome botanical garden with an indoor aquarium. The gardens are attached to the city zoo by a cool little open air train line that you ride between the two with out having to get in your car and drive. Also, while riding the train between the zoo and gardens, you will pass by Tingley Beach which is a series of three ponds, man made for fishing and remote control boats. In the summer months they have paddle boats you can rent for $10 an hour to paddle around the big pond in. The kids will also enjoy feeding the ducks and geese that call the ponds and river area home. The gardens are my favorite part, they have several different gardens, including a rose garden, Japanese garden and a farm with barn animals and New Mexico homestead. Great place to take the kiddos!

  6. Bike Ride on the Bosque Trail.

    While you are down near the Bio Park, right next door in fact, is the Central Ave. entrance to the Bosque bike and walking trail. The Bosque is the area of trees and open space that surrounds the Rio Grande River.

  7. See a Play.

    Albuquerque has MANY theatres, over 35 to be more specific! We can boast that we have the most live performance theatres per capita than any other city in the country. Just about ANY weekend in Albuquerque, you can find a show you might be interested in. The Albuquerque Theatre Guild website is a great place to start your search for that perfect play!

  8. Museums.

    Albuquerque has a great variety of museums for everyone in the family! There is the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, Explora, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the Maxwell Museum of Anthopology, the Unser Racing Museum and several more can be found HERE. I’ve linked to all their websites so you can learn more about each one you may have an interest in.

  9. Antique/Thrift Store shopping.

    Albuquerque has large variety of Antique shops and Thrift stores. Most are concentrated on Central Ave between Carlisle and San Mateo or on Menaul Ave. between Carlisle and San Mateo, but there are others all over town. You can find some really great deals on a variety of stuff. I could write a post about all the awesome thrift stores in this city. I have spent many hours sifting through the many shops.

  10. Ghost Tours of Old Town.

    This is another attraction I’ve never experienced, but I personally know one of the tour guides and KNOW it’s worth it! Yet another thing I plan to do someday. The Old Town of Albuquerque is VERY old! Over 300 years! There are rumored to be many ghosts living in the back alleys and old adobe buildings.

  11. Visit MY Studio!

    I hope you will get in touch and come visit me in my studio when you are in the area. I don’t hold retail hours, but I am always happy to open up the studio for out of town guests! You don’t have to buy anything, but I’m always pleased to send an Albuquerque memento home with a fan.:)

The Grief is Real

I have been in a fog for the past day and a half. I’m still in shock. It doesn’t help that I was feeling emotional as it was, before I heard the news about Prince. My first reaction was disbelief. It certainly could NOT be true. He’s too young. After frantically searching for the snopes article saying it was yet another internet death hoax, it became obvious that it was true. I was devastated. Truly.

I didn’t know him personally. I had always wished I could meet him. I was never able to see him live in concert, though I had recently hoped to make it to one of his shows on his current tour. I don’t have any personal stories of running into Prince in a hotel lobby. Though I do have a story about trying to buy a Prince CD in a Walmart in a small Arkansas town in 2004! Let’s just say, people there are racist and I had NO idea they still had “black” and “white” lines at the Walmart in 2004 America! I made the mistake of going to the “black” line. So, when I came back in to exchange the CD because it didn’t play, NO ONE would wait on me! LAME, I KNOW!

Fans like to think they “know” their idols. They WANT to know them. They mesmerize us with their enthusiasm and inspiration. Prince’s music came into my life at a very formative time. I was 13 years old. My parents got divorced. I had my first kiss. I became a teenager. My brain was being formed with the music of Madonna, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Prince,  The Eagles and so many others. These musician/celebrities showed me how to be an individual. They showed me who I was! They showed me that I could follow my heart and live my dreams. Their music was an inspiration but it was also the soundtrack of my teenage years. A million memories are tied to every song.

I watched a video earlier today that was discussing the reasons why my generation, Generation X, had such a strong connection to Prince. They talked about Prince being the product of a broken home, like so many of Generation X. Our generation saw the largest number of divorces of any generation before it or since.

I’m sure everyone has their memories of where they first heard the song Purple Rain or 1999. That is the biggest connection we have to our favorite celebrities. There are memories connected to music, always. In fact, I’ve been told that the music we love at the age of 14 is the music that sticks with us forever. When the album Purple Rain came out, I was 14 years old. I have distinct memories of opening the album and listening to Let’s Go Crazy for the first time. I was blown away! I sat there with that lyric sheet and memorized every word. As a shy teenager, I had a secret dream of being a singer, I KNOW I’m not the only one!

All of my life, but especially as a teenager, music was the one thing that connected me with my dad. He loved music and collected records from the age of 16. By the time I was 14, he had over 30,000 records! I have a vivid memory of my dad introducing me to Prince’s older albums. Controversy is the one that really stuck out for me. The memory is my dad pulling out the poster that came inside the album and asking me if I thought Prince was gay. If you’ve never seen the poster, it was Prince standing in a shower with water running over him and wearing nothing but bikini bottoms. At first I was shocked to see a nearly naked man! At the time I was somewhat irritated with my dad and said, of course not dad! Of course, he may have been onto something. Prince was definitely not your average guy. He was never afraid of blurring the line between gender roles and I admired him for that as I got older. This was 4 years before I found out my dad was gay. No wonder, I thought years later.

My dad introduced me to so much music, most of my musical tastes and influence came from him. In short, the death of these celebrities from my childhood and especially teenage years, brings back all of those memories of growing up and listening to music with my dad. I suspect it’s the same for all the fans out there feeling sad with the losses of 2016. Watching MTV, Prince hair styles and fashion, learning all the words to the songs by following along with the lyrics on the record sleeve, it was all a generational thing, but Prince transcended generations! His career spanned 37 years and five decades! Though the man will be missed, his music will live on forever and with the music, his spirit will always be alive!

Whether we knew Prince (or David Bowie, or any other celebrity) personally, have a story of an encounter with him or just loved his music, we all have those shared memories of the music and how it touched our lives. That is the joy and sometimes sorrow, of music. It enriches us, it enriches our lives, it enriches the World and perhaps even the Universe.