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Meaning in Art

A change of pace from my typical Life Skills topics.

This year, I have begun my journey into abstract painting. I run a small art gallery NW Georgia, which I also use as my studio space. Customers come in and out and can see my works in progress. There is a repeat customer that has just started coming in recently. While more interested in bronze sculptures that we have there, he has taken particular interest in my work. Not being a fan of abstract, from what I can gather, he is certainly warming to the idea. While looking at my collection of paintings, he asked me “What’s the meaning?” To which I replied, “It’s all relative.”

The meaning behind a piece of art, like so many other aspects of it, is, I feel, completely situational. It can come from the emotion of the artist at the time of conception or production, from the colors or materials used, from the size of the piece, and alternatively, what the viewer sees in the painting.

My paintings are non representational abstracts. This means that I am not painting a definitive subject. My colors are typically bold and bright and I favor larger canvases. Palette knives are my favorite tools and texture is a must. I use a variety of mediums: acrylic, oil, and mixed. When I have a finished product, I want it to have two things: balance and depth. When someone sees something in my painting, it is merely that- what they see. Admittedly, my emotions come out on occasion in the paintings. They can be seen in the direction of brush or knife, amount of texture, colors used, or especially the title of the painting. As I’m painting, there are always things on my mind and I channel those into my work, ending likely with a title directly related to the thoughts when completed the piece.

Back to the patron at hand. He saw me starting a commissioned painting a couple of weeks ago. He came in over the weekend and saw my progress and seemed much more intrigued. He concentrated on it and ultimately told me how much he enjoyed it and the process of watching it develop.

This morning, I received a message from him stating this:

“Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.” John Steinbeck

Your painting has grown, I know you can create and I know that piece communicates.

This was quite a compliment. While I don’t project a meaning or a subject, it is flattering to know that my pieces are communicative and ultimately, that people are enjoying them! Thanks To you, Bill and all my other customers and lovers of my work. As I have heard probably 50 times in the last six months, I have found my niche.

Cheers, Olivia

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View from my latest show, November 2014.

 

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“It Matches the Day” 3×4′ Acrylic on Canvas. This is one of my favorites. The purples are so bold, and some of the white iridescent.

 

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“Ruby Red Slippers” 11×14″ Acrylic on Canvas. Birthday present for a friend that is always commenting on my red shoes.

 

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Art

 

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Vinegar in Laundry

towelsIn my experience with three different brands of high efficiency washers over the years, I have found one thing to be true- they don’t clean laundry as well as the old fashioned agitator machines.  This is especially true with bath and kitchen towels- especially wash cloths.  They go in and out of the washer with soap and a little softener, but still come out smelling somewhat musty and sour.  Currently, I’m using a Maytag Neptune washer/dryer and I must say that it is the worst offender of this problem.  It’s gotten to the point that I set the washer for a pre-soak and an extra rinse and add Oxy Clean to the load along with the soap.  Seems a bit extreme, but when the job isn’t getting done, I do what I have to do.  

Last week, I mentioned this to my mother.  She suggested that I add vinegar to the load.  I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before- I love using basic and home remedy type products and ideas.  So, we added a cup of vinegar to the load in the beginning of the cycle and let it wash all the way through.  Let me tell you, I was quite pleased with the outcome.  There was a very faint vinegar scent after the towels were dried, but no musty/stale smell remained.  It’s quite refreshing! For the towels, I kept it on the longer cycle as I mentioned before.  

I have no doubt that this works on other clothes as well.  From my reading and research on it, other people use it to aid in stain removal, brighten whites, remove odors, and as an alternative to fabric softener.  It would provide relief to those with allergies as well, as an alternative to regular softeners.  

Are you using vinegar this way? Let me know how its going for you.  

-Olivia  white_vinegar

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in House

 

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Missing in Action

The cobwebs are back on my blog. The intentions of writing have been there, but remain only that, intentions. A couple of things have stopped me. I’ve started painting abstracts this year. It has consumed a great deal of my time. In addition to that, I work at an art gallery and much time is devoted there to classes, art camps, and open hours. I’ve had quite a few thoughts over the last few months about topics to cover, but focusing elsewhere has hindered the process.

Maybe I’ll post about my process of learning to paint. Maybe I’ll come up with more life skills to cover. Maybe writing about having too many irons in the fire would be a good place to start.

Until I figure it out… Take care. Thanks again for stopping by.

Cheers, Olivia

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2014 in Life

 

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Change Direction and Refocus

Many things in my life have been brought to front and center lately as needing some attention. Relationships with friends and family, career, and my well being in general. These different areas are all sitting in front of me in an audience with hands raised and waving in the air. It’s time to call on them.

Just a minute ago, my reminder came in the form of poetry. A friend that has been calling on many life questions of her own lately posted the last lines of

Desiderata

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

I was inspired to revisit the poem and read it again.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

So many points in this passage allow me to reflect on my own life. Thus far, 2014 has proven to be a dynamic year, full of progress and realization. I see relationships that must change or must be gone from my life, with the promise of new ones to grace me. My direction in general is brought more into focus; clarity is coming in regards to what I should be surrounded by. My purpose in life, while not clear to me in the big picture just yet, is being revealed page by page, allowing me to have experiences, learn, and hone my skills to succeed in this life.

The journey continues.

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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Life

 

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Complete Lack of Motivation

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For months now, I have neglected my blog. It happens. There are lulls. I lose interest or am uninspired or I just forget. My intentions are good, however, my motivation is clearly lacking. There are signs all around me that serve as reminders to stay the course.

Last week, I was looking around online, researching how to retain motivation in writing. I came across a couple of sites that may help me. The ones that say to give yourself rewards and punishments are no help to me. If I want a piece of candy or a trip down the river in my kayak, I’m gonna get it when I want it. There’s no waiting for the end of a blog. Punishing myself doesn’t work for me either. Typically, we only punish ourselves after we feel guilty or wrong for something. Am I right? Punishing yourself seems to be more of having bad feelings toward yourself. That being said, it doesn’t work for me, either.

What does seem to work is realizing that I made a commitment to write and I must carry on. In my quest for motivation, I went to the internet to find others that were in the same boat and see their methods to maintain regularity in writing.

There were two websites in particular that got my attention. The first is specifically about blog posts.7 Ways to Stay Motivated to Write Blog Posts; Henri Junttila gives quite a few simple ideas to keep us rolling. One of his suggestions is one that I already use- having topics or blog posts complete for a rainy day. I have a list and some drafts at ready if I need them. Some of his ideas I could do more of- writing every single day, even if only for 15 minutes; changing my format on occasion to add variety and keep me on point.

The second site I came across was http://www.emeryroad.com. Jody Calkins is a writer and editor who’s website focuses on the writing side of business. After seeing her site, I found her on Facebook and Twitter. She provides a vast wealth of information as well as methods of motivation. I signed up for a 7 day exercise, in which each day, an email was sent to me with a description of something to write. Each exercise was completely different. They challenge writers to remain active in different aspects, in turn churning up thoughts to write about. She encourages research, short writing bursts, mapping, and even physical activities to stir creativity. I will admit, I have not completed the exercises yet, but I have been inspired to write this post.

In another area of my life, I am an artist. I dabble in different media, but my concentration is hand built pottery. I am part of a local cooperative art gallery that also helps to keep artists motivated and the public interested. We offer classes to the public for various types of art and each Monday night we have Studio Night. All are welcome, artist or otherwise, to work on whatever project they have going at the time. On any given night, there are as many as five different types of art/project going on: painting, sketching, pottery, fiber art/craft, jewelry, or even teaching or making a new fixture for the gallery itself. Our group usually is between 5-10 people and we help and encourage each other in our creative journeys. Some of the people work on the same type of task each week, while others (such as myself) change it up on a weekly basis. My main focus is to remain active in art and maintain creativity.

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Here’s a shot from Studio Night. Over in our annex, we were painting with oils and acrylics as well as making jewelry. The project in the foreground is a rack I made to put in the gallery with scarves that I make.

Check out Vision Gallery. Are you part of a similar group?

What about your writing? How are you staying motivated and encouraged? I would love to hear what you’re doing.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2014 in Life

 

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DIY Arm Knitted Infinity Scarf

Lately, I’ve added learning to crochet to my project list. It’s coming along. However, I’ve seen a great deal of these videos flying around about knitting on your arms. My friend Sylvia Lee said she wanted to try it, and so last night, we did! Neither of us have knitted before, but it seemed very familiar once we got started.

The videos say that this can be accomplished in 30-45 minutes. I cannot say that the first one went that fast. It took me about two hours start to finish. This included following the video end even becoming a little frustrated here and there. Once I get enough practice, I feel confident that I could finish the task much quicker.

We looked at a few videos (via Pinterest, of course) and settled on this one. Her work and hands were easier to see. Kurtz Corner Arm Knit DIY

This calls for a size 6 yarn. This is chunky for sure. The pattern calls for a width of twelve links. In the end, it’s a little more bulk than I like. Next time I make one, I’ll make it with 8 or 10 links.

This would be a great project for kids. Sylvia Lee’s 10 year old niece joined us and completed one herself. Hers was 8 links wide. On her second try, she completed it. I should mention also, that she is left handed. It worked just fine for her.

Here’s a picture of the finished product! I’m happy with it. Have you made one of these? How did it turn out? Share a link or picture of your finished product!

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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Projects

 

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Headlight Restoration

For quite some time now, my lights have not shown very far in front of me. All puns aside, my headlights have become so dim from years of use and lack of cleaning, that I was having difficulty seeing while driving at night. After doing some research on what to do about the problem, two options were given to me: replace the headlights or clean the surfaces of them. Not in the mood to spend a couple of hundred dollars for new lights, I opted to spend $23 and use some elbow grease.

Rarely dissuaded by a challenge, I gave it a go.

There were quite a few recommendations online for products that had a relatively good outcome. I’ve heard stories over the years about this process being totally useless and a waste of time. Not wanting that to happen in my case, I sought out the recommended products. Once in the store, I could not find the brand I was looking for. So, I ended up going with a mid-range priced brand- Meguiar’s. The kit comes with a 4 oz. bottle of cleaner/polish, a drill operated buffing pad, and reusable sanding pads. The option is given to go ahead and just polish and if that doesn’t work, use the sanding pads followed by the polish. Feeling very confident that I needed maximum restoration, I went ahead with the full process. I must say, it was a very easy process and took less than 30 minutes.

The pictures of my process are below. I am very happy with the outcome and can wholeheartedly recommend this product. I can actually see the road while driving at night!

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In the beginning- top half of light covers are very dull.

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Another view from the start. Supervisor, Willie, above.

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Terrible!

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Grit 1 of 4 sanding. Couldn’t believe all of the grime coming off!

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After the first sanding. Noted difference already.

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After second sanding, grit 2 of 4

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After third sanding, grit 3 of 4.

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After the 4th and final sanding and the polishing.

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What a difference!

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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Projects

 

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