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Category Archives: Positive Space

Being Thankful and Reviewing the 2012 “To Do” List

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving for those of us who live in the United States. I’m not sure the history of the holiday ever really mattered to me. We were told stories of the pilgrims and native people celebrating together, and I know I really got into the crafts and plays. I just always saw Thanksgiving as two things… one was the holiday I was told everyone was celebrating, and the other was what was actually going on at our house. The latter was the real Thanksgiving for me.

It hasn’t been the real Thanksgiving for me since my grandmother died, which was about eight years ago by now. She wasn’t a big eater, but she cooked and loved to feed her loved ones. I guess it’s because she grew up in a family with a lot of kids during the Great Depression. It seemed to make her someone who showed she loved you by doing things like feeding you, or buying you a book you wanted. She didn’t shower us with gifts non-stop, but she did a lot to quietly “take care of us” maybe a little more than we really needed. Thanksgiving and Christmas were something of a month-long celebration in my mind, and she and my mom were the driving forces.

My grandmother died just a few days before Thanksgiving the year we lost my grandfather in the spring.

Things change with time. My sister has children now. I’ve divorced and remarried. Pets have gone out of our lives, and different pets have come in. We still celebrate Thanksgiving. Christmas is different, too, but it does feel like a real Christmas. I’m trying to accept the new Thanksgiving.

In some ways, it’s not really a new Thanksgiving. It was always about family for me, right? My family may have changed some, but this is still a family holiday. And it is still a time to think about all the things I’m thankful for. I try to do that a little each day, but Thanksgiving reminds me to sit down and look at the bigger picture.

I’m thankful for my family. I am especially thankful for my sister’s kids. They are all still very young, but I am not exaggerating to say they are some of my favorite people.

I’m thankful for friends, even if they do tend to live way too far away. The Internet keeps us connected and makes being close while far apart possible in a way other generations would have been very thankful for. I have to remember not to take that for granted.

I’m thankful for the friends and family members who have supported my husband and me in getting  Craftypodes  started. It’s been difficult for me to make the change in my work, but I do believe it was the right decision.

I’m thankful for finally having a doctor who took my complaints about pain seriously, did the tests, diagnosed the arthritis, and is treating me. I still have more bad days than I want, but not as many as I was having… and not as bad! We’ve made some adjustments at home, and I don’t feel as knocked out by this as I did earlier in the year.

When life gets really frustrating and unhappy for me, I try to think of one thing I’m thankful for to balance one thing I’m aggravated about. I can’t erase all the pain in my life, but I choose not to let it dominate my life. I can at least look at it, acknowledge that it exists, and say, “But good still exists, too.”

Boris the Turkey

It is also time to look at my “To Do” list for this year. I’ll be writing next year’s list next month, and it’s late enough in 2012 that my remaining projects for the year are already in progress. If it’s on the list and hasn’t been done by now, it’s just not happening this year.

Do a fabric design on Spoonflower.

I did this! In fact, I did two designs. There is a feathery fabric and floral fabric Both are black and white fabric designs.
Find out more about how Storybird works.

I did this and found out it wasn’t really for me. I still think it looks like a great idea… just not for what I had in mind at the time.

Make my Zazzle stores connect to each other better visually. There are many good things about not having everything in one store, but I’d really like it to be easier for people who want to see all my stores.

The exact way I wanted to do this wasn’t possible, but I did link all the front pages to each other, as well as getting the designs categorized better by adding Positive Space.

Make progress on a fairly long-term collaborative project that was recently proposed to me.

I’m still not revealing yet what this collaboration is, but progress was made! When I said “fairly long-term”, that means “a couple of years”.

Finish any three things on my Ideas and Inspiration list.

This did not happen. I’m not unhappy about it, though. Making the switch from drawing to crochet as my work meant making a lot of other changes, too. The Ideas and Inspiration list has been going through some revisions. I’ll talk about that more when I write the 2013 “To Do” list.

Put together a calender in time for 2013.

This is the only thing on the list that did not happen and I’m not okay with it. Even with all the other changes this year, I still wanted to do this. While I’ve been able to make adjustments to keep crocheting even when I’m in mild pain, I couldn’t make similar adjustments to my workspace and tools for drawing. It’s very frustrating to feel the arthritis took this away from me. With the treatment I’m getting, though, I’m not giving up on this. I will be carrying it over to my list for next year.

Not everything on the list worked out the way I wanted it to, but I can look at it now and see that I accomplished more of my goals for the year than I thought! I’m glad I made the list. I’m thankful for being able to share it with all of you to keep myself accountable. I’m thankful for your support  through this year.

Skulls, Zombies, Witches, and Monsters!

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

— H.P. Lovecraft

It’s almost time for Halloween! Some folks enjoy playing dress-up. Others enjoy the wild feel of Halloween night. Some people just love to decorate their house, going from haunted graveyards at Halloween to the biggest light show on the block at Christmas.

Some part of us still recognizes that this is when the year truly ends… not when the calender runs out, but when the Earth settles down for a long nap. Unless, of course, you live in a climate where winter never really comes or the seasons run the other way.

Collectively, this is when we drag our fears out of the shadows, give them form and name the demons, band together against what might be a creaky board or might be an angry ghost, and try to banish as many of them as we can for another year.

I admit to asserting dominance over my fears by taking all the “scary” out of them once I’ve given them form. Cuddly monsters can’t do much harm.

Pretty Little Monster, by Craftypodes

Pretty Little Monster is part whatever Brobee from “Yo Gabba Gabba” is, and part Little Miss and Mr. Men from the books for children. She’s currently available from the Craftypodes shop.

Knitted Kitties

Also available in the shop – Have you seen the knitted kitties Mr. Knitter is making? They are adorable! I’ve made my fair share of dolls, and even I get excited when he finishes one of these. I’m trying to talk him into kitting a full battalion of them once Christmas projects are finished. The orange and black cats are sold separately in the shop, but they do look fantastic together. They’re stuffed with soft stuffing, but the bottoms are weighted a bit so you can set them on a desk or shelf and they won’t fall over.

While I have been focused on getting Craftypodes going for a good chunk of this year, I have not taken any of my other work down. Pieces that were available in the past are still available for purchase.
Zombie Portrait Poster / Print

The portrait of Annabelle the Zombie is available on a variety of products from my Everyday Myth store.

Witches Stitches MugWitches Stitches H.A.G. Mug
Everyday Myth is also where you’ll find the Witches Stitches goodies. They are available on a variety of products, and there are two designs to choose from. One advertises the services of the fictional Witches Stitches – poppets, curse-stitching, and quilt binding. The other proudly proclaims that Witches Stitches is part of the H.A.G. Guild (Handmade Arcane Goods). Just a bit of crafting humor.

I’ve never actually done any Halloween skull pieces, but the Day of the Dead – Día de los Muertos – does follow Halloween, and the sugar skulls I’ve done become very popular around this time.
Sugar Skull Poster

This bright, colorful sugar skull has been available for a few years now, but I’m seeing more sales this year for my black and white skulls.
La Bella Muerte Poster La Bella Muerte II Print

Black on white, or white on black, “La Bella Muerte” is one of my favorite pieces. It’s diffuclt to describe what the process of creating it was like for me emotionally, but there was something beautiful about getting lost in the details of the work and then stepping back to see what I had created. Both versions are available from Positive Space. You can find the black on white options here. Or go here if white on black is your preference.

Whether it’s a mug from a witches’ shop to drink something hot from on chilly mornings, or a cuddly monster to help you fight back whatever is going bump in the night, make sure you’ve got what you need before the end of October. It’s a long night, even if all you face is an endless stream of trick-or-treaters at your door.

Broken Tools

Very often, my hands hurt.

Not just a little stiffness or ache that a little rest and hand massage will fix. No, this is a pain deep inside my hands. Or maybe on the surface. Perhaps both. That’s the trouble… it reaches a point where I can’t tell you exactly where it hurts, just that it does and I want it to stop! It’s a warm pain in the joints, like if you go for an MRI and they tell you the contrast may cause a warm sensation. That warm feeling can feel like a wave passing over and through you. I get a very similar warmth just lingering in my painful joints of my hands. That’s not even counting the feeling of hot needles stabbing at the joints.

None of that helps me get my work done. And there has been some trouble with doctors. Back and forth with general practitioners and specialists… a lot of boring, frustrating details. The good news is that some progress is being made! The bad news is that’s only been true for one day. Not much progress gets made in one day.

My hands are my tools. It’s likely my tools are broken. We’re looking at arthritis, but the question is which type. It’ll take some time to find that out, and possibly to get me to another doctor if it’s not a type my current doctor can treat. And even treatment can take some time to work. But I’m not ready to throw my broken tools out, or say I can’t do the job with them anymore.

I may work slower. On days that I can work, I may choose not to draw or crochet at all. There’s a life to be lived that is my source of inspiration for my creations! I don’t want to get so focused on the bucket I carry that I forget to go back to the well where I fill it.

I’m in the middle of crocheting things for Craftypodes, the Etsy shop my husband and I have opened together. (You can find Craftypodes on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.)

I have mushrooms to finish painting.

I’ve added some work to Positive Space. The above picture is one of the Kindle cases I’ve added. You can find more of those at Everyday Myth, including my Alice in Wonderland-inspired work.

The Kindle cases make me think of drawing on book covers.

There’s also a section in Positive Space now for products with the art from my black and white floral fabric There’s a part of me that really wants to take one of the notebooks and color the cover with markers.

I have not forgotten that I have a request to fill for some new gift tag designs this year, but one of the people who requested that has also requested a crocheted gift for her birthday and I need to fill that request first. Whether I can get around to everything else I want to do or not, requests from my sister’s children make me very happy!

Maybe my tools aren’t really broken, but they are worn down to the point where I need to be careful with them until they can be repaired. If only hands could be replaced like pencils and yarn! I know there’s something of value for me to carry out of this experience. I just haven’t found it yet. It may be something I don’t realize until years down the road when I say, “Remember when my hands hurt so much for a while…”

Enjoy what’s available now. I promise there will be more. I just can’t promise when.

 

Positive Space

Life can be really hard. Sometimes it’s filled with seemingly insurmountable challenges and crushing pain, physically and mentally. For some people, it’s a series of problems that would be annoyances individually, but they all pile up on top of each other and become a heavier load than the person can carry. And some people just aren’t able to handle the occasional challenge very well because they generally have a smooth road to travel and aren’t prepared when a challenge pops up. (It may be difficult to feel sympathy for those people at times, but think of it as the mental and emotional equivalent to having never developed a resistance to common germs.) Life can seem like all the space has been filled with negativity.

Creating positive space in our lives is an important part of our physical, mental, and emotional health. If we can’t create enough positive space to push all the negativity out then we at least need to create enough to have a safe harbor for ourselves. That’s part of what my art does for me. It’s a way to create pockets of positive space in my life. The winter has not been kind to my health. We’ve had a string of things going wrong since the new year started. It’s normal for me to face issues with depression in the winter. Somehow, I seem to have handled it all better this winter than I have before. I think it’s because my reaction to all these problems has been, “I need to go draw something.”

This post on Keitharsis really struck a chord with me.

I can’t name one perfectly content Creative who is producing major work.  Can you?

Most of us are running away from something.

Or running to something.

Or needing to prove something.

We’re incomplete.

We’re complicated.

We’re hypocrites.

We doubt.

We care.

And I don’t think this is something we can (or should) purge from our lives.

Quite the opposite.

I think it’s what makes us real and human.

As an artist, I’m not just creating visual images. I’m creating positive space in my own life and, hopefully, the lives of others.

In art, “positive space” and “negative space” aren’t emotional concepts. Positive space is where there are “things” in a piece. Something fills this area. Negative space is the empty space between things. Both are important, and how one balances the two has a major impact on the finished work. They may not be emotional concepts, but in some ways they are very much like the positive and negative space in our lives.

I’ve talked before about how important my black and white work has become at this point in my life, and how much I feel I have to learn from it. It creates positive space in my life. I also get more feedback on those pieces than the other work I do. (I appreciate all the feedback. I just can’t help noticing when some things get more response than others.) I’ve moved the products with black and white work on them out of the store they were in and put them in their own place.

Welcome to Positive Space!

I’ll try not to change the storefront too much as I clean it up. The categories under “Browse this Store” on the right hand side of the page are very handy for narrowing down what you’re looking at.

Since this post is about creating positive space in life, I’d like to point something out about the pillows like the one pictured above. You can find them at Positive Space, and also at Everyday Myth. I will also be adding cloth napkins, placemats, and kitchen towels. These products are manufactured by a company called American Mojo. You can read their mission statement by clicking on that link.

They are helping single mothers hold a job to support themselves and their children. I have personally known women (not always single moms, but also mothers in households that desperately needed two incomes) who have faced the problem of finding a job that would pay for more than just the childcare needed so they could go to work. American Mojo understands how the childcare costs hurdle can make it almost impossible for a lot of single mothers to provide for their children.

By creating a place where mothers can take home more of their pay, they are creating positive space in the lives of these families and giving these mothers the tools they need to create positive space in their own homes and the lives of their children. I’m really happy to be able to put my work on products made by them.