Happy May Day

Do people run around the May pole any more?   I would do it.   :)

My seedlings have made a lot of progress since I first planted them on April 22nd.   All the tomato plants are leading the pack at over an inch high.   I planted some dwarf curly parsley that just broke through the soil a couple of days ago. 

I'm happy to report that all the daffodil varieties are blooming outside along with the bright red tulips that one of my sisters gave me.  Whenever I leave this piece of land, those tulips are coming with me!   The forsythia is flowering after a no show from last year.   The weather has been more on track this year(though, I'll have to wait and see after a string of thunderstorms comes through tonight!).

I'm finishing up on a set of custom house ornaments.  Four of the same house.  A historical stone house in Ulster County complete with the thin tall stone markers out front.  Each ornament also has an American flag. 

There has been a little bit of sketching for possible Halloween ornaments, though I have to admit that I find it rather early to be thinking of such things.   :)

I found myself standing next to a bin of fresh fiddleheads in the grocery over the weekend.  You know,  I just had to leave them be.....they are not my favorite by a long shot.  I can think of a couple of other wild greenery that I would eat over fiddleheads.   :)

The last entry was a little down in the dumps.  I never really give up.  I just need to regroup and forge on.   More walking would do.  Logged 7 miles last week.

Maybe a little skipping around a May pole will help.





Yesterday I said to myself "the plants won't grow unless I plant the seeds."   And so I planted 4 flats of seeds that included tomatoes, peppers, basil, various flowers.

Much like these planting of vegetable and flower seeds, lately I have been planting seeds in other areas of my working and creative lives.   Finally, some illustrations have been reworked and posted to the twotwirlysisters etsy site.  No takers, yet.   Various applications have been sent to "day" jobs that have ended in non-favorable results(I was caught off guard by a phone screen for a retail job;no go).    I inquired about a future opening at a hydroponics farm back in the Catskills; no reply.    And I am still working on my surface/fabric design skills even though my original plan of trying to sell them on Spoonflower was cut short when I learned that I would have to purchase a $5 sample for each one before offering them for sale. 

I also joined the Art Licensing Show via Linkedin.  One step closer.   I can't afford the basic level of $18 a month at the moment, but I can keep working on artwork.   This site is for artists who can't afford to attend the ultra expensive trade shows like the one at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC.   I pretty much fit the bill.

I think I am going through a challenging time.  Lightly said, but feels more weighty.   It's best not to be so hard on myself.   Just keep plugg'in as a kindred spirit has said to me.   New friends and experiences are on the horizon.

Spring is here.  The daffodils and hyacinths are blooming.  The forsythia, too.  The crocuses and irises have come and gone.  And there seems to be more rainy cloudy days than sun in the past week.  But there is a silver lining.   The moss and lichen on the trees darkened by the rain can now by seen in all their glory.  And there are so many robins looking for worms in the moistened soil.

Have a nice spring!

Back to the drawing board....

In between sculpting the custom house ornaments I have been teaching myself how to create fabric designs.   It's definitely different from my usual work, but something that I have been interested in learning for awhile.  I've found that one of the best ways to approach laying out a design is to look at patterns that I love in my own house.   What makes a design more appealing than others? 

As I said, I am a beginner at this and have been playing around with drawings that I all ready have saved in my graphics program on the computer.  Relearning all the ins and outs of the graphics program is challenging, too. 

A couple of family members are/were great seamstresses and I suppose I'm drawn to fabric design because of them.  It's especially nice to have the option of designing one's own fabric to have printed out and also not having to print everything is a nice bonus, as well.  Selling the designs online is a great option.

Anyway, I'm having fun putting my illustrations onto fabric!   I had a design printed up almost a year ago which I thought came out very well for my first one.   I plan to list the designs for sale, soon.

Spring is trying to come, but keeps being pushed back-like today.  :(   After such a cold winter with several snowstorms, most people around here are more than ready for the warmer weather.  I think having a garage for my car would be more than grand.   :)

I've been picking up seed packets here and there and hope to start growing several varieties inside soon.

Enjoy the spring weather wherever you are!!

Too cold to be outside, so.....

Spring may be on the way, but it sure doesn't feel like it today.   Wind chill factor is very much below zero.   I gave the birds, squirrels and chipmunks(they really should be below ground!) twice the amount of seed today.   They seemed very hungry.

I baked banana bread from scratch earlier today.  And it was nice to pull chunks of watermelon and strawberries from the freezer from last year's harvest.  Grant it I harvested the watermelon from the supermarket- ;)  - but it tasted just like summer! 

A little over a week ago I did take a full 7 days off from sculpting and was not on the computer much.   It was a much needed rest for my hands and mind.  I haven't taken a full week off in a long time.   :)    it was even better with the warm front that came in.  It was in the 60s a couple of days.   I went on a few walks.  Once I got back to sculpting, I would only work up to 2 hrs at a stretch and then take a break.

I have been sketching baseball themes off and on.  It's been a little challenging sometimes.  Maybe more so since I'm thinking about other things.   Looking for more work, again.  A lot of sighing going on.....

...off to look at the seed catalogs.  Nothing too fancy this year.  What I love to grow. 

Keep warm out there folks!

Gearing up for Baseball

In drawings, anyway!   I just printed up quite a few photos to work from.   All shots I took from a Triple A game a few years ago.  It may have been 5 years ago.   I liked going to the game and taking photos for future reference, I just didn't like the possibility of getting hit with a baseball! Those are the small things one forgets when going to sporting events.

Back in my college days, I used to sit in the front row during the basketball games of our very small gym making quick sketches of the players.  Things got quite lively.  :)  Ducking here and there.  

I'd be interested in going to other sporting events in the spring and summer.  Probably college and beyond levels. 

I may venture out to the lake in town to see if anyone is ice fishing.  Possibilities for great compositions there, too.

....okay, back to sculpting houses and keeping warm.  It's been snowing for awhile now.  Good times.   :)

Snow Country!

The winter so far has been until now an unusual one.  It would snow then melt and then the ground could be seen again.   But February has arrived and the real winter season has begun!  Yesterday it snowed all day, up to 3" of snow per hour.   This morning in freezing temperatures my sister and I shoveled a path from the front door to the driveway.  18" high!    Grant it the neighbors did their part of shoveling a small part of the it, but our end is almost 3 times the length.   The cars were cleaned off.  That took awhile.   :)   And I did my usual chore of shoveling a path to and around the propane tank.   Never know when it will snow again and how long the snow will stay around.

And sure another biggish snowstorm is coming our way on Sunday into Monday.  Perhaps another ft of snow.  Good times, right?!  Maybe blizzard conditions, again. 

I'm not really taking a month off from sculpting.   Plans seem to change from day to day.   But I am taking a lot of time off in between orders to rest my hands.  I am spreading out the orders, too.

It was strange, but February 7th seemed to mark the change on my Etsy shop.  Two orders came in that day after a long stretch of none.  A few more inquiries that included a large order today(from a repeat    customer) .   Hurray!

I have been taking the time to read.  I hope to finish up a couple of books that I started a few years ago.  And for some reason I can still remember where I left off in the stories. 

The winter months are a good time to go through one's possessions and realize that you don't really need certain things after all.   I donated several items this past week, to be followed by other trips I'm sure.

I came across a band of turkeys while I was driving around last week.  It was hard to miss them as they were 4 ft high.  There were about 5 or 6 turkeys running around each other in a tight circle by the edge of the road and into the woods.  Back and forth they went.   I naturally stopped my car, put the window down and said "what are you guys doing?....bye!"   One of the turkeys was giving me a long side-eyed glance.    Turkeys never bore.    :)

I'm sure that there will be all sorts of opportunities to see animals in the moonlight tonight and tomorrow night, as well. 

Rest, Rejuvenate and Work

I am currently working through the last of the Etsy orders for January.   And then hopefully, I will mail out the last one on 2/1/17.   Sales tend to slow down the first few months of the year so it seems like a good idea to walk away from the sculpting table for awhile.  Plus, my hands could really use the rest.  

There are several more orders to complete, plus one I have to do one over again because the ornament broke while in transit to the buyer.  Things like this often happen when you are trying to make it to the finish line!

Yes, one month off from sculpting.  Possibly another, but I'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I hope to get a job back out in the real world.   And get back to drawing.   And taking walks.   There are only a couple more months of fresh cold clean air to take advantage of.

Remember to meditate........

another venue.....to start with

I spent a good half of today uploading and reformatting several of my cut paper illustrations to the website Society6.   It was interesting to play around with the images to see if they fit well within a product.   One image that I created from the original "Feeling the Beat"  took on a life of its own and may well be the strongest design on my profile yet.  While many of my work is available in print form and even tapestries, I still can't seem to okay a canvas print!   I have this block against printing anything on canvas because I feel the art work should be a real painting!     That is the artist in me, not the salesman.

An issue has come up with me sculpting so much with my hands within a short period of time and I need to expand my horizons on the creative front.   A new year has me exploring streams of passive income.   I have some ideas and where to go and Society6 is the first place.

I've had an account with Society6 for awhile, but haven't had the time to spend on it.   For the time being I believe the cut paper illustration images will be up there.  Eventually, I may eliminate some of the offerings.  Some work better than others!

Often I don't think I am a graphic designer, but as the years have gone by I have picked up some design principles.   I think that some of my designs come around the back if that makes sense.  I don't think I approach graphic design as someone trained in that discipline.  Building the custom house ornaments color by color exposes me to graphic design.   When I was attending college there was a small Conran store not far from campus that I would frequent.  I still have a mug from that store sitting on my desk that I am looking at as I type up this note.  It is a great composition of shapes and colors.   It is definitely still one of my favorite things. 

There is a lot of great work on that site.   There is a special on 1/22/17 for free global shipping.

My work can be found by searching by my name Susan Houldin.  Thank you for looking!




A creative life

I slowly got back into creating the orders from my Etsy shop.  Taking only 10 days off and knowing that 2 weeks at least would have been better.  Like most of the population in the northeast I have had my share of a cold that seems to keep coming back.   Sleeping more and eating better is always the best medicine.

I've gone back to sketching or doodling almost daily.  Perhaps I am revving myself up for a more serious composition.   I did construct a few more abstract cut paper works including one that is more of an exercise of contrasting colors and shapes that forms a stone wall.  The other two will be posted maybe in a few days.  There may be some other creations that are itching to come out of me before I begin an illustration on the baseball theme.   Even though I cleared my drawing table of all scraps of paper to prepare the drawing area, I may still venture back to cut paper.

This weekend will include being creative in the kitchen.  A simple beef stock is to be made in just a short while and part of this will go in the forthcoming pot roast that will fill the house with a welcome aroma.   During the winter with very cold and snowy weather cooking and baking is a nice activity to return to.   Slowing down the day, being present in the process of chopping, shredding, stirring and measuring.   Recipes can change on a whim when one feels adventurous.

January is also the time to turn the pages of the gardening catalogs.   Reading the descriptions of the variety of plant photos before you.  Wondering what new items to include in this year's trial of growing seeds and bulbs?  Returning to old favorites, too.   I was recently invited to join a garden group on Facebook.   I mentioned how I tried to grow ginger and tumeric without much success, but noted that one can indeed grow sesame plants here in the northeast.   It will be interesting to hear what other people have grown.  Maybe they can share their secrets with me on how to grow onions.  Those things still escape me.   I'm not an expert gardener, but have tried growing many different plants in the past years.   I can see myself taking a back seat to the other people in the group......I don't know,  I just enjoy what I do in the gardens.  

And so I must now go to start the beef broth.  Happy creating in whatever is your calling for the week!

50 + 2

It doesn't seem possible, but yes 50 custom house ornaments created and shipped in 7 weeks time!... + 2 within the next two days that don't have to be there for Christmas.

There were times when I had to morph into a faster speed to get things done in a timely fashion.  I suppose I put my game face on.  :)    There were many moments when I seemed to be muttering to myself, for I was very tired on more than one occasion.   I did take time off here and there because I really needed the breaks.

It would have been more helpful to my sleep schedule if a work crew wasn't appearing near my domicile at pre-dawn for the past 2 weeks to load logs to a truck....just saying.   And I suppose I should go to bed soon because the logging truck will be here in about 7 hrs!

When I had to sculpt faster I often wouldn't overthink what I was doing.  And sometimes this definitely worked to my advantage.  Taking risks in a shorter period of time that often paid off.  The only time I did myself in was 4 days ago when I said to myself "go ahead impress me" in a ploy to move even faster than I was going.  That definitely back fired and stressed me out even more.   I won't repeat that.   :)   Slow and steady at a faster pace seems to work the best.

I put up a special sale that will have run its course by December 26 or whenever I get to changing it on my Etsy shop.  From mostly that promotion, I am now booked into mid-February 2017.   Then the price per custom house ornament will rise to $65 each, which is still at the low end on Etsy.   1/7/17***I decided that price was a big leap from $58 and set on a final new price of $61(obtained my first order at that price a few days ago.).

Still love architecture and sculpting after all that.  But am really looking forward to about 1 week or so off to just be.  Maybe paint.....maybe draw....sleep sounds really good....talking to friends and family.....walking in the winter air.....all really good.    :)

Merry Christmas and happy holidays.   :)

BAM! It's cold!

Last Saturday was the last warm day before winter set in.  After sending out another order(well someone else shipped it for me), I went outside and emptied the remaining pots of soil and plants.   It would have been more fun if the dirt wasn't wet.  Heavy, very heavy.   It took me 2 hours to shovel, hoist and wheel the dirt to the woods.  I also rescued the dahlia bulbs, replanted a perennial and took the remaining living plants inside.

Then it snowed Saturday night.  And Sunday.  And Monday.   All very light thank goodness.  But boy is it cold!

In other news, I've been making my way through the custom house ornament orders.  It is really nice to check the orders off the schedule I made up.  Sure, I am a little behind.  I'll make it up somewhere.   :)   Oh, and 2016 is now full for custom house ornament orders.   I all ready have 6 orders for January 2017 delivery(special sale). 

Last week, I took a break to see the Mum show at Smith College.  Very beautiful display.  No crowds.   Even better.   There were bees in there doing their job, but that was the only damper on the day.   It was a nice day to visit Northampton.

Sometimes I don't mind the snow.  Especially if I am not traveling.   :)  Snow showers are nice.
Walking in the snow is nice, too.

....till later.    :)

Finding My Way Back

Aptly named title as I was able to find myself back at the drawing table this week.  Just a bit of time here and there after each day of sculpting.   No drawing, but back to creating cut paper illustrations/sculptures.   I scanned the recent ones in.  They came out darker than I wanted, but until I figure out how to upgrade my camera software to the Windows 10 version this is where I will stay.   I may take photos anyway since I reuse the pieces of paper.

Very busy week and quite tiring really.   As of tomorrow, I will have mailed out 10 custom house ornaments.  Two orders were of multiple ornaments:  5 & 4.  And there was a rush order of 1 in the middle of the big ones.   I would have been able to get another multiple order out if the rush order didn't come in.  

Once my Etsy orders are completed for the Christmas rush, I'll reveal how many there were.  Very soon my schedule will be filled for the holiday season.   I made a schedule for each week up to the last shipping date in mid-December.  It will be adjusted as soon as tomorrow since I really petered out today. 

Earlier this week I met a friend I hadn't seen in awhile for lunch.  "Soup on Fly" is a neat little place in Athol.  Grant it there is not much is happening in that town, but there are some really nice old buildings there along with the old mills, of course.   It was a good break.

What I should be doing right now is scanning in my house drawings.  I have to make up a graphic for the Etsy shop.   Tomorrow sounds good.  So many house drawings from my imagination as I looked through my sketchbooks.    And an awful lot of flying, dancing and jumping pigs!   Yes I certainly was surprisedand amused.   And happy to see them, too.   :)

I didn't get to the dahlia bulbs, yet.   Today was rather chilly with that strong wind.   Winter be coming for sure.

One order down.....digging holes.....art & architecture

Hurray!   I finally finished the order of Christmas ornaments for the Cambridge Artist's Cooperative.  There are 7 different designs(which probably slowed down the completion.  It's usually 5).   With the help of my sis tagging, doing the paperwork and shipping them, the ornaments arrived one day later on Thursday.   The CAC suggested that I mail the ornaments to them any time during the year and I think I will take them up on that in 2017.

I had time to finish the CAC ornaments because my temporary f-time job ended.  It was a good 3 months at old Yankee Candle down in a Chicopee local.    I grabbed a Guest Pass to the Employee sale before I left.  Sis and I went this afternoon.   I was experiencing bad flashbacks when we walked near the wax hands station!  Noooo!  I don't ever need to make those again.  Spent 6 hrs one Saturday helping customers make their own wax hands.  Seems so long ago.  4 years.   :)

We mostly walked around the big store.  Our favorite place is the old time Christmas village.      Didn't buy much since I received a whole box of free candles at my job.   Sweet!

And because there are always holes to dig in the garden, I dug holes this past week.  I finished transplanting the hydrangeas today and the hostas went in yesterday.   The dahlia bulbs may not be any good by now with the below freezing temps, but I will check them out this weekend.   I didn't get very many dahlia blooms this past growing season.

As one of my friends says "you must be up to your eyeballs in ornaments by now!"   So very true with all the Etsy orders.  I will be working on a few large orders in the next week and then start on the other orders.  I hope to move most orders up to an earlier ship date than they have now.   The Yankee Candle job really put me behind schedule.   I know, wimper wimper.     :)

I hope to get a few visits to Smith College art exhibits.  There are some interesting shows there now.

And there is always the holiday fairs that are sometimes held in churches with great architecture.  There is one particular church in Hadley that I love to visit.  Made up of wood and stone.   Very nice people, great little fair, fantastic architecture!

Okay.....time to work.     :)


Fall....mice... and just breathe!

The colors have been great this year despite what the predictions were.   I drove around today as leaves blew off the trees into the path of my car, not minding that a few hit my windshield.   Never tire of seeing fall leaves next to rock walls, old and new.   The tall plume grasses seem to change color daily.   The ferns that went from green to yellow are now browning out with the leaves crumbling to the ground.

I was surprised that I stood my ground at a farm stand today when I saw what must have been a rat crawling around the shelves.   Some people may have screamed.   I was amazed how big it was and by its long thick furry tale.    Later I thought how mice-romanticized rats-are portrayed in art and movies as they rummage through pumpkin patches or stands.  Or transformed into horses to pull an imaginary pumpkin coach.  As long as the rat did not hitch a ride home with me, I was more than happy to leave him to his adventures.

Though I am enjoying the fall and took it easy the last couple of days-as I surely needed to-I still know that I need to catch up on all my custom house ornament orders and finish the ornaments for the CAC.  No, of course I did not finish the CAC ornaments last weekend.  Such wishful thinking.   :)   I've been told by CAC that they will wait for my ornaments, but I risk not getting a good spot in the display area.   I can just do the best I can.   I am, as I finished another 3 of one design yesterday.    Well, I have to fix one of them.   Sometimes things happen.    :)

Looks like a good week for enjoying the colors, again....creating when I can.....and just breathe.......    :)

Holiday Ornament Update :)

I'm steadily making progress on the ornaments for the Cambridge Artist's Cooperative.  Tried as I might, sleeping late today was not an option.   Once I woke up all I could think about was how one of the designs was not totally working for me.  This would be for the ever popular "sleeping in a bed" series.   The bear is out....the young reindeer is in.   One would think that the reindeer would have all ready appeared in this series, but not wanting the ornament to be appear too "Christmasy" -not a real word, but you get the gist-I refrained from including it.
Now, I think with my own twist on the design it will be fine.

In any case, today will be a marathon Holiday ornament day.   It may be very doable to get it all done.   Tagging and signing maybe tomorrow.....Ho, ho, ho!


Fall Update

I have been working at a short-term day job for the past 2 months or so.  Not creative, but the people are nice.   I think of creative things I could be doing while working!  Who doesn't, right?!

Art jobs are done when I am not there.  Custom orders(house ornaments) for my Etsy clients-which have been steadily coming in as of late-and sculpting holiday ornaments for the Cambridge Artist's Cooperative.  It's hard to believe that I have been selling ornaments through the Coop for 17 years!   The Halloween ornaments most likely arrived at the store today.  A lot of glow in the dark features.   Yup, more scary cute designs.  And I have started on the Christmas designs and hope to have them finished in two weeks.   I am doing something new this year in terms of a couple of designs: sea inspired. 

I've been working from the sketches that I made and sometimes change the ornament design as I go.  

I wanted to do some other design work, but due to time constraints it will have to wait.  In the mean time, I can think about it.

One season is ending and am in the midst of another

In the past week I have been readying the gardens for the winter months.   Fitting in an hour here and there as I work through my orders of Custom Home ornaments through my Etsy site.   Today, I dug up all the gladiolas bulbs except for one and planted 3 hydrangeas in their place.  There is still one gladiolas blooming, but will be cut soon.   3 hostas were also transplanted.  And old tomato vines pulled.  I would rather take out the plants before they get withered by the impending hard frost that is coming in a few days.  

Over the next couple of days, I will cut the remaining dahlia flowers and dig up the plants and bring them inside.   I hope to bring some plants inside and then decide what to do with them within one week.

My experiment with growing ginger and tumeric did not work.  Oh well.  I think I had too many things going on this year to give them my full attention.  Mishaps and whatnot slowed me down.

The Christmas season in my Etsy shop is well under way.  I have several orders to create.  At the moment, it all custom house ornaments.

I hope to fit in some time to create small drawings and other artwork to submit to a small works holiday show.  I do need time away from the sculpting table.

A day in the gardens

Today was an excellent day to work on the gardens.  I made sure I got outside since it will be raining for the next 3 days.  And outside I was for 5 hours!  There is always weeding to do and i did that first.   I worked in the new soil for the raised garden plots and planted shallots and lettuce.   I briefly thought about transplanting some black-eyed Susan's until I saw all the red ants.  Maybe some other time.....Then i turned my attention to digging up a few hostas and hydrangeas.  Each year, I pot several of these plants for the back deck.  Once I got to the back deck, I decided to sit down and enjoy the nice breeze while I sat in the shade.  Eventually, I potted all the perennials I dug up. 

I've learned to keep my explanation of what I am growing to a minimum.  I can see how the long list of plants can be quite overwhelming to others.   The raised garden beds are filled with companion plants and that in itself helps up the number of different kinds of plants I grow!

Anyway, it was a very constructive day in the gardens.   :)

Drawing for an auction

I finished the colored pencil drawing for an auction that my friends' work place is having in June.  It will be available for bidding on the site Bidding for Good, June 8th, 2015.   This drawing is called "Cascading Apples"  and is created entirely with colored pencils.    It can also be found on this site in the section titled "Colored Pencil."