mom-gkids2010

Life after the death of a loved one

Moving on after losing a loved one is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I haven’t mastered it by any stretch of the imagination. When my dad and Grampa and even my dog died in 1999, I was a wreck for over a year…When my mom and aunt and even another dog died in 2016… I…I just haven’t been quite the same. I’m going through the motions. I’m building a cabin at TM and I get up and go to work every day but I have to force myself to “be strong” and not fall apart every time someone looks at me.

This is my first attempt at getting back into the real world. I had stopped blogging when I went back to a “real job” and I swore I could do it without losing my handle on art so I put some energy into painting and I had art in a gallery every month of 2016, but I just haven’t been able to really go anywhere with it because I really just don’t know how. I struggle to talk about anything now. Its been hard for so long now…I’m not sure how to start. This may all seem like gibberish…that’s fine…If I can just get the pump primed by letting the emotional block loose just a bit…

I guess I’m at that age where everyone I know is either taking care of a parent or they have lost a parent recently and that makes it even harder to let out my emotion because I don’t want to make it all about me when I see so many others going through the same thing and hurting just as bad. Even those of us with issues with our parents from youth have learned to see beyond those petty issues and see the person we once thought was invincible become weak and frail and somehow we found ourselves hopelessly in love with the person we once thought just “didn’t get us”… Saying good-bye is so much easier when you are angry…when you let in the love…it hurts so…so much more…

Thanks for putting up with my babble…it may take a few tries to get the words to flow again…I have so many things I want to say…I just have to figure out how to get them out of me…

Love and hugs and happy thoughts…

avon-tent_ajaiart2015

Selling Out

daisies by ajai
It takes me less than an hour to paint these and I sold 3 of them…

Are you a sell out? You know that thing they call an artist when they actually find a way to make a living from their art…

I’ve heard it so many times at show openings and art gatherings…”Did you hear about (pick a name)?! What a sell out! They totally compromised their art to make a buck!” Well…let me tell you something…if you were a vegan for moral issues, not health issues… stranded on a rock in the middle of nowhere and hadn’t eaten for days and someone showed up with a piece of fish…would you be a sell out for eating it or a survivor who could climb down off the rock with your new found energy from eating the fish?

I like to think of myself as a fairly moral person and I have professed for years that I don’t want to fit in a box and be labeled and have to conform to societies definition of “ok” but I am also a survivor. I have survived many traumatic situations and it is because I have a will to look for ways to make what I see as “right” fit into what the world “expects” from me. I still refuse to fit into one box but I am figuring out how to use societies boxes to survive.

Recently, I was invited to participate in an art festival in Colorado http://www.flavorsofcolorado.com/ and they asked me to bring a little bit of everything I do…I was so excited to have an opportunity to spill out of the box and show off all my skills and talents…It was perfect! I didn’t have to have a niche…I didn’t have to have ONE box! So I took a bunch of boxes and paintings and stuff and a little bit of this and a little bit of that…I took so much stuff I couldn’t see out the windows as I drove down the scenic highway to get to the festival!

I sold a little of everything but didn’t sell much of anything…bummer…what a buzz kill… I did sell some of my “quick demo” paintings that I thought were ok, but not spectacular…and I sold some jewelry and other small things… But the weather was fantastic and I got to sit with my feet in the cool grass and listen to fabulous music all weekend! I also had time to visit with my neighboring vendors and learn from their experiences and see some of them work their magic!

The Vail Valley Art Guild, http://www.vailvalleyartguild.com/ had some wonderful artists and did demonstrations and had everything from pottery to painting and photography and I truly enjoyed watching them work and looking at their art, but like me…they didn’t sell much. Not that their work wasn’t phenomenal…it was truly inspiring! Folks just don’t go to festivals like that to buy expensive art and then have to carry it around a festival the rest of the day…

One vendor was particularly successful selling…They had one thing and it could fit in a purse or pocket or worn as they walked through the fair… Urban Poncho, http://www.myurbanponcho.com/ was just raking in the $$$ so I watched and took mental notes as Anne did her thing. I could probably sell them now too after hearing the sales pitch over and over and over…she had customers standing 3-4 deep listening to her go on and on all weekend about the many ways to wear that ONE poncho!

Ok…so you ask…”I thought you didn’t want to have to have a niche?! It sounds like Urban Poncho has a niche…” Well…you are right! They do…but they have many niches…The main partner that started the company has “multiple businesse[s] a print brokering online business called www.NicePricePrints.com, a direct mail business, and have owned and published multiple magazines in the past. Furthermore, as a hobby I started sewing and have been a seamstress ever since.” (quote taken from the About page on their website)

So…it’s not just about not wanting to fit in a box…it’s about being able to fit society’s box into what you do. So…again don’t fit in society’s box…fit society’s box into what you do…you can still do everything, but don’t put your eggs in the same box with your anvil!

So what’s my take away? Folks at festivals want something small and easy to manage at the fair. My new mantra for festivals is… “If it fits in a pocket or purse…it can still be diverse…” I will keep making my jewelry and small objects for festivals. That is one consistency I found between this festival and the last one…my jewelry sells…and I will keep doing my paintings but reserve them for gallery shows where they can be seen and not blown over by wind and folks looking are more willing to put it in their car and take it home because they aren’t going to be walking around a festival for another 3 hours…

break rules make money

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ~Pablo Picasso

Have you ever wondered how you can make a living as an artist instead of just doing it as a hobby?

The art world rules say you have to find a niche and get gallery representation. A lot of the blogs and business advice sites out there today say keep your day job, but I would like to offer another option…do whatever it takes and be willing to open your world to a variety of income sources to kick the day job and keep your bills paid with your creative works. In other words, don’t just rely on getting into gallery shows to pay the bills. Look at other sources of income like teaching, commission projects, online sales and festivals.

Also, dare to be yourself! You don’t have to be like everyone else who sells to make a sale. Try stepping out of your comfort zone and maybe even be willing to be laughed at. Be odd, be out there and be dangerous if that is true to who you are.

Ultimately it boils down to having a positive outlook and a willingness to be criticized and ridiculed for not following the rules…but YOU are an ARTIST…so break some rules!

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Caitlyn Jenner

Yesterday, Caitlyn Jenner gave a very emotional speech at the ESPY Awards. You can watch it here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LZt7hDR6YYU 

I feel absolutely compelled to talk about my feelings about this subject. For a long time I have felt very upset that our society puts so much pressure on everyone to fit in a box of one kind or another. You must check the box on most job applications and any time you fill out a survey for a company or product… Are you white, black, other…do you identify as male, female, LGBT…WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING BOX???!!!!!

Before I get too much into the Jenner thing, I feel I need to preface it with my thoughts from when they passed the same sex marriage law and opened up a new world for people who love each other to be able to live freely within a monogamous relationship protected by law, I got so angry when I found out folks were “deleting folks from their “friends” lists for supporting same sex marriage… prejudice is so much bigger than black/white…gay/straight…fat/skinny…tall/short…male/female…the list goes on and on…it is a shame that people look for the difference instead of the similarities…open your mind…‪#‎WEAREALLHUMAN‬! and if you gotta know my labels….I’m a tall, fat, straight, white, girl that can swing a bat, and an ax and cook up a mess and hold my own in a garage…go ahead and delete me…I support HUMANITY!” (quote taken directly from my Facebook page from a post from Dani Day June 28 at 6:49am)

That post brought in many comments and private messages including one person who basically attacked me for NOT DELETING folks who disagreed with my point of view! My response to that is below…taken from the thread referenced above…

“I just recieved a very interesting message (based on this post) so I am putting this out there for anyone wanting to know my views…I am a very outspoken person and will speak my mind when i feel the urg…but just like I speak out about folks deleting folks for supporting, I will not delet folks for not supporting. If anyone attacks me personally, I will stand up…If anyone attacks someone I care about, I will stand up…if anyone attacks someone I don’t know and I hear about it or witness it…I will stand up! but I believe equality is ALL encompassing and I believe everyone has a right to what they think and feel and believe. Therefore…I will not delete you for not thinking what I think…I will not delete you for not jumping on my bandwagon…I even read oposing comments and statements here and elsewhere so that I can be informed of the other views to round out my own perceptions of the world. I don’t run away from conflict…I embrace it and look for ways to bridge the gap…not make it bigger…I don’t care if you are on one side or the other…I am ME and I think what I think and I want ALL people to be respected for being HUMAN…my crayon box has many colors and some are even broken, but my crayons all make beautiful pictures…with LOVE and HUMANITY in mind…”

With all that said…when I first heard that Bruce Jenner was going to step into the world as a woman, I was angry…not that “he” was hiding his true feelings or that it put any question about “his” masculinity or sexuality or whether that meant he was any less of a person or any of the other ridiculous reasons I have heard people disrespecting the choice he made…

I was angry because I felt like it is such a shame that this society has put so much pressure on us to fit in a box that we have to choose to undergo extreme body reconstruction and hormone treatments to fit in a box that we were not born to be in! I am not saying there is anything wrong with a male identifying as female or vise/versa…I was born with boobs and a vagina but I feel more like a “man” by societal norms than a “woman” at times because I am 6’3″ and am very capable of taking care of myself and can handle power tools as well as any “man”…yet I was lucky enough to have a mom and grandparents that taught me that I could do or be anything I wanted and it was never an issue of sex.

Sometimes I feel like the reason so many Transgendered people kill themselves and do things to basically mutilate themselves is because this society tells them they HAVE to conform to a box of this societies choosing and if they don’t fit, they will cut parts off…add parts on…augment, suck out or do anything they can to fit…if they don’t want to cut up their bodies, they tend to just end the suffering…WTF???!!! And this isn’t just a Transgendered issue!!!! Women and Men who do not change their sex physically mutilate themselves to fit in the box labeled “beauty” that this society has placed in every store window and iPhone!!!

I commend Caitlyn for sticking up for all the Trans folks out there and saying that its ok to be who you are…but I still disagree that you should have to chop off your adams apple or do anything else to surgically/hormonally change your body you were born with…the reason Bruce felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body is because society wouldn’t allow “him” to wear a dress in public or play with nail polish or have long hair or what ever other societal stigmas disallowed the person inside to be fully the person inside…

Maybe it’s easier for me…I’m a woman and for whatever reason, we are more accepted when we wear jeans and short hair than when a man wears long hair and a dress…but that again is the FUCKED UP way society has made the rules for identity boxes…I wear my hair short sometime…sometimes it’s long…sometimes I wear pants…sometimes I wear a dress…but most of the time, I just wear what’s comfortable…I don’t wear makeup very often and when I do it’s because society says I’m “supposed” to when I go out or to a job interview…that sucks!!!

I have worn many labels in my life and I have been forced to pick some for folks to understand me better through their filters but I am taking a stand now that I will do my best not to wear anymore labels!!! I will avoid being placed in BOXES…I have boobs and a vagina! I don’t shave my legs or under arms…cuz it’s there for a reason…I like to paint my nails sometimes because I like pretty colors…I like to play rough but will cry if I get hurt… I love men…I love women…I love people…I identify and get along more with most men than I do with most women…but I have had wonderful relationships with both…I’m not going to put a label on what that is other than it is ME and I am OK being ME!

Bravo Caitlyn for doing your thing…I wish I could have met you as Bruce but love you as Caitlyn too! I’m sorry you have had to endure so much pain physically and emotionally to find yourself and claim your identity…I hope that we as a society can get to a point where people don’t have to go to the extremes that you did to get the world to hear you and accept you…

One day, I hope that all people can be accepted no matter what their race, religion, sex, color, height, weight, job, income, cup size (boobs or balls) or any other potential boxed identity may be…

color-me_ajai

step 1.1 (money makes the world go ’round)

So…in Step One, I said…”…eliminate all things, people and emotional baggage that serves no purpose toward helping me reach my highest potential in the creative process!”

Somehow, I thought I could give up all my worldly possessions and become some sort of Zen master as I embarked on this journey. I was already starting out with pocket change and thought pennies and a little pocket lint could get me started on my grand journey and new adventure! Then…I got the utility bill…and the tax man visited and I had to pay for gas to get to the new Tiger Mountain…wow…what a buzz kill!

I thought to myself, “I could just find more project work!” That is what I have been doing for over a year now trying to supplement my measly earnings from my now drastically cut back “job” and all I would need to do is land that awesome gig building a website to get me over the hump and back on the track that leads to creative freedom and spiritual growth.

In my quest for projects, I ran across ad after ad grabbing at my desire to reach my full potential in art and the creative process and scam after scam from “get rich and find your center” programs and online tutorials from various religious and spiritual sales people. When did Buddhism start charging money for enlightenment? I must have missed that memo…

The beast within quickly came to the surface as I realized I need money and I need it badly! The internal fight over money vs sanity has set in and I find myself battling my own desires for peace and tranquility…I can easily justify going back to the corporate world I so despise to make a buck or two to get me through…WTF?! I know me…I know that if I go back to that world, I will get sucked in and drained of all of my desire to create and possibly my desire to live…so why would I even consider it?

Because I am scared…I’m scared of success and failure at the same time…what if I put everything I have into just making and selling art? Well…if I am successful, I have to do it indefinitely. OMG…what does that mean? If I am not successful, what does that mean? I’m not good enough? F***! I have been halfassing it for a while now…I do a little art and mostly newsletters and web updates and dumb stuff that pays pretty well but sucks rocks for enjoy ability…I’m like the dog and bone story…I’m walking over the bridge with my bone in my mouth looking at my reflection in the water below…should I drop the bone and go after the one I see reflected or keep trotting over the bridge to the other side? I don’t want to lose the bone I already have for one that may not really be there…

Time to get back on the horse! I need to get organized…I need to make more art! Starting right now! So here it is…if you would like to print this and color it…please post it to my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ILikeAjaiArt

color-me_ajai
color-me_ajai

Step One

A lot has happened in my life since the last post…

I ended a 15 year long relationship that hasn’t been fulfilling for over a decade…I took a loan on my life insurance to buy a piece of land that has beautiful views so that I can get away from the rat race and be inspired and get in touch with nature on a very deep level…and I have no money (it was better to walk away from the relationship and not fight for money…cut my losses and move on)and my hours at work have been cut back to almost nothing so I’m starting fresh! Scared to death and hopeful that somehow it will all work out…but I have to start the process.

I figure if nothing else, I can document my journey…If I make it…you can all learn what to do to help yourselves…if I don’t make it…well…you will learn what NOT to do.

So here it goes!

Step ONE…eliminate all things, people and emotional baggage that serves no purpose toward helping me reach my highest potential in the creative process! If you are my friend and I don’t communicate for a while…do not think that means I have dumped you…I am busy…If you are a person I feel is not in my best interest, I will tell you flat out my intentions…

mt.princeton
mt. Princeton as viewed from the new “Tiger Mountain”
I think I need to do some sort of spiritual quest…I might spend some time in nature at the new “Tiger Mountain” retreat! Wow…I didn’t have a name for the land until it just came out of my fingers on the keyboard! I love the creative process and how it works! Here is one view from the property I just bought…

I will document the subsequent steps here…I will try to do my best to keep them labeled so that folks can follow and I will have a sub category for this called “tiger tale” under “life as an artist” for anyone interested…

that’s a lot-o-toilet paper

I’ve been working on a bunch of recycled/upcycled arts and crafts lately to get ready for the sidewalk show in Aurora this year. It really got me thinking a lot about the mass amounts of reusable things that so many people throw away. I made this chess set from a couple buckets of leftover parts and pieces that I bought from yard sales and scraps that folks were going to throw away.


I see so many things abandoned and forgotten by folks…things thrown in the trash that could be used again rather than thrown in a landfill…Not that I want to bring it all to my house and turn my place into a landfill, but a little bit of thought and a few minutes of your time could save the world from becoming one big landfill.  You don’t have to turn everything into a work of art…sometimes just being a little creative you can think of ways to reuse what you use.

Here is an example: I like to go camping a lot and I also have a fire pit at home that I use as often as possible. You know those little cardboard tubes that hold your roll of toilet paper? Well…next time you are about to throw them in the trash, take a moment (maybe while you contemplate the next roll of toilet paper) to tare it open and re-roll it into a small roll and put it in a recycled baggie to take on your next camping trip as a fire starter…


It gets a bit crazy when you think of how many people are in the world and then think of how much stuff they throw away…I found this great little population clock that shows the world population…that’s a lot of toilet paper! And, it’s a lot of other things that could be reused or recycled. If you come up with a great recycled/upcycled project let me know at https://www.facebook.com/ILikeAjaiArt

foam-landscape_ajai

Art – Good vs. Bad

foam-landscape_ajai
Experimenting with materials typically found in a preschool as an exploration of what determines good art

If selling your work is what makes it good…Then we all need to evaluate our worth…She was criticized for her work for being unprofessional…she may not have sold many of them, but she did sell some…I wouldn’t buy them because I don’t like things that need to be cleaned or dusted, but I’m not going to dismiss them for their creativity and the fact that she put her time and energy into them.

What was it? I’ll just say it was what some in the art world would say is not art but craft and therefore not worthy of attention. I would have to disagree with that. The craft pieces were very creative and a few of them had beautiful texture and color. I liked them for the simple fact that they sparked an idea in me to be more experimental with everyday materials to see what I could come up with.

I was told once that doing a project or adult workshop fit for 8 year olds was not good enough to be considered “good art” because garage sales, hobbyists and little sidewalk art fairs have ruined our standards so that the mass populous no longer knows the difference between “good and bad” art.

I don’t think that is the case at all…beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and just because a gallery or group thinks a particular style or work is irrelevant or not worthy, doesn’t mean they are right. It is their opinion only.  ART is about so much more than what I have been hearing from folks lately. Art is about self expression and sharing a vision with others and if we start determining “what is art” and not letting our minds open to unfamiliar things… that is just as bad as any prejudice against humanity and I will NOT be a part of that!

I like doing projects fit for 8 year olds. I have recently finished an experimental work using materials often found in a preschool and its all about creativity. Children are often more creative than adults but don’t have the hand eye coordination to make a skilled piece, but with practice and nobody telling them its “not good enough” they can grow up to be magnificent creators that can change the world one vision at a time. Maybe the disconnect here is some folks are doing art because they want to make money, gain fame…be “respected”…? I am doing art because the universe insists on it.

I just want to be creative and enjoy what life I have left on this planet. I don’t want drama and I don’t want to fight…I will however stand up for what I believe in and I believe with everything in my being that being creative is the most divine thing we can do as humans and I will not judge another’s creativity. I will encourage it and embrace it and do my best to defend it…Art isn’t good or bad…it just IS…and the creative process is Divine expression and should be honored whether you “like” it or not isn’t the point…we all have opinions and beliefs…doesn’t make one better than the other. Take what you like…leave what you don’t…and LEARN from it all…

coffee

Good Morning Epiphany!

Ok…so life sucks sometimes! So what?! Get over it!

Reading blogs, stalking my “friends” on Facebook and drinking my morning brew when suddenly I have an epiphany! I need to set clear goals and boundaries for myself! I know…that seems lame. Everyone knows that…no news here. Well, it is news because I just realized it on a whole new level. Not the superficial “oh yeah! that makes sense” level that you get when you hear a motivational speech or read an inspirational quote. This is different.

I read a blog today http://journeyinstitute.org/blog/opposing-positive-and-the-meaning-of-life/ written by a colleague from one of my past lives before this journey to artist-hood started. I do try to be positive but from my last post you can see that sometimes I have a hard time in spite of my silver linings. After reading the blog mentioned, I started thinking a lot about how I could incorporate more action into my plan for happiness and how that action could make situations like the dog food incident from the previous post be a distant memory and not an ongoing challenge.

Michael’s blog speaks to the idea of reality vs possibilities and whether its a good or bad idea to set lofty goals.  When I thought of the impetus to my last post, I hastily jumped to the conclusion that the action needed was to get rid of the cause of the arguments in my life…that was solely based on the cause being the other persons fault and me having no responsibility in the problem other than continuing to stay in spite of it. Well that works in a fantasy world, but I am a realist to some degree so now I need to find a balance between fantasy and reality. Wow…that’s what the blog I read was about…Is thinking I could be happier if not in this relationship getting my hopes up too high? Wait a minute! I think I’ve muddled something here…

As Michael states in his blog, “It misses one main, and often forgotten, principle of the think positive movement. Namely that it is just as much, if not more, about the journey as it is the destination…” So is my journey more about finding a way to set my goals and navigate my course through the maze of this relationship? Parts of the arguments are based on my lofty ideas and dreams. Or, is it about eliminating the blockage and moving forward through the unknown to find my hopes and dreams at the end of the trail?

I have never had such a hard time with decisions in my life. I think that is why I struggle to make the action plans that would help me succeed. I’m still trying to heal from the not so distant past with my mom and she is still here and I am faced with decisions every day that leave me conflicted and unsure of myself and my decisions. I find myself wanting to run away all the time. It is very similar in my relationship. I am not sure who I really am. Can I find the person, the real me that I lost after my father died? Do I want to? Maybe this is why I have been stuck for so long. When I look back through my own blog, I see gaping holes that only I know are times that life was so heavy, I didn’t know how to pick up the keyboard…but that’s where this all gets clear for me…

It’s about taking the best of both worlds and combining them. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. Its not about setting unrealistic goals or the opposite of not setting goals at all to avoid failure. Its about setting the lofty goals and navigating the ruts you find honestly. You can put on a smiley face and go through life like there is never any problems, but that only makes the problems follow you on your journey. IF you deny them, they will work their way under your feet and you will have to keep stepping on them or over them. IF on the other hand, you acknowledge them and work through them honestly, you can move on and leave the dust of them behind. The real key here is to keep your compass pointing toward your goal so that when the dust settles, you can find your bearings again.

Michael said it very well…

It’s about the journey, not simply the destination. Positive Thinking in and of itself will not help you achieve your goals. Put together, however, with specific action, focus, thought and the right questions, Positive Thinking will not only help you achieve your goals, it will help you enjoy the journey as well.

 

rocky-rizzo_ajai

ugh! I’m one of “those” people

Long story short…

Took the dogs to the mountains again. ..not just for their benefit, but so I could get away…had fun…driving home traffic horrible….blizzard conditions not from falling snow, but blowing snow…glad those people that slid of the road are ok…stiff neck…don’t want to go home to argue…oh crap! I have to go buy dog food before I get home…bright idea! I’ll take the dogs into PetSmart with me after a long drive…funny now…not then.

So there I was at PetSmart with 2 wild and crazy dogs that have never gone “shopping” together before…after a crazy long car ride…what was I thinking?! One is Barking at every critter that moves and the other one wants to eat everything that moves…my nerves are raw…I want to go home…but not really…just another argument waiting when I get there…one of the other customers is making comments about my unruly pack as the checker is talking to me about whether I want it on credit or debit…I’m trying to get the dogs to sit, my brain is melting and all I want to do is get home…NOT!

I should have been living in the moment and not thinking about things from yesterday, that morning or anyone other than me and the dogs and the cashier. I should have stepped away from the register…let the dogs “get over” the excitement of the moment…spoken calmly to them and taken control of the situation from the start…but noooooo…I wanted to get out of there and get it over with…I wasn’t thinking clearly or maybe even at all…I  raised my voice…pushed the dogs butts to the ground…loudly said “sit!” while I handed my card to the cashier. I clutched the leashes and held my head down like I committed a crime because I couldn’t bare to look at the folks in the isle next to me.

As soon as I got home and as my butt hit the couch, I was over it for a minute…then the reminder of why I went to the mountains in the first place…not to walk the dogs…to get away from having to argue. Suddenly,  the vision of the scene at the store popped back in my head and I thought to myself…”Oh God! I am one of those people I see at the grocery store that smacks their kid and tells them not to hit! What have I become?!” Ok…so I didn’t beat my dogs, but I didn’t handle the situation very well. Plus…I’m the one always talking about looking for the bright side and the blue jeans…I guess the bright side is I learned something today…

Lessons for the day…

  • breathe…release stress because it won’t help no matter how big it is
  • live now…this minute I can only affect what is happening now
  • let go of anger…it will manifest in not so flattering ways