Monday, December 28, 2009


Dec. 3rd was the one year anniversary of the day I was laid off, thrown out of the car and onto the road less traveled. The day came and went quietly. I mentioned it to a few folks in passing and they weren't sure whether to congratulate or console me. I wasn't sure either. It's hard to tell how I feel. Life has changed a lot. I was in a melancholy mood as I went about my business that day: picking up the 'Share the Road' skull from Redux at the close of the Muertos show, then over to Fantasma to hang 3 new Calaveras and collect payment for the one that had just sold, then home to list a few more on Etsy.

THIS is my new life, my new JOB. Business is slow, but that's true almost everywhere. I miss a regular paycheck, but at least some money is trickling in. How long do I give myself to make this thing work? How long will el Hueso induldge me? How long does it take to build an Artist? Time's not up yet.

I have spent these last few weeks reflecting on the course of the past year and where it has lead me. It has been a humbling exercise to outline the year's small accomplishments, but as I look at it as a whole, I see that they do add up to something. . . the beginning of something.
The following is my First Year in Review. . .

  • 12-03-08 Laid off from almost 9 yrs @ Precision Images.
  • 12-17-08 Opened an Etsy Shop
  • Spent the better part of the month in a shell-shocked state of panic.
  • 01-14-09 Started this Blog.
  • Obama Inaugurated. Change is in the air. Hope is Alive.
  • Short visit with family in Santa Fe.
  • Trip to Folk Art Museum knocks my socks off!
  • Work on creating Studio Space in basement begins.
  • Applied for SEA program. (Self Employment Assistance)
  • Registered 'BoneWerx' business name.
  • Met Bridget Benton, my advisor from the Small Business Development Center.
  • Conducted extensive Market Research/Soul Searching to create Business Plan.
  • Attended Portland screening of 'Handmade Nation'
  • Applied to be in 2 upcoming Craft Fairs.
  • Completed and Submitted Business Plan to the OR Employment Department.
  • Formed 'Inspirational Partnership' with Julie LaRoche. -Vowed to meet regularly to make and discuss art together.
  • Studio set up complete. -Christened it with a small group of supportive friends and champagne.
  • Created 'Garden Bots' to sell as Garden Art at Craft Fairs.
  • Alberta Art Hop -My First Big Event! Thousands of people strolling the street. Got great feedback but only sold 3 Calaveras. -Met Tim Combs, who made similar recycled Garden 'Bots'
  • Backed out of Vancouver Recycled Arts Festival -just not ready yet.
  • Treasure hunting, scavenging, scrapping continues in passionate scramble for new materials.
  • Gallery visits and art openings in an attempt to tap in to creative community.
  • School lets OUT. . . My art lets up.
  • Unemployment Insurance runs out.
  • Apply for and am eligible for UI extension, but unable to continue in Self Employment Assistance Program.
  • Discovered freshly opened Fantasma: an Altar Space -contacted owner about showing/selling my Calaveras there.
  • Spent the better part of Summer as FULL TIME Mama!
  • Continued to meet with Julie and do art with our kids.
  • Booked as Featured Artist and altar builder at Fantasma for the month of October!
  • My First 'Last Thursday' gig on Alberta. -Great fun, but didn't sell anything.
  • Met Linda Rand -a like minded Muertos Artist.
  • Back to School. . .Back to Work!
  • Flurry of activity to make up for lost time!
  • Created new series of Roller Derby inspired paintings.
  • Participated in 'Skating with Scissors' Bazaar with Kelly Akin. -Didn't sell a thing!
  • Attended 'Craft fair 101' through the DIY Lounge. -Met Cathy Pitters & Torie Nguyen!
  • Calavera Show at Fantasma + Altar to Ruby in shop window on Alberta!
  • Sold 9 Calaveras.
  • Attended 'Etsy Basics' through the DIY Lounge. -Met Christine Claringbold 
  • Started setting up my Etsy Shop and listing my work for sale.
  • 1st commissioned Calavera -for bridal shower gift/Day of the Dead themed wedding.
  • Show comes down at Fantasma, but Jess agrees to show/sell my Calaveras on a regular basis.
  • Created 'Share the Road' Calavera for group Muertos show at Redux.
  • Attended Opening for show with Julie & Mike -Our first adult night out all year!
  • Lewis Holiday Bazaar -sold 8 Calaveras and 2 Garden Bots
  • 1st Sale on Etsy
  • Minor mention of 'Share the Road' on Bike leads to nearly 400 hits on my blog!


  • Joint show with Julie LaRoche at First Cup Coffee House.
  • Sold 3 paintings!
  • sold Calavera at Fantasma.
  • 2nd sale on Etsy.
  • 2nd commission.

It may not look like much and it certainly doesn't add up to much monetarily, but it feels like I may be on to something. There are a lot of other people doing it; doing what I want to do and doing it well, so I know it's possible -not just to survive, but to THRIVE at it! Everyday I am encouraged by the astounding talent that surrounds me! Portland certainly feels like the right place to be right now. It's an exciting time of reinvention. The economic downturn has forced people to be more creative and driven us to take more chances about how we make a living. As restaurants are shutting down, food carts are springing up. As shops are closing, Etsy is exploding! We are refocusing our priorities about what we do, what we buy, where we buy it, what we make, how we make it, what we eat and how we live! Though I'm still a little bitter about the way it happened, I'm still thankful that I got the 'Wake Up Call'. Everything means so much more to me now on so many levels. Less wasted time, less wasted energy, less wasted money, (less money!). I am learning a lot; mostly that I have a lot more still to learn! And a lot more still to do!!

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement. 
-Alfred Adler

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hopes & Worries

For the past year, two friends met at First Cup to enjoy great coffee and conversations about art and creativity. When given the opportunity to display our art, it took the better part of 2009 to find a recurring theme we wanted to share and exhibit. As both mothers and caretakers, our conversations often centered around how to remain balanced between nurturing and smothering, hopes and worries. Eventually, we each found a medium and inspiration to express the stories of our daily lives.

Have you ever worried so much about providing a nurturing environment for your child that it feels toxic? Do you feel fragile at times about how to care for the world? Do you feel both hopeful and overwhelmed by the small progress we make individually each day?

This is an art show that begins with worry and ends in wonder. It is simultaneously nurturing and fragile because that is how parenting feels. Whether parenting children, caring for ourselves, our community or the world at large, this art is offered as one-page stories about the tension, faith and hopes in every day life. It is a glimpse into the treasury of emotion we each carry.
What hopes and worries do you carry?

This is the inspiration behind the work we chose to do.
It meant a lot to both of us and we hope it means a little something to you.

View the art from the show here:

To see more of Julie's work, check out:

Our art will show through the month of December
at First Cup on Woodstock.


This painting is an illustration of the problem of loving too much! You may not like it and it wasn't meant to be pretty. It was an important exercise for me to figure out how to do it and practice the process of turning what is inside my head into something others can see and hopefully understand. I am still discovering what kind of art I want to make. There is the art that is made to sell . . . and the art that is meant to tell. This piece has a story . . .

Last Summer I signed Nate up for Nature Camp, a week long day camp in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. It was to be his first camp experience. He has been attending classes through Parks & Rec. at Community Centers since he was a baby, but those had all included parent involvement -so I got to attend too! Now that he is getting older, the rules are changing and I am not allowed to tag along. I understand the value of him having a life without me, but I'm not ready yet to just drop off and let go. Obviously, school is different, it is a familiar community. We know the teachers, we know the kids. It is hard to trust the UNKNOWN.

I think being the parent of only one child intensifies my dependency upon him. I've got all my eggs in one basket and I know it sounds a bit crass, but I have no back-up. At times I can be terribly preoccupied by all that can/could go wrong! I worry obsessively and am struggling to accept the fact that I cannot control the world that Nate lives in. I cannot prevent the other kids from hurting his feelings. I cannot prevent him from falling out of the tree and smashing his head wide open! I cannot prevent the driver from not seeing him in the bike lane and driving over him!! I cannot prevent the creepy stranger from jumping out of the bushes and nabbing him!!! If only I really could create a safety bubble for him, or a force-field of love and kindness. I do my best to give him the tools that he needs to survive, but I cannot protect him from everything . . . and I just HATE that!

As I was stressing the night before sending Nate to camp, I had a vivid nightmare of a nest built of broken glass. I don't usually have dreams that include such cool imagery, so I knew this was something I had to do something with. I had worked myself up into such a tizzy that I almost threw up after dropping him off that morning. I came straight home and started breaking bottles! My artistic passion fizzled when I couldn't figure out how to attach the glass to the board. I had been looking forward to spending the week in my studio, making art while Nate was at camp; falling into deep holes, getting lost in the woods and getting bitten by snakes. I have to admit that it was almost a relief when the Heat Wave hit and I could claim that it was inhumane to make him run around outside all day in 106 degrees! I didn't make any art that week and Nate only got one day of camp, but I think we both preferred to spend the quality time bonding with a waterfall in the Gorge instead.