Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Bragger

What is a Brag?  
How do you define bragging?  

I just received a text from a bragging friend that prompted me to write the blog post.

Image result for dr seuss the big bragMy kids encounter this all the time with other children at school, in extra circular activities, within family circles and with friends.  They are constantly asking for my advice or complaining to me about a bragging situation they have encountered.  I always ask my kids first how did the friend sound, what was their tone what words did they use?   I want my kids to understand the difference between a bragger and an excited friend with something cool they want to share.

One of my favorite books to help explain to my kids is by Dr Suess "The Big Brag".  It reminds us all that a talent we have, an object we posses that we are proud of, can become so blown out of proportion it becomes lie.  I tell my kids all the time that a brag is close to, if not lying.  When someone has to say something about themselves in a boastful way they are surly lying or coming as close to a lie as they can to self promote who they want others to think they are.  They are also demonstrating their lack of self confidence and need the approval and attention of others to be reassured about themselves.  

Oddly knowing all of this and patiently reminding my children of this when they get annoyed at a friend for bragging, I still find myself equally annoyed and frustrated.  I also find myself distancing myself from the bragger.  I never walk away from a bragging person feeling good about myself or upbeat about the world.  I in fact really don't like how I feel and want to lesson my interaction with that person.

There is tone and language that clearly differentiates between a proud "I can't wait to share this amazing news with a friend, Im just so excited" and "I want all to know that I am superior and deserve their respect and admiration, you may now basque in my glory of awesomeness" 

My daughter, after 3 hard years of hard work and dedication in the theater, auditioned to go to a preforming arts school and got in!  Of course we were proud of her but were not sure how to share this news with our friends and family.  We knew that we would eventually have to start letting people know that she would not be going to middle school with all her elementary friends.  As we started to quietly tell people we found there were two kinds of people.  1. The person who was excited for our daughter and were already eager for more opportunities to see her preform on stage.  2. The person who looked at us with judgment and smugness stating how talent their own child was or how they know of a child who was far more talented and how they should have auditioned. 

There is a handful (or sadly more) people in my life currently that brag.  Constantly building themselves up and at the same time they are working very hard to discredit those who truly deserve the praise and glory.  So often I find that the ones working silently, compassionately, that are kind and do things with a love and joy are over looked for the boastful glory seeking bragger.  When the kind person tries to share some happy news the boastful one is quick to step in and out do their claims. 

In the past week alone I have been confronted too often with boastful people who would have been more respected if they had been proud of their friends then try to outdo them.  

Let's be clear, when you brag you are trying to out do what someone else has said, done, or possess.  You want acknowledgment and approval from those around you that you are superior.  Likewise, when you are excited to share news, talents or possessions,  you are hoping that others will be supportive and happy for you.

As an artist in this day and age, if you don't show your work on social media then no one will find you to hire you.  Gone are the days of running around with a portfolio in hand trying to get others to hire you.  Sharing your art is an art form in it's self.  You can come across as a complete bragging jerk or someone who really wants to share a piece of their soul with the world.  It all comes down to language and tone.  But it leaves me with a sense of not wanting to share at all at times.  Just knowing that the bragging people I know will quickly dismiss my work.  The Braggers always seem to know someone far superior or have a talent themselves that has yet to be discovered, and they like to make sure I know it too.  

I think that bragging has become such a casual way that some people just speak.  They are completely unaware of their audience or how their words are affecting others.  How they are pushing people away.

Arrogance is not becoming and eventually, the lie from their bragging bubbles up to the surface and the bragger can lose a lot.  Friendships, jobs, respect, and trustworthiness are just some of the things that are at stake when bragging takes place.

So the next time someone comes to you with joyful news, or shares an accomplishment, stop making it about you.  This isn't your springboard to outdo a friend.  This is your chance to be a friend.  Get excited for them, let them know you are truly happy for them.  Listen and enjoy the fact that they like you enough to share with you something special in their lives.

Likewise, the next time you have something you are proud of or excited to share with others, be kind with your words.  Don't boast or brag.  Keep it real, keep it upbeat, keep it happy and choose wisely those people you find worthy of sharing in your joy.

One of my favorite quotes to sum up bragging 
 “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.” 
― Margaret Thatcher

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Empty Chair

After a summer of fun I started going through photos I had taken.  As always, there are the photos that didn't turn out that you wish would have, great photos you just can't wait to print or share on social media, and then there's the unexpected photo, the one you didn't know you took.  The photo isn't focused on anything.  You pressed the capture button without realizing and wham, you have the random unexpected photo you didn't know you took.  These photos always seem so errie, sort of out of body, out of context to all other photos so planned so framed so happy.  But this one, this empty chair was so much more than that.

Since the moment I lost my brother 15 years ago, I immediately noticed all the empty chairs he no longer occupied.  We ate dinner every night as a family, we went to church every Sunday, we had our seats in the car, and spots in front of the tv.  As we grew up we still came home for family events and holidays, we still met up at church on Sundays, went to movies, out for lunch, coffee, and found ourselves in each others homes for games and pizza.

All those occupied chairs, all those years.

2 months before my 27th birthday and 2 months after my brothers 30th birthday, he died.

And all of a sudden all I could see was the empty chairs he should be sitting at.

The empty chair on the patio for a heartfelt talk, the vacant spot in the pew at church, the movie seat for all the movies we had planned to watch together, the chairs around the holiday tables, and empty stools in coffee houses.  So many empty chairs, it made my heart ache every time I sat down to be faced with a spot my brother once occupied.  I talked myself into thinking that he was still with us in all those empty chairs.  Like a friendly spirit filling a void to cheer me up.

As years pass and time helps us move forward the empty chairs started filling with new friends and old, new loved ones like my two beautiful children.  New traditions start and old ones seems to go on despite the loss of someone so specail.

This summer I spent a week at my parents house in Colorado with my husband and kids.  We got to spend time with my sisters and their families.  In honor of us visiting, my dad had one of his famous Shrimp Boils.  We all sat around and ate Cajun shrimp until we thought we would explode.  I took lots of happy family photos that afternoon.  But this, the empty chair was in the middle of my photos.  So lonely, so vacant, sad.  My brother should have been there that day.  All those feelings from 15 years ago welled up inside me when I saw the photo.  Sometimes those random, out of context photos are what our heart needs most. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Changed Priorities

It's time I get serious and get back to work.  Not just on my art but on my blog and taking photos.  I need to get back to a more creative me but this time I have a BIG incentive.... no money.  Most of us know what's it's like to have no or little money.  You can't pay your bills on time, there is no such thing as going on holiday, and you don't dare buy anything unless what you own has completely fallen apart.

I haven't been able to make a decent student loan payment in ages, let alone keep up on the expense of my kids.  The last time I went on Holiday was 8 years ago even though I was promised London for my birthday last year (your cant do something when you don't have any money).  I wear the same clothes everyday and actually felt guilty asking Donald if it would be okay to get a new pair of trainers because the ones I've worn for the last year and a half are falling apart.

For ages now I have been hoping that I would magically be given time to work on my art and blog.  That our household income would match what we needed every month to get by.  But the reality is that this is never going to happen unless I change my priorities.  I need to create the time to work (ignore my kids or have them work along side me).  I need to get my art back out in circulation in hopes that it might just sell so that maybe, just maybe we can start to get by without the constant stress.

So today I put art back in my shop.
I added two personal pieces to the collection.
And the plan is that when I get done with this post I will work finishing up some old ideas in a fresh way so I can add them too!

It's been a really tough couple of months, and the bad news doesn't seem to be coming to an end anytime soon nor does any kind of financial relief.

The great news is that I'm an optimist at heart and to a fault....So I think I can make positive changes by getting BACK TO WORK!  Creating art that I love and selling it to the people that love my art.  In this way I can help Donald and I breath a bit easier and support the man that has supported me for so long.

It's too early for Christmas but here are two brand new personal pieces in my shop.

I never wanted to sell art I did for my personal use but it's time I get more art out there and that means all the art I do.  So here are the first two personal pieces I have up for offer on my Etsy site.

I'm changing my priorities and creating art for the betterment of our family.

During this post my 4 year old looked through books on his own upstairs while my 7 year old created unsupervised science experiments in the kitchen. And now they are using their science equipment to have a water fight outside.  Safety goggles, beakers, test tubes, and swim suits for the win.  I hope this means I don't end up failing as a mom for my kids but that in time we will find a balance of fun and understanding

Friday, October 4, 2013

Drawing Mermaids

So often what I create is because the ones I love are my inspiration.  In the case of drawing mermaids, it was my little love Emma that inspired me to draw for her.  So far the mermaids are in super rough stage.  I need to add so much detail and of course some of Emma's favorite aquatic life.  Each mermaid will have at least one friend to play with in each drawing.  Emma loves the water, swimming and the ocean most of all.  She loves stories about Jacques Cousteau and marine life.  I was not at all surprised when she asked if I could take down her butterflies in Paris and redecorate her room in the magic that is the ocean and toss in some mermaids.  So I've started sketching.

 These drawing have been a source of of fun and disappointment for me.  What started out as something I could create that was magical and enjoyable for Emma's room hit a giant wall for me.  This same wall I have been fighting for over a year.  That giant wall in front of me has graffiti in big black ugly letters "why create, no one wants it"  under that in some horrid neon it says "your just a stay at home mom with no life" 

So when I was at Emma's tennis practice the other day and a friend mentioned that they saw on instagram the drawings Emma did of mermaids, I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach.

Do I draw like a 6 year old.  Is my art no better than what a small child could do? 

No, I haven't let this go.  No, I don't want to stop drawing.

But how do you move past how little others think of what you do and see any meaning in continuing.

 Donald, who is always my champion in such situations has been through his own battles with trying to do the right thing with his work, so he had a hard time trying to get me to ignore the comment.  His response was "If you stop drawing because of this one comment then you need to go find a job" 

Going to find a job, even in this economic climate, seems like such an easier path.  I might earn the respect of my girlfriends who all have "professional jobs" and I won't have people crushing my heart with their criticism of what I love.  I won't even have to be responsible for my kids, as I can blame the day care and school for any downfalls they may have.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet.  I want to finish the mermaids but maybe I should leave that up to real artist and just buy some art for Emma's room.  

There's a part of me that wants to prove to all those that just laugh behind my back and even straight at me that I will make these mermaids so wonderful they won't be able to say anything.

Donald has always said that he loves my tough determination........

So we shall see what comes to pass

For now Emma's got a mermaid in a note I wrote to her.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Drawing Chairs

Once again I find myself doing what is quite possibly the wrong thing to be doing. But it's drawing just the same. And surprisingly I do have a plan for my antique looking chairs

Still not sure how I want my chairs to be drawn. That's the hard part (and that's part of what I'm working on) is my new "look" or way of approaching a subject or drawing. How finished do I want a pencil sketch to be or how incomplete? Thick lines or shading or lots and lots of white? I'm guessing as I'm working this all out that it's going to be a few months or so to develop a style I love and that is all my own. Something I should have done years ago in art school but just pushed through my work hoping it would evolve on it's own. I have an idea of what I would like but I'm open to what it will become.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Olympic Logo

We all know what a disgrace the London 2012 logo is. It was such a disappointment from a mecca of great design. So I don't think I need to go into the ends and outs of the bad choice London has made other than I will find it hard to believe anyone will be eager to purchase logo merchandise. I'm sure it will be the lowest sales in Olympic history.

That being said, I did come across a logo that I can't believe wasn't used but has been saved for the Great Britain Team. Wow do I love it in so many ways. Even if they had taken just a concept from this logo, the official logo for the 2012 Olympics would have been a vast improvement.

I also stumbled across other logos that would have been a refreshing change for the logo that was selected.

I was even pleasantly surprised with the Rio logo for 2016. A logo with motion makes so much more sense for a huge sporting event then a jagged stale logo. Even the colors are used much more effectively.
But the Rio logo still reminds me of the Scripps logo here in San Diego.
I love logos and the work and thought process that goes into each one regardless of how bad they might be. They all tell a story in simple lines and color. We either love them or hate them and they either work or don't work.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Get Back To Work

Lately I've had a hard time feeling the energy to draw. Finding the time is hard enough, but when I have the few precious moments I need I find myself doing something uncreative. Trying to get back into the mood of creating can be hard at times. I don't have the problem of ideas, it's the motivation I lack.

Surprisingly I found a tweet that seemed to do the trick. Someone had tweeted : The 12 Crazy But True Secrets to Artistic Financial Success. Must-read......
then when you clicked on the link this is all you got
It cracked me up, but also made me realize I needed that stern no nonsense answer. There is no secret to success as an artist. I just need to get back to work!

So off to make my self feel a bit more artistic no matter what my mood I did some 10 second sketches..... not anything great and not what I really needed to be doing, but it was a start.
I need to get back to work and get some art done, I am bursting with ideas and how I want to tackle a new look that is part fashion illustration, part graphic design, and part children illustration. Not sure how it's going to look or turn out. But in my mind it's going to be great!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Music is something so special to artists. It feeds our creative soul as we pour over ideas, spin creativity in our heads and pour out our hearts through our hands. Music carries us through the day and cradles us at night. It's there when no one else is and is something we enjoy sharing with others as much as we do our own talents.I finally got to live out a teenage dream, recently when O.M.D. made a return visit to San Diego after not doing any concerts in the U.S. for over 20 years. I use to lay in bed at night playing "The Best of O.M.D." as I fell asleep and wake to the tape still playing over and over again on my stereo. At times I would wake crying in my sleep to "Joan of Arc" or "Maid of Orleans". Each song was so special to me in it's own way. I know all the words to "Secret", "Locomotion", and "Dreaming" that I would write out the lyrics in my notebook at school when I was suppose to be taking lecture notes. I was madly in love with Paul and Andy at the same time and would go into my brothers room and lay on his bed staring at the poster he had of them on his wall for hours. I had a lot to thank my brother for, he introduced the band to me with "Tesla Girls" and I was hooked.

Orchestral Manoeuvers In the Dark is my forever favorite. I'm in love with their sound all over again with their new album "History of Modern" There isn't a song that I don't just love, old or new. It's full of great emotion, fun, and love.
And getting to see them perform live only 12 feet from me was heart stopping! Okay I know it's crazy silly of me to have a band crush but I still do after all these years. They played every hit song they've ever done (except Secret) and even some great tracks off their new album. It was the funnest night of my life and I can't thank Donald enough for taking me. I felt young and yet so mature and energized. It was worth the long wait. Andy is still smoking hot and Paul still has that amazing smile that makes you melt and their voices haven't changed, everything was perfect! I left the concert dripping in sweat from rocking out so hard for 2 hours. I am so grateful that Andy and Paul have continued making unbelievable music that still inspires me and invokes such wonderful emotion.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Pros & Cons of Working From Home

Workspace in London before Kids.

Lately I have been dealing with a lot of cons when it comes to working from home and it's starting to bring my down. So I thought a list of pros and cons might be in order to make sure and set myself straight on my choice. Being a mother of 2 small children, a very gregarious 4 year old little girl, and a super cuddly 9 month old boy, it's very difficult to find those very valuable free moments to get any art accomplished. I find myself looking longingly at my unoccupied art desk as I try to meet my family's daily demands. I worked many years in a professional capacity and it was extremely hard to make the switch from Professional at a job to Professional at home with kids. For years I made more than my husband, I paid all the bills or a large portion of them. It's hard sometimes to remember why I made the switch and when will I see the reward in my choice in my art and in my family.

Making the choice to work from home with or with out kids is a very difficult choice. There is a lot to consider, a lot of sacrifices to be made, and a lot to adjust to. This isn't a choice anyone should make lightly.

Here are MY pros and cons

Pro: I don't have to deal with traffic coming or going from work everyday. None of this I'm running late and a scramble to get the kids off to daycare.
Con: There is no down time, unwinding time, or just listen to what ever I want time.

Pro: Don't have to deal with a boss who leaves at noon but still calls you while they are relaxing by their pool at 5:00 PM to have you run some report they will never look at in order to keep you from leaving at a decent time.
Con: Nothing con about not having a boss.

Pro: Don't have to deal with other employees that drive you crazy. You know the ones I'm referring to. All their petty ways and lame excuses are no longer an issue.
Con: There is a huge lack of opportunity to socialize when working from home. Most everyone I know still goes to a job everyday and they send their kids to daycare. Being at home with kids is very lonely because no one does it any more these days. There are very few stay at home adults to make friends with and that means you don't get many choices on who you get to communicate with. And let me just say that as amazing a vocabulary my 4 year old daughter has, it's still not what I would call stimulating conversation. It makes for a very lonely day.

Pro: I don't have to work on a really stupid project that my boss thinks is super great.
Con: Family and friends seem to think I should get giddy about doing a logo, art, or web work for them. And that pay should be minimal at best...after all they feel I should be grateful for the work. I'd really rather be struck by lightning.

Pro: I get to create what I want to create
Con: No guarantee that I will make any money from long hours of work. I can create image after image and none may every sell. My first 4 pieces I put up for sale after choosing to stay at home never sold.

Pro: Don't have to deal with clients that the "boss" brings in and do some really lame campaign that will ultimately kill your portfolio.
Con: Everyone and their dog asks you to do art for them for free or for some ridiculously low amount. They will gladly pay you what amounts to pennies an hour while they still demand $60 or more an hour for their time.

Pro: I get a lot of "wow" when I say I stay at home with my kids and that I also sell my art professionally. I also get a lot of "how do you find the time". Not sure this is really a "Pro" as I'm not sure what people are really thinking.
Con: Staying at home trying to make it as a respectable artist with two kids is very hard to do and there is little or no time in which to do it. It means late nights, sneaking in time here and there, and wishing on a star that I didn't need sleep at all.

Pro: I get a lot of respect from the older generations on my choice to stay home with my kids. They seem to understand the value of raising your own kids and taking on the biggest responsibility there is, the life, and upbringing of another.
Con: There is no respect for the fact that I do in fact have a job outside of raising my kids. At adult social gatherings with peers I am looked down upon for choosing to stay at home with my kids instead of perusing my career.

Pro: I have the opportunity to make way more than most of my traditional go to work art friends who are currently struggling to keep their crap jobs in this really crap economy.
Con: I don't know when my next piece of art will sell, I don't know how much money I will make this week, this month.

Pro: I'm not constantly bombarded with meetings or to do lists from bosses that keep me from getting my work done
Con: There are plenty of distractions and interruptions from neighbors, friends, family that don't seem to get that your trying to get a job done. It's the reality that they just don't seem to understand that YES I DO HAVE A JOB.

Pro: Don't have to deal with a client that loves your work, but then asks you to do something completely not like what you've been doing only to say in the end that they don't like it.
Con: EVERYONE is a critic. I thought dealing with the critiques in art school were bad, at least my peers and teachers knew what they were talking about. Listening to family and friends critique my work is painful even when they are being nice they still don't know what they are talking about.

Pro: I get to raise well adjusted, kind, polite, loving children. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how much everyone adores my two kids. I get a constant stream of complements where ever I go from strangers, family and friends.
Con: I get no credit in the fact that my kids are amazing. Can't recall the last time someone outside of my husband that is, said you are an amazing mom, or your kids take after you, or look like you.

In the end, my day is spent trying to make my kids the best they can be, I do all the house work, all the cooking, but (and that BUT is the size of Hyde Park) I get all the kisses, all the hugs, all the I love you's and all the thank you's. My kids are my constant review of how good a job a do at being a mom.

I am still struggling with the time I so desperately desire to get some art accomplished. It means for a very full schedule everyday. I don't watch TV, I don't read books (unless it's to my kids), I get updates on the world around me through carefully picked sources on Twitter, and socialization is almost non existent because I need to get art done during any free time I have.

So why did I choose to stay home? I wanted to raise my kids, not some stranger, I wanted to produce art I wanted to make that I felt passionate about not what some stream of clients think they want. I wanted to watch my kids grow and not hear about it from day care. I wanted people to choose my art, not force me to create art for them.

Current workspace in San Diego with kids.

1 very supportive husband, 2 kids, 4 blogs, 2 Etsy shops, 1 house, 1 yard, and a super exciting giant project underway. I'm very glad with my choice.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Look What I Found

Amazing how often we look to the past when working on the future. Was going through my inspiration drawer yesterday looking for images that would help inspire my next group of drawings and I found the above magazine clipping. My husband and I have moved around quite a bit, 11 times in 11 years I don't have the luxury of holding on to every magazine, catalog, and other bit of fun inspiration that might pass through my door. So I have found a way of dealing with not getting to keep it all. When I get a magazine or catalog and I fall in love with an image, typography, color scheme, or words, I just simply rip it out and put it in my "inspiration drawer". Then when I am in the need for images I don't just have to rely on Google to come up with something unique, I have my own little compilation of what I love to work with. Obviously I've been doing this for well over 15 years as the above image and article came out just before John Galliano's first collection for Givenchy. I'm still deeply saddened by the fall of someone I've been enjoying and been inspired by for years. I can't image who will replace Galliano, I have hope that someone amazing is sitting in Central Saint Martins right now that will blow us all away all over again. But for now I will move forward with my own ideas and hopefully find my magic and create unique images to inspire others.