Saturday, June 30, 2012


This week in my Color Love class, we have been working with dye-based sprays. They are kicking my butt. For one thing, I only bought three colors, two of which I like, but that dark purple is just way too dark. I tried making some sprays of my own, but they were way too light, and hardly showed up at all. Then there are certain "control issues" as well. One minute the spray won't come out at all, the next minute it totally floods the page. Thanks to my wonderful classmates, I was led to some helpful videos made by Dylusions Dyan, better known as DylanFinally I got a two-sided sheet I was satisfied with, which we then cut in two and folded up accordion-style. They will eventually become little mini-book journals of sorts.
Visiting Dylan's website got me to thinkin'. Say what you will about blogs but, you must admit, they have opened the door to some amazing careers for many a young, creative woman: women like Christy Tomlinson, my first online art instructor, whom you may have spotted this week competing on the debut episode of Craft Wars, a new show on TLC; or maybe Amanda Soule, who now has several books and a magazine under her belt, which have all done very well, thanks to her blog Soule Mama; or even my friend Pamela Price over in San Antonio, who first came to everyone's attention by promoting the return of victory gardens on her blog Red, White & Grew, but who now has a book deal thanks to all the blogging she has done about homeschooling a gifted child. Here's what a few of the successful entrepreneurs I have read about in Artful Blogging have to say on the subject:

"I assumed that my blog was a place to promote my business. I was completely wrong. A blog is a place to build relationships and trust...Over time, your readers will get to know you, and then trust you. The trick is to be yourself -- be open, be honest, and allow yourself to be vulnerable in the eyes of the readers." ~ Heather Anderson, who blogs at

"I started blogging at the same time I decided to become a full-time artist. Putting myself out there at this vulnerable stage in my life was terrifying, but also allowed me to connect with so many other people who were trying to do just the same. I was no longer isolated in my quest to become an artist in my small northern mining town -- I now had people." ~ Danielle Daniel, who blogs at

"It seemed strange at first to mix business and personal life in blogging, but it really makes sense for me. I hand paint all of my illustrations because I prefer them to be quirky and homespun, rather than perfect and slick. And in that same spirit my business has grown -- not by traditional means but in a grassroots way, largely through relationships established in the blogosphere." ~ Rebekka Seale, who blogs at

This all got me to thinkin' about my friend Teri, who is an amazing quilter and a very gifted teacher. In fact, she's the one who taught all of us expat women, as well as many local women, to quilt when we lived in Indonesia. She pretty much wore out her sewing machine over there, so when she got back to the States she bought one of those fancy computerized machines that you have to attend a special school to learn how to use. By the time she had completed her classes, they had snatched her up and made her a teacher. Next thing we knew, she was training all the other teachers and salespeople in  her district. I'm pretty sure that, were it not for the fact that she is a very private person who refuses to utilize facebook and has no desire for a blog, she too would be taking the quilting world by storm by now -- with more deals and speaking engagements than she could handle!

Me, well, I've got the blog and facebook account, but only because someone else set them up for me and fixes all my problems. I'm such a technophobe that I will never get past the beginner stage when it comes to "social networking." Plus, there is no one thing I am passionate about, an authority on, or dying to accomplish. Instead, I'm the type who dabbles in a wee bit of everything, and my blog reflects that by not having one particular target audience. No, I will not be going after any book deals or teaching engagements. Why? Because I've finally got the one thing I never had before, but always lusted after...
time for all that dabbling!

Message brought to you from
 The Wee Little Studio

Friday, June 29, 2012


Remember all those cuttings from my succulents that I wintered-over inside?  Most of them went back into my flower beds this spring, but a few of the tiny leftovers got stuck into these two urns.
It was sort of an experiment, since nothing else I had planted in them ever did very well. When they had managed to hang in there for a while, and they deer didn't seem too interested in them, I decided to splurge on two larger-sized specimens of this one that some call "cow's tongue."
A few weeks later I stumbled across this one called "Donkey Ears", and what with my mad love for my two new neighbors, well, how was I to pass it up?
Now that the urns are starting to fill in, they are just about my favorite things in the whole garden. They have a bit of that Hill-Country-Funk about them, what with the contrast between the classic urns and the other-worldly plants, and while everything else in the yard is taking on a seriously summer-sun-scorched look, these guys just look better and better all the time.
Of course, we've gone a month without rain now, and those deer are getting mighty thirsty. So, though I would be very, very sad, I wouldn't be all that surprised, to come out one day and find everything chewed down to the nubs. Keep your fingers crossed that I don't, for if the cow tongues do make it through the summer, you will be simply amazed at their size and color, once the weather cools back down!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


It takes a lotta guts to start your own interior design business when the whole nation is in its worst slump since the great depression, but that's what my daughter did, and it's finally starting to pay off. Needless to say, she kept her expenses to the bare minimum in the process, living in what the Brits would call a "bed-sit", meaning everything was in one room. When her landlord notified her of a rent hike, however, she decided it was time to find a place with a little more space -- one where she could have a proper office so that, when she hires a college intern to help out, the poor kid won't have to sit on the bed to work! She just moved in this past weekend, and we went to check it out yesterday.
Celebrating the move at a nearby Chuy's
Of course, she had to move out of her beloved central Austin to find one she could afford, but I think she's ok with that now, considering the tradeoffs -- such as...
a dining nook with room for her desk and some proper filing cabinets...
a kitchen with a real pantry (one with a nice window in it!)...
a spacious, separate bedroom...
a walk-in closet with room for a piece of furniture in it...
a balcony looking out on a lovely neighborhood with big, beautiful trees, instead of dumpsters...
and even a fireplace! Plus she's now much closer to her boyfriend and the majority of her clients, AND she no longer lives above a girl with a very abusive boyfriend -- a very big plus in my book. Best of all, she's getting all this for only about ten dollars more than what they were going to raise the rent to at her old, kinda crummy complex.

Of course, she does live up on the third floor, but that's ok. She had others to help her move this time, so Mom and Dad weren't the ones hauling that huge file cabinet with the cement-weighted bottom up all those stairs. Happy, happy, happy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I really debated over whether to share this or not, but in the end, opted for painful honesty.  You see, I have a problem with my blog. Not long after I got active on facebook, I started putting links to all my blog posts there, which really made my numbers jump, and they've been climbing slowly but steadily ever since. Until a few weeks ago, that is, when they took an unexpected plunge.  Not long after, my friend Paula emailed me to ask why I hadn't written any blog posts lately. I told her I was still writing every day, and there must be something wrong with her iphone. But then another asked, and another. Finally it was clear that my post links had just stopped appearing on facebook. Aha! That could explain the dip in numbers, which made me feel much better. Good ol' facebook, broken again! I thought surely things would be back to normal in a day or two, but no, apparently not.

So, when my son the computer-geek was here recently, I consulted him. He said "Well, it's possible that, if not enough people were interacting with your posts, leaving comments and 'liking' them and such, facebook might have arbitrarily labeled you as a spammer and made your links disappear, without bothering to tell you about it, so you wouldn't just go out and start spamming everyone again under a new blog name." Wow. That hurt. Talk about knocking the wind out of a girl's sails, turning her whole universe upside down. Yes, I am fully aware of how pathetic that reaction sounds, but we opted for painful honesty today, remember?

I'm still not even certain that's what happened, but the mere possibility that it could've had me questioning everything -- the value of my blog, my capabilities as a writer, the connections I thought I had made in the blogosphere, my worth as a human being...ok, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch, but still. The big question was, had my blog run it's course? I'm coming up on my five-year blogiversary, and that's a pretty long life in blog years. Do I have anything left to say? What will I do with my time if I quit blogging -- if I no longer have any reason to spend every waking moment thinking up ideas for new posts, and coming up with photos to go with them? Who will I be if I'm not a blogger or a writer? How depressed would I get if I pulled the plug?

*  *  * 

Well, judging from the fact that 24 hours later, I was still sitting in my nest stewing, I'd say the answer is "Pretty dang depressed!" I suppose, then, what I really need to decide is, who am I doing this for -- the audience, or me? Do I really need constant feedback from others on my writing and artistic dabblings in order for them to be worth the effort, or can I do this simply for the pleasure it gives me? Good question. It does smack a bit of desperation, doesn't it -- our constant need for validation? Do I really want to let that define who I am and what I do? I don't think so!

In which case, there's only one thing I can do -- put on my big girl panties and deal with it! I can either keep writing and making art for the sheer joy it gives me, regardless of what anyone else has to say, or not say, about it -- or if anyone even sees it, for that matter. Or, I can end up like so many other women I have known, sitting in a chair reading about other people's lives, instead of actually living my own.

"You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can't put things off thinking you'll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I'm very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it." ~ Nora Ephron

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


"Combined with learning the art of photography, blogging has helped me delve deeper into my creative self and find beauty, inspiration, and imagination in new places. Dublin -- the city I live in -- has revealed itself to be a vibrant, rewarding space. Where once my inner country-girl despaired at living so far from the countryside where she grew up, now she revels in discovering new facets of the urban landscape and sharing them on City of Blackbirds." ~ from Blogging For The Soul by Eadaoin Conneally,  in Artful Blogging, Summer 2012

I've just about finished my three little wooden blocks -- the ones that will be going up on the wall in my "inspiration corner", next to these two pieces:
The first block, pictured above, is about loving where you are, even if it's not the place of your dreams. Yes, I know. I do actually live in the place I always dreamt of, and that is the view from my porch pictured on that block. But, it took me more than fifty years, and about twenty other homes, before I finally made it here. Know what? I had a great time in every single one of those homes! So what's the trick to learning to love a place you don't really want to be?

  • Be an explorer -- make an adventure out of it
  • Be a detective -- learn everything you can about it
  • Learn to appreciate what's good about it, do what you can to improve what isn't
  • Sketch it, photograph it, write about it, blog about it
  • Leave your mark on it
  • Find a way to connect to others
  • Be there, wherever it may be, instead of wasting all that time wishing you were somewhere else
  • Bloom where you are planted

Monday, June 25, 2012


Undersea and Night Sky
We had a rather interesting art assignment to work on over the weekend. Apparently, with people like me, who are new to making art, it is fairly common to become "color-blocked"-- spending way too much time obsessing over which colors will go best together, and way too little actually painting or drawing -- when the truth of the matter is, all colors work well together. Just look around you in nature!
Landscape and Floral
So, to help us get past that stage, our instructor had us do several little 4x5 sketches, giving us set topics. Then, we had to complete each one using only six watercolor pencils, which were chosen in a lottery of sorts. You'd be amazed at how liberating that is, not to have to waste any time at all on color selection! I began with the "night sky" assignment, then worked my way through "undersea", "floral", and finally "landscape." On the way, it turned out, I learned about a lot more than mere color selection.

You see, though I've had a fantastic time with each of my three online art classes, one thing kept niggling at me. I'm an art-class chameleon! I went from making art Christy-style...
to Junelle-style...
to Joanne-style...
and was beginning to wonder if I would ever settle on my own particular style -- something that would set me apart from the rest. My hubby, who's mother was an artist, didn't seem too worried. When I signed up for my very first class he told me that I would probably pick up a little something from each teacher I worked with, but that eventually I'd just start "doing my own thing." This weekend, I finally felt it -- I knew what he was talking about. I struggled with that first night-sky landscape, doing what I thought I should do, but with each successive one, I got a little bit closer to doing what I wanted to do. For that final, day-time landscape, I was just about to sketch in a scene very similar to the first one, when I flashed on those little scraps of paper I had tucked into my new inspiration board...
and decided to do something altogether different!

So, no, I am not suddenly a "real artist" with a trademark style, but at least I have learned this much about myself: I hate, and really suck at, trying to draw things exactly as they are. But I love, love, love color and whimsey!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


I was so honored, and more than a bit curious, when our friend Rick (Fiber Woman's hubby) told me he'd been writing down some stories about his life, and asked me to be his "first reader." He said "these stories'll kinda make you see what made me, me." Well, if you know Ricky Charles, and what a wonderfully unique and creative person he is, then you'll understand why I couldn't wait to dive in. Some people are handed the world on a silver platter, and still manage to waste their lives feeling sorry for themselves. Others, like Ricky Charles Dodson, get handed a pile of poop -- and use it to create an amazing garden. Read these stories, and find out what made this guy one-of-a-kind -- a true, Hill Country Character!