Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Red Chairs

A long time ago, I wrote a  funny blog called "House of Broken Chairs", about my shabby chic, but sometimes dangerous chair collection. In fact, several times over the past few months, people have commented on the ricketyness of my chairs.  I shrug, and tell them "it is the best I can afford" and tell them not to rock, and have warned some of my friends (which is anyone who weighs over 150 lbs) against sitting in certain chairs lest the bottoms fall out.   

Recently a good friend of mine told me he had a set of 6 MATCHING chairs from Crate and Barrel for sale.  He sent me a photo, and Larry looked at them and said "THOSE ARE THE UGLIEST CHAIRS I HAVE EVER SEEN".  I told him that I was going to see them---that perhaps they weren't the red/orange/mellon color that came to me over the Internet.

Sure enough, computer/camera/monitor colors were off, and they were indeed what I had hoped for.. a deep rich cherry red, a color which seems to be  taking over my house.   It was love at first sight, and today I picked up four of them.  Are they my "magic wand" chairs? No...but they look pretty damn good, are solid, very comfortable, AND were a price I could afford.  I will have to make or buy some covers to guard against the cats, but liven they sure up the room.   Wallpaper came with the house, but eventually it will be stripped.  We still have not recovered from doing the kitchen, hahaha, but someday I will take it down and then paint the room. Besides, it will take me a year to decide what color to paint it as  I agonize over color, painting swatches of pieces of watercolor paper until I get the right hue.

So my friends, you will not have to fear my dinner invites any longer. All is good in dining land.

Patti O Chair

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

Sometimes I'm up, sometimes I'm down
Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I'm almost to de groun'
Oh, yes, Lord
Nobody knows de trouble I've seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows de trouble I've seen
Glory Hallelujah!
I am glum.  About as glum as Eyeore. 
I always avoid the Eyeore type, and here I am, going Emo on myself.
I started cooked dinner, and decided in the middle of it that I no longer wanted to eat.The last few days have been surreal, some of it in a nightmarish crazy way, others in beautiful magical mystical ways. Both extremes intertwined around one another in a fight for who will win. 
don't point your finger till you know where I've been....
'cause you don't know the trouble I've seen....
I goin' for broke to be Emo Queen....
oh no no NOBODY knows the trouble I've seen....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Other People's Moms

Long difficult day.

A phone call that rocked my world. I can't project what could happen, I have to live moment by moment. It came before I had to leave for a class tonight which made me late and deeply rattled.

Class started, the medication kicked in for the blooming stress migraine, I regained some composure, though I had no desire to share any ideas or stories. It's just that way sometimes.

It was a class on creative journaling, and one of the prompts was "Other People's Moms". I chose to write my brief memory using another prompt, "what are you doing now" during a time with that mom. (preface, she was my best friend's mom, and I talk to her still)

"We are at Ohler's Mountain Lodge in West Hurly.
It is a hot summer vacation day, 1974.

I am wearing a borrowed bikini from Wendy, but it is a bit too big on top, and it covered my breasts and then some, yet showed more of me than anyone else has seen.
If the nuns saw this, they would probably tell me I am going to hell.

Erna keeps her distance, and let's us hang with the other teens. I am shy and want to be popular like the others. I am very awkward, me with the size 2 body in a size 8 suit."

Years later my best friends brother said to me, "you had a great body but I never said anything because you were my sister's best friend".

I grinned, as I had a hard time thinking any part of me was great back in those days. I wince thinking about those times, that I had no sense or appreciation of my self on ANY level. I had such little self worth.

I loved him for saying this...and Wendy's mom for being so kind to me at a time where I craved love.

Art tonight is a portion of the art journaling I stared. I will post more when I a done.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Stuff that Life is made of

I am in the clean and organize mode.  Today we finished putting away all of the Holiday decorating; the garland and lights that wind up the stairs, over the doorways, around the mantle.  Over the years we have become better at this, and I have starting paring down our accumulation of Christmas "stuff".

My goal is to have just the right amount of things to enjoy life. And, the older I get, the less I need.
I have reached the cresendo of "stuff" and am now emptying out.  It's amazing how much we can amass over 35 years, and after seeing the effects of hoarding with my aunts, I am scared straight man. When ever I feel like I want to keep more of the the stuff than I should, I look at the pictures of their house filled with their stuff/garbage, and I quickly shift focus.

 I cannot create amongst chaos, so I have to put the time in to get my life in some kind of order and then my mind is free to make art.

Tonight's art is a photo of an antique sewing table table I bought at the silent auction of my friend's fundraiser. It is collaged with pictures of angels, and paper, and painted deep green.  It is .
I found the vintage candles in one of the old Christmas bins.  The plates they rest upon were a Christmas gift my son in law sent me from a bazaar in Afghanistan and are made of inlaid stone.
The sofa next to it is covered in old draperies I made years ago from fabric gifted to me by a friend when I needed curtains. It keeps the cats from scratching it up too badly, and they are easy enough to wash. Art to the left, photograph by Dan McCormick who also gifted us with this lovely piece of art.
And the pillow, a symbol of sorrow and love, which I made over many sleepless nights when my daughter was in the hospital.  It is an old doily which I hand stitched to black velvet, and sewed tiny mother of pearl buttons onto it with glass beads in the middle. 

These pieces symbolize gifts and connections, laughter, and tears with those that I cherish.  That is the "stuff" that I want my life to be made of.  They are reminders of love, and with that, who needs anything else...


Friday, January 22, 2010

Antique Botanical Prints and Chromolithography

A while back I invested in a huge old falling apart salesman's book that contained many botanical prints.  They are chromolithographs, a fancy word for a color lithograph print. I love this method of printmaking, as the colors are dense and rich.  Because it is so time consuming, few, if any, do them anymore, thus making such prints a collectors item.

You can tell a chromolithograph print apart from any other method of printmaking by looking at the print with a loop or magnifying glass (some of you might be able to use your naked eye, lol). The surface of the print consists of a series of dots of color, many laid on top of one another. During the industrial revolution, many of the advertising cards, trade cards, postcards, die cuts, and prints were made with this method. Now it has nearly disappeared.

This book belonged to a salesman who marked the prices of the plants on the pages in pencil. Written on the front of this leather bound book was the type DO NOT MAKE MARKS IN THIS BOOK. Guess the salesman did not care. The printing and company were out of Rochester NY from 1892.

I have sold many of the prints to keep my heat and studio bills paid, and will be doing so for a while. They are rare, and quite lovely matted and framed, whether one or in pairs/groups.  I have prints of grapes, apples, currants, pears, blackberries, raspberries, quince, cherries,  flowering shrubs, and trees.

Here are a few of the florals I have left. They can be found on eBay and on Etsy under my seller name Catskillpaper.   Looking for something? Email me.  I can send you scans. And, they are priced at bargin prices.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Totally Extemporaneous

Lately no time for art.  Work, then appointments of all kinds.  Physical, eye doc, therapist, naturopath,   PT and dentist. And that doesn't even account for the tests that I can't keep up with.  Bone scans, mammos, blood work, pap smears, blah blah blah.  My doctor yells at me because I haven't gotten my yearly blood test (did I mention I hate needles?) and hangs the phrase "non-compliant" over my head. 

Sometimes I wonder if it all is necessary. 

Eventually, out of guilt, I will slink off off to the lab and make it very clear that they get one chance, and one chance only, to get my blood.  I have tiny veins.

Tonights piece was fast, spontaneous -  think of it as  a sketch in photography and digital art.Three of my paintings arranged with leftover Christmas decor, along with my yard sale chalkware Jesus pasted into the foreground.  I probably seem a touch irreverent as I have titled it Jesus on the Hudson.  But what else would you expect from me?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Product Reviews: Sanita and Smooth Away

Yesterday was my first day out and about in a very long time.  I felt well enough to bounce around a few counties, and even in the right head for shopping, which is a rarity for me.

I don't know when I lost the taste for shopping, but I suspect it was around the same time I lost taste for preparing elaborate meals every evening.  Or preparing any meals for that matter.  My shopping patience wore out somewhere in the middle of aisle 14, with two kids singing "daylight come and we wanna go home" and my son wearing a bra upon his head.   Once I even left an entire shopping cart in the middle of the store before I hauled their ornery little asses home, and stuffed them in a bedroom far away from me, with visions of Hansel and Gretal dancing in my head.

I had not planned to shop, it was my girlfriend's sneaky trick. Oh, let's stop in THIS store  -the Ameribag store, with shoes that I fell in love with.  A half an hour later, and 60.00 lighter (oh but a great sale at 60% off) I walked out with a pair of "hip" orthopedic shoes made in Denmark, that feel like I am walking on air.

Then it was Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I saw wine charms on sale, and bought a set for myself and one for my sister in law.  I was a bit disappointed in some of them as the glass on three out of six of the set were so similar in color value, that after a few glasses of wine, I would never remember if I had a pink, flesh, or mauve colored glass charm.  Of course, after a few glasses, who the hell cares anyway.

And then there was the Creme De la of those "As Seen on TV" products...SMOOTH AWAY, removes hair instantly and pain-free.  Marie stops and says - HEY, this thing WORKS! I say "Marie---I need something to work on the excess testosterone that pops out via my chin hairs."IT DOES she replied.  One thing that I have warned my husband and children is that if I am bedridden,  whether or not I am out of it, DO NOT, and I repeat (Larry, are you reading this?) LET ME GROW A BEARD LIKE OLD LADY WOODSTOCK IN TOWN.  I WILL come back and haunt you ALL. 

At 30% off I figured, what the heck, and you KNOW that as soon as I walked in the door I put the thing together and tried it out.  After use, I felt like I had hit my chin with a belt sander.  Ah yes, it does say in the fine print "gently exfoliates while removing hair".  But  it worked, and my chin was as smooth as a baby's ass.....albeit a little red....

I am not so sure I will try it out on the uh, bikini line, even though it shows a photo of a bikini bottom on the front of the box.  Somehow I think she HAS to wear a bikini bottom, because if she used that on her coochie, I suspect she HAS to hide the damage done to it. 

I won't get into the Pier 1 visit, where I found the perfect red couch.  Let's just say, I did enough damage for one day.

Patti O Buyer

PS you have to watch the Smooth Away

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It is all trivial

I could not get in the mood to write this week.

Between the earthquake in Haiti and the untimely death of a ex-student's father, I felt that anything that I wrote would be trivial compared to the pain and suffering of so many.

Though we feel assaulted and pained by the images we see on the news, we will never know how horrible conditions are in Haiti.   We aren't bearing witness to the sounds of suffering, the stench of the dead and dying, the despair of those who have no water, food, or medical help. And THEN to hear the comments made by those such as Rush Limbaugh and others....who have gone over the top to show the  world what stupid, ignorant,  disrespectful, and morally irresponsible human beings they are.   
I hope they don't call themselves Christians.  Yes -  I am angry.

I  searched for an organization that would accept a donation through Paypal.  Many that I had links to only took credit cards, which is a no-go for me these days. I found  the  Avaaz Foundation.  I made the first of my donations, and will be listing some lovely antique botanical prints  on eBay - and 20% of what I make will go to Doctor's Without Borders.  I can't do much more as Paypal and eBay take their fees, and I need to make some money to keep the studio bills paid, but every bit that we can do is a part of giving to our brothers and sisters in need. 

The funeral was for the father of a student that I am very close with.  She is one of the success stories and a teacher's dream and is in her first year at St. Rose College.  She emailed me the morning after he passed away,  and asked if I would come to the wake and funeral with a few other staff from the school.

I was her age when I lost my father.  I was in my first year of college.  The pain of those times still smarts if I think about it too much, which I have a tendency to do when I go to funerals.  Overthink things, dwell on morbid memories, project things.  Then I remember the law of attraction, and I promptly stop..

Back to the funeral... the priest gave a wonderful sermon  about how material goods and people are gifts from God...and we should enjoy them and be grateful for the time that we have those wonderful gifts.  It was a soothing thought, and it brings one right back to the necessity of living in the present and enjoying the gifts that we have.  Problem is, that concept  is something learned with life experience I fear, and some of us never quite get it before it is time for us to depart the human body.  I am trying like hell to "get it" and "practice it", whatever "it" is, but I suspect it has a lot to do with love, compassion, respect, concepts you do NOT know about Mr. Limbaugh.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Jump on Valentine's Day

My motto for my cards is "Give your love a card he/she won't forget OR throw away."

Each card is one of a kind, made with antique Victorian paper (no copies-the real thing), and they are made with love, lust, humor, and visits from the muse.

I have been designing cards for some 15 years now, and mainly sell privately.  In the past they could be found locally in card or gift shops -  however, with boutiques going in and out of business these days, I  am only selling on Etsy, or, if you know me, you get to see what is in my recent stash of cards I have made.  

You have NO IDEA how much fun I have making these cards.  I don't have much time after work to paint, but I can get into the studio for an hour or so, and come up with new cards WHILE cleaning out my stash of antique and vintage papers.  Each time I go through a pile it is like treasure hunting; I never know what will come out of it.   A card, an idea, a blog, inspiration for a painting.

The cards I am showing tonight can be found in Etsy, the link being listed below in my blog.
They are truly small treasures, and a fabulous buy at that.

Here's to LOVE.


Sunday, January 10, 2010



I  stole the idea of having a Feng Shui sale from gallery owner Christina Varga.

I  fully intended to bring several pieces to her  January Feng Shui sale where artists were invited to bring art to sell at prices to move it on out.  

I ended up getting sick, unable to pull together and price the pieces, so as a result, I decided to do a sale in my Etsy store.

The prices are cheap. Some are even horrendously cheap.  But I am ready to let them go, which is sometimes difficult for me to do.  I get very attached to my work, but now that I am doing more, I cannot hang nor store everything, so I am starting to move out the art that I feel I can let go.

Now there are those that say an artist should never do this. It would be better to give or throw the art away than to offer it below its retail value.

But THEY, whoever they are, are not paying my studio gas bill, or the fees for the organizations and shows that I enter, nor framing bodies of work that have no guarantee of sale.  And, I have never been one to follow the rules in the first place.

So friends, need art to grace a spot in your home with nothing on the wall? Need a Valentine gift for a loved one/friend? Stop on by my shop P.A. Gibbons at Etsy.  And soon, once I get back into the studio, I will be listing some lovely Valentine cards!!



Thursday, January 07, 2010

Why Women Live Longer

I have been sick the last few days, and have been home trying to heal myself.

Normally I only take sick days when I am deathly ill, but as of late I ask myself, why wait until I am half dead to take a sick day, when I should be resting and healing as soon as I get ill?

The past few days I have had a headache and a rumble in my chest which is a precursor to the usual bout of bronchitis that I seem to get when I feel like this. Instead of working myself till I have full fledged bronchitis, I decided to stay home and drink my ginger tea potions and rest so that I can AVOID getting it this winter.

Larry seems to be getting what I have, and came home with a horrible headache. I made a very humble dinner, and he sat at the table holding his head, moaning.I had already given him some medicine to make him feel better, but it obviously wasn't enough.

He was up all and down all night, tossing and turning, keeping me up, which I wouldn't mind save for that he didn't take any more headache medicines which I had suggested. When I get such headaches, I find the nearest pain reliever and take three and head back to bed. Would he do that????? As a result, I got up at 5 AM because I could no longer sleep.

I know that women live longer than men in cold water because they tend to have more body fat to insulate them (yay to the mid life bulge!)I think they also live longer because they know how to take care of themselves (for the most part) and take what is needed to make them feel better and heal.

What if every time we got sick we did nothing to help ourselves, and laid in bed moaning, while the babies cried, the children ran around like hooligans?

We can't.

We do what we can to feel better and drag our sorry asses around, cook and clean, feed the masses, and collapse at the end of the day into a sleep so sound that there IS no tossing and turning.

I remember being in Ireland, with No. 1.5, and he got some kind of bug. He was so miserable to be with, that me, Miss Travelphobia, hiked alone for a day, into some unknown region of the countryside, through fields of fuchsia and unfettered cows, onto a main highway, which thankfully led back into the village. I returned by sunset only to find him still moaning in the same position.

Men - you can't live with them sick, and you sure want to be like Margaret (Episode 4 of the Tudors) when she kills her newlywed husband - the sickly old King of Portugal, by snuffing his lights out with a pillow.

I am heading back to bed. Larry has gone to work, and I hope that the next batch of women he is with can deal with him better than I can.

PS photo is a card I made from a vintage comic postcard.
Sort of fitting for this blog....

Monday, January 04, 2010

Free Art Opportunity

My friend and fellow artist, Jonathan Talbot, along with some of his friends, has designed a website called which puts artists on a map all over the world.

You can connect with other artists through it, or, if someone is visiting a locale with her husband, and she doesn't want to play golf but would rather look for studios that sell ceramics in that area, she can find local artists who do that. Or for painters, graphic artists, craftspeople. It is an ingenious way to find and connect with other artists.

For now, he is offering the first year free with the following code: FYFJAN. After that, it will be for a very reasonable cost that you are listed on the map. (and believe me, it will be affordable for even us part time struggling artists). I think it is a great opportunity, and what do you have to lose, save for a few moments of your time to create the listing.

As artists we need to do all the networking we can, and this is a great way to start 2010.

You can find me on the map in Kingston, NY, under painting, collage, and mixed media art.

Feel free to pass this onto other artists so that they too can take advantage of this free opportunity.


Sunday, January 03, 2010


That is the word of the year after responses to my last blog.


Clutter, paperwork, businesses, cooking, entertaining, my art.

As a result, I have been cleaning up piles, throwing things out, giving things away, selling things - which in turn will help make my life both emotionally and visually calm and more focused.

One of the books that I read this past summer was Rightsizing Your Life which was an excellent and interesting read, and it gives ways to help de-clutter one's home. I think I have the book Voluntary Simplicity buried somewhere in my house, and as the piles disappear (several already have) it will be discovered, at the exact moment I will be ready for it. (I believe that everything happens in its own time)

Part of this need for simplicity and change has been greatly influenced by my dealing with my aunt and her sister's estate, the fallout from their OCD/hoarding disorder, which is having a major impact on being able to clean it and sell the house. It is so bad that the estate could be lost...and I am one of the benefactors. That is for another story.

Off to clean a bit more.

Today's photo is ultimate simplicity. They know how to live.
I need to take note.

Patti O Cleaner

Friday, January 01, 2010


The past several days have been incredibly busy. So busy that I have not stepped into the studio in weeks. I am getting withdrawal, and wishing I had a vacation from the vacation.

I don't want to use this as a forum for whining, and I try to be positive, but I have had to face some realities, and must learn how to deal with them. This year I have decided that "realizations" are more beneficial than "resolutions" as they mean I am thinking and reflecting, and desiring change. Or perhaps the reality is they are one in the same...

Some things I have reflected on about myself and need to resolve are the following:
1) I don't like entertaining. I love to hang with people, (sometimes) but hate the prep that it takes to make it happen. If I had a magic wand and could have someone clean and cook and then clean up the mess, it would take a lot of the pressure off me and I might actually enjoy it.

2) I no longer like to cook. Somewhere along the line I ran out of juice. I am a good cook who lost her creativity except when it comes to soup. I'd rather be in the studio.

3) I am a messy person. It cost me a relationship (OK one of the reasons) and it makes doing #1 much more difficult. I don't like coming home to a mess as my job is a conglomeration of messes that I deal with all day, and I wish I could just come home to some order.

4) I don't like to clean. So combine with #3, no wonder it makes #1 so difficult.

5) I have problems focusing on my goals, ESPECIALLY when it comes to my art. I am trying to get rid of the detritus that keeps me unfocused....

6) I am frustrated that I can't keep up with the maintenance on my house. There is so much to do.

7) I need to get a grip on my health a natural way. I don't want to be a slave to medications, which only put stress on ones liver and kidneys, (and more) creating another whole set of problems.

7)If I had a better cash flow, then I could probably hire people to do #1, organize so that #3 would not be an issue, ease up #4, and help out on 6 AND 7.

I have to prioritize. I suspect I have to focus on #7, as if I don't have my health, I can't do #1-6 anyway.

It's a huge undertaking to solve all of the above, but I am convinced that I can do it.
I am selling lots of my collectibles and such on Etsy and Ebay. I no longer have the desire to collect unless it has a direct influence on what I am doing at the time.

I am not making any resolutions, save for doing my best to start solving some of these issues. Admitting that I need to make change is a step in the right direction, and action is necessary in order to make them happen.

Oh and there are the spiritual/meditational/excercise issues.

Can we have a 48 hour day?

To the New Year,

Photo: Holiday Greeting Card I designed. Appropriate for this blog "It's all a balance".