Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Glimpse Into Retirement

At 53 I can taste retirement. But because of the Health Insurance issue, (notice I have given the issue  caps due to its importance as an American business institution) and the fact that I still have a mortgage to pay off, I am girding myself for a few more years of teaching.  

But on  winter vacations, which I use to recover from the busy life that I lead from September through December,  I get glimpses into how I am going to design my retirement. I know the best laid plans can often go astray, but I also believe in visualizing and making what dreams I can, come true.

My winter retirement life would look something like this:

I wake up when the sun is slowly rising, and  spend some time on the heating pad (I am trying to get the back better, but it is in a holding pattern) while I read the novel of the day/week/month.  I put on my yoga/sweat clothes, I do my 5 Tibetan exercises on my wool rug in front of the fireplace, while the sun shines on me through my small side window in the living room.  I make my pot of tea, and clean up the remains of dinner from the night before, and clean the cat box.  Oh, wait.  By the time I retire the cats will all be dead.  Scratch off doing the cat box.

I  catch up on my correspondence while sipping on the herbal tea-of-the-day from The Tea Shop in Woodstock, (today's tea is "Paris") write my blog, followed by making my to-do list which includes time in the studio. 

When the tea  is done,  off to a spa style shower followed by a scented lotion rub down. After working in the house and in the studio, I saunter back into the house to cook, where a pot of soup, veggie stew, or other casseroles scent the house as the sun sets and the cold night air sets in. 

After dinner, a fire and a book, or  blankets and a movie.

The weather channel or CNN fishish off the last few moments before the lights go out......and.....

But wait, Larry ruins my day dream by reminding me that Alan Greenspan says we are going to "work till we drop".  And I keep remembering my mantra--that as long as I love what I am doing, it isn't work.

Thumb to the nose on that one Mr. Greenspan.

Patti O Lounger

Monday, December 20, 2010

To Tide you Over

I am trying to be Zen this year during the holidays.

Being Zen means pacing myself, making sure that I am enjoying whatever I am doing, getting enough sleep, and not imbibing in too much of anything at the myriad of parties I have been invited to. The most dangerous parties are the ones I the bed is at the top of the stairs, and I don't have to drive. 

I am drinking ginger tea every time I feel an illness coming on and drinking lots of water.  I dress appropriately for the weather, and take time to exercise and spend quiet/meditation time in the morning and evening. 

And my mantra is "it all is what it is".

And until my next blog is carefully edited and ready to go, I am giving you this: the history behind the phrase "to tide you over", and an article  "10 Occasions for Sending a Greeting Card".Personally, though I do enjoy virtual cards, there is nothing like a paper greeting card to put upon the mantle.  And it's even better if it is a handmade greeting card, or a card printed/made by your local artisan.  Shameless plug for me, the card artist, but I also purchase greeting cards when I fall in love with an artist, a company, an idea or a store. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM the Catskill Cat!!!

Patti O Kittie!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vintage Winter Memories

Now that my shows are  over, I am concentrating on selling some of my holiday vintage and antique papers online. I only have another five days or so that I can send in time for the holidays, so I am on a listing frenzy for the next few days.  After that, I sale it out, and if it does not sell, it gets put away for another year, or else it goes into the pile that gets cut up.

These prints are in my catskillpaper Etsy shop; they invoke a time in a my childhood that was magic.  Somehow all was made better with the advent of Christmas, and these images remind me of a time when I really believed that magic happened.  I still remember the smell of our artificial tree as I entered the room, and the vintage  pixies that hung from the table top tree,  the real tree my grandmother had in Queens, coolly lit by huge blue bulbs.  Snippets of Nat King Cole wind through my head, along with Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and It's A Wonderful Life.Twinkling stars became the stars over Jerusalem, and maybe Rudolph's nose.  I smile when I remember new boxes of crayons, color pencils, and Venus of Paradise color by numbers, Etch-A-Sketch, Spirograph, Block City, Tinker Toys, and all those wonderful gifts under the tree.

I still believe in magic.  It has just matured. Now magic lives in a kiss, in the beauty of the first snow fall, a gathering with family and friends.  I think it is magic that I get up in the morning, and squeeze every moment from the day.

So in spite of a rainy day here in the Hudson Valley, at a time we wish for snow, I leave you with some warm winter images and I hope you all have some kind of magic in your life!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Getting Ready for Christmas

A few weekends ago I picked up several lots of Victorian holiday cards, many of which I  used in my greeting cards. There were many however, that are too beautiful or collectible to cut up. Those I will eventually list on eBay or Etsy; some I will keep for my collection.

Many of the cards (and some booklets) were printed by Raphael Tuck (England) who were printers of postcards, greeting cards, children's books, chromolithograph prints, etc., and were one of the first companies to offer contests for greeting card design.   They are one of my favorite companies, along with the fine quality postcards that Stengel printed.  With the advent of the industrial revolution and the growth of industry all around, postcard/card/scrap collecting became the rage, where women and children collected these images and pasted them into ledgers, scrapbooks, and was the start of scrapbooking in this country.

The quality of chromolithograph printing is like nothing else you will find today.  Few if any print via that method, and it may be a lost art.  The oil inks are rich, and have not faded over 100+ years.  The biggest issue with these prints is that the oil inks sometimes stick to paper pages, leaving the paper remains on the ink when you separate them.  However, a damp sponge will usually remove the paper remains from the front with some gentle rubbing, and a little finger nail scraping.  If the inks have been lifted from the card surface however, you can sometimes rub in a bit of pastel pencil, or dab with paint to fill in.  Those are the cards I usually cut up and use in my work, unless they are something that I want to keep/or scan.

Off to do some research on some photos I have of what I believe to be of Pre WWI Berlin.  We were talking at a party about how you can find anything you want to know about on the Internet..and I begged to differ.  Frank said that is because I work with and research the obscure, and I had to agree.  Half the fun is the discovery, and I always learn something new, even when I hit a brick wall in my research.

Off to continue listing vintage retro Christmas Seals/Stickers on Etsy.  They are a blast from my past. 
Then off to watch a movie. If I start early enough maybe I won't fall asleep....oh and the card for today's blog can be found on ETSY

Patti O Paper

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Which Path to Take....

I can relax now.  The craft fair is over, I managed to have work in three galleries for the month of December.  I just found out that I sold a small watercolor at an October fundraiser, though I have not been paid yet.

Lately I have been pondering my future.  I have been teaching for 19 years, and am fantasising about when I can retire and reinvent myself. I sense that this reinvention will be a synthesis of art/writing/teaching, and I have been told over and over that I need to start pulling my work together in  a series.My ADD head steers me in many directions,  and I fear that the only way I can do this is by making many series of works.
My themes are varied, and include  landscapes in oil and encaustic, and narrative mixed media works.  But wait, I've got fantasy, social, historical and auto-biographical narrative themes. Which theme do I explore, which medium? What am I best at? What does the public gravitate toward? Do I care what the public likes? What do I love to do most? By taking more than one path am I sacrificing quality?  Did Picasso ponder this, or did he just follow his heart and make what he wanted?

While writing this,  I become overwhelmed and meditate for 15 minutes, which is a practice I have been indulging in when I feel stressed. It helps, though I sometimes wonder if the state I feel myself get into is called "nodding out".

I received an email from a friend, which whispers... "challenge"  in my head  -the guidelines and application form for a NYFA (NY Federation of the Arts)  program which helps artists set goals/plan/market their art.  Only 25 lucky winners will get to do this series of workshops.

I don't do well with odds like that.  I lost out on quite a few shows that had odds like that. Yet is whispers DARE TO DO IT...and the form sits in front of my by my computer.  Teasing. Taunting. Beckoning.  I only have the time to do it at stake here....

This could be IT. The motivation, the impetus, the magic.

I wonder what my notes from the Universe will tell me tomorrow. I wonder if there is an answer in the fortune cooking on the kitchen counter. I wonder if I will have a sign through a dream, or even better yet, a meditation.

I wonder...which path to take.