Sunday, December 10, 2017

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!

It took me two years and a couple of journals, but I did it! I DID IT!!! What did I do? Look for the red rectangle, and I'll tell you in the caption!



Five THOUSAND designs on Spoonflower, Baby!


But no: getting 5,000 designs uploaded isn't why I haven't been blogging since the middle of November... There have been some changes. Lots of changes; good ones! And necessary ones... but I'll get to all that in another blog. It's not late, but Netflix and my bed are screaming my name, and I shall obey. Later!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

I Have a Confession to Make... Again.

Hi everybody,

On a cold, windy Friday night, I decided to waste some time under my headphones listening to 80's music on YouTube. I was scrolling through my formative years with the usual nostalgia, when I came across Peter Schilling's Major Tom.

The song that inspired my first major
crash and burn into adulthood.

The English version of this German chart-topper was released in the U.S. in September of 1983: the fall semester of my senior year in high school. I was 17, and had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what I was going to do after graduation. None of us did, but we spent an awful lot of time lying to each other and ourselves, and especially our parents, about how we had it all figured out. Uh huh...

I originally planned to go straight to college. I'd been talking about it since my sister left for UW-Madison in 1977. But as fall tripped into winter, it was pretty obvious that I was completely clueless about my future. Not all dreamers start out that way; if I had any delusions of grandeur, they were hiding out somewhere in the basement.

It was January 1984, and I'd just turned 18. I didn't have a party. I was in trouble; I wasn't pregnant like some of my friends,... okay, quite a few of my friends, although that would have at least been something to prepare for. I was scared. I was living in a household that was in no condition or position to send another kid off into the 🎝🎜wild blue yonder🎜🎝 - a bit of foreshadowing here - in any form or fashion. My grandmother was retiring from her nursing job at the hospital, and my mother was in a depression so severe she was dressing like a bag-lady. My sister was the mother of a 15 month-old, fully invested in an unbelievably wretched 19 month-new marriage, and my brother was an angry 14 year-old thug, hell-bent on making the entire world feel his wrath. We were not a happy family. My coming-of-age was not met with optimism.

As I was making yet another desperate attempt to fill out college applications: Lawrence University, Northern Illinois University, some others far afield and way way WAY out of our price range, all I could hear was my mother and grandmother moaning and groaning behind me...

"I don't know what you call yourself doin'; we ain't got no money for you to go to school."

"You apply for some scholarships at them high-powered schools?"

"We ain't got no money for college so don't ask for none!"

"How you gonna get there? Better save up that babysitting money for some bus tickets."

Really supportive parental units, weren't they? Now don't think too badly of them or me: water under the bridge, folks. We rarely speak of those days anymore. I actually laugh about them now and remember them with relief, grateful I never have to repeat them. But back then, I was freaking out. And I was angry. After the thousandth time my grandmother sneered at me about not having any money and me not having any business thinking about college in spite of my good grades and musical ability - I became a professional violinist when I was twelve - I finally cracked. I flung the college applications across the living room, got up off the floor, stormed down the hall to the bedroom I shared with my mother, rummaged through my backpack, and found the business card for someone who had visited my high school back in September; Sgt. Insert-Name-Here, a recruiter for... wait for it... the United States Air Force.


Their logo got a lot cooler over the last 30 years.

When I had met with Sgt. So-n-So - all this happened 33 years ago: I couldn't remember the man's name even if you held a gun to my head - he told me that I would never be a pilot in the Air Force because I wore glasses. I went to the bathroom and cried: I so desperately wanted to do something incredible with my life, and nobody was offering me anything more than a sarcastic-bordering-on-sadistic "Go for it!". Sgt. Who's-He-What's-His held my ticket out of southern Wisconsin: even if I couldn't fly planes, I could at least be among people who did.

As I sat on the side of the bed, I turned on the radio to drown out the angry shouts from the living room, threatening to kick my behind for flouncing off. And what was on the radio? Follow the url:


I was at my wit's end. I wanted out of Beloit and away from my family. I wanted to see the world, and be a part of something bigger than myself; part of a unit is what I told people. I pre-enlisted in March. I graduated high school in June. I got off the bus at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in August.

I, along with about 2,000 other airmen, give or take 1,000, walked across this overpass to graduation from basic training, September 1984. My family couldn't make the trip to Texas, or anywhere else for that matter: I was on my own.

And all that summer: all through the release of Gremlins and Ghostbusters, all through the weddings I played for and the kids I babysat and the dollars I saved for my trip to Texas and basic training, all through the boyfriend who to this day I regret ever letting put his hands on me, Major Tom played on the radio. Major Tom kept me dreaming of F15 fighter jets, and SR71 Blackbirds, and combat boots. Major Tom made it okay for me to look out the car window at the Rock River and the sky beyond with a new sense of wonder and purpose, as my grandmother drove me over the Henry Avenue bridge to the recruiter's office, and she'd timidly ask, "Are you sure this is what you wanna do?".

Peter Schilling's Major Tom led me down the primrose path to my first adult screw-up. I got through basic training without getting "recycled" (repeating portions of your training that you sucked at). I got to my second training base in Wichita Falls, and was halfway through the biomedical equipment maintenance technician coursework when I royally failed to successfully fix an electrocardiograph for the third time in a row. I opted for my discharge (honorable, thank you very much) over getting reassigned to waving orange, glowing Popsicles on a windswept aircraft carrier out in the Atlantic somewhere.

I was no soldier, let alone an airman. I didn't belong in the Air Force. No one should ever make a life-changing decision based on a quirky song they hear on the radio. I was 18: I defined my own right of passage by wearing all white under my purple graduation gown. Nobody understood why I enlisted, but nobody offered any alternatives, either. My guidance counselor was a cheerful man who tried talking me out of the service, but didn't have anything more to offer a poor kid from the west side, other than scripted pep talks and the conciliatory "think it over first". I was lost: I thought I could find what I was looking for in a branch of the military that, in 1984, had the shortest basic training. But I did learn some things while I was in; how to smoke, how to drink, and how to rewire lamps. I was learning to be an electrician, after all.

Now: Why did I tell you this story? Because it's mine. Those experiences made me who I am. They convinced me that I was right about myself: I'm a dreamer and I have a vivid imagination and I love making pretty things and I love surrounding myself with beautiful things and I love music so much I became a musician and I'm an artist and I love love LOVE what I do. There wasn't much room for all of that when I was a baby blue marine.

I'm sorry if I offended any service people. I'm sorry if I offended any veterans. I didn't join the Air Force to get discharged, but that's what happened, and I'm not sorry for that. At a time when there's zero tolerance for dissing the military, I go and make a post like this! Thanks for coming with me down my old, worn out, beat up primrose path, everybody. And yes, this is still a blog about my designs. Here's one inspired by my seven months, 13 days as an airman.

Okay,... so, there aren't any designs inspired by the Air Force. But this one's pretty close.

Flying Back Up North
I actually took a Greyhound bus from Texas back to Wisconsin. I took a plane to London two months later!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sunny With a Chance of Frostbite. Brrrrrrrrr...

I woke up this morning to a bedroom flooded with the most delightful, diffused light, and I thought to myself, "Hello Friday!". Then, I kicked off the blankets, convulsed, grabbed the quilt from the foot board and wrapped myself up like a shivering burrito. Seventeen degrees outside. 17. Seven. Teen. Degrees. Fahrenheit. Not in my bedroom: the house was 64 degrees. That "17" crept in under the doors and won a fight with our thermostat.

"Well Howdy, November🤠!"

Hmmm... I'm feeling a chili craving comin' on. But that's for a foodie blog, which I have no intentions of doing, which in turn means I'll probably do some foodie posts, but don't hold your breath: my stream of consciousness is incredibly indecisive. Speaking of chili...

Chocolate Chili

This design is on my waiting list to be made available on Spoonflower. That's what I love about Spoonflower: the company gives designers a platform to learn about designing repeat patterns. We save our work, remove designs we don't like or realize aren't popular with our customers, and leave designs idle for a time (in the case of this design and many others, three years at the least) while we save up our dollars and our commissions to purchase proofs. The proofs we buy are how our designs are made available for sale to the public.

The detail that's been hanging out since at least 2014.
It comes from the painting Apollonia, which sold in '14 or '15.
YAY!!!

I have spent so many wonderful hours developing patterns out of details from my paintings on Spoonflower... Chocolate Chili is one of my earliest designs and one of my initial favorites, which is really hard for me to say, seeing as there are currently 4,390 designs floating around my shop. 100 are available for sale. 1,686 are in my public library but aren't for sale yet. And a WHOPPING 2,604 are still in the developmental stage, aka "I haven't decided if I like them or not", aka "I haven't named them yet", aka "I really need to sit down and write out descriptions for them but I've decided to take advantage of Spoonflower's generosity for letting designs just hang out indefinitely in cyber-limbo".

Another design from cyber-limbo that "giddy-ups" with Chocolate Chili is this buckaroo:

Cherry Picker Bolo Ties

I live 3 miles south of a magical, mystical land known as Door County, Wisconsin, affectionately known as "The Cape Cod of the Midwest". Thank you, Department of Tourism. Door County is known for its cherry orchards. There used to be loads of apple orchards back in the day. Since moving here, I've noticed a number of apple orchard graveyards. Those orchards were booming back in the 80's when I first came up here on a youth retreat with my church. But the fine folks of the DC peninsula are resilient: 

Your apple trees die off? Plant yourself some cherry trees, and make stuff out of them pretty little red juicy balls of delight!

🍒Pies
🍒Juices
🍒Wines
🍒Strudels
🍒Mustards
🍒Butters
🍒Tarts
🍒Candies
🍒Cakes (and cakes of the cup - yuh-huck😜!)
🍒Bags chock-full of
🍒Jams
🍒Coffees
🍒Teas
🍒Jellies
🍒Doughnuts
🍒Salsas
🍒Chutneys

--- if you're from Door County Wisconsin and I left out one or more of our venerated, ever-so-tasty comestibles, my apologies,... but seriously: Did I? Did I?? How could I? This list is ridiculous.

The detail for the design.
Can't remember the title of the painting it hails from...
I just know I sold it. Or gifted it... one or the other.

Do the cherry pickers of Door County wear bolo ties? Maybe, I don't know: we don't hang out. And that's my creative process, folks - whatever comes to mind as I look at a design becomes its name. But now I'm obsessing over the title of the painting I got the detail from. Hold on...



I took a timeout to see if I could find the title of the origin painting for "Cherry Picker Bolo Ties". Well, I found the slide of the painting, 'cuz the painting was either sold or gifted years ago, but much to my sloppy archiving, I didn't write the title on the slide. Now I'm wondering if I really need these slides anymore... 

I know there are photographers out there who still use film, including slide film, but I don't. I use my phone for photography more than I use my digital camera! Wow; if I don't even remember the title of a painting I no longer own, but I have this old, random slide of it that I already have a jpeg of  floating around in my phone, my laptop, my tablet, a thumb drive, and a disc, why keep the slide?

Retrospectives aren't my style: I went from a "Never-Was" to a "Has-Been" after decades of success as a "Wanna-Be". Now don't start with the eye-rolling: I've had a lot of adventurous fun pursuing art and music, and would never abandon either of them. I just prefer to concentrate my efforts on what I'm doing and where it leads than keeping up with what I did... and yet, here are all of these old Kodak slides of paintings I no longer own! I think the last time I shot slides was around 2004... 

My stream of consciousness just hit some gnarly rapids. Time to do some housekeeping...

There's snow on the rooftops now: 2017's departing on a blanket of intermittent snow and soggy maple leaves. 


TTFN: I have a date with a garbage bag!

Friday, November 3, 2017

GRRRR... Life! But: What is there without it?

For real though, ya'll: I want to be a surface pattern designer. I guess, for all intents and purposes, I am one: Spoonflower has been a delightful pastime these last four years. BUT - big, fat, gelatinous but - I want to spend all day EVERY DAY drawing and painting and designing, and after all the studio work is complete, I want to take my stuff on the road, and meet new people, and make deals to get my stuff on fabric and paper and ceramics, and then I want to go back to my studio and start all over again... I'm not asking too much, am I?

I just finished applying for another job: a corporate one this time. Not at a headquarters anywhere, just a managerial position at a field location. I'm trying to find the money to pay for this MBA I got six years ago. Yeah, that's me: cheesing it up with my latest degree from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. My mom and sister were so proud of me...


Having an education is still something to be proud of, right? It's so hard to tell these days. Well, I AM proud of all that hard work and all those hours at the library and not losing my mind during those eight grueling weeks of quantitative analysis!

I got a plan, see: I'll work outside of the design studio for a spell, pay off some bills hanging over my head, re-purpose the funding to Photoshop and a website, and spend my winters in my Happy Place. Ooh: that reminds me! Here's my grandmother's memorial painting I spoke of earlier:

Neotia Ruth Marian Mack Davis

And here are three really cool designs I produced from details of this painting:

Kenyan Morning
A diagonal torso detail.
Neotia
A closeup on her headdress.
Moonflower
The dawning of the Age of Aquarius 'cuz I don't know what I did but it's freaking awesome.
Oh yeah: the flowers at her feet combined with the trippy side of her headdress.

"Neotia" and "Moonflower" have been quite popular on Spoonflower. But back to the painting...

There were two sides to my grandmother: the side she presented to a world that was neither interested in nor supportive of her being in it, and NO I'm not exaggerating, and the side those who loved her knew and endured, and NO I'm not exaggerating this either. Life was hard on her: she was a child of poverty, abuse, and molestation. She was a woman of struggle, loss, and vicarious triumphs. She was equally hard on us.

My grandmother was my champion. She was my jailer. I craved her approval. I hated it when her anger overpowered her ability to reason. She died demented, and the eternal matriarch of our family. She was elegant and complicated. She was bat-shit crazy. And I loved her so much I look just like her.

The real Neotia Ruth Marian in the 1950's.
Now I'm bringing another circle around: taking all that history and education and love of art and color and making a life out of it; stopping and starting, winning and losing, all the while trying not to lose heart and just settling for folding shirts the rest of my life.

Whenever you come across this post, try not to judge it or me too harshly: it's been a crappy year and I have just short of nothing to show for it. Not the first time, won't be the last. But I have my journal, and this blog, and Netflix! Time to binge-watch Stranger Things...

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Trip Down Rainbow Row on a Pre-Winter Day...

Sleet. Cold, bitter, biting, stinging, slicing, icy, wicked, cutting, cruel sleet. Welcome to Wisconsin!

When it's cold in northeast Wisconsin on the shore of Lake Michigan, where it's cold from mid-October to mid-June, this hothouse flower needs something - ANYTHING - to warm and cheer the next six months that has nothing to do with weather. I turn to my designs!

Rainbow Row is quite an accurate description for these designs. Check 'em out.

???
 Now don't think these are the only cobblestones in the paving of Rainbow Row: they represent what I've been up to lately.

???

???

They're not for sale yet, and haven't been titled, but they're prime examples of what's been going on at my Spoonflower shop. Folks, this is like holiday baking for me, with two cool perks: I'm not actually cooking, and I'm only feeding my eyes!

???
 I'm gonna talk about the painting that the design below comes from, but not right now: I need to find a good pic of the painting so you get the full effect!

???
 I enlarged the design below because it comes from a very special painting. Its title is Neotia Ruth Marian Mack Davis, and she was my grandmother. I painted a memorial to her after her passing in 2006, and little did I know then that the painting would be such a treasure trove of design possibilities! I'll post the picture the next time I blog.

??? - Thanks, Grandmother!

Holy buckets: This post has been hanging out since the day before Halloween, and I just realized that I NEVER explained the following designs! Geez!!!

Okay: They're not titled yet, but they all came from paintings I did back in the day. One painting was titled The Catharsis of a Happy Jelly Fish. No lie. My friend and former violin teacher owns it now.

~ Tips for Starving Artists: Make gifts out of your works that didn't find a home through sales. Sure, your friends and family may think you're cheap, but look at it this way: they'll never find their gift from you anywhere else! Unless you gifted a prototype that has already been reproduced to the seventeenth generation and back... then, yeah: you're cheap. ~

Another painting was titled My Favorite Sweater Has Unraveled: Now I Love It More Than Ever. My friend and former violin student owns that one. And the sweater really was beautiful. I loved it so much I made a pillow out of it when I couldn't wear it anymore. Then the dog trashed it... got a hold of the unraveled bits and had himself a field day. There's a picture of that sweater-turned-pillow - and the puppy that pulled it apart - somewhere in my mementos... I'll post it if I come across it.

~ A Starving Artist Observation: Fellow creatives - artists, musicians, theatre geeks - always seem to appreciate receiving something from YOU, not from a store. They get it! At least, that's been my experience. So gift away: they may be able to sell what you give them and pay some overdue bills. That will make your gift a "two-fer"! Love - Love - Love!!!

???

???

???

???

Okay okay okay... I have a confession to make; the first of many. I have no idea what the origins of this design are. No idea. None! The original design was changed so many times that any resemblance to any painting I produced was completely and utterly obliterated. It's mine; I know that! I just can't recall how it got to this stage. It is its own original, ya'll!


???



Sunday, October 29, 2017

I Feel Good: KNEW that I would!

Good Morning Everybody!!!

I love this blogging business... it's like writing in a journal, but the conversation is with an anonymous audience that may chime in from time to time with a really nice, super-sweet comment! With a journal, the conversation is only supposed to be with yourself, and maybe some trifling busybodies who sneak peeks at what you wrote.


I've doubled my efforts on Spoonflower: I REALLY want my textile designs to take off. So, I made a little video of what I stare at for hours at a time, imagining how my designs will look as a pillow or a skirt or a curtain panel... it's like a constant diet of desserts without losing a foot!


There are over 4,200 designs in my Spoonflower shop. Over. Four. Thousand. Two. Hundred. I'm aiming for 5,000. Not all of them are available for purchase, just 100 to 130 at a time, and I started retiring 30 designs every three months in July of 2017. I've decided to go with the philosophy of "less is more". When there were around 500 designs available, there was some buzz, but perhaps too many choices. I figured that maybe if people cruising Spoonflower see more activity from my end - new designs coming in more frequently, older designs retiring and then disappearing - I could create some urgency for my work, boosting views and - fingers crossed - sales. Besides: I need to be more engaged in my online work. Passive income is nice - really nice - but being passive with the effort put into the actual work that produces that income is just plain lazy.

Another back story: I'm not a youngster anymore, although some days I still feel like I'm 25. I was born the very first day of 1966, which means I was seen as one of the original "slackers". Generation X babies got such a jacked up wrap growing up: we were called "dreamers", constantly told to "get a job", but our childhood was fraught with overworked parents if they stuck around, absent parents if they didn't, filthy, gritty cities, boring countrysides, and an empty house you'd come to after school, using a key on a string around your neck to let yourself in.


Thank God for Sesame Street!
Yep: saw the very first episode broadcast on PBS in 1969.

I'm lazy about a lot of things... cleaning the garage, getting rid of old bills... but I can't be lazy about my design work. These three were among the first successful designs I uploaded to Spoonflower:

Ginette

Allie

Apollonica
Here's what I've been up to lately:


???

?????
???????

No names for these yet: there are about 2,500 or so ahead of them that need names and descriptions. I do believe I've come a long way since my first designs in 2013, when I was figuring out how I wanted to use my acrylic paintings as design elements... I started overlaying files and enhancing colors and lines, resizing and distorting images, and getting a really good feel for how a mirror repeat would look beforehand. I still use the program Spoonflower partners with: Picmonkey. But in 2018, I plan to up my game.

I'm going to share as many designs as I can here on my blog, and talk about a few of them from time to time, all while building a lucrative career as a full-fledged surface designer. Man: wasn't I supposed to lose all enthusiasm for dreaming by 51? Shouldn't I have accepted my fate, and settled into a life of under-fulfilled mediocrity and unspoken regret by now?? That's what seems to be happening all around me: everybody getting old and resentful and curmudgeonly... why isn't all that middle-aged angst and despair happening to me?

Don't know...... but by the looks of things, I'd say I don't give an "ish".

Friday, October 27, 2017

Welcome to my first blog EVER!!!

Hello Everyone!

Wow: I am soooo tardy to the party, but I'm here now, and after all, isn't that what matters, I tell myself over and over again?

So Hello! Again!

My blog is all about my surface designs, which I've been producing since 2013. It all started with finding Spoonflower - https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/loriwierdesigns - when I desperately wanted to find a way to use my paintings for more than something to hang on the wall or stand on the table or the desk, and DEFINITELY more than a birthday gift to unearth at the Goodwill four years later. Yep: that "ish" happened to me, right in my own hometown. My mother guilt-tripped me into giving a original acrylic painting to one of her friends as a birthday gift, and it wound up on a crowded, teetering shelf at the Goodwill among sun-bleached fake floral wreathes and resin angel figurines from the nineties. Dispiriting, but it happens.

Now for a little background: I started this blog a couple of years ago after I acquired a local stringed instrument studio and its students. Okay, no bull-"ish": being a private violin and viola instructor in a community without a strings program in its public schools is a struggle. And another bamboo shoot under my left hand thumb nail: The community is an entire peninsula of around 25,000 people known as Door County, Wisconsin. Finding strings students is like finding a lit match under water. Yes, I found some stalwart souls who are eager to learn what I know as a musician, but the income from our efforts is just... downright awful😞!

A long time ago, I was participating in a fundraiser in northern Illinois for a grassland conservation project. Good old-fashioned activism! All us musicians got name tags. The one I got wasn't even my name: the tag read "Laurie Johnson", not "Lori Davis", my name at the time. Nothing wrong with the "Laurie" spelling, it's just not how MY name is spelled. Then they used my late husband's last name, even though I didn't take his name when we married. I was furious about it, mainly because the "they" who made up the name tags were my friends! In frustration, I painted this painting about the experience, brimming over with all my anger and resentment...


... Then, about seven years later, as the painting languished in my studio with no market for it except my own archive, I realized that there were some pretty snazzy design elements in this painting, and it was high time to exploit them! These designs are some of what I came up with:


Drink it in, folks, drink it in!



This is what this blog is for, and there's plenty more where this comes from! Now, as I get better at blogging, I plan on making this something spectacular! And here you all are, at the first leg of the journey, you lucky ducks! TTFN... But wait! There are MORE! Keep scrolling down: some of these designs are still available through Spoonflower.com. Here's my url: https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/loriwierdesigns.