The Nick Offerman Effect…

One of the gifts I found under the tree this year was Nick Offerman’s book Paddle Your Own Canoe. I started reading it immediately. After months of researching my art history minor thesis topic on how motherhood and societies view of motherhood effects woman artists, I was happy to read something that had nothing to do with any of it. I knew the book would be funny but I was not expecting it to be so well written.  I mean this guy is a really good actor and I love the stuff that comes out of his woodshop, but great author too? I should have given him more credit.

Like most of America, I didn’t know who Offerman was until I started watching Parks and Rec, easily one of my favorite shows on TV right now. I was hooked by Offerman’s character Ron Swanson…

Actually If you have never seen an episode of Parks and Recreation stop reading this and go watch it, seriously don’t even finish this blog. You need to laugh.

Apparently I talk about Ron Swanson a lot which led to a teacher sending me a video of Nick Offerman giving a tour of his wood shop. At the time I was only a few months into pursuing woodworking. After two years of studying photography, I had decided that I wanted to switch gears. I had carved a spoon out of a piece of walnut and realized that my life would not be complete just being a photographer, I needed more. I needed to get my hands dirty and build things!! When I made the switch over to woodworking I had a hard time starting over. I understood photography, it’s history, who its key players were, who I liked, who I didn’t like. I did not have any of that with woodworking, so finding out that this funny guy also built things and appeared to be someone who I thought I could sit down and have a glass of whiskey with was encouraging at a time when I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into.

Reading his book sealed his spot on my list of artists I draw inspiration from. It’s part bio part giving hope to young actors not sure they can navigate show business. The later doesn’t really apply to me. I would say that if a director or whatever came up to me on the street and said, “Oh my, be in my film!” I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to try my shot at the hollywood big screen. The problem is that I have worked really hard to cultivate a don’t-even-look-at-me-let-alone-attempt-to-speak-to-me vibe when walking down the street and would be so annoyed by someone trying to talk to me that I wouldn’t hear anything they would have to say. (hey, don’t judge! This is what happens when you live alone in Philadelphia and are a petite young lady. It’s a scary world out there.) Plus there is no way I would believe they were anything more then a perv with a video camera in his mom’s basement. So like I said, I have no reason to ever need to know how to navigate show business.

It was still fun to read his advice since it easily translates to the pursuing of any profession. He matter of factly states that we need to live life and pursue what makes us happy so we can enjoy the life we are living and be happy. Unlike many of the self help e-card crap out there, he also makes it clear that following your dreams isn’t always a walk in the park. Although highly rewarding, there are times throughout the pursuing of said dream that will ultimately really suck regardless of how many people tell you that ‘every situation is what you make it.’ I think if more people were aware of the inevitability of suckey parts that come with dream pursuing, they would be more likely to push through the suck and achieve their dreams.

I could probably write a book about all of the reasons why you should also read this book. And don’t just think because you are a lady you won’t get anything out of this. The whole second half is basically a love story. This man is MADLY in love with his wife, the funny and gorgeous Megan Mullaly. In a world with failing marriages more common then happy ones and a society that promotes the ban of emotional expression by heterosexual manly men, it is beyond awesome to read page after page of this manly man talking about how great his own wife is and openly talking about how they have prioritized their marriage above their careers. Our society needs more of this. Men and women both need to read more about these types of relationships.

Basically, you should really read this book. It was no.8 on the New York Times BestSeller list so I am not alone in this thinking. Check out the videos I linked below. Laugh and enjoy life for a few moments instead of being so gosh darn serious all the time. When you are ready to be kinda serious, go to Nick Offerman’s website to check out the stuff coming out of his wood shop.

Ode to Bacon

All the Bacon and Eggs

Tour of the Offerman Workshop

As always, thanks for reading.


Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Disconnecting in order to connect…

Last week I decide to take time off from the internet. I realized I was starting to feel like I NEEDED to check my Facebook, email, Instagram, and Pinterest every time I picked up my phone. Opening my laptop to do anything resulted in 45 minutes of getting lost in the black hole of the internet before I remembered I was online to do something specific, then at least another 15 minutes was usually spent trying to remember what exactly that something specific was. I tried for a while to limit my use, make little rules for myself about when I could and couldn’t go online. The stupidest part of it all is I would click the Facebook app for the 30th time that morning and realize I wasn’t even interested in seeing if anyone had posted anything new. I just clicked it out of habit. I do not have that many Facebook friends that I need to check it that often to keep up with my news feed. Despite the little rules and knowing how much time I was wasting I didn’t spend any less time plugged in and connected to the world.

I knew it was time for a change when my husband’s, “What are you looking at now?” became more frequent. So I figured some time apart was needed to break my habit. The week before the shut down was torture, there was an endless stream of proof that I did not have the choice to go offline, proof I did not have the luxury. I wasn’t sure I could live with the consequences of disconnecting.

Despite my best efforts to make a case for needing to stay online, I disconnected. And then… nothing happened. I just wasn’t online. I do not think I could convey to you how anticlimactic the whole thing was. Sure the first day I thought of all of the clever things I could say on Facebook, was sad I couldn’t share photos with you of how extra cute Bacon and Roxy looked that day, and wondered if any of you had posted something clever or cute that I was missing out on but the world kept on trucking just the same.

Car rides were spent knitting and talking to my husband instead of browsing the latest updates on Facebook. Without an Instagram feed to update, I just enjoyed all of the little moments for myself without missing most of it by fumbling with the camera on my phone. There was some reflection on what I wanted my internet usage to be like when I finally got back online, but for the most part my time offline was spent relaxing at home and checking the little things off my list that I couldn’t find the time to do before.

I decided I’m not going to make all of these rules about only being allowed on social media for x amount of minutes everyday during certain times of the day or making a strict outline of what my internet usage will look like. It was tempting but it doesn’t need all of that, I do not want to give being online that much weight. Sure it becomes serious when I’m not keeping up with my responsibilities and most importantly my relationships feel neglected because I am spending too much time online, but taking a week off showed me how un-serious the internet is.

Sometimes we just need to take a few days off to put things into perspective.

As always, thanks for reading.


Tagged , , , , ,

Go Curly or Go Home…

Usually I do not give the whole new year resolution thing any attention. As a kid it was always filled with empty promises of being nicer to my family or working harder in school. With in a few days the seemingly heartfelt promises made during the sugar rush and excitement of being able to stay up way past my bed time were completely forgotten as I settled back in to being the person I was the year before. Eventually I tired of the pattern and took pride in my defiance to follow the foolish trend of making empty promises that never were fulfilled.  The last few years celebrating New Year’s Eve had lost its sparkle. After a week of traveling family to family in a sleepless caffeinated haze by the time December 31st comes I’m too settled in to my pj’s under a heavy comforter to even acknowledge the year coming to an end.

Last year I decided to finally admit that there is something fun and exciting about setting a year long goal, that I really did like the challenge, and if it was something I actually wanted to do my success rate would be higher. Because honestly, my resistance to make new year resolutions was more me hating the guilt that followed with not upholding my resolution than defiance against our culture. It was not hard to decide what my new year’s resolution would be, I think my desire to tackle this seemingly impossible task led to me using the safe confines of a new year’s resolution to take on the challenge. If you give up on a new year’s resolution no one is really disappointed in you because they have a list of resolutions long forgotten by march. It was perfect.

My 2013 New Year’s Resolution: Learn to embrace and care for my naturally curly hair.

This may not seem like much, unless you dear reader also have been blessed with the force that is curly hair. Despite having curly hair for all 26 years of my life, I had no idea how to tame my curls just enough to let them be free in all their curly glory. Growing up in the 90s, hair was long straight locks attached to the pretty popular girls named Kelly. Rarely did the trends involve curly hair, except that glorious time in 1990 when Julia Roberts removed a hideous blond wig to reveal a cascade of curls she would toss carelessly throughout Pretty Woman and leading to a single flicker of hope that curly hair is not just for heavy metal lead singers or Bob Ross. She gave me hope that you could be curly and gorgeous. A hope that faded as I grew older. My own hair was often wrestled into a french braid or a pony tail surrounded by a halo of frizz. I hated my hair and because I was going through those overly dramatic teenage years, hating my hair meant I hated my life because my hair ruined it.

Going to the salon only made things worse. Time after time I would sit down in the chair to hear gasps or astonished remarks at how much hair I had. (Because I was unaware of its magnitude every morning when I was faced with the epic battle of fighting it into some sort of style worthy enough to avoid a “You couldn’t brush your hair this morning?” from my dad as I got into the car to go to school.) Then they would ensure me they would straighten my hair like it had never been straightened before. Usually this resulted in me leaving with a weird white girl afro looking more like Bob Ross than Julia Roberts. Except one time when I let my hair go curly while playing an angel in the Christmas pageant, I never received encouragement to continue to wear it curly. I also was never able to recreate what I later decided had to be a divine miracle of those pretty curls I was graced with during the pageant. All I could ever get was a tangled mess of frizzy knots that looked to be hiding small animals.

Eventually I sort of figured it out. With enough patience and the advances made in straight iron technology I could achieve what appeared to be straight hair. As long as the wind did not blow, nothing touched my hair, it did not rain, become too humid, or if the amount of moisture did not rise above 0% while the moons of Saturn were perfectly aligned with the stars in Orion’s belt my hair looked presentable. The slightest shift in the atmosphere and my hair was a disaster. I tried cutting it all off and that just made the curls worse and my locks were not long enough to tame with bobby pins and hair ties. Long hair often forced into a french braid now made famous by Katniss Everdeen became my go to style.

It was time for a change, I was tired of the battle. My husband and I are starting to seriously think about having kids, kids that may inherit my curls. The last thing I would ever want is for my girls to go through the same hopeless journey of resenting their unmanageable hair while I re-enforced their curly helplessness with my own. I also was tired of waking up every day to battle my hair, there had to be a way for us to all get along.

The first thing I did was read Curly Girl: The Handbook by the fabulous and curly Lorraine Massey. If you have curly hair YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. It has, and rightfully so, been called the curly manifesto. It changed my life and how I looked at my curls. After a year of fighting the urge to straighten my locks or cut them all off when I thought I’d never figure it out, I finally have a handle on my curls. I get them, I know how to sweetly bribe them into doing what I want them to do. My life is no longer ruined because of my curls.

Here are my cliff notes of what I learned over the past year, things I believe are not stressed enough to those wanting to embrace their curls:

1. Stop using a towel to dry your hair. No matter how soft and fluffy that towel feels on your body it is 20 grit sand paper on your hair. You know those awkward t-shirts sitting at the bottom of your drawer that you know you will not wear but can’t bring yourself to throw away? Use them to dry your delicate locks. The soft cotton will not break and irritate your hair the way the terry cloth will. This isn’t just for curly girls, everyone should use this.

2. You have to treat your hair like fine delicate crystal. Those stubborn little curls only appear to be indestructible, the more you spoil them the better behaved they will be. One way to spoil them is to stop brushing your hair. Only comb your hair when it is soaking wet and filled with conditioner. This along with note 1 greatly reduces frizz.

3. Have a go to hair style for those days when your curls just aren’t working out. This was recommended by a hair stylist and helped keep me going those mornings I had five minutes to get out the door and I looked like I had electrocuted myself. I think its scientifically proven that you are more likely to have a better day if you are happy with how your hair looks.

4. Accept that 98% of all the pretty hair you see in magazines, tv, movies, and online was expertly styled with a small army of skilled hands and photoshopped. This does not mean that you can not have gorgeous hair, but you have to be realistic with what you are working with. If you see pretty hair in real life, do not hesitate to ask the person under that hair if they have any tips for you. Curly girls especially love sharing and swapping info since we all know the struggles that are out their. A great question to ask, “Where do you get your hair cut?”

5. Find an awesome hair stylist. Be sure to ask for someone with experience cutting curly hair. How your hair is cut plays a huge part in how your curls will look.

6. Use lavender water instead of shampoo to clean your hair and scalp. The products in shampoos are filled with damaging chemicals that turn your curls into brittle frizzy imitations of curls. Also find an amazing all natural conditioner filled with hydrating ingredients that will bring life back to your curls.

7. Air dry when ever possible. There are ways to blow dry your curls, ways I am still trying to figure out, but my hair always looks its best when its air dried.

8. I will repeat: towels, brushes, and shampoo are curls mortal enemy.

Are you still with me? I know this is incredibly long. I just don’t believe there is nearly enough encouragement out there for curly girls. There is plenty of time dedicated to showing us how to fight our curls and not enough encouragement in showing them off.  Sure I’ll straighten them from time to time, shake things up, try something new. But it feels really good knowing that the days of battling my curls are long gone. I never have felt more confident or more powerful then when I walk out of the house with my mane of curls bouncing around my head.

Let me know about your own curly journey or any questions you have about mine. And as always, thanks for reading.


Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Past, Present, and Future methods of building…

While studying photography in Philadelphia, I remember taking a class a few quarters in that was meant to bring us back to the basics of photography, allowing us to revisit the rudimentary exercises we learned in the very first Introduction to Photography class we took in our first days at the school. In the first weeks of the class it felt redundant. We had worked so hard to reach a point where our cameras were an extension of ourselves, to be able to start formulating work that got away from the tell tale signs of student assignments. Yet now that we had more than a basic understanding of how to take a proper photograph, these assignments made more sense. We understood their application in a way we did not understand in the introduction class. Looking through the progression of my own work from the first class to the last class I took in Philadelphia it is fun to rediscover old ideas that were forgotten in the whirl wind of assignments and deadlines. It is also comical to see what I felt like I needed to photograph when I was first learning how to manipulate my camera.

My latest studio project was revisiting everything I learned by recreating the first assignment I have ever did in woodworking. By thinking through the basic process of building a table I was able to take my prior understanding of what it meant to build a functional table and push it further, to explore the many different ways one can and has built a table. This idea combined with my fascination with how adamant different people are about how right their way of building is and all of the contradictions it creates, shaped the outline of this project. What if I built the same table, three different ways, to try to understand if there really was a difference in the final result of three very different ways of making? The assignment of Past, Present, and Future was the perfect space to bring this idea to life since the contradicting ideas can be simplified down to past methods, present methods, and future methods of building.

I set about to build the past table, utilizing methods and technology available before the industrial revolution. I quickly realized that I was not advanced enough in all of these techniques to make an argument about which method was the best, that I was still too young of a woodworker to create three equally crafted tables to allow a viewer to look at them and say, “Oh the (______) table is the most structurally and aesthetically pleasing and therefore that is the best method to use ever.” Instead of trying to solve the debate for the public, I began to try to solve the debate for myself. What did I want my studio practice to look like? What method did I want to utilize and why? Does it make sense to cling to a technique that does not reveal itself in the final product? Can the final table reveal enough about the process to allow the viewer to determine which is the best method?

When all three tables are together, all of their surfaces are equally planed. Yet it took three very different planing process, taking various lengths of time to reach the final planed state. So although it was physically rewarding to spend over 20 hours hand-planing the past table, it looks no different then the 30 minute machine planed present table. Other then physical benefits of hand-planing for 8hours a day for a whole week (by the end of the week I had some serious muscle definition in my arms) it is not practical to waste valuable studio time on an outdated method. Conversely there were plenty of methods from the past table that continued through all three tables. Chiseling was the major one. All three tables required some level of chiseling to be done in order to have well fitted joinery. There of course were other tools or techniques that could be used, each taking various lengths of time, but none of them created the sharp and precise cut like the hand chisel.

That could be a completely personal preference, I am sure plenty would argue that it makes the most sense for them to use something else to create the same effect. That is the beauty of craft, the beauty of life really, everyone does it differently. I fully understand how great that fact is now that I have built these tables. How great it is that there is this full spectrum of how to build a simple table, that I can pick and choice which ways of making I like best from various schools of thought, and put them all together in my own hybrid mutated way of making. And that hybrid mutation will continue to shift and change as I continue to absorb as much about this craft as I possibly can.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As always, thanks for reading.

- r.n.a.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Fighting to put in the hours…

IMG_3306As much as I hate those awful e-cards that find them selves shared on Facebook and re-pinned incessantly on Pinterest, sometimes they have meaningful insight written on them. Insight like, “Don’t compare your first chapter to someone else’s last.” It’s easy to do, especially as an art student when we are surrounded by images of artist’s final chapters. When looking at the volumes written solely about one particular artist it is easy to forget that they, like most artists, did not have their first solo show till they were 40 years old. It’s easy to read about the years these now iconic artist spent being ignored or criticized without accepting that it is a very real possibility that it will happen to you. To forget that still today not everyone likes the work of the great artists whose names have come to represent entire periods of art history.

It is these facts that are often forgotten when we hit those roadblocks, when what we thought was great is met with negativity and disapproval. They are forgotten when we are forced to come face to face with why we are doing what we do, the question of who all of this is for. It is in those moments of self-doubt, when walking away would make sense to anyone looking in at the situation, that determines whether or not you will ever put in your 10,000 hours. Because it is not just about putting in 10,000 hours of practice, it is about putting in those 10,000 hours in spite of the obstacles that will inevitably present themselves.

I write as if I have overcome the desire to walk away, as if I have come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like what I do or who I am. Right now I am inspired, I am looking forward to the future, the fight of getting in my 10,000 hours to be great at what I do. But in the back of my mind is always that little voice that whispers lies that I have to fight daily to ignore. The whispers of all the things I have failed at, the whispers of all the things I will fail at, the whispers of all of my faults as a human. Paying attention, even slightly, to that voice creates a tornado of self doubt that consumes both my brain and heart, leaving me with the feeling that the dream was taken away from me a long time ago and I have only been clutching its memory.

Every time the tornado hits, it becomes easier to get passed it, to see it for what it is. That does not mean that I will not spend the rest of my life battling it, for I surely will, but it means I am ready to battle it. I come out of each battle wanting this dream even more, even more determined to figure out how to make it work, how to be better. In the movie Train Robbers, John Wayne’s character says “You’re going to spend the rest of your life getting up one more time than you’re knocked down, so you’d better start getting used to it.” We have to get used to getting back up, remember all of the times we have gotten up in the past, so the next time we get knocked down we don’t lose hope, we know that we are only getting closer to achieving our 10,000 hours and our dreams.

As always, thanks for reading.

- r.n.a.

To listen to the Malcom Gladwell talk more about his 10,000 hours theory go here.

Tagged , , , , , ,

When you wish upon a star…


When I was a little girl I dreamed of having a farm. Waking up every morning and riding my horse through the fog before I sat down to a huge stack of homemade belgian waffles for breakfast. There would be chickens, bunnies, pigs, cows, sheep, ducks, and dogs to make up my very own little Charlotte’s Web inspired farm. No one would ever have to worry about ending up as dinner, and we would all live happily ever after.

The problem with this dream was that my only farm experience was petting zoos and the movie Charlotte’s Web. This meant when telling anyone that would listen about my future plans I would get one of those stupid looks that adults like to give imaginative little kids. Then they would say something disapproving like, “You say that now but wait till you have to shovel their poop. Then you wont want so many animals.” or “Do you know how much work thats going to be?” I didn’t care. No matter how smelly or big the mounds of poop would be, I wanted a farm.

Then a few months ago we moved into the house I dreamed of having as a little girl, a little log cabin set back in the woods only a stone’s throw from one of the prettiest waterfronts in all of Maine. To make the whole thing even more unbelievable, two sheep and 11 chickens came with the house, along with 18 acres of overgrown forest to hike in. Since we are only renting, it is the perfect situation to try out farm life. To see if this city girl would actually enjoy all the work and reality involved. To find out about all this poop shoveling business I was constantly warned about.

And it is awesome!

I love coming home and being greeted by a gaggle of chickens running from the back of the house. I laugh every time the sheep look at me and bah while their ears wiggle and their tongue sticks out. I don’t love shoveling the poop out of the chicken coop, but I don’t mind it at all.  Sometimes I get frustrated when the chickens dig up my freshly planted flowers or the sheep want to go anywhere but where they are supposed to. Sometimes I get freaked out by the rustling of unknown animals in the edge of the woods, or when I see the skunk hanging around the chicken coop again. But they are little snags that definitely don’t out weigh the cool stuff, like walking to the coop for fresh eggs for breakfast. I don’t mind any of the daily chores or wrestling the sheep out of the chicken coop for the 20th time because somehow it is all so rewarding. I think I enjoy it even more because its all so new. Like chickens wanting to have their backs scratched or following me around the farm, I never knew that was a thing!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Having plenty of land has also encouraged my green thumb as well. After a failed first attempt with a vegetable garden which was harder to deal with than it should have been (but we all already know failure is a touchy issue with me), I decided to re-try it. My harvest will be late, if at all, but I am learning so much about how to grow things for us to eat from seed. How to work with the land instead of against it. It is all pushing forward my desires to be resourceful, challenging me to be more creative with what I am given, with what I already have. The end of the semester, I saw this desire starting to push itself forward in my studio practice, but I am seeing it slowly take over all aspects of my life. Nothing frustrates me more than being wasteful.

Okay, there a lot of things that frustrate me, but wastefulness is definitely up there.

The biggest challenge for me is maintaining a certain aesthetic quality and usefulness while reusing and recycling. I do not want the viewer to know that what they are looking at is made entirely from re-purposed materials, that everything was either found or bought second hand. It is important to me that I become more aware of what I am throwing away, not taking the apparent easy way out by wasting money and material.  I want to help contribute to the redefining of what it means to repurpose materials that is becoming more prevalent in our culture. Help separate the notion of repurposing from kindergarden crafts. Represent the idea that repurposed does not need to effect quality or longevity. It is not a new idea or notion, but it is new as far as realizing that it will play a big role in how I define myself as an artist. This whole experience and fulfillment that I get out of my home life has lead to an inner peace to confidently start defining my future as an artist, to more maturely approach a studio practice, and to look forward to what comes after art school.

Looking out my kitchen window as I write this, watching the chickens dig for worms in the foggy summer morning, I still want to pinch myself to see if this is only a dream.

As always, thanks for reading.



Tagged , , , ,

Blah and boring…


Oh hi there… you may not remember me, I’m Ren and I used to write posts for this blog.  I thought maybe I would clear the cobwebs and make a heartfelt promise, that I may not keep despite really wanting too, to start writing regularly.

The semester ended in a good place. The last three weeks of the semester were filled with lessons on how to improve my studio practice and what type of things I would like to be making in the studio. The studio self discovery has continued into the summer, where I have the opportunity to work in a slower and quieter pace.

One of my biggest problems is my outlook on the whole thing. I found myself making for the sole purpose of just getting the assignment done. My mindset revolved around ‘just finishing this assignment so I could move on’ but then there was another assignment, and another assignment after that. The work wasn’t exciting, just a shadow of an idea that I had, and I wasn’t excited about the work because I was already feeling the pressure of meeting the next deadline.

Now don’t start to think, “Oh, why do art schools demand so much from their students?How does burning them out prepare them for anything? No wonder that poor girl is cranky all the time” Because 85% of the weight and the pressure is all self inflicted, and I’m just naturally cranky.

I also let my ideas intimidate me.

I wont physically start working on a project until I spend an unnecessary amount of time doing ‘research’. I’ll start by looking up imagery for key words surrounding my idea, seeing what other artists have done, and editing my idea to portray what I want it to portray. All necessary to the design process but then I begin ‘researching’ whether or not I have the skill to accomplish the task, if I am willing to deal with the aftermath of not finishing on time, and buying time by claiming to be conflicted about a certain detail when in reality I am conflicted about whether the whole thing is good enough. In my un-rational mind, the longer I wait to start, the longer I postpone the impending doom and despair. When in reality my fear of making the first mark ensures that the doom and despair will come. Then in the final hour, as Im gritting my teeth and trying to get something respectable put together for the critique, I wonder why I am not good enough to make quality work.

It’s like spending the whole car ride to your kid’s little league game telling her that she is the worst batter on the team, and then you are both confused when she gets up to the plate and watches every ball go from pitchers hand to the catcher mitt without swinging once.

Oh the lies your brain tells your heart…

Then to top it all off, if something is too easy or doesn’t lead down the long and windy path of self despair and failure, I don’t believe it should be taken seriously or considered art. I took a Surrealism Drawing class this past semester where the underlying agenda to every project was to not over think anything, just create. So I made a painting, a rather large painting that involved applying paint in different ways to textured wood. It was simple, almost therapeutic in its mindlessness, and dare I say it, fun. I finished well before the deadline, happily installed it, and I don’t think I fidgeted or tried to twist my fingers off my hand once during the whole critique. People complimented me on it, and I brushed them off with comments like, “Oh that, it was just a silly project I did. It doesn’t mean anything.”

Cast Iron Halos, the silly project

Cast Iron Halos, the silly project

Instead of the experience being one of those Ah-ha moments, a realization that this is what art making should and can be about for me, I dismissed it as a little break from the seriousness of real art. Somewhere I created all of these rules for how life is supposed to work, what it means to make art. In the making of those rules I left no room for enjoying anything. There will be no fun, no enjoying, no pats on the back for a job well done. If I want to be taken seriously I need to be serious blah blah blah boring boring boring. All of these blah and boring rules were making me a blah and boring person that creates blah and boring stuff.

And I don’t want to be blah or boring.

As always, thanks for reading.

- r.n.a.

Tagged , ,

Chanel and the Insecurities of Being A Non-girly Girl…

I recently finished reading the book, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo. Coco Chanel has always been a woman to respect and to be in slight awe of. I have respected her from a distance, never quite sure of her story, just knowing something about her work drew me in. After reading the book I realized there are so many more reasons for me to be drawn to her, to find inspiration in her story.

I know there are many women who idolize the name Chanel, who wish they could be as great as Chanel, who would give anything to own something with those iconic double C’s on them. I don’t necessarily think I fit in with those admirers of Chanel. I’m not interested so much in the brand of Chanel and typically don’t understand or like what Karl Lagerfeld has done with it. (Karl Lagerfeld took over as head of the House of Chanel after Coco Chanel passed away.) Even if he is an amazing photographer, his version of Chanel is not for me. I admire the woman, the scrappy tom-boy who made a name for herself in a world she didn’t fit into.

My admiration probably comes from my life long struggle with being girly. I still am trying to figure out how to be graceful or how to manage the mass of frizzy curls swirling around my head. My socks rarely match. My nail polish chips within hours and I don’t understand how girls wear clothes/shoes that are uncomfortable past the point of realizing they are uncomfortable. I often am left feeling like I missed the week of school where they explained to all the other girls how to present themselves to the world. I often felt like my worth as a woman was tied with how girly I was. Girly = Beautiful, or at least I thought it did.

While reading the book I realized that my desire to be girly is more of a desire to be comfortable with the fact that I do not fit societies standards of girlie, instead of a desire of wanting to look like the latest photo-shopped magazine cover girl. Photos of Chanel looking effortlessly beautiful were because for her it was effortless. She was being herself.  I was inspired by the fact that Coco didn’t fit her societies standards and instead of feeling insecure, she created clothes that she wanted to wear. She trusted that she was not the only one that felt like they did not fit in.  Chanel did not make fashion about being girlie or trendy, for Coco Chanel it was all about style. “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

What’s even more intriguing is that to follow Chanel’s method for being a stylish woman, one does not need to go buy a Chanel jacket or drown yourself in perfume No. 5. Instead, it’s about figuring out what works for you, what makes you feel the most comfortable in your own skin. What you like or don’t like with out concern about how it fits into what the fashion magazines state.

It’s admiring others ability to wear toe pinching 5″ heels all night, but not feeling like less of a woman because you showed up in chucks.


Tagged , ,

Coffee Coffee Table…

Here is a slide show of my latest project. So happy to have finished my very first coffee table.  The coffee table was made out of poplar and oak. The base is stained with coffee and the top is painted with espresso milk paint.

Enjoy and thank you for your support.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Tagged , , , ,

Catching Up…

This week’s guest editor, Bea the Boxer.

It has been such a hectic and busy two weeks that my mind is having a hard time figuring out what to write about. Having an overly loving boxer trying to lay on your lap during the process makes it hard to focus.

This past week saw my first critique in my view camera class. I was at first excited at the idea of sharing with the class the type of work I have made with the large format camera. That of course quickly turned to dread as the time got closer for me to hang my prints to be judged. Overall it went well. I was told that my work is moody and dark, that I handle objects almost obsessively. I am not sure if the latter is a good or bad, but I found it to be true. I do seek to give life to inanimate things in an attempt to increase their worth to the viewer. I find it interesting that I approach inanimate objects in a way that presents them  if they were a live yet when I get a live subject, like a person, in front of my lens I have no idea what to do with them.

I have also made progress with my current bending project. The plan is to build two end tables by december, with a complementary coffee table being finished in the beginning of the year. The design is inspired heavily by nautical themes. As it gets colder I find myself day dreaming more and more about sailing. Often my doodles are that of sailboats or nautical forms. Instead of fighting it, I decided to implement it into a project. I started making the jigs needed to make my bends early this week and finally got my turn on the CNC router, which is one of the coolest machines I have had the experience to use. It is super nerdy and I can’t wait to use it again and again. When I return to the shop Monday, I will start the process of building the base and table tops.


Saturday my husband surprised me with a visit to Magic Wings, a butterfly conservatory  in Massachusetts. Despite the slightly corny name, it was the most amazing place I have ever been too. You walk into a greenhouse filled with plants and hundreds of butterflies. It was truly inspirational and the awe inspiring experience my very tired soul needed.

Tagged , , ,

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 229 other followers