I love Lloyd

Here he is. His face is really that sweet and he really did line up dolls like that. Didn’t chew them, just lined them up. I will give a print of this to his owner, but I won’t knock on the door. I will just leave it on the porch. I am too scared Lloyd won’t be there. But at least I know he had a great day at my house. Crazy dog house.

Email me at michelle@abeytacreative.com if you want a print of Lloyd. I will just charge $1.00 for postage. We can figure out details on payment options once you email me. The print will be a hi-end laser on gloss 8.5×11 paper suitable to frame.

Now don’t wait for your adventure to happen to you, go help it along!

Gorgeous Friday

I should be drying my hair and getting out the door to go to my freelance job right now, but this gorgeous Friday is making me linger a bit more in my office. This job is a wonderful thing right now, and having only my nights to work on my art has kept me wonderfully productive. But when the sky is so blue and the sunshine so warm, it is awfully hard to drive to another office where I have to sit for 8 hours. But the checks I get at the end of the week certainly help ease the pain. 🙂

Lloyd will be done this weekend and for anyone that reads my blog and emails me, I will send you a free print. That’s right, a free 8×10 of beautiful Lloyd to remind you to make your own adventures. So once it is up for you to see, and if you think it would be something to inspire you, email me to let me know. I would love to send it your way. It is my way of saying thank you to all the people that enjoy reading my ramblings about life and encouraging me with my art.

Ok, better git. Hair is still wet and time is ticking. Hey, at least I get to have my “Yippee, it’s Friday feeling!” (you don’t get that when you work from home, everyday is like Friday!)

Have an amazing, gorgeous day everyone!

busy days

Working tons lately and loving it. My festival last Saturday went really well. I made some baby tees and layettes with dogs and cats on them and they sold well. I was excited by that. I will put them up on my site soon and am bringing them by the store tonite. I have done the initial sketch for Lloyd and and may sell prints of it, it is turning out really sweet and I will post it soon. Until then, here is another illustration of Lucy in Cork, Ireland right before she goes to kiss the Blarney Stone. I may be late, but at least I got the right month!

Cosmo’s Adventure

Last night a sweet golden retreiver turned up on our porch. He was older and seriously just about the sweetest dog ever. Sophie dubbed him “Cosmo” and we let him settle in for the night. I called a vet to arrange to have him scanned for a microchip and made a flyer to post the next morning. Cosmo is a cuddler with a fondness for stuffed animals. Not chewing them, just methodically carrying them out of the kid’s room and lining them up in the living room. When I went to bed he jumped up on the bed, layed his head on the pillow and refused to move. I had a feeling he was not feeling very well and let him stay. Besides Rufus acting like a jealous boyfriend and the fact that I felt outnumbered, things went smoothly. This morning I posted flyers and just about 30 minutes ago his owner called. ‘Cosmo’ is really Lloyd and yesterday he was scheduled to be put down, but when his owner got home found out Lloyd had gotten out of the backyard. He has terminal cancer. I could tell he was sick, and even told my husband that I thought he didn’t have long to live. (which is why my husband allowed him to sleep on the bed) Even though my gut told me this was the case, I still felt so sad to hear it. I looked into this loving dogs eyes and could tell he knew what was going to happen soon as well. I think he had his last hurrah at our crazy dog house and I am glad I let him sleep in the bed. I guess Lloyd just did what we would all do if we knew our days were numbered, go out and find one last adventure. I think I will paint a portrait of Lloyd today to look at and remind me that we need to go and make our adventures happen sometimes.

and some days it all makes sense

Yesterday we planted a butterfly garden. My daughter and I cleared a spot, put down bricks in a pretty pattern then the whole family walked over to the flower shop down the street. My son and daughter each picked out two kinds of flowers sure to attract butterflies. (“Says so on the label!” my son excitedly exclaimed. Then he fell in love with a hummingbird feeder so we got that too. We got bunches of terra cotta pots to put them all in and set off back home. After a few hours, the cutest little pot garden appeared. We spent the rest of our gorgeous Sunday Spring cleaning inside and out. Threw out 4 huge bags of stuff an my husband tidied up our messy winter yard. Everything feels lighter now. I went to bed feeling very calm and peaceful. At 2am I awoke to Sophie crying. She had been coughing during the day and said she had a scratchy throat. I had given her medicine and she was her normal a million miles an hour self. But in the middle of the night an ear infection (I think) started up. I slept with her all night, her little curled up hand in mine. As she fell back asleep she kept checking to see if I was there. I promised her I wouldn’t leave and she fell asleep with a smile on her face despite the pain I knew she ws in. This morning we sent the boys to work and school and I rescheduled an appointment. I will take her to the doctor later. I just gave her breakfast on the couch while she gets to watch Clifford. (perks of being at home and sick) I am going to go now and have coffee while I cuddle with my daughter and smile as I realize THIS was why I have always wanted to work for myself. Because when my child is sick I can be with her. I can stop my life for a few hours or a day or whatever and be there for her. And that is all I have ever really wanted. For my life to revolve around my family, because for me, that is what life is really all about.

how much fun was that???

Yesterday I went and talked about my art at Jake’s Ice Cream. Here I am drawing for the kids at the ice cream shop. It was so much fun and these kids just loved my art. They were a terrific bunch of kids and really made my day!

I loved looking back at the pictures and seeing faces on kids at different points. I love this little girls reaction to the book I wrote – it is the dummy book that is at the publishing houses now.

Every kid there (and one adult) got a drawing by me. Here are some of the kids with their drawings.Too much fun!!

Could I be any luckier???

busy, busy bee

It seems like I am so busy lately. I am done with the few weeks of onsite design work and back at home playing catch up. I have been working on a newsletter that I have created and designed with a groomer friend of mine. It is at the print shop now. Oh yeah, the print shop is my dining room. I have set up a temporary work station in there just for the newletters. I think it is more than I bargained for, but what the heck, you only live once right? Seriously, it is quite a bit more more than I anticipated, but it is the first go around. I will be printing night and day for the next few days. And I am thanking my lucky stars that we agreed to only do this once every two months! I hope it is successful for everyone that bought advertising!

In other news I am giving a demonstration at a new local ice cream shop that opened up in our neighborhood. There are flyers all over the town square for it. I am hoping it has a good turn out. I love talking about my art with kids. Plus I get free ice cream! Woo hoo! I will have pics Friday showing the event. (unless of course it is just me in an empty room!)

I also have my first festival of the Spring season this Saturday. I am hoping for a nice day and a good turn out. I have some product ideas that I am making today and seeing how they sell (or don’t). It seems I have a whole lot going on lately and I feel like I am not quite in control. You ever feel like life is kinda running you, you are not running your life? I feel that way the past few weeks. Lots of good things are happening, so it is not that I am not satisfied with work, it is just this sense of chaos I guess. In my head I picture me in this fabulous studio, working all day, music on and getting project after project done. It seems so charming and peaceful. Then I look around at my actual studio/office, the piles of supplies, the deadlines I meet just in the nick of time, and music?? I am lucky if I can find where the heck I put my favorite cd in the craziness that is my home. Two huge dogs, two kids, a husband and house that despite all the nose twitching I do will not clean itself, are not exactly conducive to the fantasy in my head. I guess I need to just embrace the chaos and be thrilled that I do manage to somehow get things done for people. That, or really work on my organizational skills. A bit of both I suppose, huh? 😉

How many jobs can a person do?

Quite a few, if you sacrifice that lovely commodity known as sleep. Ah, sleep………….Sorry, I daydream about it when I can. Lately I have been doing lots of onsite design work. Which, I will add, has been increadibly rewarding. The environment is wonderful, and I am getting tons of work for my book. Then I come home and put my mom hat on until about 8pm, then on goes the wife hat, for only about a half hour. (sorry hubby, I do admit you get short-changed these days, but you are so sweet and understanding.) Then I put on my painting hat for as long as it takes. Last night was from 8:30pm until 11pm. Then I put my web design hat on and worked until 1am. The only thing that kept me going, besides the deadline of this morning, to finish it, was that it was final revisions. Whew! A huge project off my plate! Now, this pace is certainly not permanent, I would be miserable in the long run if it were, but it has been the pace for about 3 weeks now. The frustration I find is that there does not seem to be a payoff. We are still behind on bills, and every check, even those oh-so-lovely-large ones are spent before they actually get into the bank account. I know one of these days that will change, but in the meantime I keep telling myself, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” You Nemo fans will get that.

Yesterday I was talking to the other designer I am working with, and he has a similar situation. He runs a cd label out of his house. He produces cd, does all the design work, then markets and distributes them for unsigned bands. He is passionate about music and he admits that he is in credit card debt because of it. He knows one day his label will get noticed, but for right now, because of the pure love for his music and the belief in the bands, he gladly puts the expenses on a credit card and continues working each night after he gets home for another 5-6 hours on his passion. After that conversation I felt better, actually. I think this is just the path many artists must take. Sure, there are the overnight successes, but more often there are the artists working at night, long after their other jobs are done, creating for the sheer love of it. There are the moments where we long for the security from our craft alone, but each one of us knows in our heart that we couldn’t quit if we tried. There is something inside us that commands us to paint, draw, make music, write, photograph, cook, sew, or anything that makes our soul sing. We continue at it not because it is selfish, or a hobby we like, but because we absolutely MUST. We have to. And it is a blessing and a curse all at the same time. But no matter what, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how little time we can devote to ‘it’ some days, we don’t stop. Even if it means we just get to think about it some days. We simply cannot give it up. Like I said, we couldn’t anyway.

Do you believe in what you are selling?

Ok, I admit it. I love the show, The Apprentice. The Type A in me completely relates. I don’t normally watch reality tv, I am much more a Law& Order junkie when I can squeeze in the tube time. But I have made an exception for this reality show. Tonite Donald Trump talked about believing in what you are selling. He said that unless you 100% believe in what you are selling with all your heart, you are dead in the water. I sat with that statement. The entire show I just kept hearing the phrase. In the end the team that chose to sell the product that had the higher price tag per item (in this case artwork) failed miserably. They chose the artist based on how much she sold her art for, not whether they actually liked the art or not. While the team that chose the artist and art they loved made $13,000 off the art gallery show. They loved the art and it showed as they described the work to potential buyers. The artist they chose was much, much lower in price per piece than the other artist, but because the group’s heart was with the art they were able to really “sell” it. At one point in the show a gallery owner says that art is a business, a subjective business, but a business nontheless. What a fine line that creates when trying to make a hopefully good living from what you love to do. You need to treat your passion like a business while at the same time not be doing it for the money. Artists have a dilema that many other people don’t.

As much as some of us artists don’t want to believe it, it is true. Well, if we do in fact want to make a living out of it. Lately here and there I have had thoughts of wondering what in the heck I am doing. But most of the time I am determined to keep plugging along until I get the book deal, the licensing deal, or just get noticed in general. I believe in what I am selling. I believe in painting fun, whimsical, even child-like paintings that don’t fit into any particular genre soley for the purpose of making people smile. I have painted so many paintings for people that do “get me and my art.” It is ok that some people (in the business world) have not gotten it yet. I am not going anywhere and neither is my art. And I would have quit a long time ago if I was just doing this for the money. These silly dogs just make me so darn happy to paint I cannot imagine life without them! And it sure helped to read, as I sit and wait for publishers to let me know what they think of my book proposals that Dr. Seuss was rejected 26 times before he got his first book deal. He certainly believed in what he was selling, and look at his legacy. He believed in making children of all ages smile with clever rhyme and rhythm.

So I ask, all the people that want to make a living from their dream or whatever goal they want in this life, “Do you believe in what you are selling?”

Spring is in the air!

Finally had a day here that got up to 70 degrees! I hadn’t realized how much the weather was making me not really depressed, but just blah. Lots of rain and even snow a few days ago. I was so grateful for the sunshine today. I have been working onsite the past week and also next week. I have to admit I am already over the 9-5 thing except for the catered luncheon last Friday and the bagels and coffee this morning. Perks I don’t ever give myself! Usually breakfast consists of coffee and the crusts I cut off of the kid’s sandwiches I made that day for their lunch. Yum!

I have had lots of freelance work and the onsite job has meant lots of night work again. I am so grateful for it and I am not complaining a bit! I just got in 2 sculpture commissions and 2 more paintings. I am delivering a painting I just finished tomorrow. Also I am starting a newsletter with a local groomer in town and whcih we are finishing up this week and hopefully will have it in the mail next week. She has a mailing list of 1400 dog and cat owners. Not to shabby a number to make sure your info is getting directly into the right hands! And it helps ease the sting of opening Atlanta Magazine’s newest issue that featured page after page of pet vendors including 2 of the other big portrait artists in Atlanta. But I am not bitter. Noooooo. Do I wonder how the heck they got chosen? Do I wonder why them and not me? Do I think, that is SO not fair!? Sure I do. But bitter? Uh, no. Not bitter at all. (please note that there was quite a sarcastic tone in my head as I just typed that.) Hurumph! I try to tell myself that it is just their time and mine will come. But seriously, each of these artist (who are quite good) had two FULL PAGE COLOR ADS of one of their portraits. But I am not jealous. Nope. Not one bit.