June 22, 2013

A Baby Sparrow, a Feather and a Cautionary Tale

Summer is here! Both Emma and Chloé are on holiday now. My days change significantly when they are in the house each day. Not that they are difficult at their age but I find my brain is more easily distracted when others are here. Plus for sure, there are occasional interruptions and taxi duties. And more sharing is required of computers, etc. Now it is the cranky, middle-aged mother, not toddlers, having difficulty with sharing.

Good news! I am slowly but surely getting used to my new computer setup and starting to produce prints from it. So proud of this little baby sparrow print.  I just added it to my shop today. I'll also be adding him in a larger 8 x 10 format. I have other prints ready to go into my shop and a pile more paintings to convert. It's slow work but worth it to me to do it right. Plus Emma, who is a Photoshop whiz, has been helping me a lot.

After having one of the best months ever sale-wise in May, June has been so, so quiet. I was worrying about it and then realized that it was actually a good thing as my computer situation would have made it very hard to keep up had it been busier. A good lesson in accepting and adapting to circumstances.

Here's another addition to my shop this week.

This is a card based on my sparrow feather painting. A customer asked me if that painting was available as a card. I try whenever I can to respond to customer suggestions like this. This one was a real challenge. I first approached it the way I do most of my paintings when making them into a print or card. Usually I scan the painting, then isolate my image and remove the paper texture around it. No matter how I did it, I was losing fine detail from my feather. I worked on it for hours, Emma helped me too, and I was about to abandon the idea of it ever being a card. Then I had the idea of including the paper texture! In the end, by including the paper texture and adding two fine lines as a frame, it has retained the three-dimensional look of the original work. The original painting was done within a rectangular hand-embossed area. It was definitely a 'eureka' moment. Wish it had come a little sooner but glad it came at all. :)

And a cautionary tale. I was so elated when I finally figured out the feather card that I immediately sent a message to the customer who had made the enquiry. And then I quickly sent an email to an artist friend with whom I share lots of the ups and downs of my art making and print making. I pressed send and then looked at my screen. To my horror, I had sent the second email (the one destined for my friend) to the customer as well. In the email I had referred to the 'stupid...I mean sweet sparrow feather', all within the context of the hours of work it had taken to finally get it right. A friend would understand. A customer? I'm not so sure. When I realized what I had done, I immediately sent a note of apology to the customer but I think the damage was done. I haven't heard back from her. I still feel awful and so embarrassed about it. From me to you: Be careful with that 'send' button.

I seem to be more tired lately, more distracted, clumsier. My feet seem to be twice as long as usual. Do you know the feeling? I am wearing new glasses which may be part of the problem. But I also think that the past weeks with all of the computer troubles have taken their toll. Nothing that a bit of summer can't cure I'm sure. 

June 14, 2013

Fog and Sunshine

A big hello from me and this little fellow who visited our front yard this week. Isn't he a beauty?

The past few weeks have been quite a blur, dominated mostly by computer issues. We had two family computers encounter problems in the first part of May. My daughter's laptop was able to be nursed back to health. The family desktop computer where I do the bulk of my Etsy work (making art prints, etc.) started crashing and encountering unexpected shutdowns. We had it in for repairs twice and a technician visited here. Oh the time that was spent/wasted on it!

Last Friday, it started crashing again and I told my husband I couldn't deal with it anymore. On Sunday, we went and replaced it with a brand new iMac. We are now a two-Mac family. The black cloud that has been following me computer-wise continued this week with weird, ominous start-up error messages on our brand new computer that had the Apple technicians scratching their heads. Yesterday, I spent an hour and fifteen minutes on the phone with an Apple technician and we finally figured it out.

Next big challenge. My Etsy print files aren't printing exactly the same way. I am using the same printer but I am now using a different operating system and monitor. To say I've been feeling a little stress lately is an understatement. I have been waking up at 4:00 a.m. and can't get back to sleep because of thinking about the computer.

This morning, I started typing an email to my husband in the Google search bar. (Hmmmm...hello universe, can you direct this to the right person for me?) I began pouring coffee into a cup that was already full and I missed the turnoff on the highway--an exit I take all of the time.

I know that everything will be fine with time. Better than before. I am certain of it but still wish this transition was a little easier.

A sweet little bouquet gathered by Chloé. It still looks beautiful after a week.
I am behind in everything right now: my blog posts, Etsy team quotas, family responsibilities. I talk about home-cooked meals more than I make them. I haven't painted in over two weeks. There are still flats of annuals waiting for me in the backyard. Thankfully, Mother Nature has been looking after watering them.  The weeds have enjoyed that I've had my back turned to them and they have been sneakily growing taller than their annual and perennial companions.

Meeko keeps looking at me wistfully and occasionally doing this combination whimper/sigh that goes straight to the heart. I know what he's thinking--that a little more attention directed his way would be welcome along with a few extra walks.

What else? Emma turned 18 on June 1st. How did that happen? I am so proud of the wonderful, quirky (in a good, interesting way), beautiful young woman she is.

Emma's birthday cake. I did find time to make it!
Other news from the past couple of weeks? I sold two original watercolours to two separate buyers--both from Australia. I have sold many originals in the past but never on Etsy before and to so far away! It was quite a thrill. I have received lovely emails from both buyers confirming that they received the paintings and loved them. Phew! That makes my heart sing. I've talked before about how hard it is for me to let go of my originals. But when I know they are with someone who loves them, that makes all the difference to me. It's also encouraged me to add a few more to my shop and I'll continue to add originals every now and then.

I also have a couple of new prints ready to add to my shop but have been waiting for a day when I have both the time and enough sunlight to photograph them.

Emma finished school a few weeks ago. Chloé wrote her last exam this morning so the summer has officially started here. Did you hear that, weather? (Maybe it did, because the sun is out today.)

Oh yeah! I got my first pair of real glasses yesterday! So when the fog finally clears, I'll be able to see everything better than ever.
The view outside our front window very, very early yesterday morning.



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