Monday, September 26, 2016

New Path in Life - New Challenge

Beth (left) and myself (right) at a CPSA convention

I have been trying to decide whether or not to let people know what is going on in my life. I don't believe in completely opening up my entire life online, especially on Facebook and other assorted social media sites.  But, often God leads us down a path we did not expect. One that He knows will be very difficult, perhaps even painful, but the end result may be that we are able to help others who also are going down a similar path in their lives.

I don't know where God is going with this new path. I'm not sure how I can help other people, but if God wants me to help others He will provide a way. I do, however, know one thing: God has never let me down and I know He never will. There's a reason for everything that happens. I may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I know it's there. And I know that with every step I take, God is walking with me, holding my hand all the way and leading me safely down this pitted and booby-trapped road. He will lead and guide me and I trust Him with every fiber of my being.

So where in the world am I going with this?  Well, here it is: Nine months ago I was diagnosed with MS, or Multiple Sclerosis. MS is an incurable disease of the central nervous system, but fortunately there are treatments that can help slow down the progression of the disease. So when I was given my treatment options, and yes I was allowed to choose my treatment plan, I chose the one that seems to have the best results in slowing down the progression of the disease with the fewest side effects. It means giving myself a subcutaneous shot three times a week for the rest of my life, unless, for some reason, the disease progresses to the point that I need to switch treatment plans. I'm hoping that won't happen.

Look Into My Eyes
After my diagnosis, I went to many bad places. I’ve had my crying spells and pity parties. I questioned God. "Why me?” I asked. “Haven't I been through enough in my life?" As though that's actually a valid question. We all have terrible times we go through in life but that doesn't mean we get an exemption from anything else bad happening to us. Then, I made a decision.

I may have MS, but I don't have to let it control my life. I still work at my full-time job at Monterey Mushrooms. I still do housecleaning and mow the lawn (though all of you who know me also know just how much I dislike housecleaning and try to avoid it like the plague). I still help people move furniture and I still try to exercise, though, to be honest that last part doesn't happen nearly enough (and to think, I used to be addicted to exercise!). I try not to think about whether or not I should do something based upon how my MS may affect me. I just do it. The only exception is the heat issue. Simply put, I melt in heat and humidity. Seriously. I melt. I think it's mostly because I spent half my life up north. I grew up not far below Canada. I LOVE cold weather, snow, and ice! Well, it seems that heat can exacerbate MS symptoms, so sometimes I do think about that if I have to do something out in the heat. Mostly, I just live my life and see what happens. Just like the Christie Lane song, "One day at a time, sweet Jesus." 

The most common symptom of MS is fatigue and sometimes I have that in spades! Many of the medicines used to treat MS cause fatigue, which is a double whammy. The medicine I chose does not cause fatigue and that's one of the reasons why I chose it. I get tired enough just from the MS itself. Honestly, fatigue is my biggest battle right now. Well, I do also have a serious lack of focus and I can get distracted more than a teenage boy with ADHD. That all means I need to be more organized, take good notes, and jot things down on the calendar. Uh huh. I’m working on that calendar bit too.

I don’t know if you noticed it or not, but I haven’t even mentioned my art yet. Well, here it is: I am trying to do my art, but if I were honest with you I’d tell you that it’s not easy. Remember that lack of focus and getting distracted bit? Add to that the fact that I’m post-menopausal and you’ve got a whole new ball of wax to deal with. I’ve now got projects started in clay, watercolors, acrylics, colored pencils, and three in graphite, plus a statue I am working on. I get started on one, then pause for a day on it and get started on another project, and then another, and………well, you can see where this is going. I don’t get a whole lot done, but really I’m trying. If I could just stop getting distracted………… wait, what was I saying?

Now that all of that news is out in the open, onto other news. I do have a new camera, thanks to my wonderful husband, so I can take some more photos to post here. I do intend to get more artwork done, that is actually completed. I’m hoping I finish them before my mind wanders away and can’t find its way back. I have a LOT of plans, and I may even get some done before too long.

So keep me in your prayers, but don’t overly worry about me….and if you happen to find some extra energy just hanging around looking for something to do, please send it my way.

Pinky & Rosie

Morning Devotions

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Slight Detour

Normally, you all know me for creating artwork in colored pencils, pastels, and graphite. Recently, I decided to try something new. Clay. Polymer clay to be exact. So I've been working with the clay and armatures, trying to figure it out for myself with the help of a couple of websites and one book in particular called "Fantasy Creatures in Clay: Techniques for Sculpting Griffins, Dragons, and More" by Emily Coleman.  It's a great book, and very informative.

I had also been working on "Trail of Painted Ponies" statues. I decided to see if I could combine both of them. I found some black clay with gold glitter in it and thought it would look interesting as a horse. I had not gotten the results I wanted by painting the horse statues, so I thought maybe I could literally drape the resin statue with a very thin sheet of that black gold glitter clay. So I did it.  Not real keen on the results, but I know how I would do it differently if I did it again. I also went crazy making all different bases for it and other statues I'll be working on. Now, I have made the armatures for the wings for the horse, and I've begun putting the clay on. I have most of the clay on one wing, but no details and haven't finished shaping each feather yet. It will look much better when I finish all of that, but for now, this is the point I am at.

I have posted some unedited photos for you to see. Some of the photos were taken with my cell phone, some with my camera, but none of them have been edited at all.

The resin horse statue is layered with Fimo Effects Polymer Clay. The color is called "Twinkle, Twinkle." The base is also made of Fimo Effects clay, this one is called "Opal." It is a very hard color to work with because whatever they use for the glitter and sparkly stuff is very chunky and hard to roll out and keep it from falling apart. It may also be old clay and it's just quite dry. The base, as you can see, is just very simple.


The armature for the wings was made with 16 and 20 gauge armature wire and aluminum mesh with a little tinfoil. I didn't get a photo of the armature after it was completed. I used a glue gun to add some wire to the mesh which would give the longer feathers some stability. 

 These last two photos show the clay being added to the wings. In these pictures I have the wings looking a little mussy, you know, not orderly and straight. More like they are being windblown, which they are because they are going to be placed on a cantering horse. But, I'm not sure I want to keep it this way. Plenty of time to decide before I bake them.

There are no details yet and still a lot of shaping to do as well to each feather, so they are not even close to being completed. I took the photos from two different angles.

The clay I used for the wings was "Twinkle, Twinkle" and " "Glitter White." I blended them together in odd ways to make it look more interesting and to go with the "Stardust" name. I also added several different colors of glitter to the clay before blending the two colors together, which is why you can see some odd colors and glitter in the feathers.

Well, that's where I'm at right now. I might be able to finish this wing within the next week, so I can get started on the second wing.

This whole thing, the horse, the base, and the wings are all loaded with sparkly, glittery stuff. I think I over did it a bit much.

One more photo for you. This is another base I made for another statue. As you can see, this is a two-tiered granite base. It was made with Fimo Effects clay. The color was called "Gray Granite" (surprise, surprise).

                                                       Two-Tiered Granite Base

So, there you are. This is what I have been working on lately.

I apologize for not posting regular blog articles for quite awhile now, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of it. I will try very hard to do better for now on.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it.

~ Happy Arting!