Monday, February 28, 2011

Denton Life is Pretty Darn Good

The sun came out and the weather warmed up to just right this afternoon. I decided it was time for me to get out so I headed over to Downtown Denton. Clearly I have had my head in the sand for far too long because there was much to do, see, and impulse buy.

First stop was Sleeping Lizzards just off the square. Everyone who has ever lived in Denton knows Sleeping Lizzards is a fabulous collection of jewelry, clothes, and just fun stuff. I absolutely love the typewriter key jewelry by co-owner Beth Klein. A fun new addition at the store is the button making station. You can make your own buttons for $1 and there is an ample supply of cool books and magazines to cut up and incorporate in your very own creation. Express yourself and go make a button. Plus, there are some supercute, floaty summer dresses on sale right now.

Next  I dropped in to A Creative Art Studio on Oak Street. It is a fun mix of works by regional and local artists. I love the cast resin Buddhas by Denton artist and educator Jennifer Leigh Jones and the paintings by Mariko Frost Kostreva. I will have to start saving up so I can take the class in mosaic making taught by owner Robin Huttash. There are so many interesting classes on offer right now. I will definitely have to head back over there for First Friday to see the Big Rig Dance Collective. Check out the events page here for more information.

A relatively new addition to the area is the Howe Unique Boutique. You can find their facebook page here. They have a varied collection of gift and housewares that includes work by local and regional artists. They have some great greeting cards and really cute locally made handbags. I am bummed I missed the Vintage Pinup Themed photoshoot; that looks like fun. I will be following their facebook feed so I can go to the next one!

I popped in to The Courthouse Collection to see what's new. There were some cute flip flops that caught my eye but then I walked through to the back and was utterly surprised by the Country Kitchen City Cooks shop. There were so many tempting treats on offer back there! I splurged on a bag of Super Graham Crunch coffee beans (hopefully the coffee goodness will motivate me to get my bum out of bed in the morning). This will be my go-to place next time I need a sophisticated Texas themed gift. There were Texas made candies, jelly, honey, salsa, pasta and lots more so look out ya'all. Be nice to me and I might send you a present.

I always thought the UNT on the Square was just some conference space that the school took over but then I went inside. Guess what? They have art in there. On exhibit right now are paintings by Elaine Pawlowicz. The space is lovely and a pleasant surprise. I am thrilled that there is an actual art gallery on the square. What a brilliant move by the Art Department at UNT.

My favorite find by far was 2nd Street. You can follow them on facebook here. It took me two years to make time to visit and I feel like I have been missing out. Inside you will find a fabulous collection of clothes, shoes, and other tchochkes. The merchandise is a blend of new, recycled and vintage; all of it cool (but not inaccessibly so). I bough an awesome doormat made out of recycled flip-flops and had a great time chatting with the owner. She is really wonderful and an ardent supporter of local musicians.

I have been suffering from city envy lately but I am over it. There is so much going on right here in my hometown. The food is good. The drinks are affordable. The people are friendly. The weather is nice. I am glad I live in Denton; life is pretty darn good.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What is Important?

Some of the things I spend my time on: walking the dog and training the dog, cleaning the house, caring for the cats, making food, making jewelry, surfing the internet (especially twitter and facebook), reading about business and economics, listening to NPR, paperwork, watching TV shows, talking to my husband, reading novels and other books.

Things I should spend less time on: paperwork, surfing the internet, watching TV, reading novels (depending on the week).

Things I should spend more time on: going to art shows, talking to my husband, attending cultural events, marketing my jewelry, drawing, coming up with new designs.

What is most important? Family. Friends. Pets. Enjoying my work. Understanding how the world works. Being responsible. Being kind to every person with whom I interact. Living a beautiful life.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Accountability and Discipline

I have a problem. I am sure that many of you suffer from the same issue. I am a wicked bad procrastinator and am addicted to deadlines. I can find about a million other things to do around the house (clean, laundry, nap) or on the internet/phone (twitter, facebook, games, reading articles). In the absence of any deadlines or shows, I fall apart. I become unfocused and unable to accomplish any jewelry making. I need to change this pattern of behavior.

One remedy I am exploring to improve my time management is using a planner. Each day in the planner is marked out in hours and I am determined to write each activity for each day into the slots. At the end of each month, I will make a graph of how I have spent my time (not sure I will ever share this chart with anyone). I expect this will be a humbling experience but it will also encourage me to engage in activities that I want to write in my planner. Really, who wants to see two hours of nap, every day?

I want to make a living doing what I love. Some days it is really difficult to get motivated. My lack of self-discipline could cause this whole enterprise to fall apart. As my little pothos has taught me, I can change. I have to change and my planner is just one of many little steps on my path to succeeding as an artist and a businesswoman.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tiny Steps

I finally made a Work Log Form today. This way, I can neatly track my hours for each project in one place. This seemingly tiny task has been haunting me for nearly a year. I find myself getting hung up on these tiny bits of business and they keep me from accomplishing much larger, more important things.

I think the whole hangup about the form stems from a larger fear. I want to think of myself as an artist and, somehow, doing things like efficiently tracking hours spent feels like "not art". In fact, it feels like business. And "business" feels less meaningful than art.

I am an artist and a businesswoman. I have to be both. I want to make art all of the time. I need to make money to live and buy materials to make more art. I refuse to perpetuate the notion that one either makes art or makes business. It is not a useful dichotomy and, given the large number of MFAs seeking an ever shrinking number of teaching positions, one that many fellow artists are going to have to reject.

Is it possible to make business and make art without "selling out"? I sure hope so. I am going to give it a try. I took a little step forward today.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lessons from My Pothos

For most of my life, I have been plagued with a black thumb. I couldn't keep cut flowers fresh for more than three days. And potted plants, forget it. Within a week, I could turn a beautiful, healthy houseplant into a pot of decay and mush. My dad was always giving me flowers and plants; to me, they were sad exiles to the punishing death row of plants that is my house. They were just another hopeful gesture doomed to remind me, within days, that I am an irresponsible failure (or a swift executioner).

One day, my friend Becky gave me a little pothos she had rooted and potted. Becky is a kind and magical individual who seems to have a deeply rooted connection with nature and the living world. She is a portrait of self-renewal and proof that people can choose to change themselves for the better. Simply put, she is everything that I am not. I thought to myself, "this poor little plant is doomed," even as Becky was extolling the virtues of the pothos.

In honor of Becky's faith in me, I decided to really make an effort to not kill the pothos. A week went by and the plant was still alive. Then a month. After about six months, the little guy had outgrown his pot and I took some clippings and gave rooting a try. It worked. A few more months and I had enough plant to try rooting a bit in water. Then, brimming with self confidence, I acquired a few more plants. Now I have a window full of semi-healthy, growing green things. Although there have been a few casualties along the way, including a supposedly indestructible aspidistra (thanks, Dad), most of the plants continue to grow.

Each time I look at that little pothos, I am reminded that I can change. I can be a better person. It hasn't happened overnight and I still make mistakes but little pothos reminds me that, no matter how old I get, I can still change myself. I, confirmed plant killer, can turn my black thumb to green (well, brownish green). I just have to keep trying; it helps to have friends who believe in you.
The original pothos (right) and some of its children.
Who, or what, has helped you become better? Please feel free to comment!