Wednesday, August 1, 2018

On Pet Loss and Grief (part one) - My Personal Stories

Jack was the first dog my husband and I had the pleasure to be guardians for.  My husband wanted a companion because he worked at home, and he felt lonely and isolated, at times.  We all ready had two cats, Tiger and Motor, but they were more bonded to me.  So he checked out the available dogs at our local shelters, and that's where we found Jack.  We were looking for a middle aged dog, not a young pup full of energy that needed lots of attention and training.  Jack was a perfect fit for our family.

As I said, we were looking for a middle aged dog.  The shelter told us he was 7 years old, and they had the paperwork to prove it.  My husband and I, not having experience with dogs, believed them.  We were misled.

Jack was with us for two and a half years.  And in that time, I fell deeply in unconditional love with him.  He started having noticeable health issues the last year he was with us, but nothing our vet was alarmed about.  One Sunday afternoon, during a walk, Jack collapsed, as he did periodically.  In the evening, he had very labored breathing, and because it seemed so extreme to me, we took him to the emergency vet.

Jack, smiling.
After a brief exam, the emergency vet told us he was dying, and we could choose to put him to sleep, or take him home and he would probably pass overnight.  What?  Dying?  What are you talking about?  He is too young to be dying?  We thought we were bringing him in to get some medicine to help him breathe, and take him home.  Not dying.  She said you have an old dog, and he has congestive heart failure.  An old dog?  Jack was only middle aged.  Needless to say, we were in disbelief.

The vet gave us one more option.  We could leave him with her, and she would start treating him with heart medication, and we would see how he did overnight, and reassess in the morning.  We went with that option.  Jack did not make it to the next morning.

I was devastated.  I had never felt that depth of loss and pain before.

Motor, so photogenic.
A year and a half later, my eight year old cat Motor started not eating, and when he did, throwing up.  Motor had never been ill before.  This was unusual behavior.  I called the vet right away, and took him to another vet for a second opinion.  Motor had a blockage in his intestine, cancer, that was obstructing his eating.  At first, our vet thought it might be treatable.  Then it wasn't.  Motor passed away three to four weeks after his unusual symptoms had began.

My Motor.
Once again, I was devastated.  Motor was only eight years old.  And never ill before.  How can that be?  And he was sweet, and loving, and my tender blossom.  I was inconsolable.

These two losses have taught me a lot about grief.  What to expect and how to take care of myself while going through it.  I'd like to share some of my insights, in the hopes they may be helpful for others, going through the same process.

Please see my next post.  This one is getting to long to continue.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Meaning Behind the Cat Artwork

I've been thinking about, how to put into words, the significance of this body of cat artwork that I have created.  It is all about love.  The love I feel, and felt, for my cat Motor, who passed away two years ago.  He is the inspiration behind most of the pieces in this body of work.

Motor, just brought home.
Motor was the second pet I ever adopted.  I loved him DEARLY.  He was sweet and shy and in the nine years he lived, maybe only a handful of people ever saw him.  Whenever someone would come over, Motor would run under the bed, or into the closet. He even hid from my husband.

Motor was named Motor because he was a constant purrer.  And he loved to talk.  He and I would have discussions back and forth.  He was a very happy boy, walking around with his tail up in the air most times. And he was photogenic!  I took some of my best cat photos of Motor.  He was a natural.

I haven't dealt with a lot of loss in my life as of yet, and Motor's illness and death was devastating for me.  I was so in love with him.  Unconditionally.  I used to tell my husband that Motor was my heart on the outside.  And that I wasn't sure how I would cope if he ever passed.

Motor was never sick in the eight years we had him, until he got cancer.  When he started not being interested in eating, and then throwing up, I knew something was wrong.  I won't go into the details here, but I think he lived about 3-4 weeks after his diagnosis, and they were painful for him, and for me.  It's hard to witness someone you love in pain.  My heart ached.

I told Motor in the end that I would never forget him.  I didn't know this body of artwork would be part of my remembrance.  I really couldn't do much creatively for a year after.

When I started doing linocut prints, starting with cat imagery was a no brainer for me.  I love animals.  They are my heart, my family.  I think I connect better to them than to people at times.  We have three cats right now, and a dog, Willie our schnoodle.

All the cats in the prints are from my photos of my cats.  Most of the images are of Motor.

My cats are not black cats.  My idea for using a black cat, is as a universal image or symbol for all cats.  Yes, people who have black cats may relate better to my imagery because they see the cat literally as a black cat.  But I am using the image for all breeds of cats.

So these prints are all about love for our feline friends.  And what an impact they make on our lives.  And some are about what happens to them after they pass.  Enlightened, Blessed, Wings. These are all about being on the other side of this life, as we know it.

One of the last photos I took of Motor.
To Motor,
My dear boy, I miss you everyday.  I haven't forgotten you.  I never will.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Test Printing my Block "Wings"

I like to take videos while I work of different stages of the printing process.  Here, I am inking up my block "Wings," for the fist time, all in black, and doing a test print. 

You can do a test print in any color you choose.  I think the details show up best in black and white, or in this case black and pink, pink being the color of the block I am using.   And you always do a test print first to see if you need to do any further carving of your design before you start printing on your good paper. 

Next step will be to carve up the block into what will be the different colored areas.  When all is said and done, this will be a four color print.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Arnold Schwarzenegger's 5 Rules for Success

Very inspiring.

I have never been a big Arnold Schwarzenegger fan. But I saw this video on Facebook from the site Good News Network, and I felt there was some really good advice here on being successful, no matter what you want to be successful at.  


I would recommend watching the video, because his talk is inspiring.  But here are his five tips to excel in whatever you do:

1. Find your vision or goal.  Find your purpose.  Find your passion.  Follow it, or you will not feel happy in life.   

I agree.  Otherwise you will be floundering.  Having a dream, a goal, a sense of purpose, gives one a reason to get up in the morning.  Gives your life direction.  Gives you grounding.

2.  Never think small.  Think big.  

I say, why not?

3.  Ignore the nay sayers.  This is a big one.  For all of us.  Do not listen to them.  Move forward towards your goal.  

We have all dealt with nay sayers.  As an artist, since I was a child, I was told, get a "real" job, do art on the side, as a hobby.   By my parents, art was not looked at as a viable career choice.  And by a lot of society, art is looked at the same. 

4.  Work your ass off.

5.  Don't just take, give something back.  Help others.  Help create a better world.  

"If not us, who?  If not now, when?" 

Love those two lines. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Steal Like an Artist - On Art

One of my VERY favorite books about art is "Steal Like an Artist," by Austin Kleon.  He makes many good points about art that I would like to share.  Here are some of my favorites. 

1.  Nothing is original.  All creative work builds on what came before.

Every new idea is just a mashup or remix of one or more previous ideas.

2.  There's an economic theory out there that says if you take the income of your 5 closest friends and average them, the resulting number will be pretty close to your income.  (I heard this theory before in a Mastermind marketing group.)

The same is true of our idea incomes.

3.  Chew on one thinker, one writer, artist, activist, role model, that you really like.  Study everything there is to know about that thinker, artist, writer, etc.  Then find 3 people that thinker loved, and find out everything about them.  Repeat.

4.  Seeing yourself as part of a creative lineage will help you feel less alone as you start making your own art.  I hang pictures of my favorite artists in my studio.

5.  The great thing about dead or remote artists is that they can't refuse you as an apprentice.  You can learn whatever you want from them.  They left their lesson plans in their work.

6.  Carry a notebook and pen, or sketch book and pencil, with you every where you go. 

7.  Keep a swipe file.  A file to keep track of the stuff you've swiped from others.  Keep a scrap book, take photos, etc.  Need some inspiration?  Open up your swipe file.

8.  You're only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with.  In the digital space, that means following the best people online, the people who are smarter than you.  Pay attention to what they are talking about, what they are linking to. 

9.  Harold Ramis says "Find the most talented person in the room, and if it's not you, go stand next to him or her.  Hang out with him or her.  Try to be helpful."

10.  If you ever find you are the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.  

If any of these thoughts and ideas pique your interest, I would highly recommend reading this book.  It's a quick read, and well worth it. 

On Creativity, by Brene Brown

Love this quote by Brene Brown.  So true.