Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for the ‘emotings’ Category

What if the Hokey Pokey is really what it's all about?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Ok, so not really, but I’m starting to wonder.

I’m a bit discouraged this week. Still no job here in Portland. But do I want one? I don’t know. I do want money– and health insurance, but couldn’t I get that from painting? Well, only if someone one actually buys the paintings. But that isn’t really happening right now…

I’m feeling undervalued. Our society doesn’t really care about painters. They value mathematicians and physicists. And engineers, and other science-y people. And lawyers. No one needs a still-life painter of toys.

Also, I know that there are more than five people that read this blog, but only two commenters were willing to put themselves out there– I’m not sure what to think of that. I don’t want to guilt you guys, but I don’t want to expend the energy on this if it’s not working.

This year has been a year of transitions. It’s made me a bit introspective. Between losing my community, my house in turmoil, and the subsequent move to Portland, I’m a little lost. What am I doing? Who do I want to be? Why am I whining to you? I should go paint.

Friday Fun…

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Big adventures today…

After yoga class (yay for ankle recovery!) I came home, made myself lunch and decided to celebrate my finished painting. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I decided it was perfect weather for an adventure.

I bought an all day bus pass, and discovered that I can get to Ikea via public transit in less than 30 minutes here. I love TriMet! Chris is not going to be happy about this.

The sky was so pretty and from the train, and the clouds lifted so that I could see both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood. (I believe now, Havi. It exists. Though I was starting to doubt, since I had only seen it once.) I remember reading a Ramona Quimby book that talked about Mt. Hood and thought about how much fun it is to live in places I read about as a little girl. I’m rereading the entire Ramona series to celebrate living in Portland.

I bought some candles and researched desks, rugs and floor lamps and decided that Chris must return to Ikea with me soon. I’ll lure him there with the promise of Apple Strudel– that always works.

From Ikea I took the train downtown to Powells City of Books (I love it there! Even more than Ikea) to hear Molly Wizenberg. She writes the blog Orangette, she lives in Seattle, and she’s just written a book, A Homemade Life, and like her, it’s lovely. I sat and listened to her read and realized this is what Chris is going to do and it’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to see him there. But first he has a lot of writing to do.

Finally, (and maybe the best part of the day) I met Amy of Angry Chicken. I’ve read her blog for ages, even though I don’t sew (except for that one quilt) yet.I really love her ideas and her aesthetic. Just go look– you’ll see. She’s awesome. And as for sewing, notice I said yet. That’s because I made my very first apron this week. And I’m looking on craiglist for a good used sewing machine, because I want to make more. Much more. Amy’s blog (and book) have inspired me to learn to really sew. Not just the one quilt.

Now I’m home. And I’ve lit my orange candle from Ikea and the cat is purring in my lap and my husband is on the way home (sort of– he’s flying from South Africa to Hong Kong tonight, then 24 hours in Hong Kong, then he flies to LA, and then he’s actually on the way home) and I have half a vegan chocolate chip cookie left for breakfast tomorrow.

Days like today make me wish I could bottle gratitude and store it for later. Oh wait, I can. Someone remind me of this post the next time I’m whining.


Friday, February 13th, 2009

The English teacher in me is really in to metaphors. This is something that annoys Chris. I’m always using metaphors in conversation and he listens with the little bit of patience that he has acquired during our marriage (believe me, he has way more than I ever thought he would), until eventually he says, “What are you trying to say?”

And then I read him a poem. He LOVES that.

When we arrived in Portland Sunday, and unloaded the truck, and began to make order of all the boxes, we then made our way to Fred Meyer to get groceries. I never went to Fred Meyer in Seattle, because it wasn’t on a bus line for me, but the one here is less than two blocks away, so I think I’ll be there a lot. So far I’ve actually been every day since we moved to Portland. It could be dangerous.

Sorry– back to the subject. At Fred Meyer, there is a garden center just past the produce section. So while Chris was choosing bananas, I wandered over to the seeds. I thought it would be cool to have a plant that we started growing on our first day in our new home. Chris just rolled his eyes, but I bought the seeds and soil.

So I brought them home and put the seeds in the soil and put them in a sunny window.
And I realized — METAPHOR! Chris had to listen to my ramblings again… “See Chris? It’s like us– we’ve been transplanted, but we don’t have any roots yet!”

So this is where I am now:

Hopefully roots will come. And our new life here will slowly sprout.

Upside down…

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

That’s the way my world has been for the past few weeks.

But it seems that things are turning around. Of course, that may be because we’ve completely re-arranged our world.

Chris and I moved to Portland, Oregon this week. Surprised? Yeah, a lot of people are. We didn’t mean to keep so many people in the dark, but we weren’t sure that everything would come together, so we were pretty quiet about it.

And then, everything did come together. So we’re here. Which means I missed saying good-bye to a few people. But I hate good-byes, so maybe that’s ok. Unless you are one of those people, and then it’s not. And I’m sorry.

Portland is great– our new house is amazing. But I have to say, I don’t really feel like explaining myself to a whole new group of people. You know, “Hi, I’m Jolie. An artist. Who paints toys. Who lived in Africa. On a ship. Yes, a ship. Well, it’s a hospital ship… Oh, that’s my husband. He travels a lot. Yes, I’m ok with this. Well, he’s trying to go to every country in the world. Why? Umm, well… because he’s… because it’s… well we have these goals…” You see my problem. I don’t really want to explain this crazy life we live anymore.

I guess I’m just mourning the loss of my peeps in Seattle. My wonderful, hysterical friends that took me to get a nose ring on a Wednesday evening, and helped me procrastinate my painting, or were always up for sushi when Chris was away, or cried (and cussed) with me when my world there turned upside down.


I can see that we’re here for a reason and it’s going to be marvelous. (Except for the snow, but it’s snowing in Seattle, too.) I’m glad to be on a new adventure. I actually really love moving– making a fresh start in a new place, going through all my stuff, getting rid of things I don’t need, unpacking boxes and putting things away in a new place. Chris was freaking out about loading the truck, but I was pretending it was a game of Tetris– if you got the boxes in the right place, then you scored extra points and your stuff didn’t get broken on the drive down. (See? I can’t even explain myself to me…)

And once those boxes are unpacked, I’ll even put up some pictures of our new place. (I know, I know, but I really will.) It’s going to be so pretty, I can’t wait to show it to you.

Small steps.

Monday, December 8th, 2008

This is the MRI image of my ankle pre-surgery. It’s fixed now. Mostly. So that means I can walk (using a cane) and cook dinner again. I can get on the bus without making everyone else wait, and I can wear skirts again. It also means that everything else I do becomes much easier, so I can catch up on all the other things that matter. Like here. I missed writing. I missed being in this space. I’m glad to be back.

Thanks for being patient– I hope you’re still out there!

Painting pictures and show updates soon!

Lots to say.. .few words

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Yes, I know. I owe you pictures of the show from Kuma.
And pictures of my recent paintings.
And maybe just a few words to let you know that I’m still alive.

Well, how about one out of three?

I have so many pictures on my camera. But, I haven’t actually had the energy to connect the cable to the camera and the computer lately.

I had ankle surgery 10 days ago. I’m tired. I feel useless and frustrated. I can’t even get myself a glass of water without spilling it all over the kitchen. Chris has been wonderful, but it’s hard to be so dependent on someone. So I’m following some good advice and choosing what’s most important.

Right now that’s painting, being with Chris and showing up for work (gotta keep that health insurance). I’ll be back here though. Be patient.

Letting Go.

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

I learned something really important this week. It’s about Painting and Life. Hopefully I can explain it without confusion.

For the first two years I painted, I struggled with building a good foundation to my painting. I was so intimidated by the act of painting that I never really bothered to set my paintings up well, I just tried to get the canvas covered. I felt twitchy until all the white space was filled in with color. That meant that I just slapped things down without worrying about angles or measurements or composition. Sometimes I got lucky and it worked. Other times, well– let’s just say I have a large collection of wonky looking canvases hiding in the hall closet. It took me a while to get comfortable with the idea of empty space while I worked out the potential problems of each piece.

But, at some point I realized the importance of setting things up well. I realized that if I got the angle right on the first try, then I wouldn’t spend hours repainting in frustration. And since we were running out of space in the hall closet, I started planning and drawing things in a little more carefully before I threw the paint on the canvas. Instantly, I saw my work move up a level. More paintings were successful, fewer were banished to a dark room.

Things went along nicely for awhile. But I was still dissatisfied. Other people liked my work, and I wasn’t hiding it anymore, but it still fell short somehow. Again, sometimes I’d get lucky, but overall I still felt like it wasn’t quite finished–even though I’d planned well and followed all the rules. (Don’t ask me what the rules are, I haven’t really figured that out yet. I just know when it’s right.) My work looked fine, but I wanted it to look like this, or this, or even this. (Have I mentioned my lack of patience already?)

So this week, I figured something out. Painting is like life. I need to plan well and give myself as much information as possible in the early stages of a project. But once I’ve committed to the right direction then I have to let go of the original plan. See, once I started planning and drawing in detail, I found it hard to move past the drawing. For example, if I got the angle right on Mr. Potato Head’s arm, then I would paint all around it, but I’d be afraid to really paint it, because I might lose the part that’s working. The problem with this is that it makes for nice drawings, but only mediocre paintings.

See, paintings are all about edges. This is something I’ve known in my head for awhile– the eye perceives things and takes in information based almost completely on edges. It’s how you can tell the difference between a golf ball and a ping-pong ball. Or a tennis ball and a lemon. But knowing it in my head and knowing it in my paintbrush are two different things. I wasn’t happy with my painting because I was afraid of losing the drawing, so I ignored the edges.I might as well have been using a coloring book.

I was holding on to the original plan so tightly, that I couldn’t move past it.

Someone told me this week to let go of the drawing. And I realized– I’d gotten the drawing right the first time, so if I lost it, I could probably get it back. I also realized, that if I didn’t paint over the drawing, I’d never have a good painting.

So while I’m still a long way from Chardin, I think my work is about to move to a new level again. Because I’m letting go. And maybe one day, we’ll have room for coats in our hall closet.

Hey! Look!

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

It’s me! Did you forget me? I hope not.

I know I last posted 4 weeks ago, but there’s a good reason, I promise!(Really!)

Ok, first good excuse– no, I mean REASON. Chris took the camera with him. Then when he brought it back, it wouldn’t zoom. or unzoom. It wouldn’t cooperate at all. And I was tired of whining about it, so I decided not to post until I actually did something about the camera situation. This called for immediate action, so I stopped eating. Well, I stopped eating out. Normally, everyday that I work, I go to Piroshkis on Madison. Dmitri knows me well enough that when I walk in the door, he puts a Spinach Mushroom and Cheese Piroshki in the oven for me. It costs $4.86. I give him a five and put the 15 cents in the tip jar.

So, I started packing my lunch. That saved $20 each week. That, plus a couple of sales on etsy gave me enough money to buy a camera on sale at Target today.

So without further ado: pictures of everything I’ve been working on for the last month.

See no evil. You’ve seen this one already.

Hear no evil. You saw the beginning of this, but he’s progressed nicely since then.

Speak no evil. Started two weeks ago. Finished? Not yet, but soon.

Don’t worry, more to come! I have a camera now.

Settling in again.

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

I’m back. Did you miss me?

I had a lovely visit with family, saw really beautiful scenery, and manned a support team for a marathon at sea. Once again, Chris’s determination and drive made life crazy-wonderful for a couple of days. I’m always impressed with him and his fierce ambition. Who else would imagine running 262 laps around a jogging track on a cruise ship? I love that man.

Now I’m settling back in to life. And I’m reminded of how much I like my life. I like my house and my husband. I like my studio and the act of painting (even if I’m not always happy with the product). I like my job at the museum. I like knitting on the bus and the simple familiarity of crazy people on the route 49. I like that I have friends who are excited to see me and I like my rainy, grey-sky city. I like life in Seattle. And I like that we’re staying here another year.

Thoughts at the Makeup Counter.

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Last week I took a rare trip to the makeup counter at Macy’s. I went because there was a special and I needed a couple of small things. As often happens (maybe because I’m a sucker), I ended up sitting in a chair while a young woman wearing lots of eyeshadow touched my face.

Now back in my teaching days, I needed a second job for awhile, so I used to work at one of these counters and I remember how this works. The girl with lots of eyeshadow needs to present herself as the expert and to do that she needs to make me feel insecure about my face or my skin or my eyes–whatever will help her sell me something to cover up or enhance or accentuate my features. Those are words the eyeshadowed girls use a lot.

So, anyway, I’m in the chair and the eyeshadowed girl is scrutinizing my face. After a pause, she asks, “So how old are you, dear?”

I smile (I know what’s coming.) and say proudly, “31.”

“Oh? Really? Hmm…” Delicate pause. “Well, let me show you one of our new products that will help you get rid of those circles under your eyes and get you back to looking more your age.”

“Circles?” I think, “I didn’t notice any circles this morning–hmm. Maybe I do need to put a little more effort into my appearance. Did I even look in the mirror this morning when I left? I wonder what the rest of me looks like.”

I sat there in that chair and began to feel more and more insecure. I decided it was time to change the subject. “So,” I asked, “what do you do when you’re not at Macy’s?”

“Well, I have a three year old little boy and he takes a lot of my time. When I’m not here then mostly I’m doing his laundry.” She laughs with a tired smile.

I sense that she wants to change the subject, so I ask how long she’s worked at Macy’s.

“Oh, on and off– about a year.” Ok, let’s change the subject again. So I ask if she had enjoyed the long weekend.

“Well, my boyfriend and I got in a fight, but then later we grilled out with his family, so… no I guess not.”

Ouch. A little too much information. She realizes this and changes the subject, but thankfully not to my dark under eye circles. “So, what about you? What do you do?”

“Well, I’m an artist…”

In a effort to steer the conversation away from my facial flaws, I describe my life for her. I talk about my art, our travel, living overseas– anything but makeup. And as I talk I realize, my life is really good. I look at her perfect makeup and I contrast my life with hers and decide that even with my under eye circles, I’d rather be me.

Finally, she steps back and hands me a mirror. “Now, doesn’t that look nice,” she says. “What do you think of that concealer? Should I put that in your bag, too?”

“No thanks, I don’t need it.”