Family Album

Baby’s first Futsal Tournament. It’s just like soccer, although indoors and possibly more violent.

Futsal 2011

Eight Dollar Art

I’ve always liked a more eclectic style, a mix of styles and varieties rather than being wedded to one specific style – be it country, contemporary, or “early rummage sale.” Eclectic is what you call your style when it’s distinctly possible you don’t have one. Living in an old home with a decidedly “victorian” style of high ceilings, carved crannies, and heavy wood, it’s always a challenge to meld staying true to the home’s “bones” (read: Mid-century Modern need not apply) and resist looking like we live in a museum (“please stand behind the velvet ropes and the Docent will begin the next tour in fifteen minutes. Tickets please. Tickets!”)
In this vein I decided that what my very “traditional” rooms needed was a bright punch of modernity. Not too bright, however, this isn’t preschool. I wanted something abstract and undefined. Just enough to break out of the expected “oh what a lovely landscape” mold. So I started looking for art online. I was willing to take a print, I don’t need an original after all. Then I looked at the prices and ouch. I am a person who still has a sofa from 1999 because I’m cheap. There is no way I’m spending the equivalent on a framed anything to hang on the wall. Unless that frame is full of hundred dollar bills – I’ll pass.
This led to where most things do when you’re cheap like me – do-it-yourself. In this case, myself. Some may remember my $4 picture frame (the one so ugly even the dog hid his face in shame). They did not see my vision. This is because they did not see any activity – for 3 months.  People scoffed, then mocked, then learned to ignore the elephant in the living room that was that hideous landscape leaning SIDEWAYS behind the sofa for months on end.
As a back-up I had a c. 1987 poster of the desert (why?) that I had hauled out of Goodwill for $4 because I wanted the copper finished frame. (Apparently $4 is my maximum art price-point. Big spender).
So I hauled out some old paint I had stashed in the basement. What better way to insure your artwork matches your d├ęcor than to use the leftover paint you already used in your house. I am brilliant am I not? Here we have (clockwise from top) Doors. porch floor, kitchen, and GirlWonder’s bedroom. It all comes together, I promise.IMG_1848
Then you haul out the ugly “canvas” upon which you will base your masterpiece
It’s lovely no? I almost hate to cover it up – lie.
Even in a basement I think it important to respect the workspace. Plastic tarp protects the floor and the dog. Art be damned. Jagger moves for no one.
IMG_1842Now, this is a very precise process so listen closely:
Roll on your base color paint. Just get it all on there. No tray necessary, just pour some paint on the old painting’s surface and smoosh it around with your roller (“smoosh” is an artisty term for “smooth,” I’m pretty sure). Wander away to let it dry (about an hour or whenever you remember it’s down there).
Return to find dog still under tarp. Told you, Jagger moves for NO ONE.
Jagger no think you are funny. At all. Jagger think you are annoying. Very. Do you haz snacks? he could maybe forgive you – for snacks.
Return to add more swoops and layers of other colors in a random pattern dictated by nothing more than pure happenstance. Swish, wipe, plop – done!
After about $4 (Canvas and frame) and 4 hours of time (random wandering, splotching, and drying time) you end up with something like this*
*Please ignore the glare. The $4 frame from Goodwill does not feature gallery glass. This is also the painting created, quite accidently, with the ugly desert poster. This was a “what do I have to lose?” practice canvas that came out far better than the one where I actually tried. Photos of that one coming soon. Once I quit repainting and cursing at it.

Living a lie …

As a long-time convert to a clutter-free lifestyle, I have long embraced the notion that one should have only that which is useful and beautiful (to them) in their physical surroundings. No holding on to tchotchkes you scarcely like and rarely dust just because they once belonged to Aunt Gertrude. The memories are in YOU, not your STUFF. Let it go.

On the other hand if nothing makes you happier than your Elvis on black velvet then by all means, have at it baby!

Still, I had to face the fact that I had been living a clutter-free lie when the following evidence came to light:

Boxes and boxes of what is irrefutably clutter (albeit it cute clutter – did you get a look at the face on that Care Bear Troika doll?) There are four more like him Inside him: clever. Also: useless. Wondergirl outgrew those Care Bear nesting dolls, er, bears, about three years ago.

IMG_1759Obviously, despite my embrace of the clutter-free mantra, the clutter hides, stealth like in the closets and corners, refusing to budge until dragged forcibly into the light. Thus I packed up baskets, bins, boxes, and bags of “stuff” to send packing.
The house felt lighter immediately.

There was a method to my madness. Believe it or not it was photo organization. I take about 10,000 photos per year (Think I’m exaggerating for effect? I’m not). My motto has long been “if it’s not in the scrapbook, it didn’t happen.” While I’ve tried to tone down my belief that Every Single Breath We Take Must Be Photographed the truth is I like photographs. A lot. Possibly too much.

I had photos on digital media (computer, EHD, CDs), I had photos in albums. I had photos in scrapbooks. I had photos in albums. I had photos in random envelopes. This was less a “system” and more a slow, inexorable slide toward total photo domination – and chaos.

An awesome online challenge (File under: how the interwebs changed my life. For reals) led me to mend my wicked ways. I sat down with virtually EVERY album, box, bag, or bin we owned, collected all the photos from same and dedicated a weekend to making sense of it all. It was hard. I won’t lie. My back ached. My eyes watered. Still I soldiered on. I found so much to make it all worthwhile. My wedding photos, for one (there are three. We eloped).

Finally, I came out the other end on Monday morning to find that in my frenzy of organization I had achieved this:

Please ignore hideous paneling. That’s inside a third floor closet (courtesy of previous owners) and I just can’t work myself up to CARE. Also ignore street-vendor caricature of Yours Truly c. 1991. What matters is that loose photos and photo albums, negatives, cds, and important cards, notes and letters are all carefully saved (my BFF and Grandma got their own boxes because they send cards and letters and they ROCK. Hard). Scrapbooks are labeled (it ain’t pretty, but it works!) No longer will I have to stare at a shelf of scrapbooks doing the math in my head to figure out which giant volume might hold my son’s preschool graduation. Photo Books (love these!) are gathered together as well.

All of this together makes me very, very


*Sign reads: "You know you're an artist when your children think they're being followed by Paparazzi." True my friends, so true.

Edited to add: I've had questions concerning hiding my bushel under a basket, or in this case, photos in a closet. The truth is that while photo albums and boxes can look lovely in open, bookshelf, storage, the truth is they are safer in a nice, dark, climate controlled environment. This means that photos like to be the same temperature you are. No extreme heat or cold please. Dark storage (aka a closet) also prevents fading from light and may cut down on dust (dependent on your housekeeping skills). When it comes to long-term archived storage of photographs, you might want to keep the family photos IN the closet and under wraps if you can.