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A Meandering Mind, Cluttered Studio, and Holding Patterns

So, I’ve been puttering around and staying busy lately. But I can’t start anything major just yet because I’m in the middle of a lot of small projects. However, that’s not the real reason I’m not getting a whole lot done these days. The blame really goes to my meandering mind.

There’s just so much I want to do, and so much I need to do, and not enough time to do them all – not even if I used up the rest of my life trying. So I’ve been more in a holding pattern of puttering. Plus I’m on standby to help Rob in the shop if he needs me, because he’s in the middle of a huge project to do with our solar array that he’s building.

Today we had errands in town to run, and we had errands to run in town on Monday, too. But since returning from today’s run, I’ve been working on a little experiment with some limonite pigment. There was something else I wanted to do when we got back, but I have forgotten what that was.

Well, there’s always paint needing to be made, right? Right. So, I keep hoping to find a clean yellow, with less of the ochre influence in it. This stone I’m working with now showed such promise. But after grinding and washing, it is still looking like it’s going to be a brownish yellow, not a yellow yellow.

Puttering

However, I noticed that there was a layer of sediment at the bottom of the sediment that had more of the brown in it than the top appeared to have. So I separated the top off of that and will let it continue to settle in a different container. Now, the browner yellow isn’t a bad color. Quite contrary, it is one I will be able to use fairly often. It’s just not the shade I wanted this time.

So I didn’t want to throw it out. Besides, it’s richly pigmented, which is always a good thing when making paints. So I’m going to see how it does as a thin paint, which is one that is mostly gum Arabic. I’ve done that before with a very rich clay and it made a very nice sheer watercolor paint. So we’ll see how this one goes. At the moment, it’s labeled ‘thin yellow lites bottom’. That’s because I forgot to give this particular stone a number when I ground it. And then a good bit of time went by before I washed it. Even more time has passed between then and now, when I am finally doing something more with it.

Holding Patterns lead to meandering

In my efforts to not start anything major, I’ve been doing other things that can be started and stopped with ease. De-cluttering my office/studio is so easy to stop that I have yet to get it finished. So I’ve been working on that a little bit. And I’ve worked in the garden some, laying down cardboard in the pathway and fetching buckets of small gravel from the creek to settle between the larger stones I’m putting down. I started another smaller set of stone steps. These lead toward the valve barrel on the hill, so some practical ones this time. Last night an armadillo or some other critter decided to roll some of the rocks I’d put in the side of them. It was looking for grubs and worms underneath. Now I’ve got to fix that little excavation.

Looks like an armadillo did a bit of meandering around in my garden last night.
Looks like an armadillo did a bit of meandering around in my garden last night.

Multitasking

Since the sales made at the Rogers Art on the Bricks, I’ve intended to get some more boards ready to make another set of twisted trees. That hasn’t happened. Other tasks keep popping up that need to be done. Over the last week I made a few sales of various things from the website here, and two of them were for prints that I haven’t laid out yet. This isn’t a big deal, really, because when someone orders a print I haven’t laid out yet, I just get busy with photoshop and lay it out. It just takes a little while, sometimes a little while longer. But once it’s done, it’s done and I won’t ever have to do it again in order to make that size print. What’s involved with a layout, you ask?

Layouts

So, the printer paper is on a roll and it’s 24″ wide. Suppose someone orders a 5 x 7, or a note card I don’t have in stock. If I want to print it, I can’t just print a notecard or a 5 x 7. Or, I could, but that’s wasting a whole lot of paper. So what I do is layout a couple of 5 x 7’s, a couple of notecards, a couple of gift cards, and 5 tiny tags. Those will use up the entire 24″ width of the paper, and reach the required minimum 8″ of height I need to make a print on the big printer.

Un-cut prints of my red fox painting titled "Little Rascal", or Fox No. 1.  Features Ozark pigments, handmade watercolors.
An example of a layout using all of the available space to make a 5 x 7 print.

The ‘layout’ portion of it is to make sure the sizes are right and they’re in the right places so that nothing is cut off or not printed if it’s too close to the edges. Sometimes if it’s a painting that was larger in the original, then I have to make adjustments to it to get a 5 x 7 with 1/4″ margins. So that takes time too. In the end, when I make a print, then I’m also printing more products that can be sold at a future time at the same time. It’s maximizing my time and resources to get the most out of both.

Now, if I need to edit the image from the scans or photos taken after the painting was finished, that can be time consuming to get just right. But that also only has to be done once.

Meandering or Rabbit Holes

Layouts and anything computer related are things I don’t like to stop and start quickly. My mind isn’t so easily dislodged while I’m on those tasks. Quite the opposite. I can get so involved with doing these tasks that I forget coffee time came and went until I start getting that withdrawal headache. It’s the same thing when I’m painting, writing, or anything else I really enjoy doing. So these are not tasks I like to do while I’m also on standby to do other things at a moment’s notice. Those things are not so much meandering as rabbit holes.

Cleaning and housework are great things to do when I need to stop on a moment’s notice, haha. But I come up with great ideas while I’m just letting my mind meander all over the place. One thing it keeps returning to is that I need an outdoor firing oven. Of course I do. I’d use it to make paint trays from our native clay. Really important work, never mind the fact that I’d have to not be doing something else in order to do that. But I’ve been mulling over how I might build one, while we’ve been out running errands… since I wasn’t the one driving and could let my mind wander like that.

But look what I’m doing right now? Writing a blog post. I’m supposed to be cleaning my office. So that’s where I’m headed back to, right now. I hope all is going well with you all. I’m still out here, just still being a hermit, wandering around and trying to rein in my meandering mind.


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Author/Artist Info
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Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints, and her artwork features exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.

Her online portfolio is at www.MadisonWoods.art.

Click here to join her mailing list.

Photo of Madison Woods, artist and Paleo Paint maker, and her social media contact information.

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Dianne Williams
Dianne Williams
22 July 2021 5:03 pm

I so, so very much love your writing. I actually “love you” from knowing you through your writings (and your art). Maybe one day we will meet. PS I would like to purchase a ‘set” (?) of notecards. Guess I will look over your website again and see if I… Read more »

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