Friday, September 9, 2016

That's What He Said

"You should blog", he said.  "It'll keep you organized.  It'll cause you to be more prolific", he said.

I get that it's possible to feel a commitment like that, looming around you, nudging you to accomplish and create, and thus, feel the need to share such accomplishments on your blog, but it sure hasn't worked that way for me.  Again, over a year has lapsed!  Well, here's how we should all feel about this.  Forget the endless mundane episodes of day to day life.....  THIS post will be like marathoning a new television series all in one day!  Pop some popcorn.... read on!...

So last summer, I'd just participated in a lovely juried art show in Richardson, TX.  After that, I let a few months lapse in the art creating department, but you got a glimpse of my garlic bulb rendering last year, in it's barely-started stage. When I finished it, I entered the work (titled 'Salud') in the Texas & Neighbors Juried Exhibit this past spring..

While I will always consider my graphite work 'drawings', I often enter this kind of piece in the Mixed Media category, since technically, it qualifies, needing just two media to fulfill the requirement.  This particular work includes graphite, watercolor, ink, conte and acrylic.  But it's always a dilemma to decide, because it is also allowed to be included in the Drawing category, which then competes with anything in colored pencil, sometimes pastel, charcoal, and the like.

Everyone at the Irving Art Center is professional and great to work with.  If I lived closer, I'd probably volunteer there and be more active in other events besides just the TXN show.  I had another happy reception this year when I received second place!

To see the winners in all categories, go HERE.

And now to backtrack (think of it as a flashback in that series we're marathoning!), I had a very nice showing of my work in Rockport, TX in February.  Up to this point, I had mostly only exhibited a single piece at a time, but this show included everything I could possibly muster, which at the time, was 12 pieces.  Since I work extremely slowly, and am the opposite of prolific, I never consider my artwork to be a 'current body of work'.  It is more accurately described as everything I may have produced between now and the beginning of time, that hasn't already sold.  So that retrospective, if you will, was exhibited at the Rockport Center for the Arts.  I was paired with a very impressive potter, Vorakit Chinookoswong (or V. Chin to most of us), whose work was displayed throughout the main part of the gallery.  My job as 'supporting actor' was to fill the adjacent Garden Gallery, resulting in a perfect fit for my 12 pieces!  (I'm happy to report that three pieces sold!)

Of course there is a disproportionate balance in this ad, but it was designed for Art Connections Gallery, with the goal of promoting their own artist, ME!

Flashing back even farther, I had taken on the roll of Art Connections Gallery Assistant which included doing all the social media and website work.  It became more than I could handle, as most of the internet work needed to be done from home, where I have mere dribbles of internet bandwidth.  Mostly all I'd do is stare at a spinning circle on my screen, waiting for something to load.  I had already worked at the gallery a couple of years in a smaller capacity, as well as doing the reception catering for a year and a half.  It finally got to be too much!  I decided it was time to get back to focusing on my own projects.  So I cut the ties, and freed myself at the end of June.

Now, let me introduce a complete tangent, while I tell you about the most crazy trip ever!  After quitting my gallery job, I agreed to accompany my good friend Jan to her new home in North Caroline, in two vehicles, transporting 22 animals! Jan drove a rental van hauling 9 dogs (only three of them were in crates!), and one sick kitty, while I drove her car with 12 cats, all in crates.  Many of the cats were packed in pairs in medium sized crates.  So it was a constant chorus of meowing during the three day drive!

Before we even left, we had a couple ridiculous mishaps.  The very last cat crate to load was being problematic.  It wouldn't fit in the space planned for it, not clearing the back door frame.  Jan said she'd already tested the layout with empty crates and she was sure it would fit if I'd just push it.  That caused the two halves to buckle, and the crate completely fell apart.  Two cats raced off and out of sight.  These cats are indoor cats.  One of them had never been outside in its life.  So after a brief unsuccessful search, we decided to unload all the rest of the animals, as it was in the heat of the summer, and we didn't feel like running the vehicles any longer with the AC blaring.  So, after all cats are transitioned back into the house (and released from their crates), we resumed the search.  We found Winston fairly soon, but Pharell eluded us.  There was talk of calling the hotels and trying to scoot our reservations back a day.  There was NO WAY Jan would leave any of her furry family members behind.  Finally, after a lot of sweating, roaming the neighborhood, praying...etc.... we heard a faint meow underneath her house.  There was no easy way to get to the cat though, so we basically broke some stuff, and finally retrieved Pharell.  Now we were almost four hours behind schedule, but we decided to repack and get going.

THEN (still before even leaving, mind you!), we're sitting under the carport with both vehicles running, AC on high, once again filled with felines and canines, and we're preparing to finally take off.  I noticed Jan's van started slowly rolling backwards.  She said it was in 'Drive' and it wouldn't go forward.  After a hissy fit, changing gears frantically back and forth from Park to Drive, engaging and disengaging the emergency brake, and several short rolls of the van toward the house, she admitted she might have to call the rental place and tell them they gave her a faulty van.  Our small town rental office wouldn't have a replacement until they could get one transported from the bigger city, which would probably put our trip off a day longer.  At this point, the van had rolled within a mere four inches from her bay window, and was lightly wedged right next to a 4x4 post at the end of a ramp.  I cringed at what kind of mark that was going to leave.  Still, it wasn't wedged tightly enough to prevent the van from rolling further!  Well, long story short (oops, too late for that!), Jan realized that the engine had died, and neither of us could hear it over the blaring of the AC.  The key was engaged, so the blower was working fine.  Jan admitted later that she wondered why it wasn't cooling as well as it should.  Anyway, finally we're on our way.

Every half hour or so, it was necessary to pull over and clean up an animal mess.  We couldn't leave any of them sitting in diahrrea or throw-up, or sometimes a feud would break out among two 'roommates'.  And THEN when we finally made it to the first night's lodging, Jan admitted that the maximum allowance was two dogs per room, and she had told them that we each had two dogs.  We were 18 aminals over the limit!  And of course, our adjoining rooms were located right next to the office, with a big bay window for the clerk to look out at us.  Fortunately, she frequently got up from her desk and walked off.  Both nights we stressfully loaded and unloaded too many animals, and possilbly narrowly missed any hassle or monetary fine.  The second night, one of Jan's dogs ripped up a down comforter, so there were feathers EVERYWHERE!  (It was her comforter, relax!)  Even the parking lot around our hotel rooms looked like it had snowed!

And let's not forget the time the chihuahuas locked us out of the van!  We were cleaning out a puppy cage from the back of the van.  When we closed the back door and went around to the driver's side door, it wouldn't open.  The van was running, and the AC was cooling it fine, but we couldn't proceed!  Sheesh!  After a call to the rental company's roadside assistance service, transferring us to a wrecker mobile, giving him directions to wherever the heck we were (WE didn't even exactly know), and after another hour or so, Jan decided to wait in the IHOP across the street, since she couldn't sit down in her van, and I didn't have a square inch in my vehicle to offer her.  While I sat in the car waiting, I encountered several concerned people approaching who could see animals in a locked vehicle.  I assured them the situation was being handled, and that the van was running and cool!  At one point, I could see the tip of the lock button on the van.  I didn't think I had been able to see that before.  I immediately ran over to the van guess it!  The chihuahua had unlocked it!  So I was trying to hold the van door very slightly ajar so as not to risk it locking again, but everything on that passenger side seat was trying to explode out, since it was packed chaotically and way too full, and the chihuahuas weren't tied to anything, so it was too risky to open the door any farther.  Yet, I didn't want it to get locked again, so I didn't feel I should close the door either.  It seemed an eternity before Jan came out of the IHOP, since at a glance, when she didn't see the wrecker in the parking lot, she didn't feel there was any urgency for her to come out.  So..... finally the wrecker showed up, he laughed at the situation, and we got on our way again.  

But during the time I'd spent standing in the hot sun, holding the van door slightly open, I'd apparently experienced a slight case of heat exhaustion, and when we continued driving, I couldn't figure out which way to turn.  I made about three wrong turns.  I had to stop and put ice on my face!  

That's just a small taste of the excitement along the way.  Even after arriving at our destination, the 'fun' continued.  Jan horse was delivered at 3 a.m. the second night after we arrived.  It was necessary to move the bale of hay, delivered along with the horse, to a covered place since it rains a lot in NC.  I was about to help Jan by taking one of the bale straps, but she insisted that it would be easier to flip the bale end-over-end.  One her way to the back cellar, the bale picked up speed going down the hill, and ended up in the creek, as seen in this photo I shot the following day.

All in all, it was a trip I'll not soon forget!  Now let's get back to this side of the Mississippi.  

My current focus is on my beaded jewelry.  For years now, I've dabbled with beading, and I consistently sell my work when I make it.  But, like the artwork, it was generated in spurts, a couple at a time, and I'd never accumulate very many pieces for any sales venue.  Still, I had a small display at my local gallery, and it was a respectable effort.  Well, NOW I'm happy to report that I am finally prolific with something!  I've been devoting most of my time to this medium lately.  Introducing, Renate Kasper Handmade!

Check out my website:

It has taken some time to come up with potential boutiques and galleries to approach.  My goal is to sign on with about eight to ten outlets, and at the moment, I just have two.  The trick is to find a shop that deals in something better than cheap imported jewelry, but not entirely the full-blown silversmithing type of jewelry. Granted, my work is still technically considered costume jewelry, but it's all one-of-a-kind, original stuff.  It has a very nice feel to it, with a firm pliability.  Photos help, but it really needs to be handled to fully appreciate it.  So far I've done well in a gallery atmosphere, rather than a clothing boutique.  I'm also considering trying out the festival/booth idea, as well as possibly an etsy shop.  For the moment, I plan to continue searching out sales venues in the little artsy towns around central Texas.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces:

'Dora', beaded choker with an attached sterling silver chain.  Includes 8 labradorite stones.

'Candy' hat band (hat and feathers not included).  Hat bands are usually customized for each hat, but they are adjustable so they might work on a variety of hats.

'Quatro'  Boot Halter (boot not for sale).  As with hat bands, these are best if custom-ordered for your specific boot, since the girth of boots can vary greatly.

'Taffy'  3-D double bracelet.  This intricate piece is one of my latest.  It is essentially two bracelets made simultaneously which weave in and out of each other.  It is reversible and has a different design on the other side.
And finally, 'Tina', a 4-in-1 bracelet.  This piece is full of a number of semi-precious stones, and shows the popular Mag-Loc clasp.  It's so easy to put on, not having to fiddle with a spring or lobster clasp.  You just let the clasp pieces hang downward, and then give the bracelet a squeeze with your other hand, molding the bracelet around your wrist.  The magnet halves will find each other and snap into place.

Let me interject one final tangent from last November.  True to 'multiple creativity disorder' style, here's a fun project in a completely different medium, that came fairly close to hitting the mark I envisioned at the start.  Here's my husband's birthday cake from last year, inspired by the robot in the movie Interstellar. Instead of TARS, this one is BARS.  I printed the small black and white section of text onto plastic sheeting, and it's even LIT from underneath!  The cake may look unappetizing, but underneath that drab grey royal icing tile exterior is a moist chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and salted caramel filling.  Now, what will I do to top this for his next birthday in a couple of months?  Suggestions for a geeky, sciency kind of guy?

SO... until next time, it's back to the drawing board (or cutting board, or lumber board, or beadboard, as it were), as I look forward to seeing the B-52's in concert in Dallas next month with my good friend Gwen.  (I'll report back, hopefully with pics of the silly outfit I want to make for the concert, including beehive, or some such hair modification).  When Gwen first told me she'd like to attend the concert, I exclaimed "I want to go!"  Then when I went to break the news to my husband, coincidentally, that's what HE said!