“You know why you’re my favorite model, Jessica?” Richard asked as he wiped sweat from his brow. He furiously waved his paintbrush over the curve of my outer thigh, thinning down the previous underpainting.
“Is it because you say that to all of your models?” I teased. The kitchen timer we used to time our poses sounded its alert. I took the baby out of my hands and placed it gently into the basket by my feet. That disgusting little creep. Richard painted it to look like something related to the Chucky doll from Child’s Play. I uncrossed my legs and put my cotton shift back over my head. Ten minutes to stretch.
“It’s because your face is perfectly proportioned. From edge-to-edge of your brows is the same distance as from the top of your head to the tip of your nose. The top of your head to the tip of your nose is the same as from the tip of your nose to the bottom of your chin. Not everyone’s face is as beautifully proportioned.”
I blushed, although this really wasn’t a compliment. Richard and I had more of a brother-sister relationship, so this was weird, but sweetly weird.
“Tell me something about art, Richard.”
“Like what?” He wiped the brush stained with yellow ochre paint onto his linseed oil-stained rag.
“Like, the underpainting...tell me about that...” We would do this sometimes. Often he’d open a book and turn to a page with a painting on it so that I’d have something to focus on while I posed. Gustave Courbet, mostly, since that was Richard’s favorite. His self portraits terrified me, but his female portraits were soft and feminine.
“It’s chiaroscuro, sweetie. Remember? The contrasts between light and dark. See how in this painting Courbet uses the ultramarine violet and the indigo instead of brown? In order for us to appreciate the daintiness of the model’s pale skin....” He brushed my arm and smiled playfully, indicating that I, too, shared the same shade of lightest porcelain. “...he had to create the dramatic shadows rising from the curtains and in the corner by her face.”
The timer beeped, indicating that breaktime was over.
“Do you need a few more minutes to stretch? I’d love to knock out the underpainting on the thighs and the forearms tonite, and if we scoot we can do it. Do you like Ozomatli?”
I picked up the baby and settled back into the pose.
|Moonlight Sonata, for sale at firststreetgalleries.com|
Brevity is not my strong suit. This is a substantial post, and I thank you for reading it.
This is it.
I want to start out first by sharing with you a few of my Heart Study photos from earlier this month:
Last time we connected, I briefly talked about the heart thing. I’m telling you, the Heart Study was the right paradigm shift at the right time. Like I said in the previous post, it started out as a fun experiment to see how many hearts I could spot. The first day of the experiment, I spotted TEN hearts. A few of them were leaves, some were graffiti, and a few were cracks in the sidewalk that naturally formed hearts.
For the past four months, I’ve made it a daily exercise to look for hearts. At first I looked for them, and now it feels like they look for me. Everywhere I go, hearts are there. Expect to see a few in my upcoming patterns.
Seeing results from this experiment empowered me. The law of attraction has always been a concept that I’ve been interested in, and have dabbled in its practice, but have never really fully committed it to my daily living--until the hearts started popping up everywhere. I couldn’t deny that this was a force greater than me.
I wanted to take this idea, this feeling, these intangibles, bottle all of them and drink them in. I thought to myself, if I can attract all of these hearts into my life, surely I can attract anything I want. Anyone, anything.
My mom used to say, “When you are still, you can hear.” I could hear her words ringing in my ears this winter. If you’re wondering why my posts have been few and far between since the shop closed in September, it’s because I knew that I really needed to listen to my mama. I was silent and still. I took a hundred long, windy country drives to clear my head. I thought about quilting, and how much joy and pain it’s brought me. The juxtaposition of quilting full-time as a longarmer, while aspiring to develop my teaching and designing careers, was killing me inside. I experienced the worst creative burnout, and I felt guilty for it. This is what I do because I love it, so why do I feel like putting all of this fabric in a sacrificial pyre and burning it?
I asked God for a change in my life, for clarity, and for a rebirth.
I took a step back from designing for a few months. Each time I would try to revisit, I felt empty. My creative bank was overdrawn. After fighting it for a few months, I decided to just relax and take some personal time to myself- only personal quilting, just for pleasure; no designing.
I started hanging out with my friends again and going to hip hop shows. South by Southwest, or SXSW, is a huge musical festival that occurs every year in Austin, and for the first time since living here, I finally participated this year. I saw so many amazing hip hop acts and got a change to reconnect with old friends that I hadn’t seen since the shop opened. I didn’t know how badly I needed that downtime until I made myself take it.
|forever fam- the kind of friends that are always in your life; also referred to as "kinfolk"|
|DIZZY WRIGHT!!! I kind of geeked. He is SO HOT and so nice!!!|
My buddy Austin from this previous blog post flew out from Vegas to go to SXSW. Austin started a skateboarding/lifestyle boutique in Vegas called Recognizing Real. He started it around the same time that I opened remnants. His shop carries elite brands and caters to the huge skateboarding scene there. They’re directly across the street from one of the west coast’s largest skate parks. We talked quilts, skating, hip hop and business; and how difficult it is to be a small business owner. I’ve really missed Austin. He’s got a very authentic spirit, a soothing soul, you know? I like friends that keep me grounded.
A month after SXSW, Austin called me. It started out as an ordinary conversation- shooting the breeze, how’s everything going, etc. Then he hit me hard. What do you think about moving to Vegas and running my shop? I know you’ll wreck it out here.
I won’t lie to you. I didn’t even have to blink.
How much time do I have before I burn off? I asked.
And there you have it.
I have been keeping this secret for about a month, which is extremely hard for me. You know I like to be as open as possible. What I’ve learned from that is that sometimes you have to leave a little meat on the bone. Timing is everything.
|there's a tiny tiny heart inside the Indian paintbrush- can you spot it?|
So now that this is all said and done, I’m sure y’all have many questions.
Am I still longarming? Yes. Up until I leave, I’ll still be quilting. I lowered my prices as a thank-you to my loyal customers and will continue to quilt. Currently my turnaround time is a week--this could change at any time, so if you need any quilting, please call me ASAP. I’m also in the middle of Quilt Market prep, so the sooner the better.
Am I taking my machines with me? No. My Gammill and my APQS Millennium are going to be for sale.
Do I plan to longarm in Vegas? Yes and no. Part of the reason why I’m leaving is to provide myself a balance between regular life and quilt life. I love to longarm, and love providing the service. I don’t plan on having the same size operation as I currently do, but I couldn’t discount doing it again. I’ll still be designing Homegrown patterns for Villa Rosa Designs, that much is for sure.
Moving to Austin was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was in a dark place when I left California. When I came to Texas, I felt lighter and I was so full of hope. I accomplished more than I ever thought possible. It’s real-life chiaroscuro. In order for me to appreciate all of this lightness, I’ve had to have a little dark. I feel like even though last year was such a dark time for me, I’m a figurative snake that’s shed its skin. My new skin fits so much better. The more time goes by, the closer I get to being my 100% authentic self. I have faith in this move because it’s one more step in the right direction. For the past year, I’ve yearned for the west. My body’s been in Texas, but my heart’s saying “Hey boo” to California. I’m going to take a little time off before Vegas and spend some time in the Golden State.
Real talk, I’m so excited about this transition and I can’t wait to see what the future brings. I convinced Jen to drive across country with me in a U-Haul to Vegas for one last Ebony and Ivory hurrah. Having her as a roommate/life coach/forever fam is a blessing that I don’t quite deserve but wouldn’t refuse and quite frankly, my separation anxiety’s on overdrive. But all things in life are transition. The only thing that stays the same is change.
|I figured y'all were tired of hearts, so I added this photo of my favorite person ever, Macaulay Culkin. Thanks for being patient readers. |
One last thing before I move on and keep making Quilt Market samples:
I am teaching one last workshop at Honey Hill Retreat Center in Pipe Creek, just outside of Boerne. It will be the weekend of June 20-22 and is part of my Color Party installment. I’ll be having a trunk show on Friday evening and all-day workshop on Saturday. I would be honored to teach you and to share my joy for color with you! There are 8 spots available. If you’re interested in signing up, visit honeyhillretreat.com and secure your spot.
I'm finna finish these samples. Market is coming up way too fast. Thanks for reading.
xoxo with all my love and honor,