Thursday, January 19, 2006

The worst and best year of my life

So today I'm trying to psych myself out to work on the next year in my story. 1995 was definitely the worst AND best year of my life. It was a year of major transitions. I've always said I feel like I went through two divorces that year. When you read the story, you'll understand what I mean by that. I think what I may have to do is split the story of 1995 into two sections, the bad and the good. It was bad up to about September/October and good for October through December with a little overlap in the middle of it all.
Reliving my past has been difficult, but it has set me free as well. I finally feel detached from that part of my life. Once I get past 1995, the story should flow. Of course I had good and bad times since '95, but my life was basically stable after that point. Although I was 25 years old in 1995, I see that year as the turning point from childhood to adulthood. I sometimes think I was in some sort of limbo from the ages of 16-25. I was on my own, married with children, but I had no clue what that meant for me. I was merely sleepwalking through my life and now it all seems like a very bad dream. For years after my divorce, I felt like I was in a beautiful dream that I would awake from at any moment. I had nightmares for several years reliving my old life. I would have to pinch myself regularly to make sure my waking life was real. I still feel that happiness in my life everyday, but now it's more real to me and the nightmares are much less frequent. I still haven't come to a point of forgiving the people who have done me wrong in the past. Actually, I shouldn't say that, I have forgiven some of them, including myself.

So, anyway, I apologize for taking so long to get this story out. I thought when I began that it would be easy, boy was I way off!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Art Story: 1994

1994 was a better year, probably the best one I had as an artist to this point. Of course, I found out after my divorce in 1995, that it was only good on the surface.

I had a workshop for my art for most of this year. Starting out in a storage unit in the heat of the summer, we had a portable swamp cooler that we had to haul water to in order to keep cool. If you have never been to Las Cruces in the summer I have to tell you, this is a feat within itself. I believe the record high set that year was 117 degrees Fahrenheit! If I remember correctly, we stayed there only a couple of months.

We then moved the shop into an office building where we shared a space with my brother's heavy metal band! This was also the year we had to hire help to keep up with the demand for my prints. At this point, there were close to 300 shops across the southwest selling my art. My brother started out working for us, but he quickly left for a better paying job and referred his friend, Aaron Lewis, to work for us. I had known Aaron for many years, so we hired him. Later, we hired a couple of other people, all artists, to help with cutting mats and putting prints together.

The shared space in the office building only lasted around a month. I came in one day and found a beer can sitting on my side of the curtain next to some prints and came unglued! I should have known it wouldn't work to share a space with a band, and most importantly, my brother's band (New Mexican Erection). My brother and I ended up in a literal fight because of it and we moved out and into another office building. We stayed there until 1995.

It was about this time that I received a call from one of the store owners who sold my prints in Arizona. It seems that my husband had come on to their daughter and they thought I should know that he was possibly cheating on me while on the road. Of course I confronted him with this accusation and he gave me some lame story about the daughter coming on to him, not the other way around. Needless to say, this is when I seriously started thinking about how I was going to escape.

In November, we finally moved out of the small, isolated little mobile home, into a larger, nicer mobile home that was only 5 miles out of town. At the time, I felt like we had finally made it. I had spent the past 3 years living in a crappy trailer with the air conditioner falling in through the roof. This place even had a washer/dryer hook up! This was the ultimate luxury for me at the time. I was so tired of taking my 15 loads of wash to the Laundromat every week! I know, I sound like I was white trash! My ultimate dream was always to have a house that didn't have wheels underneath it! Even at the time, I knew that would never happen as long as I was married to this guy. His idea of the ultimate home was a double wide trailer on a piece of land. Isn't there a country song about that?

This was also the year that I started working with watercolors. It had been years since I had pulled out the paints and once I started, I was hooked again. I completed all my watercolor pottery paintings in this year. Acoma Jar and Bowl, San Ildefonso Jar and Bowl, Zia Bowl and Zuni Bowl. It was these prints that really made the business take off. These pottery prints are still my most popular to this day. I expect them to be completely sold out by March!

Next up is 1995, probably my toughest year ever; divorce, kicked out on the street, destitute and a sabotaged art career. However, it was also the year I found my soulmate and lived happily ever after!

Jump to previous years:

1991, 1992, 1993

Next up: 1995; The First Half

Monday, January 09, 2006

Art Story: 1993

Sorry about the long wait, but finally, here is the 1993 part of my art story.

Back home in New Mexico for almost half a year by this time. I spent time drawing whenever I could. My husband quit his job by February and was back on the road selling my prints. We rented a shop space for a couple months but had to give it up because we couldn't afford the rent.

1993 saw the addition of several more drawings. 'Buying Too Choos', 'Collecting Cow Chips', 'Zuni Governor', 'Zuni Woman', 'Eagle Dancers', 'Apache Man', 'Apache Woman', 'Scout', and 'Kiowa Boy' were all done in this year.

I spent the majority of the year at home with my boys. I watched A LOT of TV and tried to lose the weight gained during my third pregnancy. We stayed in the small trailer that we had moved into upon our return to N.M. When my husband was gone on the road, we were basically stranded at home since we lived so far out of town. This made me feel very isolated, which was my husband's goal. He was determined to keep me locked away from the world. Occasionally, he would take me along on road trips to meet shop owners. I had the feeling they didn't believe I even existed. He even had me convinced that I could never sell my art if it wasn't for him. Of course he never gave me any information about where sales occurred or how much he really made. I was already very shy and self conscious being overweight. Unfortunately, I believed he was right about my sales ability. Even if I could sell my art, how was I going to go out on the road and leave the kids behind? I fantasized about leaving him but didn't think there was any way I could pull it off. With three young children to support it was nearly impossible in my mind. We fought with more frequency, over many things, but most often the fights were about him staying home and being part of our family. I wanted him to get a steady job with a secure paycheck. It was like he had hijacked MY dream of being an artist and had no dreams of his own. We used to argue over who's idea it was to start the art business in the first place! This had been my dream long before I met him!

At this point, freedom from the oppression of my husband was just a fantasy. I continued to draw subjects "suggested" by my husband, because "they would sell". We struggled to make ends meet while he continued to travel around the southwest, living in hotels and eating in restaurants. Meanwhile, back home, the boys and I lived on bean burritos and ramen noodles and whatever they gave us at the food bank.

To read previous years of my Art Story, follow these links;
1991, and 1992

Next up, 1994.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year!

Another New Year has come and gone and here I sit more ready than ever to get back to work. I know I mentioned getting in here during my break to finish up my art story, but I convinced myself that taking time off would do me good. Boy, was I right! It was not easy to do, being a work-aholic, but I am so glad I did! I feel refreshed and rested and ready to take on the year.

I will continue my art story this week, but my first order of business is to get my office cleaned up and files reorganized. Tomorrow I go back to the shop and back to creating; painting, etc.

I will also put up listings on Ebay this week for a clearance sale of all the Paula Beck prints. One of my goals for this year is to get past the past and sell off the remaining Beck prints. My art story is part of this goal, as I need to get the story out of my head. So from now on, when someone asks questions about it, I can direct them to my blog instead of having to tell the whole story over and over again. While I realize that it is interesting to others, to me it is the past and at times it was a very painful past. What I need is to put it behind me so I can move on with the future.

I will return soon to complete the story, until then, Happy New Year!