Dear oh deer!

I have a favorite designer. Jonathan Adler. And if I ever win the lottery, I’m commissioning him to decorate my house. I love his use of color, prints, patterns, playfulness and layered textures.

In trying to emulate his aesthetic on my very limited budget, I’ve learned that it’s common to confuse his level of elegant whimsy with “teenage girl taste” and that that fine line between taste and tasteless can be very easy to cross. But I’m doing my best, even if I don’t always get it right.

Take this JA piece, for example:

That’s a blue lucite giraffe head for $495. And listen, if you can afford to spend $500 on an accessory, I’m happy for you. Really I am.

But $500 is more like the entire budget I have to do my whole living room so I’ve had to make concessions. For example: I found this pink faux deer head for $20 at Ivy House Antiques and while I know it’s not everyone’s taste, I’m obsessed with it.

The other items pictured include: An embroidery hoop stitched with the quote, “WE ARE ALL HORRIBLE AND WONDERFUL AND FIGURING IT OUT” that I got at Monster Art & Clothing in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, another embroidered hoop of the Scorpius constellation (because I’m a Scorpio) from a gift shop called Moab Made in Moab, UT…and another fake critter head that I found in Amarillo Texas at The Big Texan Steak Ranch – which you may recognize from this episode of Man v. Food on the Travel Channel:

TIP: If you Google “faux animal heads” you can find a bunch of options in different sizes ranging in price from $10 – $15,000. Here are a couple that are similar to mine:

From Houzz:

From Etsy:

Thriftin’ Ain’t Easy

It was just about 5 months ago, to the day, when I loaded everything I owned in the back of Budget rental truck and started driving east. I had spent the 7 years prior in Seattle – building a life, going out with friends, working at my dream job, and feeling generally content with my day-to-day routine. The baristas at my neighborhood coffee shop knew me on a first-name basis, I had a handful of dive bars I frequented, my neighbors would invite me over for holidays and every Friday night I found myself filled with wonderment over what new surprise the city would have in store for me over the weekend. It was always something different; a festival, new restaurant, spontaneous road trip, obscure band playing at one of Seattle’s iconic live music venues, a random bar crawl through a neighborhood I rarely spent time in, etc.

Then it all ended. Abruptly. First, with a “restructuring of sorts” at work and then with the realization that, whether I liked it or not, my time in the Pacific Northwest was getting cut short.

I put my condo on the market because, without a job, I knew I couldn’t cover my (almost) $2,000 a month mortgage payment. It sold quickly (thank God) and when I hit I-90 East in late January I wasn’t sure what the next few months would have in store. I went back to my hometown of Wilmington, NC. I put my furniture in my mom and dad’s storage unit and lived out of a suitcase for a few weeks.

But by March I had landed a job in South Carolina and started with my new company on April 15th. So that’s how I got here.

My new place in Columbia is twice as big as what I had in Seattle which meant I had to go shopping and, in an ideal world, we’d all have an unlimited budget to do so…but in the real world it doesn’t work like that. So I started doing what I do best; hunting for those buried treasures, hidden gems and diamonds in the rough.

I’ve got a lot to show you, but for now, I’ll start with my bar cart/plant stand that’s really nothing more than a metal tool cart that most people use in their garage.

I got my tool cart at Old Mill Antique Mall in West Columbia but, if you can’t find one used, HERE is a good place to start. They’ve got ones (like below) starting at $39.99

White-Tailed Tropicbird Dec 1975

There is nothing I love more than finding an original piece of art. This is a 5 x 7 “Bradshaw Originals” oil painting, done by Ann Bradshaw in December of 1975 – just a little over 44 years ago. At that time, it had a starting price of $12.00…so obviously it HAS to be worth over a million dollars today, right? Lol.

On that back, Ann wrote: “White-Tailed Tropicbird” (so that’s what I’m calling it). I paid $1.99 for it. Total bargain for an Ann Bradshaw original, if you ask me.

I tried to Google Ann but haven’t been able to find anything about her art online. Pretty sure that makes it even more rare!

Regardless of what it’s worth, it’s priceless to me. That’s the point of this blog. Art is whatever you want it to be. I hope you find something special out there soon, too!

July Calm Puget Sound.

In a couple of weeks I will be moving away from Seattle. I sold my little condo on First Hill (closing in exactly 9 days) and will be packing up a U-Haul to head back east before the end of the month. I guess that’s why I feel the need to “stock up” on art made in the Pacific Northwest as my final few days living in the upper left-hand corner of the USA are slipping away.

Why am I leaving? Well that’s a story for another time.

The important thing is, this morning I found something that will forever make me think of my time in Seattle…

Here’s the backstory (in case you’re interested)…

THE START I have been trying to draw since two or three years old. First, it was funny little men with hats, then cartoons, then wanting deeply to put my version of what I saw in nature down on paper. Drawing was a world apart, which I could retreat into when the world my body inhabited was temporarily uncomfortable. My father was the son of English immigrants, so the children’s stories I was read before bed were illustrated by such great British artists as Arthur Rackham and Earnest Shepherd. These two artists influenced my style of drawing more than any others.

Black and white line drawings fascinated me for many years, as I trained my hand and eye to work together, to relax and flow. So I worked in pencil, charcoal and pen & ink for a long time, always delighting in working outdoors in nature. My family was a California family that camped and hiked, so I formed a passion for nature early on.

SCRATCHBOARD In later years I began to be drawn to woodcuts, linocuts and etchings, and experimented with these media for numbers of years, until I discovered scratchboard. What I loved about this medium was the fact that it allowed me to have the feeling of pen & ink as well as the feel of a woodcut, linocut or etching. The hand printing process of these latter media had never interested me much, so scratchboard was perfect, in that it is a drawing medium that looks like a hand-printing medium. I worked for years with the old type of scratchboard that can only be done in black & white.

http://sharonnealwilliams.com/pages/bio.html

Thank you, Seattle, for being my home for the past 7 years – for teaching me I am tougher than I thought I was and for introducing me to so many new things/experiences. I am forever indebted.

The Lion King Of Beasts…

Today started like any other Saturday. I got up, made breakfast, took my golden retriever to the dog park and decided to hit the Goodwill flagship store in downtown Seattle on our way home. I have found more incredible pieces there than anywhere else. And today was no exception.

As I strolled through art section, I saw “The Lion King Of Beasts” and grabbed it as fast as I could. It looked as though it had been removed from a frame, because it was just a piece of paper – but hadn’t been rolled or folded. The red price tag on the back said $3.99 and it just happened that all red tags were 50% off. YAHTZEE!

I scored the print for $2.00.

My next stop was the Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center on 4th Ave S in hopes of finding the right size frame. I had no idea the exact dimensions (I was guessing 18 or 20 x 24) but figured if I saw a frame that looked big enough I could run to the car and bring it inside to see if it would fit. ANOTHER YAHTZEE.

This black frame was $9.99 but also 50% off. So for a grand total of $7 this was my Saturday morning score!

When I got home I Googled the aritst, Shane Slayer. I found him pretty easily.

While I’m not sure what Shane is up to these days, it appears that he used to have a booth at the Saturday Market in Eugene, OR. In August of 2013 he was featured as the “Beautiful Booth of the Month” and here is what I learned about him:

Sometimes getting fired from a job is the best thing that can ever happen to you. Just ask Shane Slayer…

Fresh out of the military, and three months into a “real” job, Shane found himself suddenly unemployed and in need of funds. In all that suddenly spare time, he started drawing, and selling the drawings. He’s been a self supporting artist ever since. Shane actually sold at the Saturday Market in the 70s, moved away and sold elsewhere, and returned a few years ago.

I asked him how he learned to draw. “Copying pictures of girlfriends when I was in the military,” was his first answer. “Any formal training, though?” I asked, as his draftsmanship is so accomplished. Turns out he took a couple of drawing classes at the U of O while gaining his degree in History. The most important one was taught by a sculpture professor whose class was about anatomy, “We had to learn how to draw each muscle and understand how it works.” This knowledge is very useful for someone who draws a lot of imaginary creatures. You have to know how a dragon’s wings should be attached to make a convincing dragon portrait!

He works in dark pencil, then has the art copied. Prints are individually colored by hand by a method he developed himself. He uses cloth to apply pastels to the prints, so each one is unique. Along with drawing, he’s also a poet. He has written poems for all kinds of occasions, al neatly displayed and sorted by sentiment. “It’s all pretty upbeat, people like a positive message,” he says. He will even personalize artwork to commemorate a special person or occasion.

https://eugenesaturdaymarket.org/artisanpages/Slayer/slayer.html

If you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve heard me say it a thousand times. Don’t worry about what something is worth. The pretension of the art world can lead you to believe that something has to be expensive to be valuable. But there is a big difference between those words – expensive and valuable. If you like it, BUY IT! Happy collecting 🙂

If you like it, you should buy it.

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you probably already know there isn’t much rhyme or reason to what I buy…or why I buy it. And I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would say that if you wanted to start your own art collection you *could* hit up an art show or hope to get lucky and find an original in a thrift shop (as those are both viable options). Or you might try looking around places like OfferUp or LetGo. You’d be surprised how many artists put their own pieces on sites like that.

Take this piece, for instance:

When I saw it, I fell in love. The artist listed it on LetGo for $100 and said it was an acrylic and mixed media piece. I offered him $75 and he was like, “sure.”

In my last few posts, I’ve written things like “even though this isn’t necessarily my aesthetic, I still bought it” or “doesn’t really fit my style, but I liked it anyway.” With this, those statements do not apply. I was beyond obsessed with it. It’s big, bold, bright, urban, street, has attitude and personality…everything I like.

I’m calling it “Flamingo King” and I bought it from a guy named Genaro Rivas in Tacoma, WA. I’m actually thinking about reaching back out to him to commission another piece…something similar, but perhaps with a political perspective? Haven’t decided yet. The point is, I liked it and I bought it. It is, to date, my most-prized acquisition. So go look around – on Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, apps, etc. – because you never know when you just might find your favorite piece of all time.



Beginning the Journey…

I’ve learned that art doesn’t necessarily have to be “your style” or “your aesthetic” to have a place in your house. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t match our decor or go with the other pieces in your living room. Sometimes you can see something and know that it belongs with you anyways.

This framed print is called “Beginning the Journey” and, upon first glance, I was pretty mesmerized by it.

What better reminder could there be?

Stop. Look around. Put the phone away. Take a breath. Absorb. Be present.

And yet as simple as it sounds, it’s rarely done.

I think that was my attraction to this little print. Anything that reminds me to slow down and pay attention in life, whether it matches the color scheme in my house or not, is coming home with me.

Price: $1.99 at a thrift shop in downtown Seattle.