a funny thing happened…

Sometime back in November, in the Micheals in August, ME, I picked up 5 lb block of Marblex clay and announced to Dawn that I was going to purchase it and “show her what a good artist I am.”

A month or so later I carved out an evening to make something.  I’d been planning to make a little clay sculpture of each of Dawn’s four dogs, as thanks for taking me in after I was bereft, jobless in an economically dead area of rural Western New York, having spent the last three years helping take care of a paralyzed uncle and dying inside.

I had just taken a cute photo of Magnum on his perch at the top of the couch, so I thought I would do that.

I posted a picture of it, unpainted, on Facebook to show what I was up to, as Facebook has want to know these things.

A girl I had been chatting with a little – who is waiting to get her first show Cardi – asked if I would make some for her.  I said sure, why not, I’ll give it a shot.

I posted a picture of Magnum and the second dog, painted, on Facebook.

Someone else, who – amusingly – lives about 5 miles from my grandmother in Idaho, asked if I would do one for her, too.

When I finished that one, I posted it.

Enough people liked and commented on that photo that – in this latest incarnation of Facebook – it garnered enough interest to pop up in the feeds of people who weren’t even friends of mine.  One of those strangers asked for three.

And then there were more.  And more.  And suddenly I have more work that I know what to do with.

This is seriously the most bizarre thing that has ever happened to me.

Here I’ve been, these last seven years, leaning back in my chair and tenting my hands and wondering, wondering, wondering how I was possibly going to be able to support my lifestyle.  I live modestly, but I have the MOST.  RIDICULOUS. EXPENSIVE. HOBBY.  I show and breed dogs.

I squandered my college career on a Writing degree, and I have no desire to go back to school, because I don’t want to be any of the things I would have to go back for.  I don’t want to be a nurse or an accountant or a teacher.  I make a living waiting tables, but not enough for dogs. Because, WOW, don’t know if you noticed, but dogs are expensive…

And then, as accidentally as I have lived my entire rather interesting life, I sort of founder into this.

It won’t make me rich, I promise you.  They take forever and I can’t charge what I would have to if I was making an hourly wage comparable to what I make in a night at the restaurant, which averages $15-$30 an hour.  But it is something I can do a few days a week, while I sit with Ella and listen to music and chat with people online.  It is a second job, because so many of us need second and third jobs these days.  It is shows for Ollie and Valentine and those who will come after them.  It is a litter of puppies this summer, which will probably be Ella’s last.  Don’t know if you noticed, but having puppies is my world, and I do it with the care and attention which engineers pay to designing a bridge.  It’s me being able to provide for the ones I’ve bred before, and to make sure if Ella gets hurt or gets sick, I can pay whatever I need to make sure she gets the best care she can.  It’s being able to help friends out when they need it – as I have been helped by so many of the friends I have made in this breed.

Long story short:  I guess the Secret works.  ;)

Second most bizarre thing that has ever happened to me:  hearing my father utter the words, “I guess we should have sent you to Art School.” He, the racehorse-training ex-cowboy.

Also:  my grandmother has Alzheimer’s.  At almost 90, this is not a tragedy, but still.  This is the woman who raised me, because my parents (My dad, now 70, and my mom, now 60… if you can do the math, I’m 32.) weren’t parents and lit off for better adventures.

I am not sure what to do with this information.  I am still not feeling it, and not looking forward to that feeling when the wall finally breaks down.

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3 thoughts on “a funny thing happened…

  1. I am very sorry to hear that your grandmother has Alzheimer’s. One of my grandmothers had Alzheimer’s and the other had anesthesia induced dementia that got progressively worse and in the end looks a lot like Alzheimer’s. It is a very difficult disease. Hopefully your art will give you an outlet and comfort with this news. I’m sorry, Kate.

  2. Sorry about your Grandmother…..

    I don’t find it surprising at all that your Cardi sculptures have taken off! They are quite amazing and unique. In this internet age, a talent like yours is just waiting to be discovered! And it appears it has been. Congratulations!

  3. I’m glad to hear your new art endeavor is growing! No surprise, they really are wonderful!!
    Here’s some artful advice: Don’t look back, look forward. Focus on developing your talents at your own pace. Get quiet and be patient.
    I went to art school (much to my parents dismay and mostly to get away from them!) and didn’t learn a thing. I dropped out. It wasn’t the right time or right school for me. I often wish I had an art degree but I don’t think it really matters, especially with art.
    Years later I’ve found a much better piece meal”education” through workshops, artist friends, mentors and teaching. It’s ongoing!
    I think one of the best things for anyone embracing the arts is to have someone who believes in them (which helps them believe in themselves) That’s huge! Once I found a few people who believed in me, my skills as an artist really took off. (and it wasn’t my mother!!)
    So I believe in you Kate. You go girl!

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