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Back at the market table

In about me, art, car-free living, children, crafts, folk art, freedom, garden, gardening, good life, jewellery, jewelry, kids, mixed media, my artworks, painting, photography, relationship, sales, shopping, sketch, textile art, Uncategorized on April 16, 2013 at 09:46

So I did it again: for the third financial year I am loosing money (something like 67-350-250 £ a year). This is despite parting with a number of paintings,  cards and prints.

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I am grateful to the people who bought the artwork from me but please be aware that it was local council,  public transport companies,  insurance companies, post offices and art supplies who really got your money: I had to pay them too.

Number of customers at the Market is falling. I only managed to cover my rent for December. The local library sent me a letter saying I have to pay 45 pounds if I dare to put prices on my paintings at my annual exhibition. I had it here for 2 years and earned 20 – 40 pounds each time…

I should admit that the thought of a big bonfire made of the paintings and sketches regulary burns in my mind. But I am not sure I ever can give up. All the money I have to spend on art are the leftovers from buying food and clothes for my family for which my husband gives me some money. I could’ve spent more money on him and kids. Perhaps I should have spent more time on them too.

All the housekeeping: washing, cooking, gardening, tidying and almost all shopping are my responsibilities which I have been partly ignoring for last few years in order to “be an artist”. And I am not even good at it. My conscience is not allowing me to charge sky-high for my artworks and anyway local people wouldn’t be able to pay any more. We haven’t got many millionaires in Newtown. I love doing art but the stress of trying to sell it and to please everyone is getting at me.

So I probably will only have a table on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Newtown Market, I also will exhibit some artworks at Galleries Live in Telford and Shrewsbury. I also will possibly participate in an evening art club at Pen Dinas Community Garden if it won’t eat too much time. But I really would like to claim at least some of my life back as my home, me, the family and the garden are not well attended at the moment. I used to read, write, exercise, do plein air trips and I want to try to go back to this.

Sorry for a bit of whining but I feel I should explain what’s going on – mostly for people who (I think) expect me to be something I am not.

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I am CAR free and proud

In car-free living, drawing, print on March 17, 2012 at 17:32

Freedom

In car-free living, eco-friendly, good life, nature, people, pets and domestic animals, wild nature on December 31, 2011 at 16:41

Once when me and kids went to school, other kids told us that a little girl, the sister of one of the pupils, just has been hit by a landrower. At the same time there was this story on the news: “Boy killed as car mounts pavement. An 11-year-old boy has died after a car mounted a pavement and crashed into a group of pedestrians in Bristol. The female driver of the white Ford Focus left the scene of the incident in Eastfield Road, Westbury-on-Trym, leaving the boy trapped underneath. A man was treated for minor injuries, while three other children at the scene were not injured.”

I’m sure there are lots of stories like this, with the double horror of families loosing their loved ones and somebody accidentally becoming a murderer. Kids do behave silly and even experienced driver can loose the control sometime.

Once we’ve all been waiting on a bus stop when suddenly a puppy ran into the road and has been hit by a car.

One day an artists gave me a lift to a workshop along a small countryside road. All the road was covered by killed rabbits, hedgehogs and foxes. I didn’t really felt like admiring “scenic road” she has chosen for me.

 

I should admit, I do often dream how great it would be if I could afford a car and we all could go to exiting places and never fly again. A good friend of mine once told me that she was really happy that she had started driving: it gives such freedom! Yes, but at what price?

Deep in the Forest

In car-free living, children, kids, my artworks, pencil on March 10, 2010 at 16:53

Two kids found a little house in the woods. I like making artworks which look like pictures out of a lost book or movie. And its up to you to imagine the story!

Deep in the Forest: a fairytale by Alexandra Cook
Deep in the Forest: a fairytale by Alexandra Cook

Big freeze…

In about me, car-free living, good life, kids, photography, shopping, traditions, winter on January 8, 2010 at 07:23

We have got a bit of Moscow winter this year. It was about -12 C last night. Heating and gas are still OK, but poor boiler works as hard as it can. We are only partly double glazed, big windows & thin brick walls, but this wasn’t a problem before, and hopefully won’t be again for the next 30 years… Iceland food delivery is frozen to death but fortunately I’ve stock up enough supplies just before the New Year.

I am really enjoying the weather but a bit worried about my subtropical plants in the garden. I covered what I could with juniper branches and snow. It is cold but sunny at the moment but I haven’t uploaded the latest photos yet. Maybe I even venture sketching till the snow melts.

Happy kids went sledging after school first time in their life (!) a couple of days ago – I used to do it almost every day in winter as a child. Other kids came to us asking how to slide down properly. I Moscow we either used our fur coats, or pieces of cardboard boxes, water-soaked and then frozen. In my mom’s time, kids froze a layer of water in a bucket, took it out and slide on top of this.

Here is a collage of kids in the garden. We are such a dynamic family that its impossible to have everybody in the picture at the same time!

I found very annoying that it is difficult to find proper warm clothes (socks, tall snow boots, a coat) for my son. Girls are OK, there is a great choice of stuff. Warm trekking socks of kids sizes ALL have something pink on them… Why couldn’t it be green??? And what about the size 3 boots? Its scares me to see lots of man and boys wearing wellington boots in the weather like this instead of proper cosy winter boots like women. Its just not fair!

Post office blues

In about me, art, car-free living, kids on November 24, 2009 at 09:28

I do unfortunately depend on the nearest post office. And now there is only one in town.

It wasn’t always like this: there used to be a little one near the swimming pool. It was inconvenient for me to go here so I never did, till one day an elderly lady knocked on my door and said that they collect signatures against the proposed closure of the little post office. Of course I signed and also decided that next time I will go here – thinking that having one more regular customer will probably help. It happened that next time I had quite a lot of parcels with me, including horrible pictures and curtains which the previous owners left in the house. I’ve sold them on Ebay for 5 quid + postage, then being clumsy as I am I broke the glass and had to pay 5 quid to a framer for its replacement (I am a great business woman, I know!) I also had a large life drawing I’ve sold for about the same price to America. It was done on thick card so at first I send it as it was at my regular post office. It came back (to my enormous surprise) with note that it’s too large for the Airmail. Now I’ve been sending paintings and drawings of this size for years and never had a problem with that. I went to the main post office and they (a bit unfriendly for my taste) told me that the rule always was here… Surprise again. And its my fault that because I pay the postage online. I managed to roll the drawing and was ready to pay the postage price for it again.

So I entered a small post office smiling to the lady who was behind the counter and putting my numerous parcels in front of her. And then I’ve seen an evil flame in her eyes. Apparently the reason was that I bought half of my postage online. I’ve been doing this for a long time – since living in Long Eaton where extremely nice people at that post office never told me there was any issue with this. I repeat the people were really wonderful and helpful at that place but… unlike in Wales I had a number of parcels which were never received by their recipients.

The lady with evil eyes was refusing to accept my parcels because she didn’t like the idea of online stamps which people print at home. She thought the post offices are closing because of this (forgetting that the people still HAVE to handle their parcels and letters to post office workers). I don’t drive and I just walked to that little place, tired, loaded like a mule with my profitless load – and specially to help her… If she told me “could you please buy you stamps from me next time?” I would certainly said “yes”! Instead she brought me to the brink of bursting into tears by her angry words in front of silent but curious queue. I bet they haven’t been on the side of a strange lady with foreign accent and a horrid word “Ebay” almost written across her forehead. Ebay keeps of mounting hidden fees and treating low-profit sellers like unwanted dogs – and then you also get this looks at the post office. Yes, I know I could just take things to a charity shop, but 1) I have this crazy hope that something we’ve got but don’t need may actually turn to be valuable for somebody else (it actually happened twice with books); 2) kids love to get some pocket money after their old book or toy is sold (they were unlucky with that since Ebay introduced its “free postage” rule), and 3) lot of our stuff is too unusual if not weird for a little town charity shop to handle. Finally the post office lady agreed to take parcels and they all (to my disbelieve) arrived to their destinations OK. Yes, I can’t stand hostility and I know its bad to be so sensitive to it. But that’s the way I am…

I never came back to that little post office. I even wanted to file a complain because I’m sure it was illegal to refuse posting things on that ground. But then few months later, walking to the pool I’ve seen that post office have been closed for good and I couldn’t refuse an evil smile…

Now we only got one post office in the town. They have a strange practise here: a large shopping trolley is put in the middle and, after stamps have been put on parcels, they are thrown across the room to that trolley, including ones with red tape all over and large letters saying “FRAGILE” on them. Recently the glass on one of my paintings I’ve sent by post was broken and I wonder if this was what did it. But what can I do? Putting things in large boxes, going to another town or using alternative postal service would increase the cost of postage a lot, and with my artwork not being too expensive it will just put an end on selling it.

I do mostly sell artwork unframed to avoid high postage cost and broken glass but there is another danger – parcels get bended. Once even a thick framing mount, which I though will protect the drawing sufficiently, got bend in half. Few years ago I’ve accidentally got from my framer a couple of pieces of white corrugated plastic: lightweight and easy to cut with scissors yet very difficult to bend. I’ve been told this is what state agents use for their “for sale” boards. If anybody reading this post know how to buy this (but not in industrial quantities) – I would really appreciate.

Meanwhile I’m stuck with my only post office. As far as I know any alternative postal services are only suitable for businesses with high volumes of mail and SOME profit (maybe I’m wrong?) I can’t really argue with my post office staff for fear – perhaps irrational – that my parcels will be damaged on purpose when I don’t look. Add to this also that I’m horrible at doing things neat and tidy – like good package should be, I’m slow, and I have little accidents with tape and scissors all the time. At home we haven’t got a special table to do packing so I just kneel on the hard floor for an hour 2-3 times a week to get the job done.

Yet I am actually glad that I am where I am. I don’t have to seat in office all the day and I am home when kids are back from school. My artworks find their owners and I get lots of happy emails from people. I’ve even found a first exhibition venue after two years in Newtown, so a couple of my narrative figurative paintings should be at the Hafren Theatr at the moment. Perhaps I should think more about exhibitions (but memories of having to carry by myself about 30 framed artworks to 3 personal shows I had in East Midlands still a bit scary). Anyway it is really great to be a “free artist” and I am sure in any occupation there are difficulties you have to learn to overcome – blame to the imperfection of the world!

Royal Air Force Cosford Air Show

In car-free living, transport, travel on June 19, 2009 at 09:53


Thats were we’ve been last Sunday. More photos in my photo album. We were surprised to see such a sea of cars. I think some people with tickets haven’t been allowed to drive in because there already were too many cars. Plus traffic jams on the way.

Although I felt some envy to the car people with big umbrellas, chairs, blankets, tents, comfortable seats on top of their motocaravans, big baskets with lunches – which we obviously couldn’t had – I was saying to myself that unlike them we won’t have problem leaving the show in the evening. Hm… We haven’t been even allowed to the platform at the time when our train was leaving – because of the crowd of passengers. So we ended up coming home very late… You just can’t win! At least the weather was fine – if you don’t mind heat and sunshine (I do mind:).

Freedom

In car-free living, kids, moral issues on May 13, 2009 at 11:02

Today when me and kids went to school, other kids told us that a little girl, the sister of one of the pupils, just has been hit by a landrower. A week or two ago there was this story on the news:

“Boy killed as car mounts pavementAn 11-year-old boy has died after a car mounted a pavement and crashed into a group of pedestrians in Bristol. The female driver of the white Ford Focus left the scene of the incident in Eastfield Road, Westbury-on-Trym, leaving the boy trapped underneath. A man was treated for minor injuries, while three other children at the scene were not injured.”

I’m sure there are lots of stories like this, with the double horror of families loosing their loved ones and somebody accidentally becoming a murderer. Kids do behave silly and even experienced driver can loose the control sometime.

Perhaps not so tragic but still very worrying once was my ride along a small countryside road when an artists gave me a lift to a workshop. All the road was covered by killed rabbits, hedgehogs and foxes. I didn’t really felt like admiring “scenic road”.

I should admit, I do often dream how great it would be if I could afford a car and we all could go to exiting places and never fly again. A good friend of mine once told me that she was really happy that she had started driving: it gives such freedom! Yes, but at what price?

Solanum muricatum

In car-free living, eco-friendly, gardening, good life on May 7, 2009 at 11:18

A very interesting & useful plant database:

http://www.pfaf.org/index.php

Planted Solanum muricatum (bought from Lidl) today. Sound too good to be true – perennial tomato which tastes like melon, an Ancient American crop plant. I hope it will survive!

I’m doing my gardening in an non-intrusive manner, encouraging useful plants which appear by themselves and with the ones I plant, I’m not forcing them to grow in my garden if they don’t want to. Certainly no pesticides or non-organic fertilizers. My biggest problems are slugs and snails plus the fact that the compost bags in most shops are too heavy to carry without a car.

Shopping trolly

In car-free living, eco-friendly, shopping on March 31, 2009 at 13:17

It would certainly increase the number of people shopping without using their cars if we were allowed to take standard BIG shopping trolleys strait to the doors of our homes.

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