Messy love

During the course of my daughter’s art lessons I have had the opportunity to paint again. Though only for an hour, it was nice to have the paint under my nails and up to my knuckles; a lovely, creative mess.

I have been so busy between work, finding work, homeschooling and life (college and everything else) that I haven’t had any urge to do anything creative. I sit up in bed at night and write a couple pages on my novel (read 2am) before finally turning off the light, but I’ve not really been able to dig in and get messy in a while.

A dear friend of mine in India is sending me the text I need to complete this one, as well as an assemblage I am entering into a competition (more later on that).

This one consists of lots of glue, a vintage map of India (since he is an Indian ellie), tissue paper for wonderfully wrinkly skin, and acrylic paint as well as pen and ink. Sharpies work well at times, but my tool of choice is my black Pentel Energel .5mm gel pen.

As soon as the package arrives from India I will complete it and post an update with more photos. I plan to look into making prints of her as well as greeting cards though that will depend on funding. The original may go up on eBay, not sure yet as we are all kind of attached to her.

For now she stands silent on her easel in the corner, waiting, Unrecumbent.

When Past is Present

Updates below post.

This July I have the opportunity to meet my father’s family. I am going to tell his/our story and then ask for help because this means a great deal to me and I have no other way to make it happen. Bear with me.

To most people this is commonplace: Your dad is your dad. You know his family, you see them on holidays and during family gatherings for birthdays and other special events. You tell stories about Uncle Joey and his bad jokes, about the time your cousin added salt instead of sugar to a cake recipe and you couldn’t stand the smell of the ocean for a month. Pretty normal family stuff, right? Not for me.

My parents split up before I was 18 months old, irreconcilable differences though they remained friends, something I have always been very thankful for. As soon as I was old enough to know the difference and ask for him, I think I was 3 or 4, my mother invited him over for dinner. Instant love. I remember images of what kind of dining room table we had, or where the windows were in the kitchen, of the feel of the tile and carpet under my feet, those little tactile details. I remember the sound of his voice though not what he said. I remember his laughter, and my mother’s, at my antics. I remember his hugs and how sad I was that he had to go later that evening. We remained best friends until his sudden passing. He was 57.

I was living in southern New Jersey at the time, ten minutes over the bridge from Philly which is where my first husband was stationed with the US Navy. We had gotten married a couple years before, both 18, no kids. We had lived outside Richmond for a year before he enlisted and we moved to Jersey. All of my family and friends were still here in Florida so I was without my normal support group. I had made a few friends, no one close, and was very much on my own.

At the end of our second year, things were not going well and my husband’s indiscretions had me packing and leaving for my own sanity. A family friend flew up, rented a U-Haul, drug my husband up five flights of stairs (literally, still makes me smile LOL) and forced him to help me pack. Within 48 hours I was driving back home to Florida, tail tucked neatly between my legs. My father’s death happened in the middle of this.

December 26th, 1989 I received a phone call from the woman (who shall remain nameless other than JD) that my father had been seeing and living with for several years. Though we were friends, she never had occasion to call me since my father and I spoke often enough. As soon as my husband told me who it was I knew something was wrong. Taking the phone all I could say was “…when?”.

I had been feeling off-balance for a few days that Christmas but I had no clue why. My intuition has always been something I have listened to but, then, I couldn’t put a finger on exactly what was wrong. I just knew that something was coming and that I wasn’t going to like it. My father had gone with his girlfriend to her mother’s; she had cancer and was not doing well so they went to her instead. I had spoken to him the week before since I knew I wouldn’t be able to get hold of him over the holidays. At the time, with everything that had been going on with my husband, I had actually been rude to my father. I didn’t have long distance on my phone at the time so my father had told me to call him collect which I had to do from the lobby of our apartment building.

While I was on the phone with my father, my husband’s superior officer had walked past me so I excused myself a moment to find out when my husband had been released from duty that day. My husband had been cheating on me, something I had not planned on telling my father until I had proof (did two months later). My father clearing his throat on the other end of the phone made me realize I’d taken longer than I should have. He chided me for being inconsiderate, something he had never had to do my entire life. I felt like crap and we started talking again. I don’t remember if I apologized, I am sure I did, but that was the last time I ever got to speak to him. I carried that guilt around for years, always wishing I’d had some way to make it up to him.

The phone call on the 26th was JD calling me to tell me that my father had died on the 23rd. She said she didn’t want to ruin my Christmas. She told me that my father had choked on a piece of food, asphyxiated, and had a heart attack. That she tried everything she could but they couldn’t save him. I think I handed the phone back to my husband or he took it, I am not sure looking back. Then I remember sitting on the floor in the corner of the kitchen and I didn’t stop crying for six years.

I called JD a few days later after the fog lifted to get the rest of the details. In the meantime, she had, admittedly, given away or thrown away all of his belongings. Everything except for a necklace my father used to wear and a black ceramic panther desk lamp; I got those in the mail. All of his books, all of the things he loved, all of the things that he shared with me. Gone. Including him. Other than him the letters he had kept hurt the worst.

I have a half-brother named Mark (Heriff) that my father had been looking for since he was seven years old; unlike my mother, Mark’s mother had not wanted to remain friends, remarried, and returned all of my father’s letters to Mark. My father had kept every single one. He had shown me the stack of letters on several occasions, lovingly tied with a bit of dingy green ribbon, waiting for the day he could hand them to Mark in person. My father never spoke ill of anyone, even when he had cause to, so I know that he wanted only to stay in contact with his son. It hurt to see those letters, to know that Mark was out there and wasn’t a part of our lives. My father kept hope though and kept searching for him.

I found Mark two months after my father died and I had no stack of letters to give him. JD had thrown them out.

When I said “including him” earlier, I meant it literally. She had no idea, or care, where my father’s body was. There are no words to describe the shock but I can tell you that the rage sets in fast. None of my questions were answered except with “it doesn’t matter, that’s not him anymore”. It did matter.

My father died two days before Christmas in 1989. After almost two months, and $200 worth of long distance phone calls, I finally had some answers. I did some research and got hold of the county coroner’s office here in Florida, which led me to a couple of other places, and finally to a funeral home where his remains were being kept. He had wanted it that way, thankfully, but they’d had to cremate him because there was no one to claim him.

Every phone call, every mention of my father’s name, was met with shocked surprise, elation, scrambling to get someone, and another phone call. They had all been trying to get hold of JD for months. She had told everyone, despite once calling me friend and knowing of Mark, that my father had no children or next of kin. Then she disappeared.

I flew down Valentine’s weekend to prove that I was my father’s daughter and take him home.

From the airport, as I couldn’t stand the thought of waiting, my mother drove me two to three hours to the funeral home where the Director met with me personally. I think if he could have scooped me up and hugged me for an hour he would have. I had told him the story leading up to that day over the phone and he was silent, there were no words. I could see it in his face when I introduced myself. He handed me a small, square box with an envelope attached to it. My father. In the envelope was his death certificate. He also handed me a file with the name of my father’s first cousin, the one who is having the reunion in July; since then we have become both family and friend.

I still have my father’s remains. I kept it safe, knowing that someday I would find where he needed to be. I am hoping to take him to his family on this trip. I hadn’t realized that until I wrote this, but I need to do it. It is the least I can do.

I know things are tough for everyone right now, they are for us as well which is why I am doing this (and part of me can’t believe I am). I work freelance which means I do not get a regular check each week. I don’t want to miss this and, as it is, am not going to be able to take my daughter or my boyfriend with me to meet them which is my wish. I am not happy about it but raising almost 500.00 for one ticket is much easier (in my mind) than trying to raise over a thousand for three tickets. The sooner I am able to book it on Priceline the better; two days ago one round trip ticket was 500 with the rental car but that will change.

That in mind, if I can get 100 people to donate just 5.00 or 50 to donate 10.00 I can go. Anything would help though and I would be eternally grateful. In fact, I will happily create small, one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork and mail them to anyone who donates. Add in a note to me with one (1) favorite color and then email me your mailing address. Please send it as a “gift” so that I don’t lose anything to PayPal fees

 





 

Also, as another option, my mailing address is:
Ana Maria Seaton, PO Box 830635, Ocala, Florida 34483-0635

My father’s first cousin is compiling photos, old movies made to DVDs, and other things of or about my father for me. I would like to accept them in person.

As far as JD is concerned, the woman who had been a part of my father’s life for so long, it took me years to stop joking about wanting to deck her if I saw her. In all honesty I didn’t know what I would do though slapping her had been my reaction of choice. Now, I pray for her and wish her well. What you put out into this world comes back to you, I know that well from daily experience.

The whole thing seems surreal to me at times, something I would write in one of my novels, but it did happen and there are even more details that I have not shared that would make it like the epic soap opera it was at the time. This was the heavily abridged version. There was also a court case that he was supposed to have testified in two weeks after his death, JD’s bizarre behavior and renunciation of all she believed in the year before after returning from Tibet with her mother, and the fact that what JD had told me had happened did not correspond with the coroner’s report. She hadn’t helped him…told you, novel. It is part of my past now, though, and I hope to make this trip. I feel it is where I/we need to be.

If you cannot help with a dollar or two, say a prayer that if I am meant to go that it will be provided for. I am grateful either way.

Thank you for listening…

Brightest blessings,
Ria

Moments of sanity

I do believe that things happen for a reason though so, when my daughter wanted to paint something for her father yesterday, there was no surprise when I accidentally pulled out two small canvases instead of one. That was all the incentive I needed.

I have not had time for much more than doodling lately and my sanity from day-to-day is, typically, directly related to whether or not I get moments of creativity. I have been wanting to sit down and make something for weeks now and doodling wasn’t cutting it. I needed to dig into something, get paint on my fingers, a brush and pen in my hand, make a mess.

This year, I have had to do a big push for freelance work. Aside from college, homeschooling, household obligations (that tend to get put on the “do later” list), making food and…what am I forgetting, oh yea…sleeping, I haven’t had time to delve into anything. I have stolen moments here and there to write, much easier than dragging out all my paints, but it isn’t the same.

I was sent several small, 5×7 inch canvases in a thank you package from a friend recently. The package itself has taken up semi-permanent residence on the edge of my desk as I’ve yet to sort through it and put everything away. This week, in between work, school, and everything else, I will be completely reorganizing the largest room of our house; three computers and desks on one end, kitchen on the other, art studio/catchall in the middle. It is my hope to move our writer’s meetings here again as it is much more conducive to conversation, we can do and say what we want, and the kitchen is right there.

For now, I steal snippets of sometimes life-saving time to make memories with my daughter.

We laid newspaper out on the dining room table (the dining “room” being part of the aforementioned space) and pulled a few paints, a couple of brushes and palettes. Half an hour later I was refreshed and feeling human again…at least for another week.

A doodle break

I have been really busy lately so I decided to stop and breathe for a few minutes of doodling. I got an email that Illustration Friday’s theme was “linked” and the first thing that popped into my head was Siamese twins. I think it turned out pretty cute and may end up making it a greeting card.

Frustration is the Mother of Invention

Ok, so I finally got tired of futzing around with the old theme. It wasn’t mine, I had found it on the internet as a free download and thought I would try on a magazine layout. And while it was a nice theme, it had more complexities than I had cranial capacity to handle. Lesson learned: Make your own. I mean, really, I kinda do this for a living so I should know better.

Things have been really busy the past few months. College, clients (God love them) and homeschooling have taken up most of my waking moments. We have had a few bouts of illness here and there, mostly dependent on how thick the yellow pollen film is on our cars outside and whether or not we have each mutated the germs and recycled them back to each other.

Friends that do not normally have allergies have been suffering from them this year and I don’t know that it is going to get better. We had a harsh winter, the temperatures dropping to way below freezing on several occasions, so Mother Nature seems to be working overtime to make up for it.

Things are warming up, no cool reprieves, and I am not really looking forward to it. My days of enjoying the beach are gone almost completely; the sound of the surf lapping at the sand, the sun warm overhead as the salt spray hitches a ride on the incoming breezes. I can head out at dawn for some beachcombing but as soon as it starts to get hot I have to vacate as, with my lymphatic system not working, it makes it uncomfortable at best. There are still shade trees and pavilions in the park though and I am looking forward to a day outside this weekend.

A friend of mine from the museum has asked me to partner with her as a mentor to high school-aged creatives here locally. The group, YASO (Young Artist’s Society of Ocala), is having its first event this Saturday. In conjunction with Tom’s ShoesOne Day Without Shoes event that ran today, YASO is doing Barefoot in the Park. Combination cookout, play date, and shoe drive for Soles4Souls, Barefoot should be a lot of fun. I am going to be doing some fake henna (read brown liquid eyeliner) on people vs face painting, we have a few teens bringing their acoustic guitars, and there will be board games and other activities. Mostly it is a day to share the fresh air and remind each other that it is our responsibility as human beings to look out for those around us and that compassionate giving should be part of our daily lives; we shouldn’t have to wait for Easter, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day to show people that we care. So often we get caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to breathe and it is time we all slowed down a little. Life moves by so quickly as it is.

I took Val to the Latin mass at Queen of Peace here locally on Easter Sunday. I was really impressed. Everyone was so incredibly nice they made us feel right at home; which is saying a lot considering I am not Catholic. The almost three hours (yes you read that right, three) that the Latin mass lasted went by so fast I didn’t notice. The church itself is lovely but the people were what made it such a nice experience. We will be going back regularly starting this weekend but for different reasons.

Val, aside from being obscenely fluent in Latin, was trained in Tridentine mass when he lived in Arizona. As soon as our new friends found out he got swarmed, happily, and it was nice to see how bright it made him smile. He really missed doing it and I am looking forward to watching my gargoyle in action. If you are reading, thank you to all of you for making our first visit such a warm and inviting one. See you Sunday!

I need to revamped my sleeping schedule. It has gotten totally out-of-whack lately, as my mother would say. Speaking of which, 3am, that’s my cue…

Art Book Fundraiser for Sophia Tavolacci

UPDATE 1117.09: After some consideration, I am extending the deadline to November 30th for submissions. I got an email from Sophia’s mother earlier today and she said that she had gotten a positive response for the project.

Sophia isn’t giving up. Neither am I.

We did not get the number of submissions I had hoped for, too few for a large book. Many thanks to those creatives who have sent in work so far. Please help me spread the word. We need more creatives!

– – –

My girlfriend Julee forwarded information to me about this precious little girl because I run Art for Cures. As a mother, my own little girl is 8, I cannot imagine what Sophia’s mother is going through. Please help in any way that you can…sophia

YOU KEEP THE RIGHTS TO YOUR WORK. ALL SUBMISSIONS ARE CREDITED. 90% OF THE PROCEEDS GO TO SOPHIA’S FAMILY. 10% GOES TO THE APLASTIC ANEMIA & MDS FOUNDATION. THIS IS FOR AN ART BOOK FUNDRAISER ON BLURB. NO MONEY REQUIRED, JUST DONATE ONE HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGE, ART OR PHOTOGRAPHY (specs below). THANK YOU!

Sophia Tavolacci is 2 ½ yrs old and was diagnosed with severe Aplastic Anemia.

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sophiatavolacci/photos

This is a rare life threatening disease. Her mother is leading fundraising efforts toward the only option to save her life. Her mother would have to have a special procedure to have an HLA identical sibling so that Sophia can get a bone marrow transplant from her sibling. This procedure will save her life. Insurance covers a little but not everything, so they need a LOT of help. See comment below for links to more information on Aplastic Anemia and the procedure.

Please support this family and come out to her fundraiser this Sunday the 8th if you are local to them in Woodside, NY; details on their site. You can read her story and find more information here:

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sophiatavolacci/mystory

Every little bit helps! If you cannot donate financially, please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. If you can donate the proceeds of an original piece of artwork or something in your Etsy shop, etc that you could sell on her behalf it would help. They really need this! I know times are tough, they are for all of us, but imagine if this were someone you loved. How important would it be to you to help?

THE ART BOOK

One image is all it takes.
DEADLINE THIS FRIDAY NOVEMBER 30th

I am using the 10″x8″ standard landscape template on Blurb, here are the specs if you need them…

@ 300dpi = optimal image size is 2888px x 2475px

I will make your images work but minimum 300dpi is requested for them to look good and work well.

I have the Blurb software which is plug-in-and-go easy so we can do this fast and help them raise money. Please please please email me directly at renmeleon@gmail.com and include one high resolution image (no need to crop, I will) with your name as you would like it to appear and one link or your email for credit. By submitting your artwork you are giving me permission as Art for Cures to use the image in all promotional aspects for fundraising for this family and to help sell the book.

If the image is not appropriate for the book I will contact you to find a replacement. I am reserving the right to decline submissions if they are inappropriate.

All proceeds will go directly to Sophia’s family via Art for Cures and you will get credit for your work, mentions in the book and on the site(s), etc. You retain all rights to your work. Please help.

Any positive images that represent love, hope, compassion, caring, mother and female child, angels…keep it light, happy, hopeful. If you would like to send loving thoughts to them directly please check out Sophia’s mother’s journal on the site above.

ADDENDUM: I am looking for someone that would be willing to purchase a copy of the final book for Sophia’s mother. I am not getting anything out of this monetarily, and probably won’t even be able to buy my own copy, so I need someone willing to step up and help with a copy for Sophia’s mother. If you would like to help, please email me. I will include you in the thank yous on my site(s).

Thank you!

UPDATE 1105.09: Spoke to a representative of the Aplastic Anemia & MDS Foundation today. As a “personal fundraiser” they are not allowed to help publicize things BUT I suggested we could make a donation and their rep said donating 10% to AAMDS would get the project on their site. WOOT The other 90% goes to Sophia’s family; I spoke to Sophia’s mom and they are excited at the possibilities…

Now we just have to fill the book up so COME DONATE IMAGES!

And the official name of the project is now “Hope: The Sophia Project”.

Small Wonders

The day-to-day has become a blur as of late except for a few frozen moments here and there that stand out that I thought I would share…

And the rockets red glare
And the rockets red glare

Fourth of July

We love Fourth of July here and not just because it is a good excuse to play with fire. We get together with family, eat really good food (understatement), and watch the men get stupid trying to outdo each other with the mortars.

This year we brought my mother with us to my ex-brother-in-law’s house…and about 50 bucks worth of fireworks with us. He was already well prepared though with over 200 dollars worth so needless to say we had a good time.

I didn’t have my digital camera last year so I thought I would play around a bit this year. I was lucky enough to catch the shot above, an actual mortar going off, by using my Twilight (delayed exposure) setting on my CyberShot.

As far as the food, well there were meatballs in a crockpot full of sauce, to-die-for baked beans being served right out of the oven, some fabulous green beans, three different kinds of ribs that were REALLY good and a myriad of other snacky odds and ends. We ate just enough to be confortable plus two bites and spent the rest of the evening outside on the back deck under the stars watching the kids run around and the men see if they could blow each other up. It was a wonderful 4th.

pigtailedportrait

Pigtail Day

You have to be pretty secure in yourself to wear pigtails as an adult. I have only seen a few people that could carry it off. Ysa asks me to wear them occasionally but I never thought I would be leaving my house in them. I did for our weekly write-in one week, in fact this was earlier in the day, and no one stared at me like I thought they would.  Ysa looks much better in them.

objectsinmirrormaybeolder

Objects in Mirror May Be Older Than You Are

We have a lot of car shows here locally and you can always tell when one is going on by who is out on the road.

I personally prefer the old Classic Muscle to the new vehicles on the road. They were sturdier, sexier, and it was about how you got there not when you got there. My favorite cars? There are three: The 1951 Hudson Hornet, the 1950 Merc Led Sled (suicide doors prefered), and the 1967Ford Anglia 105e. Yes, the Weasley’s car from Harry Potter, no clue why other than I would happily drive one and have a Golden Snitch hanging from the rearview mirror. LOL

Oh, and as far as the photo above. don’t worry I was sitting at a light.

seeingdouble

Seeing Double

As an illustrator and designer, and even as a writer, I try to be as original with my work as possible. When I saw this in the bookstore recently I had to do a double take. Who designed the cover? It seems a little blatant to me. Twilight came out in 2005 and Words to Live By came out in 2007, a full two years afterward.

I have a shop on Cafe Press and one of the newsletter recently stated that apples were not to be used in any of the Twilight fan art posted to the public shops per the request of Meyers, author of the Twilight series.

The whole thing is amusing when you think about it though. One being a vampire novel and one being a book on Christian thought. I think C.S.Lewis might have had an issue with this.

Art Day

We had an “Art Day” play date over the weekend and my best friend brought me a lovely little paper mache box to play with. Having collaged and painted it, I decided it needed something to fill the empty space so I made a little mini book to go inside of it. We had a lot of fun and it was a much needed break.

Perpetually Catching Up

Ever feel like you dig out of one avalanche then get stuck in a blizzard on the way out? Things have been busy around here – full-time college student, homeschooler, freelance work or trying to get freelance work  – so I am always trying a new tactic.

I have tried assigning days for clients, assigning days for tasks, and something always seems to come along and disrupt my well-intentioned plans; normally it is my immune system. I am paring down my schedule so that I can focus more on school and the things that matter to me.

I am looking at my work as the Creative Director for PetsNPatients as a full-time job now and am devoting more time to it so that I won’t have to push so hard for freelance work which, up till now, has been my sole source of income. I want to get Art for Cures back on track, get the book projects off my plate, and be able to focus on my illustration work. The house needs seriously reorganized as well so I am doing that bits at a time.

With any luck you should see some major changes in the next couple of weeks including a lot more art from past and future projects as well as more bloggy goodness. It has been a long haul, one day at a time, and I know I have made some enemies, but it is going to be worth it in the end when I can get it all done and still retain my sanity.

Memory and Reflection

I have always taken photographs, always. Food, insects, flowers, a brick wall, a sign, friends, family. Anything that catches my eye that I want to capture and keep to share or remember I shoot. I love box cameras. I love film and working in a darkroom. I love digital. Digital has me hooked for the instant-gratification-do-I-need-to-retake-the-shot factor. I love the immediacy of it but I also love watching the image form on film in a darkroom as well. No matter how into technology I get, I will always crave my analog time.

One of the most wonderful shots that I was blessed to be able to capture was also my saddest. My grandmother, a redhead, was always very independent. Strong, stubborn, mischievously spiteful, I loved her very much and hope that shows in this shot of her.

Memory

As most of you know, I lost my grandmother in April of last year at the age of 103. She was amazing. I miss her and, though I do not dwell on her absence, there isn’t a day that goes by without a thought of her in it. I owe my mother a great debt because she cared for her for the last 12 years of her life; the thought of putting her into a home, or me my mother, is abhorrent. Though I know that I, as an only child, would/will step up and do the same, I cannot see how my mother did it. I am blessed to have been raised but such wonderful, stubborn, strong-willed women and hope to pass that on to my daughter.

If I am able to win the photo contest, though there are so many entries I just did it to share her, I will be using it toward the rest of my cash agreement for college. One of the few memories that my grandmother repeated to me on occasion was of her first grade teacher. That memory astounded me, she was 103 so it would have been in the early 1900s…!!! It was obvious that her teacher had made quite an impression on her and I wished she could have remembered more of it. I started back to college in early April, a few weeks before she passed, so I got to share that with her thankfully. I will be graduating in September with my BFA in Visual Communications, Digital Design, and then plan to go on to complete a Masters in Education.

If you would, being that my freelance work is my mainstay, I can always use help with college loans so drop in and vote for me. If not, that is ok too. Regardless, this is my favorite, and the last, image of my grandmother and I wanted to share it with everyone.

My daughter and I have been thinking a lot about her lately. Our first Christmas without her and then the new year, her absence has made a lot of changes in our lives. With the grief came relief though and a sense of peace. She was well-loved by everyone who knew her and I know that she led a very full life. I can only hope that I am as lucky. Grandma was always worried my daughter wouldn’t remember her. Sadly, in the end, it was the other way around. I think that it was mercy though, for her, that she didn’t have to say goodbye. It was hard enough on the rest of us, selfish as we were, wanting to keep her forever. I think of her often though, fondly, and got the chance to pass her on to my girl for almost 7 years which was tremendous. I won’t let her be forgotten, she is still very much a part of our lives.

Love you grandma.

EXHIBITION | Life Imitates Art January 17th

I am going to be in a charity event on January 17th with my own exhibition area as well as a table full of greeting cards and other goodies. If you are local to the Ocala, Florida area I would love it if you came and showed your support!

ART EXHIBIT | Life Imitates Art

Tickets are 50.00 which includes both receptions, the exhibit and the live theater performances as well as the silent auction. I will also have one piece (possibly two) in the auction as well. For more information, you can download a copy of my full-size flyer here. Help me get the word out!