I know that from the outside it looks like my life is back on track.
And for the most part, it’s true.
Professionally, I’m checking all the boxes, attending shows, teaching art classes, and taking on projects that speak to my heart. Intellectually, I’m feeling challenged again – reading, writing, teaching memoir classes and handling independent editing clients.
I have a good relationship with my parents and a few close friends upon whom I can call if I’m struggling.
But, the one thing that’s missing — the void that cannot be filled so easily — is in the area of physical touch.
Y’all, I can go for days, weeks, even months without anyone touching me.
And for a girl who thrives on touch, I can tell you, it’s really hard.
Sometimes I actually feel like I’m losing my mind because of the lack.
(((thank goodness I can afford occasional massages!)))
I know people will say: “You should get a pet…,” but having a dog or a cat or a ferret is not the same as having another human close to you.
Luckily, these feelings only seems to overwhelm me at night, so my solution has been to stay out as long and as late as possible after dinner, but not really a great solution.
Anyone have any suggestions for this conundrum? How do you handle the void, the loneliness that comes from wanting something you don’t have and may never have?
At Corn Hill Festival, the vendor in the space next to me is a Chinese man who spends most of his time sleeping and smoking. While I am packing up, he steps into my tent for the first time to look at my work.
Seeing my photograph on the cover of a copy of Rochester magazine that I have displayed, he scrunches up his face with confusion.
“What is this word? ‘Courage?’“ he asks in broken English.
I try to explain that courage is a kind of mental toughness. “It’s strength on the inside,” I say, pointing to my heart.
The man makes a guttural sound, a grunt of sorts. “You not look strong to me,” he says, pointing at my face in such a way that indicates he isn’t talking about my face so much as my personality. “You just look. . . tired.”
It’s an odd moment.
Because he’s not wrong.
Wearing crazy pants, space buns on my head, and a big smile, I’m sure I don’t look like the most courageous person in the world.
But the truth is I’ve survived some really difficult times: rape, a brain injury, the loss of my marriage, my home, my neighbors, my community, the people I thought were my friends.
For many years now, like an ant in a storm, I’ve worked to rebuild.
I know that people see me as creative and resilient. They see my house, my car. They see me pushing myself to meet new people and try new activities. They see I’m making money and running a business — and they assume I’m ‘fine.’
And most of the time, I am.
But the truth is I am exhausted.
Exhausted by a lifetime of trying too hard, of not letting go, and too much looking back. Exhausted by the stupid things I do — the accidents I cause, the poor choices I make. It weighs me down.
It’s tiring having to be strong all the dang time.
I know everyone is going through something, that I’m not special.
But I’d gladly trade all this mental toughness for a good long cry, followed by a nice long nap in the arms of a lover.
If you ask me, courage is overrated.
What’s got you feeling weighed down and what would make you feel better?
To see the July Free Print Giveaway Winner announced, check out the video below.
Wanna be entered in next month’s free giveaway?
Send your contact information, HERE.
PS: You can also enter in person on August 3, 2019 at Jack Craft Fair at The Outer Harbor in Buffalo, New York — 225 Fuhrmann Blvd. I’ll have all the things — prints, masonite tiles, magnets and coasters — there for you to purchase.
“How can you justify charging $20 for a print,” a lady asked me last weekend at my first outdoor festival ever. “Seems like a lot,” she added.
I know this woman probably doesn’t deserve an answer, and I certainly don’t need to justify my prices — but I thought people might be interested in knowing what exactly goes into one of my $20 reproductions at a festival.
1. Create the artwork.
That means coming up with an inspiration, and then turning that inspiration into reality with paint, vintage papers, colored pencils, crayons, oil pastels and other ephemera. I don’t know how to put a price on creativity, but I can tell you that part alone takes between 20 and 30 hours, no matter the size of the canvas.
2. Convert the original artwork into a high-resolution photograph.
To do this, I set up a photo session in my house. Because my house doesn’t get the best light, I use three white poster boards curved in such a way as to accentuate the colors without throwing any shadows. The lighting has to be just right.
3. Email the high res image file to my printer across town.
4. Pick up prints. Check quality.
5. Hand slice each individual print into the appropriate size.
7. Slide all reproductions into individual cellophane wrappers. Remove the plastic strips that protect the adhesive tape and seal each envelope individually. This does not take into account any of the marketing I do (which I do by myself), or the fulfilling of orders (which I do all by myself), or the packaging (which I do by myself) or the trips to the post office (which I do by myself).
8. Many months in advance of any show, I have to apply to be juried in & pay the application fee, which ranges in price from $45 to over $300, depending on the venue. I have to remember to bring and display my Certificate of Authority, which I applied for and paid for. This allows me to legitimately collect taxes (which I pay someone to file).
9. Purchase/create a display & practice setting up — tables & tablecloths, tent & tent weights, banners & racks, signage & business cards — the list goes on. I have to make sure I have duct tape & binder clips & clamps & pens & scissors & bandaids & all kinds of other random things that I might need. I even pack my own lunch!
10. Make sure the card reader is working and set up pricing for each individual item. Research and apply the local sales tax in every county in which I plan to show.
11. Go to the bank to get change.
12. Enlist help. I don’t have any single designated person to assist me, and my tent weights are 40 pounds each…so I need peeps with stamina. At this last show, I was helped by my father & an old friend from high school! I am beyond grateful to them both!
13. Set up tent & display. At this particular show, my load-in time started at 7AM. Which means I was up waaaaay before that.
14. Sell. Stand for roughly 11 hours — in any kind of weather, rain or shine. Be professional & fully present while talking to anyone who wanders into my tent. Answer questions, take orders & hold down the fort.
15. Handle unforseens. On the first night of this particular show, there was a torrential downpour. Many tent canopies had not been weighted properly, so they toppled over or — literally — blew away. My tent was okay, but the high winds toppled my tables, soaking my tablecloths, signage & some of my merchandise, which I hadn’t thought to put away. I had to make an executive decision to close-up show, packing everything up in the middle of the night in a heavy downpour.
15. Tear down. At the end of a show, I do everything in reverse: box up, tear down, pack up, drive home, transfer everything back into my garage until the next festival.
So yes, lady in the white leggings. My prints are twenty dollars. And, now that I think about it, it doesn’t sound like near enough.
How would YOU respond to a comment like this? What do people not know about the work YOU do?
FESTIVAL SCHEDULE 2019
JUNE 1 & 2 • Syracuse, New York – CRAFTED in Armory Square
JULY 13 & 14 • Rochester, New York – CORNHILL FESTIVAL
AUGUST 3 • Buffalo, New York – JACK CRAFT FESTIVAL
SEPTEMBER 15 • Rochester, New York – ARTIST ROW – ROCHESTER PUBLIC MARKET
SEPTEMBER 21 & 22 • Macedon, New York – PURPLE PAINTED LADY
SEPTEMBER 28 • Lakeshore Community Church • Greece, NY • MOPS AUTUMNAL FESTIVAL
NOVEMBER 2 & 3 • Village Gate, Rochester, NY • MAYDAY
NOVEMBER 21-24 • Rochester, NY • Rochester Museum & Science Center • HOLIDAY BAZAAR
DECEMBER 7 • Rochester, NY • South Wedge • HANDMADE HOLIDAY
• Magnets • Coasters • Prints • Masonite Tiles • Original Art •
Free Gift with Purchase While Supplies Last!
• • •
WANT TO SAVE $1.00?
On festival day, post a PUBLIC photo of yourself in my booth on social media & tag me
@RASJACOBSON (on Instagram) or RASJACOBSON ART (on Facebook)
and use the hashtag#RASJACOBSONart & SAVE $1.00 on the spot!
PS: I’m looking to expand my venue to other areas of the country. What’s the best art festival in YOUR area?
First Painting of 2019
My first painting of the year ~ GO YOUR OWN WAY ~ was inspired by an exercise created by Tamara Laporte of Willowing: Lifebook 2019.
As you know, I like to paint whimsical characters of my own imagination – and I’d never tried to paint a unicorn before!
On the top edge of the canvas, I painted the following words:
All the beasts obeyed Noah when he admitted them into the ark.
All but one.
Confident of his abilities the Unicorn said: “I shall swim.”
So many of us are taught to follow the leader.
To go along.
To do what everyone else does.
Unicorns have to do things their own way.
They go about it quietly and the world appreciates their authenticity, their rareness and their shine!
GO YOUR OWN WAY is a reminder to myself ~ and to all of you ~ to continue to go your own way.
Be the Unicorn, everyone!🦄
I’m giving away a FREE 12″ print – and you don’t have to be present to win!
How Do I Enter?
There are TWO ways!
- PURCHASE something from via my WEBSITE between 12/2 and midnight on 12/22 and you’ll be automatically entered to win.
(Each post is an additional chance to win! Enter as often as you’d like. I’ll keep track of everything. One winner will be selected at random, and that person’s name will be announced on December 25th ~ on my blog, on FB & on IG! You can’t win if you don’t play!) ❄️☃️
Last year at this time, I was nervously preparing to show my artwork at my very first art festival.
The event was to take place in The South Wedge, a funky/artsy neighborhood here in Rochester, New York.
I had no idea what my booth would look like or how my display was going to work.
I had no idea what I was doing.
Fast forward twelve months.
Today, I’m calmly preparing for the same show in the South Wedge this Saturday.
So it’s a mile marker, an anniversary of sorts, and – as such – it’s an opportunity to reflect.
When I started painting in 2014, the paintings were for myself.
When I was sick and mostly homebound, it NEVER occurred to me that the affirmations I used to get through benzodiazepine withdrawal would one day become a business, a way for me to connect with and help people who are going through their own invisible struggles.
Now that I have a little space from all of that, I see I was experiencing what Carl Jung refers to as the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ – a period of spiritual desolation suffered during which time all sense of consolation is removed.
It has taken me over five years to get to where I am now.
Those of you who’ve been with me for a long time can probably see the changes better than even I can. I never knew I possessed the kind of strength necessary to get thru the kinds of crises I faced, and I can honestly say I am a stronger, a more empathetic person on the other side of this mess.
I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who has believed in me, supported me personally, financially, intellectually, and spiritually.
I want you know that in a real way, YOU helped save my life. When you bought my work, or shared it, you showed me you believed in me. You saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.
To me, this is nothing short of a miracle.
And now it’s the holiday season.
The Season of Miracles.
Everyone is rushing around, furiously shopping for gifts to show their friends and family members how much they are loved.
And that’s awesome because presents are fun and fabulous and obviously I’m selling my work, which is weird and wonderful and I love everything about the festivity of the season.
It’s important to remember it’s not about the stuff.
The greatest gift you can ever give to someone is your time & attention.
Check in with the people around you. Really check in.
Not via text message, but with a phone call. A meal. A walk.
Sit down with your most cherished people and tell them you love them, you need them, and you support them.
Many of us feel we have to hide the fragile parts of ourselves, the places where we are insecure.
Get curious about what people are really feeling, what they’re really going thru but not sharing.
And we’re not doing enough of it these days.
Just because someone looks at you and says ‘I’m fine,’ it doesn’t mean they’re fine.
For the last 18 months, I’ve been trying to buy a house. I know what I want, and I know where I want to live. I’m comfortable doing a little bit of cosmetic work, but I’m not willing to take on an enormous project. I just can’t. I know what I can and cannot afford.
Meanwhile, the housing market in my area is positively crazy these days, and houses are flying off the market at top prices because there is so little inventory. . . which is extra crazy because some of these houses are actually in disrepair.
There’s a lot of pressure to act fast and it’s tempting, sometimes, to just launch and buy something that doesn’t feel quite right.
It is in those disappointing moments that I try very hard to remember NOT to settle.
(No, I don’t want to pay over asking price for a house in a crappy area that needs a new kitchen, new bathrooms, new flooring, new mechanicals, a new roof, and a new septic system because the backyard smells like poop and when you open the windows the scent comes wafting in ~ thank you very much.)
I’m fortunate to have a lovely apartment in which to live and work.
I choose to believe the right house – one that has been loved and maintained – is just around the corner, and that it is coming.
Often, I have to remind myself to be patient and let things happen the way they are supposed to happen. Because sometimes…
YOU HAVE TO WADE THRU A LOT OF MUD TO FIND THE TRUFFLES.
And everyone knows that truffles are rare culinary gems worth waiting for.
WAIT FOR THE TRUFFLES would be a meaningful present for someone who has been trudging through the gunk, patiently waiting for good things to happen. If you’d like to see other more detailed images of this piece, message me or leave a comment, and I’ll track you down.
(SIDEBAR NOTE: I’ve had to learn this lesson in relationships, too. As much as I’d like to have a partner, I don’t need to take on any major fixer-uppers in that department either. One of my friends uses the term “slugs with furniture” to describe unenlightened men who populate this planet ~ and if you are observant, you’ll notice a tiny, blue guy sliming his way across the bottom of this canvas. He’s a lot cuter than the real life version, trust me!)
Here is a video of this piece as I built it.
What are you having to be patient and wait for these days?
But the BIGGEST news?
Y’all . . .I made the cover of Rochester Magazine this month.
I. Cannot. Even!
When I was initially approached to be the focus of an article, I was thrilled because – if nothing else – I try to use my art to reach people who have been damaged by benzodiazepines. I want them to understand that it does get easier; it just takes a very long time. If I’m remembered for nothing else, I hope it is in the area of advocacy for reform when it comes to psychotropic drugs.
But you know what else I want to be remembered for?
Being a super model at the age of FIFTY?!
Thanks to photographer, Jamie Germano, for a great photoshoot… and for airbrushing away all my wrinkles; to Sandra Parker for writing the copy; and to Mark Liu for having faith in my story. Copies are available at Wegmans and Barnes & Nobel starting today!
PS: I hope you will check out my story and share your reaction with me here and/or on Facebook.
Thank you all sooooo very much for continuing to support me on this crazy, magical journey that is my life.