Tuesday, September 9, 2014


I guess I can talk to you guys, right? I mean, I'm writing this before the "tourist season" (October) of this blog begins, when I get thousands of hits per week vs. the staunch supporters of the "everyday" ShellHawk, the person you "see" the rest of the year.

So here it is. It's been a really, really rough year at the Nest. Our beloved fur-daughter, Josey, passed, and the anniversary of her passing is next month. And things just have been difficult ever since then. Foot surgeries, while great because things are now, blessedly, fixed, are tough to get through, particularly for a restless and active person like myself. Surgery is just hard on the body, I guess. Then there was getting laid off, another surgery, and absolutely not least, my grandmother's passing.
My dad, Oma, and Opa.
Mixed in there was my second acceptance into an international ceramics show, which was a huge high! But FedEx broke my piece in the process of wrapping it for shipment. Wah-wah. There goes my amazing exposure and professional cache. Wins turning into losses.

Hauntcast released its last episode. Another loss, even though I valued getting that time back in my schedule.

To top it off, I've got a partially torn rotator cuff, and have been in pain every day for months while we're trying to sort out our new insurance from Mr. ShellHawk's new job. I've got a lot of ceramics to make, and wedging (kneading) clay with a torn rotator cuff is not on my top ten list of most fun things to do, particularly when the ibuprofen is doing nothing to take the edge off. And I haven't had more than three full, uninterrupted nights of sleep for months.

My other old dog is on the verge of needing to be put down. My mom is old and really not doing well. My dad is getting older, and every time I look at him, all I can think about is how much it's going to suck when I can't pick up the phone and call him, anymore, even though he's doing well for his age.

I'm not having the success I'd like at finding a part time job, since in my area, one job opening gathers hundred of applicants. (Time to head to a recruiter, I think!) And I need the money to keep paying for supplies and help Mr. ShellHawk with household expenses.

It's all focused my mind on things which aren't the positive. 
Commission in progress
At the same time, it's not like this entire year hasn't been without wonderful, life-list fun, right?  I mean, I got to go to Ireland for my 10th anniversary! How many people get to do that in a lifetime? I got to go to Irish Beach here in California, which is stunning as only the California coast can be. I finally got my new, larger kiln, and I did my first live talk on creating a home haunt while I was at Scare LA. I got a really nice commission to do a set of plates from this nice couple from Colorado while I was there!
My glazing crew, who work for food!
Very importantly, I've had friends step in to help me prep for that Scare L.A. show. From glazing to cataloging, to figuring out the cost of items and pricing them, to putting together my inventory spreadsheet and putting all the hang tags on everything, these incredibly wonderful people took the time to step in and help me out. I've gotten better at throwing, so I had more stuff than ever ready for sale. If I hadn't gotten help, there was no way everything would have been ready in time. And Mr. ShellHawk put up with the entire house looking like it was hit by a very artistic tornado, inside and out! Seriously. All the public areas of the house had my crap everywhere, since all my product was in various states of being finished or packed, and the poor man had to deal with it for weeks!

I have friends! I keep reminding myself. I have friends who take me for pedicures and lunch, who invite me to cocktails and dinner, and who actually get me.

We finally replaced our old SUV and got a new one, which is a great, 2011 Ford Explorer Limited. It already has been tricked out with various "Firefly" accoutrements. I'm so happy to have it!

I mention the positives so you understand that I'm not completely lost in the Pit of Despair, even though I'm having trouble seeing the top of the pit right now.

I think the worst part of the Pit, is that I've started to doubt myself as an artist. I've endured a lot of the "flaky artist" judgmental attitude from both strangers and some who are closer to me. While I know I am most definitely not a flake, that kind of judgment takes its toll on me, especially when I'm looking at all the hours I put into what I do, and how little I have to show for it, financially. I feel like I'm constantly under attack, and it's wearing me out. Try defending your life for months on end and see how you feel. I feel effing beat up.

Worse, I've fallen into the "comparison" game, comparing my work to others and seeing theirs as better/more worthy. In my darker moments, I don't feel like I've grown enough, and I deeply envy those who went to school, got their MFA degrees, and know what they're doing.

I find myself wondering, "What's the point?" more and more often. Why make art? Why bother with anything, even?

When I catch myself doing that, I turn my mind to my eventual goal of being in a larger, dedicated space. I dream of being as skilled and fast as the production potters I've seen on YouTube. (I mean, being able to produce sixty cups an hour? That's a goal!)

I dream of buying my own building and making it a workspace with gallery space, and maybe some room for students. I dream of growing it so that I can employ production potters to make my designs and free me up to focus on the creative end.

I dream of paying a bookkeeper to do all the paperwork I hate and am no good at.

I'm doing everything I can to pull from whatever reserves I have inside of me to keep going. I'm just having a hard time finding my happy place. I know this because the nasty voice in my head catches me dreaming and tells me I'll never have any of those things, and will never be good enough.

I know others have things really hard right now, too, like my friends over at Davis Graveyard, who are struggling to find employment and keep their home. Others have lost family members, had health challenges, etc. I try to remember that and send them good vibes.

Meanwhile, I'm holding on by my toenails. And trying desperately to remember that I love my life, my family, and, of course, Hallowe'en.


  1. The beautiful thing about being an artist is you can take all those insecurities and turn them into a sculpture and make a million dollars and retire to a chaise lounge.

    +1 friend here!

  2. If the phone rings & there's a Canadian on the other end of the line, don't get frightened & hang up. It's just me.

  3. Hang in there, Shellhawk, we're all rooting for you!

  4. Don't give up
    'cos you have friends
    Don't give up
    You're not beaten yet
    Don't give up
    I know you can make it good

    Peter Gabriel - Don't Give Up (with Kate Bush)

  5. Every artist has doubt I figure it keeps one humble. :0 )

    There have been years where the struggle was unbearable but some how we always came out the other side. A little beat up but more grateful and appreciative of everything and everyone that got us through the rough patch.

  6. I'm really sorry you're having a hard time. Times like this just freaking suck.

  7. I have only good thoughts for you, you learn to take each step and overcome until the next. It does sound like you have plenty of things going on, in my world of bad things... I just try to keep getting up every day.

    May your world start spinning right, not spinning so fast you get dizzy and fall.

    1. From your lips to the Great Pumpkin's ears, Jeremy!

      And I hope the same goes for you. Things can't keep sucking forever!

    2. I keep hoping, how much bad can be out there?

  8. Thanks, everyone for your support and comments. Your kind words (and a couple of very sweet phone calls from closer friends) have meant everything to me.

    Now that my hubby has insurance, I'm not only getting my M.R.I. in the next week or so, I'm also going to be looking for a counselor to help me discover new tools to help me deal with the grief and the near-constant feeling of being overwhelmed.

    Things will get better, and indeed, if I stay focused on what has gone right, I'll feel better.

  9. I feel for you my friend. I really hope things get better. Jeff and I have been on a roller coaster now for several months, it is the waiting and not know that is killing us.

    I also get the art point of view. I have found it harder and harder to create things because I think everyone else's stuff is better.

    Here is to better days my friend. Better days!


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