My eyes and I get along just fine most of the time. I can proofread all day on the computer, fix dinner, go for a walk, read a story in a magazine, and so on without much trouble. But come time to do something that's truly close up, something I really like to do, like drawing or making teddy bears, and my eyes and I don't get along so well.
I first noticed that I had a big problem in 2001 when I was making Ha Lee (the Christmas panda pictured in the sidebar). My eyes had a lot of trouble staying focused on the close-up work I was doing on her. I had to look up a lot and got quite frustrated because I was working against a deadline for sending a picture of her to Teddy Bear and Friends magazine for their Christmas bears feature. (Happily, I was able to finish Ha Lee, and she was chosen to travel to the TB&F offices for a photo session. That was the first time one of my bears appeared in a full-color teddy bear magazine--what a thrill!)
A few times since then, I have put my bear making on hold because of my eyes and other life events, such as adopting our girls from Ukraine. But a few months ago, I was bitten by the bear bug--hard, suddenly, and out of the blue--and found I had to make my bears again. I missed being creative! I missed all the fur and fluff! I missed the sweet little faces looking up at me! And I missed the friends I had made, both artists and collectors, in real life and on the internet.
Now that I am a few years older, my eye problems haven't disappeared, but a few weeks ago, I got new glasses. (There I am, at left, in my new glasses. Like them? And with me is my little bear friend, the first bear I've completed in nearly four years. I'm out of hibernation now!) To my delight, my new glasses have helped a lot in my close-up work. And another great tool I've discovered is the sun: when I can sit in a sunny window or outside and sew a seam closed or shade a bear's face or perform some other close-up work, I find I can see it ever so much better in the sunlight than under all the indoor light I can shine on the subject.
This weekend, I have been creative, worked on my bears, played in the fur and fluff, enjoyed the little faces looking up at me, and made some new friends. These new friends are teddy bear artists who live right here in Colorado. Thank you to Michelle Lamb of One and Only Bears and Stephanie Sarsfield of Sassy Bears and Fabrics for putting on an event called a BearBee (reminds me of a quilting bee).
We had a great time talking, eating, shopping, working on our bears, and sharing our creations with each other. Because there are no bear shows in this area, and the last one I exhibited at was in 2002, I haven't seen another artist's work in person in about eight years. I was delighted to hold these special bears, some so tiny, some so large, some very teddy, some very realistic complete with claws, and some award nominees/winners.
Thank you, Stephanie and Michelle, for the BearBee.
Thank you, dear eye doctor, for helping me see more clearly.
And a huge thank you to those who have sacrificed so our country remains free. God bless America this Memorial Day and every day.
*Update: Her name is Kim Klintz! Thank you, Kim, for leaving a comment so I know your name. It was lovely meeting you--I want to see your bears next time!