I will return to my blogging responsibilities this summer. But for today, I wanted to celebrate the great news in the verdict that struck down Proposition 8 (same-sex marriage ban) in Federal Court in California today. Yes, there will be more battles to come on the front for marriage equality. But today is a victory to be celebrated.
(Yeah, I realize that Love sculpture is in Philadelphia, but it’s one of my favorites.)
I thought I’d check in and leave a note telling you what has been going on here over at our studio. It’s all exciting, but time consuming. We’ve been working on renovating, starting with ripping the carpet out (good grief, that was weeks ago already) and laying down IKEA wood veneer flooring. Already an improvement, right? Anyway, since the labor for this studio is being done by us, and since I have a tough time recovering physically from things like aching backs and angry little abused shoulders and crimped necks, some of it has been a SLOG. Also, this is a working studio, so we have been sitting in here basically up to our eyeballs in junk and chaos and renovation detritus doing nothing but paid work. No wonder I have a headache this evening as I write this. (Or it’s the fumes of machined engineered wood and glue getting to me.)
We got most of the storage system installed in the closet today and I need to sew a curtain to put up over the closet where we use to have bifold doors. Right now, the focus is on getting the supplies out of the other parts of the house (I swear, there isn’t a horizontal surface in this house that isn’t completely covered with stuff) and storing it in its newly designated storage place. And I am really looking forward to tossing and recycling alot of stuff. It looks like a lot of empty storage now, but I know we will fill it somehow. We gotta purge (she types as she looks over her shoulder at her husband)!
Also, the weather has been fabulous here in Portland and, well, the sun is my Boss. And when the Boss says get out there and re-charge, I do what the Boss says. So there you have it: delays, and more delays, but alot of fun and hopefully pictures soon to come.
Thanks for putting up with me tweeting on Twitter in lieu of posting formally here. It has helped me feel like I am staying linked. I look forward to returning and posting more regularly. And getting back to some of my languishing projects!!!
While I am getting the studio reno done (and it’s taking foreva!), I thought I would touch base, break in (whateva!) and tell you about a great cause that I know you can easily commit to and tell others about.
The 3/50 Project asks that you to pick 3 of your favorite independently owned, local bricks and mortar stores and if you can swing it, give them $50 of your business a month. Let’s face it, when this recession is over we don’t want to be left with only the Walmarts, Targets, and Kmarts of the world.
I have imposed a moratorium on art and crafting supplies for all of 2009.
I have enough.
I don’t need any more stuff. I have ideas and supplies enough to make everything. I don’t need paper. I don’t need ink. I don’t need pens or pencils. Nothing. Done with the shopping and collecting.
But next Christmas, I want this: My husband wanted to buy it for me this afternoon, but I stopped him. I feel overwhelmed by what I need to be working on in 2009. It’s on my Amazon wishlist for that momentous occasion when I am ready and have time to work with it.
Besides, there is always my birthday!
What art and craft projects are you planning on working on next year?
In the summer of 2007, I drew something for the first time in 20 years. It was on my desk surface. Well, it wasn’t really a desk. And it wasn’t even my desk at the time. It was a slab of particle board that my husband hauled up from the garage in order to give one of our subcontractors a place to sit and work. I can say little about what possessed me to start doodling all over it one night when my the husband was out of town. But it started with a simple expression of my feelings toward the current blithering idiot who lives in the White House. That phrase remained on its own for a few days, in stark black marker pen. And then the doodling…
In any case, Daniel’s Desk turned into a silly mini obsession that took a few hours of my time. My style here is exactly as it was when I was 16. Seriously, the graffiti, the angst, the flower-power. All is as I knew it.
So why did I ever stop drawing? And why does it seem like it is happening again? This time it feels like a blockage. But when I was 17, it was crisis of confidence and endlessly playing mental tapes in my head by people who liked to caution me about artists who “starve”, and questioning what I was “really” going to do with my life. And since you can’t stifle creativity, it next bubbled up and took the form of building doll houses. After that, I made all the little doodads that go inside the doll houses, which took me to polymer clay. Polymer clay morphed into making little figures. Little figures took me to beading and jewelry making which in turn made me think of making money. When that didn’t happen, it was the end of the road. The sad thing about it all is through yard sales, gifting, and losing stuff during many moves throughout my life, I have nothing to really show for it. No body of work. And I stopped drawing. Until one night when I decorated a desk and expressed how much I hated Bush. It was cathartic and is proving itself to be very hard to recapture.
I am truly like the proverbial cow’s tail (always behind). I have been so busy with a very heavily scheduled routine, filled with appointments to my various practitioners (weekly chiropractor, acupuncture. Hell, I am even on a 3 month teeth cleaning recall these days). Then there is my toiling as the mediocre bookkeeper that I am for my husband’s business. I am doing a little bit of scribbling in my sketchbook, but nothing I’ve latched on to emotionally (yet). I have no drawing of cows to display here.
I have this fish though. I drew it for a friend (whom I’ve known since childhood) when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. The caption for it is “Swim!”. When I drew it, I remember feeling like illness must feel like a giant net ready to scoop you up and pull you out. And at the moment when you realize the net is there to grab you, someone screams at the top of their lungs: “Run! Get the hell out of there! “
I want just the opposite. I want to rest in the net and pretend that the house won’t go to hell overnight if I don’t clean it every day. Wanting time to do your art has to be one of the most torturous yearnings one can endure. Like having a crush on someone who doesn’t return the feeling, you feel almost spoiled and selfish for wanting it at all costs with such little return. And sometimes I can’t figure out if my responsibilities are the “net” or if my lack of exercising my talent is the “net”.
To be clear: I am, in no way, saying that I wish major illness upon myself or that illness has any role energetically in the creative process, although it may for some people. It’s more of a metaphor for priorities, and the sudden slap of awakening that one needs in order to get busy, whether it is toward the process of healing, or creating, or anything that is otherwise taken for granted in favor of the less urgent things in life like housecleaning, or unpacking a suitcase, or shopping for t-shirts and the myriad other things that absorb small chunks of my day until it is eaten away along with the sunlight I need to draw. And if creating actually did have some role in healing, wouldn’t we do it first? It’s about priorities, and if you are woman, it’s often about stealing time to do something that is good for YOU, not the others in the household, which gets into a whoooole other set of nonsense tapes that play in our heads and kill the energy needed to get started. It’s about suddenly getting the RIGHT to be selfish. Is illness the the only excuse we are allowed?
Also, full disclosure, I copied the fish in large part from a photo of a textile. Sometimes, when you are TRULY stuck and inert, copying something helps break up the logjam. As for my personal logjam, that was the first thing I drew OF ANY SORT in 20 years. And now here I am trying to keep it all going and discussing it on a blog. But that fishnet? That’s aaaaall me, baby.
Actually, I am really happy with this little sketch. It looks even better in “real life”. The sheen of the oil-based colored pencils competes with the hard lines to the naked eye and it makes the veins of the leaves less obvious (more subtle). It’s interesting, seeing the difference in a photograph versus seeing the real thing up close.
And comparing drawings, the bougainvillea now REALLY looks like “amateur hour”.
I’ve had this blasted pre-migraine headache for most of the week. Add to that, the Olympics and the pre-emption of my evenings (amazing how a sports event can encourage inactivity – I think I’ve gained 5 pounds), and I haven’t had much energy or focus to do more than this.
I was having a bit of a scale issue, but managed to sketch in leaves that seemed to fit the scale of the berries. I think the leaves are a bit close together so don’t be surprised to see some change there.
Anyway, a massage, more ibuprofen and the end of the Olympics should have a positive effect.
I’ve had these week-long near migraines before. There have been several bodies of work on artist expression and migraine. Most notably, Oliver Sacks’ book Migraine and his discussion of Hildegard von Bingen’s artistic and spiritual inspiration as a migraine sufferer. And there are some interesting examples of artwork created while “under the influence” of migraine. That’s all well and good, but I don’t know how I could even lift a paintbrush while having a migraine unless it’s to stab it into my eyeball to make the pain stop.
The whole thing is interesting, but migraine neither diminishes or improves my artistic abilities, which is fine by me. I find drawing to be much more difficult than even having a migraine.
Last year I snapped a random photo of a random plant, like so many random plant photos I take all the time. I was looking through my photos to find another plant to draw in my sketchbook and found this: Not knowing what it was, or even recalling the photo, I had no idea of the scale and would have liked to find the plant again so that when someone looked at my drawing and said “my, what lovely oranges”, I could shoot back and say “noooo, those are the berries of the blah-blah tree” (duh.) But what to do? I couldn’t find the tree/bush/shrub anywhere. I queried basic terms like “yellow berries”, “Oregon”, every combination I could think of. Nothing looked like the photo above. Finally flummoxed, I found my old tattered Sunset Magazine Western Garden book, and looked under “Colorful Fruits and Berries” and low and behold we have a sorbus aucuparia or a Rowan Tree. I was unable to locate the tree on line because my Rowan photo was basically of unripened fruit! This is how a fully “fruitioned” Rowan tree looks in late August when the birds are feasting on the fruit:
Well, being a former dabbler in all things “woo woo”, I knew I had picked one special tree as an artistic undertaking. I read about all its magical uses, lore, and legend and I find I am totally enchanted by this tree!
I set about trying to find the tree that I snapped last July. (The date stamp on the photo was my only clue.) For days I looked, ceasing all drawing until I could find it. And three days ago, I found three fruiting Rowan trees at the top of my street. I hadn’t walked up there in some time since being diagnosed with anemia (hills being difficult for me), but we were driving by and I just turned my head to look out the window, and there they were.
So, with kind permission of the trees (you’re supposed to ask them if it’s okay to pick, NEVER use a knife and be sure to say thank you), I took a few leaves and berries for my composition.
Some berries have been sketched in the book, but I am finding they are still very yellow, so I decided my drawing is of the Rowan in mid-July. Said drawing will be appearing in some emerging state in a couple of days.
And by the way, since finding the three trees up the street, I must have seen twenty more in various places in the area. I cannot wait until May to see them flower!
The outlining is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Had I known it would eventually take on a “busy” look (how could I NOT know?), I would have done something far more muted in parts, particularly the center parts. The warm grays are nice, but alternating them as I did seems so… predictable.
It’s fine though. I learned alot. If it takes two years to fully learn any medium, I got a compressed education with this project and learned MUCH about markers and colored pencils together. I am not using the wax colored pencils these days and I have learned that I REALLY like the oil based pencils instead. I am actually impressed at how well I kept a steady hand doing that outlining. Ugg! But the outline was really only chosen to cover slop. So much for steady hands.
But the really important thing is that I sat here and stared at the thing (the whole time not loving it) for two weeks and still (finally) broke out the art shizz last night and started again in my sketchbook. And even though I’m not loving this busy, overworked sphere, I have to say it was as fun as anything I ever did.
I am having so much fun with this piece. I am still channeling the island colors from my Maui trip, but I’ve taken the pattern from the ceiling fan I decorated and randomly blown up or shrunk the elements in sections and it is now this Art Deco mandala type thingy. I am toying with doing some of the pie slices in shading with warm grays but that’s a scary prospect when color is working so well and feels so safe. And then there is the matter of my lack of judgment in doing the outer “ring” first which means I will be resting my hand alot on the finished design in order to work on the inner part, but of course there are many tools to handle that. I covered the outside white parts with matte frisket while I work, but it’s AMAAAZING how it STILL gets dirty under there even when I draw with inspection gloves.
I’ve never really been one for “island style” in pattern or design. We all have fond memories of basement Tiki Bars and the subsequent revival of island kitsch. But I have lately become aware that my prejudices dictate what I draw or create and if I really think about it, it might be why I stopped drawing altogether. Somehow I have to learn to allow inspiration to take hold (which it does when I travel) , and not be disdainful and dismissive of the possibility that it might take me to a place creatively where I don’t care much for the subject matter.
Enter color! Color can be inspired by something, leaving the subject matter to become something else entirely. I don’t have to draw big tropical prints with giant palm leaves, and plumeria or orchids in order to capture my inspiration. I can use the inspired color in a completely different setting or in unrelated subject matter and still enjoy my memories without the pressure of creating scenery that isn’t really my taste as a painting on the wall.
Won’t this be fun?
I love this stage in a drawing. I’ve blocked out my design and it’s like a coloring book now.
Among the colorful plants and foliage of Maui, bougainvillea is probably my favorite. I used to grow it on my back porch when I lived in San Mateo in order to be able to open my door for fresh air and have shade when it was opened. It comes in extraordinary colors, and the variety in Maui seems to have less obvious menacing thorns (which are more like something on a medieval weapon) waiting to scratch your hand.
It’s my intent to completley fill this Moleskine (and this will be a continuing topic here on this blog). And since I am just starting out drawing again after so many years of not drawing (which is yet AGAIN another topic), I thought I would start easily with pointillism. Pointillism is nice because you can “dot out” the skeleton of what you want to draw and even “dot in” the shadows. If you make a hideous mistake, you can “dot over” the other dots. It’s a good way to slowly see how things will look before really committing with further detail or even color. Since I struggle with perfectionism, it will be a good exercise for me to fill a Moleskine knowing full well that later drawings will not be as good as this one and some will be better. In short, this sketch book will be inconsistent and that will bother me, I am sure.
But I will press on through the discomfort of it and see where it leads me.
I am at the tail-end of my first ever trip to Hawaii. Maui, specifically.
My husband is a graphic designer for corporate events and usually his work takes him to places like Vegas and Orlando. (No offense, but no thanks. I’ll pass on tagging along on those trips.) When it turned out that this event was in Maui, I said it was time to take me. He had to work a total of two days and we stuck 5 on at the beginning and called it a vacation. Sweet! OF COOOOURSE, the weather back in Oregon has been gorgeous, or so my friends back home tell me. If it starts to rain when I get back on Thursday, it’s probably my fault.
I’ll hopefully be posting some artwork inspired by the trip. His next trip is to Houston and, no, I won’t be going there either.
First times can be scary. I’ve never had a blog before.
This was my attempt at decorating a very ugly white fan, which we do need on the two or so hot days in the Pacific NW. I started with a drawing I made copying elements from various fabrics from the book “Art Deco Textiles” by Alain-Rene Hardy using my color scheme in my bedroom.
Here is the drawing:
Next, the image was scanned and printed it onto self-adhesive paper for inkjet printers. I had to piece together two sheets to get a complete image to cover each fan blade. I scanned the image to be the exact width of the blade. (Hat tip to my husband who did the scanning and really matched the color well to the original.)
Kiwi, studio assistant and the new Lotta Jansdotter book in the background (which is fantastic, by the way)