Nemesis thy name is Perspective

The battle rages on, I lose yet another battle to my evil nemesis. I pull out my ruler, I measure the page, I measure my photograph, I make my sketch, and (silent scream inserted here) it doesn’t work! Let me make this clear, I am so not mathematical. In high school, after a disastrous freshman year, I begged Sister Joan, my algebra teacher, head of the math department, and cruel decider of my mathematical fate, to let me take basic geometry instead of regular geometry (the kind for people who can think logically). Her response? I quote, ” Your reading scores are those of a junior in college. A girl as smart as you does not need to be in basic math.” Really? Does the fact that she graded me with a “D” for all four quarters (I’m not complaining, I deserved those “D”s, I earned them) not have given her some clue? So what did I do? I skipped math sophomore year, put it off until junior year, delaying the agony for a while. Thank God for Ms. Von Laven, she of the single barrette, that hung without purpose from the front of her hair. First quarter, “D”, second quarter “F”, third quarter “D”, fourth quarter??? “D”. I didn’t deserve that last “D”, I deserved an “F”. A truly Christian woman, (as opposed to Sr. Joan) who saw my struggles, gave me a tutor, realized that even that wasn’t helping, took pity on me and let me go. I love Ms. Von Laven. Have you taken the ACT college entrance exam? Possible high score of 36. In all sections across the board I received 28’s through 31’s, except for…math, I got a 9. I retook the test because I was dying with the flu on the first attempt. The second time? I got a 7. I did better while delirious than I did in my right mind. Pathetic.

I have a book, (OK, ten books) on perspective, I really meant to read them, but I think that Sr. Joan has scarred me for life. No not really, but I am so frustrated, (I know, I need to read the books!) that I almost gave up tonight That however, is a big no-no where this blog is concerned. So here is my slightly off kilter watercolor of a window. Is it possible that my brain is off kilter?

I will try again! The war isn’t over yet.image

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When Have I Suffered Enough For My Art?

It’s OK to laugh now. I mean at me and the things I am about to reveal about myself. In the several weeks of blogging that I have done it has mostly been confined to my artistic troubles. I have let in little glimpses of myself beyond that, but it occurred to me that maybe people might want to read something a little more uplifting, well not exactly uplifting, but it might just give you cause to do that laughing I deemed permissible. For today’s project I decided to work on a small table. I’ll go into the details of it momentarily, except for now to say  that it involved using a wood burner, and it inspired tonight’s blog.

When I was twelve I slit my wrist. Before you gasp in horror let me tell you it wasn’t intentional. Crafty, artistic child that I was, I was in the process of trying to make a present for my working mother. I don’t remember exactly what I was making, but we can all assume it was a project from Highlight’s Magazine, I was an avid reader, and for those of you who are old enough to remember, I still quote Goofus and Gallant. I was cutting a bleach bottle in half with an open blade, it got stuck on the seam so I did what any brainiac would do, I slashed hard at it while holding it in my other hand. My parents were at work, so my big sister put a rubber band on my wrist to stop the bleeding. (She was a freshly turned fourteen year-old, how would she know?) Fortunately my dad came home shortly after that and took me to the emergency room. Two hours later with a butterfly bandage, because it was too late for stitches, and an interrogation by the police officer on duty who I had to convince I wasn’t trying to kill myself, I had for the first time officially suffered for my art. I bring this up because today while using my wood burner I turned to Dan and said that I couldn’t believe my parents gave me a wood burner for Christmas that same year. They gave a burning hot, searing weapon to their daughter, the daughter who accidentally slit her wrist, the daughter who had a gap between her front teeth until she tripped over her sister and smashed her face on the sidewalk, the same girl who can’t tumble, failed swimming lessons, can’t roller skate and didn’t figure out how to ride a bike until she was nine. Did anyone ever get the toy where you poured paint on a spinning device similar to a record player? I got it, spun the paint all over my bed. Stepped on a tube of acrylic paint in my teenage bedroom and shot hot pink across the olive-green carpet. I swear I have no fingerprints, they are all attached to the hot glue that I have had to pull off my burning fingers. My dad’s favorite story to tell about me to anyone willing to listen (and even those who don’t want to listen) is that I failed Phys Ed in high school. It’s true, of course my P.E. teacher is a dead ringer for the witch in the Wizard of Oz, I kid you not, I’ve got the yearbooks to prove it. Then there is of course my six knee surgeries. Tripped over a vacuum cleaner and fell down a flight of stairs, fell off a ladder, (twice) tried to hang a kitchen curtain, you get the idea. (Although Dan said he likes to tell people I did it pole dancing. Which might be possible if I could actually get on a pole) What I want to know is if suffering makes your art better, then why aren’t my paintings at the Getty yet?

Now that you all know just how pathetic I can be, I will tell you where I’m not. I took this five dollar table that I bought at a yard sale and am in the process of turning it into something I love. (I have a before photo. I’m not sure where in my pictures it is right now, but I promise to post it when I put up the finished table tomorrow) I had two ideas for it. One would have turned it into something for a kid’s room, but I went instead with an idea based on a piece of vintage fabric. Dan painted the base black for me. On the top I wood burned a floral design that I am painting with those Martha Stewart Pearl paints I mentioned before. I love, love, love them! It looks like inlaid Mother Of Pearl. I still need to draw two more of the flowers for the top and burn them. It is painstaking and time-consuming, but I love the finished look. When I am finished with the flowers I am going to add a light coat of stain.

It’s been a good day, and I only burned myself once!

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Old Lessons, and a Still Not Quite Complete Mia

I finished Mia this morning. Still not completely happy with the drawing, but I think I might have done better drawing a white cat on a paper with color and highlighting with white pencil or chalk. It’s what I had done on the earlier post of the drawing of my grandmother. Sometimes its best to walk away from a piece and revisit it later with a fresh pair of eyes.

I had a realization this morning. Again, when I started this blog I was excited and challenged, but as I wrote last night I find myself not getting to it until later and later each day. I told Dan this morning that it is becoming reminiscent of high school. I did take art in high school. I wanted it as early as sophomore year when I had my first shot at choosing an elective. However, my dad didn’t see the value of it. My electives were gobbled up by sewing and typing/ shorthand, all marketable skills for a young woman who was sentenced to no more expectation in life than that of a secretary or housewife. (Typing? Yes, I’m that old. My high school graduation gift was an electric typewriter, the latest model of course!) Junior year left me open for an elective of choice. At that point my dad had three of us in high school and was probably too busy to interfere. What I should have done was take Art 1, the basics, but what did I do? I took a few drawings and a painting into Mrs. Miller’s office and told her my sad story. She looked at my work and put me right into Art 2. I lost the opportunity to get the basics. I didn’t know any better…..back to the project.

The first few days of this project I was anxious to get to work every day. I truly was excited about what I would do next. Then my bad habit of putting myself last began to creep in just a little further every day. Cleaning, cooking, bill paying, watering the garden and so on. Finding little ways every day to push it further away.  Just like high school. I was excited to get into art, more so that I had been allowed to skip ahead, but as time wore on I began to not do assignments until the night before. There was a girl in my class who quite frankly couldn’t draw very well. We both turned in assignments for a graphic design project, she got an “A”, I got a “B”.  I was incredulous, my drawing was so much better than hers, at least technically. When I approached Mrs. Miller to complain she said, ” No she can’t draw as well as you, but I can see how hard she tried. You have so much talent, but you did that last night didn’t you?” I had to admit I had. She said, “I know what you can do, that’s why you get a “B”. I should have learned from that, but here I am so many years later doing the same thing. I am cheating myself each time I do this without my full effort and attention. Yes, sometimes my life will get in the way. Today my son is sick, but there are more than enough waking hours for me to fulfill my promise in every way possible.

Thank you Mrs. MillerImage