Turning The Old Into New

So often we hear comedians joking about how we turn into our parents. In my case I think I’ve reversed the process. When our son Brian was a little boy, he would often be someplace else in his head, fingers flickering, a look of concentration on his face, his mind obviously out in the universe somewhere. His first grade teacher commented on it once. She said she would see that far away look on his face and call out, “Earth to Brian.” Dan coached him for a season or two in soccer, and he would often see Brian standing in the middle of the field tapping his foot, and tapping his wrist, much like his favorite character, Sonic the Hedgehog. This while his and the other team played around him. We were out shopping with him, maybe around the age of three or four, and as always he was somewhere else. We watched in amusement as he began following another man, although it wasn’t the man he was following, it was the man’s jeans. Brian had barely picked his head up, only long enough to see jeans and began to follow, because Dan was wearing jeans. I’m reminded of the incident because lately Dan and I have begun to walk every day. We began with a usual walk through the paths of our subdivision, but after a week or so decided to add a little mileage to our trek. We chose a subdivision across the street, the path is longer, and actually quite a bit nicer. We’ve been walking this path for about a week. I have mentioned before that as talented as I am with my hands, I am sorely lacking in other areas, one of which is that I have no internal G.P.S., not one ounce of a sense of direction resides in my brain. (It’s the monkeys that live in there. I know it is.) Every morning as we walk the same path I find myself unable to remember where to turn next. The sun is still strong here in Southern California, so most of the time despite a hat and sunglasses, my head is down. So what do I do? I follow Dan’s pants. Like my son, my brain is always somewhere else, and usually not on what direction I’m traveling. That makes me have to ask, do I get it from Brian? Or does he get it from me?

We had a wedding to attend today, and as well-intentioned as I am, I just didn’t have the time to finish a project. I did begin a sketch for a watercolor, but it isn’t far enough along to use. I decided to post a few photos of some furniture projects. An old jewelry chest repainted for a teenager, and a chair that I decided to reupholster for my own bedroom. I’ve never upholstered before, but like so many things I do, it was one more by the seat of my pants. I simply looked at the chair and figured it out. I find it funny that as I said above, I really truly have no internal map, I have a designated parking space at the mall and grocery store because of the amount of times I lose my car. I can get lost in my own neighborhood, and math? Forget it. I can however, look at a chair, take it apart and redo it. It’s a strange, strange brain that I own.bergere chair 002Before

bedroom chair (1)

After

MISC (59)Before

MISC (204)

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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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