Something I wrote last night sparked some interesting thoughts in my head today. Last night I made reference to my half painted canvas, which upon a coat of paint, was fully clothed. I thought a lot about that today. Sexuality is a subject that makes many people uncomfortable, not me. (Just ask my horrified children.) To be human is to be a sexual being. To give birth is a sexual experience. When I look at that “virginal” white canvas that I started with yesterday I cannot help but think how much life it gains when paint is laid upon it. I give birth to my art. It becomes vibrant and alive. Think about it. How much great art has been produced through the ages due to love, to lust, or because of frustration? The human condition immortalized in paint, in charcoal, in photograph. The Mona Lisa’s smile, the lusty vivacious work of Georgia O’Keefe, even the loneliness of strangers in a diner in Hopper’s “Nighthawks”. The virginal blank surface that has yet to experience life, it is the artist who is tasked to recreate emotion through color and image. The connection between the work and the artist as a human is singular. As I thought about these things today I realized that my own hesitancy, my own cautious approach to laying the paint upon a surface as a young artist has been replaced with a love for richness, for texture, for color. All reflective of the life already lived. I was timid in my younger self, afraid to put too much paint on the surface, afraid of revealing too much of myself. There is a confidence in aging, a wisdom that the young artist can never have. Even the most skilled artist as a youth will find that the work will grow as the life experience grows as well. Love, heartbreak, loneliness, regret, laughter, joy; the list of emotion is endless, the effect on the artist is immeasurable. I need to respect my own process, my own growth and life experience, to leave more of myself on the canvas.
Tonight I am posting an old one, so old in fact that I don’t remember when I drew it. I had as always fully intended to create something new for tonight, but we are having friends come for dinner, and we have hardwood floors and cats, and worse yet the Ghost of Christmas Crafting is still in the house. Glitter in every crevice of my hardwood floors. One of my dinner guests is a former Marine, I’m not sure he would appreciate leaving my home sparkling. I cleaned for about four hours, shopped, cooked and baked. Needless to say I’m tired, but I’m also out of time, they will be here in a half hour. I was organizing some of my work today and came across this drawing, as I said its been around for a while, but I mentioned a few weeks ago about my plan to do menus for special occasions, and here one is. These are guests that I promised dinner to a year ago. Yikes! What a year, but a promise is a promise, and I really do enjoy their company. So for tonight I combined my old sketch with my new plan, and I have to say I am quite happy with it. I’m off to final preparations, and for once to try to be ahead of the game and relax and enjoy my evening. In case you were wondering, I came through yesterday’s hike with flying colors, nary a pain in sight. We will be going again in the morning, hopefully with the same results.
I know that there are times that many people in my life think I’m a major league whiner. I of course feel that my complaints are perfectly legitimate. I have many, many injuries, most, well OK all, are my own graceless fault. I have been warned by the doctor not to do certain things in my life, mostly things that require coordination, but do I listen? No, why would I do that? I may piss and moan now and then because things hurt, but they hurt because I never, ever intend to give in to an injury. I complained after our long New Year’s walk of six miles over a little bit of rough terrain. It took me a couple of days to get over it, but I was back out within a few days walking in the neighborhood, and back out in the plateau day before yesterday. Today I did it again, pushed myself hard, pushed through the pain and injuries and went hiking with Dan. We hiked a trail alongside Lake Hodges in San Diego. I’m not exactly sure how many miles we hiked today, we were out there for two and a half hours, but I do know that we hiked up the side of a hill to an elevation of 2620 feet. Two or three times as we walked along Dan offered me an out, I didn’t take the offer. I love walking, I love being out away from our worries, I love being with my husband. We could see that some of the trail ahead of us might be difficult, but thanks to a terrific walking stick that Dan found for me, an ankle brace, a knee brace, and a helping hand from my loving husband, I did it. (Of course getting back down those steep, narrow paths wasn’t quite as much fun) We sat on some rocks and spent a little time just breathing it all in. Spectacular views, peaceful sounds, and wonderful company. There isn’t a better way to spend a day. That being said, we will have to wait to see how I’m feeling tomorrow. I asked for it. I predict a little whining.
I didn’t rest when I came home, or ice the weak spots, (Again, why would I do that, sensible woman that I am…not) I continued the organization of my studio. By the time I actually sat down I was too drained to be very creative. I started to sketch a scene from today, but I looked across the room to see Brian passed out in a chair. I have to admit I was a little jealous. I decided to give myself a break tonight and just do a quick sketch. Of course Brian hadn’t moved for an hour, until I began to draw. l think I need to follow his example and pass out in my chair. A rough sketch of my son is all I can manage tonight.
It was a difficult day today. It is my Mother’s birthday. She would have been seventy-seven today. I felt a little out of sorts for most of the day, like I should be doing something, I just didn’t know what. She is buried in Chicago so there is no grave to visit. My family couldn’t even have visited there today, there is more than a foot of snow on the cemetery. It’s strange how your life just goes on. I feel a little lost. Bad day all around.
Most people at this point are probably nursing a hangover from the holiday, I am nursing bad decisions and my bad knees. Somehow my kind of hangover doesn’t seem as much fun. Someone should have stopped me from walking more than six miles yesterday. (Dan?????) It always seems like a good idea at the time, and I am bound and determined to not let these injuries get in my way, but sometimes I need a reality check. Walking through the neighborhood for thirty or forty minutes at a time is a far cry from hiking. This is California so there is barely a flat surface to be had. The slight incline of my neighborhood hills are quite different from the rocky terrain I attacked yesterday. It threw my whole day off today. I could barely walk. So much for promises of getting in top-notch shape. One resolution down. (Not really, I will attempt the plateau again, but not six miles, and in better shoes!) It left me not feeling well today, and a little less than creative. I am also still struggling with the idea of getting my writing done early. First of the month bills to pay, Christmas returns, and helping my Dad figure out his new cable long distance took a good portion of my day, then there was dinner to cook, and now at last a moment to focus.
I mentioned a while ago that I do enjoy drawing and or painting regular objects. I thought about what I wanted to do tonight and remembered a photo I snapped one Saturday after a trip to the Farmer’s Market. A bowl of fresh eggs. I was originally planning a watercolor, but when I went into my studio I saw my colored pencils and realized I haven’t used them in some time. Tonight a bowl of eggs in pencil. I’m a little rusty. I haven’t taken the time to keep my drawing skills up to par. I have been toying with the idea of filling a sketchbook with some practice drawing, forms and such. I may just have to do that while I’m staying off my feet. Time to attack a mountain of a different kind.
The last vestiges of glitter remain in the crevices of my wood floors, but aside from that I’m ready for Christmas, at least on the first floor. As if I didn’t have enough to do I tore my studio apart, the second floor of our house looks like the aftermath of a tornado. I know I’m just a little crazy, but this has been such a bad year that I am determined to head into 2014 ahead of the game, and set up for success. I started this blog/project carrying some very heavy psychological baggage, I am two-thirds of the way through, its time to move forward. I’ve subjected anyone who reads this blog to my working out my artistic issues, and quite a few personal ones as well. Not something I set out to do. Actually I don’t know what I started out to do other than to use up art supplies. I honestly didn’t think about it prior to heading into it. I guess I thought I would create art and talk about it. I never dreamed that my life would change so much, or that I would find myself pouring my heart out to the vast unknown. I think at this point maybe some of you know me more than you want to. There have been nights when I have gotten on a rant on something completely non art related only to stop myself and backspace it into oblivion. I have a steel rod of self-righteousness that runs straight up my spine. It can be used for both good and evil, but when I get upset about things it is bad, really bad. I obsess. I try not to let my obsession spill out onto these pages. I need to redirect my efforts. I’ve mentioned selling my work in the past, but haven’t bitten the bullet as of yet. I began the steps to rectify that tonight. I opened up a second Facebook account for business, a place to tie this blog, my etsy account, and my pinterest all together . The next step for me will be some serious self counseling for separation anxiety. I don’t like to be separated from my work. It needs to be done. I was hoping that over the course of this project that I would produce enough art that I wouldn’t take it so hard when one left the nest. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened. I still have trouble letting go of my babies, but I want and need to contribute to the care of my family. Sometimes I find myself feeling sad, wishing I could go back and tell my younger self to go for it. To recognize what a gift I have and to do something with it. These days I do a lot of talking myself out of feeling old and regretting I didn’t get a handle on things sooner. There’s no going back, and quite frankly this is a year I would never want to revisit, with one exception, my daughter’s wedding. Seeing your child be so happy makes the separation just a little better.
I’ve been crafting for weeks and not putting forth my best work. Time to restart the project. I decided that I need a little back to basics. I had hoped to have more time to paint today, but cleaning all that fairy dust takes time. In the end I decided to just do some drawing. My scissors, as if I hadn’t seen enough of them in the last few weeks. Maybe its symbolic, time to cut out my nonsense…get it? I know, I should have quit while I was ahead.
I’ve been known to air a pet peeve or two here on this blog. I do it for a number of reasons, the first of which is that I sometimes get tired of myself. I began the blog a little on the “woe is me” side of things. I realized that I could only continue to feel sorry for myself for so long. I was boring myself. I wanted to give the people who were kind enough to follow along something interesting to read, and finally because as I pointed out a long time ago, this is my blog I make the rules. This gives me the right to yell to the world about what in life I find annoying. As always I add a disclaimer. This is my opinion, and for me that makes it right. I firmly believe everyone deserves the right to feel what they feel, and I have the right to feel that they are wrong (just kidding…sort of). Today I think I may stand the chance of being agreed with by all. Why? Because today I am going to rant about music. I love music. Not all music. I really hated Country for a long time, but more and more cross over artists have swayed my opinion just a little. I still really dislike some of it, but the torch has been passed. Reggae now reigns supreme in my most hated music category. Can’t stand it, nails on a chalkboard for me. In general my biggest issues tend to be not with the music (except for Reggae, I hate everything about it), but rather the lyrics. I’m a word person. I really listen to the words. When my daughter was a teenager I lectured her severely on the purchase of an Eminem CD. I read the lyrics and was horrified. She received a long lecture on the history of the Women’s Movement, the sacrifices made, rights earned, and how she as a woman should be outraged. I’m sure in her mind she was rolling her eyes, but I felt that strongly about it. What started my little rant today was a phone call that Dan made. He called about an electronics product that we had repaired. The repair isn’t the issue, it was the horrible music he was forced to listen to as he waited. I’m not one that enjoys the loop of the “We will be right with you” robo voice, but I think I would have rather have listened to that. Several weeks ago I was in the Ladies Room of a national restaurant chain, forced to listen to the lyrics, “She got red so now I got the blues”. Kill me now. And in the bathroom no less, no escape. Earlier in the year I actually complained to a very high-end clothing store, again a national chain, because the lyrics I was forced to listen to while on hold were so offensive I wrote them down in order to repeat them to the operator. Does anyone listen to the tracks they are putting on these phones? I’m sure some people would assume I’m a cranky old lady, I’m not. I think I’m the only Lady Gaga fan in the house. It’s just that I want to choose what to listen to, not have it forced on me by some anonymous computer. I also again respect your right to listen to what you want while you drive, but could you turn it down at the stop light? Please? Aren’t those the songs that become the “ear-worms” that you can’t get out of your head? So now I have that rant off my mind, but there is still that song stuck in my head…She got red, so I got blue. Can you hear the sounds of me smacking the side of my head?
My pastels were still out on the table from last night, and I had some beautiful sunflowers from Emily, so Ta Da! (or is it Ta Dah? who knows?) A project for tonight. A pastel and pencil sketch of my flowers. Perspective is questionable as always, but then it wouldn’t be mine if the perspective was perfect, would it?
OK, so I once again made an empty promise to myself. I didn’t begin working on my project until after seven tonight. As always I had the best of intentions….no excuses, just didn’t get to it. I did however spend a great deal of time putting my work in my new presentation portfolio that I received as a birthday present (thank you Dan). My old portfolio is at least thirty years old, the plastic pages were cracked and the zipper quit years ago. Over the last few months I have accumulated quite a bit of work and it needed a home. I still need to get extra pages for the new one. I am proud to say it is full right now. For my project tonight I began another acrylic painting. I so loved the results of my vintage shoe form painting from the other night that I have decided to do a series of paintings based on some of the vintage collectables I have. Warning: If you collect anything thing that has the name Bradford Exchange, Village 56, Thomas Kinkade, etc., you might want to stop reading here……………….. Have they gone yet? I mean the Disney people, the Precious Moments people, the people who collect any of the previously mentioned highly collectible, mass produced…crap. Sorry, I just feel that way. I don’t want to acquire number 121 of 500 of this year’s Christmas Village. I would never deny anyone the right to their own taste, but I really just don’t get it. I have seen just about every Disney movie because I have children. I love the classics, I particularly like the Genie in Aladdin. Robin Williams was great. I love Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella. The Seven Dwarfs creep me out, particularly Dopey, he reminds me of a friend of my Dad’s when we were growing up. (Let’s see if my sisters know who I’m referring to.) My favorite character has to be Winnie The Pooh. No reason, just look upon him fondly. He was our high school mascot (be nice, it was an all girl Catholic high school, Pooh was as manly as we could get) I like Piglet, Eeyore (who I believe may be part Irish. I believe this based on my previously mentioned theory of glass not half full, not half empty, shattered on the floor because I’m Irish), and love the rest of the crew of the Hundred Acre Woods too, but not enough to have them on my fireplace, or on my toaster, or my bath towels, or God forbid, my pajamas. I had a Pooh collection once, but I was seventeen not forty. Again, I will defend your right to personal taste, but Precious Moments, really? I’ve been in houses where it looks like the gift shop at Disney World. I’m sure that these same people would come in my house and look at my vintage wooden shoe forms, and my McCoy Pottery, and the rustic industrial stuff and think it is…crap. That’s OK. Actually my Dad said something years ago about my house. He said it was full of shite (Irish for, well I think you can figure it out) I heard this from one of my sisters. He found out that I heard it and called to apologize. I was quick to agree with him. I said, “Yes Dad, I know, and it’s my shite and I like it.” I don’t think he knew what to do with that. I ‘m not offended if someone doesn’t look favorably on my taste, its mine, remember the “no peer pressure” I wrote about last night? I meant it. I like being different, I don’t want to have the same house with the same stuff as everyone else. I hope I haven’t truly offended anyone. (I feel Catholic guilt creeping into my brain as I write.) Anyway…I have some very interesting, well-worn and well-loved pieces. I think they deserve to be preserved for all eternity, or at the very least until my grandchildren throw them away. I only managed to color block a canvas for the painting, nothing worth posting, so I decided to throw another old favorite piece of art on the blog. Many, many years ago I came across a photo of Donald Sutherland in a magazine, his face was emerging from the dark. I loved it. A pencil portrait.
Another year passes by. Another year older, and hopefully wiser. I’d like to think that I’ve become a better person this year. I made the decision to not be angry, and for the most part I’ve remained pretty level-headed. I also, thanks to this project and blog have been trying to make myself a priority for the first time in my life. I’m still struggling with it a little, still putting too many obstacles in my own path, but they are getting fewer and fewer as time goes by. Here is my birthday wish, I want my children to be healthy and happy, and I would like to find myself a year from now buried in work with Dan at our business. Nothing spectacular, just simple wishes for health and happiness.
Today could have been a better day. Dan and the kids went above and beyond in making the day as special as they could for me. Unfortunately some other people in my life seemed to have forgotten that this should be a good day. There was also a very troubling incident in our life this morning. Dan took me for coffee, set his iPhone down and forgot it for a minute. Someone stole the phone. I have written before to remind people that you never know what is happening in the life of another person. To the person who stole Dan’s phone, I don’t understand taking something that doesn’t belong to you. Every action has a reaction. My husband has been out of work for six months. He was waiting on a call about a job, the call is supposed to come to that number. You didn’t just take our phone today, you took some hope along with it. You made what was starting out to be a nice day into a day to be upset. You had a hand in ruining my birthday. I hope it was worth it.
Every single day is a workday, today was no exception. A little drawing for myself, and to use in our business. Pen and ink.
I have an unfinished project for tonight. I feel bad habits forming. A few months ago I declared freedom for orphaned art that was in my studio. I vowed to rescue them and bring them to completion. I have done that with a few, but as I near the middle of this year-long project, I realize that I now have more unfinished work than when I began. That is not good. I knew earlier today that I would have difficulty getting to a project because of other plans. We drove to our daughter’s apartment to spend some time with Jessica and her husband, and to enjoy a lovely dinner. (Thank you Jessica. It was delicious!) I set out for the day with my art box of pens, pencils and charcoal, but forgot to bring my sketchbook. Jessica was kind enough to give me some paper, and I decided to create another book-plate, but chose to do a very intricate design that I didn’t have the time to complete. In other words I have a perfectly legitimate excuse for not getting finished tonight. As for the other projects? I simply have fallen back into putting what is important to me at the end of the line. Dan and I were discussing my project yesterday, and I pointed out that I didn’t give myself a day off at all for this project. With the exception of one of the several days that I had pneumonia, I have written and worked every single day since April 13th. My brother-in-law is an artist, I’m sure even he takes days off, and as Dan pointed out, it’s all his brother does, its his job. I on the other hand still cook two to three times a day, clean house, do laundry, garden, do the family grocery shopping, and numerous other projects around the house. There is also trying to reach out to my Dad several times a day by phone to help with his loneliness, to schedule help for him, and to let him know what is on television that might fill his time. There are so many projects that I have started at the last-minute, written about and posted half done, fully intending to finish them, but then they get pushed to the back of the line the next day. Tomorrow I will take stock of what is done, what is half done and prioritize my life. I also need to raise the white flag and ask for help. I try to do everything for everyone I love. I need to remember to love myself a little as well. Finally, I really need to ask myself if I haven’t fallen back to the worst habit of all, doubting myself and my abilities. I haven’t written too much about “not good enough” in a while, or about my fear of being judged, but I need to look at myself in the mirror and face the truth about what is really going on here. I hate to go back to the dieting metaphor, but much like when I am tired and give myself an excuse to eat too much, I am finding excuses to not finish the work. Why is it so easy for us to ignore our own needs? My halfway point arrives this weekend, time to take control once again and give myself permission to have the artistic life I deserve.
At the birth of this project the object was to use up the supplies I have on hand in my studio. The project evolved into much more than that, but the original purpose is still a challenge to be met. It’s been a while since I’ve written about my artistic self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy due to my lack of artistic schooling. I bring it up again because I am nearing the halfway point in the promise of a year of art. I am roughly two weeks away, and decided to step back a little and check my progress. I have produced a tremendous amount of art since April when this all began. Not all have been pieces that I love or even like. There are some that I am immensely proud of. It is without question the most productive I have ever been artistically. The state of my studio? It pretty much looks the same. I have gone through quite a bit of watercolor paper, several canvases, some drawing paper, but for the most part it looks the same. Which is strange considering that a great deal of my materials have made their way down to our dining room, our family room, our guest room, the kitchen and even the garden. In terms of cleaning out my artistic refrigerator, I am a total failure. I might also mention here that I tend to be a bit untidy as an artist (OK, in other areas as well, particularly when creating in the kitchen), I’m working on it. However, the clutter in my brain is beginning to straighten itself out. Not that I don’t still have total meltdowns and think my work is crap. Years of self-doubt aren’t that easy to shake off. It is just that I am feeling more fearless in my art. I don’t give up when I begin to feel “not good enough” trying to sneak back into my brain. I do have to admit that there are a few recently orphaned canvases that need to be addressed. Oil is still my big hangup. Patience is really in need of attention.I have of course recently professed my new-found love of pen and ink. My watercolor skills are much better than I realized. So as I near that halfway mark I think I’m doing OK. I give myself high marks for growth in artistic confidence, but I am failing in making myself and art a priority. I am still cranking this work out after dinner. That’s right, ninety percent of the work that I have produced and posted on this blog have taken place between the hours of seven and ten at night, including writing. I guess I have to stop and ask myself what the problem is. What is the roadblock in my way? I don’t know. I do know that I can see what I am capable of in three hours, imagine what I could do if I actually gave myself time.
I decided to head up to the studio and dig out something different. Pastels. Which I will now admit I am discovering are not my favorite medium. The point is to use up the supplies. I’m trying! This piece is based on a photo from La Jolla Cove here in Southern California.