Artistic Meditation

February 26, 2015

I realize photo-wise this and the next stage are remarkably boring. Miles and miles of Wonder Under…although hey! I bought a new bolt of WU yesterday and it feels really different. You have to realize I’ve been using Wonder Under to make quilts since 1999. Or maybe 2001. Had to go look at the quilt list…I did start making art quilts in 1999, but I wasn’t a Wonder Under user until 2001. Most of my earliest quilts, I cut out the fabric and just lay it down on the background and pinned the fuck out of it. Stabbed myself a million times too, which is pretty damn stupid. But that’s how Joan Colvin showed me how to do it (and that’s how she did it too, and her quilts are beautiful).

Anyway, so here’s the miles…

Feb 26 15 001 small

I’m on the 4th yard, but had to start a 5th one because one of the pieces was too big to fit on the 4th piece…so probably around 5 yards of pieces. I was trying to keep the detail to a minimum (ha!) so I would be able to finish it in time, so there are some honking big pieces. I think, “oh cool, I’m gonna use up some of my stash!” but I know that it really doesn’t. I rarely run out of a fabric…I might get down to the tiny pieces that can really only be used for little things, but if you think about how much fabric I have (well, you probably don’t think about that, but I do), it’s really just a drop in the bucket. Kathy York was making a stashbuster quilt here, and made some comment about how it barely used any of her stash up, and it was only one color, and it was a huge quilt, and I’m like…YEAH! But we have to use it to justify buying more, right? York buys fabric for specific projects, too, so she is a much better person than I am. I buy fabric because I need it in my palette. I really do think of the stash as this huge palette from which to paint my quilts. And you always need more colors.

Anyway, my special fabric psychosis aside, there are some stash-busting pieces in this drawing, where I’ll need huge chunks of gray or white, and then blue, and some foxy red, which doesn’t mean a red that makes you look foxy, but a red that’s the color of a fox.

I traced about 200 pieces last night before I stopped. I really wanted to just keep going, but that would have been close to an allnighter, I think, another 2 1/2 hours and it was already midnight. I do still have to get healthy and teach and function like a semi-normal human being. Apparently.

And then the NEXT step will be cutting all those pieces out, which is another batch of boring pictures. The fabric-choosing…now there’s the pictures y’all will enjoy, because you get to see my stash and what I’m currently watching on Netflix. Always exciting.

But the thing is, even though the pictures are boring, this is sometimes one of my favorite parts of making the quilt. Tracing all those pieces out, standing at my light table, it’s really meditative. I have the TV on and I’m half-listening and maybe a quarter-watching, and I’m looking for each piece (sometimes it takes me a while to find them if I didn’t number particularly logically), and then I’m evaluating each piece for whether it needs an overlap to go under the pieces next to it, and then I’m looking to see if it continues underneath to another section at all, and it’s this place in my brain that’s like a big soft pillow. All the other shit just wanders off, looking for a bar where it can start a fight, and my brain just settles down, takes a deep breath, and does its work. Analyzing, drawing, going on to the next piece. And the next one. And the next one. And really nothing gets in the way of that, except when the tea gets cold (take break to walk to the microwave…should take regular breaks anyway), or when I need to pee (see breaks), or when the show ends and I have to pick the next one or fastforward through commercials. It’s peaceful. It’s relaxing. It’s a weird-ass form of meditation. The Wonder Under Meditation.

I always feel so much better after tracing. Fabric-choosing is kind of the same way. They use a part of my brain that pushes everything else out, which is why I lose track of time when I’m doing it. When I finally thought to look at the task-measuring app I was using last night, I had been working for over 2 hours. Just working. Just tracing. No way I could do that with grading without getting all antsy and irritated. Even quilting irritates me (mostly because thread is breaking or because it’s so much more physical).

Anyway, I had another idea for a bathtub drawing (a series!)…I think I’ve done two drawings so far, but only one really deserves to be a quilt, and now I have a third one in my head, and it’s really not pretty, but whatever…

This was the first one, and she’s still headless…

May 18 14 100 small

I actually like it now that I’m looking at it, but I would finish it much differently now than when I first drew it. Which is fine, because I’d enlarge it and THEN add the head. Only the top head. The bottom head is supposed to be gone. These are of course inspired by Kahlo’s bathtub painting…which I know I posted on here, but now cannot find. What the Water Gave Me, 1938…

frida-kahlo-what-the watergaveme

And then the one I really want to do…

Jul 14 14 015 small

It’s next on the list…some day. But now there’s another one. In my head. And you aren’t going to like it. But it needs to get out.

But drawing is another form of meditation, one I hope to rediscover someday soon…really. It’s been long enough.

I Made Art…

February 24, 2015

Hey. I made art. I know. It’s exciting. No really, it is. Being sick sucks. Being sick and being an artist really sucks, because you still have to do laundry and cook and go to work…it’s the art that suffers. And it’s the stuff that keeps you sane, so then you get less sane. And you’re already sick, so that’s already a less-sane zone. Not good.

So last night was an artmaking clusterfuck, but I did better today. I sat at school a lot instead of my typical nine miles of wandering the classroom. I didn’t do another 12-hour workday. I actually remembered to eat breakfast, even though I still am not getting hungry like a normal person.

All I’m doing is tracing Wonder Under though…most boring pictures in the world…

Feb 24 15 006 small

But here’s the deal…I’m about 550 pieces in, so more than halfway. Only 350 to go. And I’ve been tracing for close to 7 hours, so I figure I’ve got another 4 at the most to go. So maybe by Friday night? It’s possible. I might be able to do it.

I did realize that this thing has about a million feathers…seriously, I’ve traced hundreds of feather pieces so far. There’s at least three birds, maybe more…the wings are good for filling in weird spaces. Plus birds are cool. Next, I’m tracing a cat. Can’t have a quilt without a cat in it. It doesn’t have feathers though.

See, I’m looking at Spring Break, which is now less than 5 weeks away, and my plan was to have this one ironed onto fabric and trimmed by Spring Break. PLUS, have the other recycled one at that stage too, if not further along. No, I’m not crazy…why do you ask? If you don’t make goals, you’ll never get anywhere. I don’t mind having goals that I don’t quite meet…I’ll be close (unless I get pneumonia again…remind me to get the damn shot next year).

To that end, I sat on the floor on Sunday (in my delirium yesterday, I totally forgot I had done this) and sorted blue fabrics.

Feb 24 15 001 small

Blue was the biggest pile. I sorted them by fabric pattern…Mariah had all these long strips and weird triangles and squares of all sizes (she pieces quilts), so sometimes all I have is a bunch of 2″ squares…but I could piece those and use them as one piece, like I did with the other one. I still have a bunch of other color piles in there, but for some reason, the blue was the scariest. (It was the biggest, by far.) So I started with it. Only 10 more piles to go. Ha! Once I’ve cut out the other quilt, these will go into my regular stash to be used for a million more quilts…so that’s cool. She has some fabrics I have but in different colorways, and lots of fabrics I just wouldn’t buy, because I’m not making the same types of quilts that she is, but that’s a good thing. It stretches me…stretches my palette. I should let other people buy me fabric to make me work harder sometimes.

It’s good to do this. It gives me a place to bury my work frustration. As we near the end of the trimester, kids are panicking and trying to beg for grades. But if you blow off the entire trimester until three days before I close the gradebook? Um? There’s nothing you can do. I’m irritated by the whole process, and they know it.

And here’s how I know I’m really getting better…I had ideas for drawings today…lots of them. None of them are pretty, of course. Lots of stuff about being an old woman (I know, I’m not really old, but my body is being a brat and I wish it would lay off)…I need to find time to spend with my sketchbook and a nice black pen. It’s calling to me…the skritch scratch of the pen on the paper surface. The smear when it’s not quite dry. The look of the line, not quite not wobbly. I do love being an artist. I mean, it’s hard to be one and be everything else you have to be, but the fulfillment and satisfaction I get from making a piece, even from just completing a drawing…it’s amazing. It brings me peace. It calms the anger inside me. It curls up around me when I fall asleep. It soothes me when I’m sad. It makes me feel more…or maybe because I feel more, I am an artist…hard to say. Anyway. It’s a good thing.

Ramble Much?

February 24, 2015

I started this Sunday and then completely forgot about it.

I think the hardest thing for someone like me to do is to just stop and rest. I suck at it. I tried a little Saturday and Sunday, but I have so much stuff to do that I can’t do it for long…although I’d really like to take a nap right now. I’m writing right now in order to procrastinate going to the grocery store…because I don’t really feel up to that…and it doesn’t really matter, because I have to do it. If I were just taking care of me, I’d probably blow it off and go take that nap, but it’s never really just me, is it? So no, I didn’t take time off work, which might be why I kept getting sicker, but as a teacher, it’s really difficult to take time off work, especially if you have to come up with a lesson plan that furthers the content you’re already teaching, but that a non-science sub can actually handle, and that’s just not easy to do. So it’s a wasted day (or two or three), and then you’re behind, and I’m already behind because grades are due in about a week and a half, and I’ve spent two weeks falling asleep at inopportune moments (like right after work), which obviously I needed to do, but there’s no backup on the teacher’s job…there’s no one who’s trained to do your thing and handle your kids and take over until you get well again. You just bully through. So I’m taking my meds and coughing like a fiend and trying to boost my energy and immune system and take care of myself and feed the family and get grades done and not collapse.

Really, I should take that nap. Sigh. Or go to the grocery store and get it done and in the fridge and THEN take the nap. I don’t know. Ask for more help probably. Text the girlchild and ask her if she’ll help with the shopping. Maybe.

It’s now Tuesday. You might be wondering what happened? Well, I did nap…after the grocery store. And then I worked some more and fell asleep on the couch. Eventually made it into bed. Yesterday, Monday, I actually felt pretty good. I worked all day, went to another store for stuff they don’t have at my grocery store, then came home and worked (for hours) to get caught up. Then the toner cartridge died, and unfortunately, it was something I really needed, so I drove to the store, because my app said they had two in stock, and then they couldn’t find them. And once they found one (where some asshole had hidden it behind another one), they wanted to charge me $21 more than the website. Anyway. By the time I got home and got through all the crap that had to be done yesterday, because we have one student who is going to be gone for three weeks, so I had to plan out until Spring Break and then revise a bunch of stuff because she won’t actually be IN the classroom (oh my god), it was after 8 PM. Twelve-hour day. It’s OK. I came out of the dark dismal den that is my office (OK, it has fluorescent lights, so it’s not really dark, but it also has a very demanding cat who wants to stand in front of the computer screen and sit on the mouse, so I was beyond frustrated at that point), and I sat with the girlchild, who unfortunately has prom on her mind. I offered her my prom dress (which was my aunt’s prom dress, so circa 1956?), and she cried. OK, she didn’t. She might have if I had forced the issue. It’s a very nice dress. I can see why she doesn’t want to wear it, though, because if you look at current prom dresses, they are made for girls who are obviously going to swanky cocktail parties with the rich and famous (WTF?). I suggested more of her body might be covered than the one I saw her friend buying, which looked like a bra with suspenders holding up a long skirt. Yeah. I am so out of it.

Then I finally thought I could trace some Wonder Under.

I made 23 minutes. Pure exhaustion. OK. I’m listening. I made it to bed eventually after tracing a whopping 40 pieces (well, it’s 40 pieces I didn’t have the day before), and realized that normally I wouldn’t have put in that many work hours before…well…sometimes I do, it’s true…but it’s getting better.

Unfortunately, about 10 minutes into my trying to actually fall asleep before the dead of night (see, my body is exhausted, but my brain won’t play along), girlchild comes in to tell me about the bomb scare at their school (it’s becoming a regular occurrence in their district…no real bombs…just dumbass kids who don’t want to go to school) and how one of the coaches (who is probably now fired) sent out a text to all his players telling them about it. When she left for school this morning…yes, I am the MEAN mom who makes their child go to school with bombs…she grabbed a bunch of snacks in case they went on lockdown (she wasn’t a Girl Scout for long, but damn, I did train her well), and I told her I loved her and not to let the terrorists win. Sigh. She’s texting me from school (it hasn’t started yet), and nobody is there. Great, she can get some one-on-one instruction! Yes, I’m a little crazy. I do think we Americans panic easily though. I don’t know how on Earth our ancestors made it here and survived (well, I guess the first few batches didn’t) all the hardships here without panicking and running back to from whence we came. It seems like all the kick-ass survival instincts were bred out over the years.

So this is obviously a philosophical post. I could show another picture of the 40 pieces of Wonder Under I traced. Or not. I do have pictures from Senior Night for girlchild’s soccer…but apparently WordPress is being bitchy and won’t let me load anything…oh wait…NOW you’ll let me do it. Technology. Lame. So obviously in this picture, my ex has something derogatory to say about the coach, who is standing maybe 10 feet away…

DSC_0037 small

All the other parents and kids were weeping, but no, we were making jokes while the girlchild threatened to kill us and we set voodoo curses on the coach so he would get boils all over his ass (no, I’m not vengeful at all…why do you ask?). I have promised the girlchild that we will do nothing to burn her soccer bridges, but that doesn’t mean we don’t talk about all the things we COULD do.


They’re in CIF now, so winding down to the end…three games more maximum. And then we go back to the relief of club soccer and a good coach and parents that only drive me half nuts instead of completely nuts. No more freezing games on bleachers…just freezing games on chairs instead (somehow it is more bearable on a chair…although I don’t have a chair…mine broke after 10 years and now I have to buy a new one for the last 4 months of soccer? Kinda lame, but I’m sure I will use it somewhere…at the beach? Huh. I’m not really a beach person. Maybe I should become one. I mean, I’m sending the last kid off to college. I can become a completely different person now. Once I’m done recovering from pneumonia. And I pick a job that doesn’t suck up all my waking…and nonwaking hours.).

AND…my doctor’s office just called to check up on my cough and make sure I’m not dead. That’s nice. “Are you taking your meds?” “No, I LIKE having pneumonia.” Yes, I’m taking my fucking meds. Duh. No, it’s nice to have them call.

My last commentary? Obviously my brain is functioning…it’s just my body that’s having issues…bows on bras? Why? I always cut them off. But what is the purpose? I do not understand. Yes, I am not a normal girl. I also don’t like pink. Except my pink fabric stash is huge…not as huge as my black and white stash, but huge nonetheless, because I do a lot of human figures, so the flesh tones run into the pinks, and they fill up a ton of drawers here. But there’s a good reason for that.

Ramble much? Yeah. Whatever.

On the Mend…Still…

February 21, 2015

Wednesday night, I felt OK…kept tracing…
Feb 20 15 3 small
It took a really long time to trace all the little apple tree parts: stems, leaves, apples. Tiny little beasts. I’m over 330 pieces in…and 4 1/2 hours. There’s 891 pieces, if you don’t count the 4 or 5 pieces I found so far that weren’t numbered. So another 560 pieces…another 6 hours? I’m done tracing the eentsy-weentsy pieces…so the rest should go faster. I hope.

Meanwhile, the coughing was getting worse though…

I had quilt class Thursday night, and I can’t trace a big drawing elsewhere, so I started cutting pieces out.
Feb 20 15 4 small
When I’m tracing, I often have animals helping me by lying in the way…thank you, Calli, for being mostly out of the way…
Feb 20 15 2 small
Babygirl has been coming out and socializing…which is funny, because she and the girlchild have a bizarre relationship. They didn’t really like each other in the beginning, but they seem to be developing some sort of relationship…
Feb 20 15 1 small
I guess when you’re down to two humans and three cats, and you’re a cat in need of attention, you can’t be too picky…which means it will be interesting when the girlchild leaves next year.

So yeah…I did go to the doctor…and I have pneumonia (whoops). I did actually suspect that back around Tuesday or Wednesday, and I already had an appointment for Friday morning, so I’m on antibiotics and will probably stop coughing up my lungs soon…I hope. And hopefully I’ll be more productive next week…

Proof of Recovery…

February 18, 2015

So there’s really only one way to prove I’m feeling better, that I’ve finally gotten over the nasty hump of this illness:

Feb 17 15 008 small

Yup. Making art again. So even though I was still running a nasty fever Sunday night, even though I thought I was better Saturday, even though I spent most of yesterday wondering if I’d be well enough to go back to school today with only half a lung functioning (I’ve coughed up the other half…into the sink…I saw it), I am finally on the mend. I’m still coughing. I’m still not well. I’m still not completely physically back (there’s no way I’m hiking in the next week…I’m aiming for the gym on Saturday morning, and taking it easy), but I can stand to trace Wonder Under. So that’s where I’m at…and some angelic soul found me Season 5 of Walking Dead, the bits that aren’t on right now, so I’m watching that while tracing. I got in a good two hours tonight…not how I really wanted to spend the hours, but it will do.

I should have been grading papers. But I went to work today AND I graded for like 6 hours yesterday AND I spent an hour and a half tonight moving files around and sending them to my students, so I don’t feel bad. I worked more hours in the last two days than I got paid for, as usual. The universe owed me a couple of hours of artmaking. And now I feel better about progress on these quilts.

Kitten even came out and held down the paper for me…

Feb 17 15 010 small

cuz that’s really helpful, Kitten. Really helpful. I had all three cats in the room at one point. Not bad.

Feb 17 15 011 small

They weren’t easy pieces to trace…two hours to do just over 100 pieces…most of them flames and waves, very convoluted and complicated pieces. I do like me some flames and waves, that’s for sure.

Girlchild was allowed back on the field on Friday (long story…she’s a bit of a thug, apparently)…I think I was mostly conscious during that game…

Feb 17 15 001 small

Tomorrow night is Senior Night, so her dad and I have to stand out on the field and listen to them read the statement I wrote (after the ex sent me a starter paragraph to destroy) about the girlchild…and she said I should make her cry. Unfortunately, it means I probably will too…dammit. It’s strange knowing it’s the LAST season…a relief in some ways, especially with high school soccer, which has just been an incredible trial to all of us. The coaching…the girls…it will be a relief, truly, to leave that behind. But realizing that next year at this time, she won’t even be around…that’s a little harder to stomach, and that’s what will make me cry out there, plus the part about how she refused to put her hair in a ponytail for the longest time, just cuz she was a stubborn little girl. Don’t know where she got that from.

So I guess with one day of actually feeling good, I’m a little crazy running a lab tomorrow (it’s an easy one) AND going to soccer afterwards…but it’s not like I have a choice. This is life and it keeps coming, and you can spend days and days in bed (I did), and life will still be there…and so will the art. My FFAC quilt made it to Florida and I received one from Jette Clover, which I am infinitely pleased with, and need to get a frame, so I can get it on the wall, along with a bunch of other art that just needs to get hung. I do feel bad that I kinda lost two three-day weekends to being ill, but so be it. Moving on. I received applause today from my classes for announcing that I refused to grade anything over my birthday weekend, so all their makeup work was due next Friday…I don’t know if they were applauding me for putting my foot down or for reaching another birthday…it’s hard to say. And most days, I can’t remember how old I am anyway…which is truly sad.

So back to our regularly scheduled art events…looking forward to making more. Which reminds me, sounds like I will have a show at Grossmont College with one other artist, a sculptor, in 2016…my first…um…it’s not a solo; is it a duet? Hard to say…so you locals will have to come to the opening and support me, because this is going to be kind of scary for me…I have no shortage of pieces to fill the space, of course. Someone asked me how many quilts I had made, and I said “over 50″…but you know what? It’s 94. And there are a couple that are made but not “finished” for a variety of reasons…and yes, that includes all the birds and some other smaller things, but that’s a lot of art quilts. Those are the art quilts…not the baby quilts or the ones that hang on my kids’ walls or the landscape quilts that I made for a variety of bridal showers and donation events and my sister-in-law that I never really cataloged. They’re not all awesome…but there’s a lot of them. So here’s to making 94 more…

Have Faith

February 16, 2015

I don’t think I’ve been this artistically fallow for years. I’m ill…this is day 6 of fever and malaise, and the cough kept me up all night the last two nights. I thought I was getting better, but maybe not. Possible relapse? I finally took cough meds last night, which helped for a few hours. I’ve decided the reason they make cough meds taste so awful is so you can’t possibly ever drink them for fun (and yet people do).

No art is happening, except in the swirly black space I see when my feverish eyes close. Well, there are the tie designs on Agent Carter (lightbulb paisleys being the most current still stuck in my head). A week behind on artmaking and paper grading…not good. But you can’t plan for this shit. It’s not the universe out to get you…it’s just a silly viral cell out of control.

At least I have today off…if just to recover more before heading back into the pit of vipers. I could make plans for art this week. For the gym. For getting shit done. But I think I’m just going to do what I can (I did the dishes), get a ton of rest, and see what else there’s energy for…maybe not much.

Have faith. Art will happen.

Viral Whomp

February 13, 2015

Apparently that cute little cold wasn’t done with me. Nah, it turned around and whomped me. Probably I should have stayed home from school the last two days, especially when standing became an issue, but a statewide shortage of subs, plus my brain’s inability to plan for such contingencies meant I stayed. I sat a lot. I coughed a bit. I glared at students who had similar coughs, since they obviously gifted me with this viral beast. Then both days, I came home as soon after work as I could and went to bed, arising only briefly the first night to eat a bowl of goldfish crackers and some chicken. Protein. Yesterday I managed a bit more, feeling a tad better, but also running a fever. Aha! Nights of hot flashes and chills, and I finally get a fever. One. Briefly. OK, I’ve probably had more than one, but at some point, a hot flash, a chill, and a fever all produce similar symptoms, and if you’re sick enough, you just don’t care.

You can imagine that not much art is made under these conditions, and you would be right. In fact, there was none. Not a tiny little bit. Honestly, I’m barely more than alive. I know I’ve been feeding cats and buying more medicine, but not a whole lot more than that. Oh yeah, and apparently teaching. At some point soon, though, I’m going to have to evaluate the time left before these artistic due dates and what needs to get done by when…I think I’m OK with the smaller pieces, but the big one makes me a bit nervous because I haven’t even started it yet…the tracing is all set up, but if you can’t stand up for long periods of time, it puts a damper on tracing tiny pieces onto Wonder Under.

I do have this lovely 3-day weekend coming up though. I do want to go on a hike, probably not until Monday (and only if my respiratory system agrees, and probably I have to start eating more food so I have the energy to move faster than a sloth). I have a ton of grading (what’s new?!) to do, mostly because I haven’t been awake for much of the last few days. I have been grading at school while I wait for kids to do their presentations, but I can’t get much done in that short piece of time. I also want to get some art done, so I’ll have to find the time and energy for that at some point…maybe Sunday. Saturday will be spent running all the errands that were on my calendar for this week that I didn’t get done because…um…sick. Yeah.

But first of all, I have to go to work and a soccer game (presuming I don’t feel like collapsing at the end of the day like I have the last two days; also presuming my car doesn’t decide to die, since the ever-present Check Engine light is on again, with no backup if it fails this time). Then I’ll let girlchild cook me dinner and go to bed early again, unless I have some rush of energy heretofore unanticipated. Then hopefully I will wake up Saturday morning with most of my facilities and a tiny bit of energy to get it all done. That’s my hope anyway.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 362 other followers