Wonder Under Dreaming

February 28, 2015

Wonder Under dreaming…ten hours and 37 minutes of tracing Wonder Under, around 900 pieces (I didn’t number all of them, shockingly). I did the whole thing under the influence of pneumonia and rib-rattling coughing…starting February 17 and ending last night. I was obviously well and truly ill from the 19th through the 22nd, because nothing happened.

Here’s all but one yard, which I had already cut out…

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So about 5 yards…most of it is the old stuff. One and a half yards is the new stuff, so I will apparently be performing a scientific experiment comparing the old to new on this quilt. I love that. (not really.)

I only have a little over 2 hours into the trimming of the Wonder Under though. I guess that’s this week.

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It’s progress. I realized last night though that I needed one of the recycled pieces done (DONE) by April 1. Huh. That’s a month away. I can do that. I have one top ready to be sandwiched; I could do that today. And I bought some heavier black thread for the upholstery fabrics to quilt the outlining. Yes, I went to JoAnns. Hate that place. But I had a coupon. And otherwise, I have to buy Wonder Under online and ship it here. That’s expensivo. So I do the deed. I pull my numbered ticket and I stand there for-fucking-ever, waiting to tell them I want the whole bolt anyway, so they don’t have to cut anything, but I still have to wait in the fucking line. And then I go wait in the other long nasty line where they put all that crap on both sides of you, candy and shitty packages of socks and beads for Mardi Gras, just like at Michaels, and I think to myself, I hate this place, but I still go there, because it is what it is. Sales are more important than how shitty the store feels, I guess.

Then there’s this drawing that is fully realized in my head. My brain drew the whole damn fucking thing yesterday as I was driving to school. And I want to find the time and space (because you need mental space to draw) to get it out of my head, vomit it out onto the paper, but I have grading to do and I’m tired and still sick and kinda irritated today, which isn’t anyone’s fault, well except maybe the financial aid departments of all the colleges to which the girlchild applied, because why do you y’all have to be such giant pains in the ass? I mean really. This stuff makes my head hurt.

I entered another art exhibit last night. I didn’t think I’d have anything that would work for this show, even though the title and description are right up my alley…the size restrictions were part of the problem, and the rest of it is that so much of the recent stuff is already out traveling. But I found three that would work and went for it. Because why not? And then looked further out, the next 6+ months of big shows, and realized I needed to quit my stupid daytime job so I could make all the art I wanted to make.

Yeah. That’s not happening. I did ream my students yesterday for asking for MORE time to turn in late work. I said I wanted to have time with my daughter where I wasn’t grading papers. That I wanted to be able to sleep at night. That I wanted to go to her game this Saturday. That I was spending hours every night grading all their makeup work. That I was working way harder than they were. I’m done. Seriously. No more. This happens every year. There’s four weeks until Spring Break and the kids are mentally on vacation and I’m about to start the hardest unit of the year and I’m done. Another parent blows me off when their kid is doing nothing? Man. I just want to bring that kid home and feed him some real food and talk science to him, because he gets it, and then maybe after a year or so of my holding him accountable, maybe he’ll be the student he could be if he had someone around who gave a shit. And that’s what I told him yesterday when he said mom didn’t care: “You have 4 teachers right now who care, but we need you to care too. If you don’t care, we’re not going to waste our time. So you decide. Let me know.” And that’s the truth. He has that right now and it makes him alternately angry and full of hope, and he doesn’t know what to do with any of that. Neither do I, honestly. Neither do I.

That’s the reality of being a teacher. Dear politicians, y’all don’t know shit.

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Calli. Such a doofus.

Yeah, so maybe I should make some art today and fuck the school crap. Because it’s messing with my head right now. I’m so frustrated with excuses and the reality of what I can get kids to do and the parents. I just can’t face it. I tried last night. I tried this morning. Better off losing myself in that Wonder Under dream…that place where I don’t have to think about what happens tomorrow or in April or this summer. Just cutting little pieces of fusible web out to make another scary Nida picture.

Or the other bathtub drawing. Yeah. Odalisque in Bloody Bathtub. Awesome name. Won’t ever get into a show. Whatever.

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…

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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…

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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…

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And then the one I really want to do…

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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…

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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.

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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.

Evolution of a Drawing

January 29, 2015

I stared at the middle of the torso for a good long time last night. I even tried putting the headphones on to drown out Gilmore Girls (girlchild) and meditated (while standing, while staring at the drawing). Honestly, I haven’t meditated in a while and I need to get back in the practice of it, as the stress levels of this week are reminding me. When the session was done, I was staring at tree pictures. I googled Trees of the World. Baobab came up, but I thought it was something else, and that wasn’t what I wanted, so then googled Trees Africa and got the Acacia (oh YEAH, that one)…and I drew three of them. And then I googled Elephant because for some reason, I wanted to do an elephant. I’ve never put an elephant in a quilt. Now seemed the right time. In the end, three of them appeared…

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Because they travel in groups, in families. Three acacia trees as well…do they travel in families? Then I had this blank spot to the right to fill in the left hip. More staring. Lots of staring. I think the girlchild had gone to bed by then and I was on Walking Dead. Not that either show is particularly helpful in the drawing process. But I finally decided, after trying to put a dog in there about 15 times and being stymied by how to make it fit in the space without being cartoonish, because nothing else in this was particularly so, that a plant should go there…trying to balance plants and animals in the torso. And I thought a fruit tree would be good, because…well…because I can add colors besides brown and green. I started considering how this will actually LOOK, colored in, and my brain freaked out.

So I drew an apple tree…

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And here’s one of the core problems with enlarging a drawing and then continuing to draw on it…I draw too much detail when it’s not enlarged. OK, I draw the same amount of detail…it’s just fucking SMALL. So that tree is kind of crazy for the amount of space it’s taking. But whatever. I could have just drawn leaves with no stems. Or not. My brain said not. I did want to draw lots more elephant wrinkles and I forced myself to stop. I told myself that the Essence of Elephant was all that mattered, that everyone would know it was a fucking elephant without all the wrinkles. But someone will ask me “why elephants?” Remind me to say, “because they travel in groups and have families and mourn their dead and attack lions and are just generally kick-ass animals.” Better yet, just say it for me, because I might not be there.

The next problem was that I couldn’t tell from a drawing that covers my light table whether it read OK as a whole, because I couldn’t see the whole damn thing. So I dropped it on the floor and stood on the piano bench to see…

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Interesting movement here. I did have an issue with the big wide open space at the bottom left. It was bugging me. So I added trees.

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They’re not huge, but they move the eye back up towards the lightning bolt, so you don’t fall off the page. I just realized that this morning.

At that point it was midnight. Let’s go back in our heroine’s story, where we always tell her that she doesn’t get enough sleep and she should stop working an hour before she’s ready, because sleep is healthy and she has eyeball dissections today and a field trip Friday and those two things are enough to kick her ass with a normal amount of sleep.

What’s normal for me though? No sleep. You got it. I wanted to know how many fucking pieces I would be dealing with here. I didn’t want to wait around for that information, because it would have been Friday night before I knew, and that’s unbearable. So I numbered…

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Goddamned tiny tree. I numbered for 59 minutes. Wanna take bets on numbers? C’mon. Think a number in your head. I did this on the last quilt and only one person was close.

There are 891 pieces. Actually, one piece got numbered twice, but inevitably there will be a piece I missed, so let’s just call it 891.

You know, that’s not so bad. But I thought I had 5 1/2 months and I don’t…I can’t count. It has to be photographed by June 15. Four and a half months…four if I make sure there’s photography time. Plus two other small quilts that need doing in the same time period. Uh huh. I can do it. No problem. The last big quilt had 768 pieces and took 80 hours and I (crazily) finished it in 6 weeks. So I think I can pull this off.

So I have now conquered the problem of a non-nude, non-political, non-violent quilt…well, except I have to make it and then the juror has to pick it. Minor issue. And I’ll be pissed if it gets into tons of shows while my other more controversial pieces languish in the closet. So I guess not sleeping is mostly worth it. I seem to be able to harness the creative beast. I mean, we did have soccer last night too…

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Yes, she is actually heading the ball…

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I sewed through all of it. I was too done with school to do any grading. And then I came home and made dinner while listening to the girlchild read her history textbook to me (this is how she learns…I understand…I do that too)…and then I roused myself off the couch for the drawing part, starting around 8 PM. You know, when I should have been thinking of going to bed soon. Silly brain. But that’s how I get it done.

Go Big…or Don’t Go

January 27, 2015

My original drawings are rarely done to actual size. They start out in the smallest sketchbooks at about 6 x 9″ up to the largest one, which is 14 x 17″. I don’t usually leave them that size though, because the tiny details I love to draw will kick my ass if I try to make a quilt that small. I’ve done it…back in the day (you know, dinosaur age), but I don’t do it now if I can get away with it. The FFAC donation quilt was drawn to size. It’s the only one since the Babygirl quilt of 2013. OK, the two smaller quilts, Planting Choice, which went with the Earth Stories exhibit, and the traveling hand and uterus that is in People and Portraits…they were drawn to size. Still both in 2013.

Anyway, so the Earth Mother from Ventura (that might actually be an awesome title for it) started out in a 14 x 17″ sketchbook, and then I ran out of paper last night…and couldn’t figure out what to do next. I just knew I needed to Go Big. I often enlarge the drawings and then add stuff afterwards. In fact, the one that’s traveling with Quilt National right now, the original drawing was done in 2002. I enlarged it and added a big chunk of stuff in 2012, when I actually made the quilt.

So after the staff meeting today, the science meeting, and braving Costco on a rainy afternoon, I made my way to the Not-Kinko’s (OK, it’s FedEx Office now, but that name just sucks) to enlarge the drawing. I usually go somewhere between 200-300%, depending on what I need to end up with…this one is for a largish space, and honestly, they’re only gonna get one entry out of me, because I can only make one non-violent, non-political, non-nude piece on purpose…not that I don’t like what I’ve drawn so far, but I don’t have a ton of time, and I’ve drawn a lot of pieces. So let’s be realistic. Stop. You’re not drawing the whole body…not on this one.

Kitten has been venturing out into the living room to sit with us and be sociable…she’s afraid of Babygirl (the cat, not the quilt), so this is strange for her, but she does it every few months or so. She likes to play with all the offcuts from my taping the copies together…

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This was not easy to tape together…it took over an hour and there were some fussy bits. It was not a perfect copier. But it was $4.50 to copy it my way, instead of $30+ to do a full-size copy. Maybe when I’m rich and famous, I will do the full-size copies. Ha!

I think girlchild is still in here at this point…hunkered down on the couch directly in front of the light table. Here’s the drawing at 250%…

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So she started watching Gilmore Girls, which I never saw the first time around. It is funny at times, but it’s a massive contrast to The Walking Dead, which is what I’ve been watching late at night. Sometimes I imagine the zombies taking over Rory and Lorelai. That is also amusing.

So I knew I wanted to add to the bottom for the torso and to the side for the heron wing, so I taped on more paper (yes, I have the 50-yard roll from some educational supply house that I could barely carry out to the car)…

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And then I stared at it for a long time. Kitten occupied the space and stared back when I tried to move the paper so I could actually draw on it (now girlchild is in bed, because that’s the asshole Governor in the background from The Walking Dead. I swear, if Rick doesn’t kill him, I will. Actually, no. Michonne needs to kill him.).

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I did actually draw the wing and stuff at the bottom in pencil first…just to make sure it looked the way I wanted it to. Most of the time, I just wing it (ha ha, wing it) with Sharpie or some other black pen that feels better on the paper, but doesn’t dry as fast as the Sharpies do. If I fuck it up, there’s liquid paper. The drawings are not the end product. You can see here that I added Earth, Wind, and Fire. Yup. I did that.

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Reads right to left. I can’t explain it. Well, I can. And the water is already in her hair…I considered that. I considered a volcano as well…but having her emerge phoenix-like was not what I wanted…and having her planted in a pot or in the earth, I wanted her to be an Earth Mother, so she needed to have all the parts of Earth…the four classical elements. I left out the fifth, aether. I figured then I would be dealing with spirituality or religion, and if that’s not politically violent, I don’t know what is.

Plus I didn’t know what to draw for that. Well, that’s not true either. But again…politics and violence = religion. Stay away.

I’m not done. There’s the lower torso under the arms and filling down into the elements to do…filling it with plants and animals. So I have to pick an animal or more than one to go in that space. I drew for a good hour and a half tonight, maybe longer. Oh yeah, I did the heron wing too…

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Much better. The bird just looked fucking weird without the wing. And something needs to fill the lower left space…but maybe I will know what that is later this week.

I made a list of shows to enter that are coming up too…some are easier to find stuff for than others. Stupid size requirements or themes that I just don’t cover.

Drawing puts me at peace in my head. It was a rough day. Nothing was working in the morning. Everything was frustrating, and I had come to some sort of peace with all the frustration early during prep period, but I could still feel it in me, like I was holding it struggling in a tight towel, like you hold a recently bathed cat, and it was uncomfortable and annoying, clawing at me. And then all of a sudden, it wasn’t. Because I solved like 17 problems in 20 minutes. And although the rest of the day still had annoying moments (it rained and I had the first day of duty and didn’t bring a coat), I came home and it was OK. I had achieved things. I felt OK with it all. But then the girlchild showed up and that was an issue…and maybe it was the start of the day still looming over me or maybe it’s just stupid old lady hormones, but that was enough to throw me off. I thought I was mostly past all the crying, but today…in fact, the last week…but who knows what that is? All these college apps and the girlchild’s stress just remind me that she will be gone in 8 months, and that will be incredibly difficult on one level and a relief on another. I love her, but she needs to go out there and be on her own and realize that the dishes don’t clean themselves. Seriously. But then I’m coming home to an empty house. And that feels OK when you know someone is showing up later, and sometimes a relief when that person is always just irritated with you or yelling at you, but still hugs you when she remembers you’re her mom and you’re not Satan. Yeah. Raising teens. Messy crap.

So all that. All that throws itself into a drawing of an Earth Mother covered in plants and animals. You see why it’s so hard to explain my stuff when I’m at an opening and someone who doesn’t know me says, “So what were you thinking when you made this?” Holy crap. What WASN’T I thinking? Yeah. Go big. Or don’t go.

Inhabiting the Drawing

January 25, 2015

This Ventura drawing, the Earth Mother who is covered with things from the Earth, she’s inhabiting my brain…she’s sat down right in the middle of the cerebrum and is having her lunch, spilling crumbs into the connections that allow me to get work done, to clean the kitchen, to cut a new screen frame, to dig the tree holes. At the gym yesterday morning, she was right there, drawing animals onto her arms for me, trying out all the options…raccoon? Nope. Cat? Not on the arm…somewhere else. Whale? No, all the water animals are up in the hair. Or something. I’m not sure. I’ll think about it. By late afternoon, it was a fox. I’m not sure why, but the right arm was definitely a fox. So I sat on the floor with a bunch of fox(y) pictures pulled up on my iPad (eyepad) trying to decide how to fit it on her arm, how to make the arm be filled, what to do with the hand. It just spilled out.

And then making dinner, the heron was there, from a picture I pinned on Pinterest earlier from a human body painted as a heron…Shannon Holt…it’s your fault. So the left arm needed to be a heron…I didn’t have time or mental space to draw that until tonight…

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And I’m debating trying to put a wing in there falling off the right side, under the hand, but I need to enlarge the drawing and add on to the right side and the bottom, and figure out what the hell I’m doing with the rest of it. Because it has to be done in 5 1/2 months, along with two other small quilts, one of which NOW has to be done by April 1…more on that later. So I don’t think I can do the whole body, but if it’s just a torso, it still needs to end somehow and it needs to make sense to me, so all the options are running through my brain, like a flipbook on speed, because really, this drawing has inhabited my brain and I am just sitting here waiting for the reveal. The hard drive is humming. It will make sense at some point. In fact, after I took that photo, I sat back and watched TV for a bit, maybe 10 minutes, and then this happened…

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Because it was supposed to…that’s what’s so hard about people asking me what this or that in my art means…I don’t know. I was sitting there and the drawing happened. I can’t explain it half the time. I know where the heron came from, but the fox? No clue. The cat made it in, though, can you see? By the way, I think my small-quilt focus for the summer will be cats, like I did the birds. Keep them small and simple, draw from existing cats in my quilts. We’ll see if that works. So many were bought by friends and family…I can’t depend on them to pay my bills this summer.

So tomorrow, I will drag this to Not-Kinko’s and enlarge it 250-300% (haven’t decided yet) and then I will make a decision about a heron wing (I think that decision is already made) and the lower torso and what happens at the bottom. And then, much to Julie’s relief, I will number the pieces and see how bad it will be. Look mom! No nudity! No politics! No violence! I still like it though. That’s what’s hard about the birds…they’re easy enough to do, but I don’t get any art high off of them. They’re the equivalent of my mom making placemats and pillows when she was weaving…and that’s fine. Where I’m at in my life, finances are tight…I need to find ways to collect extra income for college costs. So this might be it.

So then I have two pieces that have to be done in recycled fabrics…with some weirdness about the definition of recycled. So I pulled the upholstery samples apart and divested them of most of their sticky labels…

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I did not spend hours doing that. What a lame group of colors. Ugh.

Honestly, I’m stuck at the moment…

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What the hell am I going to use for the background? I thought about using all the lighter colors and piecing them or just plopping them down on a base fabric. And I thought about painting over them a la Deidre Adams…she pieces all these discordant pieces and then paints a bunch of stuff over them until they become beautiful fiber pieces. But I don’t even need that. I just need a semi-unified background. And I don’t want to trash my machine…with the whole sewing-through-paint thang. Fuck. I really need to just let this one mellow in my head…fucking ferment really. I’m annoyed by it.

The second one, I’m using Mariah’s batik leftovers from all her quilts for that. I spent time yesterday and today sorting them into color piles, and though I don’t think I have any flesh-colored pieces large enough for the main female figure, it’s possible she should be blue or green anyway. So whatever. I’ll finish sorting and then decide.

It does mean I don’t really have something I can come home to from work and do without any brain power. Everything requires thought, reflection, processing time. Ugh.

So I really flailed this evening. Because of all that. I guess I could iron the cancer hands together, except I’m tired. So maybe I should start the week off right and go to bed. Everyone else did.

Jan 25 15 015 small

Double ugh. Really flailing. Hey, this is the reality of being an artist. Some days, my brain is so inundated with decisions about how and what and even why that I can’t even take a step out of this room without feeling like I’m doing the wrong thing. Or without being convinced that it’s going to really suck.

I know. Just keep working. Cutting things up and drawing what’s in there, watching her spitting cracker crumbs into the machinery. Ironing things together. Trying to make sense of it all. Trying to find a way to make what I want and fulfill a million obligations…and be happy in the midst of all that. Tie all the pieces together in my head. Spill them out on the paper once the knots are strong enough to hold together. I’m so very much in my head right now. Distracted. Not a bad thing…just a nasty knot in the embroidery floss. It will take time to pick it apart. And that’s who I am. I always pick it apart. I don’t ever just cut it off and start over. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad…it just is.

The Dream Police Are Inside of My Head

January 23, 2015

So this has been in my head all morning…

It’s just so wrong. This is not the best way to start a Friday.

I could show you pictures of cut-up fabric pieces…I cut out everything on the hands except the spiky bits, because I forgot my tiny little scissors. But I can do that tonight. And then iron them. Yeah. Maybe. I’m already tired and I had to get up a million hours ago to take the girlchild to a 7 AM doctor’s appointment.

And Cheap Trick is vibrating in my head. I slept like crap all week. There’s an animal that’s rummaging through the leaves outside my bedroom every night between 2 and 4 AM. I’m hoping it’s a raccoon and not a skunk, because I’ve been skunked before and then can’t sleep in my room for a few nights until my eyes stop stinging. Not in the mood for that. But it wakes me up every night. And my neighbor has been leaving (in his dump truck) at 4:48 in the morning. And I have these weird-ass dreams and the rummaging mammal and rumbling dump truck keep coming into the dreams and fucking with me and I wake up in a hot sweat, pulling blankets off, scaring the crap out of the cat, reaching for my water bottle, convinced I’ve been hiking through the desert for days. WHAT THE FUCK. Women of a certain age…we just write sleep off. Don’t tell me that my health depends on my getting 7 hours of sleep a night if you can’t fucking fix the hormonal shit that is messing with my sleep. That’s just not fair. Dammit, I’ve had periods for HOW MANY YEARS? And then I was pregnant and puked my guts out for 40 weeks straight and gave birth with no drugs and nursed them for how many months and NOW? Now you are gonna mess with me even more. Intelligent design my ass. (someone should do a search on my blog and see how many times that phrase pops up.)

Grades are due dammit. Yesterday, while my students were watching a video and taking notes, I had my headphones in one ear and was watching their videos on the computer or the three tablets I currently have collected in my room (one is my school-issued one; two are from another teacher). I’m ALMOST DONE. Except for all those kids who haven’t sent me their scripts or a YouTube link. Honestly, I guess Cheap Trick is better than some of the videos I’ve seen.

I could also show you a pile of Wonder Under pieces…I cut one of the larger quilts out last night, but didn’t start the second one. I could do that tonight too. OR I could finish grades so I don’t have to think about them after that.

AND I want to work on the non-nude Earth Mother, as someone called it. So maybe once I get home from the girlchild’s soccer game, make dinner, clean the kitchen, and start laundry, I can cut things out and draw (sounds like I’ll be falling asleep on the couch, if you ask me).

I do sound cranky. You’re right. I kind of am.

There’s a new exhibit in Yerba Buena (I have to admit I have no freakin’ idea where that is, assuming San Francisco area) that sounds interesting…maybe…Riot Grrrls hit the scene right after I graduated from college, and I have to admit to being mostly ignorant back then, due to living in San Diego, uber-conservative town when it comes to art, but so watch this…

And then maybe you’ll want to check it out. The concept of Alien She is something I definitely felt in art classes in college. The majority of the students were female, but the curriculum and professors were heavily male. They weren’t bad professors. They were just almost all men. I had one female art professor I actually respected. At UCI, they had to be practicing artists, exhibiting out in the real world, and that made it interesting…although I suspect all art professors ARE artists, I know I had some when I wasn’t at UCI who hadn’t exhibited in over 10 years. Not really in touch with what might help us then, eh? Not that UCI prepared ANY of us for the real art world. I don’t know if going to an actual art college would have helped with that…I just know I wasn’t allowed to go to art school until I had a “real” degree (my real degree is in Comparative Literature, which might actually be more useless than an art degree). So I never did. Go to art school that is. I suspect the real art school is leaving school where they help you and provide access to all this expensive equipment and exhibit space, and then you have to do it all by yourself. That was much much harder.

I feel comfortable being an artist now. It’s not that it’s not frustrating to only be able to make art a few hours a day by foregoing sleep. It’s not that I don’t get pissed off when I get rejected from show after show. I do feel absolutely at peace though with the fact that I AM an artist and it is a more crucial part of me than any job I’ve ever had. And although openings are uncomfortable because I don’t like to EXPLAIN my work, and people always want the summary and then every detail explained (hell, it’s not that SIMPLE), it’s still nice to go and realize that people you don’t even know, have never met, who don’t know anything about you, can look at your work and enjoy it or be enlightened by it or whatever. And the shit in my head, now I can just sit down with pen and paper and make mistakes and know that eventually it will come out. I wasn’t able to do that 25 years ago. And that’s all good. Now I need to get this damn song out of my head.


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