A Saturday Suddenly Free…Sort of…

March 21, 2015

Well, I was supposed to be leaving for a soccer tournament any minute now, but girlchild is too sick to play, or even to get out of bed, so I guess I am the lucky one who gets to stay home with her. She’s asleep still, so it’s pretty easy, but last night’s whining and nose-blowing drove me out of the living room, so then she started texting me things like “MOOOMMMYYY.” Yup. She’s 17. Anyway, I was planning on getting a bunch of grading done on the soccer field, so I will probably still try to do some of that, and certainly I was going to stitch on birds, but I think I’d rather do some yardwork (seriously, it’s getting that bad), since it’s currently kind of cool in temperature out there. Yes, I realize there’s still snow everywhere else, as boychild reminded me, but we’ve been in the 80s on and off all week, so it is Spring and the plants are going bonkers. But it’s like I suddenly got a free day, a Saturday without any preplanned stuff, except that I am so capable of filling it almost immediately.

Yes, I will do art as well. Don’t panic. In fact, I finished the bathtub drawing last night…

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This one’s all about menopause.

Here’s the first one I did, which still needs a head (ran out of paper)…

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Perhaps it needs two heads. I kinda like no head on the one in the water…It’s a little disturbing.

Then I did this one…which honestly is the one I think for sure needs to become a quilt…

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Wait. Except that’s not done. Turns out about 6 weeks later, I added stuff…

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Because it’s not just about what’s in the bathtub…it’s about what surrounds the bathtub too. I still have ideas for this. I like the parts that are submerged and slightly showing, like the fingers and toes. And not knowing what’s under the water. And I just thought of something to add to the one I finished last night too! Anyway. It’s all distracting me from what I really need to be working on (but that’s not a bad thing…a little distraction like this is beneficial to the artmaking process).

Last night, I sorted the browns for the recycled quilt…

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There’s a lot of them, which is good. Funny…Mariah tends towards mostly browns and blues, like my daughter. We’ll have to see if the quilt tends that way too. It might have to.

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I also sorted the grays, which took like 13 seconds and I didn’t even photograph, because she only had like 5 of them. I have yellows and blacks and a pile of owl fabrics that don’t fit in any specific colorway. So I could stop procrastinating and pick those fabrics for that quilt today. It’s small. It won’t take long. (trying to persuade myself…it’s gonna be a challenge to only be able to use what’s in the box.)

And then I spent over two hours cutting tiny pieces out…

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At some point, I had to stop and do arm and finger exercises, because they were cramping, and the muscles in my forearm were definitely sore after Thursday night’s cutting session. I’ve actually woken up with a swollen hand before. It feels OK today though, probably because of the exercises. We did figure out that the elbow pain from the Fall is not from weightlifting…it’s from moving the quilt under the sewing machine. So I have to wear an elbow brace while sewing. It’s an extreme sport, people. An extreme sport. The pile on the left is cut out. Trash is in the middle. So colorful. Still to be cut out is on the right. I’m over 4 hours in…still thinking 12 hours total, but maybe not? I don’t know. I get distracted and have to take a technology break, check Instagram to let my brain recover from staring at pencil lines on Wonder Under. That’s part of the task time too…persuading the brain not to give up.

OK. Girlchild is awake. Not happy about it, but being upright when you can’t breathe due to snottiness is better than lying down. Gonna get some work done, whatever that consists of…garden, house, school, art. Hoping for some recharging time later…

Why I Need a Robot

March 20, 2015

So. The good news is that the girlchild doesn’t have strep, her face has stopped swelling up like a balloon, the cat is back home and feisty about her meds (might be worms), and I actually had dinner before 9 PM last night. I really need a wife. Seriously. A MadMen wife who has dinner on the table when I get home and has done all the laundry and cleaned the house. Except I know that’s totally sexist. OK, I need a robot wife. Totally. I do. Right now, she’s making my breakfast AND my lunch and she made a nice little surprise dessert for me and is hiding it in my lunchbag, because she knows yesterday was a clusterfuck even though all ended well (OK, except for some seriously tiring and frustrating moments with teens, not all of them mine). Is that a bad thing to wish for?

At some point yesterday night, I started cutting out pieces for the Ventura quilt, but I was sitting there in my office, because I couldn’t sit on the couch, because there was a dead body in there (girlchild didn’t leave until after 8), and I was getting crankier and crankier, feeling absolutely disconnected from humanity and frustrated with my existence and my inability to get truly healthy, let alone to the gym like I was supposed to yesterday (ha! at the vet until 7:30 PM) and wondering how to change all that shit, because someone said something about the evening getting better than the day (well, the NIGHT at that point, because I spent the evening at the vet and well into the night in a texting argument with the girlchild that I kept trying to get out of because there was no point), and I thought…well how the fuck is the evening supposed to get better? Because I’m cutting out 900 tiny pieces of fabric? Because I’m watching TV by myself while cutting out 900 pieces of fabric? I mean, yes, it’s relaxing on some level, it’s very meditative, cutting those beasties out, running the scissors along, considering as I cut, what is the most efficient way to cut this tiny piece out or do I want to wait until I’m ironing so I don’t lose it and where are my tiny sharp scissors and maybe I should take that JoAnns coupon and buy me some better scissors (there are a LOT of things that run through my head when I’m making stuff…it’s like Babble City). What WOULD make it better? Ice cream. Cheesecake. Nope, both unnecessary and fattening. A visit from Santa Claus? Eh. A robot cleaning my house? Yeah. THAT would make it better. How about someone sitting next to me and having a conversation and not yelling at me for being stupid or insensitive (I am mostly not either of those things) or complaining or whatever. And joking about whatever we were watching. Or commiserating. Yup. That would have made it better. I need a robot that can do that. And maybe give me a backrub while it’s sitting there. I get a little of that (the connection part…not the backrubs), but not enough apparently to recharge my depleted personal batteries at the moment.

As it was, I was relieved to have everyone more well than I had thought they were in the morning. And then I stopped cutting and got my sketchbook…and the other bathtub drawing that I tried here…

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I stared at it for a bit, and then I sat there and drew most of a new one last night…

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It’s not done. It needs animals. And maybe a robot! But I got the hands and legs where I wanted them. And it was finer than the other one. And the whole bathtub got in the picture. Yeah. It was really a relief to draw it. It’s been in my head for weeks. There’s another one too. But I don’t know when I’ll be able to draw that one. It’s big.

Before I did all that, while dinner was cooking and girlchild was yelling, I sorted more recycled fabrics from Mariah…the oranges…

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And then the reds…

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Which included one of my favorites…

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I’ve never had the one with the hearts though. I’ll have to find a way to use that in the recycled quilt. Or something.

All folded up and ready to be in the next quilt…

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I’m keeping them separate from the rest of my stash right now, so I can make the quilt from them. Then they’ll go play with the others. It really is a random bunch. I still have browns and blacks to sort…and a few yellows. And I never finished the blues.

Then I settled down and cut out little tiny pieces of Ventura for about two hours…

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Cut out pieces on the left, trash in the middle, pieces left to cut on the right. It’s gonna be a while.

But I got started. And I’ll try to draw more tonight, to finish up that bathtub…and someday, maybe I’ll have enough of the required shit out of the way so I can start MAKING the bathtub series (ha!). And a robot to clean the bathtub…that would also be good. Actually, enough money to rip out one of the bathrooms and redo it with a NICE bathtub, because ours suck and I miss having baths (they are very relaxing), so that robot needs to come with a trust fund and a remodeling routine. Yup. Robots. That’s the solution.

Catching Cancer

March 13, 2015

My students sometimes think all diseases are contagious, even cancer, and you have to explain that some things are genetic, or inherited, and some things are mutations, like cancer, which can be caused by things like smoking or UV radiation, but can also be somewhat random, and then there are the things that are contagious. But for a while, I always have a group of some kids who must have cotton balls in their ears who think not only that rocks are alive, but that you can catch cancer from the kid sitting next to you. They also think Mountain Dew can keep your sperm from getting a girl pregnant, so keep that in mind.

I drew these hands because…this is convoluted, but this is how my brain works too, so hang with me…I was doing the FFAC donation quilt, which benefits cancer research, and I was flailing for ideas, so I took my sketchbook to my monthly stitching meeting with two creative minds, so I could try to get something down. They talked a lot about ideas and I did some weird sketches, and I don’t think I did the final FFAC drawing until later, but they did try to help. Because of that, one of them, who is a breast-cancer survivor, sent me a link the following day to some breast-cancer cells, which honestly, I had never closely looked at, and they are freaking spiky scary-looking beasts.


So I was sitting in a bar later that week (like you do), waiting for a friend to show up, and I started drawing these things…in a hand. And I couldn’t tell if the hand was catching it or letting it go or just being spiked all to hell by it…

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And later I did another drawing…

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And then two people showed interest in those. So I made them into quilts…this is Catching Cancer 1

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(10″w x 11″ h) And I should admit that I screwed up when I traced the Wonder Under on this one, which is why it’s reversed.

And here is Catching Cancer 2

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(10 1/2″ w x 12 3/4″ h) Which I finished Wednesday night? Yes. After the banquet. When my brain wandered off into depresso world.

It only took that long because I was sick for most of February. And the first one is already sold. The second one? Maybe. There was interest, so I am waiting to hear.

I’m lucky in that my DNA has not mutated into these spiky fuckers (they really are terrorful things), although y’all know I’ve had more mammograms than your average 40-some-year-old due to some weird shadow beast who lurks in my left breast. I was glad to make these, glad they will find good homes.

Now I just need to finish all THIS stuff…

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So I can get onto the OTHER stuff I need to get done. Tonight? After gym and grading, maybe I will be able to function well. Not the last two nights, although last night, I had to create an assignment and a webpage for school today. Someone needs to tell Google that teachers don’t want to make assignments at the last minute. Give us a scheduling button, you dumbasses. All I can think is that they don’t know how to schedule themselves. So yeah, I was working at 11:30 PM last night. Do you hear that politicians? Huh?

Yeah. Moving on. Survive school. Make art. Maybe sometimes sleep.

This Is Not It

March 4, 2015

Nope. Not it. I mean, I drew it, but it was late and I was kinda tired and you can tell because the lines are all loosey goosey and that’s not how it’s supposed to be. So maybe this is a study for the final one.

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I mean, it’s not a bad drawing, and it certainly has fewer pieces than many of my quilts, and I know what I was trying to do, but it’s not it. It’s OK. I have the technology. I can draw a new one. The main idea is there. It’s not like I don’t do multiple versions of drawings on a regular basis, especially if it’s for a particular theme or show. Why wouldn’t I do a quick speedy draw…seriously, this took maybe 20 minutes, and most of that was trying to figure out the fingers around the wine glass…which I really like. I think that’s the only part I really like. No, that’s not true. There’s a fluidity of line in there that I like. So I’m not knocking it out. I’m not.

This is just not it.

So when I don’t draw for a while (it’s been a month or so), my brain doesn’t forget how…it just needs to remember how to hold the pen and control it, to let the art brain have the pen, to let it go. (please don’t sing that damn song) I wasn’t able to really do that last night. Maybe tonight.

So once I’d purged that from my hand (brain?), I cut out more Wonder Under. I’m hoping to get to the ironing stage in the next few days, which means getting this done and ignoring the fact that it will take me an hour to sort all the damn pieces.

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I’ve been cutting for 4 1/2 hours. My guess would be another 2 1/2 to go? It’s a total guess, by the way. I could make an educated guess, based on previous quilts, but that would presume I am way more awake at the moment than I am. OK. Apparently I’m lame. The last bigger quilt I made, I spent about the same amount of time tracing pieces, but I was done trimming Wonder Under in just under 5 hours. Either that, or these pieces are more complicated. I could go for that…because all those overlapping leaves and freakin’ feathers take forever to trace? (but they’re easier to cut out)…I don’t know. Or I’m just slow.

If this thing is really going to take 80 hours to finish, I need to get going. I have 3 1/2 weeks to Spring Break…I need it ironed to fabric and trimmed by then. That’s about 25 hours of work. Yikes! There’s a soccer tournament in there too. I can do this though. I just need to work smart. And not get sick again. Speaking of working smart, I probably need to go to work as well…that whole teaching thang. It pays the bills so I can buy more fabric.

Poking at Me…

March 3, 2015

So apparently after mostly recovering from pneumonia (I’m still coughing on and off), exercise can kick your ass. I finally got back into it last night, and I needed a nap afterwards. This is proof of old age right there! It’s OK. It was a really long day already, and an occasional nap is not a bad thing. I can either nap in the late afternoon (OK, it was early evening), or I can stay up really late, or I can do both! Like last night.

It did mean I started dinner late and then I was working on grades, which went even later. I have five things that still need to go in the gradebook, but I’m not collecting two of them until tomorrow, and the other three will get handled on Friday. Luckily, they are not grading things…they are just calculations of stuff the kids are supposed to do all trimester, so it won’t take much time. I want to be done on Friday night. Seriously done. And I will be. I still need to grade makeup tests, which I hate doing, but whatever. And then on Wednesday, kids are handing in the last unit and taking a test, but those will go to the next trimester, because there’s no way I can grade them in time. I’m really trying to be organized!

I’m trying to be organized because the art…she calls me. I was reading entry forms on Saturday (trying to be organized again) and one blurb made an entire drawing just pop right into my head. That’s two that are residing up there. I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to get them on paper. I keep thinking about it, but it takes mental energy and space to do that, and I haven’t found that yet. Last night, after dinner and grades, I had choices about what to do next: trim the two cancer hands and put bindings on them? Ugh. Sounds like decision-making. Finish quilting the upholstery nude? Ugh. Sounds tiring. OK, then there’s only one thing left (besides drawing, which I had already dumped off the table, due to a lack of available brain power): cutting out Wonder Under for the Ventura piece…

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So that’s what I did. It was sufficiently brainless enough that I could handle it. Obviously, I had way more available brain power over the weekend (because I gave up on the grading?).

I also traced some stuff on freezer paper…

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This is the piece I’m not allowed to show. In fact, I don’t know when I’m allowed to show it…it’s not my pattern anyway. This is what I work on at soccer games at the moment. I really should be finishing all those birds I’ve been working on for the last two years, but I haven’t been in the mood. The more tense the game is, the less I can do complicated embroidery. Just stitching bits of wool together seems to be all I can handle.

In other news, the girlchild should start hearing back from colleges in the next 2-4 weeks. No stress here! Seriously, I’m not looking forward to it…we know she’ll get in to a few of them at least, but then how does she choose? Hard to know…wait on the financial aid stuff, I think. The boychild really only had two choices…so it made it much easier.

Meanwhile, those two drawings in my head are poking at me like small children…hungry to be released. Maybe I should find a way to get one of them started today…or tomorrow…she says, looking at her calendar and all the shit that is piled upon it (metaphorical, vague shit…not actual shit). It’s possible I am overextended. As usual.

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.


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