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.

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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.


Late Nights in My Head

January 24, 2015

It is apparently a Nirvana morning…which is definitely better than the Cheap Trick from yesterday, which haunted me all fucking Friday. It didn’t help that I spent most of the day hacking student accounts (they do give us the passwords for a reason) and trying to track down their projects so their grades weren’t absolutely horrendous…just sort of horrendous (Student: “I know we did a couple of minutes of video!” Me: “I have 36 seconds.” Student: shocked look). My brain needed a huge dose of sugar in the AM (which I did not give it) and by the end of the day, was just whimpering and refusing to cook dinner or even get off the couch. It’s OK, the pizza guy remembers me. He’s this old guy who’s scared of the dog who died almost two years ago, so he always calls from the driveway so I can put her somewhere safe (Um. Dude. She’s in a box in my bedroom. Yeah. I know that’s weird, but whatever.). And then he tells me he missed me. Nice guy.

Anyway, so I started by blasting music this morning because girlchild was up early for a college interview. She’s leaving an hour and a half early, because she IS like me in some ways. I’d rather be there and know where I need to be and sit in the car and read for an hour than be rushing around trying to find the place. Boychild? Not so much. I think he is like his dad in that he has faith that it will take X minutes to get there and it always takes X minutes. In my case, I know X is gonna get fucked by Y and Z and then beat up in the parking lot by a gang of punctuation marks. And there’s some things you just don’t want to be late for…

Anyway, I’m finally trusting Pandora to not fuck with my head any more (and there are so many variables to why that works right now, I can’t even tell you…there ARE some things I don’t write about to the whole world, believe it or not), so I have a soundtrack this morning while I’m trying to collect my thoughts after staying up Way Too Late. I don’t know why I do that. I really don’t. I think I hate lying in bed and not being able to sleep, so I just stay up until the only thing I can do when I get into bed is pass out. Last night, I started working on grades at 6:30 while waiting for the pizza guy (OK, really, I started at the soccer game), and I was done at 10:45. It really doesn’t usually take that long, but the server for the grade program was freakin’ slow. It kept hanging, so I would log out and log back in to get it to respond. There was a lot of wait time. But it’s done. And I even figured out how to make it use my alternate grading scale, because I don’t believe a 64% should be a D-…62%? Sure. But let’s give those other kids a break.

So I finished grades on a Friday night for the first time in a million years. Why? Because I don’t want to think about school all weekend. Although I have to plan next week a bit. But for a short, 4-day week, this one kicked my butt mentally. Field trip drama, sick teacher, kids flailing on post-holiday behavior? Drives teachers to drink. Really.

When I was done, it was time to play with fabric. I wanted to draw, but didn’t have the mental energy left to do so. Welcome to my world. I didn’t have my little scissors with me Thursday night, so I didn’t cut out all the little spiky bits on the cancer cells…so I did that last night…

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Them’s some freakin’ tiny ass pieces. Sharp tiny scissors…I didn’t use them in the old days, because I didn’t want to waste the sharp points, but now I just figure they are part of my tool set. If I need to buy more, so be it. It’s no different than buying more fabric or Wonder Under. I don’t know why I think of scissors as being such sacred devices. Maybe because Mom had the same pairs of scissors the whole time I was growing up and I would constantly get it trouble for using the wrong ones for paper or fabric or food or whatever. They’re not that expensive any more…easy to replace when they get screwed up, or just take them in for sharpening. They aren’t your great-grandmother’s scissors that she used to cut the umbilical cord on her 4th child.

When I was done with those things, I cut out the other drawing’s worth of Wonder Under…

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Really, I should have gone to bed. It was really late. But my head gets in that late-night place where sleep is the last thing it wants to do. I somehow start to wake up again. I wanted to draw at that point, but kept looking at the clock and arguing with myself. The mom part eventually won and took myself off to bed, where I again slept badly. Something about noise and brain doing weird stuff in the middle of the night. I wake up and put my pillow over my head to deaden the sounds of Kitten cleaning herself, or I reach out to touch her, because she is my middle-of-the-night safety…when you wake up and adrenaline is rushing through you and you don’t know why (could just be hormones or a raccoon or someone tromping quietly through your hallway towards your bedroom…you just never know). I get so tired sometimes I think, well, if it is someone in the hallway, they aren’t going to be able to find anything and they’re going to trip over the box in the hallway, so I’ll just go back to sleep and find them on the floor in the morning, head conked by hitting the door on their way down.

The brain is really not interested in the calm meditative things that help it sleep. I should say that I think meditation was the best thing I did for myself over a year ago. Even though I’m not doing it every day at the moment (time!), I seem to have trained the mom part of the brain, the part in charge, to use the meditation techniques without even thinking about it.

There was soccer last night…

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Lots of yelling and screaming.

Google Drive rejected me this morning…

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I don’t blame it. I’ve been fucking with it for three days now. It should reject me. Seriously, what do they want this message to actually MEAN? Like it’s in Timbuktu and will be back in May or the phone line is out? Or it’s on an extended lunch break? I just don’t know. Is Google Drive taking a shower and will call back later? I need more details.

OK, so I need to go to the gym so I can read my book without feeling guilty. Then I will come back and pack up all the boychild’s stuff (he did finally answer after two texts and an email). Then I will do stuff I want to do for the next 20 hours or so. I might draw. I might not. It’s hard to say. But whatever I do, it’s to make up for all the brain cells I punished this week with my job. I think that’s what the late-night musings and inability to put myself to bed mean…it’s a cry for time that is not ruled by grades and assignments and behavior mods and educational technology and interventions and all that crap. Take my brain out for a walk. Feed it something good. Let it watch something and just hang out. It deserves that.


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.


Setting (Crazy) Goals

January 22, 2015

Yesterday in class I explained the whole (very controversial) topic of right-brain/left-brain, and we did a fun little quiz to get kids to think about what they’re good at and why and what might control that and how that might help them study (yeah, I’m mean…I relate it back to doing better in school). I test right down the middle, whether it’s relevant or not…which makes sense because I’m an ex-editor and science teacher who makes art when she should be sleeping. One thing we talked about was writing to-do lists (very few 7th-graders do that) and setting goals (their goals are often crazy, like buy a mansion by the time I’m 19…I don’t think I ever had that as a goal). But I told them that I set big long-term goals in my head, and then I have shorter-term goals, like stuff to finish by June (quilts), and then really short-term goals, like what can I get done this week or tonight. If I didn’t do that, then yes, I’d probably sit on the couch all night and watch a lot more TV. Hell, I still watch the TV…I’m just never NOT doing something else at the same time.

For example, I have quilt class tonight. I have it one Thursday a month. Knowing that motivates me to get shit done that I can work at while I’m there, so it’s not a waste of time. I do like hanging out with my quilt friends, but I need to get stuff done. I can’t waste two hours and do nothing. So I was grading all these videos last night from the last project, and after 11 videos in a row that weren’t more than 17 seconds long and weren’t all edited together like they were supposed to be and didn’t even make sense, because I think all three of the girls had heart attacks for no known reason (pandemic! OK, no), I couldn’t look at any more videos. I made it through one tablet, trying to find them all and send them all to myself or whatever, and at the end of it, my head was hurting and it was 9:30 and I needed to be doing something that wasn’t painful.

Fabric!

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I guess cancer cells are green today. I’ll have to think about what background fabric these will go on.

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I used the same fabrics on them, mostly. I actually crawled under the desk where all the new drawers of pink fabrics are…I think I need to install a light under there…seriously.

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It’s too hard to see the colors under there. I have to pull the drawers out. A light would be cool. Yes, I’m still watching The Walking Dead while making art. I don’t know that it’s had an effect…I already make quilts about body parts.

When I was done, I thought first of all, it’s not very late, maybe 10:30…second of all, I don’t know that these few pieces that now need trimming is enough to entertain me for a whole 2-hour meeting. I remembered that I had Wonder Under that needed trimming from one I traced Sunday night, but I still had one to trace…so that’s what I did…

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It took a lot longer than I expected, and then once I had started, it’s so small, that I just wanted to finish it instead of being responsible and logical and going to bed. So I did.

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Really, if you’re sitting there berating yourself that you don’t get as much done as I do (I hear this all the time), pat yourself on the back for getting enough sleep and being a responsible adult, because getting enough sleep protects you from heart disease and diabetes, and I suck at that.

It’s just how my brain works, though. It was a long, shitty, difficult, exhausting day and I needed to feel better at the end of it. And I did. I felt like I had achieved something, and now I have stuff to work on tonight, and hopefully this weekend I will make a decision about what I’m making these two smaller quilts out of, because I’m not a fan of the upholstery samples, but I think I’m just gonna try it with one…maybe. I don’t know. Annoying.

Probably this is where someone should remind me that grades are due by Tuesday, and I have to get all the projects graded even if I think it might kill me (that is NOT important…you are a teacher and your job is to work yourself into the ground for minimal pay). Like today. It’s OK…the kids are getting a video today, and I remembered my headphones, so I can watch the videos while they are taking notes about the brain. I’m no dummy. I’m a multitasking queen.

I also want to get the top part of the Earth Mother torso drawing done (yes, Julie, you’re right…it will have 13 trillion pieces in it) so I can decide if she’s allowed to have legs. Probably not. Maybe she’ll be in a mountain. An erupting volcano! I read somewhere that the way I’ve been drawing magma coming up from the core is incorrect, that instead of these long tubes carrying it to the surface, it’s more like a lava lamp, with big blobs of magma heading close to the surface through the crust. This is not what’s in the 6th-grade textbook that I used 7 years ago to teach honors 6th-grade science. So maybe she’ll be sitting in a lava lamp. (Yes, I totally simplified all that science…I have to do that all the time. You should see me re-enact DNA replication in the classroom.)

OK, it’s highly possible I could be using my time more wisely right this second. By the way, the boychild is back at college and refusing to answer texts again (ah, communication). It’s OK. I just won’t send the box of stuff he left behind until he answers. Because I’m evil like that. Girlchild is on her last day of finals, so hopefully screaming will subside to below histrionic levels…for at least a day or two. And I have a new stove…so I can cook things without thinking about HOW I cook them or what I cook them ON. That makes life easier. But it’s white, so I’m thinking about taking a Sharpie to it…like henna for appliances. Now that’s setting goals. Not crazy really.


What Next?

January 20, 2015

So I’ve mentioned before that I have some other shows coming up in the next few months where I will need work, and I finally sat down with the dates and tried to figure it all out. I think I’m going to have to write an entire post on Ventura and my thought process…because I want to kick them in the butt right now…but that’s a personal issue. It is true, as I have been reminded, that I don’t need to enter every show that is presented to me. So I guess I’m all over the map right now.

I had some people express interest in the cancer cell in hand drawings I did, so I thought, “those are small.” Yeah. We know where that goes. Anyway, I traced each of them on Wonder Under the other night…

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And then I trimmed the Wonder Under pieces as well, so they’re ready to be ironed onto fabric.

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I honestly don’t have a plan for that at the moment. I’m buried in grading, although I got a significant chunk done in the last two days, so maybe tomorrow night is not an unreasonable plan. It’s not like it would take long. The biggest issue is what color to make those damn spiky balls of cancer nasty. Something that contrasts with the flesh tones and looks awful. Or not. I just don’t know. Sometimes things just have to roll around in my head until they make sense.

So then I looked at the next show I know is coming, which will be the end of June. We have to deliver two pieces by the weekend of June 13. Two pieces? Damn. I signed that contract and didn’t even notice TWO. So they need to be smallish. Plus I don’t think the gallery is very large. Plus we have to use recycled materials, most notably a bunch of upholstery fabrics that came down here from Los Angeles. I grabbed the most-lightweight neutrals I could find (everything else looked like fucking upholstery)…

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But because they’re in those sample books, all of them have to be divested of the sticky paper. Ugh.

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Tried to persuade the girlchild this was a fun project. Tried to persuade the cat to get involved. I got no takers. And they’re long skinny pieces. So there’s that. And here’s my complaint. These aren’t really used fabrics. I consider recycling using fabrics from clothing I got from a friend or my closet or the thrift shop. I actually have a ton of that in my crazy quilt stash, but they are also all fabrics that are a pain in the butt to quilt with, so I’m not really that keen on it. The other option is to use all the batik offcuts from my friend Mariah, but there are some pieces that are too big for her stuff…but I could MAKE fabric from a bunch of smaller pieces…cuz that’s not crazy at all.

Still thinking this through. However, I did tentatively already pick the two drawings for those two quilts…

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And I numbered them…

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And then I stayed up way too late Sunday night because I was in a mood and I had Monday off, and I traced one onto Wonder Under…

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I am not crazy. I was accompanied by furry beasts…

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Calli and Midnight…Calli just got more dorky as the night wore on…

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Yeah. So at least that process is started. I kind of decided that however much I WANT to do a totally different big piece by Spring Break, the June deadline for those other two means I can’t do that. I need to finish these first. I was wiffle-waffling on that, but then I looked up the Ventura show.

Fuck. So here’s the deal with Ventura. We have a big space in the Ventura County government buildings. GOVERNMENT. So no nudity, no violence, no politic leanings. So I start running through my head. Hmn. I look through my big drawings. I even pick one, and then realize that it has a nipple. See, I don’t even SEE the nudity as nudity. And then I have multiple arguments in my head. Is a man with no shirt on considered a nude? Is it political to make a quilt about pollution? Can babies wearing diapers count as a nude? Is it violent to have babies flying through the air? OK, I know that sounds violent, but I was trying to come up with a new version of a gender equality quilt, the balancing act of parenthood, and I had babies up in the air, but not in a bad way. Someone was definitely gonna catch those suckers. The stuff I normally do my quilts on is chock full of political nudity with violent tendencies, I guess.

Sigh. It’s true I don’t have to be in this show, and since it’s juried and Ventura has the last word, no matter what I do, I may not be in. But I wanted to try (why? I don’t know. It’s a fucking stupid challenge.). So I started trying to draw another Earth Mother. So I drew the outline of a woman’s torso (this thing is definitely going to a second page) in pencil (I never do pencil) and then started drawing in pen over it, with the plan of covering the figure with plants and animals, so there would be no nudity…she would be wearing the clothing of the earth, water, fire, plants, and animals. Air too I guess. I could do that.

This is not easy, but here’s the start…

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It may not work. But if it does…I guess I will enter it into the Ventura show, because I don’t have anything else at all that will fit in that show, I think. Nothing without police caution tape or guns or nipples or uteri or naked baby butts or polluted wastewater or coffins or underground skeletons (are they political, violent, or nude?). Hey. I could do a whole quilt of skeletons. Eh. Ventura is pissing me off.


Feeding the Artist Brain

January 17, 2015

The logical thing to do last night, after the first exhausting week back at school, would have been to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I yawned 700 times at the soccer game, fell asleep on the couch after dinner with my computer on my lap (apparently grading), snoring away while the kids stared. I was fucking tired. But no. The artist brain was whining, complaining. It wanted to finish the binding on that little quilt. It wanted it done. AND. AND. (it wanted to draw. it told me. i had ignored it for weeks…)

So the thing with the artist brain is that lots of us have this tendency to create, to make, but it’s harder to get off the couch and go into the studio and make than it is to just go to bed. I really should have gone to bed. But then I wouldn’t have the start of this drawing…

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Because that whole thing started at about 11 PM. And I kept feeding it with tea and wine and Walking Dead, and it kept spilling out…and at some point, it stopped…even though there’s a whole left side to fill in. But wow. I always forget how good it feels to just push the pen around on paper, to stare at the paper for 20 minutes sometimes, waiting for the image to spill out, and then it’s magically there. I don’t even remember uncapping the pen and making the lines. It’s just there. It’s not magic. It’s years of feeding the artist brain…of giving it the time and space and honestly respect to create, even though grades are due and I haven’t finished grading projects and at some point I’m just going to have to suck it up and be a teacher and do the work. You know, in ten years, I probably won’t be a teacher. I will still be an artist. So yes, I have to be a responsible teacher too…

But not last night. Friday nights are mine, dammit. Fuck work. There is nothing in my contract to state that I have to give my job my soul, despite what the politicians want teachers to do. Y’all don’t pay me enough to have my soul, you assholes.

I also numbered these two little guys…

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which have way more pieces than they should for their size. The smaller one is about 6″ square and the larger one is almost 9″ tall. I’m hoping to get those done in the next week. They’re kind of an experiment. Then I have one piece that’s supposed to be done in April and I need to look at the requirements…and the two in July…and a big one by Spring Break. Wow. I’m not overplanning or anything. Whatever. Artist brain demands. I am in the mood to keep feeding it.

I finished this one last night…

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And then I decided to add ink this morning…

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Hard to see the difference in the photos, but I know it’s there. I don’t know how old the drawing is, but I numbered it almost a year ago, thinking I would do some smaller quilts last year, and then the birds took over. It’s called Hold Me and it’s about 18″ square. It took 12 1/2 hours to complete. Doesn’t sound like much, until you realize I work a 60+ hour week as a teacher on a good week (bad weeks are 70-80 hours).

Nope. Sleep not a priority. Last night? I was not in the mood for sleeping once I took up pen and paper, needle and thread. Grading? Hell yeah, it was knocking me out. I suspect that tells me something important. How do I make so much art? Because it keeps me awake.

And you know I did all that after a full day at school and a couple hours at a soccer game. I love it when they play this field because of the colors…

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Girlchild got hit by three girls at one point and went down…

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Bruise on her jaw, her chest, and her head…no concussion. She’s a tough kid. College apps are done. Now we wait. Finals are next week. She’s a little emotional at the moment. Plus the boychild leaves tomorrow night. I think he’s relieved to go back…bored here? No one is ever home, it’s true. I will miss him again though. Cooking will get a bit easier though…no worrying about what we can’t cook, although he is much more likely to eat vegetables than he used to be. I’m glad of that. Too bad we can’t persuade him that pigs are food and steak is like manna from heaven, if heaven were made of cow.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get back to that drawing some time in the next week, and to get the two hands going…because I have to listen to that part of my brain. It keeps me centered…happy. It deserves to be fed.


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