Traveling Art

January 30, 2015

I like it when my art travels, when the quilts get vacations away from my house and all the cat hair, when they get to hang free, not be rolled up in a sheet with a bunch of other quilts in the dark. It’s probably nicer for them to get some air, see some new people, experience new places. So I enter shows (OK, that’s not why I enter shows. You’re right). I’ve had a hard time lately getting into juried shows, with a variety of theories as to why, so some friends suggested some that I enter, and I did, and I’ve been rejected from every single one again. The last rejection came in yesterday from Extreme Fibers, which I actually expected, because I think they are looking for extreme technique, and not extreme images, and I don’t do anything extreme with technique, unless you keep track of how many pieces are in my quilts. That’s somewhat extreme.

It’s OK…there are at least three or four shows to enter this month (although one of them, I couldn’t find a single piece of mine that would work for the theme…always an issue). I’m not giving up. Besides, the ones that are already out there and traveling are getting more venues, and that’s never a bad thing.

Wise Choice is in Earth Stories, which will now be at the Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University, Athens, OH, from April 24-September 13, 2015, and even more exciting in terms of my being able to see it, at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, San Jose, CA, from November 6, 2015-February 28, 2016 (road trip!).

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I haven’t seen this show yet, so that will be cool.

I have two quilts in People and Portraits, which will now be traveling to the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY, from October 1-December 20, 2015. Here’s Fully Medicated

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And I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket

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Meanwhile, I sit at home, filling out college financial aid applications, trying to figure out how to pay for the rest of the kids’ college, getting texts from one about how a girl fell onto his laptop and now the display is messed up (ouch) and from the other about how she didn’t really use all the data for which the phone company would like to charge me. Uh huh. Right.

Really, I should stop thinking about all that crap and get going on the next step of whatever art quilt I’m working on (5 at a time at the moment) and enter the next batch of shows, because the real life stuff is kicking my butt at the moment. Unfortunately, first I have to go to school and take 110 kids on a field trip…so survival first…then art.


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.

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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!

Jan 22 15 001 small

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

Jan 22 15 002 small

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.

Jan 22 15 003 small

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…

Jan 22 15 004 small

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.

Jan 22 15 005 small

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.


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