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…
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%…
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)…
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.).
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.
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…
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.