We Have to…

I’ve been thinking about the risks we take as artists…first, there are of course the risks of making the work. A lot of us have another job that pays the bills and then we make art “on the side.” Someone actually called teaching my side job the other day and I laughed. Because it is…and it isn’t. It takes too much time to be the side job. I don’t think of EITHER of them as the side job…copyediting is the side job. Anyway, so there’s a risk there of not putting enough time into either to be good at either. Plus the work I do has occasionally gotten me in trouble at my job…although I am mostly protected, my district could probably come up with some reason to fire me for my art…other districts have done that to other artists. If you are a full-time artist, kudos to you, but that is also a risk…if you don’t sell enough, you are constantly trying to fill in your income with classes or teaching positions or books or some other way to pay the bills. We’ve all donated to a GoFundMe somewhere for an artist who got sick or injured and can’t pay the bills. There’s no insurance that covers that. Then there’s the risk of sending your work out into the world: the risk of shipping it or delivering it, having it hang somewhere else, having someone else be responsible for it, of having it damaged there or on the way there or back. There’s stories of work being knocked over, of bleach being thrown at work, of work being stolen. All these are terrifying to the artist who spends so much time and energy to make the work. And as my son reminded me today, a lot of the work we make is flammable…if this house goes up in flames, what’s left? Artists have faced that in wildfires, in bushfires, in single house or studio fires. It’s devastating.

So Why the FUCK do we keep doing this risky thing? Well, because we have to. We have a brain that requires the art to be made, that means we have to spend the time, the money, the energy, the risk, the threat of loss or damage. We have to. Hopefully we understand the risks and we do our best to protect against those…and I’m amazingly lucky that my quilt was found before I ever knew it was lost. Sure, I could make it again (would I? Probably not). I have the drawing. I have photos. One of my smaller older quilts was burned in the Cedar Fire. The owner contacted me about fixing it…or really, about preserving it. I sent her the information I could (eventually, over time, it will not last). That’s a survival story. Certainly with all the fires we have here and with what Australia is experiencing, I expect more stories of damage to art and quilts and lives. There’s even a bit of a link here to the President’s threats to bomb Iran’s cultural sites. Because that’s a threat to a cultural artifacts that doesn’t need to be made. But that’s a whole ‘nother issue, isn’t it? Sigh.

Reflection on the practice of art. I drew this on Saturday night…

Trying to escape all the shit in my head and destruction on my planet.

By Sunday night, I was done with escaping…

I still don’t see solutions, but I realize we can’t go anywhere. This might be the start of the next big quilt, although I’m staring at one of my older quilts on the wall, about the Japanese tsunami of 2011. And the themes are similar. Sigh. The missiles are new. Isn’t that fun?

I really haven’t done a good job of making art this break. I’ve full-on sucked at it. I figure there’s a reason. My brain isn’t there. That said, I finally stitched the binding on with the machine last night…

And now I can sit and sew by hand for a while. I also went through a bunch of drawings over the last two days. I have two shows coming up that will require no nudity, and I don’t have a lot of those right now. I’m going to need to make a few of those. But not next. I don’t think. I don’t know. I have a week left before I have to go back to school. I’m trying to stay on top of the to-do list, but honestly, I just start panicking. My weekend coming up is totally full, so I have to be proactive about school stuff. I’ve been working all break, a little at a time. But ugh. This view.

Sometimes I sit on the couch and do it while watching TV; sometimes I sit here. It doesn’t help. I have to get up regularly and do something else. I can’t grade less right now. These are assessments. They require me to pay attention and focus on real answers and feedback. I can’t just throw them out. This is where I realize that I didn’t teach the kids some things, or even that I DID teach them and they didn’t retain it. It’s frustrating. But it has to be done. And it’s time-consuming. There’s no real way to figure out what they know with a multiple-choice test. There’s three different ways for them to show me here. And some got perfect scores. Some didn’t.

So I need to finish those and another assignment. Even though it hurts my head.

Today is a lot of errands though. Gonna get them out of the way and hope for some gym time and a hike later this week. Plus I need to read the book for book club. Minor issue. And pick the next quilt to make. Either I’m drawing a new big one that’s timely (that’s what I’m leaning toward) or I’m drawing a smaller one with no nudity (eh. Later.).

We always have cute kittens…

Even when they’re rampaging around, destroying things. Which is something they do. When they’re not considering playing with the old lady cat…

It’s a work in progress, that…

There’s nowhere to sit sometimes because so many furry things are sleeping. Which is nice. They certainly help clear the mind sometimes.

OK. Speaking of clearing minds, I need Motrin. And more tea. Off to the vet and who-knows-where-else.

2 thoughts on “We Have to…

  1. OMG! You have a view! OK not postcard, but some distance, and mountains. (I lived in an apartment across from a retaining wall where I could see a bit of sky only by going over to the windows.)

    Re: jobs—I describe you as a quilt artist who supports herself by teaching science to middle schoolers. That gets respect.


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