Totally Appreciated…

My day off, thanks to the veterans of all wars and skirmishes and just general military actions. I’m not a big fan of military actions, but know that some were necessary. No matter what, those involved and their families deserve acknowledgment today. I always wish for peace and the diminished need for military presence, but having been born in a military hospital, I know that isn’t always how it rolls. May veterans feel love and care; may their families feel the same.

Also, thank you for letting me have a break today. I fully and greatly appreciate it. I have not been sleeping enough. I have been working too much, too hard. I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I’m hoping this day will give me a little distance from all that. Yes, I will still be working today, but interspersed will be art and exercise and reading my book because it’s the book club book for next week and I think my library due date is coming up so I need to finish it. Plus it’s pretty good. AND it feeds into the drawing that finally coalesced in my head. I swear, this job…

So I have a possible exhibition opportunity coming up next year about birth, and I don’t do a lot that is JUST birth. Birth shows up, for sure, but some of those are gone or sold…well, if they’re gone, they’re sold. I think this will be a virtual exhibition, so that won’t matter, but I felt like doing a non-COVID quilt, and this new era (hopefully) that is going to be Trump-free (not stupid-free, not entitlement-free…nah, those things are still rampant) makes me feel like I should be making something different for a while…not necessarily something joyful, but certainly hopeful? Maybe. I don’t know. So when I was in 29 Palms, I drew a birth thing…

But it wasn’t right. This originally came about in my head when hearing about women giving birth without family due to COVID, and I had this picture in my head of a woman on a hospital bed giving birth, and then a glass window behind her with everyone masked, gloved, etc, watching her…like all the doctors and nurses, here, do it yourself, we’ll be in later (no knocks on doctors and nurses on the front lines; they have it super hard and you know they don’t leave in these situations…I just was hard hit to think of family not being able to be there for women giving birth). But that wasn’t where my head wanted to go. The other night, I tried redrawing it, different baby, different aspect, trying to make it longer than wider, and I just ended up drawing it again, almost exactly the same, frustrated by my inability to connect my brain to something I liked, to something I wanted to MAKE. The easy way out would have been to just do the other COVID quilt. It’s already numbered and ready to go, but I didn’t want easy. I wanted different. So I let it all percolate in my head, and Monday, on the way driving around to my flu shot (drive-through)…

And UPS for boxes to ship a quilt and Home Depot for slats, talking to my SIL on the phone about all the crazy shit in our lives, it started to pop into my head, started to form, the same drawing, but elongated and connected to nature and the sky and space and dirt and all that good stuff that makes me feel better about everything.

So yesterday, after Pilates (possibly the last in the studio for a while, as San Diego shuts down a bit again due to rising infection counts), I copied the original drawing from the desert…

Cut it up and taped it together, enlarged 200%, not a lot, just a bit…

And then cut a longer piece of butcher paper from the giant-ass 50-yard roll I keep in my living room (doesn’t everybody do that?), and started tracing the bits I liked, changing the bits I didn’t, and adding some vines around her legs to pull her into the ground…

People are always asking me how I decide what to draw, how my brain works, and there, I just described it. There’s a part in there, I call her the Art Brain, and if I just let her go, she does some of her best deciding and ideaing (that is a word, fuck you) while I am doing other things, driving, walking, talking, erranding. And I appreciate her so much. I don’t know how to teach you to listen to your art brain, but she’s usually talking when you aren’t necessarily thinking so hard about art that you can’t hear her.

And it’s true that I’m old and I’ve been doing this a really long time and the most important bit of advice I can give you is practice practice practice, plus draw a lot and expect more than half of it to be crap. And that’s how you get better. I stopped at midnight thirty, because although I don’t have to Zoom work today, I still have to work. But hopefully I will get the next bit traced and go on to the landscape/sky part, where all the nice and cool stuff will be happening, yes, this is the next quilt, hallelujah, I knew if I were patient (not my thing), she would come out and make it happen. There’s never any down time with her…she’s always muttering into my ear, but I’m not always good at hearing it.

Here’s Calli…good old girl. The lump on her nose is inoperable bone cancer. She is not bothered by it yet, which is good, but probably there’s not a ton of time left with her…so we appreciate her good girlness every day.

And Kitten, who follows me to school (literally down the hallway and into the living room) and sometimes comes to class, usually in the most unhelpful way (on one computer, butt in my face)…

My two faithful old lady companions (they are both old ladies too). It makes me sad to see them grow old, but the best part (perhaps the only best part) of teaching from home is the constant furry animal pets I get to do all day long as I run to the bathroom and heat my tea up between Zoom classes.

OK, gotta sew some more napkins, deliver to quilts to a gallery, go see an exhibition where three of my quilts are hanging, and then grade a bunch of stuff, plan some more, probably record a video or five, and go for a long walk. Then draw some more. Not a bad day off. Totally appreciated.

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