I See the Bright and Hollow Sky*

May 23, 2017

I woke up this morning and a terrorist group had taken responsibility for bombing concertgoers. I still live in this world, where hate makes this acceptable, where this is not the first or last time this will happen. I woke up this morning and DeVos had released Trump’s education budget (because you know she didn’t write that thing…she didn’t have a pencil)…and not only are my students hit hard, because I teach in a Title I school, a school where poverty is everywhere…but my own children, needing to pay back federal loans for college, are now going to get hit harder…and me too, in helping them. I’ve seen a few (ignorant) friends say that if the teacher unions are against DeVos, that must mean she’s a good thing. I can guarantee you that all their children go to those rich white schools where immigrants and refugees are few and far between. They certainly aren’t showing any sort of empathy to humanity.

I think that’s the problem…no empathy. And being so sure your way is right, without any exposure to other. I’m not sure why we think that’s OK. It’s not. It can’t be.

This world. It pains me. I make art in response, sure, but it doesn’t stop the shit we keep seeing, the bad behavior, the crazy talk.

Last night, before I saw all that, I tried out a couple of backgrounds before I ironed her down…

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I always lean toward the dark…

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Then I started the stitch down…

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I finished watching 13 Reasons Why…it was hard to watch.

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In the first few episodes, listening to Hannah speak, I didn’t have much empathy for her…because as a middle-school teacher, all I could think about were the kids who would think a revenge suicide where you blame everyone else for your decisions would be a bad plan, that they wouldn’t have the fully developed frontal lobes for seeing the bigger deeper picture. As the show progressed, though, I could see how her brain processed (and again, I’m not sure my students would) and remembered lots of the shit from high school, which is now just exacerbated by the existence of the internet. Negotiating that is huge. There is no safe space…not at home, not anywhere. And they can’t see the future…they don’t have enough life experience to know you can get up and get past. Because most of us do. And we sit there and want to yell and hit at Bryce for her, want her to get out of the bathtub after the first cut and go find a phone, but none of that happens.

So I kept on making art. Because sometimes that’s all I can do. It’s gotten me through some intensely bad times in my life. And I’m still alive, so it works.

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After stitch down, I layered it with the interfacing we’re using on this quilt…

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This is for a larger quilt that will be in a show in July. So I started outlining…

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I didn’t quite finish, because I needed to sleep…

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But I got mostly done. And I have no idea what I’m working on next.

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I drew during my staff meeting…

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I met this snake on the way home…pretty sure it’s a gopher snake.

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Conversation with the boychild…

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At least he has a sense of humor about it. He’s coming home today. I spent time yesterday cleaning his room, putting his bed back together, and trying to persuade my vacuum not to die. Now I’m going to go to school and talk my way through menstruation and sperm production. Fun stuff.

*Iggy Pop, The Passenger

Watching in a Trance*

May 10, 2017

I had been distinctly NOT thinking about the next piece that needed doing. It was too broad a topic, like all the crap going on in my head and in the news anyway, so it’s not like I could consciously process it properly. Once I got confirmation that the block could be horizontal or vertical (I wanted vertical), even then, I didn’t think about what to put on the block. I let myself get through the work day, then dinner, and then finally stood up and looked at the blank paper I’d mapped out yesterday…just a rectangle that was the right size.

I figured it would take me a while, and I was pretty tired, so I wasn’t expecting much.

I was wrong. I think it took a whopping 30 seconds before I saw the hand in front of her mouth…and then another on her breast, well and then there’s the pussy, of course.

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I did start with a rough pencil sketch on this one. I usually don’t, but I wanted the proportions to work out OK…plus it’s easier to know where the stuff is going before you draw the stuff behind.

Once I had the body in generally with the hands, I filled in the rest.

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The whole time, I kept saying “Keep it Simple” because I know my deadline is only 19 days away. Yeah. I know. But it’s small and I kept it simple. Ish. Only 290 pieces. I had to keep telling myself to stop drawing detail. It’s not in my nature.

It took me about two hours to draw it…maybe.

And then I numbered it. The face is a little crazy, but it really is more simplified than what I normally do. Two pieces for the hair? Never happens.

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Tonight will be busy, but I’m hoping to have the energy to start tracing it. I basically have two weekends, because I’m going to Quilt National the following weekend. Just a little crazy shit going on here. Nothing new.

It’s teacher appreciation week…one of my students was a sweetheart and brought me lunch…

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It was good.

I did do this before I did all that drawing…the hand that will never be finished.

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Midnight watched. Then apparently at some point, she went and puked on my bed. Nice cat.

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The calico did whack me, by the way…while I was doing this. My Tivo is old and occasionally has massive brain farts and only records 1 minute of all my shows with now notification. So sometimes I have to find them on the computer instead. So I worked on this for a bit…outlining the tree bits.

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Wool stitching is so relaxing. Really. It is.

So both dogs are coned at the moment due to foot-licking activity. Probably both had foxtails involved, but I am assured that Calli’s is out (I don’t know that I agree, but whatever)…and I couldn’t find anything on Simba. But with cones, they are very sad dogs.

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Very sad. I am a horrible dog mom.

State testing starts today, so it’s a minimum day from hell with the kids and then meetings until like 6 PM. Woo hoo! And then book club…I’ve read the book, so that’s a plus. I don’t always make it to book club because of all the crap that comes before, but I’m going to try…I need the socialization. But hopefully after that, I’ll be able to stand and trace stuff. We’ll see.

*Peter Schilling, Major Tom

She Expected the World*

May 9, 2017

I think I’m about to get whacked by a calico cat. I’m never really sure when either cat is gonna either whack me or bite me. Sometimes I wish they could just use their words. “Pet me.” “Stop petting me.” “Pet me differently.” I guess that’s a huge part of their potential vocabulary…minus the swear words probably. I imagine cats swearing all the time…just based on their looks. As a teacher, I have those looks where kids don’t need to hear the words. Cats do too, if you’re paying attention. This one, though, back to the calico…she’s whacking me with her tail already. Obviously I’m doing everything wrong.

So last night, I was trying to make a simple fix, to sync my contacts on multiple devices, after a year plus of not having that. Boychild walked me through part of it and we found one bit that might be part of it, so then I tried to fix that one bit. Over an hour later, on chat with Microsoft, we get a partial fix. Not fixing the original problem, of course…just the first step toward being able to do that. So yeah, the first fix was entirely Microsoft’s fault…and it took a level 2 fix. OK. So now on to the original fix, which goes back to iOS. Sheesh. But after an hour, I couldn’t deal any more. So I’ve been on a cleaning fit (it’s OK…it’s been brief)…I was going to go deal with the pile of papers that’s been in the little living room (weird side room) since December. Obviously they are very important papers. But instead, I cleaned up my photo files from May 2015 and 2016, so I could stop looking at them while making May 2017’s files.

Giant sigh. Too behind on everything. But at least I have time to do that, I guess. We’ve mostly planned everything for the school year. We have a few things left to do…some ends to gather up. And at some point, we’ll have to start on next year. Revising and all. But not yet. It means I’m refusing to grade at night at the moment. That might change, but right now, I’m fighting the good fight.

So I didn’t start making dinner until 9 PM or so. I know. But I wasn’t in the mood. So after that, I did my one thread of stitching…still beating that hand about…

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And then I had cut a piece of paper the right size for the piece due at the end of the month, read the instructions for the theme etc, and realized I wasn’t sure if the orientation could be vertical or horizontal. So I emailed the organizer. Who didn’t answer immediately. Sigh. I wasn’t really expecting that…it’s OK.

So I decided to draw the Desert Daughter that I tried to do the other night. Because that one sucked. The original Earth Daughter was drawn on a plane returning from Boston after dropping my daughter off at college…I always wonder what people who sit next to me on the plane think…

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Here it is when I finally made it as a quilt, almost a year later…hey, they’re in line sometimes.

Art Quilts and Fiber Arts

The plus to that piece is that it’s technically no nudity, which means I can enter it in some shows I otherwise couldn’t enter. It’s also not huge…only 28″ wide (OK, that’s small for me). The original drawing was done in my travel sketchbook, which is about 9×12″. So I went back to that book for this one, pulling from desert imagery.

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The heart even has cactus spikes. I think this one turned out really well. Although the top right is bugging me. She’s not centered, which is OK by me, but…maybe that’s what my issue is with the right side. I’ll figure that out.

But I still don’t have a drawing for the one due May 29. Huh. Well. Waiting for an answer. I did spend a lot of time staring at a face and blank torso before I got to this…and then it just spilled out. Lost the fennec fox…the incredibly simplified ocotillo parts ended up in the lungs, the rattlesnake covered one breast and some very bulbous cactus the other. OK. So I made a list of daughters I could draw…or I could work on the climate woman…or or or. Isn’t it nice to have the mind space to have choices? Yes. Yes it is.

*Coldplay, Paradise

When All You Do Is See Me Through*

May 8, 2017

Drawing is a weird thing. Something it just flows right out of me, the line barely lifting to move to another part of the paper. It’s like being possessed by the pen and my brain, a direct connection from one to the other…I’m just the physical entity that holds it and directs it. I can hear art brain mulling about where or what next, but there’s no delay.

Then some nights, the first part is quick and then there’s a delay. I get the eyeballs in and then I stare at the paper. I stare at the holes, the openings, the empty bits, and my brain fills them in, directs me to put the pen there and draw that. Look that up, because you’re not exactly sure what it looks like. I always have to look up the Earth…to get the continents sorta right. They’re never REALLY right, but I try. Sometimes I don’t. But mostly I want it to be recognizable as our planet. I want the lion to look like a lion. Obviously I don’t care as much with flowers and birds and fish, because I make them up all the time. I think it’s because I’ve drawn them longer…so I can improvise easier. Maybe when I’m 90, I’ll have the continents down flat and lions will be everywhere. Or maybe I’ll have forgotten all of it, and you won’t be able to figure out WHAT I’m drawing. That might be interesting…if I can roll with it and it’s not frustrating.

So I currently have a whole barnful of images poking at the edges of my brain, wanting out, begging to make it on paper and be chosen to become fabric. That’s almost harder, because I can’t concentrate on just one thing. So I sat down last night to figure out one drawing that I know is coming up by the end of May, and that’s not that far away. So two things I know: (1) It’s small and (2) I don’t have much time. Well obviously I don’t always make good decisions about the “it’s small” thing, because I put a million pieces in a small quilt. And time. Sheesh.

I TRIED…but about halfway through the drawing…no, not even that far…I realized this was not the drawing for that piece. Because it had way too much detail. And it was all over the map. I had a theme I needed to work for, and I know I could make it work, but I can’t do all those tiny little pieces and get it done in time.

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But it’s OK, because I’m kinda reveling in the ability to just sit and draw. This one’s not done, but it’s going somewhere…interestingly, it’s not going where I need it to go for any of the upcoming deadlines I’m considering. I think. There’s one a ways out…

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Climate change is obviously on my mind. But so are gender issues. The world is such a troubling, disturbing place at the moment, at the same time it is absolutely wonderful and amazing (Thank you France for restoring my faith in humanity at the moment).

This drawing did not come easily…it had to be wrested out of me. Sometimes it’s because I routinely draw the human figure, so how are they not all the same? I have to be conscious of that. But mostly it was that staring into a blank space and trying to decide how to fill it. I don’t like blank space (obviously). So there’s more coming out of this drawing…somewhere.

I did also work on the creepy hand…

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Someday I’ll go back and fill in the black spaces that are still there. But not today.

Puppy slept a lot. He doesn’t like rain, plus he has an owie on his foot that he won’t let me see…

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And it was cold and rainy…not his favorite weather. I was OK with it once I was done running around and doing stuff. I cleaned out two drawers and two cupboards as part of my Spring Cleaning into Summer campaign. I’m not sure why I had half the stuff that was in there…but I did. Sure, I could have graded something instead, but eh. No. I couldn’t have. Balance.

*Tears for Fears, Pale Shelter

You Don’t See One Person Sitting Down*

May 7, 2017

Weekends. I try really hard to make them NOT all about running errands, tearing my hair out, planning lessons, and grading shit. I am a failure. I managed to drive all over San Diego County, run a number of errands, mostly in the rain, make it to dinner, watch two creepy-as-shit episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale while drawing, then run more errands in the rain, grade an assignment, input some grades, and spend an hour or so updating a worksheet with current contraception data. Seriously. That’s what my weekend looks like on a regular basis. I got up out of the computer chair twenty minutes earlier to figure out what I was doing for dinner. I had totally forgotten earlier in the day when I put dinner into the crockpot. WOW. OK. Need time off much? Yeah. Well. Stuff is stressful right now.

School is starting state testing, which is hard on teachers too. I bought a bunch of food and drink for my little monsters, so their brains will keep working on throughout the whole three hours. I’m trying to manage all the kid stuff for the summer, which is no small feat. Or even fête. It should be fête. But one is coming home for only two weeks and the other one is an unknown…home for at least 2 1/2 weeks, but not the same ones. Sigh. Life is about to topsy turvy itself, and that’s hard to watch…let alone experience. I finished a bunch of art stuff, but now my art brain is flailing like a goldfish out of water…and the left eye is twitching like a caffeinated wombat at the moment. I think I just need to sit and BE for a while, but it’s not in my nature.

Today would have been a good day to Walk It Out, but it’s been pouring all day. I did walk Friday night, though…3 miles with the pup. Tired his spazzy ass out. And mine, I guess.

I did one or two night’s worth on the hand. I just pick colors and fill in with chain and stem stitches.

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Then I tried to deal with some of the drawings that are stacking up in my head, but I was really really tired. This might go somewhere. Hard to say. It might be the bottom of a long, skinny quilt.

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So I tried from the top end. And I was so exhausted, I went to bed. Sometimes that’s what needs to happen. But this one can keep going…

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My Saturday night hand stitching…one thread. That’s it. This picture is in full daylight though…much brighter.

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I drew Saturday night too. Strangely, this did not go where I thought it would. But it’s a drawing.

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I think it’s something that needs redoing. I like the ocotillo and the snake. Not sure about the cactus. I was expecting something different when I started drawing. Amusing really, since I’m the one drawing. You’d think I would know what was going on, but I’ve often said that my drawings make themselves. It’s not the conscious part of my brain doing the work most of the time.

That one. She’s not coming home until July, and then only for a short time. I miss her dirty-dish-leaving ass.

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I do hear from her almost every day, so there’s that. And the other one might be here all summer. It’s OK. I realize half of college students move home after school because they can’t get a job. So I haven’t remodeled her room into a dye studio yet. YET. (Actually, the best water supply is from the boychild’s room, so that would be a better dye studio.) Nah. I do want them to head back to Southern California at some point…although we may all be underwater by then, so they should work on their boat skills.

OK, what I really need to do is work on an 18×24″ block for a show my art group is doing. I’ve just been blanking on it. So that’s my goal for the night I think. Just drawing. Maybe a little stitching too. And Spring cleaning…because.

*Fergie (with Q-Tip and GoonRock), A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)

Kick My Brains around the Floor*

April 30, 2017

I’m finishing up progress reports, dealing with the last-minute panicking kids who are desperately turning in assignments to bring grades up (um. That 5-point assignment that is 125 days late will not help you.). I’m hoping to find quilting time this afternoon…surely I am going to buy binding fabric no matter what, because I won’t have time any other day this week…the shop closes too early. What’s more important as I go into the school week? Binding fabric or groceries? Um. Well. Are you asking me that? Because I’m getting the binding fabric first. Yup.

I woke up this morning, barely, couldn’t open my eyes (noise before actual wanting-to-wake-up time), but as I’m struggling to go back to sleep or something, persuade my bladder it doesn’t need to be up, an entire drawing pops, fully formed, into my head. Just like that. I know some of the places it came from…a focus on climate change and the effects, plus walking around ArtWalk yesterday. But yeah. A full drawing. That I now have to DRAW. Because I can’t download directly from my brain. Yet.

I have a bunch of cards of artists I liked from ArtWalk, but no time today to post…and I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of most of them. So I have the pitstops and distractions…one stop at (damn, can’t remember the name, but it was cool) for a cooling peach sangria and a seat…yes, those are fluffy sheep on the ceiling.

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Then more walking in the heat…

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A good set of phrases to keep in mind…

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Then a ride to a gallery opening, which wasn’t open yet. Awesome…Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan…

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Plenty of art there as well.

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I have photos from the all-women show at La Bodega Gallery, which is open again (seemingly without the crazy crowds), but no time to post today. We came back and watched two episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is just as intense as you’d expect it would be, but definitely worth it (probably it inserted itself into my dreams as well; hence the drawing in the morning fuzzy brain)…and I did the hand on the right, except two stitches, I forgot the anchoring stitch, and I obviously didn’t finish the hand. I’m deciding how I’m gonna handle that. Not sure. Like the tree, it will take many days to finish perhaps.

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Today. Finish grades, do one day on this piece, quilt a lot, hopefully all of it (doubtful), find a binding, do the damn grocery shopping, get the mind and body ready for another full week of school…only 33 days left, and I’m skipping two of them and three of what’s left are minimum days for kids because of testing (this is not actually better, because we use up a shit-ton of energy managing kids during testing, and I’ve got a couple of uber-challenging sweethearts in there). And I gotta get that drawing out of my head and onto paper. Somewhere. Somewhen. Somehow.

*Queen/David Bowie, Under Pressure

Looking Up…

April 15, 2017

So we made it back, alive and still a bit muddy (one load of laundry is done; the tent and rain cover are out on the deck, waiting for me to have the energy and help to clean it out), still a bit exhausted. Driving through Los Angeles can do that to you. Ahhh, traffic, I miss you not.

It’s the first time I’ve taken a week’s vacation without the fam in about a million years. Being a mom and a financially strangled one at best doesn’t allow for such things, so it was much appreciated. And there will be more, once we do the math and see how bad the money actually was, and then try to focus on future travel plans. There was lots of WOW said; even if you’ve seen them before, the redwoods elicit WOW.

So then I have about 50 pictures of the trees, looking up…

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Because that’s what you do…

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(That was the one non-rainy day on our trip…the day we chose to hike around…)

I’ll have to write a post later this week about the trip, I think. Too many pictures for a Saturday-morning brain.

I did draw each night…well, minus one…

Certainly what I was experiencing ended up in the drawings. The first night, we had set up the campsite and cooked under a lean-to tarp, and sat there listening to the rain for hours. We’d made it to the visitor center and read about local animals and plants, and seen a beetle and lots of ferns and trees.

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That beetle on her cheek was on my sketchbook for a while…I saw his big brother in the bathroom for the next three days. Just hanging out…on the toilet paper rolls…waiting…for something.

We hiked the whole next day, with on and off rain…but a lot of sun. We cooked tacos that night, and tried to get the fire started. I think it lasted a whopping 20 minutes before the rain kicked up again. We had moved the tent by then.

I don’t think this one is done, but I was tired.

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At least one hand is facing the wrong way…or both are left hands…or something.

The last night, we had very little rain (after rain on and off all day, mostly on), but lots of high winds, which is a little nerve-wracking in a forest that really only loses trees to wind and the occasional flood.

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I skipped the next night…but the last night, food was on my mind apparently. And misplaced arms. They’re just wrong, all wrong.

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As part of the last day’s drive, we stopped at the California Fibers’ exhibit at The Blackboard Gallery in Camarillo, California, where two of my pieces are currently hanging through early May. This is Give Me Time

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As always, I love having my photo taken and can’t figure out what to do with my hands.

And here I am with Holding It All In, which is a big quilt…

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I’ll be writing a California Fibers’ post about the show, with details, later this week. I’ll link it here. It’s a nice show…in an interesting space.

I did keep up with these once a day stitches, albeit barely. I did some green lazy daisy leaves on the right with that curly line I added earlier in the week, with the pinky lazy daisy flowers (that’s three days right there)…then a feather fern stitch thing next to the tree trunk (hard to see here) and some star-shaped flowers in red/burgundy with straight stitch green leaves to the right of the feather, under the bird…finishing the thread off with some French knots (or colonial knots, who knows) down the side there.

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I didn’t actually do much stitching (or reading) on the trip. I finally pulled this out the last day for in-the-car stitching (mostly I can’t stitch with curvy roads…or while I’m driving)…finished the tree trunk, which I’d started at the campsite until I couldn’t see in the dark any more, then finished the flower center and started the bird. I think the bird is all that’s left, and then I’ll be done with this one. Maybe tonight. Not sure what my plans look like yet.

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I know they include cleaning and drying these, the second load of laundry, finishing my taxes…

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Working on the current quilt, which has to be done in a week, a ton of grading, some emails/contracts/headshots (ugh) to be sent out, and I don’t even know what else. Trying to get my head around all of it…which I will…eventually…maybe not today. Still looking up…even though the trees are gone…but here, at home, the furry beasts are all around. Both cats slept with me last night (strange), although I did not appreciate Midnight’s hairball extraction in the middle of the night (guess the duvet cover needed washing) or Calli’s early morning plea to pee. And the house reeks of skunk…fun stuff. No one cleaned while I was gone (another wonder of living alone). But I’m glad to be here, in my own bed, surrounded by annoying beasts, where I can make a proper cup of tea whenever I want dammit. (still wanna travel more though)