My Work Travels More Than I Do

April 24, 2016

I always forget where my work is when it’s traveling…especially those that travel for years. It’s possible you saw two of my pieces if you were in Paducah this weekend for the AQS show. The SAQA People and Portraits exhibit has been touring for so long, I forget it’s still out there…but two of my pieces didn’t forget…I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket

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When people ask me where I get my ideas, I often say from dreams (I don’t clarify that sometimes those are daydreams, not nightdreams or nightmares), and that sometimes things just wander in my brain for a while until they collide into a drawing. I drew the figure on the left and the one giving birth in my smaller sketchbook and then the Gulf oil spill happened and it ended up in this thing, along with a bunch of other weird shit. Let me tell you, this is where I wonder how Dali got into my dreams and why they haven’t packed me away in a nuthouse yet.

But yeah. That was a dream. The owl has an iPhone screen and is plugged in. Those are sisters by the way. And there’s about a thousand details. Along with an oil spill. The title? I was listening to the radio and someone said it. And that was the title.

I don’t always channel crazy when I draw. Honestly. Sometimes there’s other shit going on. This one, Fully Medicated

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I’m diabetic and have other health issues. Had them for a long time. I take a bunch of meds. Actually, I think I take more vitamins and supplements at the moment than meds, but that is always in flux. I worry about my liver and kidneys. They bear the brunt of that crap. Anyway. This is a really old piece. They both are. But they were both at Paducah this last weekend.

I have never been to Paducah. I’m not likely to go soon.

Where can you see my work in the future? Well go to the Current Shows tab above for one, but also…

There will be a piece at the Home Machine Quilting & Sewing Show, Salt Lake City, UT, May 5-7, 2016. I’m thinking it might scare some people, but whatever. This is part of the SAQA Oasis show, which was supposed to be at the Mancuso show in Palm Springs last October and then at Santa Clara PIQF…well, it will be there this year instead. So if you went looking for it last year, look again.

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There will be another piece at the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts, Oberlin, OH, opening May 15.

Two pieces will be at Gallery D, Barrio Logan, San Diego, CA, part of Feminism Now, opening May 14. By the way, there will be a catalog available for this show…bring $20!

One piece will be part of California Fibers: Eclectic Threads, Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside, CA, opening June 25.

Earth Stories has two pieces, at the Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV, Jun 25-Oct 2, 2016.

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I actually talked about the issue that is the focus of this piece, saving the Earth by providing free birth control to any woman who wants it, no matter where they live, what religion they practice. If They Want It, they can have it. It was Earth Day Friday and I made my students write about how to save the Earth, and mostly they’re gonna recycle. Um. Well that ain’t gonna do it. It’s a step in the right direction, sure, but what will make a bigger difference? Population control by choice…I do teach human reproduction, so this is not far off what I teach. It made some of them think, start to ask questions…like how do we get more natural resources? They don’t think about how lucky most of them are. They have clean water and a roof over their head (most of them) and junk food whenever they want it. Some of my refugee students understand more. You can see it in their eyes. But many of them also come from a culture that does not allow birth control. I like to pop these little worms into their brains, make them think outside the box.

Celebrating Silver has one piece, at the America Quilts Expo, Des Moines, IA, May 26-28, 2016.

And that’s just the next few months. You can see why I forget where they all are. I’m curious how they do at these smaller quilt and home sewing shows. I suspect it’s eye-opening for a few people. I’m applying to a new art group that has regular exhibitions, and as I was putting the application materials together, I realized that my work is not necessarily pretty and low-key. It’s kinda in your face and challenging. I’m OK with that, and I guess I accept that it might mean there will be a violent anti-sentiment in any group to which I apply. I appreciate the groups I’m in for only giving me a modicum of shit about that. Really, it’s kind of a joke because I often don’t have work available for smaller-sized shows and/or those that restrict nudity (worded as “family friendly”).

Wait. I’m not family friendly? Because we don’t want kids or families to know about what’s inside the body? Or because we don’t want them to know that women sometimes get sad or pissed off about stuff?

It’s OK. I get it. I don’t even get particularly irritated about it. I do absolutely feel like there should be a prominent place for art that’s not pretty, for art that makes you stop and think. For art that slaps you around a bit sometimes. I guess that’s my role. To make that.


A Sparkly Clean Brain

April 22, 2016

First of all, I wrote this before school today. Most of it. And then chaos. Because that’s how it rolls at the moment. Brain overload. So it’s still sitting here when I get home and there’s no title on it and I don’t even know how I didn’t get this done. So here it is…

The plus is that financial aid is notionally done, except for one form that needs to be uploaded (just did that. Before I did this.). The minus is the hours I spent last night dealing with it. Still. Again. And thinking I would have to call girlchild’s financial aid department this morning and beg for forgiveness. The minus is the probably 5 years of my life that I will lose at the end due to financial aid forms and dealing with my ex over those. The plus is the kids are in college and someday will have to change my diapers and feed me applesauce with a bib on, but they will have college educations and will be able to afford the really good bibs and diapers.

Or not. Honestly, I don’t care at the moment. I want them to have a job that fulfills them. And I can’t say that mine doesn’t, because it often does, but right now it also tires me out. It wears me down. It makes me want to eat ice cream and drink wine (not a good combo on so many levels). I wrote two versions of a test last night and graded a bunch of stuff. Some kids are taking it seriously, figuring out that they need to step up their game. Some of them? Yeah. Whatever. And their parents too. I feel sorry for some of them, because I think if someone at home were paying attention, they would be doing better, and I do the best I can with those, but they are often the neediest and not in a good way. It’s like puppies. They’re cute when they’re playing and when they’re asleep, but they bite like motherfuckers. And pee on everything. And chew up your favorite stuff.

I don’t really teach puppies.

So I didn’t finish all the financial aid and grading until 11:09 PM. And I was half dead on my feet by then, tired and irritable and weepy and shit. But I had a random idea to fill in the arm between the crane and the octopus, and I thought I could probably do that…so I did…

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Oh yeah. That’s kelp. It fit nicely. I also pencil drew in a ribcage and a bellybutton, but I haven’t decided whether stuff will go behind the ribs or around them, and I was way too damn tired to draw any more after that. I looked at a lot of pictures of giraffes, but that’s as far as I got. And Damn, they have lots of spots. I keep picking spotted animals.

I’m pretty sure I won’t get anything done tonight. And this weekend is already busy. It’s OK, because there’s no rush on this drawing. I’m just doing it because it was in my head and it helps me calm my brain down, wind down at the end of the day. It’s meditative. It’s like the spin cycle on the washer…flips out all the bad stuff down the drain and leaves a sparkly clean brain for sleep. Well. Sort of. Better than it was anyway.


I Need a Demonologist

April 21, 2016

I needed to get outside and walk hard, hike fast yesterday. So I did. With the dog. I had to wait for temperatures to go down below 90 first though, but it’s a crapshoot, because some hikes I don’t want to finish after dark. I wanted to be out out out, nowhere near houses if I could pull it off, far away from people. We had to drive a little, but then it was three miles with only one old guy and his old dog, who wanted to beat us up but couldn’t move fast enough to pull it off (arthritis), and then an old guy on a bike. And a dead snake…in pieces. But otherwise, nothing but bugs and plants and birds and clearing your mind and breathing in the dust and walking it off. Cuz you can walk a whole day off, you know. Harder to walk a whole week off, but a day? No problem.

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Wilderness refuge near my house. It was still warm out, 86 degrees at 6 PM, but there was a nice breeze. Good pace. Tired the dog out too.

Then I made dinner, spaced out for a bit with a book, graded some assignments I needed to get out of the way, and then communed a bit with animals. They all followed me into the living room. Mommy! Mommy!

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Pet the dog and the cats. Kitten settles down into her favorite place. On the drawing.

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And the brain just spilled. Oh yeah, you’ve seen the eye in the uterus thing before…in the last quilt. The REAL third eye, the all-seeing one. The one that rules the woman’s roost.

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I pushed and pulled and the drawing ended up still being under Kitten. I started on trying to fit a crane around an elbow. I look at pictures and try to imagine how to move the wings and feathers around where I need them to be. Kitten starts flicking her tail in the middle of where I’m drawing and that’s it. I poke at her until she leaves. Petulant beast.

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I made it work, turn the corner. Then drew the hand and some pine-tree-like things on there. You can see I don’t have much left…just the main torso and it already has a bunch of stuff on it.

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Closeup of the arm.

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So I need to connect the arm to the shoulder with something and then do the rest of the torso. It’s going well. Peaceful brain.

This is from last night’s grading, where a student suggested a demonologist to test lung function.

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I laughed a lot. A LOT. Because you’ll take anything humorous at this time of the year. Anything. Calling a demonologist to take care of my class.

More drawing tonight, although there’s always grading and I think I have to write a test. Not sure what I’m drawing next anyway, so it’s OK to let the brain percolate for a while. Like all day. I didn’t start drawing last night until 10:30 or so. I’m about 8 1/2 hours into this drawing. It’s time-consuming, but good. I write about the hours because I want people to get that it takes a long time to make art and even if some of it is standing around, staring at the piece, it’s still part of the making. I know some people can just whip stuff out, but I’m not one of them. This is big and complicated. But I think it will be worth it.


Do It or Lose It

April 20, 2016

I’m getting there. I managed yesterday better, although I woke up to chaos this morning. About 6 emails that had to be dealt with right now. RIGHT NOW. Which is why I’m running late.

I meditated last night, although my brain was all over the place. And then I drew. I did financial aid stuff before that…almost done…woo hoo! Three more things to scan and submit on one kid, the other kid stuff finally came through this morning, so I’ll do it tonight. This stuff is so stressful, my brain wants to explode.

So meditation reined the brain in a little bit. Maybe. Because then I got up and I drew…I finished the earth on the bottom…

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Hard to see, but I tried really hard to not make a bunch of tiny things on there. Really hard.

Then I went back up to the torso, staring at the other boob. I had been looking at leopards and jaguars and cheetahs, but the spots…holy moley, the spots. And I couldn’t find the picture I wanted. The pose. I don’t know. I just wasn’t sold. I’ve done lots of lions. Female lions are just gorgeous creatures, so strong and determined, although I hate when they watch a new male come in and kill their babies. Yes, I’ve watched every episode of Big Cat Diary…like 7 times. I miss that show.

Anyway. So I went to tigers…because the stripes can be kept simple, and in a piece like this, where there’s already a ton of detail, I don’t need to be making 100 spots on a leopard.

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I added the other lung, decided to continue the grass just under the neckline instead of putting something different on the other side, and then put a prickly pear cactus above the tiger to fill in that space.

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What you can’t see here is that I have one arm and then the rest of the torso, which will include a uterus this time around, because when I make things for myself instead of for shows, I don’t have to worry about the nudity. I even added a nipple on the tiger, to be done in fur colors.

I’m enjoying drawing this. It’s soothing. I can’t say falling asleep or staying asleep are getting better for me, but I think that’s hormones and stress more than anything else. So exercise, meditation, drawing or making art in some way. Deep breathing when necessary. Get done with stupid stuff that stresses me out and that will help. Ignore all the people who are stressing me out (whoops, that’s half of my students right now and about 17 other adults) and hang out with those who don’t. Or hang out with the dog and the cats, because they’re demanding in their own way, but it’s pretty basic needs…pet me, feed me.

At least I’ve figured out where art fits in all that…do it or lose it.


Make Art or Die

April 19, 2016

Hi. In about 4 days, all the financial aid stuff will be done and I will no longer feel like ripping my eyeballs out of my head and mailing them to Cornell and Brandeis…along with my ex’s entrails. Seriously. I went to the gym late last night (long day, couldn’t get up off the couch for a while) and then cooked a new dinner that tastes OK but cooks like a natural disaster. Then I came in here and tried to finish up all the financial aid for the boychild (still not done…because it’s a giant fucked up mess, that’s why).

So did I get any art done? Fuck no. I looked at the clock and it was almost midnight and I just went to bed. Frustrated. Irritated. Woke up to texts and emails and more financial aid crap and realized I was grinding my teeth. Really. I love this stuff. The smartest thing I did was buy a new printer that actually scans multi-page documents into a PDF file (I know y’all are going, Kathy…they’ve been doing that for a while…but you don’t know how old my last printer and scanner were). This was joy compared to last year. At least that part of it.

The place my brain goes on the stress-o-meter though. Tonight I NEED to draw. Or something. Yes, I have 7 other things on the to-do list tonight that have nothing to do with art. Dammit. Quickly evaluating what can be put off…at least two of them. Maybe. Sigh.

In four days it will be done. Maybe sooner. I love all these happy-go-lucky slide shows and videos you see about how you make your own happiness and stress can kill you and take control of your response. Oh. OK. Except I go straight into fight or flight and then have to meditate myself back down into semi-stressed. I’m trying to do that RIGHT NOW. Except I have to go to work and that’s not a stress-free place at all. It’ll be fine.

This was cool. This made my day…except I got it last week and didn’t even look at it. So it was a nice surprise on Sunday when I finally did.

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Yeah. That’s my quilt cropped on the front of the postcard. It’s a cool crop too. I’m pleased.

See. Think about the card. Not the financial aid. Not the other crap. The card. THE CARD.

The opening is June 25 at the Oceanside Museum of Art. I don’t have a time yet I think.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been watching all these home renovation shows and it’s making me irritated about my own house, but I can’t afford the money right now, let alone the time. So I keep watching, instead of switching over to the cooking programs, which make me think I should’ve been able to flip those damn quesadillas last night without causing a mess. That’s why I end up on the sci fi channel so much! It doesn’t make me feel bad. Aliens? I can handle aliens. And zombies and the X team. No problem. Bring it.

OK, long day at school, at least one contentious meeting and then tutorial, which mostly drives me nuts, so there we are. A goal for later on, though. Make art or die! OK. Maybe just make art. Ignore the silly videos with their dire warnings. They actually stress me out more.

Look. There was a tshirt. But no longer.

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I Need to Listen…

April 18, 2016

Really I should listen to myself. I flailed all Saturday morning, rightfully so, wrote the blogpost, and finally got a shower, but worked…on school stuff…for the rest of the day until about three, when I headed out for some openings…one art, one music…well…sound anyway. And then yesterday, I worked almost all day and then did financial aid documents for about 2 1/2 hours before I wanted to scream. I am missing three pieces of information that have to come from the boychild, I need two signatures from him and one from his dad, and then I need to upload a bunch of stuff. Then I’m done. DONE. I’m getting faster and more efficient at filling out this bullshit, but I still hate hate hate it.

So at 11:09 PM, I had been grinding my teeth for almost two days straight, and I was gonna explode. I didn’t sleep well Saturday, so I thought about going to bed, but I wasn’t anywhere near tired. I was wired instead. Close. One-letter difference. That letter is a biggie.

OK. Let’s draw.

I’d like to say the drawing slowed my brain down and calmed me, and maybe it did a bit, but I know I saw the other side of 1 AM and it was still wide-awake time. So I’m a bit rough this morning.

While I was showering Sunday, I had this great idea for how to do the bottom of the figure in the drawing…I even typed up a note to myself in the Notes app on my phone. A very useful beastie that phone app.

Speaking of non-useful beasties…

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Kitten. You’re sitting on my drawing. Why do cats like to sit on your stuff? Is it a possessive thing? She’d spent all day lying on my clean bedsheets until I offended her by making the bed with them. All of a sudden, they are now not very interesting. But this drawing is…by god, mommy, I need to sit on your drawing…you can see the other cat in this picture as well.

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Unfortunately, I needed to draw on the bottom, which meant slowly pulling the drawing along the light table until she realized she was unwanted, shot me a viciously nasty glare, and set off (apparently to find every hair scrunchy I own and strew them down the hallway, because that’s where they all were when I went to bed). People wonder why I have cats in all my quilts…I think I socialize with them more than other living things.

So I ended up adding another 8-10 inches of paper at the bottom, as I penciled in the torso to the part where I wanted to stop, then drew the Earth. Well, half the Earth. In this picture, I had a photo of the Earth from space on the Pacific Ocean side.

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I find it really strange that the most-common view of Earth on the internet is the one with North and South America almost in the center. You rarely see the back end…maybe because it’s mostly water. Less common is Russia with Africa, Europe all tiny off to the side. I wanted Japan and Ecuador, reminders of the earthquakes there. I’m still drawing the stuff in the Earth. It took me about 45 minutes to pencil, tape more paper, and do the stuff on the sides…volcano and mountains on the left side…

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Hills and waves on the right. I think that’s South America drawn underneath it. Needs some work.

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And there’s the whole thing, so you can see what I drew last night and then way up at the top, the stuff I had already drawn. There’s a lot of space in between to get filled up with plants and animals.

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I’ve spent about 6 hours on drawing this so far…4 documented on my task app and the 2 that it took me in the sketchbook. Some drawings are so easy, 30 minutes to an hour or two. And some are beasts…the one in Earth Stories took about 25 hours just to draw. A lot of that time is think time, stare time, but it’s still time I count. It’s part of the making.

There’s a little voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering that I need to look at the two shows coming up in fall, start thinking about them too, not just focus on this giant ass piece that might not get in anywhere. And then I tell it that it’s fine. It’s only April. That I will look at those and think about them, but not right now. Right now, I’m head-in on this piece and it’s talking to me and I need to listen.


Processing…

April 16, 2016

Some mornings…some days. I figure if I wake up in the morning and have zero motivation to do anything at all, I should listen to myself, because it’s rare that it happens. There must be a reason. I mean, obviously I don’t feel like working. I graded last night. I need to do more this weekend, but maybe not right this second. Now two hours-plus later, I got the laundry going, lots of bedding. It’s a start. And I cooked some food. Second cup of tea. Resized the photos from last night. But first I spent some time reading blogposts (yes, mine) from last April and May, so I could remind myself that it’s always like this and that’s OK. I mean, yes, it sucks, but there are only 43 days of school left and they never kill me and I always survive them, just as I will survive them this time around.

And not being able to really focus on one quilt-related thing at the moment? Oh well. No deadlines breathing down my neck. That’s OK. I can afford to wander around the artistic pile a bit. I’ll get that orange quilt done, do the body one as well. No rush. And I’ll start picking fabrics this week hopefully for the other one. Meanwhile, it’s the drawing that’s calling the loudest…the furthest thing from finishing…the one I probably won’t finish until the end of summer. It’s all good.

If you don’t draw or hike or do some other thing that puts your brain in that meditative place, that space in your head where all the crap is pushed aside, I don’t know how to explain the peace you get from it…whether it’s puzzling out how to finish the arm between a cat-boob and a snake-arm…or it’s setting out on a 17-mile hike (um, that’s the boychild…I stick to 3- to 10-mile hikes personally). It clears your head like a spring breeze. Like a wave.

So yeah, a bat. It made sense last night…still does today (but drawing too small!).

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Then I did the hand. I was debating bird and butterfly, and one of those will probably still fill the space above it, but the egg made the most sense last night.

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That snake head is pretty.

Then I finally drew the octopus. Had to think about the suckers…not too complicated at this size. I once did one with like 150 pieces in it. Crazy.

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That’s how far I am right now…head and half an upper torso. It’s slow-going.

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But ultimately peaceful and calming. So I don’t mind.

And maybe today should just BE a slow day. I’ll get stuff done…just not all of it or what I thought I would do. Maybe. I realize I’m pretty hard on myself, probably too demanding. Then again, I’ve seen so many friends just stop making art completely when they started families, and I’m not that person. And it’s hard to keep on top of the job and make art regularly and still venture out of the house occasionally.

The struggle! Yeah I know. I talk about it. I fight it. I get up off the couch. And some mornings, I veg out and read a bunch of stuff and refuse to take a shower or go to the gym. The world still turns on its axis. It’s not like I get nothing done. Cut me a break. (That’s me talking to myself)

So for the drawing, there’s another arm that comes down over the belly area, there’s obviously another breast. One of the reasons I wanted to do another one was because I wanted a uterus in this one, so that’s on…then maybe lower torso dissolves into landmasses and clouds like the other one. Definitely need a volcano. I swear, I can’t remember the other one, which is good, because although I want this one to talk to that one on the phone, maybe even be sisters, I don’t want them to be clones of each other. This is the less-restricted version…the one that still has animals and plants covering her, but not because they have to…because they want to. And the important stuff is still there. Nipples dammit. And a bird or butterfly or both. Still drawing itself in my brain. Holy crap…maybe she needs a vulva. But that puts her sitting. Hmmm. Processing…


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