I was supposed to come home last night from book club and grade stuff. I graded during the 2-hour union meeting before that, which included a lot of words about the new contract. And by the time I got home from book club, it was after 9 PM and I wasn’t in the mood. So I didn’t grade. Sigh. I’m going to lose a whole day this weekend to grading…I know that.
What I did instead was finish the drawing (finally!) and number it. I need to be working on something artistic right now. The drawing is the hardest part, and I was so close to done. There’s a space where I look at it and think, there’s nothing else that needs to be on there. All the spaces are appropriately filled. It took 6 1/2 hours to do that…it’s about 36×48″.
Although I did consider a cat…
She is doing her cat duty by lying on what I’m working on. Seriously. That’s where I needed to be drawing. But this quilt is more about climate change and war than cats, so I left the cat out.
I added a few things up here, finished the top arm, put a sky behind part of it…
Added some burning trees…not here…but I really like these tumbling birds I drew somewhere and moved onto here.
I can’t always explain why I draw particular things. There they are…
The birds again…not the trees. It was hard to get any photos last night with the lighting right above. Oh yeah, and then I numbered it…
Only 804 pieces. Not bad. OK. It took almost an hour just to number it. I tried to do it logically. When I put the quilt together, we’ll see how logical that was. Tonight I can start tracing. If I am awake. You never know. It’s another busy day.
They’re sweet little beasts. Running late. As always…me, not the cats. They’re never late.
OK, so I had a rough diabetic night with blood sugar randomly crashing and refusing to come back up. I’m running on about 4 hours of sleep, I need to call the doc, I already talked to the nurse who confirmed I did everything right (although I’m sure the man wishes I didn’t wake him up, but I needed someone ready to call 911 if I couldn’t). FUN. I love unexplained health issues the day before I get kids in the classroom. Well. Hours before I get kids in the classroom. I have a parent meeting this morning, but I’m prepared for the rest of it. Just not sure how to fit the doc in there as well. Honestly I think I need something more than “here, we’re gonna take all your blood and pee”, but whatever. I have food and glucose tabs and a meter at school and IDK what else to do. Scary though.
As with most people, I hate when things are out of control.
Yesterday, though, I got everything ready and it was all good. I came home and the trees were trimmed and there’s light places where there hasn’t been light and my solar is collecting all that lovely light and I can watch it on an app do all that, so nice.
I did my first Patreon video for January, all about the drawing I’m working on.
I’m pretty fast at the editing now. That’s a skill.
Boychild found me for this…
That’s a raccoon. Can you tell? He went up one of the trees eventually. That right there is about where the neighbor wants to put a fence. He wants to fence the whole property. I think they told him 12K. Well yeah, dude. So I don’t know how that’s gonna go, but maybe I’m not going to have to stare at a fence. And raccoons can go where they want.
It’s possible in my old age that we will have to move further out.
Then there was a lot of kitten interactions. See the blurry one? Yeah, lots of that.
And some play…
Plus dual tail bopping…
All good. Did I finish anything last night? Nope. Well, not true…one class of an assignment. Finished that.
And then I drew…
Almost there. She has a head now…
Needs more things. We all do. OK, blood sugar behave. Doc find a reason. Kids do their things. I’m exhausted. Good times!
I’m late writing today. I had a thing this morning, and then the boychild and I took the dogs on the last long hike of Winter Break…although next weekend is a 3-day weekend, so we’ll probably do another one. Hopefully by then, the daylight will last long enough that we can hike after school some afternoons, but we’ll see…it needs to be light late enough that we can avoid coyotes…as much as you CAN avoid coyotes while in wild spaces.
This is Crestridge, and it was cool enough to do this midday. We’ll come back on that trail way over there. We usually go UP that and come back this way or another, but this time we did it backwards.
A portrait of two dogs who refuse to look at ME, and look at the boychild instead.
Not very photogenic.
Lots of fungus…
Anyway. That was today. Last night, I hung out with one of my stitching groups…Julie is crocheting next year’s Christmas ornaments, which is very organized of her…
Many of her annual ornaments hang on my tree. When I remember to decorate it, which is often on Christmas Eve.
And Kathy is working on another Sue Spargo, Homegrown…which I own and will enjoy stitching if I ever finish the 2015 block-of-the-month, Folk Tails.
I finished the three September blocks with that flamingo, and she is working on Block 8 of a million. Or so. Yes. 2015. You read that right. I haven’t gotten much done on it this year…too many other embroidery projects on my plate.
Honestly, the process is more fun than the finish on these.
There was lots of kitten playtime last night…here they’re watching Simba, who’s watching things far away that he needs to bark at. The kittens don’t know why.
Honestly, none of us know why he barks so much or what he’s barking at. After the dogs left, we had all three cats playing with one purple ribbon…
Fun for everyone…especially if Nova grabs one end and tries to run with it.
I did finally cut a piece of paper to start drawing the next quilt. I guess I gave up on a drawing a day, because now I’m drawing the quilt instead. Nova came up to see and decided the remote was a dangerous beast that needed attacking.
She seriously pounced on it. Kitten is still the biggest…but there was some racing around the house by all three…
Back to drawing…I started with the drawing from a few nights ago. I’m not sure where else it will lead, but it’s a start.
It’s nice to have somewhere for Art Brain to land.
Tomorrow, I’m driving a million miles to take a class, and then driving back again. All good. Oh yeah, I got into another show…Artist as Quiltmaker XIX. Heart-Shaped Box will be at FAVA in Oberlin, Ohio, from May 16-July 26. Cool news…
OK, since I resized the photos and opened this blogpost, SEVENTEEN THOUSAND THINGS have shown up in text, my inbox, my brain, wherever. I hate the last few days of break. They implode. Or explode. There’s ploding. Of some sort. I literally can’t focus on anything, even my eyeballs are all floaty things and goo. Wait. Maybe that’s pinkeye. No. Why would I have pinkeye? I wouldn’t. OK, so I’m just tired and there’s too much looking at things going on. IDK how you go through life without looking though. I’m an observant person. Maybe I look too hard or too much. Whatever that means.
I can’t get anything done the last few days of break. I mean, I get things done, but things explode in time, like a pufferfish or those biscuits you break out of the cardboard tube or bread rising. Like one thing yesterday that should have taken not much time took forever. Well. In my head.
Anyway, so I should accept the time-wasting, the fast-moving (only in my head) clock. Just accept. Yesterday, I did manage to go to Dick Blick for fancy art paper. I didn’t need much…but it means driving downtown. Well, I drove to SDSU first and that was a mistake because mapping sucks AND it was closed for break. So I don’t like the downtown one because parking is hellacious. But I managed it and got the paper, because I’m making an artist book. No really. Not one you’ll want to read so much. Well, honestly, I just don’t know what I’m doing with it, but I needed paper I could make a box (or 17) out of. So it’s a good thing I took that class over the summer about paper building and boxes and embroidery, because now I’m gonna use it. Well. Maybe not the embroidery. We’ll see.
I also finally finished grading the huge assignment. Well. There’s another one. This one felt huge while I was doing it.
The next one probably will too. Although the fact that not everyone turned in the next assignment will mean it takes less time.
OK, so I’m still in this brain place that hasn’t started drawing the next quilt. I think it’s because I’m still doing a drawing a day. Maybe I should stop.
I like the birds.
I had some stuff that was copied and I taped one of them together…
But it won’t work for either of the two library shows (I sent an email for clear guidelines on what’s allowed, but I’m pretty sure nudity is out). And it’s not what I want for the next big one. I just need to draw it.
Maybe that’s today’s plan. Clear the light table, prep a big damn piece of paper, and start drawing it.
I’m still working on the binding…with doggie help.
Or not. This was around midnight. I finished the last side and started one of the sleeves. One finger is really hurting. I’m not sure it’s related to this…I think I pin-stabbed it. Whoops. Simba really just wants me to rub his belly instead of stitching.
I even got Kitten at one point…
The other kittens were out being treated for worms. Gross stuff. They came back and played around for a while and then got locked up in the crate for sleepy time.
Boychild has been digging up this Tree of Heaven (it’s a weed…a seriously fucking tree weed that goes to the center of the Earth and out the other side)…
He keeps finding glass buried down there. I’m pretty sure the newest pieces are vintage whisky bottle…
Fascinating shit out there…
Meanwhile…today…I need to get new hiking boots. I need to start grading the last of the hellacious things. I need to pull some quilt rolls out for a curator who’s doing a ‘studio visit’ tomorrow (my studio is the whole house…makes it difficult). I need to take a freakin’ shower! Seriously this day is kicking my butt. I need to make the other batch of scones before the ingredients go bad. I need to clear the damn light table and start drawing! Yes. That thing. OK. Well. Let’s start with the shower and see how the day goes. Or not. Because the boychild is still doing laundry. OK. Let’s start with the quilt rolls or the scones or maybe the light table. SEE! This is how it starts. I should write all the tasks on little pieces of paper and put them in a jar and then pick one to do first. Geez, even I am rolling my eyes at that.
I can only do what I can do. And realizing that the end of break is ALWAYS this fucked up should help.
I had this terrifying (school) dream last night. I hate those. For some reason, I went out to lunch during the school day (so unrealistic…lunch is 30 minutes and includes peeing for the first time in 3+ hours and eating lunch after getting everyone out of your classroom), and ended up in some sort of weird protest/trip in a bus/possible performance art thing with a teacher I really don’t like and doesn’t even work at my school any more (shit, now y’alls are tryna figure out who THAT is) and she was all chill and meditative and so was I until I realized my class started in 10 minutes and we were miles away and how the fuck am I getting back and I’m running, literally RUNNING to class, but all of a sudden, I’m running up my childhood street (Mirasol!) and toward my old high school, but you know how when you’re running in a dream, it’s like the street is lengthening or you’re being held back or something crazy like that? And the phone rings, and it’s the AP Secretary wanting to know if she should get a sub for me, and I’m like NO, I’M COMING I SWEAR, just drop someone in there until I get there, but the street is like quicksand and I can’t even move.
So there’s that. Helluva a way to wake up this morning. Too early. The man is at work this week and I went to bed late because I wasn’t tired yet and I was on a stitching roll and I just didn’t want to (petulance noted). So I got woken out of this dream…nah…nightmare, groggy, WTF is that noise (the shower), and UGH. Yeah. Well. Should go to bed earlier, but I know my brain. Lying in bed, TRYING to fall asleep is not a thing. I mean, it’s a thing, but not a good thing.
Speaking of school, yesterday’s post hit a nerve with co-teachers, that’s for sure. I still have most of that one big assessment to grade and ALL of the other one. Oh well. And all the makeup work. It won’t all get done. I did end up going to the gym yesterday, which was lovely. I love the gym. I’ve missed the gym. Somehow I need to figure out how to balance the pilates and the gym and the hikes. There’s so little time for all of those. Boychild and I are trying to figure one last hike out for this week. I do have to go to school today. Well, I could go to the copy store or I could try to print rubrics here, or I could break into my co-teacher’s house and steal the extras she has, because we didn’t divide them evenly enough and I am 21 short. Fuuck. Also I need to go buy paper if I’m going to try this artist book thing for an upcoming exhibit. Plus the kittens have worms and the dogs eat their poop, so now I need to call the vet about whether to worry about THAT shit (shit…hehehe). Sigh. The answer is probably yes.
I got 3/4 of the binding done, so I have 1/4 and the two sleeves left.
Time to email the photographer.
Kitten has a special message for all of us…
I’m with her on that.
I woke up (the second time, after going back to sleep after the teacher nightmare) wanting to do an artist’s residency. I’ve thought about them for years, applied to a few. Realistically, I need electricity. I think. Maybe. I just don’t know. I need to be away. It has to be on a school break. It needs to be away from here. Somewhere different. Thinking about that. Always thinking about that. Sigh.
OK, do some stuff today. Get it done. Did I tell you I made 24 scones last night? Three batches…still need to do the blueberry ones. Had all the ingredients (running low on butter though). Froze them all up for the next month of school…if only I could do all the lunches and dinners too. I mean, I know I COULD…but would I want to? Eh.
Best teacher skill ever! We’re all experts. I’m writing this and reflecting on yesterday’s work or not work while listening to a podcast on how to reduce time spent grading assignments. Ironically. Because I didn’t finish a full assignment yesterday. I almost did, but it hurt too much, and I quit early. Not really early…it was almost midnight. OK, to be truthful, I graded a bunch and then quit and drew some stuff and THEN tried to grade some more, because I wanted to be done, and I made it through three and stopped AGAIN. THAT was almost midnight. I was tired. My head hurt.
I find when I’m feeling this way, like I’ve done nothing, I should reflect. I did take a bunch of stuff to dad’s dumpster yesterday, stuff the boychild deconstructed. I took one dog to the vet for a shot and got medicated shampoo for the other dog. I made it to the pet store and stocked up on dog and cat food for at least the next month. I like having everything set up for the next month when I come back after break, because it always feels overwhelming to just EXIST after a break, so I need things to be easier when they can be. No matter what I do, it will feel overwhelming. I cut up and cooked a ton of apples for scone-making today, again, to freeze for the next month or so. Baking today. Good plan. I did grade MOST of one of the largest periods of assessments. I can easily finish today and start the next (and last) class. The essays are gonna kick my butt, and that’s all there is to it. I did my drawing a day…can’t explain it, but obviously whatever I was watching had some effect…
You would think so, but I was watching more Craft in America and it was mostly Native American artists…so not so much. All the Craft in America stuff is available on YouTube, by the way. I’m really enjoying it. I even know some of the people in it, like in person.
Here’s the grading help I had…
Oh yeah. And thanks to the kid who thought light green colored pencil was the best choice for his messy handwriting. My Head. Ouch. I did quit soon after his. Hmmm. The first time I quit. Actually, right after his. I blame the light green.
Now I have also been trying to clean up small areas of the house, to throw stuff out and better organize it. I got one counter space cleared (mostly! That’s always the problem…isn’t it?). I keep looking at this pile behind where I sit at the table, but I can’t deal with it. I need a better filing space for house files…they’re all legal sized and I don’t know where to put them. Or how to organize them after 4 refinancings. Sigh. So that overwhelms me. The next space is the art desk and the top of the piano…and the light table, which has all the Christmas books (I want to read them ALL RIGHT NOW). I dealt with a small piece of that and found two patterns and three kits. Why do I buy kits? I don’t have a good answer for that except that when my brain is slow, I like stitching other people’s stuff for relaxation. My own work is not always in a stage that can travel, so I take kits on travel trips, long drives, anywhere I might have to sit and pay attention. I suck at that without handwork. So I buy kits, mostly wool, mostly hand embroidery. Although sometimes quilt stuff…more rarely, or cross stitch. I found one pattern that was an iron-on and ironed it onto fabric. I need to pull threads and put the fabric in a hoop and put it in a travel bag. It won’t take much time. Can you say staff meeting? Yes, I’ve gotten in trouble for that before. Somehow that is MORE offensive than pulling out my sketchbook and drawing. I don’t know why. I know how I learn best and hear best, and it’s while stitching or drawing. So let me do that.
But then I found a wool crazy quilt table mat from 2014. A kit, nonetheless. Holy hell, did I buy that? Well. Now’s the time. I love crazy quilting. It’s fun, relaxing, and easy for me. So I (well, I started to type WASTED TIME by piecing this…but it wasn’t really wasted, because it’s something creative my brain could do and not be super stressed by it…and while I was doing it, some ideas for the next quilt popped into my head, and I wrote them down. Hello Art Brain. How are you?) pieced the mat…
Easy to cut out with freezer paper, although I put it on muslin instead of using their fusible interfacing instructions…mostly because I don’t have any fusible interfacing and didn’t want to buy anything to do this.
In retrospect, I should have done it their way, because after pinning this, you do a zigzag in black (barely shows) rather than proper applique…it’s all wool and stretchy as hell, and the interfacing would have made it stay in place, but whatever. It worked. I stitched it all down and ironed the hell out of it. This designer fuses stuff on top instead of just pinning it. I’ve done another quilt (well, most of it…let’s not talk about the unfinished projects plan I had for last year that totally tanked…instead, let’s make a NEW unfinished project. Um Plan, I meant. A new Plan. ha ha. Ha.) in this method, and it’s pretty efficient. So I traced all the other pieces on Wonder Under, found their mistake in the pattern, redrew things I didn’t need to redraw (I did check at least 5 times and yes, there was a mistake, but I missed HOW it was a mistake until later. No worries.) and then ironed all of them to the wool bits, making only two mistakes on those. Maybe three. Who cares! No one will know. Except me, and I will promptly forget about it. Now I just need to cut all those pieces out and iron them to the mat, and then I can do the fun stuff.
What’s really the point here is that I spent at least an hour on this instead of (a) cleaning the space I was supposed to clean (in fact, I now have potentially a bigger mess to clean up) and (b) getting anything done on the to-do list or (c) starting the new quilt drawing. Whatever. Obviously my brain needed a break.
I’m tired. The hot flashes are back in force and waking me up multiple times a night, plus the neighbors above, who are moving out, left their porch light on all night, and it shines into my bathroom window, which shines into the bedroom. I’m really light sensitive. Basically sleep is a losing game for me. I should have closed the bathroom door, but I’m always afraid one of us will get up to pee in the middle of the night and half awake not realize the door is closed and walk right into it. So I don’t.
It’s a beautiful warm sunny day today. What’s on the plate? Finishing one class and starting another class of that damn assessment. My next drawing will be Goddess of the Fucking Rock Cycle. I’m going to the gym. I’m making about a million apple cheddar scones and a similar number of blueberry scones. I’m going to Costco, otherwise known as My Suburban Hell. I will probably find some other project I NEED to do instead of what’s actually on the list. The man thinks I need to go to this community meeting about a high school they’re trying to put on this tiny piece of land where traffic will be hellacious. Ugh. I hate people right now. Oh fuck! The grocery store…I need to go there. When we went Sunday, half the freezers had stopped working, so we couldn’t get two things we needed. I was supposed to go yesterday and forgot. So after the gym, run sweatily through the store for those two things. Good plan. That’s a lot of shit for one day, and I haven’t even put in the drawing of the day, plus progress on a quilt. Really, what I need to do is contact my photographer about when to bring that quilt in…I think that’s the only way I can force myself to finish it. Silly, really…sitting in front of the telly and stitching sounds lovely. Why can’t I do just that?
No idea. Procrastinate EVERYTHING. It is my brain.
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.