Thank You for Continuing to Hold

May 3, 2016

Apparently I never finished this in the morning. So here it is now…I guess you really had to hold, if you’re used to reading me in the morning…

So I finished hand sewing that 17 miles of sleeve on last night. Tonight I’ll put labels on the two quilts. I didn’t grade anything, because I’m lame. I did walk two dogs (OK, I got help about halfway through, but odds are I would have survived it). While I was sewing, I had an idea for filling more of the torso, so I headed over to the drawing. I’m really close to done, so my brain is sort of in overtime. I’m writing this right now while I’m on hold with financial aid because, and this is really stupid but true, TurboTax rounds W2 numbers so the line on the 1040 is not exactly the same, and Cornell’s financial aid cannot handle that, so I have to call and explain it to them so they’ll stop sending emails that they don’t match. Because they don’t. By 49 cents. I’m willing to concede that 49 cents, but Cornell is not. So I’m on hold with the same shitty music as last year. Getting a crick in my neck…wait, put it on speaker phone.

Thank you for continuing to hold.

So I thought of an owl and fit it into the space below the ribcage…

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It’s not particularly big. Then I added violets around the owl and raccoon, daisies in the rib space above the owl, and some bits and pieces around the rest of it to balance everything out…some landscaping behind the giraffe, another grape leaf, another tree.

Julie’s asking for a piece count, but I already know this one will be a bitch. I’m not expecting it to be easy or fast, so I’m OK with that. So all I have left is the torso above the hand. I have a few more ideas of what to draw up there, but nothing’s beating me around the head and shoulders. I guess I have to sit and wait for that. No rush…I’m still trying to finish up the other quilt/art stuff for now. At some point, I’ll think it’s a rush, but not yet. As the end of school rushes towards me. Aaargh.

Nothing else cool is going on but this stuff…and I’m finally off hold and talking to a human. HOO MAHN.


Bits and Pieces

April 29, 2016

I’m still plodding along on this drawing…it’s getting there. Last night, I was on a roll…I started by drawing grapes (because there aren’t enough tiny freakin’ pieces in this thing). Then I added the gecko above the hand and another tree by the giraffe to fill that empty space.

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Then I added the raccoon. Meanwhile, despite the late hour here and in Boston (AM hour really), girlchild and I had a discussion about whether raccoons are evil or not. They’re not. She says they are. Something about one that runs out in front of the van she drives for school.

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But it’s not often you see one in the same drawing as an ovary.

So I’m filling up the space, slowly. I need more ideas…

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My brain usually obliges. Give it time. It took about an hour last night to do what I did.

Before that, I had quilt class, so I started cutting out pieces for the smaller quilt I’m doing…

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On the left, that’s about 2 hours’ work. Doesn’t look like much, does it? It never does until it’s all ironed together. I’m kinda looking forward to that part…but I’m really tired right now, and I haven’t even started school. I’m not expecting a burst of energy tonight. We have an outdoors assembly today, so I need to remember sunscreen. Last weekend, I sat out in the late afternoon sun for about 20 minutes and got sunburnt. Me paleface. It didn’t even cross my mind that I might need sunscreen. I need skin that changes color with the sun, like those glasses do. So yeah, an hour in the sun for an assembly might kill me.

Anyway, looking forward to some Vitamin D. And cutting stuff out. And working on the drawing. She’s got 10 1/2 hours into her so far. Impressive. Lots of staring time though. I joked earlier this year about finishing a quilt every month in 2016, but then I blew it with the March finish by deciding three days later that it needed ink…on the 1st of April. So there was technically no March finish. Well there won’t be a late-April finish either. No way. But there should be a May finish. I guess that’s something to aim for. If I do this big one next, no way will it be done in June. I’ll aim for early July. Planning it out. Getting bits and pieces done each day.


Why Now?

April 28, 2016

Yesterday was interesting. I gave a test. I’ve given a few tests this year. I always give the kids a study guide (required) with all the test questions and then they can use an index card on the test, with anything they need on the card. I’ve had so much apathy this year, from kids and parents, that it’s truly been one of the most frustrating years for me ever. I’ve questioned everything I’ve done all year, and finally sort of gave up on them. I couldn’t persuade them to turn work in, to prepare for a test, to give a shit. Until today. And I swear, I did nothing different, but today, almost every single kid turned in a study guide, most of them complete. Almost every single kid had a card. It’s like lightning hit them and their brains lit up with “OH YEAH! That’s how you STUDENT!” I was boggled. I didn’t know whether to be ecstatic that they finally figured that shit out, or annoyed that it took them so long, or just fucking confused because WHY NOW? Why not all the other times? What was different?

I think I just input those grades and hope to heaven the test grades improved as well, and never think an entire year is a failure…know that it might happen in the 10th month of the year that they finally figure it out. This is the stuff that bugs the crap out of me when people talk about making teachers accountable. I did nothing different in the first few months of the year, then started noticing the failing trend, the inability to turn work in…and I tried to figure out how to make things work better, worked MY ass off, honestly, worried myself, stressed out, blamed myself, had a really hard year. I’m not sure anything I did made a difference. Or they just reacted to all my work so slowly that I couldn’t see it happening.

I’m boggled. Still. I hope their test scores match up with the work they did…because then they’ll see the connection.

I was exhausted when I got home though. I walked the room while they tested…you don’t think about walking all day, how tiring it is, until you get home and sit down. There were things I wanted to do, and I was just too tired. I finished up some grades on an assignment, input all the stuff from today, and then made dinner. Then I did seating charts, because it’s time to move them around again to try to deal with some behavior issues.

Next step in the artmaking process? Trimming fabric pieces or finishing the big drawing. I know I’m going to quilt class tonight, which is a good place to trim stuff, so I decided to try to fit a giraffe on the drawing instead, because it had been in my head since last week sometime.

I found a picture that worked in the space and made the decision to have her standing in front of the rib she crosses over. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the others…maybe it will be a rib-by-rib decision.

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Then I had this small blankish area to the left of the giraffe, under the uterus. Tulips! Of course. I can’t really explain how things pop into my head as I’m staring at these blank spaces, but they do.

This is actually a pretty large space to fill…even with the ribs drawn in.

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It was after midnight by then, so I stopped. I’m not sure what to draw next. I have notes about bees and lizards and cactus, although I already put a prickly pear in. I already put in a cat…there’s always a cat. I always have birds too…I think the crane counts for that, although there might be more later. I’m debating a raccoon, after watching Guardians of the Galaxy while grading last night and staring at Rory from Furiously Happy for so many days. Probably putting a furiously happy raccoon in there won’t fit, but a real one might. I’ll think about it.

Turns out my Celebrating Silver quilt Awakening the Crone will be traveling to China, once again having a way better vacation than I ever do. The whole show will be at the 2016 8th Asia Quilt Festival in Shanghai, China, from September 21-23, 2016.

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I keep waiting for the organizers to email me and say all of them are going except mine, but that hasn’t happened yet. Cool beans.


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.


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.


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