Big Hands, I Know You’re the One*

October 19, 2016

OK. I’m officially over all these dogs. Scissors chewed up. A drawing by a kid chewed up. One monster stalking my trash can in the studio, trying to surreptitiously sneak shit out of it (Swiffer things, dumbass. Gonna sweep for me?). One big dog peed in the hallway because she’s scared of the dark, even when I escort all the dogs outside for pee excursions. I have a pack that follows me everywhere. There is barking in the small hours of the morning (that’s just one of them…the other two are smartly snoring away on a variety of beds). I can’t even find all the toys to entertain the little bitey chewy animal. Hence the scissors. Bastard.

I didn’t grade last night. Nope. Nuh uh. Did not.

My theory was that I would quilt (because I had the right color of thread) until I was done, and then if there was time, I would grade all the things turned in late. Except then the quilting took almost three hours. And it was after midnight. So I gave up on that plan.

I still think I did the right thing by starting with the quilting.

Morning reminds me that I didn’t get enough sleep. Like I didn’t know that already.

Outlining everything first.


There aren’t a lot of pieces on this one, so it didn’t take long…


And then I started quilting the background.


At one point, I was looking at this vast expanse of white that had to be filled in. Boring! But I powered through (turn the music up louder, bounce a little in your seat as you quilt? Whatever makes you keep going…there was the voice telling me I could be done tonight.).


Because there’s still a lot less quilting than there was on the last piece.


While I was doing this, Kitten kept trying to sleep on the quilt. No. She was squawking at me. And then went over to the bookshelf and kept trying to pull file folders and stuff out of the shelf. I finally cleared her a spot, put a towel in there, and watched her happily curl up in there. Who knows why.


A good hiding spot.

So there it is. And it’s almost done, because at least for now I am not binding it. I want that unfinished look. Like mom didn’t have time to finish it.


So moving on to the nightstand. Maybe this will all make more sense when I have pictures from the installation. Or not. If I ever decide to make it a wallhanging, I’ll have to put a sleeve on it, but for now, it doesn’t need anything else.

I also need to do some drawing for the next three shows. Yikes! The deadlines keep piling up.

As for the dogs, tonight I’m going out. Without them. And I’m ditching them all weekend. By then, maybe I’ll miss them. And one of them will be back at her own home. Where she can pee wherever she likes.

*Violent Femmes, Blister in the Sun

Using Your Headphones to Drown out Your Mind*

October 18, 2016

Artmaking is the core of my existence. It really is. I’m not happy without it. If I look back over the years, when I was just out of school, first married, I made art a few days a week. I actually had a studio downtown for a while, which was nice, but still…I had a life outside of that. I went places. I hung out with my husband. I worked on the yard. Walked the dog. I still did art…probably a good amount, because I made about 6-10 new pieces a year (this is before quilting, so screenprints). I entered shows and got rejections and acceptances and shipped stuff all over the US.

Then the kids came along and that kind of put a minor wrench into it. It was a lot harder to find the time, so I shifted from screenprinting to making quilts, because I didn’t need big blocks of time and I could carry parts of it around with me. It wasn’t a quick shift. It took a long time to figure out how to do what I wanted to do. Sometimes I think I’ve figured too much out about the how…it’s not a challenge any more. And then I remember all the images I want to make into fabric, and I tell myself to shut up. I do about one piece a year that’s a challenge, usually for this feminist artist group I’m in. So I’m good. I usually get significantly frustrated with the process and feel some relief at going back to what I usually do. So I guess that’s good. “I’ll never do THAT again,” is often how I feel after one of those.

Now the kids are at college, gone 3/4 of the year, and even though I do have some social stuff, I mostly do art. Yeah, I’m an introvert, so honestly, at the end of a school day, I need fewer people around anyway. I need some quiet space.

So I have two for this feminist group at the moment…the fabric one is going OK…not TOO out of the box…I pinbasted the top part…batting and a backing even. Like a quilt. Going onto a bed…


So I’m making a quilt of someone sleeping on a bed. To go on a bed. Weird.

My cat…because she’s there almost every night…I’ve always had a cat in the bed.


Here she is modeling for her next cameo


Oh yeah. And before I did all that (and made dinner and graded stuff), I walked the dogs. It was nice. Not hot (unlike what it will be later this week). We got the whole three miles in. Only one horse (two of the dogs go a little bonkers at horses…I have to stand off the trail and rein them in).


I found yesterday very frustrating. I’m getting a lot of that this year. Some difficult kids. Trying to build a relationship with someone who acts like an idiot most of the time is a challenge in itself. I’m not sure I always have the patience for it. Sometimes I’d really just rather find a job that doesn’t follow me home and stress me out. Then just make more art.

*Regina Spektor, Eet

I Can’t Do Much from Way out Here*

October 17, 2016

Yeah. I took the weekend off writing. It really was just that I ran out of time. I regularly take Sunday off, but Saturday started with places I had to be, things I had to do, and I never got caught up enough to write. I got a lot done, though…so I guess that’s good. I’m still a little panicked about deadlines and having too much to do this week, but I’ll survive. I’m a few steps closer to being done with what has to be done.

I had ironing to do on Saturday…but Kitten really thinks of the iron as her own space heater…


I was trying to figure out how to attach the sheet to the background fabric and keep the bottom free, but also leave the possibility of finishing the top as a wall quilt.


For this show, I want it to hang free…but I don’t know if I want that in the long term…


So I figured that out, marked the fabric, cut and washed the background, and then headed off to the Visions opening (more on that later), plus band watching. I draw in bars a lot…this because I like the music, and I do sometimes dance, but I’m often in there for 4 hours or so, and that’s a long time for someone like me to just SIT there. So I draw.


I did two drawings…I don’t think this one is done…


Nice shadows though.

Sunday, after spending most of the day dealing with household stuff and a ton of grading (I think I described it as grading until my eyes bled), I finally got back to the problem…So I didn’t want a visible stitch line, because I want it to look like the sheet is just pulled up. So I started with Wonder Under underneath…


And once I had it attached, I hand-stitched the top and the folds…


Because if I want all that to hold when it’s hung on the wall, it’s got to be more than Wonder Under…you can see the stitching on the back…


Then I laid out the pieces where they belonged. I had to put another layer of white under her butt so the sheet wouldn’t show through so badly.


And then I did the stitch down, which took less than an hour, compared to the two hours it took me to get it all on there today.


I got it all stitched down…here’s the back.


I don’t even remember what my time estimates were before, but the ironing took a lot longer than I thought, mostly because of the sheet. Hopefully tonight I can sandwich it and start quilting. This is a crappy busy week, though, and I still need to draw on the nightstand. Sigh.

I’ll figure it out. I always do. I think I’m OK on time, actually, so I should stop panicking…but this week feels tight already. Starting with today, because I didn’t prep for today’s lab AND I have before-school duty…so I really need to be at school early. I’d much rather make art…honestly.

*Freedy Johnston, Save Yourself City Girl

There’s a Place That We Belong*

October 14, 2016

It’s Friday. That’s a good thing. Unless you’re trying to get a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. Insert crying/laughing face here. Oh well. Urgent care on Friday after school it is. Nothing major…just an allergic reaction I think. Love my body’s immune system. It goes into overdrive for the stupidest shit. It would be fine if it weren’t constantly evolving. Intelligent design, my ass.

So when I got home and was done with dinner, peppered by texting from the kids about politics (well, the girlchild jumped ship early on that one), I went straight to the studio. I had updated the coloring book files, fixed the two typos and the one picture issue, and submitted the new files for review. This thing is almost done! Hallelujah.

But I also need to finish these two projects for the same deadline.

I ironed…


I lost part of the cat’s ear for about an hour, but then it reappeared. I actually did really well with all these parts…nothing lost permanently.

It was a fussy iron though…lots of tiny pieces.


I originally guessed 2-3 hours and it was just under 3 last night…but I still need to iron it to a background and engineer the sheet part. So that will take a while.

Here’s the second 100 pieces all laid out for me. You can see all the tiny pieces in the top half. Finger wrinkles and baby faces…


So I didn’t really get anything else done last night except this…


Good progress though. Hopefully she’ll get completely ironed down tonight. And maybe even stitched down. We’ll see. That’s the plan anyway.

I have pens for this now, nice new ones. But I didn’t draw last night. I sent this picture to the kids and they were worried about how sad puppy looked.


Well yeah, he’s sad because I won’t come sit with him (I did eventually and then all he did was bite me). I’m not a good dog entertainer when I’m working.

All our ballots showed up yesterday. Time to vote! Then I can really ignore all the drama. I’ve been trying, although the media certainly doesn’t want me to give up on it. Please tell me how I can lose my right to vote. Please remind me that I’m a second-class citizen for having a uterus…god forbid all of us who aren’t straight white males have rights in this world. I’m often confused by the things people say, supposedly intelligent people, about how I’m imagining the war on women, that it’s not really that bad. Oh yeah? BE ONE. That doesn’t even touch on being someone who’s not white or not straight or not a round peg in the round hole. So frustrated with humans right now. Moving to a really big island and taking the sane people with me.

*Peter Gabriel (with Kate Bush), Don’t Give Up

I Follow Where My Mind Goes*

October 13, 2016

Brain muddle. Good description of where your brain goes sometimes, right? I’m sitting here trying to write artist statements for two pieces that aren’t even done. There are days when I can’t explain what I HAVE done…today is apparently not the day to try to explain what’s still unfinished and largely exists in my head.

I didn’t get home until late last night…I’m a union rep, so those meetings just seem to go on forever. And then the parental mail and check up on their stuff. In good news, though, educating children went a little better yesterday after the previous day. I had to be mean to some kids, but that happens sometimes. I think I need a baby gate for one of them. Or an exercise ball (she wouldn’t sit on it).

So I didn’t get started on anything artistic until late. I thought about drawing on the nightstand, but I really need a new thick Sharpie for that. So that’s on the to-buy list for today, along with more milk. Too bad I can’t get those in the same place. I need a general store. Grocery stores don’t cut it. Maybe Target. I was just there Monday night, desperately buying a pair of headphones that didn’t turn out to be so desperate (still a good thing, though, because both of mine stopped working on the same day). I need to finish proofing the coloring book too. That came out of nowhere…this is why my phone calendar is so full of stuff.

So no drawing…I still needed to finish cutting out the pieces for the quilt portion of this thing…so I did that. And then I sorted them. There’s only 200 of them. Well, there’s more than that because I misnumbered, but close enough.


Ideally, after that, I would have gone to my studio and started ironing, but it was after 11 and I was tired. Ugh. This is such a tiring year. So I didn’t. I’m starting to panic about the timing on this project. And trying to write a statement! I need to go back and read the organizer’s info and make sure I’m talking to that. I know I did mentally in the beginning, but I don’t have a clue what I was thinking way back when. In May or June.

Calli distinctly does not give a shit.


Sometimes I wish I could be her.

OK, but I do better if I think this shit out. I need to iron down this quilt top, which will probably take 2-3 hours…mostly because I have to figure out attaching the sheet with the body on top of it. Then I need to do stitch down, which should take less than an hour. Then sandwich and pinbaste it, which ought to be interesting, because of the sheet again. I think this is why I keep delaying work on this…it’s an engineering problem. My SIL asked me last night why I don’t do 3D work, like make a person and stuff them, and all I could think was “because Susan Else rocks it and I can’t think like that.” The construction throws me. But I like it when this art group I’m in makes me think outside my box.

So I’m up to maybe 4 hours. Then it needs quilting. This is where I can cut time if I need to…but let’s say at least 2 hours. I’m not binding it for this show. I just want raw edges. In fact, raw should be in the statement. So I only need 6 more hours. I have Saturday, most of the day…I have Sunday, a little. So maybe that’s my goal…is to finish the quilt part of this thing by Sunday night. Then I can draw a little at a time all week on the nightstand, varnish it on the 24th (shhh…I’m taking the day off), and it should be dry by the opening.

No Problem. I Got This.

Really. I just needed some mental space to place all that work time. Now I can concentrate on sticking to that schedule…

*The Psychedelic Furs, Love My Way

You Can Ponder Perpetual Motion*

October 11, 2016

Aargh. I feel like this year is going to burn me out quicker than most school years, and not because of the kids (that’s usually what does it). I’m trying to do all the things I’m supposed to do to handle that, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Yesterday I had a ton of professional development, although honestly it just felt like another way to make me do more work than I’m already doing. It’s enough to write curriculum from scratch…but to then have to do all this supplementary stuff on the curriculum I just wrote is killing my brain. When I got overwhelmed (and irritated) in the morning, I started drawing. Unfortunately, this is on the back of some crap I’m probably going to need later (and they told me I would need yesterday, but did not).

This is what it looks like when Nida is overwhelmed in a PD…


And it’s not because what they were saying was hard…honestly, I’ve seen most of it before, but then that just irritates me, and then they assigned some really vaguely worded homework for when we next meet, and I just don’t fucking care about their little projects that I have to jump through a hoop for. Let me plan. For god’s sake, let me get some grading done, because I’m buried. Stop telling me I have to do more.

This year. Damn. There are 17 other things I need to manage today that are school-related besides the two additional things that were assigned yesterday. Bastards.

So by the time I got home, I was antsy as hell. I just needed to like RUN somewhere (and my knees don’t go along with that much). I’ve been having a person issue with one of my walking routes with the dogs, so I didn’t want to drag all three dogs through that route…but I needed somewhere close. So I drove to the ex’s house with two dogs and picked up the third dog, and walked their butts off. Mine too…we needed it. OK. I needed it more than they did.

But I came home and dealt with grades, because I lost my prep period yesterday and didn’t have time to get them done. Plus I’m constantly trying to catch up.

Then I sanded this sucker for the nightstand project…in the dark. On the deck. With the dogs. Listening to the yelling down the road from a major accident…I heard it happen and then the yelling started. Sirens. They were yelling about a rollover. Scary stuff. It’s the turn I make onto my road and once a car barely avoided my ex with both kids in the car, taking out a mailbox instead.


Tonight I’m hoping to start gluing shit on it. Not really shit. You’ll see. The holes on the bottom are a bit of an issue. Trying to decide what to do about them. Quick fix. There’s metal screens in there. I don’t want to spend a lot of time dealing with the holes. And I’m not great with a power saw. I have a piece of wood that’s too wide…but it would just be one cut.

Then I settled down with scissors. I thought I could finish cutting these out last night, but I was too damn tired.


I’m maybe halfway done. Another thing to try to get done tonight. And grades. Always grades. In fact, I should be doing more of that right now…sometimes I do feel like a perpetual motion machine…

*Creedence Clearwater Revival, Up Around the Bend

Everything Zen…I Don’t Think So…*

October 10, 2016

OK. Feeling better. Got some stuff done. Did a ton of grading…still not done, but better. Finally got to the next step in the project that has to be done way too soon, and got the materials for the other project that has to be done at the same time. Got a quilt ready to ship. Now the house and yard are still a disaster, and I’m sure I forgot something, but I’m starting out OK. I even have clean laundry. See? I am functional. And how I feel about the day is directly related to how much of the to-do list I cleared the day before AND how much time I got to make art. This is why I feel better over breaks. Even the ones where I have to spend 40 hours grading.

One of the things that was delaying my start on ironing the newest piece to fabric was that I had to put away all the fabrics from the last quilt. There were a ton of them…


But it’s not like this process takes very long…I just don’t ever want to start at 11 PM.
So I was good yesterday…I started in the late afternoon.

I had spent a good chunk of the day grading, just like I did on Friday. And puppy came to me exhausted on Sunday, which was a good thing.


Honestly, having three dogs is a pack, and it’s a bit too much for me, but they do entertain the little one better.

The newest piece is a bit of a departure, since it will (a) actually lie on a bed and (b) not be bound. At least not for this show. I may bind it later. I’m also incorporating a real sheet in the bottom of the piece, but I realized the pillowcases in the drawing probably should use the sheet fabric as well.


There are two human figures…but there’s only 200 pieces total in this whole piece, so I thought I could probably iron it all in one go…the flesh of the adult below.


I had to talk myself into continuing at one point, because I was tired, but I was so close to done. It’s always a balance…because I find it hard to fall asleep anyway, so when you add that into the mix, it’s really better if I stay up too late and then I’ll fall asleep quickly (well, honestly, that didn’t work last night, but puppy barking was part of the issue…he needs earplugs).

Here’s all the fabrics I used in this piece…35 of them. In about 3 hours…


And there they are, all ready to be cut out tonight.


That is, if I survive today. Professional development in the morning, teach in the afternoon, and then a 2-hour staff meeting. Plus the dogs need a walk, but I’m not sure I can handle all three of them at once. I don’t have enough time during the week to pull off multiple walks usually. So I’ll have to figure that out.

Three dog butts eating in a row…


Feeding them is seriously a chore, keeping the two fat ones out of the little one’s food. Piglets. And then he just looks at me…”Mooooom. They ate my food again.” He’s the slowest eater. By far. Survival of the fittest.

I’m awfully tired this morning to sit through a PD. They make me cranky as hell anyway. Not a good sign. I’ve already seen the topics list and the things they’re going to make me write about, and I don’t have the brain power. It’s more work on top of a huge pile of work that already exists. Oh well. At the end, there’s art.

*Bush, Everything Zen