Thursday, July 9, 2009


Through the month of June I participated in a wonderful exchange between artist friends from Twitter, curated by @Art_News, called #MailArt. 33 artists in all, we sent each other original postcards of our art. It was both time consuming and really fun- I found myself developing new ideas using this medium that I would love to expand on further in my personal art.

I began with making handmade paper for the project. I had wanted to do this for awhile, and this project seemed the perfect way to experiment. How the paper turned out determine how I wanted to present my collages. I decided on using b&w photographic images from an old photography encyclopedia, mixed with original drawings drawn on tracing paper and collaged on the card as well. I sometimes drew on the actual card in ink, and used ink and gouache to enhance the tracing-paper drawings. I am now in love with tracing paper- such a thin, delicate medium to draw on, and it mixes in perfectly with other media as well because of its transparency.

Here are all the cards I created below. Each is approx 3 1/2"x5 1'2" in size, and made from pencil, ink, gouache & mixed media on handmade paper. My theme generally involves humans interacting with an environment based entirely on insects, rodents and birds that match the scale of humans. In some, humans actually become part of the environment in the form of plants, in others they are able to interact peacefully, and in others they work to have some form of control over the insects, rodents and birds.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

the wall

I am going to scream. As a matter of fact, that's where I was right before I took a shower: soaked to the skin in sweat, face covered in tears, and screaming. In marathon running there is this thing that happens at around the 20mile point called "the wall". It's where you feel like you can't go any further, even though you have 6.2 more miles until the finish line. I feel like I have hit "the wall" today, even though instead of having 6.2 miles, I have a lifetime to go.

We have this lovely wrought-iron arbor-gate that has ripped off it's hinge for the 2nd time- this time leaving a hole in the wrought iron that looks exactly like a rip. I, the artist in the family, who is interested in metalwork, says "I can fix that"...Okay, that was four months ago now? First, I realized my oxy-acetylene torches were not going to fix something like that. So we spend three months looking for a used MIG that I can also use in my studio and is somewhat affordable. Finally found one, now I have spent the last three weeks slowly teaching myself the machine, plus actually making it work right. Discovered that it was missing a couple parts along the way. I emphasize the slowly part, as of course there many other life things that have to be done, like work. And the #MailArt project I just completed with wonderful Twitter artists (more on this later).

So now I am working on the gate itself. I need to first re-enforce the hole with steel rod before I "sew" up the hole, level it, and re-attach it to the hinge. This all sounds so simple, but it has taken me two solid days of work to figure this out exactly. Not to mention, it is well over 100 degrees by the afternoon, beginning at around 80 in the morning. I work as hard as I can before the sun drives me inside. Considering that welding also involves the wearing of heavy clothing, I am sweating buckets of water.

I finally almost have the hole re-enforced, when the MIG acts up- wire spool unraveling and when I open up the machine, wire pops out at me everywhere. I lose it. Miller doesn't make the bushings that make this easier anymore. I don't exactly know why, I just need to re-adjust the nuts again for the spool, but this is where I break down. I am crying and stomping and sweaty and frustrated. Why am I doing this project? What money is this actually saving us? The fact that I am the owner of this MIG, and therefore responsible to actually use it in my art is settling on me like a lead weight. Why did the professor say when she saw my metalwork that I had found my calling? It's easy when I have a professor and all the tools I need at my disposal. Now, in my relatively small studio, with maybe 1/4 of the tools I would need to actually do something artistic, no extra money to buy these tools, and no room to store the work anyway- I am ready to sell everything and call it quits. I feel about a millions years away from having a viable business as an artist. I feel very alone out in the real world right now. The momentum of being built up by professors and finally graduating with my dream degree is gone. Even my fellow artists I graduated with are becoming more and more difficult to network with. I am 5-10 years older, with a family, doing a completely different type work. insert scream of frustration again. This is only a small sample of the many negative turns my brain has recently taken this morning.

When my dear boyfriend comes home to find me in my disheveled state, he says "at least you didn't die in the car accident I just saw."

I just want to draw.

Okay, so I am not going to call it quits. I am going to once again, put the spool back together and finish this project. I'm taking the next two weeks to see my parents and sister in Ohio- then I can return refreshed and ready to tackle this challenge again. I'm not sure how the marathoners get through the wall, I think they just put their head down and do. I'm going to try to do the same. Every person goes through this. I am also going to stop complaining for the rest of today.

On a different note, here are two beautiful discoveries I have made in the last month. Found an almost intact butterfly a few days ago and the cocoons were spun on our wrought iron gate. In fact, they are from the very same caterpillars I almost killed, but saved at the last minute instead. (see very first post). They have come full circle, and left me beautiful cocoon shells in their wake. I'm not sure how I am going to use this artistically just yet, but they will become part of my work in the near future, I am sure. They will go on my "shelf of special treasures".Just as soon as I finish this damn gate.