Friday, May 28, 2010


The very first thing I thought when sitting in the studio this morning was "today is a day for drawing".

Woke up today and shuffled out to the studio half asleep, with a large cup of black tea in my hand. Off of my "immediate pay" job today, I have most of the day to work. Hate to waste a rare day such as this, but my initial encounter with the recent works in progress has fallen flat. Everything is moving along pretty nicely, overall... yet each piece is at some sort of cross-roads and needs special attention. This is that point where I can easily "make it or break it" with the work. Some days I am fully up to this aspect of artmaking, ready to implement the next steps, whatever they may be.

As I'm sure I have written before, I have learned not to force work just because I can work. This will inevitably lead to disaster. Yet at the same time, today is an art day and must be taken advantage of.

Time to step back and think. Get back to some basics and spend the day drawing and thinking over ideas and processes.

I am really enjoying my "new" working method of giving myself plenty of time for sketching and ideas without imposing deadlines for completed work at this time. This is a recent addition to my work-time, inspired by a trip to Spain in March. Saw a million beautiful and amazing things, but was especially struck by the Picasso studies for his painting "Guernica" at the Museo de Reina Sofia in Madrid. The completed painting was amazing... but the dozens of studies were almost equally so. I was struck by the sheer amount of time and practice he spent working up to this painting- and it has shifted my own approach to artmaking since my return.

So, looking forward to a day for thinking and playing with ideas that have been bouncing around in my head, without the pressure to "complete". A few drawings at several angles of a June bug I found while digging up my dead Bird of Paradise plant last night. Some nude studies of people running. Winged limbs. And some sketches and notes about where the works in progress should go. Full day!

Here are just a couple iphone images of some recently completed studies for myself:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Woke up feeling like I am drowning in something warm, viscous and heavy. Nothing specific, I have known this feeling well since I was very young, though I have found ways to attach various meanings to it over the years.

Wake up, walk dogs, drink tea, throw in laundry, pick up kitchen, pack lunch, get child ready for school...

Here is what I "researched" this morning.


I really did not know how to do this before. No wonder my dog hates it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New work/work in progress

 After a few weeks of exploring ideas and feeling a great deal of creative energy in general,  I awoke yesterday with a paralyzing feeling of anxiety about the work I have been focusing on lately. Given that I had one of those rare full days of working in the studio in front of me, I wasn't about to give up. However, it was a great reminder that positive creative energy can only last so long before the other half of my brain steps in to inform me how silly and futile my ideas are as well as all attempts at art-making in general. Quieting that special critic that lives within is no easy task, but I was able to get the volume turned down to simply "critical" so that I could actually get some work done.

When this voice began, what used to happen to me was that I became incredibly depressed and hopeless, and abandoned whatever idea I was working on. I then would stay in a terrible creative rut until the energy struck again. Not a great working process overall. When I went back to school I couldn't stop working when this happened because of the deadlines pressing down on me. I had to work through it. Still, many, many tears of frustration were shed and ideas still abandoned.

This still fresh in my memory, I resolved yesterday to not abandon these ideas, whatever happened. Certainly not every piece I am working on is successful, and what may be successful in my eyes could be a total failure in someone else's, but it's the process of fully exploring and fleshing out a series of ideas to their fullest that I am focusing on. What lies on the other side? Several failed pieces to be sure, but perhaps a few successes that I could never have achieved without this level of difficulty.

From now on I am viewing that often debilitating feeling as a gauge that I am on the right track. That for me, I am somewhere, for me, that is "unsafe"- and that, artistically speaking, is exactly where I want to stay and push my artwork.

This is also a great time for me to take some pictures and step back to reflect on where I am at this point. Below are some paintings I recently made on some clayboard I had lying around the studio. It is the first time I have attempted to work in color since school... What is interesting for me is that they are done with acrylic ink- leveraging the drawing that I love and leaving behind my major difficulties with paint in general.

Below are a few (very much) works in progress in the sculpture studio. The "bowls" are made from leaves and tea bags cast into a plaster mold. The people are currently made from plasticine, and I am playing with their positions and shapes. At the end of today I bought a box of terra cotta air dry clay to begin making the people in a permanent material. Also, the pins I have used to pin the bowls to the wall are visible. ugh. That needs to go away, but I have yet to resolve how I want to mount them.

I will have pictures of the metal pieces I am working on in the next post.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

it keeps spilling and spilling

I have been almost obsessing about this subject lately, easily brought to tears every time I hear news on the radio. Oil is a symbol of some of the highest levels of greed and corruption in today's society, while the men who died, plants, animals and the people whose livelihoods are potentially gone end up being helpless casualties of this. What are we doing about this? What can we do about this? Personally, I feel completely overwhelmed by the level of devastation. Only 21 years after the crisis of the Exxon Valdez. What have we learned? What next?
These  thoughts have been finding their way into my latest sketches and paintings. Just having fully embraced color once again, the last few days I find myself picking up the burnt umber and carbon black to use liberally in each piece. I don't know how this will resolve itself, both in real life and in my artwork. More to follow.

Here are a couple of excerpts from Wired Magazine. First article is about the current crisis. Second article was written last year, about the long-term findings after the Exxon Valdez spill:
"High concentrations of oil are acutely toxic, but low concentrations have more subtle, widespread effects. As oil percolates through food webs, it retards plant and animal growth, leaving them vulnerable to predation and disease, and less fit to reproduce. With the Deepwater Horizon spill already too large and unpredictable to contain, the question is no longer whether it will cause damage, but what form damage will take"

Friday, May 14, 2010

parenting and the arts...balance. argh!

So life is all about balance, right? My daily struggle is often about fighting to make the time in the studio that I need. It often means other things, like email & blogging, etc. fall by the wayside a bit.

Attended a wonderful panel discussion on The Apocalypse on Weds. night by a panel of artists, designers and a writer for  National Geographic. The main artist there was Marina Zurkow, whose amazing video "Slurb" was/is playing at the Women and Their Work Gallery where the discussion was hosted. Incredible video, thought-provoking discussion.

But the next morning, (and I do believe I was somehow being "punished" by life for having some fun and a nice night out ;) ) I was up at 6am sharp. Thursdays are fertilize all the trees day, and getting ready to head out to a nearby town to work as an art assistant for a UT sculpture prof.- right when I get home from that, I had two massage clients back to back. So all in all a busy day. No problem, I have my routine down. The only thing that made this particular morning different is that my son had a book review due. Before I left for the panel discussion, I gave him explicit instructions about the final touches that needed to be done. I sneaked into his room at 6:30am, and jumped on his computer to print out the report for him. Only to see that he did not do anything to the review the night before. What did he do? He watched the "300" movie with my fiance. You might ask why he couldn't print this out himself? Our network printer is not set up with his computer (this is to save our ink from the many many things he deems "very important" to print) and I need to email it as an attachment to myself to print from my computer.
Anyway, I immediately shook him awake and of began a monologue on my frustrations about him not finishing. I imagine that none of my words penetrated his barely awake head. So I wrapped it up by telling him he needed to get out of bed now and finish the report,and headed back downstairs.
25minutes later, no sign of my son at the breakfast table. My internal "mom" clock is going off and I head back upstairs to his room. Only to find him ready generally ready for school, but with the book review not touched. AH!! What was he doing? I was greeted with the usual answer of "I don't know". As I lecture him yet again (why? perhaps for my own sanity), I noticed that he has really horrible breath. I mean seriously disgusting. So I stopped lecturing to tell him to brush his teeth.
2 minutes later, he ran out of the bathroom saying, "where is my toothpaste?!"
The first thing I thought was, um, if you brushed your teeth last night then you should know where it is. When I asked this question I was greeted with "I believe so". Translation: "I believe so" means: "No, I did not, but I don't want to get in trouble for this so I will give a vague answer". He then proceeded to go to his closet and pull out his toothpaste, toothbrush and floss from the overnight back I packed for his sleepover last Saturday night. Let me repeat, Last Saturday Night- it was now Thursday morning. You do the math. Freak out time!
"Brush your teeth for 10mins- time it! and finish the damn book review so I can @*&$ print it!".
It was now 7:55. We had to leave in 10mins. I had not eaten breakfast, or pretty much finished anything I needed to do to get ready. Mad crazy rush time. My son appeared downstairs to let me know all is finished. Yay!
But wait, he decided to use a downloaded trial version of Microsoft Word on his computer for this report and my old clunker laptop converted this to.... wingdings!!!! awesome. Finally ended up printing it from the html showing from my email and it printed....sideways. Sideways it was. I didn't have time for it anymore. I handed it to my son, who at that point knew better than to say a word.

On the way to school, I informed him that he would be late, stopped by the coffee shop, dropped him off at school, and ate the best bagel and coffee I had ever tasted while on the way to work. Oh, and I sent a text message to my sister about the desire to beat my head into a wall over and over again. :).

And my family wonders why I often lock the door and put on headphones while in my studio??

As soon as I send this post, I will be happily in that space- getting in as much time as possible before heading to my "regular job" this afternoon.

Final moral? Even though my son is just shy of pre-teen... I cannot leave the house and expect things to actually happen.

The End.