Just tryin’ to get over the hump… and thoughts on being “creative”

Well . . . it is Wednesday after all.

But also the last step of putting together my packets for a mailing seems to be taking forever to get together. It’s time to choose the images, edit so they all look accurate and in a similar scale, and then perhaps add in a tear sheet of other images, like drawings. I keep telling myself that there is no “real” deadline, but maybe that doesn’t help. Yet, also want it to all work well together and be a great package.
Also, the Photoshop app is on my husband’s computer, and I need to pry his little fingers off the keyboard for a few hours to have access to that. Do other people run into an aspect of a larger project that seems to slow things down?

But, I’m making progress.
Brought a couple new paintings home to shoot, and hopefully…… next week it will all go out. . . . .

On Sunday, I loved the message that came from Academy Award winner, Michael Giacchino who wrote the score for “Up”..

. . “never once in my life did my parents ever say, “What you’re doing is a waste of time.” Never. And I grew up, I had teachers, I had colleagues, I had people that I worked with all through my life who always

told me what you’re doing is not a waste of time. So it was normal to me that it was OK to do that. But I know there are kids out there that don’t have that support system, so if you’re out there and you’re listening, listen to me: If you want to be creative, get out there and do it. It’s not a waste of time. Do it. OK?”

so, hopefully, lots of young folks were listening, and will take it from there!

Like seeing in the dark – random connections

It’s the Holiday Season. Days go by and I’m not actively working on a painting that waits for my attention. Instead, I go shopping for butter and sugar for the impending cookie marathon.  For years, I have sent off fruitcake and gingerbread men and decorated lemon sugar cookies. (yeah, I actually make damned good fruitcake!) and the baking must begin!

I have also spent hours checking the names of art consultants/designers on a mailing list I bought last year…. and weeded out about 2/3 who were not really worth my time to contact (really a small frame shop, out of business, etc..) also attended a seminar about e-mail marketing.  Which to my mind has little to do with being an artist, but seems like it has become a necessary evil to be “successful.” I do know that I have to reach a wider audience than I now have.

And saw a play about a blind thief who constructed his reality by “translating” all the objects and distances in a room of the apartment he was planning to rob. Through the course of several visits to the same apartment, he encounters the owner, a woman who needs to dull her life with alcohol. She begins to romanticize the qualities that the blind thief seems to embody. She believes he will take her away in some sense from what she cannot truly confront in her own life. And by the end,  she realizes she has been totally blind to the needs of her terminally ill husband, and her step daughter.

Often, when I work on a larger painting, process holds sway…. trying to gradually see what the painting will become – not knowing before I start. Not presuming what a final state should be.  Like trying to see in the dark.

This is why I must have shifted my attention away from painting the real tangible world, to a world that I must totally “translate” if you will.

There is more challenge, and more necessity to adapt to the fictional world, as it is gradually  revealed. Way slower to turn out paintings this way.  In fact, lately, a lot of them seem to start out very dense with content and then gradually get pared away to some sort of essence.  It sometimes pains me to think about all the parts I actually cover up or obscure as this continues.

Bill Moyers was having a conversation with Jane Goodall, and I was struck again by how calm and eloquent she seemed. When looking for more information about her, I discovered she and her sister both have some neurological condition that results in an inability to recognize faces!

So then, I wondered if she was somehow very well suited to spend years in the jungle, around very few people, making and recording her observations about bits and pieces of behavior and interactions.  What would it feel like to be walking towards someone and not really be able to read their face?  When she was sitting across from Bill Moyers, what was she seeing?  We’ll never know what the world looks like through someone else’s eyes, only our own.

Duplication and other end of summer thoughts

Trying to catch up with the art-biz/organizational stuff. I just renewed the Artists Register page…. this time with only one image to save some money.  It should be active in a week or so, and I figure duplicating the ways folks might find me is a good thing!

I also thought of this concept re: our summer gardening activities.

there's still hope!

Since we had a very cold, rainy spring/early summer, with the attendant hail storms…. things got off to a really slow start.   So, I’m really glad that I signed us up for a CSA. That’s a community supported agricultural share, whereby we pay some money up front and get veggies every week!  From a local organic farm. We have certainly been eating more greens and beets and other good things!  But, my own garden only had peas, some beans coming on and in the case of tomatoes – here’s what I have so far – two green globes and it’s already Sept. 3!   So, in this case, I’m glad we duplicated our own efforts with support for a local farm.

Speaking of duplication…  there have been a series of temporary residents under our deck- not sure if one is the permanent resident and the other the sub-letter. The skunks and raccoons make appearances in unexpected ways. Some nights, it’s the little black critters with white stripes- although thankfully they didn’t seem to carry a wafting odor with them.  Other nights, I hear something banging around the cat’s water dish, and see muddy paw prints on the deck in the morning – and I know it’s been the raccoons out there!

Here’s one I caught the other evening. . .   peeking over the steps.P1010090

More paintings are cooking in the studio as well.  My next task is to redo the pages of this website with images into thematic categories rather than by year! But, no surprise, I’d rather be doing other things instead of sitting in front of a computer, shuffling images and downloading!

why I write . . . and play

I used to keep a studio journal – sort of a running compendium of comments about work in progress,  mental detritus from former teaching jobs, thoughts about what I saw in the paintings, technical ideas… (“move this over, make that more light, open up that area”…).

‘just occurred to me that since I no longer do that, I can always refer back to some of these entries as a substitute. Heck, even if no other living soul ever reads it, that’s good enough reason.  It should, theoretically, exist somewhat permanently here.

As I mentioned once, I often like to listen to podcasts of Speaking of Faith, or the broadcast on Sundays.  It’s become my version of attending church-  or really attending to the spiritual/ethical ideas that are most interesting to me.

Recently, I was listening to an intriguing program with Dr. Stuart Brown, who founded The Institute for Play. He studied many deviant/criminal types and found overwhelmingly that the one thing missing from their early lives was the opportunity to play.  I can’t fathom a life so grim or joyless.

Brown explained how kids learn and take into later life lessons in problem solving, empathy and conflict resolution- from dealing with each other in play situations, and having a fantasy life, and being free to explore. It made perfect sense.  As artists, we try and allow that sense of wonder and non-productive play to stay in our lives, because it allows for discovery, innovation, and the unexpected gift of being outside of time.  It’s a very easy thing to lose as an adult.

My studio overlooks a public plaza that has, as one of its main attractions, a system of water streamers and sprouters that shoot out of the ground and disappear into these lovely dark rock whirlpool sculptures.P1010083 During the summer months, it’s a major distraction, but also a fascination to watch the toddlers and how they interact with these pieces.  It also encourages me to sit at my table with sketchbooks, ink, and other drawing materials and just play with ideas for the paintings of the future.

When I taught drawing, I occasionally read from several authors while my class was working. When we started using color, I chose Diane Ackerman’s book, A Natural History of the Senses, because she talks about color and how we describe what we see in such evocative ways.  Turns out, she also wrote a book, Deep Play. Here’s what she says about poetry, but I think you could easily substitute the word painting.

“There is nothing like poetry to throw light into the dark corners of existence and make life’s runaway locomotive slow down for a moment so that it can be enjoyed” … “Poetry offers truth based on intuition… we ask the poet to teach us a way of seeing, lest one spend a lifetime on this planet without noticing how green light sometimes flares up as the setting sun rolls under.”

so … enjoy the sunsets, and the toddlers

the unicyclist

While upstairs painting today, I glanced out the window to watch the local citizens strolling through the plaza below my windows.  The usual sorts of pairs and trios, bearing styrofoam boxes back from lunch, or bundled up on a bench, eating out of a bag from home. Then, a solo figure on a unicycle lurches into view. He makes a few circles around the paved pathways, circling fountains, and furniture.

What was most striking, other than the fact that this guy was pretty good at keeping his balance, was that no one seemed to give him a second look, or visibly appear to appreciate his fleeting dance-like appearance.  It felt like a treat,  and a reminder to not be so dedicated to being on task, that I fail to notice wonderful little events like this!