Some years it doesn’t snow at all here…temperate air from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, contained between Olympic Mountains and the salt water. This winter had started so benignly, with crocus blooming and trees budding. Always a surprise, the snow started a week ago Saturday, added at least a foot yesterday, with more promised this afternoon through Tuesday. I need to get out and get the first layer carved down before more is added, because it’s also colder than I’ve ever seen it in my 14 years here, down to 15 degrees (above) this morning. I thought I’d paid my dues in my years in Northern VT, MA, and NY.
I have been stitching, and can just stay home, if necessary, with plenty of great food laid in. Fortunately my neighborhood did NOT get the high winds that hit west of here and in Seattle, shutting off power yet again after the Big Windstorm. I know, I am Very Spoiled!
In typical fashion, I added images and words, carrying out the theme of the poem, images of both grandmothers, an altered polaroid of me from my first time at Fort Worden, now in my neighborhood.
And more collage/drawings with words inspired by Dancers Among Us from the library. I have my round former dining table by the windows to the left of my larger computer, so I can play PBS American Masters, Art:21 and work on collages.
All my life…at least since grade school, I’ve worked on learning to manage my time to be as productive as possible. When I was 8, I remember Realizing that if I just got my homework done, I could go outside and play, instead of wasting time at my pink and white desk. When I had my own business for those many years, I knew to work on new designs in the morning and production in the afternoon and evening, and always be ready early if I had a show or travel…when I was married, my husband would always twist his ankle or find another way to distract me from my own priorities.
Since I don’t have responsibilities to any job or person but myself now, I find me pushing myself to be creative and productive Every Minute, and failing miserably. I’ve been reading 2 books about artists in their studios by Joe Fig…and NOBODY is Creative every minute of every day…I just don’t have all those mindless production tasks, like packaging patterns or sewing and stuffing piles of bodies that I used to…SO: I must invent projects that require lots of repetitive tasks and don’t take up much space to store…or be content with feeling lazy…hard to watch movies in the evening without keeping my hands busy after years of practice!
Artist Books could fill the bill. Closer view of the pages above. My father printed all these photos, and maybe now they will survive a little longer than they might have. Every picture tells a story.
Early in the week I did a new series of drawing/collages from a different book…a collection of Instagram photos…I’m still using the same materials and the pieces of tissue paper glued to the page to start…interesting how the images I chose affected my outcomes…I enjoy this process, partially because I have much lower expectations of myself for the outcome.
For the book, I was brought back to a journal with metal covers that I carried during my years of transition between living in NY with a partner to living on my own in the NW. I took myself on a trip down the west coast of WA to Long Beach and a stay at the beach for my 60th birthday. It snowed and rained every day but one, but I had a Wonderful Time! “the old life evolves into the new.” Always!
This week, as opposed to last week, I’ve finished a lot of different things, some more happily than others. Again, I’m ready to give up painting…such a struggle, and my paints and gesso are drying up. I love the physical sensation of laying paint on canvas, but feel varying degrees of Hate for the finished product. I enjoyed using the large canvases and liked much of my portrait series…I suppose most painters work in series, in order to learn and tweek accordingly. I no longer feel that I want to spend the money and storage space on large canvases…Are organizations of color and shape in fabric as “good” as paintings? Since I’m no longer trying to make money or compete in Art, where does my Striving come in? I want to see evolution in my own work.
I found myself enjoying working in my least expensive sketch book, because I was less inhibited about using up the materials. I read Old in Art School a while back, and a friend is reading it now. Even though the author has an entire successful career behind her when she starts a graduate degree in fine arts, she still falls prey to the Art Game. I’d like to keep working on getting more effective with art making, without beating myself up for imagined failures. I Hated what I did with the painting, had fun using photos for jumping off points for drawing…and I’m still enjoying stitching on my box of pages about my earliest childhood while watching Gossip Girl on Netflix…Hard to believe that they have managed to keep it going this long.
This was an enjoyable exercise: A book of photos by Dorothea Lange and my 8″ square sketchbook, which was sufficiently cheap to use up without worrying.
I used light-weight food tissue paper on each page with a white border, to make a more sturdy base for markers, small bits of collage paper, a black brush marker and a little brown. Having reassured myself that I wasn’t “wasting” supplies, I felt free to experiment. I think I’m more effective working quickly and again and again, than struggling over one thing…at least where drawing and painting are concerned.
As I continued, I felt more free to experiment, to throw in more colors and see the dynamic lines in Lange’s photos. Writing becomes part of the texture and adds to the story. I want to do more with this technique.
Funny, my stitching is very slow and time consuming, but I’d rather do a whole suite of small…or large and sloppy drawings, than one incredibly detailed one. These look even more interesting to me with the remove of digital printing.
I have a plan for a series of small black and white fabric pieces that would be a series with the two Syria pieces I did…There are no shortage of Shameful Acts in the history of homo sapiens…no shortage of material for me to work with. One of my favorite artists since High School is Ben Shahn, the master of line and social commentary. My beloved high school art teacher, Jessie Loomis, introduced me to him and to using text with images…I don’t need to pay for grad school…just keep doing the work.
I love Slow Stitching…so meditative…especially in these days of long darkness. I can see the sunrise and sunset inching apart…if I check the computer. I start the day with Large Ambitions. I got my sales tax completed and sent in, prepared the numbers for both my and my mother’s federal taxes. I sewed more indigo and white patches onto the dark blue blanket while I washed the yellow sheets yesterday. I designed a doll using Marcia Derse fabrics I bought last weekend on my road trip to Port Gambol in SUN!
This week I MUST get back to the Hot Flash and the Rest of It book and stop being afraid of the chore of getting it published on Amazon.
I’m going to do this year’s Brooklyn Sketchbook Project all in Graphic Grannie. Is learning to forgive ourselves for not Saving Everyone and meeting all of our own High Expectations the most challenging Life Lesson? Many are quoting Mary Oliver this week…she has words about growing old as an artist. “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention, Be astonished, Tell about it.”
The first full week of 2019 means lots of appointments: check eyes, fix the latest tooth repair, make the hair as appealing as possible. I hate watching the wearing out of my body and the planet: finished the third book by Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Homo Sapiens is making itself extinct…along with a lot else. Yuval’s answer is to meditate–Buddhists’ answer is perhaps to recognize the futility of life…although there are Buddhists who, like other Sapiens, don’t mind killing their neighbors for doing a different style of prayer.
I accept the inevitability of aging and and death, but I don’t have to be happy about the process. I keep reminding myself to enjoy my many benefits of living…a sunny, warm day in January for a trip to Port Gambol, delicious food, new fabrics that stimulate ideas, talking with people, the joy of slow stitching and watching movies. My eyes are getting worse only slowly. I can afford to buy lunch and take a drive on a sunny day.
I’m altering a 1900 Larkin book for Housewives for the Hot Flash book and it gives me a place to put loose pictures of my life. I am Very Lucky! I sat at my table this morning, eating delicious and wholesome food and feeling the sun on my back, reading a bio by Leonard Bernstein’s daughter. Yesterday evening when I didn’t feel well, I lay in my bed, warm and cozy, and watched a movie of a Louise Penny book on my small device.
The World is still full of Marvelous Things! I’ll finish this, take a walk in the Sun, and come home and work on Art…slow stitching. Please join!
Art is Work, title of a book in my library about Milton Glaser. I need several projects in order to keep moving, stay sane. Sometimes it’s tempting to coast and keep repeating themes and methods, but there are aspects of rote work in any art project and I keep those for evenings, when my creative spark is banked, and I watch trashy shows on Netflix and do repetitive stitching or scratching away with pens. We each have our different rhythms, so you’ll have to experiment to see what works for you. Sometimes it’s just the process that is So Satisfying, arranging colors and textures, stitching in and out, but New Years seem to demand new projects…Where to go? What to do?
If I had gone to Art School, I would feel more free to use up tons of canvases, just playing around, copying the styles of other artists, until I found something of my own.
I am attracted to paintings now that include both figures and words on a relatively solid background. In the old days I would have just started in, but now my funds are limited, I’ve taken to working things out in one of my sketchbooks first…would have always been a good idea.
Does the subject even matter…or does Art=Process? When I did the 100 Hot Flash Women series, I used a differentpainting style, and I was trying to use more flat planes than realism. One could tell the paintings were done by the same person…is our particular style of art making unique, like our hand writing?
I’ll show you how it goes. In the mean time, I’m in love with 23 Sandy Artist Book Site Artist books combine images, materials, and styles of all kinds, fiber, stories…stay tuned!
Happy 2019…I hope it turns out to be better than we fear.
End of 2018, I’m hoping for better days for All, the planet shifts toward the sun (on my end). Work, even Art Work, takes a back seat to Family, Friends, Food, and Fun. The darkness is why so many cultures invented dark winter holidays.
Sunday, today, we walked part of the Spruce RR trail…along with a lot of other people. It actually became sunny, the rain and wind stopped, the snow stayed on the mountains where it belongs.
Lots of families out walking together today. Lake Crescent…so Many Gorgeous places to go. The tunnel was finished since the last time we walked here…I hope the four miles helped to work off some of the pie. Spruce RR Park.
I hope there will be time for Lots more Family, Friends, Food and Fun in 2019…but just in case, try to be kind to yourself and those close to you…and Make Art…it Helps!