Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hey, Van Gogh Had His Hang-Ups Too!


"Only the half-mad are wholly alive."
Edward Abbey

Just for fun, I thought I'd pop in today and confess some insider information about my studio habits. Every artist has his or her own superstitions, complusions, & procedures; I am no different. So here, in no particular order, are a few of my personal quirks:

1) I must create to the "sweet sounds" of a sci-fi or horror movie. Some people work to Bach or birdsong...I work to the squeals, roars, and chomping of zombies, vampires, nasty extraterrestials and the screams of the poor doomed humans in the path of such monsters. Aliens, Dawn of the Dead and The Cave are currently on the DVD loop. I don't watch just any old movie; I do prefer something of some quality, or at least something I find interesting. If the movie is lame, then I waste precious energy lamenting the stupid director and cheap special effects. If there isn't suitable creative fodder on the Sci-Fi Channel (and I am trying to resist this peculiar compulsion), I will literally wander back and forth in the studio, putz around and generally get nothing done. I'll sit and stare blankly at the current project before me, completely uninspired. I'll often complain aloud about not being able to get to work. Finally, my son will say "Oh, put in the movie already, Mom!" And so, I pop one of the flicks I've watched perhaps a hundred times, sigh, and settle in. I don't actually watch the movie...it just becomes white noise of sorts (although I will often recite the oft-heard dialogue.) I focus almost instantly. Action/adventure films sometimes will also do the trick...dramas are not allowed in the workspace because instead of art-making, I'll settle in on the couch to watch the movie...and comedies or love stories? Forget about it! Ick! Now there's something that sucks the inspiration right out of me!

2) I have an art-making "uniform." I work in flannel pants of some sort and whenever it's clean, a ratty old X-Files T-shirt. It has long since passed the point of being suitable in public and if someone comes to the door unexpectedly, I hurriedly grab a sweatshirt. But again, this ritual helps me focus. I dread the day when my beloved T-shirt falls to pieces. Whatever will I do then??

3) I swatch out every single supply in my studio...and I do mean everything. I keep a little journal just for this purpose and in it, I put a little sample of every pencil, marker, paint, rubber stamp, glitter, embossing powder, pastel, crayon and so forth. I used to swatch my papers, brads, and eyelets as well, but those collections now verge on the ridiculous and I managed to draw the line somewhere. This system allows me to see each product as it will actually appear on paper and helps me coordinate colors. Sometimes when I have creative block, I will simply sit and swatch until my brain gets moving again.

4) I love having a cup of coffee at hand when I work but I have a bad habit of leaving it in the middle of my mess and it is quite common for me to wash my brush in my coffee or drink my paint water. (Perhaps this explains the first three items on this list.)
5) Because I have had to adapt around my fickle hands, I set up "stations" around the house and work 15 to 20 minutes at a time at each station. For example, I might be painting at the main studio table but I'll also have Photoshop open for scanning artwork on the computer, canvases ready to be sprayed downstairs in my second studio space, the sewing machine set up on the kitchen table and so forth. Each station requires a different sort of hand movement or stressor and when my hands cramp up doing one thing, I can switch tasks and keep going. My son calls it "extreme multi-tasking." I still have to take breaks all throughout the day for contrast baths, finger stretching, and resting, but this system is the only way I get anything done at all.
6) Finally, I clean up my workspace completely at the end of every day, even if I'm in the middle of a project. I might leave out a set of colors I'm using but other than that, I make my work table shiny clean and completely free of clutter at the end of every day. I hate starting the morning in chaos and since I am a creature of ritual, I have to have all my tools back in place when I begin again. Otherwise, I will reach for something automatically, fuss when I can't find it, and waste hours looking for it when the desired tool is sitting right in front of me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Three Bones Shy & Infinitely Richer

Each piece of art I produce has special meaning; it represents a small victory over adversity that resides throughout my body (i.e. chronic migraines, myofascial pain) but that most especially rears its ugly head in one of my most precious assets: my hands. It is a complicated tale and one that I have only alluded to in past posts. However, given upcoming challenges, I have decided to detail a bit of my story, not as a plea for pity but as an example of how health issues don't have to rule one's life but can, in fact, enhance it.

My tale has taken years to evolve. In 1989, I was involved in a bicycle/car encounter. I saw the car rapidly approaching and thought it best to get out of its way. Somehow, my panicked brain felt that an immediate stop was the best course of action (oh, how illogical that was!) so I "slammed on" the brakes and subsequently, executed a very ungraceful tumble over my bicycle's handlebars. Instinctually, I extended my hands outward to cushion my fall. I promptly broke a small bone in my left hand and incurred a constellation of minor scrapes and bruises. 1990 found me in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Torrejon, Spain as a radio and television broadcaster. I developed a Dupuytren's Contracture in my left palm that required two removal surgeries a year apart. In 1993, home and finished with active duty, I noticed a lump in the middle of my left wrist accompanied by annoying and gradually increasing pain. Between 1993 and 1998, I visited several hand surgeons who were perplexed and unhelpful in a variety of ways. My X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans appeared normal (at least to the untrained eye.) Beginning in 1999, my right (dominant hand) became extremely painful and on many days, almost useless. A new set of X-rays in the fall finally revealed the answer. I had Kienbock's Disease
in both wrists and the disease was twice as bad in my right wrist as my left. Diagnosed most often via heavy, boring, and comprehensive orthopedic textbooks, Kienbock's is uncommon in women, young people, and rare bilaterally. I had hit the Kienbock's trifecta. Essentially, the blood supply had been compromised for a little bone called the lunate and as a consequence, the lunate had died and collasped into about three pieces. In June of 2000, I had surgery on the right wrist to remove three bones. In December of 2000, I had my left radius (one of two arm bones) shortened and connected with a plate and 6 screws. Between 2000 and 2005, I developed De Quervain's tendonitis in the left wrist which required surgery and another contracture, this time in my right palm. (I discovered early this year that I had the foot version of contractures as well, which also required surgery.)

Whew! What a journey it has been! And in February 2008, I will be having a full fusion of my right wrist to relieve ongoing pain. The surgeon will harvest bone from my hip and use the bone, a plate, and screws to permanently fix my wrist into a neutral, unmoving position so the bones can't grind on one another. This will be my sixth hand surgery (multiple surgeries are common for Kienbock's patients.)

I know this all sounds very grim but this is truly the best thing that has ever happened to my art and my life as an artist. A mere week after I was diagnosed, I switched my college major to studio art. I knew immediately how I wished to use what my hands could offer. My passion, determination, focus, and dedication grew by leaps and bounds. I work through the pain and dysfunction with a variety of adaptations to tools and working style. Does it slow me down? Absolutely. Does it prevent me from exploring certain media? Absolutely. Does it inspire me to pour my heart and soul into every creation? Absolutely. Do I grieve for what I have lost? Never. I have gained too much to mourn. And that, as they say, is that.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Poetry Before Dawn

I crawled out from under my cozy scarlet comforter very early this morning, prompted by the nagging feeling of a migraine brewing. Before dawn is a quiet and productive time, albeit a bit chilly and dark. I popped on the coffee pot and and went back to bed to wait out the percolations. When it finally sputtered to a stop, I fixed a hot cup o' joe, toasted up an English muffin and settled in at my studio table. The night before, I had started another round of found word poetry so I would have more text available for a series of canvases I've been working on lately. The table was strewn with bits of poems-in-waiting, adjectives, nouns, phrases, conjunctions and the like, all patiently hoping to find a purpose in my compositions. Once I've discovered a hidden poem worth remembering, I write it down and stuff all the little words into a numbered pocket in a clear slide mount page. That way, I can find all the necessary clippings when finally needed. I typically work up ten poems or so in each round so I have options to choose from when deciding upon the imagery for a canvas. In the meantime, there are tiny bits of books scattered all over the table and the slightest rustling of papers or god forbid! a sneeze, and all that potential poetry flies away.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Returning & Remembering


New blog look and some new art...for a little while, I am working on a slightly diferent take on the Asian imagery series. These are mini landscapes on smaller canvases - much more detail, a different background technique & the addition of found word poetry to add text. This particular piece (acrylics and collage) is 4 inches by 12 inches high and it reads:
"In this house
there was
only
this
illuminating
bit of truth
whisper it over and over:
Remember who you are.

These have turned out to be very fun to do if I can ignore the physical difficulty it incurs to work in such detail...liner brushes, quarter-inch brushes and smaller, tweezers for the words...sigh! I have always loved tiny and after working big for a tad, I guess I am returning to my roots to remind myself why I got out of working small.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Start, New Look Coming

Now that Blogger has upgraded to a somewhat more user-friendly format, I have tranformed my old blog into a fresh, brand-spanking new template and will give this another try. I just couldn't stand all the HTML work that classic Blogger needed to create a unique template...Still working out the bugs...Blogger is seemingly infested with code bugs of all sorts (even in the new format) so after a thorough once-over on this template, tweaking this and that, I'll get back to the business of posting if I find that blogging this way is easier on the hands...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Painting, Painting, Painting Whilst I Was Away

I know, I know....I haven't been posting on my blog....Are you at all shocked? As I have said, when things get chaotic, the first thing to fall to the bottom of the "To Do" list is my blog. I'm trying to get better...I really am...it is just that all this canvas is so insistent about being painted on and...well, the computer often doesn't say anything at all to me.

Here's what happened: After I donated the crane painting to Vector Rehabilitation (the PT clinic I seem to practically live at nowadays), the executive director called me the following day and asked if I would like to do a show at their clinic. "I'd love to!" I said, looking around at the three measly canvases I had completed. And so, I really leaned into the task and began painting madly. All in all, I created 18 canvases in 7 weeks (if you go back to when I first started this Chinese folk design series.) I'd paint all weekend and then show up at PT on Monday mornings so my therapist could ease the physical toll of such intensity and sustained activity ("Unraveling my shoulder muscles from my ears" as he says.) I'm not quite ready for the all day, every day lifestyle of a true working artist, so by the last painting, a two-foot by three-foot exercise in agony, I had a fairly significant setback with my chronic muscle problems. But I got those paintings done and hung the show the last week in June.

Here's the part that made it all worth it: The day I hung the show, I sold 12 paintings that very day!!!! The irony is that the bulk of that revenue will go towards my ballooning medical bills but I should be able to use a little to invest in some more canvas. I was thrilled to sell my work (I would've been happy with one painting selling) but in the aftermath, I realized I am now sans work for my October showing. Ack! I'm terrified I'll run out of ideas and I've still got a solo show in February to have work ready for...sigh! What's a girl to do? Well, first off, I've taken a BIG break so I can recover a bit physically, deal with the ongoing saga of my foot (which has now lasped into a waiting game of wondering if the fibroma has grown back and will thus require more surgery), and most importantly, to guard against burnout on this subject matter.

All in all, setting aside the physical challenges, the painting work is great fun. Some canvases are strictly painted (after a collaged layer beneath) and a few (very few because it is a tedious process), have papercuts added to the canvas. In the first painting in this post ("Catch the Wind"), the butterfly is a cutout from separately collaged and painted serendipity canvas. In the third piece ("A Little Piece of Heaven,") the entire image, including the moon is a cutout. There's even a second layer of cutout to create the white highlight. Thank goodness this was only a 14-inch square canvas!! So that's the update...till we meet again!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Red-Crowned Blessings

Here's another mixed media/acrylics canvas I completed over the weekend...It's the biggest I've done so far since taking up painting again...24 by 30 inches. This photo is a bit dark; the background is actually a light green onion skin mulberry paper with actual bits of green onion slices and onion skins as inclusions in the paper. I drew and cut a large pattern of the tree and after making sheet music serendipity canvas paper, I recut the tree and mounted it to the background. The symbol in the lower left means "long life." In Chinese symbology, the red-crowned crane is second only to the phoenix in importance and they represent longevity as well.

I created this piece as a gift for the physical therapy clinic I have frequented in the last seven years. The work I do there for my chronic issues is still ongoing and they have been invaluable in helping me stay mobile and relatively medication free even in the face of severe pain. What they do is invaluable, not only for me but for the community at large; They often subsidize PT care for low income clients who otherwise might not be able to attend physical therapy due to severe insurance restrictions. The staff, from the therapists themselves, to the aides and office staff are always friendly, encouraging, and supportive and I wanted to make sure that I told them how much I appreciated what they do. I'm not always so good expressing such things out loud but I can always write a decent letter or create a piece of art. Here's to Vector Rehabilitation's past and future success; I hope this piece helped convey that message.

P.S The clinic ended up hanging this in their lobby, replacing a stock repro of a Gauguin piece (*gasp*). I told my PT that Gauguin was probably rolling in his grave and he replied that if there was still enough left of Gauguin to roll, then he was welcome to it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

High Society, Here I Come! (Again)

Un-BE-lievable! The saga of my festering foot continues. Apparently an internal (dissolvable) stitch has decided unilaterally that it won't go away and my body has decided that in that case, it must worm its way up and out of my body right through the most tender part of my scar. My podiatrist gave me a week of Epsom soaking, whirlpools and general wishful thinking to get whatever it is to the surface so it can be nabbed with tweezers. Otherwise...sharp objects will become involved. What's up with this?!?!? In this journal entry, Sancho de Storkmonte expresses my attempt to "reframe" this entire affair.

Since my hands are in comparatively better shape, I am spending today experimenting with background techniques that can be applied to canvas underneath my Chinese folk art images. I'm afraid of getting burned out on one particular look so I want to see if I can follow the same basic steps and create a different but related feeling for other canvases. I also need to do some studies for an edition of three, 2 by 3-foot canvases. I'm donating one, gifting another, and showing the third. I think I have some sort of fever because that size is going to be absolutely monstrous considering I can't keep my arm above shoulder height for more than a few moments at a time. However, the image I'm working with just begs to big and when the art begs...well, how can I not listen?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Time to Paint Furiously


Well, I learned an important lesson on Wednesday: Sometimes when you leap blindly into unknown territory, you can land somewhere not only unexpected but wonderful.

As I have said, I've started painting again after a six year absence from the craft. Multiple hand surgeries and long term complications made painting just too difficult to do and enjoy. I have been doing a lot of painting in my journals but nothing on canvas. Just about three weeks ago, I decided, rather tentatively, to try again, ostensibly to deal with a flare-up of panic disorder triggered by current medical issues. The rhythm of brushstrokes, the smell of the paint, the experimentation with color mixing...I have missed it so much. It is an intoxicating craft and it works beautifully to keep me calm and grounded. It is still very painful (and sometimes still impossible) to do but hopefully, ongoing physical therapy will help make the process easier as I get stronger and healthier.

I had completed three canvases exploring Chinese folk art images in three weeks and was suddenly wondering what I was going to do with all these finished products. I only have so much wall space and I really only care to stare at my work for so long. So, in a burst of wild abandon, I wrapped the canvases in brown paper, gathered my courage, and set out to obliterate my comfort zone.

Every month, on the second Friday evening of the month, my home town hosts something called Arts Alive! Local businesses all over the city stay open late on that evening, provide live music and food in some cases, and host the work of local artists on the walls of their stores. A map of participating businesses, the artists, and the type of work featured is published in advance. It is a lively affair; people wander in and out of shops, looking at the art, enjoying the atmosphere, and buying art, of course, as the whim strikes. I've wanted to get in on this event for some time now but I really had no clue as to how artists paired up with each business. That part - the behind the scenes stuff - was a complete mystery to me as I had yet to enter the very healthy artist community here. I teach my classes and make my art but I keep it very much behind closed doors.

But something whispered to me on Wednesday that it was time so I bundled up my canvases and marched uninvited into a participating business that has, in my opinion, a fabulous atmosphere and layout for displaying art. It is a warm and sleek high-end furniture store with an emphasis on beautiful wood, splendid carpets, and unique pieces. The art is hung at eye level, the business only takes a 10 percent commission (that goes towards the employee snack fund), and there is plenty of room for lots of people to linger and gawk at art without feeling crowded. I waited patiently for the owner, introduced myself and asked if she would look at my work. (Remember...I'm wandering in completely from left field). She loved it and before I could really understand what I had just accomplished, I was booked for a solo showing in February 2008 and a smaller showing as well this October! Believe me...I tried really hard not to skip out the door. I'm still a bit in shock but my mind is rushing with ideas and I am so excited. This is the step I needed to take and how funny that I took it before I really knew what I was doing...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Don't Forget to Breathe

Oh, so many journal pages and artworks to post since I've been "vacationing" from the Lost Coast for so long...the good thing is that they are all scanned and ready to go! I thought I'd start with this page as it is very appropriate for me today as I rush here & there preparing for an open studio on Saturday! It is simply amazing how fast dust can gather?! As someone with chronic migraines, I'm not big on opening my curtains too much but when I do...ack! Everything looks like it is covered in a soft, thick grey blanket. I'm battling an entire stampede of dust bunnies! Actually, they're more elephant-sized...
Anyway, since I last posted a journal entry from "My World Within" project, my pages have become so much more elaborate. I've been teaching cartooning this semester at my son's school so my pages really reflect my intense interest in more complicated bodies, outfits, and positions. The stork head is from Dover (copied, enlarged, & colored), the crown from a collage sheet I created and the rest is all me. I loved working on Her Majesty's robe and the doodled circle border. As of late, I've become particularly intrigued by birds (unusual ones rather than the typical, sweet songbird image), queens, and circles. Spirals, of course, being a favored and personally significant motif, will always be found somewhere in everything I do but it is fun to experiment with new elements.
Thank you to all for the comments rolling in since I popped up on the blog radar yesterday! It feels good to be missed! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rumors of My Blog Death...

...have been greatly exaggerated...whew! Five months can just fly right by when health issues rise up to steal away time and energy. Overall, I think Blogger is a great service but every time I thought about sitting at the computer, scanning, resizing, archiving, uploading, editing code, typing and...oh...trying to be witty...I suddenly found something much more entertaining to do.

I had what was supposed to be a "simple" foot surgery in mid-March to remove a benign tumor. Note to self: Don't listen to surgeons! I've been battling my way back to health day-by-day and and I am, by no means, where I need or want to be. Explaining all the complications would require several posts full of boring and depressing medical explanations so suffice it to say that much more than my foot has been affected as pre-existing chronic conditions responded to a drastic increase in pain and decrease in mobility.

However, as with all hardships, there is a bright side; I have turned to art more than ever to comfort and heal my spirit, even if my physical self is in complete rebellion. My "5 Squares A Day" project took a (perhaps predictable) nosedive into obilivion but I found that something very positive came of the attempt: I am, indeed, making art EVERY day...it's just that I'm not working on the inch-by-inch canvas. If I am not creating samples for a full and healthy teaching schedule (my students, kids and adults alike, have been very gracious in adjusting to the changes I've needed to make in my teaching style), I have been journaling my surgery experience and for the first time in at least five years, I have once again taken up painting. While I am still not able to paint at an easel (a long term goal of mine), I am able to paint in repeated short bursts. It is incredibly meditative and I can easily get lost in the work. It is escapist behavior at its best.

I've been working feverishly on a series of canvases using Chinese folk art designs, multi-layered, transparent backgrounds, and Golden Fluid acrylics. The backgrounds take a bit of time but are really a test of patience more than anything else. (It really is essential to let each layer completely dry before moving on.) Once I get to painting the actual image, I need uninterrupted time to sit and paint in one complete session as my mixes (sometimes up to ten in a single image) will dry on the palette as I go. I am practicing blending one color smoothly into the next, often working two or more brushes at the same time (one for each mixture) and a dry brush in my teeth to ease the color transitions.

The image posted today is an 18 by 18 inch gallery wrapped canvas of a phoenix, symbol in China of the Empress and representive of the "yin" or female half of Yin Yang (the dragon is its counterpart). This piece is entitled "Empress Rising." I thought this image would be particularly relevant given today's resurrection of my oft-neglected blog and was painted in comtemplation of my desire to rise from the ashes of my chronic conditions and become someone healthier and happier.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

All Caught Up on Inchies Posting

Jan 23rd - Jan 29th
The beginning of this week in Inchies found me still strugging with feelings of disquiet; Hence "Awaken from sadness and live." On the 24th, a thick, pea soup fog snuck in off Humboldt Bay and so I documented this event. The 25th was just a playday Inchies-style as I freehand cut some baby birdies to skitter through my squares. January 26th marked the first time I've used a photograph as a background. This row illustrates something I actually saw on the morning drive to my son's school (the raven is painted onto squares from a photo I took). On the 27th, I wanted to honor my artist friends, near and far, who provide me with so much support and friendship and lastly, on the 29th, I created a set of squares to remember the racehorse Barbaro who had to be euthanized after a long, brave battle to try and recover from a devasting accident at the track. For some reason, his story deeply affected me and I felt compelled to mark this moment in time.

Inching Along

Jan 16th - 22nd
I'm a little behind in posting the weekly pages for my Inchies project due to the predictable variety of distractions. However, I am managing to complete squares each day. There are days where the process flows freely and is actually quite fun and days where I moan and groan my way through the task. On most days, I have a good idea of what my subject matter will be; The greatest challenge has been in finding images to match that are scaled small enough to suit such a tiny canvas.

On January 17 (second row from top), Northern California was hit by yet another hard freeze (bye, bye to citrus for a while). The squares for this day illustrate the soft stillness that descends when all is covered in a light dusting of white. On the 18th, my migraines finally eased after a solid week of torture; On the 20th, I simply played with some symbols omnipresent in my artistic lexicon. January 21 (second row from the bottom) was a particularly trying day as a parent and finally, January 23 found me battling some sadness as I realized how incredibly behind I am in all things due to my health. Using my experiences, observations, events, and/or emotions as subject matter for each day's Inchies makes this endeavor more and more like a journal project as I progress. Not every day is remarkable or worth documenting, of course, so on those "uninteresting" days, I am filling in with little visual explorations and exercises.

Monday, January 15, 2007

2007 Inch by Inch Continues

January 9th through the 15th

Well, two weeks into January '07 and I'm still committed to my resolution to create five, 1-inch squares of art (aka "Inchies") every day for the entire year. Yes, it has occurred to me that I just might be crazy. Yes, I have spent time trying to weasel my way out of a day's squares...it is going to be a long year, folks. But I did them anyway and that has to count for something. There were some tough days this week too.

On the 9th (first row), I did a huge load of laundry in the morning and hurt my back in the process. I proceeded to hobble around my studio for the rest of the day, preparing for an altered book class I was teaching that night. My son was sick with a fever and a bad cough...just an "anything that could go wrong" sort of day. I didn't get home from my class until about 9:30pm so five stars were all I could muster. On the 10th, I had an unenlightening visit to my neurologist regarding my migraines; hence, "Doctors study and probe the depths of my interior." I rebounded on January 11th with "your soul can travel far" accompanied by some divine angels painted by Giotto. We had another hard freeze in Northern California on the 12th and on the 13th, I was poking fun at my own project with "Be not little; Be bold." I continued the playful trend yesterday with some fanciful headgear in a set of squares I lovingly call "Old Dead White Men." Hmmm...there's Robert Frost...and oh, look! Our own Mr. Freud front and center...a little artistic wink goes out to my art partner, Ellen, who is a Jungian gal herself. (I actually did 15 in this series as I am in a swap, exchanging, of all things, 10 inchies.) Today, I simply tried to remind myself that I could draw on my squares as well (collage is so addicting!). And the project moves forward...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"Handy" Belief


As an artist, my hands are my life and livelihood, the key to unlocking my inner thoughts and emotions, experiences and memories. However, my hands have often failed me due to several different types of hand diseases, disorders, and subsequent "salvage" surgeries. Consequently, hand imagery is a huge component of my artistic lexicon. Perhaps by celebrating the hand in my art, I can will my own hands back to health. From a cold, analytical medical standpoint, I will forever have difficulties with my hands. If I am to press forward with my dream of having a self-sustaining art career, I must believe that the hands I now have will be enough. The repetition of the hand in my work represents a visual affirmation of this belief.

I created this canvas for a one-on-one mini canvas swap with Kari Gibson. Shhh! Don't let the surprise out of the bag!

Monday, January 8, 2007

5 Inches a Day Underway

Art Squares for January 1st, 2007
As I posted previously, I have vowed to create five, 1-inch squares of art every day throughout 2007. I have set a few parameters for this project:

1) The squares must work together; in other words, they should function as a series rather than individual pieces.
2) The pieces should reflect an experience, event, thought, or emotion I have during the day in question. Thus, the squares will serve as mini journal entries. There is no written component to this project so any explanations of the squares' significance will be known only to me unless I elaborate on it here at my blog.
3) As much as I might want to, I am limiting myself to just the five a day. It is easy to get caught up in these fun little creations but I have a million other things to do and I can't get overly sidetracked with this undertaking. Plus, I don't want to tempt myself into cheating by creating squares for than one day at a time. 5 squares a day...that's it...period.
4) I am putting no pressure on myself to create "perfect" art each time. The point of this exercise is to ingrain a habit of daily artmaking no matter the obstacles that arise.
5) Whenever possible, I am trying to sit down and create these at approximately the same time each day. Early mornings are best and this daily dose of dainty art helps warm me up for larger projects.
6) I am gluing each day's set of squares into an altered daily calendar so I can see a week's worth of art at a time. If I manage to see this endeavor through to the end, I will have created 1,825 squares total.

January 2nd through January 8th:
Notes:
The squares for January 3rd (2nd from top) didn't turn out quite right as I attempted tiny transfers that were too light. However, they do sort of convey the idea of "Alice Through the Looking-Glass." On the 5th, we had an extremely hard freeze here in Northern California so that day's set of blue squares reads "I See Specters in the Snow." On the 6th, the text reads "All sought refuge in the beauty of artistic dreams." On January 7th, I used a small picture of Saint Stephen, who (unbeknownst to me at the time) is invoked against migraines. Love that serendipity! Lastly, the text on January 8th reads "No dream is ever too big."
I am experimenting with allowable image size on Blogger so hopefully, I'll be able to post scans that reveal all the tiny details. As I complete seven days' worth of squares, I will post them and offer a few notes on my reasons or inspiration for their creation.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

I Resolve To...

"Escape cold museum art with a warm renaissance in journal experience & explore the journey of my zero-gravity soul."

I created this journal entry waaay back in February 2004 but I find it extremely relevant this new year...wow! 2007! Here I come! It is very intriguing to look back at past entries and see where my head and heart were at days, months, and even years ago. Wonder what it means if I'm in the same place I was three years ago? On the right path? Or in a rut?
Whatever the case, I love this time of year as everything seems infused with hope and possibilities. I am a huge fan of making and trying to keep resolutions, both artistically and personally. My track record isn't too bad but there are always a few that fall by the wayside. Those "failed" resolutions I carry over into the next year...and the next...and the next...until I manage to see them through. The resolution list is getting long but I have not lost faith in seeing those self-promises fulfilled. Here are some of my artistic resolutions for 2007:

1) I have decided to create 5, 1-inch art squares every day for a year. I know, I know...what was I thinking?? Actually, I was thinking that it is essential for serious, committed artists to create art every day and that an art career must be tackled as any job. I have many obstacles to the daily practice of art and it is easy for me to trip up and not do art for days at a time. But if I have any hope of becoming a working (and well-nourished) artist, I have to be in habit of art each day. I chose 1-inch art squares because they are a manageable size to tackle in a short amount of time but also challenging as the smaller you work, the more concentration and creativity it requires to produce a successful piece. I'll post these little exercises a week at a time as the year progresses.

2) I resolve to play the part of an artist more. I am sort of a wallflower, extremely self-conscious and worried about what other people will think of me. I have almost a phobia of people looking at me and tend to wear dark colors, no jewelry...nothing that will seemingly draw attention to my existence. But artists succeed when there is a certain freedom of thought and emotion, a willingness to "live out loud" as Emile Zola declares. Only by fully embracing the wild experience of living can I fully explore and express my experiences in this life. This is probably my most terrifying resolution so I'm going to take it a little bit at a time.

3) I want to develop my own stylized faces for use in my journals, art dolls, and other mediums. I've written before about my fear of figures/faces but this is the year to overcome that and see what I can create if I will only practice.

4) I vow to treat myself to 2 to 3 "art dates" per month. Julia Cameron writes about this concept in her classic "The Artist's Way" and suggests that when artists work they pull from deep inside and that the "well" of experience needs to be refilled on a regular basis. I do journal on the town about once a month with a dear friend and this time is a powerful and enriching art date that I find to be irreplaceable for regenerating my enthusiasm and creativity. And as a single mom, time out in the world may be the singlemost important key to sanity!

5) I want to continue teaching art at a local scrapbook store and offer classes again at my little apartment/studio. I did that for a couple of years and it was a wonderful experience. I just need to be a little bolder about advertising and self-promotion so I can broaden my student base.. (Maybe it will help if I'm wearing brighter colors! lol)

There's lots more smaller resolutions related to my artistic life and more than a few personal resolutions that I won't elaborate on here. As I said, the list is long but here, on the 6th day of the new year, I am filled with positive thoughts and excitement for what I can make come to pass! (We'll see where I'm at three months from now...)
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