Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Where Are You Going"

I'm trying my damnedest to stay upbeat because everyone else is telling me what a beautiful place I'm in. If you saw the mouse, or mice, scurrying around the floor like I am right now, you might see things a bit differently and lay off the "It's paradise! Enjoy it!" sentiments.

The timing has been difficult at best. With the stress of last week and everything. With trying to figure out the time zone differences so I'm not waking someone up when I call. With trying to make my commitments to my contracts for conference calls and proposals and writing guidelines and updates in between school and dentist and other kid related things.

For all those who thought I was just joking when I said I don't want kids... well, this trip is just confirmation of those thoughts for me.

Maybe I really am this selfish. Maybe I really do enjoy the peace and the traveling and spending time with my partner, even if right now it's just phone conversations. Maybe I really do want to fly down the highway on a motorcycle. Maybe I do want to make an entire meal out of brie and tilapia and wine. Maybe I want to stay in bed all day savoring my partner's body or a really good book. Maybe I want to travel where the wind blows and see what happens as opposed to having a schedule.

I'm supposedly on vacation. I'm not real sure according to who. I still have things to get done everyday and jobs to apply for in between being a nanny of sorts.

When I travel I like to roam. To wander. To disappear on my own. I really enjoy this. I have for years. To meander through a new town or small antique store or funky boutique. To sit and enjoy a really good meal with wine in some small local cafe or to listen to a local band jam in some little bar. To sit on a park bench and people watch or read or write.

So far... um, nope.

I hope that I really can explore a bit soon. I hope to take advantage of the time I'm here to go see things I've always wanted to see - like Pearl Harbor. I'm sure the Polynesian Center is awesome, but the cost far outweighs my interest at this time. I'll add it to the 'someday, when I can come back with someone I want to spend travel time with, or when I don't have to worry about money anymore' file.

I have taken several pictures of the clouds over the mountains and the flowers, though. I've gotten to swim in the Pacific now (not in a relaxing sunbathing kind of swim, this was a 'keep the girls from drowning each other' exhausting couple of hours), to check that off the list.

I'm trying to find time to just read, but it's hard because I tend to start crying when I find that few minutes and realize the situation I'm in and who I'm missing.

Yes, it's far from ideal right now. Yes, I'm attempting to try. I have moments where it's really nice, but the reality is a far harsher fall.

When I can finally take the time to draw or do something remotely resembling art again, I will. Unfortunately, even with the bit of soul searching I'm trying to do right now, it's going to take me awhile to get my head screwed back on straight. I'm in emotional and mental upheaval and I have to keep it all inside for now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This is why I write, this is why I blog, this is who I am

Because not everyone hears every story. Because not everyone cares about the stories we do tell. Because sometimes we need to be heard in the void. Because everyone remembers something different.

I remember my grandfather as a hard man. I don't know enough about his life before I can remember being young, because he never talked about it. He didn't share his own stories, even the hard ones.

All we knew was we had to be quiet. We couldn't play "Hungry-Hungry-Hippos" because it was too much noise. I'm pretty sure his main reason for building us a playset in the backyard was so that we could make noise - outside. The reason I remember being told was because he practically grew up an only child, he was used to quiet.

That excuse makes no sense to me now. I don't suppose it did then either.

My grandmother thrived, and still does to a point, on commotion & chaos. Having half a dozen kids sleeping over, playing dress up, making plays, playing games and generally squirreling underfoot was her element. For her, coordinating and planning and talking to lots of people is a great day. She seems to bloom like her roses that hold steadfast in hard caliche and whipping wind only to glow strong and fresh in the many vases placed everywhere you turn.

My grandfather though, could get lost for hours in books. I know he did all these pretty great things like starting swim teams when my dad & uncles were boys. I know he ran a respected business, helped develop this city in many ways, worked on so many projects. I know he helped make laws and brought computers to their business and helped build Prairie Pete Park when it had cool things to climb on. I know he was in the Army Air Corp and ended up at Midland Army Air Field. I know he was raised in Chicago. I know he made a good Colonel in the CAF because he's just ornery enough to fit the criteria.

But I mostly remember him always having a book. Sitting in his chair reading, barking at us to quit tearing through the house. Sitting, quietly, trying to stay lost in his world.

There are things I learned about him eventually. Bits of snippets of his memories as a kid or family growing up or what else he'd done. Either I got old enough to finally hear them or he finally decided to tell them.

He was a hard man. But he got things done. More than one person referred to him as an ogre, whether the referral was affectionate or not depended on who you talked to. He somehow made things happen, and I imagine he growled quite a lot at quite a number of people to make these things happen.

My grandparents were married 65 years. As much as we could see them push each others buttons, he loved my grandmother. It was rare, but to catch him looking at her with affection when he thought no one was watching, that is when he bloomed like his rose bushes. He was all thorns and thick rough stalks and dry edged leaves to suddenly surprise you with a soft pink rosebud hidden and blooming.

I don't know how they met. I don't know if he went to school for a degree. I don't know if he had dreams he wanted to pursue.

I do know he read. A lot. I know he was an alcoholic. I know he liked growing the roses and tomatoes in the garden. I know he did things his way. I know he liked his choices in music.

I know I'm a lot like him in some ways, traits passed on that make each of us who we are.

I know I have stories that people will never hear. I know I have stories of things in my life that may never get passed along. Partly because I prefer to look forward and learn what I can from the past, but keep going.

But I write them. I write some for myself, tucked into long and rambling notebooks now covered in dust on the shelf. I write to be read, posting into the internet things that happen as a way of remembering and sharing, sometimes to be commented on by strangers or fiends. I write down my memories of my stories, so that someday later when I flip back through them I can remember what that scent was or where that storm was or who I was with when that happened.

We share these bits of our lives in a public space. We make the effort to put ourselves out there, to share what we see happening with the world.

Because I want these stories of mine to be known, even if the only people who read it are friends I haven't met yet. So that somewhere out here in this world is my version of what I did and saw. So that someday when people wonder about the eccentric woman who paints and gets lost in her own world, they'll know there's more to me than just that. I have more stories than just what I've done.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Doin' it my way

This piece is one of two, because it was supposed to be one of four, but two of them were sent to the 'scrap it' pile.

This piece was submitted to the local art association for the juried show. It was 'not accepted'. My guess is because it's not a landscape or still life. (No, I'm not bitter... oh, well, maybe a little bit...)

This piece is called "Wishes Do...", because I thought it was cute and fun. And because it's only two feet long and the letters are like three inches each and they take up a lot of space, so word choices were limited. Logic. Of some sort. And because I wanted to have a happy little painting with a bit of meaning.

Actually, this is coming off as a bit jaded, and while I am about some things, I love the way these two came out.
They're cute, in a sassy kind of way. They're simple, and yet so many layers went into it, and I just want to run my fingers over the lines and layers... It's so tactile, the way I like my art. (<--- click on the photo for an extreme close up that makes you want to pet your computer screen.)


Now, this is a picture of one of the two that are being repurposed. Gag. (In my opinion.)

Oh, I should wait for you to scroll back to the top to see if you can compare and see the differences...

There - did you see it?

You can see the words in the first one. In the second one, well, you can't. The paint bled under the tape lines on the second set.

What the difference is: The base.

The two that came out awesome, or at least the way I wanted them to, are the two I built and stretched myself. I use muslin because it's thinner than regular canvas is which offers the opportunity to see through it. This is a feature I really like. The bonus part of this is the way paint adheres to the thinly woven fabric, thus making it easier for shape shadows that are set with tape, and making the paint stay thick so it stands out, not bleeds down.

The two that bled? Were done on the store bought gesso'd canvases. The gesso makes the canvas smoother, yes, and for some paintings makes a pretty decent base. But when I lay tape down and drizzle layers of paint over it and peel the tape up, it should be bare under the tape, right? For some reason, the gesso base lets the paint bleed under the tape. Yuck.

Peeling the tape off the bare fabric of the muslin canvases leaves a fairly clean line 99.3% of the time. This is more to my liking.

It was a learning experience. The two for scrap will be unstapled and the paint covered canvas will be cut up for... strips on something else, for cut outs to glue to cards for sale or gifts, for tying together to make funky necklaces, for spelling out naughty words on the front lawn, whatever... the frames will be used to stretch and staple fresh, bare muslin on and go about the process again with new pieces.

The two "Wishes Do..." pieces measure 12 inches by 24 inches, have a plain white cloth backing so the staples won't scratch your wall, are wrapped on the edges by navy blue ribbon which also serves as the hanging anchor. The colors on the canvas are grey, light blue, light pink, dark blue, and a rust red. Each is signed on the back and will be custom wrapped for shipping.

$120 if you'd like one to pet, stroke, rub, you're interested:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Binary Rain

I have this fascination with painting designs in a mosaic or tiled sort of pattern... This piece is one of them.

Let me insert here that I have post it notes everywhere with half sketched ideas, usually no more than a couple of cross hatched lines and the names of colors quickly chicken-scratched down. I then find them the next morning scattered across the bed or floor with notes like "thre angle lines sherbet blue" or "7 rows 3rd shape black yellow", and they kinda make sense to the artist part of my brain.

This particular painting started out as one of those small crumpled squares. I'm proud to say it came out like I'd imagined it.

Here's a close up:

I like it when pieces come together like this. I like it when I just sit down and start painting something and then it looks how I wanted it to. I'm still figuring out how to make this particular style work on a few other things, but I really enjoy it.

I've realized I need to just paint, to stop worrying about making these perfect little paintings, to just make a mess, make it happen and see what comes of it. It will better my technique, it will help me be less afraid of screwing up, it will be a better chance to see what I need to work on instead of sitting here not doing anything because I'm too worried I can do it at all.

One step at a time, Heather. Enjoy this painting because it did work out.

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