Building Process

Most of my days are split between activities - I have not had a long, eight-hour workday in studio in a month. The transition of summer to fall might have something to do with it. I am able to carve out three or four hour blocks to make art: I park my car, open the studio door, close it behind me and set my phone to “do not disturb.” I open the cap to the gallon of matte medium, pour it into a yogurt lid and un-crust my brush. Sometimes I sit in a metal folding chair, but most of the time I stand if I am listening to music. I like the freedom of dropping my tools and dancing when the song is right.

If there is a leftover page from the National Geographic that I didn’t finish the day before, I will pick it up and start tearing half-inch pieces. Otherwise, I will rip the first fresh page off of the stack. I am halfway done with my first magazine: January 1971. It is built with layers of paper, plenty of words and a finger on the collective unconscious. It is hard work, sorting through thoughts and intuitive impulses.

Here, Together

I pulled out the fleece-y skeleton blanket today, so the cat and I are in the living room, comfy on the couch and in the midst of clutter. I started rearranging and finalizing our bedroom last month, and I’ve moved on to the kitchen. Inspiration is slow to strike, and the boxes of tea and dishes and cookbooks have yet to annoy. I dropped off another carload of items to the new studio - a warping board, shuttles and bobbins, reeds, and boxes of my samples. I am re-learning sustained attention, and today is my first day practicing it in a long while (for my own work and practice). It is easier to work for someone else, justifying their needs above mine, an external drive to check off and fulfill. The work for myself seems unimportant and hard. It has been years since I’ve poured my all into myself, and maybe I am a little scared to go that deep again.

But I’ve made a promise, and found a space to match. The discipline for taking responsibility is what keeps me moving forward.

On Worth

The swell of fall seems to be taking all in its tide. Sprinting through hours and days, just to meet deadlines and maintain balance. Remember how to “let” ? I made a decision a few months ago that has changed a lot of things dramatically, but more importantly, it has changed my perspective on my own worth. I have dreams about my old self in high school, colliding with the person I am now, confused about making it to band practice and trying to boil water for my French press. I have dreams about screaming at a younger, more idealistic version of myself. I spend time weighing and judging and measuring opinions, trying to find a neutral equilibrium to step into.

Who are we to each other? And the most important advice I’ve heard: other people’s opinions are none of my business. Our day dreams should reign, not the balance of everything.

Grace

This month has me frenzied and I think I’m losing hair as well as sleep. I’ve accidentally flaked on so many things, and I know it’s because I’ve overextended. I am layers deep in my Google calendar and you don’t want to see the buildup in my daily planner. My studio is made of stacks: projects, storage, papers, tools and material. There is no discernment when placing one on top of another, but gravity seems to think so and I fear avalanches will follow.

I finished a huge project, which allowed my shoulders to breathe. This I mistakenly took for more time to serve others, but who could believe me when I can’t seem to keep up? Here I am, making time, like I can add matter to this universe.

There’s a lot of grace being spread over my life right now, and I am thankful and humbled by those who pick me up when I can’t seem to.

Softly

I did my best to scout the neighborhood when I was sixteen, finding a quick route versus a scenic one. I dream often of the downhill slope from my childhood house. I moved thirty miles north a few years later, and had to approach the same city from a different perspective. I fought to keep my old routes, though it would take me twice as long to get anywhere in my old neighborhood. Months passed, and I finally began venturing. I asked the map for directions. I took the highway through the middle of the city, and not the one that cradles.

Over Here Thinking About Over There (reprise)

I bought a new book as a reward for purchasing materials and tools for my workshop last month. It sat in my bookbag for over three weeks until I cracked it open yesterday afternoon. Two and a half articles deep, and this anthology suggests that the next tangible leap for art-as-research is within the realm of art therapy. The linear quality of such thinking makes me wonder if anything has changed since the book’s 2013 publication date. I spend another ten minutes looking at the same fifteen schools that offer PhD programs for studio practice.

Earlier that morning, I moved my loom aside and cleared a space on the wall for another magazine collage project. I took a National Geographic, tore off the first page and slathered smaller bites all over the canvas. I made it halfway through that page when I met a new visual research project. Quick, three thoughts -

What happens when the linear form of previewing time is flattened into the same plane of reference.

A simple collage project using a single magazine turns into an entire research enquiry on time travel…

A stop motion video of each page used in chronology! A time lapse of the overall picture field changing!

And a final, fourth thought: what does it mean to catalog the spaces in between?

Necessary Rest

What does it mean for one to dream of a wrecked car being towed away? And the follow up: what does it mean when said person wakes to a fresh perspective? Hard anger leaves little room for improvement or perspective. It clouds everything out and perpetual movement forward does little to let. It is easy to believe there is nobody else. However, rest and good food and drinking water all lend to a healthy habit of letting. Stretching for a few minutes each morning couldn’t hurt.

Funny how “let” and the Arabic word for “no” sound so similar with my Midwestern accent.

Drinking Water

The slow descent into warmer days has begun and I’m sweating it out in studio. Transitioning from a blocked creative into a confident one, thanks to The Artist’s Way . I’m currently on week eleven out of twelve, and it’s been a journey. I’ve pored over many creative self-help books and podcasts these last few years. Moving through The Artist’s Way has helped me shift my grinding gears. Doing my best to merge the self I knew in college and the one I’ve grown in to, here in sunny SoCal. Balance is the hard think.

The other day I hooked up my electric ‘62 Singer sewing machine from a thrift store, and tried it out for the first time. There was rust and grit and dust in the gears and the belt. Pressing down on the foot, the machine whined and limped and fought me. I squeezed sewing machine oil on everything I could see, which helped a bit. I tried wiping everything down to clean it. Still, the machine bucked and refused. It’s probably been neglected for years - I myself have had it over two years and just used it this week! What powerful imagery. Grinding and fighting and needing a deep clean but skeptical of help and movement forward.