January 25, 2012

Success at Last!!!

I am patting myself pretty hard on the back tonight, having worked in the studio from 10:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., taking a brief break for lunch and to pick up weasels from school and distribute them to their respective homes.  At long last, I made real progress on the project that has been nagging at me since before the holidays.

The project is an art journal, inspired by the most awesome Teesha Moore and her YouTube videos on the subject.  I ordered the watercolor papers and other supplies last summer (not that I procrastinate or anything) and started talking about working on the project after my sister returned to Minnesota after a summer visit.  She finished hers right away.  I kept trying to find fantastic papers, more creative inspiration, and the perfect paints.  Needless to say, that was just dumb.  After moaning this week about not getting anything done, I did as I promised myself and just went out there.  I moved my scanner and my fancy newish printer out there and got to work, scanning fabric and printing those images to use the paper for the edge of the journal pages.  Using the papers I made in a monoprinting class a couple of years ago, I scanned those pups as well and then tweaked the colors, creating multiple versions so I don't have to whack up the original.

While I still have to create the collage images in the middle of the pages, here are a few pictures of the journal with it's pages completely lined with borders.  Woohoo!

I know, I really do need a better camera, photography lessons and cleaner carpet.

January 24, 2012

Inspiration Eludes Me

I've landed, once again, with both feet firmly planted in the Land of Doing Nothing.  I don't like it here.  This week I happily signed on to a fun project, committing to making and delivering a handcrafted something to five people in 2012.  Creativity continues to elude me as my brain swims with half ideas, partial ideas, or the sound track from an annoying television commercial I can't get out of my head.  Searching for inspiration, I cruised through some of my studio books, I looked through my old sketch books, fumbled through a pile of fabric, and even stooped to Googling for art/creativity prompts.

In my fruitless search for a miraculous prod to my imagination, I found a blog quote that proved to offer yet another smack of reality and good food for thought.  The comment was attributed by the blogger to painter Chuck Close.  The message was that artists shouldn't sit around waiting for inspiration, but just get going.  "Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.  If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.  All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.  Things occur to you.  If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens.  But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction.  Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case."

Will I ever make progress?  Do prolific artists just get in there, get their hands dirty and make art?  Clearly I am failing at the most basic level.  I still find myself mopping and vacuuming instead of sewing or painting.  I promise myself I'm going to schedule studio time, then I don't do it.  I just sit with brain freeze, something I've fussed about too many times.  I've grown weary of my own complaints.

Tonight, I paused while writing to put studio time on the calendar, blocking noon to 3 p.m. on every week day.  I have to be flexible when school lets out early and disrupts the schedule, but I'm going to give it a try.  If I don't start taking serious steps to make art a priority, it will never, ever be a priority and I'll spend the rest of my life voicing the same complaints.  I should make myself the ugliest hat on the planet and force myself to wear it in public every time I fuss about not making art.  Ouch.  OK, never mind.  Maybe I'll start with wearing mismatched socks ;-)

January 6, 2012

Sleep, A Waste of Time

I've struggled with insomnia for years.  For a long time, I freaked out about the lack of sleep, sure I'd be seeing pink dalmatians or some other circus oddity at some point in time when everyone else should be waking up and going to work.  After a number of years of lack of sleep, I really started to think about what it cost me.  Anything substantial?  I figured time spent sleeping is time wasted.   The hours that I spend awake (at least the hours that span the period of time one would normally snooze) can include stuff that "normal" people miss.   Some nights I find myself listening to the most amazing cacophony of coyotes in the gulley behind our house.  Of course I can't resist hollering at them and competing.  The neighbors are surely convinced I'm bonkers ;-)  Sometimes I read (always the most ridiculous pulp fiction), and sometimes I watch the most silly television programming.  Some nights I go outside to our big deck and marvel at the stars and planets.  It is awesome and I can't believe how many people ignore this stuff.  While we can't see much with the light pollution (living TOO close to Los Angeles), I can catch the occasional meteor and feel like I just won some big prize.  I'm such a cheap date.

Life could be worse.  Not being able to fall asleep easily or stay asleep isn't a terrible thing.  Insomniacs such as myself see so much of life that everyone else sleeps through - the owls hooting, the old movie, the kitty that wants to play...it's all better than the alternative, no???

January 5, 2012

One Sad Kitty

A long time ago I swore I wouldn't be one of those people that blogged about their cats.  Once or twice I have, because heaven knows I have one or two totally whacky cats that do provide for some amusing tales.  But tonight I just feel really sad for Charlotte and feel the need to share.  OK, I've had a little wine, both white AND red, but I can't help it.  This poor kitty has been a wreck from the get-go.  We adopted her when she was eight weeks old.  She was one of a litter (have I shared this before?) that a bunch of young adolescent boys found, plotting a game where they'd each place a kitten in the street and the "owner" of the surviving kitten won.  Seriously?!?  Savages!  Someone saw them, rescued the kittens, and thus we have Charlotte.  In addition to the trauma of her early days, she suffers from some whacky allergy, it seems, to grains in cat food.  That's what the vet thinks.  So every couple of months  the lining of her mouth inflames as if someone had taken sandpaper to it, at which point I take her in for shots to reduce the inflammation and pain.  There's not much warning other than sudden seclusion and reduction in visits to the food bowl.  It makes me so sad.  Tonight is the first time since we adopted her some three or four years ago that she has appeared on the sofa.  I'm happy she wants  to be close, but sad that I can't help her tonight.  I'd say a visit to the vet is in order for tomorrow.  Time to whip out the catnip, poor kitty.

January 4, 2012

Disaster in the Studio

Woe is me!  I finally ditched some of my household chores after KILLING myself working out, just so that I could get some studio time in.  Today was like a mid-summer day, a whopping 85 degrees out and perfect for working with the big garage door up and lots of natural light.

The piece I worked on has been sitting for a while.  The torso looks so much like Gadhafi (it was quite unintentional and simply the result of my sculpting inexperience and lack of training).  A visiting friend saw and admired the piece and teased repeatedly that she wants it when it's finished.  I thought it might make a nice birthday gift for her this year.

The move from an indoor studio to an outside studio has not been without damage and loss.  There are a dozen things I can't find and the rolodex that I thought I had so brilliantly created, listing all craft supplies and their location (absolutely necessary with a million different bells and whistles) is now utterly useless.  I recall this piece perched atop a sturdy dowel, poking out of a bucket of rulers, pens and paintbrushes on my work desk, and also recall that it plopped out and onto the desk a week or so ago.   I never noticed the damage.  So I spent two hours today affixing fibers and a zillion tiny threads of copper wire (with a million more wires to go, or so I thought), only to have it end up looking like Gadhafi with a broken nose in a dress.  Scrap.

January 3, 2012

Copyright and Collage

In response to my sister's mention of investigating copyright rules related to using materials for collage (magazine adverts, I'm thinking wrapping paper), I revisited the U.S. government website that has all of the rules and regulations.  There are an enormous number of articles and publications on the subject, most of which point out that the rules and regulations are an unclear and slippery slope.  What do collage artists do with respect to others' work?  Use so little of it or use it in such small batches that the original artist won't notice?  Figure that their work won't be noticed in terms of using someone else's work while still undiscovered in the art world?

Any thoughts?

January 2, 2012

Holiday Cleanup, Studio Changeup

The holidays came and went faster than usual, so fast that a number of key decorations never made it out of the garage or shopping bags.  Oh well.  I've spent a week surrounded by family and, frankly (and with some feelings of guilt) look forward to having the place more to myself starting tomorrow.  Two of three "distractions" will be returning to work.  The third distraction is grounded and will likely avoid me at all costs while sulking in his room.  He is getting dangerously close to having the oft threatened photo of him on his training "throne" sporting the sombrero show up on my blog.

In our excitement to find the most perfect tree this year, we failed to notice that the trunk of the tree we selected was gigantic.  We are such city slickers.  It was so gigantic that my husband had to abandon all efforts to ram it into our existing tree stand and hazard the crowded shops on Thanksgiving weekend to buy a new stand that would accommodate such a beastly trunk.  While he found one that just barely contained this monstrosity, in our haste to get it into water, we failed to trim the bottom off and it appears that the sap sealed the trunk completely and totally.  By day three, we noticed the water level was not diminishing in the stand.  This was a bad sign.  The tree's  branches pointed south by Christmas day, the branches a decidedly drab shade closer to gray then green, the needles drier than the Sahara and quite the fire hazard. 

The holidays are incomplete without a bit of drama and excitement.  While on the phone with a family member exchanging belated Christmas greetings, I noticed an immediate and alarming whiff of ozone and burning rubber.  In a panic, I ran around the room looking for the source.  I spotted the receiver for the wireless remote controlled turner-on-of-Christmas tree lights my tech-loving husband was so excited to have acquired, blackened from an obvious surge of power or just flat out faulty outlet.  Thank goodness we were home!  I yanked it out and life with the Christmas tree lights was over for the year on December 28th.  Alas, we had to go to Plan B when friends came to dinner for a late holiday celebration and gift exchange.  This is our substitute Christmas tree. 

Yesterday while I was in the garage wrapping the last of the holiday gifts for a said belated exchange, I unrolled some gift wrap only to discover a HUGE spider.  That would be huge in the sense that I'm not particularly frightened by spiders (unless it just flat out plops on me from the ceiling when I'm not looking), so you know it was really HUGE.  I flung the roll aside and noticed in dismay that I'd tossed this undersized tarantula right into a pile of poly fiberfill stuffing.  Whoops.  The issue stressing me out remains - how do I move the fairly new and beloved (aka expensive) printer and scanner to the garage and keep out the spiders and other damaging critters and varmints without shrink wrapping them both (the equipment, not the varmints)?  My book shelf is still in my daughter's room/former studio, and when I look at it, all I see is cricket food.  The garage is now nicely finished with a terrific steel back door, but there's still sneaking-in room around the edges of the big front door for those little buggers to get in.  I feel like I need one of those sci-fi clean rooms so I don't feel that I have to shake everything out before I use it.  Suggestions are welcome!!!

This week I really need to get a rug for the studio.  I think I'm doing about 20 mph on the chair when I roll it, the speed quite unintentional.  There are no brakes on it and heaven knows the cement floor isn't exactly level.  The thrill is gone and I need to temper the zooming before I crash and burn.

Now I know I have incomplete bird wings around here somewhere.  Maybe I have time to sneak out there and mess with those sticky bird legs again and try to turn them into an actual bird before 2013 rolls around.  No pun intended.