June 12, 2013

The Last Ride, A New Journey

It sounds like a cowboy movie title.  This morning, I woke up the computer to check traffic conditions for the earlier-than-usual trip to the high school with my son.  My Facebook page was open and I saw a comment posted by my cousin whose son is graduating from high school today.  She was debating how much tissue she'd need, knowing she would be a sobbing mess, saying goodbye to the years of watching him grow up, watching him play baseball, and now moving on to real adulthood.  I shouldn't have looked at it.  I got in the car with Kevin, we started driving and I glanced over at him and told him, "Well, this is it.  This is the last morning drive to school together.  Ever."  He pointed out that we have graduation tomorrow, but that's not the same thing.  I tried really hard not to let him see my eyes well with tears or my chin quiver; the kids make fun of me for how easily I cry over things like that.  It hit me harder than I'd expected.  Trust me, I won't miss the miserable drive.  Yesterday, I experienced a 4 foot long piece of 2x4 lumber whirling like a helicopter blade toward my windshield on the freeway, both of us traveling at high speed, and managed to slam on the brakes without getting hit from behind so that it hit the lower front portion of my van and exploded into toothpicks instead of smashing into the windshield and killing me.  I can happily say goodbye to road hazards, fools that run red lights, and endless construction zones (I must have passed 1,942 orange cones today in roads that were made narrow and crowded due to road construction).  Life changed for me today.

Having time for art is going to be great.  That's what I keep telling myself.  This is what I've wanted for years, and now here it is.  Excited to dip my toes into the studio for a while and blow off laundry (OK, I did two loads at the same time since the machines are in the "studio"), I thought I'd give soldering another try.  I don't want to say it was a total flop, but BOY was it a total flop!  However, I will not be deterred!  After trying the solder that already had flux in it (what a mess), I tried the fatter solder and the flux paste.  Hmmm.  Was it supposed to need stirring?  There are no instructions about how much.  Did the copper tape wrap over the edges enough, or should I have used wider copper?  If I get flux on the glass beyond the edge of the copper tape, will the solder stick?  Clearly, THIS is what "self taught" means.  It means making messes, having absolutely no idea what I'm doing and just learning by trial and error.  If only I could get to the trial and "success!" part.  Here is today's debacle...

<- -="" and="" be="" front="" the="" this="" would=""> is the goofy back made from doodling with a pen and watercolor paints.  What a hot mess!  I think there was too much flux and I do believe I have proven that flux can be fried.

So before I set everything on fire with blobs of molten solder, I unplugged the iron and let it rest and cool.  (Of course, I'm totally paranoid and thought I smelled burning, but I think it's a neighbor grilling burgers - whew!)  This would be a good time to get out my old sketch book and look at old ideas and see if anything triggers a creative nudge.  I look at a long list of words on one page and realize I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking.  Really.  What was I thinking?  How bad an art journaler (is that a real word?) can I be if I don't know what the heck I was thinking?  I'll just make something up.  That's creativity!  Bahaha.  I think this was my brainstorm for an online class I signed up for with Susan Sorrell.  Good grief.

So tomorrow, I'm a full-time artist-wanna-be.

Mom When They Need Me, Time for Art at Last

June 5, 2013

Teach, Learn, Teach, Learn...

As my son and his girlfriend wind down their last days of high school, I found myself playing teacher in the studio.  Kevin needed to create a visual example of a possible future species of plant, calculating how this imagined plant species would evolve over one hundred million years and create a model.  All I heard in my head was the Scooby Doo noise, a sort of "Huh?"  It was fun to sit at a restaurant at the beach after a visit to the aquarium, sketching ideas on a napkin and brainstorming about the materials he might use to create this faux tree and vines.

We went to the craft store and wandered the aisles grabbing bags of moss, mesh wire for form, paper clay mix and mini grape vines for his project.  His girlfriend wanted to make a "survival kit" for a classmate who will be moving across the country for college, having been admitted to MIT (Go Robbie!!!) and found a wooden trunk to paint.

The studio was jammed with teens and their stuff.  Kevin and I mixed up the paper clay, I helped him figure out how to use the screen and bits of wire to create a tree trunk form, and taught Shawna about the joys of gesso.  For such simple projects, I was really excited about getting my hands dirty and helping them learn.  Ah, I miss my days as a Girl Scout leader!

Kevin continues to take over my studio on day 3, I think, of his project.  Todays lesson was about the use of a hot glue gun (don't put in on the desk, don't set it down on my sketch pad, don't burn your fingers, yes, you can apply paint over it, but use a little gesso first...).  I was reminded of a couple of rules myself.

1.  Don't try to take pictures of your teen.  It makes them grouchy.
2.  Don't photograph your studio when it also serves as your laundry room, or all of your dirty laundry and related equipment will be made public.  Oh well.
3.  Teens can multi-task by talking on their cell phones, snarling and attaching phony vines to a phony tree all at once, all while the mom's IQ drops by double digits as is proven by the fact that she thinks she can take a photo of her teen without making him grouchy.

The multi-tasking king

I jest.  He only growled a little, but didn't actually snarl.

The next big lesson today was more of a confirmation than a lesson.  I definitely, positively stink at soldering.  The soldering iron I bought (the only one I could find) came with a solder that had a bit of flux "built in."  It spit and sputtered and looks like I parked my piece under a tree dripping sap.  Yuck!  I also think I actually drew blood in at least three fingers handling this spikey mess after Round II of attempting to solder.  Sheesh, I need to take a class.  Maybe two.
Back, using papers I made in a monoprinting class I took with Traci Bautista
 Seriously, I drew blood!  I'm not even sure how this works.  I *think* I can use the soldering iron to melt down the spikes and smooth them to a less dangerous surface, but I'm not sure.  Windex would probably remove the tacky splatters of flux, but I'll have to check with Uncle Google on that one.

In any event, I have been making art.  It may suck, but I don't care.  While at the craft store with my son, I bought a new little pack of water colour paints and have been doing painterly doodles with those as well.  Those doodles also suck, and I don't care.  This is progress!

My newest goal remains to rediscover the joy of creativity.  There will be no test, no report card and no critic's review of my work because I am going to make art when I can for the sake of making art.  Exactly one week from this very moment, I will be watching my son, my baby, walk the stage and graduate from high school, ready to move on to college.  My days of having to struggle between time in the role of a mom and time in the role of an artist will start to dwindle.  I may even regret that new found freedom and time to create.  Another lesson.  Appreciate what we've got when we've got it.  I wouldn't trade the mom time for anything in the world.

Good grief, now I've made myself woofy.  Time for a glass of wine and a trip to the studio with my camera to torture my son while he's still available for torturing ;-)