July 31, 2013

Paint, Stitch and Worry

I'm warming up, falling back on comfortable.  When my mind is a big empty cave filled with nothing in terms of creative thought, it's easy to go to what I find simple and easy - painting, sewing, and quilting.  Am I dumb for saying yes to donating work to the annual fundraiser auction?  Not this time.  My creativity brain cells have been on hiatus and I need to wake them up.

During our July 4th celebration (and after a bit of wine), my wonderful friend Deb asked me if I'd be willing to paint a piece or two of furniture AND make a quilt.  I must have had too much wine because I said yes.  What was I thinking?!?  At lunch last week, Deb reminded me that I had agreed to paint two pieces, a cradle and a stroller.  A stroller?  Who paints a stroller?  I was SO relieved to find that not only was she providing the furniture, but it is doll furniture.  Whew!  I can do this.  I am a little concerned because the furniture is not of good quality.  It was put together with one of those hydraulic staple guns, peppered with the little holes on the surface, gaps in the joints and poor wood surface quality.  My name is going to be on it, so I want to be sure I make it clear that I painted donated furniture.  I may make a small quilt to go with the cradle to distract from the flawed wood.  When in doubt, distract!

When it comes to the larger quilt, I am not going to make myself nuts trying to resize and redesign a quilt pattern or make one that is so complicated that I barely make the deadline as I did last time.  This week, I went to the local quilt shop (a luxury that I did not have in my old town) and was immediately overwhelmed.  My mind was buzzing as I took in all of the patterns and colors.  How does anyone look at all of these bolts of fabric and know what to take home?  After cruising every short aisle at least four times, I made a decision.  I bought three yards each of both black and white solid cotton.  What a dork.  But I also found a couple of books with great designs that I want to try, so it wasn't a total waste of time.  The book "Transparency Quilts" has wonderful information and quilt designs that I appreciate because they are non-gender specific.

This quilt entitled "Small World" really caught my eye.

This weekend is the last year that the International Quilt Show will be here in Southern California, slated to move to Portland next year.  What distressing news!  My husband "H" has insisted that we go early, make a day of it (for as long as we can stand the growing crowd) and then enjoy lunch at the beach, taking in a bay cruise (if I remember to bring Dramamine for sea sickness because I am a total weenie).  Sounds like a great day.

We are trying to keep ourselves busy on the weekends and distracted from worries.  H is a diabetic.  When work stresses him, which it does all the time, he stops taking care of himself.  I got a call from his doctor this week, concerned about abnormal blood test results.  The worrying begins.  He did a "do over" and the results came back better, but glucose levels are running higher than usual and we don't know why.  Is the insulin bad?  Are the test strips bad?  Is the meter in need of replacing?  Is the insulin just not working so well all of a sudden?  It's hard to be creative when mom & wife mode kick into gear, when life and health are more important.

Today I am going to try to enjoy having time for art, even if it's spent painting doll furniture, maybe even play with fabric for a while and paint or stitch away some of my worries.

July 14, 2013

Fearing Failure, Staying Safe

Today I spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas for an upcoming project.  Gathering my sketch pad, I cruised through the pages looking for a good sized blank spot.  The homework assignment at the end of lesson one in the online class I took was to start thinking of an image for the fiber collage using clip art or coloring books, and clipping images from magazines or other imagery sources for inspiration.  My notes are voluminous.  My work...zero.  Does the doodling of ideas count as art or even starting art?

Next I found myself looking at ideas for other projects like Teesha Moore's fabric journals (would I even use one?) which incorporate a lot of the same basic techniques as Susan Sorrell's work, layering fabric, embelishing with embroidery stitches or beads.  Still, I have nothing but notes on paper to show for the day.

So why don't I get past this step?  Thinking back on many other things I've always wanted to try but didn't, I finally have to admit to myself that I'm still afraid of failure, afraid as being perceived as a joke or as an insult to other artists by calling myself an artist.  When my husband and I went to the Laguna Arts Festival and visited the booths of artists at each of the three venues, he would often mention that I am an artist and I was immediately horrified and tried to brush it off and change the subject.  No matter how much I try to talk myself into believing in myself, I just don't.

My lack of confidence does not squash my lack of desire to be better.  However, it does squash my ability to just get started.  Now what?  My inner critic is saying that I SHOULD be embarrassed and should hide what I make.  If I never have to show anyone, will that give me the mental permission to go beyond planning a project and allow me to get my hands dirty. 

If I don't do something now, I'll never do it.  I have had a long stretch of time now to get dirty and make something, but I use the laundry or bursts of cat fur (and yes, I do think they blow it off in bursts to amuse themselves, the rotten furballs that should be bald) to be too busy to make something, thus safe from failure.  I'm beginning to think I need therapy more than I need art classes!!!

Step one:  Put away the darned art books and magazines.
Step two: Sit at the studio desk and....do SOMEthing.

It's time.

July 8, 2013

Finding a Fix

These past few days I've been feeling very depressed and angry, bored and uninspired, disappointed, sad and emotionally stagnant.  At the end of the day, I feel more and more like I'm becoming all of the things about my mother that I despised.  She was miserable around the family, but clearly able to perk up and have loads of laughs and fun around others.  Why not at home?  Now I find myself in the same position.  I have grown weary of my own hurt feelings.  I am worn down by feeling so unhappy at home, finding happiness in the company of anyone but my own family.  I think back to those days of avoiding my depressed mother and my angry father, trying to remember positive things about them and my childhood, though it is a challenge to come up with much.

I remember that my mother had a beautiful singing voice.  She talked about painting, but I could only vaguely remember seeing one watercolor she created of a little bird back when I was in high school.  I mentioned this to my sister recently, and she surprised me by telling me she had the painting and would send it to me.  This is it.  This is the one and only piece of art left by my mom prior to her death in 1996 at age 63.

I found it odd that she dated it '86 because I left home in '78 and saw the painting about two years earlier.  She also signed it P. Carter-Carlson and while her first name was Patsy, she never, ever answered to that Patsy, and never used her maiden name.  Her family referred to her as Patty, but the rest of the world referred to her by her preferred middle name of Carole.  Odd.

Today I have spent a lot of time reflecting on how I was going to find a fix to my mood, my lack of motivation, and stop the self-pity party.  Trying to cheer oneself is not easy!  However, I can't stand my own company, so something HAS to be done.  Today I received an email for art classes being taught fairly close by, some of which I wanted to take a couple of years ago but couldn't because of my mom/driving/kid school schedule.  Now I'm free.  I'm actually free to take a class, free to pretend to be more artist than mother.  As luck would have it, the single-day class being offered on what was the day I would have been taking a friend to the airport (she had to tell me today that she had to cancel her visit due to work vacation freezes) is an all-day course in simple soldering.  Given my most amusing and dangerous soldering results, this was perfect timing.  I signed up for the class, paid for it (no backing out now!) and emailed the instructor about purchasing one of the few supplies kits she is assembling for sale.

While I've wasted a good portion of the day feeling sorry for myself, I did manage the first, albeit gentle, kick in the behind to fix what is ailing me.  It's not dark yet.  I have time to start collecting bits and pieces, photographs and papers for the class next month.

Onward and upward.  If this doesn't make me feel better, I'm going to give the cat a haircut that will give me chuckles for a while.  That always works ;-)