Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
I've been quiet since last Friday.
Painting "The School Yard", written about in my last entry, kicked my emotional ass big time. I was able to work it but the profound effect of doing the painting didn't make itself known until afterward when I spent a couple days reliving the rejection and exclusion I've felt my whole life, in a new and clearer way. I saw the connection and let it be...allowing it to filter through me.
This morning I read something interesting from an Eric Francis Planet Waves horoscope for March that spoke directly to this incident. It wasn't my own sign, but I was reading it because it belonged to my confidant and we share our 'scopes with each other. Thing is, the words resounded loudly with me, especially because of what I had been working on the day before.
"... Any true (at least true in my opinion) artist will tell you that they draw enormous strength from their shadow material; from the places inside themselves that are filled with the things most people avoid vehemently: their pain, fear, regret, shame and their sense of the past. Creativity is about ideas, yes, but it's also about burning all this shadow stuff as fuel.... There are spiritual traditions that call this burning off karma, which is a close enough approximation. It's not surprising how much of this stuff gathers around sex and relationships where sex is a factor. This dark erotic matter is some of the most potent source material for the creative process. There is just one thing: to go there, you have to get your hands dirty. The kind of art you are making is not airbrush or Adobe Illustrator. It's more like finger-painting or sculpting with hot, wet clay -- which would be you."
Why did it speak to me?
I began a new painting on the 19th and liked where it was going.
The next day I returned and although the paint was still pretty wet, decided to work it some more. Something was nagging at me, but I didn't want to listen. I continued and ended up with this on the second day. It wasn't done, but I thought I was onto something. At the end of my work session, I stopped and spent time cleaning my brushes.
When I returned from the sink and walked back into my studio, I put down my clean brushes and grabbed my jacket. I turned off the lights and began to leave the room. Again, something deep inside was being tugged at and in that moment, I knew what it was. I turned, walked back to my easel, pulled off my coat, grabbed my freshly cleaned brushes and began to paint over most of the canvas.
Only then was I able to breathe a clean breath. I knew in that moment I had attempted to paint a pleasing painting instead of an honest one. And I couldn't live with it. For some reason I got caught up in the pretty instead of authenticity....and attempted to push that for a few days.
Since the third image, I've worked it again, being acutely conscious of remaining true to myself instead of trying to be palpable. It's nowhere near complete, but now it's real.
I've been thinking about it today and saw how easy it was to slip into the likeable, even if it meant forgoing of self. A part of me has such a need to be liked by many and therefore I have to struggle to remain true to my essence.
It takes diligence...continued perseverance, to create from the belly instead of the head.
Painting has really become my greatest life teacher.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I've been really struggling with painting. This version is the 3rd one, done on Sunday. I wished I had a photo of the very first one because it was good and almost stayed as is. But from there, each step was construction leading into destruction and then building up again. Last night, it all came together.
As I finished working yesterday on the latest version, my sixth attempt, a name came to mind. (By the way, it's a crummy photo.) I rarely title paintings. Titles happen naturally and if they don't, so be it. I've only ever titled 3 paintings myself. One, 15 years ago, another 3 years ago, and now this one. Two other pieces had titles that came from other folks. Last night three words came to mind: The School Yard.
And now, a few very interesting, happy things~
Overheard on the bus last night on my way home from the studio:
mom speaking with her daughter who appeared to be about 5 years old.
mom: are you going to plant a garden outdoors at school?
mom: what are you going to plant?
Miami banker gives $60 million of his own to employees. From the article:
"After selling a majority stake in Miami-based City National Bancshares last November, all he did was take $60 million of the proceeds -- $60 million out of his own pocket -- and hand it to his tellers, bookkeepers, clerks, everyone on the payroll. All 399 workers on the staff received bonuses, and he even tracked down 72 former employees so they could share in the windfall."
We hear so much about the amount of greed in the corporate world, that I believe stories like this are important to share.
In my mailbox last night: a notice that there is a large envelope waiting for me to sign at the PO. From? Dept. of Homeland Security. I think it's my replacement citizenship papers...! Which means, I can finally apply for a passport! Which means, I can explore other countries!
The Stranger's Slog wrote about the grilled cheese recipe contest. Hit this link and scroll through the comments for grilled cheese tips.
New shows open tonight at a few galleries. I was going to hit the openings but then decided to wait until Saturday because the Kucera Gallery is having an artists talk which I plan on attending. It's a show I'm excited to see - an exhibit of extraordinary quilts from the quilters of Gee's Bend.
You can see examples here.
An excerpt from the website:
Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times:
"..Some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced. Imagine Matisse and Klee (if you think I'm wildly exaggerating, see the show) arising not from rarefied Europe, but from the caramel soil of the rural South in the form of women, descendants of slaves when Gee's Bend was a plantation. These women, closely bound by family and custom (many Benders bear the slaveowner's name, Pettway), spent their precious spare time -- while not rearing children, chopping wood, hauling water and plowing fields -- splicing scraps of old cloth to make robust objects of amazingly refined, eccentric abstract designs. The best of these designs, unusually minimalist and spare, are so eye-poppingly gorgeous that it's hard to know how to begin to account for them. But then, good art can never be fully accounted for, just described."
Greg Kucera Gallery is pleased to announce our first exhibition of quilts and related prints by women from Gee's Bend, Alabama where the Alabama River, southwest of Selma, makes a broad, nearly hairpin turn, creating a remote peninsula. The African American quilters coming from rural hamlets such as Gee's Bend rely on recognizable traditions of patterning but create their own unique riffs as well.
These African-American quilts relate to the ongoing tradition of American patchwork quilts in ways similar to how American jazz and rural music forms relate to European classical music. The notes are the same but the rules are altered or loosened. A comparison to music is apt because the quilt makers often refer to church music as a major source of their inspiration, "quilting and singing, singing and quilting."
Gee's Bend is a community of about 700, among whom are the descendants of 3 or 4 generations of female quilt makers. Because of the remoteness of its location, Gee's Bend was slow to become known to outside cultural institutions. Albert Rothstein photographed the people of Gee's Bend for the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s. In 1941, The Library of Congress sent Robert Sonkin, speech professor at City College of NY, to record the spirituals and sermons of the area."
I cried while reading the history. Powerful stuff.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
From a party quite a while ago.
I found these while going through my blog drafts. It was tough shooting because there was very little light in the dungeon, therefore the fuzziness of the first.
This morning I woke up thinking about the painting I've been struggling with. It's always nice to wake up with images in my head...and possible solutions.
It also feels really good to get back on track with a daily practice where I'm in the studio every day, be it a large chunk of the day or even an hour after work.
Here is this week's Freewill Astrology.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
~My few relaxed "no plan" days have been full ones. Much time spent in the studio and then spontaneous gatherings with a couple friends.
~Today I called Qwest and disconnected my landline. So for those of you who had my home number, it is no longer. I do still have the same cell number. It's part of a paring down to reduce my monthly expenses.
~This is the time to apply for Census 2010 work. I worked for the Census in 2000. Because I applied early, I ended up with a position that lasted about a year and a half, working in the office. As the project grew, my job changed until I became assistant to the Seattle Census Manager. It was a rockin' job. Those who worked in the office were some of the best folks I've ever worked with. Similar to my current crop of coworkers. They were brilliant and very creative people, each devoted to the importance of Census. The only reason I'm not reapplying is because I love my current job so much.
~I'm a very late bloomer in my Laurie Anderson education. Thanks to B, I spent the day doing laborious data entry made quite pleasant with Laurie singing in my ears.
~Check out the new Obama site www.recovery.gov about the stimulus package. This is so not the days of Bushco.
~Painting is kicking my ass big time. Everything is harsh and a struggle. From experience I know that something's brewing and with much persistence, I look forward to seeing what comes out of this mess.
~Now off to the studio once again, and then head over to D&C's with my color-consultant hat.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
This is still another photo from the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Wednesday's photo time there was quite the successful treasure hunt. Now why can't I do a drawing or painting like this image?
For the first time in 3 weeks I woke without struggling to cough and clear my chest. Very nice! Also sweet is the fact that this is a quiet, slow morning. I'll head to the studio in a couple hours to work some more on a new piece I began Tuesday evening as well as tweak the large painting a bit.
I'm in awe of some changes that have been slowly evolving. Last week I made a difficult and scary decision and once I did, similar questers have been coming into my life...those who seek or are more comfortable with honesty and being present. Present not only to joy, but also have a courage and willingness to go through the ick because it's important. A few were already in my circle and yet after I moved on, a veil seemed to lift.
I needed to work past the past to step into my future and see the present in a new way.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Another image from the Conservatory...a large gorgeous bell.
I'm doing a little consulting for a data person from another nonprofit. This morning when we tried to make an appointment for next week she reminded me that Monday was a holiday. Big huge score!
In the last month, it seems I've had something (work and/or fun related) booked every single day but one. And that was while hit with the cold from hell. So now, not only am I looking forward to Sunday because I'm keeping it fully open, but Monday as well. Yeah, I'll go in and paint, but that's different. Maybe in those two days I can actually rest enough to finally get rid of the remnants of this chest crud. It will be good to have a few "no plan" days.
Last night a few of us joined Bill and Daniel for their last supper in Seattle. It's always hard saying goodbye to them.
Tonight, dinner with another good friend, tomorrow it's a movie & dinner with someone who has a part of my heart and Saturday I'm helping Phil move.
The winter is moving quickly and no, it's not a complaint.
Looking back at what I've written I see I've created noise when maybe quiet would have been perfect. It's interesting...considering the bell from the conservatory induces silence in me whenever I sit near it.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
It was a bright blue sky sunny day and a perfect one for some time spent in the Volunteer Park Conservatory. The light inside was was lovely and dramatic enough that I was never tempted to shoot in color. It was a feast for the camera. I'll be posting a few others over the next week.
Light to dispel the darkness, be it from the sun or from a close friend...always makes for a good day.
Remember this? It's the painting I destroyed on Feb 1st. And that version came from this one.
Here is where it currently stands after this week.
It's not done yet...or it is and I'm simply uncomfortable with parts of it. See? I'm not the sure artist all the time. Honestly, I'm not sure most of the time.
I like the background but wonder if it's cheating - cheating because I question if I marked it up because I'm not comfortable with large plain spaces. Maybe it needs to go smoother...less painting marks. Regarding the blocks, they very much need to be played with some more but I believe I'm on the right path. Finally.
And here is this week's Freewill Astrology.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I'm home for a bit before heading over to the studio and then to a studio visit a few blocks away. Tomorrow I'm off again and am looking forward to some quality time with a good friend.
It feels as if it's been a month of sickness and much busyness between work and outside projects. It'll be nice to get back into my routine where I can settle into a regular practice again. I really miss it.
Crazily, it's still snowing and has been all afternoon. It's not sticking on the streets and that's a plus.
I came home during the middle of the day to grab lunch that I'd forgotten and realized I had put it in the fridge last night instead of the freezer. It bummed me out because I really was looking forward to Stouffer's corn souffle and didn't dare eat it because it had spent the night thawing.
There are so many changes and being all new, I'm not ready to write about some of them. They need to settle in my heart a wee bit longer. Yesterday afternoon at my desk I was in tears. It was tears of joy because I saw my former leather mentor's desire for me beginning to manifest itself. Although over the last few years I have been really, understanding what he taught me, yesterday I had an experience where it all became so much clearer.
I was honored to spend time with someone who emanated the very thing my teacher would talk about. It's a quieter way of being a leather person that goes beyond play parties, boots and cowhide. It has nothing to do with the public face of kink. It was a more private and very cherished way of living. It's not better or worse, but clearly different. I was shown a living example filled with graciousness and the values I strive toward. Today I'm still floored that I was invited to touch it.
Lastly, I feel so incredibly fortunate to have the therapist I do. I really lean on him to tell me when I'm being foolish or am in denial of sorts. Because of all the work we've done these past 7 years I trust him to be upfront with me, even when it stings. And sometimes it will. But in those moments, I love him more because I know he's not afraid to tell me.
About 3 months ago I told him I didn't want him to be Mr. Support Guy unless I explicitly asked for that. I don't want the therapist who sits and listens thinking "well they just need to go thru it and will learn later." I said I was paying him to be blunt and brutally honest with me. If I want support guy I'll ask for it and in the past, I have...for a specky bit.
I'm mentioning this because I've been actively working on changing my spending habits and redoing my monthly budget. I spoke with him about it in our session today. I don't know what the future brings but would rather be somewhat prepared. And one of the things I need to look at is cutting back the $350/m I spend in therapy. But until I surround myself with a few others I can fully trust to tell me the truth, I'm so keeping my shrink, even if it's only once a month. He and my studio rental are the best things I spend money on right now.
So...life overall is good. It is really challenging at times, but those painful moments make the good ones even more magical.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Yesterday was my first productive day in the studio for a while. Between a cold that feels it's lasted 2 weeks, and dealing with the pain and pus of a very infected finger this past week, time has passed with no painting. The large painting I showed you Sunday or Monday has undergone another complete transformation. I think...I think I'm finally getting somewhere with it.
Thursday night's Art Walk was crowd-filled and wonderful. I showed the new pieces, interspersed with some older ones. Thanks to Bill, I met another painter in my building. This man works one floor above me and has been painting abstractions for over 20 years. He's a gentle, wise soul and we had a few wonderful conversations. One when I popped into his space after Bill's prompting and another when the painter came down to mine later in the evening.
A second artist who walked into my studio saw my little pink tree and offered to give me his seashell collection for summer tree decorations. Yeah, I think I may be leaving it up all year round. It makes folks happy when they walk in and see it. And it makes me happy whenever I go in and turn it on before working.
Today it's back to the studio. I'm not sure how much more I can do on the big piece because it's quite wet, but I look forward to seeing it again with fresh eyes.
The size has been a massive challenge. I've notice a major discomfort in leaving all that space plain. My reaction is to break it up with marks of many colors. But I'm forcing myself to let the minimal take charge.
This was Thursday night's wall~
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Art, sex and a bucket.
For me, art and sex not only come from the same place but is the same thing. It’s been that way pretty much all of my life, first in an unconscious fashion, and then, in the last 15 years, with an increasing awareness. It's the reason why "sex art" subject matter is not more titillating or erotic than what could be considered the mundane. Sex comes from the connectedness, the openness and the intent.
My art and sex are are born of a oneness. And yet for almost a couple years now, I’ve watched, to my great discomfort, a widening chasm.
I haven’t felt sexual for a while. An experience had cut off my sex and left me feeling sexually broken. I still feel that way – so very disconnected from my erotic self that it hurts beyond belief. Masturbation and sex would be used at times to comfort myself and now, it feels as if its disappeared. It leaves one part of me a weakened child.
Surprisingly in spite of this, in the last few years, I’ve had some delicious, spontaneous, very powerful and amazing sexual experiences that have reassured me that my disconnect doesn’t come from a self-imposed wall, yet intead a grieving soul.
During this time the art has increased. My creative foundation is strengthening, and it’s filtering into my core. No matter how much I hurt, who discards me, how alone I feel…each day brings a deeper strength that there is a space that no one can damage. It is mine.
It is my heart. Its blood is made up in part, of paint.
And yet the more my artistic and core self unifies and solidifies, the more remote I’ve felt from my sexuality. I couldn't understand what was happening.
This week I mentioned it to my therapist. He said it made sense. Each mark of the brush is a cut with a scalpel, opening wide the old, scabbed over wounds. The pain felt by my sex comes from the paint. And it is good. The infection and pus must come out before it can heal. It needs to be splayed open.
So I continue to cut and dig.
The bucket has become my saving grace.
Whenever the grief would arise, I’ve learned to dive in and allow it to wash over me. In not fighting, one moves through. But each time this pain would come, I saw it as an infinite black ocean, with no horizon. It would disappear with submission, but while in it, it was seen as a never-ending, forever-happening experience.
A month ago, I had an insight.
It was a bucket, not an ocean. All the pain of my past was in a bucket. Each time the grief hits and the sobs push their way up past my throat, I now immediately see a bucket being emptied.
The bucket is filled with tears. The tears of abandonment, of isolation, of rejection, of loneliness. It’s filled with the tears of hearing “you are too much.” The bucket holds the wet salt of never fitting in and feeling one was born wrong....the waters of being told “you’re incredibly amazing and brilliant and sexy and I want to be a part of your life, but I don’t want to touch you.”
Yes…the tears of being untouchable.
My core wound.
It is all in a bucket. The paint draws up the hurt and each time hurt is felt, the bucket is being emptied a little more. No longer are my old wounds seen as an infinite source of pain yet the knowing of a finiteness...affirming an actual healing is happening.
Art, sex and the bucket.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
I'm getting better but still not up to par. The office is a fondue pot of germy sickness with about half the staff sick and out. I've been able to do about 6 hours each day at work before my head lands on my desk and all I want to do is sleep. But today was better than yesterday and yesterday better than the day before.
I'm taking vacation time for the next two days. Tomorrow is a trip to the Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum and also the Museum of Glass with the guys. It should be fun, even if I'll need to nap in the car periodically. I'm looking forward to it.
What I truly miss about feeling sick is being able to work in the studio. Other than about 20 minutes of painting on Sunday, I think it's been almost a full week of not touching the canvas. Thursday night is Art Walk and I really, really wanted to tackle the big painting some more as well as attempt to rectify a few other pieces that are alright, but not quite there yet. It didn't happen and I have to let it be okay.
Sunday, while dropping off a rent check I grabbed a brush because I couldn't stand it anymore and had to mush paint around. So the big piece is now pretty much destroyed at this point and that's what folks are going to see. I think I'll tack a sign above it saying: Wicked In Progress
Here's a decent before before shot and a pretty bad after shot of the large painting. The painting in the first photo went through a whole change before I tackled it again on Sunday. I'm excited about painting over the whole thing because I haven't been happy with it. The surface doesn't speak to me. The light...bleh. So Sunday's frenzy can only offer a new beginning.
I am so determined to create something good from this large canvas. It's been kicking my ass bigtime, but it will not win. If I have to I'll keep destroying it until it...it springs forth.
From the ashes...