Sunday, February 28, 2010
Yesterday morning I saw 3 robins.
When I posted the blossoms from the little tree next to my house a while back...a little tree that always blooms way earlier than anything else, I didn't expect this a week later. But we did have an unseasonably warm January.
This is looking down from my street.
Friday, February 26, 2010
This was taken as I was quickly snapping off shots while riding the bus home from the studio today. You never know what you'll catch.
It was an interesting afternoon...of some studio time, getting sick, having a long, luxurious chat with my mom, a good dinner with good conversation with a good friend, picking up some dvd's from my favorite video store which is sadly closing...and now home.
Walking down to Broadway to meet Eric for dinner I intentionally walked down E. Thomas. It's the street that is lined with cherry blossom trees and they are all in bloom. There was a thick and beautiful fragrance in the air.
Studio time was hard today. I worked a bit but a sinus headache kept threatening to top me and finally won out. I wasn't clear enough to work on in progress paintings and didn't have the energy to pull out a new canvas. When I have full days to spend painting, having to quit early is frustrating.
But the rest of the day made up for it.
And coming home to an email from someone I rarely get to see, who so wants to get together, was a bonus.
It's going to be another painting weekend and I'm looking forward to it.
Grey Gallery sent out an email this morning, hoping to spark a discussion about what constitutes emerging art and its importance to a healthy arts community. This is part of "5x5", their new show for the spring which consists of 5 emerging Seattle artists chosen by 5 national curators. You can voice your thoughts and look at the 88 submissions for this show at GreyGalleryandLounge.blogspot.com. And yes, I am one of the 88 artists and you can see my paintings on the site.
I began a new painting yesterday, 24"x36". Again, I'm exploring a more minimal palette. I hankered for charcoal but decided to see if I can paint in a manner that's similar to my charcoal drawings. It's a pleasurable exploration.
Although my life is about much more, I know I've been writing about painting quite a bit.
There is much going on inside. I'm consciously working on breaking the hold of some old, internal tapes. Core stuff. It's not pretty but is crucial.
What is interesting is that the more I deal with old wounds, the more painful it is and the more anxious I become. And at the same time, my humor is returning and a part of me is lighter. I've noticed the change more at work and with a few friends. It's as if the old me, stuck in ancient messages about my untouchability, is battling the new me that is creating a belief in my worth.
Therein lay the work.
And now...it's time for me get to the studio.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Although Seattle has many coffeeshops and places to hang, it's nearly impossible to find a quiet and comfortable place to chill and read. Either the music is too damned loud or all the new places are cavernous with a high ceiling which means sound bounces everywhere.
And so this brings the happy.
I've completed the piece for the group show.
Have I recently said how much I genuinely love my job and my coworkers? It feels like a renewed honeymoon period.
I've been doing much purging in recent weeks...clearing out personal spaces.
And I slept a solid, blessed 8 hours last night.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
It's going to be a day. For some reason, although tired last night, I only slept about 3 hours this morning. Considering what I do for work, my head needs to be clear. And instead, the lack of sleep is making for foggy thinking. Data manipulation isn't best served unless one is fully awake. More coffee is needed. And some raisin English muffins.
On to something different.
I've been thinking a lot about color.
While mixing paint in the studio last night I noticed I spend at least as much time mixing and coming up with color as I do laying paint on canvas.
Some days, I approach the palette with confusion. The piles of squeezed pigment looks foreign to me and I'm stumped. I'll have no idea what colors to mix or how to mix. I feel totally inept. And then other days, like yesterday, I revel in the magic when a new color appears and it has the characteristics I seek.
A few times, after much mixing, I've accidentally come upon something luscious, and then have no idea how to replicate it. In those moments, when cleaning my palette, I'll leave a little patch there for reference, hoping I can figure it out.
There is something satisfying about mixing color: discovering harmony and contrast, not only in hue but with temperature. How to create light and depth. It feels sculptural.
On Saturday I began a black and white painting, pushing myself to see how much color I can bring into it while keeping the integrity of a very minimal color palette. I tend to see much color in many of my b&w photographs and am trying to achieve the same on canvas.
I love color.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I think I found a new/old place near the studio for cheap eats. It's next to Trattoria Mitchelli's (RIP). You need to walk down a steep flight and end up in what looks like a basement. But actually it's part of the original Seattle. Look at this very old wall that was next to our table. It's beautiful.
...Sometimes there just isn't enough of it. I'm coming off of a long stretch (I originally typed "strength") of painting which was heaven. I essentially kept my space clear for the art. Only twice did I do anything social and it would be after I was through painting for the day. It was wonderful.
And now back to work. This morning I remembered that I'm doing a volunteer stint at Artist Trust today, assisting with some work that's needed after their big annual auction over the weekend. And then I need to immerse myself in everything that's on my desk. There is much to do in the office.
And...I need to finish the group show piece and have some items ready to ship out in the next day or two.
I want more time.
I saw this in a window while walking to the bus just stopped....captivated by the shadows and shapes.
Friday, February 19, 2010
This little tree next to my house began blooming a couple weeks ago.
A coworker is in Vancouver today, enjoying some Olympic events.
Speaking of the Olympics, here's an article from Change.org on 5 most gay friendly things about the 2010 Olympics.
And then, there is some puzzlement over Johnny Weir's low scores.
Another article on Johnny Weir.
Another coworker sent me the following link last week. This...this is beautiful and very sexy.
From The Slog, The Art of Art Bombing.
And from Huffpo, 17 awesome Lego creations.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
We've had gorgeous weather this week. And today...was the best. It was the first time this season I could fully open our studio window. My studio mate was in this afternoon and we each quietly worked...focused. Warm air breezed in through the big window while jazz blended with the sound of viaduct traffic. We uncorked a bottle of cheap wine.
It's definitely been a productive week.
I'm tired tonight and am cozily curled up with a large cup of hot milk with a wee bit of Ovaltine in it. Off to bed in a few so I can be up early and do laundry before heading back to the studio.
I did take yesterday and today off as vacation from my day job for more quality studio time.
Yesterday was a very long studio day split evenly between painting and sitting with all the work. In the evening another artist came by for a studio visit.
During the day, with music filling the space...I was surrounded by bottles. The canvases were speaking. Groupings. Relationships. Slowly looking, feeling...I was hearing their stories.
Memories crashed together. Images from my past and all the emotion that came with each experience. Reminders of situations forgotten. New realizations. And old thoughts.
I don't fit well in groups. Not because I don't enjoy people, because I do, but I don't tolerate "group think" very well. It's why I left the church at 16, which in my family was quite the feat. Each new foray into something else more cutting edge led me to believe I'd find people who could bond and at the same time remain individual thinkers and doers. And yet...the pull of fitting in, of belonging, is strong and people seem to shut off their minds and follow the leader. Cult mentality is not restricted to organized religions.
Rigid structure is the last thing I want to see in my art, my sex, my fetishes and my life. I enjoy the fluidity of life and need to experience the surprises that come with it. I get turned on by unique thought processes and imagination.
In the midst of all this I fantasized what it would be like to give up the studio and pack away the brushes. How would my life change? Who would I be? Yesterday afternoon I thought myself crazy...absolutely insane...to be a painter. And in a few hours I will return to my studio. How can I not do it?
This little painting was completed last month but didn't shoot it until this week.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I'm astounded with all that I've accomplished in the studio the last four days. Even when painting is a challenge and the doubts arise, having unblocked and undistracted studio time makes things clearer.
Currently, I'm in the office and already am trying to figure out if I can take Wednesday and Thursday as vacation days so I can spend time painting. Today I'm immersing myself at the office and taking a break from the studio tonight hoping to make that a reality.
My hand is stained in red paint and it makes me smile whenever I look down at my fingers.
My calendar is again filling up with other fun things as well. It really is a delicate balancing act to fill various needs, have play time, do sexy stuff, poke thru galleries and create emotional and physical space to paint. As I've discovered these last 4 days, I need much empty space around my painting time. Rushing from one thing to another doesn't make for the best art practice. For me, it really is about taking much alone time.
Now back to work.
Monday, February 15, 2010
It's been a productive painting weekend. A new large painting begun, a few paintings completed and I'm in a healthy place with the group show piece. I look forward to going in again today.
Here are two more from the Bleeding Vessels series that I finally finished on Saturday. Even though they are small, it's taken a while. One I began over a year ago. Paintings are funny things. They come together when they are ready. I really can't push the process.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I received this bill in my tip jar during art walk last week. A few months ago we began putting out a tip jar for art walk to assist with paying for the wine. Although a large part of the people who come thru our building want to see art, there is a fair segment that comes for free wine.
It's helped. And overall, it makes folks a little more conscious of what they are doing.
For February art walk, someone left some Cambodian currency. I googled for it today and found the info here.
It's a beautiful looking bill and is the equivalent of 25 cents. Not worth taking it to the bank. I think this currency will need to turn into art of some sort.
I've had two productive days in the studio and look forward to two more days. I even cancelled brunch plans for tomorrow morning because I'm in a groove and don't want any social distractions before painting time.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Working through a rough painting patch...
I've been feeling increasing pressure with the 3 pieces I'm working. Each leaves me with great doubt about my "true" ability as a painter. Whatever that means. It's stupid and that adjective needs to be dismissed.
This morning I was going through images of paintings, looking…selecting pieces for a submission. In culling images to find my strongest work, I was filled with a joy and surprise. Surprise that they were created by me. Each done, at times with much struggle, but without commitments or deadlines…born of freedom coming from a love for the act of painting and of big emotion.
And yet, in the 3 pieces that are specifically for others, with parameters set, I feel my terror. There is a disconnect and my idea of perfection has become a roadblock. I aced my way through art school. I remember the deadlines, the assignments, the pressure, and somehow I was able to push through and excel. I'm trying to see these 3 pieces in the same way and trust that I can break down the paralysis that leaves me stiff and instead, move into a fluid hand.
The process is consuming me. And trying to balance a busy time at work and grab whatever energy is left over to paint is disheartening. Inside, I can taste and almost see my personal success at dismantling the fear and dancing with the work. Yet…the journey from here to there is intimidating.
This is part of my job.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Mornings have been beautiful with lots of thick fog. Yesterday my coworker looked out the window and said "the world disappeared". I smiled and imagined what that would be like. A few hours later I hear "it came back."
This morning my doctor called and left me a voice mail. Considering I hadn't seen her since December which is when she sent me for my first bone density scan and it had been over a month and I had yet to receive any results...my heart was in my throat as I connected to my messages.
I love my doctor.
Apparently she was so pleased with the results she had to let me know herself. Normally, good results always come by paper mail. She said my bone density scan and spine were above average for a 30 year old and my hips are average for a 30 year old. Considering I'm 50...this is exceptional news.
Monday, February 08, 2010
On grief...and A Single Man. This comes across a little choppy...thoughts jotted down.
Last week, I was feeling increasingly fragile and anxious. It was a really good week, albeit a tough one. It didn't help that I was struggling with a sinus infection as I was dealing with openings and reveals in many parts of my life. By Thursday I contacted my therapist to see if he had an available hour. He did. I went.
My therapist felt my fragility and commented on it. And instead of the TLC that will happen during those very raw, feeling little times…with my consent, he pushed me. Hard. It was powerful. We work well together.
Again, the process of grieving.
I'm in it and at the same time, observe it…a scientist, clipboard in hand. To experience the full impact internally while watching the exterior world's reaction to great grief - my own, and others', is a surreal and yet more complete adventure.
Friday, I did something that was incredibly terrifying. I woke and saw what I once thought of as a boundary, really was a wall. In that moment I knew it needed to come down. Time dragged as procrastination took over, delaying the inevitable.
Taking a huge breath, I leapt.
Allowing myself to be vulnerable to a situation that has caused some of the greatest pain in my life was brutal.
Reeling from the experience, (feeling good but shaky) I sat and worked on calming myself. An hour later without a clue of what I had just done, a friend emailed me…
…a little portion of what he wrote:
"Grief is so incredibly fucked up. And you've had a lot of it in the past few years. If you need someone to remind you about yourself later, I will still be here. I love you and am grateful for you every day."
His email was balm.
Earlier in the week this same friend and I made plans to see A Single Man on Sunday. I knew a little of the film, and decided he would be the perfect person to go with. He is not a stranger to grief, having gone through years of it, first disconnected and then with much hard work, connecting to difficult emotions.
Regarding the film, I came away surprised. Originally I thought it would drag me down or put me in a black state. Instead, along with the pain, I felt a sense of validation. Somehow, Ford was able to visually portray grief. In watching George move through his day, it felt as if my own experience has been captured. Throughout the film, I saw me. And in that, my sense of isolation lessened.
There is incredible beauty in the film and it feels like an honest depiction. It is not sentimental or over the top yet portrays the matter of factedness in living with such despair.
The complexity of feeling, at times subtle, portrayed by the actors was luscious. The film carries an emotional sophistication that is rarely seen on the screen.
I just sent an email to another friend who is also dealing with grief. I wrote:
"My shrink told me over the summer that I've been suffering from a mild case of PTSD... It explains why the grief is still so large...why I can still wake in tears. Why the littlest present day experience can trigger a big painful memory.
I'm working thru it. It's agonizingly slow and not easy. Some of the hardest work I've done to date.
So it's a matter of being gentle with myself. Taking quiet times and hiding when I need to. Being careful who I expose myself to. And tending to myself like I have the flu while trying to get on with my days, painting, working and just being.
Tough stuff. Our society isn't gentle with grief. There's a lot of shame carried around it. People push away from people who they deem "too sad". And it's the worse way to handle grief. It doesn't allow the process to evolve naturally. There will be good moments and heart-wrenching moments. Things can change on a dime. It's all okay."
I do understand why grief makes people uncomfortable. But it doesn't mean that grieving isn't necessary. Grief is simply another rich experience of life. Grief means you risked...and opened your heart.
With grief comes many gifts. Some being...
~A greater sense of compassion.
~Seeing the bright times as more effervescent, knowing we can't truly see the light without the contrast of the dark.
~Feeling our own internal power and infinite strength when we find we've made it thru a black patch.
If we don't get stuck in it, it allows for a larger appreciation of our world and for each moment.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
This was shot Thursday evening. We were sitting at Contour, enjoying food and libations before opening the studio for art walk.
The photo cheers me up and I need it now because I'm still really sick. The image is chicken soup for my eyes.
Somehow I managed to make it to a business dinner meeting last night, for the art work for a book. Even though my sinuses feel like they have little atom bombs going off inside them every hour, and my body feels like its been hit by a truck, and I apologized for not being as present as I'd like to be, it was a very successful meeting and half the drawings are now complete and purchased. It was the boost I needed to finish the project.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Shhhh...don't tell anyone. I think I'm getting sick and there is no time to be sick this week. It's the reason why I won't even acknowledge it to myself until it gets to a certain point.
The last few days, I've managed to drag myself into the studio, somehow found the energy to work, and then would crash...almost dozing off on the bus.
This morning, my body feels like a cold is definitely coming on. Tomorrow we have an important all day staff meeting and then Thursday night is Art Walk. I still have two paintings to complete. One needs to be finished by Sunday (so it has time to dry before shipping) and the other has to be completed by the 15th.
I decided to chuck the portrait that was almost complete and began a new one last night. It needs to be freer, more expressive. Not that I push myself or anything.
If I can complete what I need to in the office this morning, I'll try to leave by noon, dash to the studio to set up for First Thursday and then go home to bed.
Tom Kha Gai sounds good right now. As does orange juice, a hot bath and some tea.
Or it's time to dig up my Zicam. That stuff has saved me many times over the last 6 months.
In spite of the physical blechies...life is good.