These two drawings are filed under “They can’t all be masterpieces”:
BUT, this one is good:
I’ve also made a caftan from a vintage sari and weird version of Vogue 1410, both of which I’ll try to photograph soon.
One of my chief pleasures in the summer is listening to (and watching) the endless hummingbird war over the feeder. This morning it is cloudy and raining, so the windows are open and I can hear all the little Jetsons sounds they make as they chase each other away from a feeder that contains enough food to support the entire backyard colony. Yet, it’s not good if there’s enough—I guess hummingbirds are capitalists at heart.
Lately I get up and check my blood pressure, my husband brings me coffee (we have a running joke/dialogue around that:he says, “I brought you something” and I say “AND some coffee?” and he says “Careful, it’s hot.” and I say, “So’s the coffee.” this is the secret to marriage—regular, prescribed dialogue. Or someone to bring you coffee, idk which) and I start soaking two tablespoons of chia seeds in either water or, this week, dark chocolate cashew milk. I am struggling with the Propanolol; even though the dose is very low, I think it is causing some shortness of breath (it’s known to aggravate asthma) and, I suspect, greater heart irregularities. Also, they aren’t kidding about it making dreams weird. I’ve had nightmares and long, strange dreams that are very intense.
On the flip side, it seems to prime my sleep switch without making me drowsy; it’s like I just go to sleep like a normal person might. I faintly remember the days of simply lying down to go to sleep, and it’s like a fairy tale. More often than not, I wake in the morning to a still full glass of wine (which I then return through a funnel to the bottle, yes I am cheap), which is a congratulatory event instead of my usual initial thoughts of guilt and self-loathing. It’s different….
I’m trying to be good about taking vitamins, so once I eat the slightly jelly, faintly gritty chia seed/cashew milk potion, I take eye vitamins, vitamin D, two Glucosamin Chondrotin and a probiotic. This chia seed business has resulted in the closest thing to normal gut function I’ve had in, oh, years. Gritty or not, slimy or not, I’m committed. The cashew milk will not have a second shot at breakfast, though, because it’s fairly gross–when this carton is gone, we will say goodbye. Too thin to be milk, too thick to be juice….no me gusta.
Last 4th of July weekend I was crashing off of Xanax, plunging into serotonin syndrome with Cymbalta, and texting my PCP as I clenched my teeth, cried, and couldn’t sit still. This year I’m just a little short of breath and floaty feeling, along with odd heart rhythms. This, then, is an improvement. Clearly my orthostatic/autonomic disorders are affected by hot weather. Hence my happiness about the rain, even though it may kill the whole fireworks option. The red and white fireworks tent in the field behind our house charms me with its circus implications during the day and annoys us with its intrusive lighting at night.
It’s whimsical. The child criticized it, “What’s with her feet? Is she an amputee? Wait, why are you mad?” I pointed out, testily, that the whole point of this daily drawing exercise is to suspend judgement–mine or other people’s. Or, maybe it’s about at least being tough enough to resist the needling of a 13 year old. There’s the challenge.
Here’s where I went awry, because I started thinking about audience. I got a lot of positive feedback on the first one with these two women, so then they wanted to say more so I drew this one. But then I loved it even though it felt unfinished….so I colored it:
Meh. It lost depth in photography/editing, which is always true. I also don’t like the tooth of the paper I am using–and it’s not what I normally use when I color and complete a drawing. This stuff is a cheap drawing paper, and most of my work is finished on a vellum-finish bristol board–so it’s a lot smoother. I wanted a sort of sensual, private moment versus the more public, circus/audience sense I get from the first drawing with the striped costumes. It’s not pleasing to me at the moment.
See? Too much thinking–that’s not the point of the exercise.
I learned to sew as an adult and as a result I carry no hang-ups about it. I don’t worry that I’m not good enough or that I’m doing it “wrong” or wasting my time. My father started trying to teach me drawing when I was six. He started with vanishing point perspective.
It was all downhill from there.
I internalized all kinds of criticism and hang ups and insecurities about drawing. I’ve talked about a lot of that already here, so it’s not necessary to rehash it. As aware as I am, though, of how wrong most of those notions are, I am still constrained by it. So, this summer, in between major medical bullshit and the like, I’m doing some drawing. Just drawing, just whatever I want, no rules.
Here’s the first three:
I like them–and that’s the only thing that matters.
I was asked to make a Day of the Dead-themed Victorian walking suit for a show that will spend two years traveling to various museums. For the first time in my artistic life, I have not only failed to submit my piece early, I have missed the initial deadlines. Inspiration showed up late in this case, but I think it was worth it. Initially I made a Victorian-esque skirt from some of my extensive collection of Our Lady of Guadalupe fabrics. Then it all ground to halt. Digging around in a cedar chest filled with -Ray’s things for a class I was teaching on the topic of DIY-clothing (upcycling, transforming, etc) I found a jacket that I had made for her from two vintage blouses that featured an appliqued skull on the back.
In looking at that, and some other things I had made for her, I realized I was ready to let these things out of the silent tomb of the cedar chest. I wanted to transform them, then release the back into the world. I took the tshirt she sent me with the logo of their band, which I designed, and cut the logo out, hand colored it, and hand appliqued it onto the skull jacket:
Then I appliqued elements from a gorgeous quilter cotton that was full of Mexican folk symbols (and some skull fabric leftover from my purse-making days) as well as drawing root elements by hand with alcohol-based markers and a Tee Juice marker.
Next, I drew in a cat skull with bony wing elements and painted them gold.
Then I decided that everything needed embroidery. Everything.
Next came the bustle. I used as the bottom layer a capelet I had made for -Ray from a vintage apron, that included hand made flowers and a portrait I drew of her sewn into the pocket. Over that are layers of a vintage linen with crocheted corners, and the top layer is a rotten Victorian collar. For height I made two sort of bum rolls out of related fabrics. Then I drew, appliqued, embroidered and painted everything.
I will save the rest of the photos for a second post.
Since that’s not enough to do, I am also volunteering as the Costume Designer for a production of Chicago that a good friend and co-worker is co-directing. The concept is that the show is being put on by a group of convicts in a modern-day women’s prison (shades of OITNB). Thus, they are all dressed in gray prison clothing which the actors have to try to make look sexy without a lot of options to remake things. If you doubt this possibility, think back to being in high school and shortening your skirt by rolling the waistband after you went to school, or tying your shirt so that some midriff showed. It’s working quite well. Also, though, a lot of their costume elements need to look like they made them from a limited amount of available materials, so I have now gotten very good at making fedoras and boaters that look like they are made from food wrappers and boxes:
There’s also a derby hat covered in Dum-Dum wrappers for Amos as well as a bow tie and lapel flower of the same. The third boater, not pictured, is a Cheese-Its theme.
We go into Tech this week, and then, possibly, I will reclaim my summer break and actually get to relax and enjoy some of it.
Famous last words, that.
Because I am artistically inspired. I’ve had a bunch of drawings sitting around since last year, and hadn’t decided what to do with them. Then, I realized I wanted to return to beading them, and then (if this first experiment goes well) sealing them with a thick layer of high gloss art resin epoxy. The beads will then be under that layer of resin and I’m really excited about how (I think) it will come out. So this is the progress from yesterday:
Now, I’m off to glue more beads before I have to go into work.
How something “should” be contrasts wildly with how it “is.”
This is a central struggle in terms of acceptance and also action. I have to accept how things are, which means I must let go of how I think they should be. Also, though–until I accept how things are, I can’t take action to potentially make things more the way I would like for them to be. My path right now is to seek the middle; the narrow tight rope where I can balance between the extremes; in this case, the extremes of Should and Is/Are.
I should be able to come home from work, change into comfortable clothes, and then work in my studio for a few hours. I should be able to make at least a little bit of progress on my own work each day, even if I went to my day job that day. The reality, the is/are is that I come home from work, sit exhausted at my computer for up to an hour, then make dinner, start drinking wine, and go to bed in pain and worn out.
I really want the Should. That is what I feel I deserve and what I feel I want and what I feel I must have. I. Must. Have. As long as I cling to that, as long as I draw a line in the sand and tearfully, furiously demand it, the current Is/Are is where I will remain trapped. As long as I am trapped in the Is/Are, the angrier I will be that I can’t have the Should.
It seems so easy, right? Ease up on the Should. Don’t let it go and free fall into the current Is/Are, but stop being so rigid about it. Explore the myriad of (stupid, not what I want, irritating, lesser) options that exist given the facts.
Fact: I get home from work progressively more exhausted as the week wears on. So, if the rest of the weekdays were playing cards, I can turn the Thursday card face down right now–there is no way I will have the energy to work creatively on Thursday. Often, I don’t have the energy to so much as fix more of a dinner than something frozen I can put in the oven and collect when the timer instructs me to do so. Thursday’s child with EDS, then, is not going to sew or draw.
Looking at Monday, though, there is a chance that most or much or often I *will* have the energy to spend a little time on my own projects. Monday, then, needs to be protected. I don’t have to leave as early for work because I see the Shrink at 9:00 am, and my last class is done at 3:20. If there’s going to be a chance for me to have some creative me-time, then on Sunday I should be making a dinner (or prepping food for the crock pot, or enlisting another household member’s help to prep) that will become leftovers for Monday so that my shot at that time isn’t eaten up by the task of meal preparation.
See? That edges me back onto the tightrope again, balancing a little less precariously.
There will be Mondays when I had to work late and I can’t come home to create. There will be Mondays when I don’t feel good even though I had a shorter day and fixed dinner ahead of time. But at least SOME Mondays will be days where I can find the time to take care of my creative needs.
Tuesday shows that potential by maybe 20% less than Monday–but there is still a sliver of hope. That means that instead of dinner Monday being leftovers from Sunday, it should be a crock pot recipe that also covers Tuesday. IF I get an hour of time in my studio on Monday, that means Tuesday may only find a half hour; but the possibility is still there.
Wednesday I teach until nearly 5:00. There definitely won’t be any leftovers. Ideally, then, I would fix a dinner on Wednesday that is both easy and plentiful, to last into Thursday when I am completely fried.
Things I will have to limit:
On Monday, no booze until bedtime. Limited computer
Tuesday, the same, but maybe a bit more computer.
Wednesday–some computer, hot bath, booze.
Thursday: Whatever it takes to get through. Bath, booze, early bedtime, minimal dinner.
Even knowing that accepting certain realities will allow me to get closer to including things I want in my life, I feel resistant, which is the pull of the Should. I resent having to plan my life like this, losing some spontaneity in terms of when I will choose to work creatively, having to plan around pain and exhaustion. Yet, I can resent, dislike, rail against, resist what Is/Are all I want and I will change nothing and lose precious energy doing so. In writing, it seems a very small step to do what I have listed above, but emotionally it feels more like leaping a canyon. Except, if I look hard enough, there is probably a bridge that will allow me to cross the canyon one step at a time. That’s going to be the only way to the other side.
I’ve had to let the muse go due to intense hip, back, shoulder, wrist and hand pain. No longer am I enamored of my patchwork collection, instead I am judging it wanting and a waste of time. It probably isn’t either of those things but the chronic-pain-colored glasses view it as such. Every step I took yesterday hurt my hips like a wide band across my lap, from deep in the joint to radiating outward over the muscles of my thighs. By the end of the day, of course, it was worse and I lost my composure entirely and had a sobbing fit in my bed while the husband and the dog tried to figure out what to do with me.
I suspect my emotional fragility at the moment is partly due to the above and maybe somewhat influenced by hormones (O, perimenopause, you wretched, wretched bitch). While I cavalierly said I didn’t care if I was once again making a collection of things no one would buy, today I DO care about this and perused my Etsy shop just to make myself feel worse. I don’t know why I cling to Etsy when I haven’t the time to devote to keeping it up. It’s the excuse for my thrifting addiction, “I can sell it on Etsy” but no, no I can’t, not consistently. There are times, like today, when I feel like my constant making of things is foolish and sad since rarely do I have an answer to “What will you do with this?” or “Who would buy this?” Earlier this week I was content to simply be creating, happy to be in the process and satisfied by the process and the products. But the process that makes me so happy and satisfied is the same process that means I was in bed crying at 8:00 pm due to pain.
The Shrink and I are working very hard on being in the Now, since that’s the only thing we have any control over. Last night, eyes leaking, my brain kept saying, “Okay, so this is the Now but the Now is horrible and what if it’s the new forever (no, no, forgive yourself for that and go back to now) Now sucks, Now is awful!” Or, as my husband finally put it (canceling out hours of mental looping and self-criticism) “Today’s just a bad day.” Yes. And I have to learn not to then tack on, “And what if tomorrow is, too? Or worse?” Because I don’t know that, and I can’t determine that until tomorrow becomes the Now. It’s a bit of a rabbit hole.
So today is slightly better so far except that I feel like a giant, potentially leaky vessel of tears. I have a massage and maybe that will ease some of the pain. Maybe I will look at my last assemblage of pieces and find it more favorable than I did yesterday. Maybe tonight will not be a night wherein I find myself freaked out about not having pain drugs, sobbing into the dog’s neck and panicking about the future. A future in which I will possibly drown in clothes, fabric, and partially finished quilts.
Good heavens. I am enslaved to my muse who cares not what we will do with all these patchwork garments. Hell, she won’t even let me think much on how we might be creating yet another burden in terms of clothing I can’t sell. No, I am simply completely smitten with pieces of fabric, quilting with the serger, and debating how many times I will cut something up, assemble it, cut it up again and then assemble it.
Here is the second complete garment:
Now what? This:
Once it’s assembled as laid out, I’m going to cut it up again, into maybe 3″ wide strips, then reassemble. Because I am insane. My shoulders are killing me, my hands are killing me, but I can’t stop. At this point, still a long distance from the finish line, I am already casting about for what else I’ll chop up next.
I know where it all ends, I do, yet—I love being engaged in a project.
I mentioned in my December 31 post that I continue to be somewhat stuck artistically when it comes to drawing. Nothing will change overnight, and I doubt that sudden change would even be that healthy, really. However, I’ve started spending some time each morning pinning illustrations that I like to this Pinterest board. I zip through really fast, simply pinning anything that speaks to me at all, pushing away the little voice that says, “But that’s not consistent with what you have already pinned” or “You pick the same image over and over again” (this critic also likes to point out to me that I buy the same painting over and over again). I just pin. Pin, pin, pin, immerse, pin.
Immersion. Getting lost in it. This morning I read this post by Terri Windling, whose blog I follow and lurk at, and admittedly often skim because she writes a lot, and a lot of it is about writing, not drawing. I have long understood that perfectionism is, indeed, a problem for me. Starting my art journal late last year was intended to help with that–a completely secret thing where it doesn’t matter what I draw. Even then, I relentlessly critique it. I force myself to cross out a word I spelled wrong and NOT tear out the page and move on. I resist the voice that suggests that my composition lacks balance on the page. Somewhere, underneath that voice, I know that what is valuable; visually and otherwise, is the journal in its totality, not a page with a weird space at the bottom, or a crooked drawing.
As mentioned in her post, I also know exactly who I take into the studio with me; my father. Oh, my father, who encouraged me to make art and then relentlessly, endlessly criticized it and me. All of those events are taped and neatly filed in my brain and I can take them out and relive them anytime. I would like to stop doing that. I would like, very much, to un-invite my father to my work. To close the door before he steps into my studio. My secretiveness about my artwork stems from him pawing through it without permission, sometimes even taking things and adding to them. I drew all the time as a kid, sitting on the floor at the coffee table with a sketchbook and pencil, and my dad sniping constantly, questioning my process, my subject matter, my choices. Eventually he won, and I stopped drawing at the coffee table and took it to my room. And then years later, I would sometimes stop altogether, sometimes for months or even for years. I still do.
I have let go of perfectionism when it comes to sewing, though, so I sew all the time. My father doesn’t know a single thing about sewing, or about costume design, for that matter, and he knows very little about me as stitching artist, because he died before I found this world. He can’t enter this part of my life, he’s never been here before. Other critics, my co-worker who can sometimes be scathing, even, don’t bother me. I can see their jabs as simply their own insecurities, and I know I am very, very good at what I do, even as I have so much to continue to learn. Which is not to say that I don’t sometimes catch myself, particularly at work, wanting to start my project alone, secretly, so no one can question what I am doing, or apologizing for an imperfection before anyone else can criticize it. But I am much, much better at letting go of all of that where sewing is concerned.
Drawing is a lot closer to my core, it is a much more vulnerable process. I took so much of it into my own interior that now it has trouble getting out into the world. I think I took it prisoner when I meant to make it safe. That is something I would like to manage this year; I’d like to let it out of jail. My art journal, my other work, they are all little releases–a little work-release as it were–but the full-on jailbreak is still ahead of me. Terri’s post mentions several keys that might unlock some of the locks, which is very positive.
Tiny, Tiny, Tiny steps.