Thoughts in Isolation: 3

Art Journal, Self Reflection, Thoughts

Monday, May 4, 2020

Wow, where’d you come from Taryn? Up before noon? Breakfast? Laundry? Feeling ambitious? Making plans? Yeah… getting yourself on a med taking schedule is kicking in fast. Days. Who knows how many doses you were flaking out on. That’s life managing mental health. You can slip so easy. Especially during times of crisis. When everyone is giving themselves permission to eat ice cream for breakfast, it’s easy to let things go. Forgetting you need structures to keep anxiety and depression and at bay. Oops. But we have a lifetime of experience to draw from. And know when things are getting weird upstairs. Imagine all the people out there who are going into this new world completely unprepared for dealing with their crazy? Be gentle with them. They are fresh at this.

Friday May 8, 2020

It snowed. The Upper Peninsula is a magical world of winter and water. People are expressing further frustration from the oppressive feelings a spring snow rains down on their heads. I think it’s beautiful. I’m on track to cement in a habit of getting up before noon and taking my meds. Getting to bed is challenged by my discovery of a new author. I’m riding the sci-fi adventure genre. Six books deep. Second series. Will they survive?

Also murder hornets have taken over pop culture and FB arguments. Along with the “plandemic” video. Will the wonders of 2020 never cease??? I can watch the riptides of information, misinformation and spin spread across social media. Mostly, I feel like people just don’t understand their own psychology.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

I’m sick of people.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Today was a good day. Up before noon. A solid art session. A good breakfast. A walk. Went for a ride yesterday for supplies. Things are looking up inside my brain.

Thursday, May 12, 2020

I was thinking.

I was thinking about all the places and things I experienced over the winter. And I feel so fulfilled. I got the experience of long term traveling and the freedom to create art. And I did it. And I saw many of the places I dreamed about, and more.

What a generous Universe.

Now is the time for rest.

Next is the unfolding of the next gift. Mine is blessed life.

Friday, May 13, 2020

Getting art supplies in the era of Covid-19… one must lower their expectations dramatically. I’m exercising a level of patience I didn’t know I had. But then, it’s nice to slow down.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Being an adult is far overrated. I’m glad I grew up to be an artist.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The feeling of watching people leave. The moment of separation. Wether planned, after a visit, or after a fight… I find that peeling away of their presence excruciating. I don’t mean when they leave to go to the store, I mean when they leave and there’s going to be hours and days between you. That moment. That sick sinking moment when they walk away from you. Your last hug (or in some cases not) and you don’t know when you’ll feel their mass again.

Tonight I sleep alone. And even though it’s temporary and planned and necessary and he’s a phone call away… That moment of peeling away. That last hug. I need my human with me.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Spring took so long to get here. Then overnight the trees opened up their wells of green and life sprouts from the earth in multitudes. At night frogs chorus and whip-poor-wills break through. Moving through the night calling here and there. The dawn moves fast on the night, there’s barely a touch of night. People are restless here this time of year. I think it’s having so much daylight. It’s only dark for a little over seven hours.

And I prepare for yet another strange new disruption in my life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

George Floyd. What terrors we’ve given power to. Little beasts with such ugly hearts to ignore the pleas of a fading man.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The country is on fire.

Michigan lifts the “Stay at home” order.

Thoughts in Isolation: 2

Art Journal, Self Reflection, Thoughts

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

I did not think I would experience any new emotions after posting the two week journal “Thoughts in Isolation.” I was wrong. Today. Today I ache inside. I am numb yet sad yet nauseous. I made a double batch of no-bake cookies after starting the last 15 pieces of the 100 Day Project. I feel weepy yet I don’t weep! I’m mad. I’m dissatisfied. I’m disappointed. From heart down to my stomach I feel bubbling emotions but I can’t identify them. They swirl and toss like a shipwreck. I’m relieved and angry. I’m sickened and disgusted. I’m empty. I’m a tempest.

Today people choked the capital of Michigan protesting governor Whitmer’s executive orders. They block emergency vehicles. They mingle. They are mad about seeds. Some of my Facebook friends support this. Most do not.

Today I skimmed Facebook trying to avoid all the conspiracy theories. I’m baffled by the ridiculous number of them. And everyone yelling at each other to “think for themselves.” I don’t know if I should be comforted by listening to an expert explain everywhere in the world comes up with conspiracies during outbreaks with convenient scapegoats particular to their corner of the world.

But what really breaks me is the normality of my Grandfather’s death amidst everything.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

I’m trying to wrap my heart around the grieving process for my grandfather but it all feels so distant. In a different time I would of driven the forty minutes to see my family immediately after I was told. In this world that seems irresponsible. So I stay home. I hope that my grandmother is safe. I hope no one in the flurry of activity carried the virus with them to my grieving family. I hope they were able to keep him comfortable in his last hours.

My grandfather was kindness where my home life was chaos. He fixed up an old banana seat bike and spray painted it dark green for me. Remedying my lack of bike riding knowledge. He taught me some doodles I can still draw. Tried to teach me a line or two of French. I went with him walking at the ice rink. And fishing.

Grandpa was flannels and suspenders. Mint chocolate. Tomato thieving. Chipmunk taming. Garage tinkering. He was full of games and riddles. He was a collection of hematite rocks. Old westerns and baseball. He was ritually painting the deck brown. I watched him give up his raspberry patch, his truck, his boat, his sight. He was wit and charm.

Most of all he was Grandpa. When I was confused by my father’s side of the family and reproached by his wife, Lucille, not to call her grandmother. This Grandfather never made that distinction. Even though most of us weren’t his by blood.

How do we mourn in this time of corona?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Everyone is getting their chain yanked by someone in country. And everyone thinks they are the ones “thinking for themselves.” Everyone is at each others throats on social media. Guilty. How does something so simple as staying home to save lives become so politicized? I have questions.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Many members of my family have posted on social media about the passing of our Grandfather. I can’t do it. I cannot bring myself to deal with the societal etiquette of public condolences and public thanks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

mitigation

social distancing

PPE

N95

corona

covid-19

ventilators

flattening the curve

Dr. Birx and Fauci

the scarf

Governor Coumo

fabric masks

Wuhan

isolation

quarantine

USS Comfort and Mercy

the cure cannot be worse than the disease

the invisible enemy

testing

false negatives/positives

supply chain

chloroquine

hot zone

that woman from Michigan

pandemic

Spanish Flu

1918

second wave

Chinese virus

contact tracing

exponential

two weeks

six feet

2%

0.1%

15%

asymptomatic carriers

shelter in place

So many words that have taken over our language in the last weeks and months. Our minds quickly pick up on and race away with a flurry of new vocabulary. Wielding them like knives against each other.

I wonder when life will feel normal. I guess society always fluxes. We never went back to pre- 9/11 life. We’ve been fighting that war since. I only knew the feeling of job and financial security during the last years of the Obama administration. Wiped away again by greed. Watching big businesses suck up bail outs while little micro-businesses are starved out. Watch them wink out one by one. Stranding families and once thriving communities.

The system only works by a thin thread of belief. There’s nothing real about the ant hill of capitalism. An engine that drives and consumes the planet for profit. But why? More electronic money. More. More. More. Not even paper anymore. Just numbers we believe in. To make our lives better? It’s NOT so! I witnessed two different America’s driving across this country. People living in towers overlooking people living in gutters.

What’s real? We have one life. Once it’s over… A company can be rebuilt. A country can recover from a recession or depression. We won’t get our people back if we send them off as sacrificial lambs for capitalism. No one needs a hair cut that badly. What we need is food, water, shelter and our tribe to be safe.

I’m just not willing to give up my mother, grandmother or husband because some people believe the economy is more important and some others believe the virus is a hoax.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

I was brutally awakened from a nap by a cascade of horns honking and a cacophony of dogs barking. When I tried to hush the dogs my husband yelled back “their having a parade.” Out here in the middle of the woods? with us as the only witness, they came out to their camp to have themselves a little birthday party for the wife. A nurse at a nearby hospital. Complete with children and the elderly. How sweet.

And…

The president suggested we disinfect our lungs. Inject cleaners.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

I’m getting weird about things. I’m closing in around myself. I’m not going out. Not looking to leave the house. I don’t want to talk to many people. I’m not accomplishing much. I don’t feel sad. I’m ok. I think? I miss the desert. I miss the road. Although I’m not afraid, the current events prey on latent fears. If that makes sense. The current isolation mimics the times from before I was on medication. When stores were the enemy. Strangers. Contact. An invisible barrier. I at that time was getting weird about going into stores I wasn’t familiar with. About talking to anyone. Leaving the house got troubling. And it’s like that now I’m feeling, but a different cause. And I’m distant from people the same way I was then. Not out of social anxiety, but because of social safety. But it feels emotionally the same. The difference now is that I have a partner to lean on. At my worst with the social anxiety I was alone.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

I’ve been thinking about my father and everything he’s missing. What would he make of this time? He was never one that could stand being still. He always wanted to go. How would he handle being asked to stay home? I cannot imagine it. I caught myself sitting in repose like him the other night. One arm swung over my head and fidgeting with the cuticles of my other hand. When I realized that was a piece of him inside my posture, I separated from space, time and body for a moment. Grief is like that, it comes at you like a freight train when you least expect it, years later. It’s him not seeing Star Wars or Dune. It’s not getting his opinion on politics. It’s walking through Family Video. It’s watching the places he once inhabited with his mass disappear from the world. Popping like little soap bubbles on a timeline.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I have not been taking care of myself. My husband asked me to go for a walk with him today and I felt a bit of panic at leaving the house. This is not a good sign. I took a shower. Changed my clothes. And swept the floor. Tomorrow I will do more to be human. Oops. I’m not all the way down the rabbit hole yet.

Monday, May 4, 2020

I’m annoyed by my dry skin. I was scraping at it on my face with my finger nails. Now I have a scab on my nose where I went to far. I thought the doldrums I experienced in Death Valley were bad. That was just preparation. ‘Twas just a fng precursor. I’m thinking bangs. Perhaps I’ve watched enough Asian woman successfully give themselves bangs on YouTube to manage. Or at least I’ll have a few minutes entertainment before meltdown.

My lack of consistent schedule may have resulted in some medication dose misses. I’m hitting the anxiety jackpot. And since I’m not seeing anyone or interacting with anyone, I can only guess that the current feeling of mild terror about leaving the house is where my brain is putting all that anxious energy. Light feelings of agoraphobia are not new anxiety symptoms for me, it’s just been awhile since it’s been expressed this way. And not exactly surprising since we’ve been asked not to leave the house for over a month now.

So. I’m working on getting myself righted a little every day. I finished one big art project and I’m working through the other I have going. I’m not unhappy. So I have that. Just a bit… off kilter, but then so is everyone else as far as I can tell. We’re going to be alright, just a bit damaged. And heartbroken. With terrible bangs. And picked over skin.

Spring is here. Can you feel it’s renewing energy?

Thoughts in Isolation

Art Journal, Self Reflection

Friday, March 27, 2020

Day 1: I cried yesterday. Somewhere in Minnesota we reached the boreal forest and it felt like being suffocated. I dreamed so long of traveling (without the means of doing so). My heart irrational. I cried “I know all these trees!”

On the other hand I have a home to come to. Both physically and geographical. When times were difficult before, when I had no where to go, or no money, or the relationship was over; I had that in my father’s land. And I have that now. An imperfect home in the woods. Walls, roof and heat.

Today we unpack. Do laundry. Assess the winter damage: one bedroom, the drywall of the ceiling partially collapsed and water damage to the floor. Something wrong with the stink stack. The kitchen faucet is partially broke. The shower head is completely shattered and the pipes are damaged in the wall. Somehow the wood shed is still standing, against expectations. The dishwasher isn’t quite right. Something in the switch. I found thistle seed stashes. Somebody (or somebodies) small and furry is living in my home.

News: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is Covid-19 positive with mild symptoms.

News: Our President is making it personal with the Governor of Michigan. Suppliers are being told not to send supplies, even when the President stated governors should procure their own.

I am afraid now, more than ever. I am more angry than I’ve ever been. I am helpless. I took a long bath, my first in eight months. I can’t get calm. I’m going to go for a nap. To try to get out from these overwhelming feelings. I have too many people working in nursing. I am breaking down. I cry, seeing their faces. Terrified for them.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Day 2: The cat doesn’t stop crying. He bellows in empty rooms. He may be channeling my feelings. I was weepy and I’m now hollowed out. I can’t even go out to escape. There’s no escape. My body escapes for me. Drowsiness comes down often. This is the life of the damaged. My brain takes care of me by putting me to sleep.

News: the President declares a state of emergency for Michigan. They send 1000 N95 Masks. It’s a hysterically low number. I take solace in governor Coumo’s daily briefings. He’s the leader in this crisis.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 3: Anger. I’ve always despised Sundays and Holidays because of the limits put on what you can and cannot go and do. But now every day feels like a Sunday. If I could sleep through till this was over I would, but I can’t and I shouldn’t. I’ve already slid too far into the comforts of sleep. Instead I’m going to try to set some daily expectations for myself.

Coffee & 100 Day Project

Clean Something

Read

Art

Today I cleaned one area in the kitchen. Which led to some open shelves. Good enough. More than I set out to do.

News: the President accused New York hospitals of nefarious activity with PPE in the corona task force news conference. Every day I listen to that and to Governor Coumo. Thank the stars for Fauci and Coumo.

Monday March 30, 2020

Day 4: Hope is a tender thing. Hope is a small newborn babe. Hope is a fire in night. Hope. My husband had an interview this morning. It sounds like a job offer is coming, for after the Covid-19 crisis. There’s hope in this darkness. Hope can crush a human under its enormous weight. Hope can be dashed. I wait in the wilderness with hope in my heart.

News: Yesterday the President announced 30 more days of Social Distancing.

Coffee and failed attempt at 100 Day Project

News

Got internet access

Cleaned out bookcase and purged books

Napped

Tried to watch Pet Cemetery

Ran away and worked on The Painting, it goes well

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Day 5: More overcast days than sunny moments, the weather is concurrent with my oppressed mood. The cat continues to cry. Yowls if he cannot see me. Sometimes I drug him with catnip to get it to stop. He is unhappy.

People are expressing feelings of derealization on social media. Welcome to the world of trauma my friends. Only, we are just getting started. My trauma responses are in full gear. Numbness. Sleeping long hours. Fatigue. Loss of interest. Derealization. The only way is through. The way through is to try a little every day to be human until the fog lifts. Go through the motions until they aren’t motions. Set little attainable goals.

News: The administration “believes” the peak of cases will hit in two weeks.

Coffee and the motions of the 100 Day Project

Forced myself to clean a couple walls and two shelves. That’s enough of that.

Bath

Reading

Weight of drowsiness overtook me: nap

Coumo and then Trump news briefings

Staring at a wall

Cut paper for Polaroid project

April 1, 2020

Day 6: My mental health is unraveling. It is a chore to get myself to do things. I let off Instagram and my Charley Lakes Studio Facebook page . Fine. I am trying to get the fortitude to work on the Polaroid project. I’m barely putting effort forth into the 100 Day Project. I’m sleeping in and napping. I know this headspace well. And it is not a good place. This is not where I thought I’d be last week. I’m fighting my way through.

News: Florida finally has a “stay at home” order. Kurt fixed the shower.

Coffee and 100 Day Project (posted last weeks blog) while listening to NPR updates.

Leftover pancakes and Coumo briefing. Which I turned off. I felt my body descend into drowsiness. That’s enough.

Read

Nap

Cleaned off kitchen cupboard fronts: literally the least I could commit to

Stare out the window

Watch “Witcher” and cut paper. I have no idea what is going on. What is the plot?

April 2, 2020

Day 7: The sun shines. I feel lighter. I drink coffee and explore social media. I am appalled at the ridiculous conspiracy theories on tap. Like the time I read a thick book on why atheists were right (I turned agnostic), I come out of this time absolutely sure conspiracy theorists are dead wrong. I’ve had enough. Everyone seems to have their favorite. As though the reality of this world isn’t fantastic enough. Reality is far more amazing than given credit. Maybe we need more arts and sciences. To sit in wonder of the mundane without need of some spectacular shadowy double truth.

News: Michigan officially suspends the K-12 school year. The Democratic National Convention moved to August.

Coffee & 100 Day Project & NPR podcasts: productive

Can’t get the Coumo briefing to play.

Read

Nap

Polaroid Project

Witcher… finished it. I think I get it. Maybe.

April 3, 2020

Day 8: The days blur. Woke up well after noon. Oops. I watch people on social media, who weren’t taking the situation serious, change their tune. I hate cleaning. And I hate having a messy house. Conundrums.

News: Etsy sent out a request asking for its makers to make masks.

Coffee & 100 Day Project

Stare out the window

Polaroid project

Refuse to nap… sort of watch a movie and start a tv show: “the expanse”

Life is becoming so small…

April 4, 2020

Day 9: My vessel facilitates anger. I vibrate with it. I am nobody. I, and everyone I know, we are acceptable losses to the capitalist gods of greed. What a better world this would be if we weren’t tethered to live in an expansion economy. There must be other ways we can live? Surely???

News: no news intake, need mental space today

Coffee & slow simmering anger

100 Day Project

Polaroid Project

Thought long and hard about cleaning… not today!

Binge watching “The Expanse” (don’t judge me. I’ve not watched anything since October)

April 5, 2020

Day 10: The snow is going away fast. When we arrived home, our house was snowed in. We had to break a trail through deep snow to haul necessities in. Now? The driveway is mud.

News: Texas issues “stay at home order”

Coffee & 100 Day Project

A walk

getting fancy… have the easel in the house for the painting now

more “the expanse”

Monday, April 6, 2020

Day 11: I realized I was checking out of reality. I put NPR on this morning and I couldn’t even finish my coffee before I was back in bed. So check out of reality it’s going to have to be if I want to be awake. Or save news for a bedtime snack.

News: prime minister Boris Johnson in the ICU and the Queen gives a rare speech. A tiger in a zoo is infected.

Coffee and 100 Day Project

Nap

Painting

TV

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Day 12: It rains.

Coffee

Sleep

100 Day Project

TV

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Day 13: The sun shines. The cat cries.

Coffee & 100 Day Project

Read

Sleep

Read

Sleep

TV

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Day 14: Hope. A year after my husband lost his job. A year of stress and worry and adventure. Good news today. Fragile news amongst the sea of uncertainty. News that could evaporate as the world continues to be tossed upside down by a virus.

Coffee…

Essay: Letting Go

Art Journal, Self Reflection, Thoughts

I’m in the middle of re-learning a life lesson about letting people go right out of my life who, when it comes down to it, are not adding value and quality to my existence. Invest in those who want to invest in you, right? Today a memory has come crawling out of the cobwebbed corner of my brain to resurface. It is time to share this tale and how it’s lessons relate to my art life. Gather round…

I have a sister. A partial sister. An older sister, eight years older. We share the same father. And for a short time she lived with us when I was a child of four or five. I’ll not name her and she doesn’t share my last name. She. She never could be nice to me for more than a few hours it seems. Her visits were few and far between. And I was always so excited to see her, this exotic woman from the west coast with colored hair and a musical voice. Yes she went to school on her voice and sometimes when she visited she’d sing, but not if I asked. How I just wanted a sisterly bond with her. Tragically I will seek that missing bond in all my female friendships (hint: I won’t find it, it is never there).

Years go on and I live my life in Michigan and She lives hers on the West Coast. I’ll try to reach out to her and it’ll fail. When our father becomes ill She comes to visit. Each visit is more contentious than the last. Once we had to be in a car for nine hours together to see our father who was flown to another hospital. I am surprised we made it. When I told her about going to college for fine art her retort was “what are you trying to prove.” I’ve been criticized for being too negative. Told even if I was the taller, my hips were wider. I had a crisis on my first trip by myself when I had everything stolen, She happened to live somewhat near, I asked advice and got “what do you want from me.” Well, we didn’t talk much. Years at a time go by so…

Imagine a beautiful perfect summer morning. I’m on my deck drinking coffee. I have finally adopted a group of artist friends. I have finally started making art again (about ten years out from art school). I am selling work. I am curating shows and doing social media promotions for this artist collective and for myself. This is huge for me. And my sister sends me a message after a year of no contact telling me I’m appropriating her Mother and Step-Father’s Art.

I didn’t mention they are all artists? Established artists, I had to look them up after the confrontation. Two very talented artists with rocking careers that have nothing to worry about from me.

That’s because I’ve never met them and it is so far outside of my reality that I needed that part of the story to kick you in the head the way that day kicked me in the head.

It was a long day. At the end of it I said my piece and severed all ties with my Sister. I have tended in my life to allow people to wipe their feet on me. I have allowed myself to be in borderline abusive relationships. I knowingly allowed myself to be used and conned.

However, attacking my art practice hit a nerve that I didn’t know I had. See, art is my god, worship and meditation. It has saved me from myself over and over. I’m afraid of where I’d be in life without creativity.

I have not missed my sister. She was never there.

It would be a long long long time later that I would realize with dismay the what ifs. What if my sister liked me? She may have had it in her power to introduce me to established artists, galleries and other art world gatekeepers. It never occurred to me all the people they could be connected to. It does now, perversely.

Oh well.

I’d rather have my small art practice and healthy boundaries. And remember to let people go that don’t want to be here and that are not enriching my journey.

100 Day Project: Week 2

100 Day Project, Projects

The spine, the backbone, the skeleton, the outline, my guide….

  • Use the blog to reflect on the work daily, posting content weekly.
  • Work at a 5 x 7 size on paper
  • Multi-media works
  • Use inspiration from travels, literature, and anywhere else I can.
  • Explore elements I work with already. See where it goes. Reflect on what those elements mean.
Progress of whole so far…

Day 8: January 29

I had to work fast this morning, today is a travel day and I needed time to let paint dry. I chose to explore another aspect of my current paintings: fabric texture. I’ve been adding scraps of fabric onto my paintings allowing the threads to unravel, also assisting in that unraveling. sometimes letting the patterns peak through, usually painting over them with a second coat of white acrylic paint. But why? Out loud now Taryn, why are you doing this? I savor the subtle difference in textures. I like how the paint takes to it differently. There is something about fabric I am also always drawn to. I love the texture and patterns. I’ll never be a sewer that is clear from my clumsy attempts, but I do look for ways to incorporate fabric into my work. Unraveling threads also bring to mind the fates of mythology. Or the long tradition of women working at the loom weaving cloth. I had a period of time as a child when I worked with small weavings, but weaving lost out to drawing. I am a woman attracted to using cloth, but I like it unraveling. That says something about me indeed. I will control the unraveling.

Day 9: January 30

Another Day on the road. We found a place to park very late last night. I was tired and ideas came out tumbling of my head, as they do during the worst possible times. Some early trials at Polaroid emulsion lifts fell out of my sketchbook and I decided to use them. I like to do that, find ways of using experiments that would otherwise sit around.

One of them was a print of a digital photograph I lost the original file for. I was very excited to find a way to use that image, even though all I had left was the poor quality Facebook shared image. After I went through the emulsion lift process I thought I would try to give it an embroidered border, because using thread in art looks cool. I like the added meaning behind it. I should try it right? NO TARYN, you should not. You hate sewing, remember? I never finished my little experiment. For which I am glad, because it works even more for the piece, with the thread swirling away from the work. Escaping, forever unfinished to remind me: I hate sewing.

Day 10: January 31

Not much time today either. I thought I would this evening, but everything has gone wrong and we are still driving. Last night I went to pull out paints, but found my computer sideways and pulled that out instead. I backed it up on it’s hard-drive once I saw it was fine. This morning I prepared some photos for reference. That’s all I was able to do today. And this quick check-in while on the road.

Day 11: February 1

Between naps of neural recovery from the stress of yesterday I managed to experiment with two pieces based on the same raven image. One using pastel, pen ink, cotton cloth and acrylic the other skipping the pastel for more line work. I don’t know how I feel about them. I may have been too drained to be creative today. Disappointing because I so looked forward to finally working with those images.

Day 12: February 2

This morning I had nothing. I hated my work from yesterday. I didn’t want to do art today. This, I thought, is why I never committed to the 100 Day Project before. So I started a new piece of paper and did just lines. Then I put some thalo blue paint over the ink drawing of the raven from yesterday and I liked it better. I pulled out my “wet box” finally. Started using some cement stucco textures. I can see where this 100 Day Project is useful now. Off to see some of Death Valley.

Day 13: February 3

This morning I did a little here and there, even using different colors. I was finally able to get into my paints. The important thing that happened was some thinking. I’ve been getting whiplash from all the different ideas and ways of making art. From instagram there’s always someone new who has a new technique. I started following galleries, websites and magazines that promote artists. And my head just wants to explode from all the different ways of creating. AM I DOING IT RIGHT?

Then I finally got to listening to this podcast The Jealous Curator after an artist friend sent me the link. It’s been full of wonderful information, but then this:

What is it about you that is special that you want to share?

… that changes everything.

I want to show the world what I see. I want people to see a dead tree and see how beautiful its structure is and continues to be. How life keeps going on around it even after its life is technically over. I want them to make that connection to their own lives. Green burial anyone? I want one. I want to go back to the earth.

I want people to see the intelligence in an animals eyes. I was trying to get photos of a raven yesterday and a man asked me if it was bothering me. No, I was bothering him. I want people to see them as sentient beings, living out their lives alongside us.

There’s more. But I’m tired. I’ll have to keep thinking about this topic.

Day 14: February 4

I finished up the red/yellow piece this morning with oil pastels and tried out about idea from on of my playa photos; we’ll see. I wanted to lay everything out today for photos and put out the weekly blog. Since I haven’t been taking progress photos this week and it’s the end of the seven day stretch! However, it is still windy here in Death Valley so no photos are happening. And I’m currently without internet connection. I’m putting my thoughts down and I’ll get it put together when I can.

Update: I was able to get the writing uploaded. I’m still waiting on better weather conditions for doing the photos.

Week 2 progress, finished works
Another look at Week 1, just the finished works.

100 Day Project: Week 1

100 Day Project, Projects

January 20, 2020

I have considered the 100 day project a little more.

  • Use the blog to reflect on the work daily, posting content weekly.
  • Work at a 5 x 7 size on paper
  • Multi-media works
  • Use inspiration from travels, literature, and anywhere else I can. I am an omnivore and a scavenger.
  • Explore elements I work with already. See where it goes. Reflect on what those elements mean.

Day 1: January 22

Where to start? With procrastinating of course! So I opened my new book titled: A big important Art Book; Now With Women, and the first thing it did was prompt an exercise doing self portraits. So why not start there? But first I have to lay the ground work.

  • Made a template instead of measuring each piece of paper.
  • Playing with texture by laying the paint down differently on each paper.
  • I didn’t paint each paper yet, just enough to get started. Don’t want to lock myself in.
  • I started working this way on the sketchbook project. (I am in the digital sketchbook library). I really enjoyed the results of those mixed-media pieces. I have four sketchbooks in the Brooklyn Art Library, three mixed media. I enjoyed doing them and knowing they are there in Brooklyn, New York being seen. I get emails notifying me.

Day 2: January 23

I picked up again last night, excited by the self portrait. I’ve been doing polaroid emulsion lifts to document my travels and new film was delivered last night. I printed from my polaroid lab and chose one of the papers layered with acrylic. (was wondering about that texture and the Polaroid Transfer for some time).

At first I tried to pencil in words around the image.

Scrapped that idea real fast.

I decided to combine the polaroid portrait with an original love: ink doodling. The gatekeeper that launched my head and heart back into art making. I am pleased with the balance.

  • Strathmore 400 mixed-media paper 186 lb
  • Titanium white acrylic paint
  • Self Portrait taken with iPhone
  • Printed with Polaroid lab on I-type 600 film
  • emulsion lift process
  • Faber-Castell ink pen

I tend to hate images of myself, I was drawn to one that was just a partial of my face. I edited it to black and white to see how the color of the film would interpret it in print. This time it came out nearly sepia. In the drawing portion I added spiral symbols. Something I’m drawn to subconsciously and consciously.

Lifting image in water onto paper.
Image after drying and working on it.

Day 3: January 24

All the ideas I had swirling around my head fell out somewhere. I turned to doodling on the paper I prepared. Four ink doodles. Two with a white acrylic ground, two without. They’ll be the start for something, I just don’t know what yet. Doing ink line work is meditative and intuitive. I can disappear into the flow until my brain is inspired. Nothing this early morning. It’ll come.

Day 4: January 25

96 bottles of beer on the wall, 96 bottles of beer… I’ve never once gotten past about 90 in that song. I am too distractible.

I’m still feeling stuck. I painted thalo blue grounds, experimenting with the acrylic application. I have been impatient to try oil pastels over acrylic. It is not my favorite piece. Doesn’t feel like me. Maybe I’ll feel better about it in the future.

  • Strathmore 400 mixed-media paper 186 lb
  • Thalo Blue acrylic on paper
  • White posca pen
  • Oil pastel
Trying to capture the essence of the saguaro at night.

I think my second experiment of the day was more successful at combining old and new ideas with different media.

  • Strathmore 400 mixed-media paper 186 lb
  • Thalo blue acrylic ground
  • Faber-Castell black ink pen
  • White Posca pen
  • Oil pastel
The thought in my head while doodling: connect my old style of working with a new way.

Day 5: January 26

Today I am keeping the theme of connections going. All day I kept it in my head to get back to the camper and pick up one of the pieces I ink doodled on dry paper (I ran a small test to see if it would stand up to submerging in water). I wanted to use one of the photographs I took of the spiral petroglyphs and combine it with the spiral doodle. Letting it dry overnight now.

Today I also picked up an art print by Raina Gentry that I admired both for its differences from my work and its similarities. I am reminded that I need to give myself permission to make the art that I want to make and to quit second guessing myself.

Day 6: January 27

I bounced last nights experiment off of my husband. He did not like it, so I decided this morning to push it further and then asked him again. “I don’t get it.” I don’t know if that means it’s genius or crap, but I find the results interesting enough to keep. Maybe even continue to push further.

  • Strathmore 400 mixed-media paper 186 lb
  • Faber-Castell black ink pen
  • Black and white polaroid
  • Nikon D7200 image using iPhone to Polaroid Lab print
January 26-27 experiment with lines and polaroid emulsion lift. Idea: connection.

Day 7: January 28

One week feels like an accomplishment. Ninety-three days to go. I did a little more with line work on one of the thalo blue painted papers with a white Posca pen. I believe I intuitively did this in response to doing so much line work in black ink. Then I spread out my weeks work for a look. (After spraying the pieces using oil pastel with a fixative).

First Week. Top row: probably finished pieces, middle row: mid-thought, last row: potential.

Cultural Appropriation: Mixed Thoughts from a Visual Artist

Art Journal, Thoughts

On good days I think I get the arguments around cultural appropriation. On others I throw in the towel and decide I am irrelevant to cultural debates at my ripe age of thirty-seven. I’ve had it explained to me by those in the “know” aka as a college age girl deeply into social issues. I’ve read articles and been subjected to the hostility of news reports. Just when my brain says yes that very much makes sense… it gets pushed too far and says “wait… what?!?”

The Beyonce Argument

I will admit that I was pulled into a Facebook battle about cultural appropriation with wits far exceeding mine. I was being schooled on cultural appropriation. Just as I was losing I asked if it was ok for Beyonce to do it.

Is it ok for Beyonce to do it?

That is how art gets created. Ideas and imagery are exchanged and woven together to create a new narrative. Artists look for new languages of symbolism to inform their work. We travel, frequent museums and galleries, and read obscure literature. We look for inspiration in every aspect of our world and beyond. If you have an interest, there is an artist out there making work about it.

In one answer it was ok for Beyonce to do it because she was a woman of color and it was somehow different. “It just was.”

In another answer it was not. Beyonce held the power as a western woman, the various groups she wore the costumes of did not.

I do cringe now when I see a pop star step out in the dress of another culture. The results are often beautiful and interesting see Iggy Izaelia, Beyonce, Nikki Minaj, and Gwen Stefani (note: probably all of them at one time or another).

And…

I’ll tell you.

While sitting through an informative video at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs Mississippi these thoughts crossed my mind. This white Ocean Springs’ male artist like many artists before was influenced by primitive cultures and their symbolism.

More well known was the influence of Japanese art on Western art starting with Impressionism. We are talking influence on artists from Klimt to Monet.

Should the way art history is taught in light of cultural appropriation change? I would say yes. (At least from how I was taught)

Should artists stop being influenced by other people and cultures. I don’t know what the right answer is. I am absolutely sure that there will be a richness among the arts lost if that give and take between diverse people is quashed.

Voodoo dolls in a gift shop. Many people pick up this mass produced keepsake in Louisiana. Voodoo is mixed up with Hoodoo in the common imagination. It is far richer and more interesting than a tourist shop doll.
Alligator Heads at a small town restaurant, Louisiana. They may be the most authentic thing I’ve ever seen for sale ever anywhere.

Here is my understanding as of November 30, 2019. (Warning I can and will change my mind as new arguments are presented to me).

  • If you visit another culture and (for example) take photographs of a ceremony. Then later exhibit them with an explanation and sensitive understanding, this would be of cultural value.
  • If you bring back an object of spiritual value from that same culture and use it in a photoshoot with a model and no context, this would be construed as offensive, even if the results were aesthetically pleasing.
  • Authenticity can be difficult to come by. We should try to support it. What do I mean? When you are out there in the world buy local. That could mean local artists and/or indigenous goods from indigenous people. (not an original thought, a mix of my beliefs and newly acquired learning from the inter-webs). Spend a little more for something handmade by the real deal. In some cases less, but whatever you do, please run as fast as you can from mass produced tourist junk shops imported from China. If you visit China find a local artist to buy from.
  • When minority groups ask for local school mascot to have a name change from say “Redmen” or “Redskins.” Instead of digging in our heels and saying its always been that way, may be listen to why. We’ll get used to a new name.
  • Halloween… sometimes we could let somethings be politically incorrect.
  • If art history surveys are still taught the same as they were approximately ten years ago when I went to a liberal arts college, some adjustments could be considered. Even at that time they were struggling even with how to talk about women in the world of art history, unless it was the great Frida. Seeing the history of Western art through the lens of cultural appropriation would be beneficial. Anyone taking a good course? Shout it out in the comments.

Writing about this topic has helped immensely in solidifying my understanding, but the term cultural appropriation is being tossed around the media like a hot potato. I just like to remind myself that I can be a kind person and a supreme jerk. People are people wherever you go, even when google maps takes you through the rougher sides of city.

Let’s have a dialog. Thoughts? Opinions? Corrections? Leave a message.

Packing and Reflecting

Art Journal, The Road

Today started with a dream. I won’t tire you with all the details, but I was aware I was dreaming and I enjoy dreaming. At the end of the dream I was sitting on a bench trying to take a photographs of waterspouts over the ocean and to the left of me there was a fire burning the world. I was not scared as it was a dream. I thought: this is a strange dream even for me. Then my father came and sat by me and told me I had to go through the fire.

I’ll be unpacking the symbolism of that for some time. Today however, I am packing my art supplies up in used tackle boxes, very convenient those. I got to thinking about the all the different ways my life could be right now. Less than a year ago I imagined putting all my extra energy into an art gallery with the Marquette Artist Collective. Four years ago I wasn’t putting any effort into being an artist. Ten years ago I had just graduated with a BFA in fine arts. Fifteen years ago I was completely lost and floundering.

Today I am packing up my work and supplies. I have a loose idea of finding inspiration in the great unknown and tracking down new opportunities to build my art career while living in a camper with two large dogs, a cat and a husband.

I have so many regrets about leaving. I had to re-home several cats and that was heart breaking. I had to let go of everything I worked to build in the Marquette Artist Collective. I also had to come to terms with the state my garden would be in. I finally let it go. I had to resign from a day job that I loved and say goodbye to people there that I will never see again.

I will always have a conflicted nature. I will always wonder about the path not taken. There is a surreal quality to the days as we get closer to leaving. I will finally slake my wanderlust. Was it an easy decision? No. Will it be worth it? I sure hope so.