(for lori g.)
ironically, on the days when i most feel like my work is shit, or that everyone else is doing it better, or that writing a blog is a waste of time, or that i feel unsucessful, i will receive the most thoughtful sincere, heartfelt and moving emails about how something I wrote (or the fact I continue to write) has affected they way someone looks at their life. and all at once i am humbled and grateful and rejuvenated. coincidence?
i don’t believe in coincidences. i think it is the universe showing me it knows more than i do.
how often have i wished that all my money worries, life worries, relationship worries, health worries, (insert random worry here _______) would disappear in a flash so i could live and work happily doing only the stuff that i love.
and yet i also know that there is something about learning to survive that is helping me grow. and that contrast makes life interesting. living in that tension.
often i worry that something will happen and i will not be able to make my art again. and then i think about that really hard for a moment and start to laugh. that is not who i am. my whole life is a creative process. every piece of it. i know that deep down.
there is a quote from picasso that says something to the affect of if he were imprisoned and had nothing to create with he would make a painting by licking the dust (or is it dirt?) off the floor of his cell. (I am paraphrasing quite a bit but you get the idea.)
yes it is the ego that makes us fear failure and causes us to want to compete, but it is the soul that actually drives us to create.
and we never have to worry about that going away.
I started teaching a drawing class last night. I brought in several favourite books with different drawing styles. I wanted to bring all my books at once but my bike was buckling with the weight. So I had to select just a few. Five a week from now on.
As I was showing them I found it hard to contain my excitment at each artists various processes, methods, use of line. The more I spoke the more excited I became to sit down and do some drawings myself. It just reminded me how much I am doing exactly the thing that I am meant to do. I could look at ink lines forever it seems. Nothing moves me more that a pen line with a watercolor wash. As I turned the pages showing the simplest of drawings I asked, ‘have you ever seen anything so wonderful?’ Good drawings come from the inside, reflecting the artist’s state of mind or sense of being. It has nothing to do with technical ability or amount of detail. A simple line can evoke emotion.
among my favourites:
a red sun lithograph by miro, in “drawing the sun” by Bruno Munari
peach blossoms done in pen with a light wash from a beautiful new book, “A Year in Japan” by Kate T. Williamson
the quick pen scratches of Maira Kalman, excerpted in “drawing from life” by Jennifer New
a crunchy loaf of bread done in pen, from “the creative license” by Danny Gregory
Sometimes when I teach there is so much I want to say, it all comes out in a passionate arm waving flurry. And yet when it was time to become quiet, when we sat down to do some drawing of our own I was met with the jarring absence of noise. Just peaceful silence with the sound of a pen scratching. and I realized how beautiful that absence was too. There is also a lot to be learned from the quiet.
it is the best form of meditation, sitting with a pen and an eye bent on paying attention.
“to pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” ~mary oliver
106. Look up. Study the tops of things for one day. (trees, buildings, etc.)
107. Try to determine how many steps you take everyday.
108. Go to a part of your town you’ve never been before. Document it.
109. Write as small as possible.
i am craving darjeeling. that is my quest for today.
i would like to find my scissors, which I’ve been looking for all morning.
the sun feels good, i sit in the garden, filling envelopes with wallet orders, later I plan to sketch.
a place i like to visit.
a good book I picked up for $2 (a 1946 edition with a beautiful cover). I am a few pages away from finishing my other book, so I can start this one.
“So–when was it–I, drawn like a blown cloud, couldn’t stop dreaming of roaming, roving the coast up and down.” ~basho
seen above: the portable monetary unit
two designs available (shipping included). I have a limited number for sale in the shop. They are also available directly from Poketo. (minus the secret note).
due to technical difficulties the radio interview with Jennifer Louden did not happen over the weekend. I’ll let you know when the new time will be, (there will also be a podcast version of it.)
also: there’s a new playscene available from Mudpuppy Press (based on the theatre). This was so much fun to do! (note: I don’t make any money on the sale of these, but I do think they’re a great thing.)
my husband was interviewed for wonkavision magazine about adfree blog. read the entire interview here.
This sunday (april 16th) at 8 am PST, I will be interviewed by the talented Jennifer Louden on her radio show “Louden Clear” on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 112. (I am not sure if it is live or not but I thought I would pass the word on.) I’ve been enjoying listening to her podcasts, find them here: loudenmouth
*there has been a bit of a delay in sending out the most recent batch of period charts (due to mail problems in my town and my being under the weather) I apologize for the delay, but know that they are on their way (I promise).
sometimes all it takes is a few minutes.
i had a bit of time yesterday to spend at my favourite bookstore in town. i like to find a few books first then sit cross legged on the floor in the corner. i pulled one on gertrude stein and spent the next half hour travelling around europe, having drinks with hemingway, and going shopping in small french villages with alice b. toklas. I fell into the photos of french cafes, cozy art filled rooms with overstuffed furniture and lots of books. I love reading about how gertrude decided to cut her hair off, leaving her even more masculine looking than she was previously, (how daring for the time), and how she continued to write after being so heavily criticized by so many in the writing world. a true revolutionary. her writing style so strange and simple, she seemed to love the rythym of words, often repeating them over and over as if in a song.
a half hour was enough to recharge me after feeling tired and winded from this nasty cold and a hectic week. I dreamt of foreign vistas and good conversations over wine. of revolutions. and strong women. and love. and love. and love.
There has been a theme in my life for the last few years of ‘letting go’, of a long list of things.
what people think
the need to control everything
what i want to happen in my career
how i want my relationship to be
the need to always be ‘nice’
the need to project the image of perfection (ha)
of needing to be liked
just to name a few. this theme is echoed in every aspect of my life and i have been recieving lessons at every turn. big things, such as getting married, moving across the continent and literally throwing myself into a new unknown life (leaving behind everything that is comfortable and familiar), launching into new territory with my book concepts, not taking the safe route in terms of doing what people might expect, pushing myself into new places creatively. And the slightly smaller things (but no less important), learning how to set boundaries with people, saying no when I don’t want to do something, allowing people to be upset with me, not clinging to ‘things’ for comfort.
the effect of letting go has for a time made me feel like I’ve “come out” to the world in the same way as a 1950′s housewife who has realized her life was a bit of a facade, in her housecoat and curlers who is on her front porch every morning drinking vodka and smoking. she wears a new confident smile. the neighbors pretend not to notice at first, but are noticably disturbed by her behaviour. the church lady on the corner decides to “pay her a visit” in hopes of saving her from the clutches of satan, tea cakes in hand. the world seems not to want to see her true self, don’t like her to question things. her recent lack of control a tad frightening to a world with rules. her truths like small bombs …
the truth that…
she is not in fact ‘nice’
underneath all of her make up there are moments when she could be considered ‘unattractive’
she has anger and it is powerful
she does not need to do it all for everyone else
she has a voice and is using it to question things
but what of all those other things that we liked about her?
her demure nature
her soft features
her painting the world in pretty colours
her joy in the smallest of things
her pretty self
they are all still there. and they are stronger than ever.
(high res version for you to print out.)
still getting over my cold. nose feels like someone took a cheese grater to it while I slept.
thank you for all the comments about the comments. I find myself still undecided, as you have already mentioned the decision is a personal one. some of my main thoughts on it are 1) comments (instant feedback) are unique to this medium and i think it’s an important distinction from other mediums such as books for example. 2) one can never know what post might spark an interesting discussion, maybe it is the one where I talk about my shoelace breaking or the fact that my ink spilled. 3) I will admit to also not wanting to spend energy on the personal attacks. But there are times when I feel I must defend and explain my ideas. the more people you have reading, the more you attract people who want to direct their anger at you. I acknowledge this is not a good use of my energy and time.
I am unable to respond to the amount of email and comments that I receive. I don’t like this because it forces me to make decisions about who and what I respond to. But there you have it. Life is like that. The same is true for my career, I am unable to participate in all of the projects I would like to and so must make choices about what to take on. The question comes down to ‘what is the healthiest choice for me in this moment?’ what will fulfill me? does the root of it come from the ego or is it my heart? As my friend Andrea likes to say, “What is the most alive choice for me in this moment?”
no time for writing.
too many projects on my plate and a nasty cold have filled up my hours (the two don’t mix very well).
a quote will have to do for now.
let’s see, what’s on my desk?
today I feel I could use some Brenda Ueland, for the little pangs of crankiness that bite at my heels, (I wrote heals by mistake, hmmn.) I type quickly, balls of used kleenex sit waiting next to the computer screen. the rain falls steadily outside and I think of the many exciting things that are happening in my world currently. sometimes I need to physically stop and really allow myself to feel good about things I’ve accomplished, lest it all slips by unacknowledged.
“If they tell you it is bad and you still think in your soul that what you wrote is good, -if you find that you still believe what you wrote and feel it and it is true to you, then you must stand by it. And it might help to think of Beethoven who was stone deaf, and people said he made all those discords in his music because he could not hear correctly. But Beethoven knew that he intended those discords. He stood by them against the whole world. But you can see that this could not have been easy.”
a little nina simone always helps too.
addendum: I am considering taking the comments down from this site. There are many reasons for this, namely I feel that I am spending more energy than I would like reading, and responding to them. I am somewhat torn about this as I enjoy and value the feedback, and the forum-like atmosphere. Discussion is a wonderful thing. But I’m sure you can imagine that as an artist it can be difficult to have EVERYTHING you write or draw being ‘reviewed’ by hundreds of people. I know that this is in part the nature of putting work out into the world but blogging just makes it easier and more accessable for all.
I have thought that I can choose to not read them at times, but I am not very good at this, (curious I am by nature, trying not to read them only makes me want to read them more.) So I put it out there, what are your thoughts on this? Do comments really add to a site? Do you still read sites that are comment free and enjoy them?