Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I've been reading about Autism lately. We recently learned that my granddaughter, Ila, has some form of it. I read "Emergence" by Temple Grandin first. I wanted to learn about it from the inside out. It was quite a relief.

It was suggested that we work with her doing art, so yesterday I went over to babysit armed with dropcloth, paint, brushes and paper. We painted for quite awhile until we ran out of paper. I just squirted out globs of washable tempera on the drop cloth and we made quite a mess. Bree caught a photo of Annika with a blue goatee. But we had fun and hopefully the pages will dry before the year is out.

I tried researching art therapy online. Quite disappointing. I suppose the term is pretty broad, but I couldn't seem to find general information, I found plenty of therapists, books, programs and schools, but I don't know what I was looking for, all I found were more questions. Why do therapists want to help you discover and live your dreams? Why is therapy viewed chronologically? Why is all of this up for sale? Why do we keep cutting art programs in public schools? If we know that art is theraputic, why don't we all make an effort to participate? Why is this culture so dead set against anyone getting an education that will make us more whole? And especially, why can't we all get this for free? Seriously, why do we not teach children how to draw? Surely for wholistic brain health this is necessary. Of course we have a real problem with the concept of health for free. Do we really prefer to pay three or four times more to clean up the mess that denial of healthcare creates?

Mind Full ness

There has been a lot going on in my head lately and I think I will have to break it into categories and do them separately or the sheer length of this post will make it unreadable. Chaos in my head usually whirls together at some point and starts sending darts flying at different targets. Sometimes it all comes back together.

I keep telling myself to collect all of my found objects together in one cigar box and when it is full, create something. So far, I've only been able to remember it. I pass up quite a few things when I am out walking, maybe I should keep a bag in my pocket. It would be fun to scan all of the items and play with them like Colorforms. Now I've set myself another task...

If you can get a copy of issue #28 of The Bear Deluxe it is the contemporary art issue. This is yet another fine Portland periodical (free). I've flipped through it quickly, mostly only looked at the first page because Alan brought it to my attention, but that was inspiring. It looks like random patterns, but there are words in it. So I filled up extra space on one of my journal pages with the smallest lines I could manage. It looks like sky to me, with small birds here and there. And sort of brings to mind the comics I have been reading. I love the drawing in comics and of course I think I can't do it, but I probably can if I would only try. I have been attempting to draw more lately, it feels meditative, and it feels beyond what I can find a word for, but I've been reading a book called "Creativity From Potential to Realization" edited by Robert J. Sternberg and others. Only Chapter 8 has given me what I have been looking for, which is a listing of 13 intuitve, imaginative processes (from Sparks of Genius, 1999 Root-Bernstein):
  1. Observing
  2. Imaging
  3. Abstracting
  4. Pattern Recognizing
  5. Pattern Forming
  6. Analogizing
  7. Empathizing
  8. Body Thinking
  9. Dimensional Thinking
  10. Modeling
  11. Playing
  12. Transforming
  13. Synthesizing
I am glad I found this book at the library since so little of it is what I was looking for, but I am so happy with this list and the subsequent explanation that I will probably be looking for Sparks of Genius next.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Firing My Muse

Somewhere in time, when I wasn't looking, my muse turned out to be a (psychic) vampire. It sounds harsh, I know, but it's just another SFT (Stupid Female Trick) to work so hard to try to please someone who cannot be pleased. So, he is now fired. I have now bought myself a lot of freedom. So will I find someone else to fill the position? I think instead I will invent an invisible muse. I still want my muse to be male and I love the name Ianto (yes from Torchwood), only this Ianto will have the body of St. Sebastian, complete with arrows, a set of working wings and some sort of animal head--with antlers. Ianto will live in a cave, read by torchlight, never watch television, and will convey messages from Guillermo del Toro. I do not wish to dominate or isolate Ianto, so he will have lots of artistic friends and a social life of his own. He can also choose his own preferred diet. If he wants to live on roast owl with gumdrops, it is fine with me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Art & Soul 2008 Portland

I've been visual journalling for more than 15 years now and in all that time I have only taken one class which actually was even earlier than that, stamp carving. There were four people there, me, the two friends I came with and the instructor. It was a valuable class and I still carve stamps now and then. I've wanted to attend Art & Soul and ArtFest for years now and the closest I got was going to Vendor night two years ago with Bree. It's always been a problem with the timing, the money, or the distance. Another barrier for me is that I can find the information somewhere else, or figure it out myself.

In the meantime, I have joined PDX Visual Journaling Group led by Donna Bauermiller. Donna is very very gifted. Not only can she show you her growth as an artist, she is willing to. And she is one of the most natural encouragers I have ever encountered. In any meeting she will draw you out and find out things I would never think to ask. She also has a great sense of humor. I love this woman. And I have really come to love the class experience.

So, I decided I wanted to go this year to at least one class, but when the classes opened I didn't have the money and then it was too late. But someone dropped the class I wanted to take and I made it. So yesterday I took the workshop Book of the Night by Juliana Coles. Was it worth it? Yes. It takes me at least a day to determine how I feel about something, a book, a movie, and in this case, the class. I chose it because I like dark themes. I expected it to be emotionally draining. It wasn't. It was draining, I felt absolutely exhausted by the end of the class. I was quite happy to be done.

On reflection, the class isn't complete yet. There are exercises to be done yet which are in the workshop book we were given. And I've thought of a couple of my own. The other thing this class has shown me is that I need to take more classes. Not so much on theme levels as on technique levels. I found painting with acrylic to be very seductive. I don't particularly want to produce art on canvas, but I do want to know more about composition, balance, and when to quit! Or when not to. And improve my drawing skills, which I have been working on on my own. And maybe get in a bit of writing with Susan Wooldridge.

Another benefit was the swaps. I prepared 35 (gave one away at work) little packets. I knew I wouldn't finish 35 of anything, so I sorted through most of my stockpiles and whenever I found 35 of something, I put one in each bag. Eventually they filled an entire totebag. My co-inhabitant was adamant that I should return with an empty bag. I made about a dozen swaps and gave the rest away. It was well worth it. On every level. :)

And there were the benefits of interaction with the other women at our table. It was delightful. And going to the vendor sale and running into so many familiar faces? Priceless. I can't wait for next year, so I'd better start stowing some $$. I have a lone sock somewhere....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Volume 4: Grimoire

Started in 1998/1999 and "completed" in 2001 (prior to 9/11) this volume has a very witchy flavor. The book was a 500 page blank book (I removed a lot of them) and I carved a stamp and embossed the cover with it. The inside covers were covered with art paper printed with spirals.
My "audience" at this time was me and friends/daughters. I have never been a perfectionist and at this time I was still inventing the process myself, so my inner critic was well at bay and I didn't bother with backgrounds. But I still enjoy the starkness of the white pages.

The phrase "a woman of obvious power" was taken from "The Witches of Eastwick" by John Updike. There were also quotes from "Practical Magic" by Alice Hoffman.

A lot of the images I used reflected how I felt deep within. Sort of alone and floating in a misty world of possibility.

This is another example of color use and the start of images of women who don't fit commercial standards of beauty, but I find them quite luscious in their boldness.
Another recurring theme is my childhood and the objects that were important to me. The photo was taken after Christmas 1961 and developed in January -- The Shasta Daisies are blooming, I don't have sleeves or socks and that was a nice part about being a kid in California.

More magazine images I felt connected to. The 'remove before flight' tag on the broom was printed on clear label paper. I also liked images of hallways, paths, and stairs--symbolic of my personal journey.

Pink fantasies, pink marabou, pink telephones, fairy dust.
This was a perfect Spring day as I recall, and the images and poem enhanced it. Billy Collins is my favorite poet. Sometimes I did winter pages, but they never felt as good as other seasons.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Volume 3

I didn't name this journal after another type of journal. It was transitional for me, again I paired themes and sometimes colors. And I used a spiral bound photo album with black pages.

I found amazing photos to illustrate the discovery of a new life -- one lived alone which I enjoyed for 6 months, long enough to be able to share again. Then my youngest daughter, Brooke, moved in with me which I really enjoyed.

This time was very quiet and pleasant and I enjoyed white bedding and white towels and no one running around after turning off lights. In fact, I kept the lights blazing.

I've never been afraid (much to my daughters' chagrin) of color.

I also paired photos of age - preparing, I suppose. Whenever I look back on this book, I can almost hear the creek rushing by (and under) my apartment. It was a marvelous place to rest and regroup. My prior journals had been a place to escape to, this one was just a place to be.