Rethinking the blog design…

Those that know me are familiar with my inability to keep things the same. Whether it’s my name or my furniture, I get the urge (maybe compulsion would be a better choice in this situation) to do an overhaul and I don’t feel “right” until it’s complete (or I’m distracted for a while).

I love the simplicity of this theme “Coraline” (the one I’m currently using). It’s basic, the options are good, the header is the perfect size; it’s just a great theme! Because I have a few ideas mulling around in my brain of where I want to take the blog, I’m not entirely sure if this theme will work with them. Sometimes when I feel like a change is necessary, and I put all the work in to create the change, I eventually find out that a bit of tweaking was really all that was needed. I’m sure that this situation is no different.

So tweak I will and if things get wonky, now you’ll know why!

The Sketchbook Project 2012…

Has gone the way of The Fiction Project.

This is Procrastinator 2: (Putting Off) Judgment Day. In this version, everyone (including Terminators) plops down on the sofa and nothing gets accomplished because they’re too busy watching American Dad and eating hummus with crackers. No one dies and Linda Hamilton doesn’t develop arms that could break Chuck Norris in two. Nope.

I should now tell you that I started writing this post on Saturday (2 days ago). On Saturday I was under the impression that my Sketchbook Project had to be post-marked by January 21st. Clearly I missed that, so I did what I typically do every time I feel defeated: I give up and internally give my self a “talking-to” about why I suck and how I need to take a course on the Meaning of Time and How it Works, or something like that.

Pouting, I opened Opera and headed over to the Art House Co-op to check out the other artists and see what was going on with them, and pout some more. When I did that, I saw a date: January 31st! I realized that I originally misread it (I do this frequently – numbers don’t look like they’re supposed to in my head) and I still had time!!!! Yesterday, I whipped out a bunch of drawings that don’t make one bit of sense and finished the Sketchbook Project. Today I put the book in a bubble sleeve, weighed it, slathered it with stamps, and shoved it in the mail-hole. Fingers crossed that the postage on USPS is correct!

Woohoo! This might be the first time I have completed something within the time frame I am given! I would celebrate, but I have to go watch It’s Always Sunny so I’ll celebrate later…

Prepare for a long post…

I’m seriously, you guys.

I’ve noticed how lax I’ve been in updating my blog. I’m not sure what the deal is, but I’m looking into remedying it. I write out a list of possible posts and then don’t get to them or, I see them, but don’t remember what I was going to say. I figured that today I would write about a recurring issue I have that sort of ties into my work: My name. Yes, my name is an issue.

I have gone through more casual name changes than I want to admit. I’ve changed for a variety of reasons: paranoia, boredom, spelling problems, anger/spite, and simply not feeling right about my name.

I have only gone through 1 legal name change: I was adopted. I went through several years of one easy-to-spell surname and then it changed to a rather fantastic, albeit hard to spell/pronounce, surname. Like old songs or movies, names can be triggers to past memories, good or bad. My last name made me think of bad things, so I wanted to change it. My first name did the same, so I wanted to get rid of that too. And then it started.

In high school, I toyed with the spelling of my first name. I was usually called “Jenni”, so I continually changed the spelling of that until one day my Federal Government teacher pronounced my newly spelled “Jenee” as “Juh-NEE”. I knew I had a problem.

Early adulthood I signed my work with a symbol that I still use once in a while. I refused to sign my name because I still couldn’t accept it.

Then, as mentioned in the Explanation section of my blog, I went through several years of being ridiculously crazy and became obsessed with changing my name. I continually changed my online usernames or created new ones because I was scared that I would be found. Now when I see those names they seem so foreign – I don’t even recognize some of them.

Last year I created a whole new name: Morgan Dreag. I love the name Morgan. I think the letter “M” is beautiful, I have a massive connection to the sea, and I think Morgan sounds like such a strong name. I needed some strength. And “Dreag”…well, I kept that part. I like writing it. I believe it’s Old English for “apparition” and since I had spent most of my life feeling like I was a ghost, I thought it was suitable.

I used Morgan for a while. I look like a Morgan, so it seemed pretty natural. The family and friends I chose to tell about the name assured me that they wouldn’t say anything because they understood my fear of being found (it’s not a completely irrational fear…just mostly). Unfortunately, someone did mention it to another person and that name lost its power for me. The illusion of strength and protection was gone. The name hunt resumed…

Trying to find a name that not only fit me, but also matched my work was becoming a hassle. Here I had the documents ready to start the legal change – I just needed a name to put on them! I tried various names on, typed them out in different fonts, wrote them out by hand, entered them on forms, signed quick drawings with them; all to see how they looked and felt when doing that. Still, nothing.

I went back to look at my real name. My surname is relatively unique, so I don’t have the problem of being lost in a list, but it also makes me easy to find for those that know the name. During my name-hunt, I went through countless name meaning sites and books, typing and looking up each name that popped in my head. Of course I repeatedly researched “Jennifer”. In doing this I found that “Jennifer” also has connections to water and apparitions. For reals. Once again I already had something I wanted, I just needed to go the l o n g way to figure that out (can you tell that this happens a LOT?).

I’m sure that eventually I will, once more, become bored with my name or if I become mentally unwell again, I will feel the need to change everything, but I have a feeling by posting all these things that I’ve rarely said out loud, it will allow me to be okay with keeping what I got.

There is also the possibility of hitting the “Publish” button and eventually seeing a shadowy figure standing outside my window…

Art with intention…

Does intent make it better or worse?

While preparing dinner I got caught up in the intention of preparing dinner. Suddenly I was acutely aware that I was holding a knife that was slicing through a vegetable that was going to be eaten for dinner. I was completely aware of that action – I wasn’t thinking about this blog or how Lucy jumped on the counter earlier to lick my empty salad bowl clean (she really is evil). I do think about those things when I’m doing other activities that don’t require my complete attention (washing dishes, cleaning, etc…). When my hands are working, I will allow my mind to play in the dirt in work clothes.

Once I became aware of being aware (strange feeling, isn’t it?) I thought about the process of creating artwork. I will let my mind do what it wants while my hands move to make lines that eventually become a picture. Other times I am exacting and fully engaged in what I’m making. Everything is done with intent. I’ve noticed that even though my pieces start out as mindless doodles, if I incorporate myself into the work, it develops a purpose. It becomes an intention. The process turns into a very powerful thing.

It’s easy for me to spot my intended pieces while looking over my collection, but not easy for me to see them in others’ work. That leads me to wonder how many other artists work with full intent or toss some colors on a surface to produce their work? Or maybe each of us has a mixture of works – a pile of mindless writings next to a pile of purposeful prose or a canvas closet full of magnificence and future-DIY-bulletin boards (I did that!)?

I’m curious about this. Probably because I’m nosey.

Slacka! Part Deux…

I am the World’s Biggest Slacker. Maybe slacker isn’t the right word…procrastinator. Laggard. It has been quite some time since I blogged and I’m behind on everything else as well. The Sketchbook Project? Soooo behind. Adding more items to Etsy? Soooo behind. Drawing, period? Yep…behind.

I had hoped that I would at least scrawl out an illustration for Illustration Friday, but I didn’t do that either. I haven’t really done anything art-related in a few days, but today I am going to try. Maybe even whip out a drawing for I.F.!!

In the midst of all of this dilly-dallying, something possibly exciting happened; I was asked to give private art lessons to someone’s child. It’s a 13 year old boy, so I think it will work out well since I typically act like a 13 year old boy (sense of humor: check, general behavior: check). It is something that I am considering doing, though. I think it would be good to do; certainly inspiring.

In the meantime, I will leave you with an image I submitted to Illustration Friday in 2006. The word was “Skyline” and I drew it during one of the many (many, many, many) identity issues I’ve had over the years, hence it’s signed with my old moniker “Renner” (I’m still fond of that one, so it’s not entirely gone…) and a symbol I use sometimes still.

Have a great day everyone and if any of you are stagnant in your creativity, I hope today provides a break for you too!!

Tinker Bell taps out…

It’s 5:03 a.m. and I finally finished the painting for Rick. The final stretch – adding glitter paint – was the most fun! Fingers crossed that a fixative will hold and not run…

Here it is…kind of. I couldn’t seem to get a very good picture. Perhaps it’s because I’m tired.

Dead foot…

I took a series of photos a few months ago (probably longer than a few, I suck at time) of feet. When I was in junior high I went through this foot-drawing phase. I just drew feet on everything and I have no idea why. My English teacher (who wasnt a bit fond of me) smiled and said “Maybe when you grow up, you’ll sell shoes”. Yes. At 14 years old, I aspired to be Al Bundy (although I should say if Her Hotness Katey Segal was my wife, I would have zero complaints).

Last night and a bit today I’ve been playing with these photos. I have a sort of love/hate for photo editing software because it helps me get my photos close to what I see in my head, but also allows me to procrastinate on learning how to fully operate my wonderful camera. Lazy. I’m just lazy. On one particular photo, I zoomed in and out repeatedly; getting up close and personal with dry skin. The adjustments I made to the photo caused discoloration and pronounced shadows and slight imperfections so much that the foot looks filthy, disgusting, and dead. I love it.  I love the horror of it, I guess.

Going back to the first paragraph of my childhood aspirations I actually wanted to be everything in the entire world. There were certain careers that stood out more than others, but I liked the idea of being able to help people with anything from a plumbing problem to an interior design crisis. One specific career that I was really interested in was becoming a mortician.  I wanted to be a Funeral Director. To me, Funeral Directors got to play several different parts; like actors, except continuous work was a guarantee (maybe this is relevant to my identity issues). This life-long preoccupation with death comes through in a lot of my artwork and this foot photo was no exception! After playing around, it started looking like a dead foot. The skin, along with looking filthy and dry, appeared mottled. I’ve done this with body photos before and I always like the outcome, but I’ve never zoomed in like I did with the foot. I like that even more.

I am fascinated with breaking people/bodies into sections. Picking one area and highlighting or removing it from where its supposed to be. Disjointing, I suppose. So taking this foot and zooming in so close goes along with that fascination. It’s truly repulsive (and I’m smiling as I write that).