Writing

About my mother…

People’s hands are something I’ve always been drawn to. I study their shape and condition. I watch how they move while someone speaks, how they’re used during the most mundane tasks, and how they appear at rest. To me, hands speak a different language than eyes, but can say just as much.

I find my mother’s hands particularly fascinating; they’re the set that created this fixation of mine. I’m one of those people who holds an entire world in my head, revealing feelings and thoughts only when I run out of room to keep them. I get this from her. She can be reserved and silent. Her hands, though, are loud. They shout and howl, but are most imposing when still.

The skin that covers them is heavy, like a quilt. Draped across the back and tucked in around her fingers. There are lines of varying depths etched into the surface and a few cracks that are tender and weak. Rough, calloused palms, often facing outward to ask for distance. Rarely do we get a glimpse of her open hand, palm up. It’s a vulnerable position to be in, only shown when she’s willing to give a part of herself and never shown to request something for herself. She always struggles to receive a kindness, not sure we mean it, not sure she can believe it.

These hardened features on my mother’s hands speak of strength gained through involuntary reactions, not sought out for cultivation. Built by, not for. Still, her strength is magnificent in its efficiency, but saddening that it won’t always allow her to exist unguarded.

Her hands are small and very delicate. Though the skin appears like stone, they float when they move, gliding from one thing to the next. Her handwriting is tiny, each curve created with perfection and so light it’s as if she doesn’t want to hurt the paper or maybe feels her words lack importance.

With this resilience of my mother, always functioning in the safest way, I want there to be an aspect of her that evolves. I want her to learn how to open her hand, reveal her palm, exist for a moment in vulnerability, and accept the kindnesses given to her. I want her to understand how incredibly worthy she is and that love for her is unconditional. I want her to know that this beautiful machine she is and lives in can still run well if she loosens her white-knuckle grip on the controls. I want her to know she’ll be okay.

These are my mother’s hands and these are a few of the things they say about her.

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Life, Writing

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, Writing

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.

Art, Writing

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!!

Writing

One of these years is not like the others…

Out of all the adjectives that have been used to describe me, “introspective” has never waivered in its accuracy. I am 100% introspective and I always have been. It’s something that I’ve enjoyed at great length, but also a source of misery when my introspection becomes an obsession and I can’t get out of it.

I have a strong, seems innate, drive to check in with myself, see if I’m making progress in my personal evolution, if I’m following the path I set for myself as a child, etc… Once in a while, I do need to remind myself of the things that are important to me about existence. If I’m not well (mentally) it’s very easy to get derailed and lie in bed for days focusing only on how much the entire world sucks (it does) instead of realizing the “suckiness” and trying to figure out how to make it better (it is possible).

During these times of self-reflection, I like to pull out my journals and see where I was then compared to now. It’s no secret that I deal with (I don’t like to use the word “suffer”) depression. I have PTSD and a variety of other initialisms under my belt that really affect my day-to-day. I think that’s also why it’s so important for me to keep a journal to record my highs and lows and other symptoms to get an idea about how well a treatment is working and to remind myself that: 1) It can get much worse and 2) It will get much better. Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I was curious to see where I was at this time last year. Once I found that out, I wanted to see about years prior. This is what I found:

December 31, 2010 – I was severely depressed. Didn’t want to eat, move, speak, and just slept (and slept, and slept…). I wrote about my frustrations with not being able to do artwork or write. I was also going through some issues with family that were borderline devastating to me. I didn’t write any hopes for the upcoming year (2011).

December 31, 2009 – Suicidal. That’s it. I wrote that I was suicidal, but I did mention my hope that 2010 would be better. It wasn’t.

I looked further back. I found one from January 1st 2006. I wrote of thinking about divorce and being mistreated. Wanting a different life and wanting out of that place I was in. Still grieving from a miscarriage that occurred in April 2005 and angry because of how much medication I was on and how it sucked everything – my light – out of me (it truly, truly did).

December 31st 1996 – I was 16 and wrote “I broke up with him”. I was sad. Things weren’t good at home. I wanted a place to go and couldn’t wait until I grew up.

So now it’s December 31, 2011. This year is not like the others. I’m not going to write a journal entry in one of my books. I’m going to write it here and share it with you because it has been monumental for me. Even typing the last part of that sentence caused a lump in my throat because as the thoughts form in my brain to flow through my fingers they’re full of an intensity that is difficult to contain. Maybe you’ll read this and think “That’s not really a big deal” or “What the hell is she going on like that for?”. That’s okay (I get it often). Maybe you’ll see what I mean and you have or will experience it in your own life. That’s cool too.

Here it goes (in my regular journal entry form):

31 December 2011 Saturday, 5:15 p.m.
New Year’s Eve once again and, once again, I don’t have the kind of plans I always want to plan for myself for New Year’s. I am scheduled to walk the neighbor’s really, really cute dog. Last year if I knew that was what my plan was going to be, I would have thought “How ridiculous” and wished for something BIG – thought I needed something significant! But now walking that cute, fat, little Sheltie (who waddles, by the way) and watching my cats’ reaction to dog smell when I get back is a wonderful way to celebrate. It’s not a party per se, but there is laughter, smiles, treats, hugs, and general foolishness.

This year has been crazy, quite literally. The lows were severe and my mental health issues were worse than they have ever been. I’m always wary to use the phrase “it can’t get any worse” but this past year is certainly worthy of a nod in that direction. There were 2 deaths, relationships were smashed, other relationships were rebuilt, another was reinforced, illnesses, tumors, psychotic breakdowns, and then…calm. Hope. Security, strength, liberation, confidence, independence, honesty, courage, love and love and love and love and love…

Something in my head changed. I don’t know what it is, but the way I would see things when I was manic is similar to how I see them now, sans the mania. I grab experiences/feelings and, in my mind, I break them down, unravel them, take them apart piece by piece. Not in a destructive way, though; more like a curiosity. I want to figure them out from a rational, not emotional, standpoint. Even the horrors. I delight in the smallest of things, even my own achievements. I’ve never been hard to please and I could easily become ecstatic over the most seemingly insignificant thing, but it has been years (YEARS) since I’ve known that. And this time ’round, the events that bring me light are even smaller than before.

As I write this, a part of me keeps saying “You’re being weird“…it’s that part of me that thinks I need to be serious, sound serious, and take life seriously…the part of me with a furrowed brow, trying to look more adult-like (or how I used to think adults looked – no spark in the eyes, strained faces, hardened words, tired). Then there’s the part that is saying “Then be weird. And let the furrowed-browed pissy chick be a furrowed-browed pissy chick. Just let go...”

“Just let go…” I say it every day. When things start to build, I let the words slide out of my lips along with a stream of air…like a whissssssssper. It’s soothing and it’s the best advice I’ve ever given myself and the best advice I’ve ever learned how to take.

This year was remarkable in the amount of destruction and creation/restoration that occurred. I don’t wish the same thing for next year. What I wish for next year is to keep evolving toward this lighter existence. Keep reminding myself that it’s okay to go outside and I don’t have to be afraid. Let myself know that I do have good ideas and I am capable of following through with them. It’s okay to trust myself and take care of myself. I will have very bad times and I will continue to have psychotic breaks now and then, but they’re not permanent. Like very bad times, I will have excellent times as long as I allow them to happen.

I hope you were able to get something, no matter how small, from spending all this time reading. Certainly much longer than I wanted it to be…maybe it would have been better to break it up. Or maybe I should just let it be as it is. For 2012 it would be awesome if everyone could spot something spectacular in something insignificant…and in turn, make it significant. I’m losing steam and getting sleepy, so I’m going to close this.

For 2012, just let go and be excellent to each other (party on, dudes)!

Art, Writing

Sensible blathering…

So, the whole purpose of this blog is to make myself get off my keister and keep being creative. I sometimes forget that one creative thing I enjoy doing is writing. One of the many things I wanted to be as a child was a writer! I loved it and still do. Lately, though, I have shoved it aside and focused more on the idea of making artwork (I would say doing artwork, but I haven’t been doing much these past couple weeks) and beating myself up for procrastinating.

Writing certainly makes my head work and when my head is working, ideas always come to me – including ideas for visual works. So…I’m writing. I had thought about making yet another blog strictly for “Sensible Blathering” but, honestly, I have too many blogs. Way too many. Since I’ve been using “It Does Art”, I haven’t posted to the others, so there is no point in creating another one that will eventually be neglected. I’ll just blather here because it’s tied to being creative!

A little known fact about me: I have started writing 3 books in my life. One was started when I was still in high school and the other two were started in my early 20s. Note I said started instead of completed. Yes…procrastinator. I like the idea of going back to them, but out of the 3, 2 will not be picked up where I left off because I’m not the same as I was then. However, I can still take the ideas and form them around who I am now and the similar messages I want to convey. I think about them often and I think about how much motivation I had when I started them and how I just became overwhelmed with life in general, not the writing. I think about how I am now and there are still aspects of me that haven’t changed much – the main one being my attention span and how frustratingly short it is. It’s something I work on and as long as I’m doing something to keep my head working in a creative manner, I’m okay with it.

I keep reminding myself that there really isn’t anything I’m incapable of doing. That includes finishing books, creating serious/ridiculous artwork, or even going outside when I’m just too afraid. It’s the same for you. Not a “if you dream it, you can do it” message – more of a “break things down into their simplest forms so you can see how non-complicated things can be”.

I want to make a candle holder out of paper-mache/papier-mache – I realize this would be along the lines of ridiculous artwork. Woohoo fire!

Art, Writing

My difficulty with writing…

Those that know me have often been subjected to very long emails nearing novelette lengths. And they’re just emails. They’re filled with possible ramblings or just several paragraphs of intense thought. But still…they’re emails. They should be short and to the point.

I’ve been working on that, so now my emails usually are short and to the point, but I really have to fight off rambling and giving every detail of every thing I’m attempting to communicate. I think partly it’s because of my fear of being misunderstood. This carries on into my blogs.

When I create a post that involves a drawing, it’s much easier for me to just quickly jot down a few thoughts about the image and leave it at that. I certainly have an urge to go in depth and tell you every thought I have about not only the resulting image, but also my feelings on it while creating it and so on. What happens is I end up with a very, very long post that not many people will want to read. Plus, when I write like that it seems I get burned out. So much so that I won’t post for a very long time after. Obviously, that happens now without the burnout, but I’m working on that too!

I feel internally divided – where one part wants to share a lot with the world and be very open about everything (I think letting people know they’re not alone while still acknowledging their unique circumstances is important) and the other part wants to remain closed off, severely private and almost cold, I suppose. It’s a constant battle and whoever the victor is depends on my mood that day or moment.

The reason I’m thinking about these things tonight and writing about it is because I want to try to find a middle ground or at least a comfortable place with my posting (and myself). Presenting those pieces as I do was a big deal for me because there is a lot (a LOT) of resistance from my family and some friends about the type of work I do and it’s always been a struggle trying to feel good about myself and please them at the same time. My family likes what I do as long as it’s not what “I” do, if that makes sense. I don’t think I would ever be able to show them the works that I post here and the amazing thing is that these pieces have been very well received by others – I didn’t think that was possible. The voices of my family rotate through my head when I make those sometimes, so to hear/read positive messages/critiques about them floors me.

I know that when some people meet me and then see my artwork, their initial impression of me goes through a pretty large overhaul. I could say that I’m not a violent person; I’m actually very peaceful, but that’s not entirely true. It goes back to that division I mentioned earlier – part of me is violent and angry and the other part is incredibly peaceful and loving. That’s not to say that the work is violent though. I don’t think it is. I think the last two images I posted are actually very loving and represent an ultimate of something…maybe self-sacrifice? There are so many themes that could be applied and, if it were up to me, “violent” would be at the end of the list.

I like to keep this blog not too personal, but not so distant either. I hope I’m achieving that. I’m pretty sure I rambled…