Back to work…

Every year (or multiple times per year) I decide it’s a great idea to revamp my life. By that I mean my work and all that’s related. Perhaps it’s not the wisest decision, but refreshers are good, especially for a mind becoming stagnant.

Four pieces were completed at the beginning of January for a play. As soon as they were done and shipped out, I paused to look around my studio and realized that it had become horribly chaotic. Paint tubes scattered, tiny shreds of paper, dirty brushes, not one surface was bare, including the floor. I did what I could, which was to walk away from it for a bit over a week. It was not a relaxing time because all I could think about was getting that area in order so I could get back to work. I had been so focused on those four pieces that when they were done, I felt lost.

I finally forced myself to clean (pics to come). I’ve found that even with this clear space, my brain isn’t working the way it needs to. The empty space is in my head, not in my studio. I’m uninspired!

While I continue to draw and paint, I figured I would update this blog and post a pic of one of the paintings. If you have thoughts, inspiration, motivation, anything, tell me. Share your brains.

Unrequited | 8" x 11" | acrylic on canvas
Unrequited | 8″ x 11″ | acrylic on canvas

Hot Press Watercolor Paper

…makes me want to cry.

I’m trying, I really am, but I am not winning at this type of paper.  I’ve read comments and perused tutorials and all of that stuff.  “Don’t soak it”, “Soak it for 15 minutes”, “Gesso the front and back so it doesn’t buckle”, “Only use it for drawing!”, etc…

My first attempt was using watercolor pencils.  I sketched my figure out, did a bit of shading, and liked how it turned out!  Then…I added water.  Mistake.  I only added a little bit of water, not a lot, and it was still a disaster.  So, in an attempt to fix it, I added more paint/water.  Of course, it got worse.  The paper buckled and pilled.  In some sections the paint just lifted right off, leaving my lady speckled.  Frantic, I tossed aside all water-related mediums and attempted to smother her with oil pastels (that I don’t even know how to use).  I was desperate.  Hopeless.  The painting was destroyed.

I started off my second attempt being a little cocky, giving a little sashay in my step.  “I’m going to gesso the shit out of it!” and that I did.  Paper didn’t buckle or pill!  It made the surface a bit rough, and that was okay.  I lightly sketched an image on the paper, using a ruler, gettin’ my perspective right and everything.  Then I added the paint — acrylic this time.  Watered-down acrylic.  It wasn’t the best move.  It didn’t do what I thought it would do.  The paint still sort of lifted off, so I reduced the water and added more paint.  That seemed to help, but the background lost its subtly tinted sky and bare landscape and was replaced by rough spots and brush marks.  I like dry brushing.  I might even say I’m not terrible at it.  But, I didn’t want to dry brush this one.  I wanted it to be smooth, fluid, and pretty.  It, too, is a disaster.  It looks like I squeezed a whole bunch of acrylic paint on my hand and mashed it on the paper in a fit of rage.  It’s terrible.  I threw my brush against the table, took a hot shower and cried while in the shower.

I’m a basket case.  I’m not giving up, though.  Today is a new day!  A new day to completely wreck anything I touch!  A new day to make a zillion more mistakes, possibly cry some more, but also figure out what I did wrong and try something else.  I thought that what I was doing wrong was to even attempt to do any artwork at all, but I need to nudge that out of my head with a hard elbow.  Maybe.  I’m full of self-doubt today.

If you have comments or advice, I’d love to hear them!  In fact, I think I need it.

Stretching, stretch, stretching…

I missed last week’s I.F. – the word was “Stretch”. This is what I made and wrote.

Spindly with graceless steps, pointed toes, stretching limbs as far as possible, rushing to get off the street, hoping these sentient buildings (it’s in your head, dear) would stop with their imposing posture. Maybe the beginning of capture – “we snack on Marfan”. Maybe a respectful, welcoming gesture – “we mean you no harm as we mean nothing”. Her mind flutters with questions: “Is it a greeting or am I for eating?”

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…

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!

An Etsy test drive…

I finally (finally!) added some pieces to my Etsy shop. I’ve had an Etsy account for years, but never actually used it. I had the intent to use it, but I’m a procrastinator (as if I had to tell you that) and just never got around to it.

I put 5 ACEOs in my shop because I’m a bit hesitant about breaking out the big guns. These little drawings/paintings are harmless and inoffensive so I thought they would be a good place to start. Just to see, you know. Plus, now that I posted them, I’m motivated to start working on pieces again. I had to take a break for a bit over a week because I was busy being consumed with finding a reliable vehicle to replace our “Rust Machine Who Likes To Eat Money”. I was successful with that, so now it’s time to get back to my own thing!

If you would like to check out the Etsy shop, here is the link: http://itdoesart.etsy.com

Back to work!

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…

Creation…

The process of creation is certainly a difficult one. I thought I would be quickly updating this with new pieces and progress shots, but I’m empty. I’ve been working and re-working a drawing these past several days so much that the paper has pilled and is now useless to me. It resembles a note-taking scrawl worthy of reference but not much more. Stress.

While fighting with that drawing, I had the words “Well, you’re not really an artist then” echo through my head. In my post, Messing Around With Sculpture, I mentioned a conversation I had where I was told the above line. It never left my brain…it was scorched on there…branded. I was in my hometown having a conversation with a respected, well educated businessman. He had just returned from a vacation abroad and was talking about the differences in our country’s view on art/artists to the views other countries held. He felt, compared to these other places, we didn’t respect artists, understand art, nor took either seriously. He was aware of what I did and wanted to know about my process. He wanted to know everything: why I do it, what goes through my head, what master is reflected in my work, and so on. I didn’t have the right answers for him. I think he was eager to use his new found interest and have a conversation with Michelangelo and I could only give him responses from a small town weirdo.

I told him I didn’t know why I did what I did – I just had to do it. Sometimes nothing goes through my head and it feels like I’m doodling while other times I’m so overwhelmed with emotions that I leave my brain and get trapped in brushstrokes. And then I listed a few artists that inspire me. My answers didn’t suit him. He was stuck on my use of the word “doodle” and said “Well, you’re not really an artist then” and ended our conversation.

I was crushed. I was still quite young and very, very new to the idea of the possibility that I could be an artist and I took his words as truth/fact. He was educated, after all. And he went to places that I’ve, still, only seen in pictures or had explained to me by family and a couple of friends. I was convinced that he was right and I was a fool. It wasn’t until I got out and met artists that I realized he was wrong. Because he had the Sistine Chapel above his head for a period of time does not make him an expert on what makes artists tick. He was simply a sort of poseur hoping to use his travels to seem semi-interesting to a community that is not interested. He did not want to know why I do what I do and even now, years later, I highly doubt my slightly evolved answers would suit him. He made up his mind while learning about the celebrated masters….anything or anyone less than that would be insulting and worthless.

Hopefully now that I’ve spat a bit, I can get those words out of my head, grab a new sheet of paper, and start again!

I blame insanity…

Because I’m a bit “off”, I feel that I am allowed to post more than one blog a day.  The last one was a few hours ago.  Since that time, I accomplished a few things.  Well…not really.  I went for a walk a bit after sunrise and took some photos.  Silly photos that serve no purpose, other than allowing me the opportunity to walk around the apartment complex and strategically drop my business cards here and there.  Littering with ulterior motives.

I saw a beautiful bird during my adventure.  You know what I wanted to do with it?  I wanted to catch it and bite its fucking head off.  Feel the beak crack between my teeth like popcorn kernels.  The caviar burst of its eyes.  Feathers that will later need to be flossed out.  Blood.  I love blood.  Mainly my own, but some days, I want to see it from any source.  Red.  Thick. Sticky.  Beautiful.

Rarely do I reveal my violent side.  It’s such a large and strong part of me.  One thing we humans have in common is we’re made up of different parts.  Some caused by nature, others by nurture.  I frequently question my most acute parts…wondering if they arrived in the womb or were established through experience.  The typical conclusion is the latter.

It feels good being afforded the chance to let these things out.  Let them be known.  Yes, simply to strangers who happen to fall on my blog.  Prior to this, the only way I was able to release them was through artwork.  It fascinates me, the way different people can look at the same piece and then come to their own various conclusions.  They look at it and try to see who I am or what I was thinking when I created such a disaster.  I enjoy the responses.

Back to my violence.  I’ve always been this way and have never known what it was like to not have savage ideas.  Don’t get me wrong…that’s not how I present myself nor is it how I am.  It’s just a part of me that, on occasion, pops up and takes over for a while.  But I enjoy it in a way…not the feeling itself, but knowing that I understand that about myself.  Because there is so much about myself that I don’t know…things that confuse me.  Things that I question.  Why am I like this?  Why am I like that?

Sometimes I feel as thought I have a story to tell.  However, I don’t think I’m quite ready to reveal it.  People suggest I write a book.  “It will help others” is the main line I get.  Perhaps it will and perhaps I will.  I don’t know how much time I have left on this planet, so I suppose “sooner than later” will work.

A couple of years ago something switched in my head.  I don’t know why it started, but I do remember the night that it started.  I was laying in bed, and I became very, very ill.  Past the point of being able to vomit.  Almost like I had contracted a serious flu.  I had symptoms of the flu.  Cold chills, sweating, fever.  I couldn’t move because I was so dizzy.  It just kept getting worse and worse and I thought for sure that I was going to die.  As the hours went on, I started having hallucinations.  Granted, I am prone to have hallucinations, but these were different.  While laying in bed, I thought that I had taken a large knife and slit my throat, one side to the other.  I remember feeling the warmth of the blood running out of my neck…trickles making their way to the back of my neck.  Making my pillow feel wet.  I remember it so clearly.  I felt the pain of it, the panic, and I felt the warm blood.  Eventually I realized that I didn’t actually do that.  That it was just a severe hallucination.  But after that, things changed.  The switch.

I went outside the next day.  I passed someone on the sidewalk and when I looked at them, I didn’t see them.  I saw their skeleton.  This continued.  Not only was I seeing skulls on necks instead of skin, but I started seeing people decomposing in front of me.  As if they were dead and the decomposition process was sped up.  Didn’t matter who I was looking at.  When I saw my psychiatrist, I told him about it and told him that his face was rotting off.

This lasted for a very long time.  It doesn’t happen anymore.  Sometimes I’ll catch myself studying the bone structure of someone’s face, but it doesn’t go beyond that.  I am VERY happy about that.

Someday I hope to be off medication.  When I started taking them, they sucked the creativity right out of my soul.  I was so dull and crushed – it was unbearable.  Now, sometimes, I feel like I’m starting to balance.  I still have, and treasure, my manic days where I’m electric and unstoppable.