Art

If you would just stop touching it…

“You” being “me” and “it” being my blog (and me…depending). I turned 32 the other day (July 2nd) and I still haven’t learned that things will be less irritating if I leave them alone. This goes along the lines of “things become complicated when you forget about their simple, individual parts” or “…the little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you could stop tonguing it”.

As I wrote in my last post from June-freaking-13th (nearly a month ago!), I created a self-hosted WP blog at a subdirectory at ItDoesArt.com and was trying to decide if I was going to keep this one and that one, or ditch this one, blah blah blah. Overcomplicated. Just…overcomplicated. I like this blog. I like you guys/gals that subscribe to it, and comment and what not. That other one was far too much of a pain in the ass for what I wanted it to be. Which was (get ready) a BLOG. It was slow. Posting to it was a nightmare. Really, there wasn’t any major benefit considering… I get why people do the whole self-hosted thing and it makes total sense for them. For me…not so much.

So, like most things I repeatedly attempt/redo/reorganize/overthink, I’m simply going to use this lovely one and nothing more. The rest is unnecessary. My site is still accessible from this blog, just as this blog is still accessible from my site. It’s just much faster and less complicated.

As I’ve been writing this, fireworks are being set off outside and it’s really pulling my attention away. I’m going to go hunt them down (I’m not sure which direction they’re in and the trees block most views) and admire them. Happy 4th.

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Art, Art House Co-op

It has arrived…

Not me, It, but the Self Portrait Project from Art House! It’s a 4 in x 4 in gallery wrapped canvas, primed and ready-to-go! I’m currently trying to figure out just how many of my personalities I can fit on this bad boy…

There’s also a note card explaining the rules – the same stuff on the site, just in paper form (easy for those of us that get cranky from staring at a screen for too long).

Who else has done this?! Tell me! If you haven’t yet, I still suggest you swing over to the Art House Co-op and see what projects they have going on there (for free and for dollars).

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, Illustration Friday

Illustration Friday: Highlight

I immediately thought of text being highlighted (this specific writing). I suppose that’s not too bad, except this is supposed to be an illustration of some kind. So I stuck with my text idea, but also tried to scratch out (badly) an illustrated hand. My hand, to be clear – that is how I actually hold my pens and pencils. Not paintbrushes, though! Enjoy!

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, Drawing

Illustration Friday’s “Fuel”

A few years ago I discovered this gem of a site “Illustration Friday”. It’s perfect for us creative cats who need a bit of motivation or fun. Because I’m absent-minded and a procrastinator, I have posted a total of maybe 3 illustrations. That’s about 1 per year! Yeah…

So, this week’s topic is “fuel”. There were many thoughts that swarmed around in my head and a few drawings were made, but I just couldn’t feel them. And then I got it.

Backstory: On October 19, 2011 the Dalai Lama lead a day long prayer and global fast in honor of the people of Tibet who have self-immolated, were killed, or are jailed for fighting for human rights. This day of solidarity was something that I wanted to participate in and while I’m not religious and have few true beliefs, one strong one is that I believe that our minds are incredibly powerful and even sending out positive thoughts/energy can have an effect. Although I’m terrible at being calm and clear headed, I chose to fast and (try to) meditate in support.

I sometimes use candles to help me focus on something and nothing while meditating. I used a tea light and as I was drawn into the flame, I experienced some slight visual disturbance – enough to give me an image. The base of the flame looked like the silhouette of a person sitting in a typical meditative position. Of course it looked like it was surrounded – or on – fire. That made me think of those that self-immolated. I continued on, but the image didn’t leave my head.

I chose to illustrate that image for “Fuel”. To me, it goes beyond thinking of fuel as an accelerant. The fuel is many things: oppression, hate, desire for change, self-sacrifice, a statement. Thinking of the ancient elements: earth, water, fire, and wind, fire was the only one that could produce a chemical change. Anything could be something else.