When progress goes kaput…

Sometimes I liken my moods to a plane and I’m the pilot.

I’ve been really motivated recently. I’ve been getting a lot done, maintaining my house
really well, being very creative and focused. I’ve been keeping up my various social media accounts, updating them with pictures of what I’m currently working on. I’ve just been doing really well.

About the plane… For the past 2 days I’ve felt a descent. Not a gradual descent. More like
my engines suddenly failed. I woke up and the colors weren’t nearly as bright and vivid as they have been. Never a good sign.

A few things can happen. I quickly descend in a very rough way, unsure about the landing. Or I quickly descend in a graceful way, unsure about the landing, but able to control the plane enough that I have a chance of not crashing. Maybe I have time to plan. There’s still that uncertainty, though.

When I get close to land, I might be able to land the plane in a relatively safe way.
Certainly some turbulence and discomfort. The seat belt will undoubtedly dig into my thighs and leave some bruises, but I’ll be okay. Shaken up, but okay. Or I crash and burn. The plane is wrecked and cleanup will take some time.

I think I’ve been hypomanic. I want to believe that all of this progress I’ve been making,
all of this focus and drive is 100% me. I did this. I created and maintained this. I am
doing great. The way the plane is shaking, though, I think it might’ve been hypomania and I’m getting ready to descend.

So far, my descension isn’t reckless, so I’m definitely ahead. I’m noticing it rather than
my engines bursting into flames. I’m getting little warnings here and there, letting me
know something’s amiss.

I have a feeling I’ll land with some grace. My fear is that everything I’ve been doing will
stop. The motivation will stay gone. I remember, though, that the desire has not left.
That’s a great sign! Maybe I can work with that.

In the meantime, here’s a photo of my oldest boy, Patrick. He’s 15 and a professional. What is he a professional of? I’m not sure, he won’t tell me. It’s clearly something really
important, though.

Patrick1 (Large)

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Illustration Friday: Lost

I’ll be honest: this was not made for this week’s Illustration Friday theme, but I think it fits very well. The word is “Lost” and the painting (“Lost and Found”) matches. This painting (6 in. x 9 in. with 1 inch border) was made a couple of weeks ago using watercolors. As usual, it contains bits of my own self image, the idea of loss, and even the eventual celebration of what loss can illuminate.

Whitney, Whitney, Whitney…

First, I should say that I have very little interest in celebrity news, gossip, or general goings-on. I don’t care who shaved their head, flashed their undies (or lack of), cheated on this one with that one, or ate a live zebra (okay, if that happened it might pique my interest…a little). I am, however, interested in who volunteered their time/money here or there, supported this or that cause, made an incredibly nice gesture, and ate a live zebra. My interest in these things isn’t limited to celebrities, though I’m interested in anyone that does this stuff.

Now that I’ve said all that, I decided that it would be appropriate to write an entry about the death of Whitney Houston. I’ve never owned an album of hers, but I remember hearing her music while growing up. I also remember hearing about her issues with drugs and relationships. Since this is an art-related blog and Whitney Houston was a musical artist, I figured it was relevant.

Beyond her music or personal issues, I know nothing of her. I don’t know what/if she did anything to help other people, I don’t know what her interests were, or what causes or issues touched her heart. I know that at one point she was placed on this fantastic pedestal to eventually be yanked off of it once her flaws out shined her voice.

It should be of no surprise that since her death, that negativity continues: Crack-this-that-jokes, She deserved to die, I’m glad she’s dead, etc… that is what I’ve been reading on FB, Twitter, and various other places online. I don’t understand the point.

She was a celebrity, but she was a human one. Just as real as you or I, simply playing on a different stage. Long ago I realized that celebrities are portrayed as cheap products that function poorly, are given horrible reviews, yet people keep buying them. There are expectations set for them that don’t make sense, nor would I wish them upon anyone. I don’t think I could handle feeling relatively secure as a person and, as soon as I make a mistake or do something that is seen as a mistake, everyone tears me apart as if I was less than human. In fact, this did happen to me, and I’m a nobody it was awful to deal with. There are always understanding voices trying to shout over the mob, but they’re drowned out by venomous comments, teasing, and bullying. Whether you’re a celebrity, public figure, or average Joe, this happens. Of course, with people in the public eye, it happens on a vastly larger scale than in a small town. It doesn’t mean it hurts any less, though. Truthfully it seems like cruelty, not love, knows no bounds.

Was I incredibly saddened to hear she died? Honestly, no. I think any death is sad, some more than others. I felt bad for her family, as I would with anyone that lost someone. I don’t think the world lost a hero, I don’t think her death will spark a revolution or a create major shift in anything (with the exception of her family). She was another person that, throughout her life succumbed to various things that affect people, eventually died for whatever reason, and that is sad. Of course, to her massive amount of fans, it’s probably a tragedy, and that’s okay too. Sometimes I think fans create this sort of familial relationship, so when the center of that family dies, they all take it hard. I’m sure that if Steve Martin goes before I do, I will feel very sad. I felt shocked and sad when Michael Jackson died, not because he was a performer, but because of what I knew about his upbringing and every event that followed him throughout his life. I feel deeply sad when I hear of a soldier dying, even though in order to hear about those deaths, you have to sift through a lot of other stuff…

Death is an incredible occurrence that can shake foundations and traumatize anyone. So is cruelty. Combining the two will never lead to anything good. For the ones being unkind to the ones receiving it nothing good, no one benefits. I know I’m not alone in my thinking, but I often feel like I’m trying to shout over the mob.

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)!

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!

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!