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…

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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.

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

A messy life and Work of Art…

My place is a wreck. A serious, serious wreck. After returning from the Illness Vacation and whipping out that MS Paint drawing on the 14th, I still have not properly cleaned my apartment nor have I really (really) worked on anything. I did start a painting I was asked to do, but only started it and haven’t touched it in a week. Terrible.

Today, though, has started out wonderfully well. I slept quite well (woke up nearly every hour, but did not allow myself to get out of bed), awoke at 5:30, made coffee, started laundry and dishes, and am well on my way to cleaning off the drafting table and getting my rather large behind in gear!

Last night I watched the final episode of “Work of Art” (thank you On Demand!). Two days prior, I watched the next-to-final episode and couldn’t wait to see the end. Wow. Before watching, I was certain Young would win due to his previous successes. I liked the idea of his work for the finale, but I couldn’t get into it. Although, I would have liked to stand in that structure he built to see the photos of his boyfriend and mother staring back at me – I really dug that concept. I’m not sure why that wasn’t made to be more significant in the work.

Sara’s work was really beautiful. Both the crane piece and bed of hypodermic needles are equally my favorite, just in different ways. I wasn’t entirely sure about the video (or the web), but I think it worked. I wonder if maybe it was detrimental to her winning, though? I go back and forth on it; a part of me feels it was necessary. I am a fan of getting to the nitty-gritty of a person’s being. That she took an idea that allowed people to say whatever they wanted/needed due to the freedom of anonymity was fantastic. Something like that always ranks high with me.

I would think it a tough decision choosing between Sara and Kymia’s work, but they chose well. I can’t think of any piece Kymia did that I didn’t like – including the burial mounds. The boat picture was my favorite, of course. That picture makes the cliché “a picture is worth…” true. Truly stunning. I’m still not sure about the headpiece so I will need to watch that episode again (I usually watch each one a couple of times because my head doesn’t always sit straight and still). Really, all of the paintings she did were beautiful.

Time to fly now. I’m running low on juice and getting easily distracted (I’m sure you can tell mid-way through the Sara paragraph!).

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, 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.

Art, Drawing

Hello stomach virus…

How are you this evening?

Nature put me out of commission for a few days and while I was hoping that I would be well enough to accomplish something productive today, I didn’t. I was well enough to, but I had a lot of cleaning to catch up on. Plus I don’t consider cleaning productive – my kind of productive anyway.

Thankfully my illness opened my head up a bit and allowed a few ideas through. I’m excited to start working on them tomorrow. Whilst in bed and unable to move, I was stuck with the t.v. I found a show called…well, something about art. It had “art” in the title. I watched 2 episodes (they were about an hour long) and although I missed most of the second episode (sleep attacked me), I was pleased with what I saw of the first. It’s about an art competition; 10 (or so) artists compete for their own show at the Brooklyn Art Museum. The first contestant to get canned was Ugo; a beautiful Frenchman whose style is similar to that of Keith Haring. Initially his piece was unimpressive and boring…lots of red layers. But then he removed the red backdrop and WOW. It seemed like it came alive. It was unfortunate he didn’t remove the red backdrop from the get-go – undoubtedly that would have saved him.

Don Vito the “Pig” is running laps around his cage and it’s loud, so I’m retiring for the night. Since I haven’t posted to this, I will leave you with a picture I drew while working as a TSR. No thought involved (obviously) – simply sitting in front of a computer, listening to people threaten to end my life because they have no internet connection. Sometimes I actually miss that job, but I think it’s because I was good at it and there are very few things I’m good at.

Goodnight!