- My art room is a Stygian pit.
- I once again discovered why I should never have been allowed to be in the same room with chocolate cereal, milk, and a bowl, with or without a spoon.
- Donald Trump.
Here’s a picture.
Here’s a picture.
I’m cleaning the Augean Stables aka my art room and never as there a more hopeless task. Thank god for artistic blanketlike objects that can drape over piles of various bins of things. I am going to die before I get to that point, though. I want to make this room nice for son number 1 when we have an onslaught of relatives tomorrow night.
In the meantime, the news is dripping poison in my ears, Hamlet’s uncle style. Every item is another acid drop.
I really can’t take it. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to share a picture of some people at a Turkish restaurant I spy drew (drawed)? for your viewing pleasure.
Yesterday when I was at my book group, my friend Monica asked me, “Are you still looking at pattern books?”
That’s because I am an eternal drawer and doodler and writer (and she was catching me doodling under the table), and last year, I was doing a lot of my doodling modeled on pictures from pattern books. I have incredibly restless, fidgety hands, and I have a hard time listening to a conversation if I am not taking notes, doodling, drawing, fiddling with yarn, or twisting something with my fingers. Thus has it always been. As you can see from the name of my blog, 135 journals, I have been keeping journals for some time. I have far more than 135 journals. (And yes, I do look back at them, and I still have all of them, and I am very happy I started the habit when I was 14 and I do write pretty much every day).
A few years ago, I became interested—or rather, re-interested—in art. Visual art has always been an interest of mine. It was my first love, before words came and stole me away. In recent years, especially since I have become sick, art has seemed to open different pathways than words. I feel as if there is a great roaring in my head of things I need to communicate. I have things I need to express, and things I need to be understood. These are two different things. Art has been utterly compelling as a force to help me to both.
On my path to rediscovering my own language in art, I started devouring art books, especially books on different kinds of patterns. There was something about patterns that particularly compelled me.
Studying these art books helped me. Why not be inspired by the gifts and wisdom of others? It gave me an expanded framework for thinking both about patterns and about symbols. This allowed me both to find and to create symbols that meant something to me. It showed me how repeating patterns can give emphasis and importance to certain areas of a piece. That designs aren’t just random. They serve a purpose. There’s a reason why people love patterns and have always found them comforting and important.
More importantly, I know why I love creating patterns. But now, I don’t look at pattern books for inspiration when I draw. I just breathe, put pen to paper, and let go. I don’t know what will come out, or, if it doesn’t, if I can fix it. But that’s okay. there’s a lot of paper in the world. And the patterns will still keep emerging, from the pattern book that is unfurling inside of me.
One day I–I know this is crazy–I didn’t have my journal with me. And I was waiting in a line. And I was bored. Of course, my pocketbook did contain a bunch of old useless receipts and some markers. So, I found myself doodling this little design on top of one of those receipts. The paper is probably as toxic as all get out, but it does have a nice smooth feeling. And having only a small space to fill was oddly satisfying. And, of course, every picture, no matter how seemingly repetitive, that I do means that I am developing a little bit more strength in my hand, more personality in my line, more sense of possibility. So, what can you actually DO with litttle pieces like this? Many artists save small bits and pieces of work for collages. I do not know how to make a collage–yet. But I have a file for pieces of my own work. It might fit in somewhere perfectly. And if not, what have I lost? In a way, I like the fact that I can read through the drawing that I visited Barnes and Noble and had a cup of tea on a certain day. That too is part of my history. Maybe I’ll just glue it onto a page of my journal (as you can see in this picture, the receipt is lying on one page of my scandalous tomes), because it’s part of me. It’s part of a day I drank tea, and part of a day I was bored standing in line. It was a point in time when I was drawing circles. Maybe someday I won’t draw so many circles. Then maybe I’ll draw something else. And THAT will be part of my history, too. It reminds me: There’s really no reason to ever clean out your purse.
Writing Prompt: What do you do with little scraps in your life–of time, of material, of paper?
In some ways, I am soooooooooo lazy. You just go ahead and ask my husband. But in other ways, I am incredibly diligent. Lookie here at what hard work I put into making this picture of tiny diamonds. I not only had fun coloring in boes with markers, but in devising little patterns to put into some of the boxes. I think they help to give the composition a little variety. I also left some spaces blank. You might have fun doing such a project yourself. I found it meditative, but it also helped me develop more small iconic images that come naturally to hand. I also got to see for myself color combinations that looked better than others. I want to develop my eye for what colors work together. It is interesting how different look next to each other. It was good compulsive fun, and a person could do this over and over (with regular grid paper, too), and still learn something and even make something kind of pleasing.
Writing Prompt: What is something you do compulsively?
One of my vows this year is to show not just pictures I’m really proud of, but ones that I am stumped by. I don’t really like what I’ve done here. The colors are too stark. They lack nuance. I think it looks primitive, but not in a good way. It’s all done with markers, which are not a perfect vehicle for art on their own. Still, I think the cure for what ails it can be found in doing something more to it. What that more is, I do not know. Yet. If and when the answer comes to me, I will show it to you. I do know that layering can add depth and dimension to pictures that seem hopeless at first. Let’s see if that happens with this baby.
Writing Prompt: Do you have some kind of project that hasn’t come together yet?
Part of the joy that is renovating is picking out new stuff. I know, it really is. A person is lucky to have new stuff. I remind myself of that. But I must admit my mind wanders a bit when it comes down to making these life-altering decisions. Here is a picture I drew in my journal while Mr. HH was asking sensible questions.
Writing Prompt: What kind of shopping do you hate?
Lately, I have been obsessed with drawing circles. I got the idea from some beautiful African dyed indigo cloth. But when I created this piece, my future superchef child Jacob said, “OMG, Mom, you should name that piece red onions.” And then I saw how the different purples and shapes did indeed resemble a very large collection of red onions, which Mr. H eats raw every day. So as you stare into the depths, let your mind wander to the onionyness if you like. Think of how amazing onions are–how impoverished our diet would be without them. And yet how they exact a cost in painful tears as you slice into them. I don’t usually like raw onions myself. I think they need heat to coax out the sweetness and complexity they bring to so many dishes. They remind me of some people who at first can be so sharp and painful to deal with that one gasps and tears up immediately. But if warmth is steadily applied, they too can give up the treasure of their own sweet complexity. It reminds me not to give up on people just because they might seem offputting at first. I like to see if kindness and interest will let me pass through the painful thresshold and find their rich, true essence.
Writing Prompt: Write about a memory involving onions.
Sometimes, it gets a little boring doing thirty leg lifts this way, that way, the other way, yada yada. Or trying to walk on some spongy material and not knock over little orange cones. I think of the words “yada yada” because when I was lucky, Seinfeld was blasting on the giant TV in the small room. When I wasn’t lucky, which was most of the time, it was The King of Queens. OMG, I’m getting a flashback to the episode where Carrie was such a bitch that every Korean nail salon in Queens wouldn’t do her nails. Crisis!!!!! Or another episode where Carrie and Doug were obsessed with trying to figure out how much they were going to spend on other people’s Christmas presents because they thought they overheard other people saying they were going to give THEM expensive presents and they didn’t want to seem cheap . . . I’m getting flashbacks, horrible flashbacks to the theme song . . . as I tried doing leg lifts wearing those ankle bracelet things . . . the therapists were as sweet as could be. But I always wonder how THEY could stand watching the same episode of The King of Freaking Queens all damn day . .. . getting chills just thinking about it.