Monday, November 21, 2005

The Three-meme

Rian's Meme ... and Pat's ... and mine:

1. Three screen names that you've had: jeansophie, blondberry, blondzilla
2. Three things you like about yourself: my integrity, my inclination to encourage and nurture others and my height (I'm gonna hate it when/if I start shrinking)
3. Three things you don't like about yourself: my weight, the problems with my hips that no one can diagnose/help, my shyness.
4. Three parts of your heritage: Cherokee, Irish and German (how about that, Pat?)
5. Three things that scare you: tornados, driving on ice, the hate that exists in the world
6. Three of your everyday essentials: stretching, a café latté and morning pages :-)
7. Three things you are wearing right now: camisole, cordoroys, wool socks
8. Three of your favorite songs: The Planets (Horst), Yesterday (the Beatles), R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Aretha)
9. Three things you want in a relationship: laughter, tenderness, understanding.
10. Two truths and a lie: I learned to ski in France. I learned to scuba in California. I learned to snowboard in New Mexico.
11. Three things you can't live without: my laptop, my sewing machine and friends.
12. Three places you want to go on vacation: Mexico, Ireland, Italy.
13. Three things you just can't do: watch violent movie/tv, stay in a boring/unchallenging job, lie.
14. Three kids names--going with former pet names: Merlin, Buddha, Shawn
15. Three things you want to do before you die: (I don't have a list)
16. Three celeb crushes: Robert Redford, Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage
17. Three of your favorite musicians: Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, Harry Connick, Jr.
18. Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to you: hands, eyes, smile
19. Three of your favorite hobbies: quilting, walking/hiking, learning something new
20. Three things you really want to do badly right now: get healthy, get organized, get rid of some of my stuff.
21. Three careers you're considering/you've considered: managing a non-profit performing arts organization, making hats, becoming a veterinarian.
22. Three ways that you are stereotypically a boy: I drive a truck, carry my own packages, like math.
23. Three ways that you are stereotypically a girl: I sometimes obsess about my hair, want to lose weight, love the spa-day thing.
24. Now who's next?

Artist Way: Week 3 Check-in

I had some problems staying connected to the network yesterday and worked a very long day today ... sorry I'm late with my check-in for week 3.

I completed morning pages 6 out of 7 days--I skipped Friday morning because I was in the office by 6AM to prepare for a meeting (yes, this is what it looks like when a project start to "hot up.")

In response to one of the exercises in week 2, I took my artist to the opera for my Artist Date--I wanted to do something that would be an opportunity to dress up (something I enjoy, but haven't done lately). The opera was La Bohème–the story of those stereotypical starving artists in Paris at the turn of the century.

Synchronicity is alive and well in my life. (Sometimes I wonder if I count on it too much, but so far, whenever I "jump" the net does appear.) When thinking about nurturing friends and how few I've cultivated since leaving the SF Bay Area and moving to Michigan, an especially sweet and supportive email message arrived from a local friend whom I hadn't included in my list :-)

The most significant issue for me so far is the one described in Almost Finished Objects. While I know that I have intellectually put a big, bad monster from my childhood behind me, I have to admit that I am still holding myself back because of the emotion of those experiences.

Almost Finished Objects

Last month, I wondered aloud about the whys behind my many works-in-progress and UFOs. I had a great big "aha" moment when I read these paragraphs on page 68 of week 3's reading in The Artist Way:

For the artist who endured chidhood shaming–over any form of neediness, any type of exploration, any expectation–shame may kick in even without the the aid of a shame-provoking review. If a child has ever been made to feel foolish for believing himself or herself talented, the act of actually finishing a picce of art will be fraught with internal shaming.

Many artitst begin a piece of work, get well along in it, and then find, as they near completion, that the work seems mysteriously drained of merit. It's no longer worth the trouble. To therapits, this surge of sudden disinterest ("It doesn't matter") is a routine coping device employed to deny pain and ward off vulnerability.

After reading this, I immediately thought of a half-dozen nearly finished projects, like this hand-appliquéd, hand-quilted wall hanging, an early class project that lacks only a binding. There were a pair socks, waiting for the last half of the last row to be bound off the second sock, a lacy scarf I knit last month and only needs to be blocked, a sleeveless turtleneck that was finsihed except for the ribbing around the second armhole. There's another quilt waiting for a binding and several tops that need borders to be complete. I had a fully knitted hat and pair of fuzzy feet slippers that were waiting to go into the washer to shrink and felt and be finished. I gathered up some of these almost finished objects and made them my goal for the week ... I made some progress but this remains--without a doubt--an issue for me.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Detective Work

I completed this exercise last weekend, but haven't had a chance to post it until now. In the meantime, I've really enjoyed seeing the answers I share with other Artist Way Quilters.

1. My favorite childhood toys were … my wheels: my scooter, my rollerskates and my bike.
2. My favorite childhood game was … LIFE board game.
3. The best movie I ever saw as a kid was … Mary Poppins.
4. I don’t do it much but I enjoy … singing.
5. If I could lighten up a little, I’d let myself … dance more often.
6. If it weren’t too late, I’d … train for a triathaon.
7. My favorite musical instrument is … guitar.
8. The amount of money I spent on treating myself to entertainment each month is … erratic, I starve myself and then I overindulge.
9. If I weren’t so stingy with my artist, I’d buy her … beautiful, artful clothing.
10. Taking time out for myself is … sometimes an excuse I use to procrastinate things I feel I should do before I can do the creative things I want to do.
11. I am afraid that if I start dreaming … the disappointment of not being able to find a way to live my dreams will be devastating.
12. I secretly enjoy reading … women mystery writers.
13. If I’d had a perfect childhood, I would have grown up to be … a mother.
14. If it didn’t sound so crazy, I’d write or make … a mystery novel set in state government.
15. My parent (mother) thinks artists are ... something only SHE is entitled to be.
16. My god thinks artists are … everyone.
17. What makes me feel weird about this recovery is … it may precipitate a change before I'm really ready for it.
18. Learning to trust myself is probably … going to lead to another life-changing event.
19. My most cheer-up music is ... Andean pan pipes or anything with which I can sing-along.
20. My favorite way to dress is ... elegant and comfortable.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Simple Still Life: Sophie's (odd) choice

I decided to join the Simple Still Life challenge when, a little over a week ago, I was walking to my truck in the parking ramp and encountered these 5 maple leaves stuck to the back window.

The photo, with that lovely glare of the flash on the window that I never got around to editing out, isn't very compelling, but the actual sight--now only in my head--is the one I choose. It's odd, perhaps because of a couple other interesting 5-object images that have crossed my path since ...

Last weekend, I went for a walk in a local park and loved these benches and scoreboards at a deserted shuffleboard court.

A couple days go I went on a little road trip to a Lake Michigan beach and encountered these 5 concrete slabs next to a closed concession stand:

While I love both of these images, I kept coming back to the badly photographed leaves.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Artist Way: Week 2 Check-in

I had a lot of resistance toward morning pages this week, but I did them anyway, 7 days our of 7.

Have you ever noticed that when someone offers you unsolicited advice, they are often actually talking to/about themselves? I followed some of the unsolicited advice I offered this week and took my Artist on a Date to the neighborhood thrift shop with a five dollar budget and a mission to find something interesting. I bought a pair of black velvet Calvin Klein jeans and, inspired by the incredible bags made for the bags of fun challenge on inaminuteago, came home with a plan to turn them into a bag of my own. Stay tuned.

Thinking about crazymakers helped me understand what's (who's) behind some of my frustrations at work ... and with a certain toxic classmate in my clay class :-)

Chihuly in Kalamazoo

Yesterday, I went to the Kalamazoo Institute of Art for the Chihuly in Kalamazoo show. Dale Chihuly creates larger-than-life installations composed of many, many pieces of hand-blown glass. This lapis and chartreuse tower was in the lobby of the museum.

The glass is magnificent and each installation is so well lit that the glass seems to glow from within.

I arrived at the museum at the same time as a school-bus-ful of young field-trippers. I feared the worst, but actually loved eavesdropping as their guides asked them to identify the organic shapes.

The nature of most of the installations made them difficult to photograph without losing the glow and irridescence of the pieces.

One of the favorites among the kids and adults alike was a room constructed with a glass ceiling. The ceiling was covered with glass pieces and lit from above. Here's what I got when I pointed my camera up:

There were two installations in the courtyard: a huge blue "chandelier" supported by three steel legs and a field of 10' tall bright red reeds. The show will be there until January 1. I want to go back and see those reeds frosted with snow.

Road Trip

In week 2 of The Artist Way, we're asked to list 20 things we enjoy doing, noting when we did each one last--sounds a little like a blog meme thing, doesn't it?

"Walking on the beach" was one of mine and one of two that I chose to make my goal for the week. When I lived in California, I often went to the ocean when I needed to get away, needed to think or needed to give myself a peptalk and find the courage to do whatever was next. The ocean and the mountains were guaranteed to take me out of myself, away from all distractions and enable me to really see clearly. Since coming to Michigan almost 5 years ago, it is the ocean and the mountains I miss most. Michigan is, without a doubt, filled with its own natural beauty, but I haven't been able to find those special places that do for me what a walk on the beach or a trip to the mountains will accomplish. This week, I was determined to try again.

I drove several hours to get there and when I pulled into the parking lot for the beach, I could hear the surf and it was such a beautiful sound. It made me so happy. The dunes were magnificent and I had the beach all to myself. Still something was missing ... the salt air. I thought about how those special places of mine grabbed the attention of all of my senses and how this place fell short because I missed that mind-clearing, fresh-smelling sea air.

The place was a feast for the eyes--I took lots of photos, including this one, part of a concession stand, closed for the season, which looked like a modern stone henge to me ... and another possibilty for the simple still life.

I'm a sheep ...

Rian's and Debra's feet photos inspired me to capture my own, while taking a break from leaf-raking on a surprisingly warm autumn afternoon.

I know it's time to dismantle the hammock and stand and put them away for the season, but as long as Mother Nature keeps gifting us with warm afternoons, I can't make myself do it . . . not yet.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The 2 Seasons of Fall

In my corner of the world, Fall feels like two seasons. The first is my favorite season. It's sunny and colorful, with warm afternoons and cool nights. The landscape gradually shifts from green to gold to red, but the geraniums in my planters and flowers in my garden continue to bloom and I think I have a few afternoons of reading in my hammock left before the second Fall.

Too soon, the trees will lose their leaves; the blue skies will become a nearly color-less shade of gray; and the wind will blow hard and cold. The TV weathermen will mention the possibility of flurries.

At the first sign that the second season of Fall, I wonder if it's time to pull out my new, long, hooded down coat; I know it's time to pull out the flannel top that needs to be quilted; and nothing appeals as much as staying in and curling up with my knitting.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Artist Way: week 1 check-in

Morning Pages

I surprised myself and easily did my morning pages this week: 7-out-of-7 days. For me it was a feeling of returning to a morning ritual that has always been a positive and supportive one.

Artist Date

For my artist date, I went to the Michigan State University campus, last Sunday, to see an exhibit of Pewabic pottery from the Arts and Crafts era at the Kresge Museum and, afterward, walked around campus looking for the examples of Pewabic tiles on many of the buildings on campus, including a couple buildings where I spent a lot of time as a freshman, 30 years ago. Mary Chase Perry is best known for the beautiful irridescent finishes she was able to achieve. Reading all the carefully written notes describing how various effects were achieved, I was impressed by the experimentation that was a large part of her art.

Significant Issues

I'm fond of asserting that "everything's connected" and my artist seemed to embrace that concept this week. I started the week writing about monsters and subtle negative messages, and encountered some very specific judgement from some who insisted that there was only one way to approach knitting or to be a quilter . . . as they had, on a very narrow and well defined path without deviation or distraction by other media. My approach to choosing yarn was loudly ridiculed by a yarn shop owner, as he entertained some of his other customers by making a joke at my expense. I was told that I am not a quilter because I knit and have made hats and have interests beyond the quilt. Despite the awareness of this negative judgment (from other artists), I opened the gates wide to the possibilities for making art: I played and tried new things. I learned some Shibori techniques at a workshop with a local fiber artist. I signed up for a clay class, went without expectations, and threw my first pot. I bought art supplies--Shiva paint sticks and canvas for floor cloths--that will take me in two new directions. It felt like play and it was wonderful and I found myself making connections and leaps, from a colorful tile to a quilt design, from a knitted panel to an idea for a clay vessel.

My love affair with knitting continues and while I knit, creative ideas flow, for clay objects, for knit projects, for quilts. For me, it is definitely artist brain activity. I'm not sure I've consciously made that connection before; in the future, if I am stuck, I may consider some mindless, meditative knitting . . .

A walk in the park

I often walk—to work or with some purpose in mind—so this afternoon I took my artist for a walk in the neighborhood park with no purpose beyond exploring the park and enjoying the sunshine and beauty of a perfect autumn day.

Except for a bunch of fat squirrels, searching for what loot they might find under the golden leaves that carpetted the park and this pair of Mallard ducks on the river, I had the place to myself and took a turn on the swings, wandered off the paths, over the hilly terrain, past the pavillion and down to the river walk that follows the river from here to downtown and beyond. I passed the drained swimming pool, remembering the joyful noise that can be heard coming from there all summer, the empty tennis court, thinking it would be a perfect day to play, and shuffled through the shuffle board courts, now filled with leaves.

I crunched through the leaves loudly and reflected on week 1 and how just giving my artist permission to go wherever she wanted, artistically speaking, had led to playing with dyes, playing with clay, buying new artist toys (aka art supplies) and lowering my expectations while I try new things and learn new skills.

I considered using five of those benches and scorboards for the simple still life challenge #3 and wondered if I could frame a photo containing only 5 trees ... and saw design ideas everywhere.
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