a Tiny description

a full time artist, stepmother, radio personality, and mom to an energetic Chug dog, tries to get through the days without committing a felonious act. My life is a rickety Zen circus.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

about art

so for the past year, i've been thinking about art....i should have been creating art, but my muse seems to have gone on an extended vacation. i got caught up in the "business" of art - making wearable art for the masses, in particular. i have thousands of dollars of silk from China, dyes from California, wool roving from Australia, and no inclination to do anything with it. from time to time, i'd churn out some very nice hand-dyed scarves, or felted wool scarves, and local boutiques would pay top dollar for them. but there is this wonderful, important expression rambling around inside me and i'm not able to bring it forth. that's normal for me to an extent - you catch an inkling of an idea out of the corner of your mind's eye, then WHOOSH! it's gone. but experience has taught that if you keep quiet and wait, it'll tentatively show it's face again, one shy step at a time, creeping toward you like a stray cat after the kibble you hold. then, when you have confidence in it - that it won't thrash you with it's claws and bolt, you quickly sketch out the basics - wash it off a little, and get rid of the fleas and mud - rhetorically speaking. after you have the basic form, it's time to develop it's character - it's art now i'm speaking of, in case i got too "out there" to follow. fiber? wood? metal? plaster? what material will best show the intent - the message - the expression - of this work? the end result, after months of birthing, may not look anything like that original sketch, or may remind you of that 1st vaporous thought - only in intention. a tree becomes a figure of a woman. a figure of a woman becomes a shoe. whatever the result, you proclaim it art and move back to the quiet place, kibble in hand, to await the next gift from the muse. 2 summers ago, the art came fast and furious and fabulous. i couldn't finish one project fast enough to start the 2nd and 3rd and 4th. i wondered then if my art was art, since there was no suffering - no pangs of birth. just free-flowing and furious. i guess "furious" may be the best description. that was cataloged in my mental file cabinet as "the angry summer." i was angry that i was working at a dead-end job that was mind-numbing. supervisors casually following people to the bathroom to be sure they weren't actually taking 2 minutes to catch their breath from the heavy phone volumes. a gulag of a place. the money - well, that was the golden handcuff. every friday, they took a little tiny piece of your soul in exchange for the coin. when 20 out of 100 people are out on extended leave for stress-related problems, well, ya gotta scratch your head. then beat feet. so i was angry that i was 47 years old, had given up my house, my comfortable life, my time, my studio, my autonomy, to marry a wonderful man with 2 part-time children. looking back, it was more a merging of incomes for him, i believe. the details would bore you, and make me look like a whiny-baby, so i'll spare you . sometimes the right brainer does not need the left brainer to complete them. sometimes, the right brainer does just fine. and -gasp- sometimes a person is complete all on their own! so, back to the point - i was angry that i was being shoved, unwittingly and unwillingly, into a box made to fit someone who cared deeply about a clean house, and knew how to make pot roast, and got all the laundry done (including folding and put-aways) in the same day, and thought car pools were wonderful, and made after-school snacks, and got manicures and wore size 4 and somehow managed to make it to all the kids' activities and ...AND work a full time job that brought in buckets of money. it was a tight fit. i had gained weight, and was no longer a size 4. i can't cook, nor do i have the desire to learn. God caused the invention of frozen dinners and restaurants to come to fruition - i would partake of His bounty. my single-girl grocery shopping consisted of: 5 frozen dinners, some tuna, bread, mayo, dog food, and a carton of cigarettes. bam. done and home - 30 minutes max, microwave humming, paintbrush or sewing machine flying - multitasking - making dinner and making art all at once. quality of life? you betcha! for it was the art that drove me. it was the birthing of an idea, a concept, an expression. to see it take form under my hand - ohhh. the sweet angony. but that changed when the anger entered. see, like animals, creativity recognizes the negative. i know - most artists you learn about in school are depressed or angry, cutting off ears or yearning after a love that can't possibly be returned in kind. but it only when you get to that sweet spot - that zone - can the chaos clear - even for a second, even just an eye in a tornado - only then can the muse peek through and reach you. the thunderclouds in my mind were so thick and tall that that was not possible. so i made "production art." unsatisfying at it's best. and i quit my job. oh - a shift in the paradigm. (i have no idea what that means, but have always wanted to use it conversationally. forgive me). since i was home all day, scrubbling about with my bathrobe on, working on my so-called hobbies, then the xpectations were kicked up a notch. i was now official taxi driver, and things that were once appreciated were now expected and swift derision followed if the goal was not met (that soggy half-cooked meatloaf was once quite the family chuckle, now thrown across the kitchen figuratively). during my semi-annual physical (i say semi because, like most women, it had been a few years. we tend to put others 1st and then don't have time to take care of ourselves) my dr says maybe i should try an anti-depressant. i'm thinking more of an extended vacation, but i'm too worn out to fight, so i begin popping "mothers little helpers" as the song says. a glorious numbing sets in. no lows. no worries. just a nice moderate straight line to calm. HOWEVER - no highs. no creative chaos. no bursting-with-enthusiasm-can't-wait-to-hit-the-studio. it was great for the family. anice predictable day. they are people in need of routine. i was an emotional zombie. i stopped popping the chemical leash, and attempted to return to my life, previously scheduled and in progress. what they don't tell you (or maybe the print was too small for these old eyes) is that lingering side effects may occur - memory problems (not like BAD memories, but like "now how the hell do i get home" memories.). and concentration issues - like - i am going to create....now what was I doing? too much effort to sketch. my muse got sick and tired of me and left. recently i saw a mixed media piece i'd made for my brother, and marveled at it. i didn't even recognize it as my work for a few minutes. i couldn't believe i had created that piece. so now, 2 years later, i will once again, re-invent myself. or maybe just dredge through the ruins, pick out the salvagable, shine it up, and put it on the mantle. i am waht i am, says popeye. no truer words have been spoken by man. i burned the size 4 box, i will no longer accept mediocrity as a way of being. i will be/do/say what i want, when i want, unless it will cause harm or detriment to another's psyche - but not hold back at the cost of my own. a quote from Fried Green Tomotoes (great movie if you "get it").....I AM TAWANA! figuratively speaking. better yet - i am me. and that's not such a bad thing! my loves, my losses, my disappointments, my great moments have all rolled into a fabulous life after all. the bad just highlights the good even better. you don't notice the sun so much in a clear blue sky day, but after a thunderstorm, when the sun peeks out from behind a cloud - 1 ray at a time....is there nothing more beautiful? so rather than whine about how disappointed i am in my life/marriage/home life, maybe i should take a second to apologize to my muse for boring her with the unimportant-after-all-is-said-and-done stuff, sit quietly with some kibble in my mental hand, and get ready for some great art to explode on me. i'll let you know how it goes.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should write a book. Your use of words is amazing, I felt you.
Thank you.......K

HollyKNY said...

Quick note for now - I agree with K, you should write a book. Also, what struck me reading about your past few years is that there are many artists who can create during those turbulent/depressing/angry/whatever times. Then there are the other types, like me, who have to be "in the mood" to create. Never been the type to fling paint angrily on canvas, for example, or do collages about female angst. But many do, can, and love it. Sounds like you fall into the "not happy - can't create" boat as well.