Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten in Twenty Ten?

Is it New Year's Eve? Indeed, it is.

I wonder if you've missed me as I've missed you. Possibly you did.

The last weeks have been for cocooning, resting, thinking, working. For listening and watching and snuggling with family. For reading and making notes and thinking some more.

For putting stuff in, so that I can bring stuff out.

It's about eleven now. The kids vowed to be up until midnight. We'll see. The chiminea is glowing outside, making a circle of warmth where tales can be told and marshmallows toasted. Like many other families, we're spending our New Year's Eve at home this year.

There is always opportunity for parties.

A few weeks ago, we decided to put out an array of bird feeders. We were rewarded in just a few days with an interesting variety of bird visitors. We were surprised when another guest appeared, apparently drawn in by the raucous bird activity.

A cat, feral and wary, sitting on our fence mostly hidden amongst the greenery, but occasionally creeping out for a closer look. And who at first would bolt at the sound of the door opening, but who now will stay put when I come outside to sit only a few feet away.

Our Mystery is thin, and so far eats every bite of any treat we leave. We tend to leave something every day. I'll not pursue, but will remain consistent, and watch and see if a relationship develops.

Indeed our eyes have met and held. Possibilities exist for more communication.

We will see.

What did I learn this year?

To wait and see what happens. That things rarely happen the way we imagine they will.

For Christmas, Aubrey gave me a copy of "Under the Dome" by Stephen King. Now I know different, but early on, when I began reading Stephen's work, I expected horror. Well sure, I got some. But what I really got was humanity. It's the humanity of his work that held me. And still does.

Ok. I like the scary too. What can I say?

This past year was a healing year for me. I struggled through most of it, finally beginning to see some light in November. I don't really need to tell you this---if you're reading this post then mostly likely you were there with me.

What I do want to say is thank you. Thank you for your insights and humor and outstanding Poppets On Tour photos. Thank you for giving homes to so many Poppets (even the unruly ones) and for glimpses into your work and your lives and your unique and surprising ideas.

Now we enter 2010. Twenty-ten. Wow. We'll all start by looking back and inside. Then looking forward and out. Then we'll see what happens. Are we 'under the dome?' Not literally but figuratively. We are all on this planet and, at least for now, it is self contained, much like a tank of sea monkeys. No help is available from outside. It's sink or swim, up to those of us who live here (will we reach 10 billion?) on the fragile surface of this tiny ball spinning fast through the cold and black and utterly unknown.

Hmm. I like the 'we' part.

I wish you every good thing for the coming year. I'm very honored to be travelling through space and time with you, through whatever will come.

Much love,

your artist

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In which Ravyn hijacks the blog, for good reason!

i just wanted to steal Lisa's blog today to wish her a very very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

i miss you!

Especially now, see?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter is settling in here in the desert.
Word has apparently spread about our backyard feeders, so that during certain parts of the day, we are Bird Central. The hummingbirds don't seem to be bothered. They have their own tree and feeder and they zip around the other birds like planes 'buzzing the tower.' We've had several days of much-needed rain. Now the mountains are dressed in winter finery.
This is the view from our back door.

I took the camera in the car with me to get photos of the snow and got this shot of Orion when I dropped him off as school.

I see him every day. Why should I be surprised when I look at the picture and see how much he's grown? But I am. When I started this blog, he was quite the tot.

And a bit of new work: "Mini's Wagon" (collab. with Benton Warren)

and "In the Land of Shadows."

I'm working, but taking time to rest and enjoy winter.
In the car, I heard the soundtrack for "Moon." I was unfamiliar with the movie. Don't know how I missed it,!

Now I truly want to see the movie and will be ordering the soundtrack for myself. Yay!

Have you seen it? If so, tell me about it.

Now for hot chocolate and some reading or television.

New work on Ebay!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Part the Four: Knowledge of all kinds is valuable. If you're new to this blog, welcome. Here's my disclaimer, repeated just for you: I was asked by WFS attendees to make my lecture available in print somewhere. I told them I'd put it here. This is sort of an abridged version, as you know I tend to take small side trips in all directions when I'm on a topic. But the gist of it is intact. It's a lot of material, so I decided to divide it into the segments, as in the program. and
Everything said from here on is based on observation and not research (unless otherwise stated.) I’m not advising. I'm no expert. You go on and do whatever the hell you want to do. You’re going to anyway. Or possibly you ‘re way ahead of me. Possibly you already know everything I have to say. In that case, bask in the affirm
ation and enjoy the pretty pictures. That’s what they’re here for. In December I’ll have been a professional artist for 20 years. I’m a self-taught artist. If someone asked me to sum up what the experience has taught me (and occasionally people do), I’d say something like the following:

I'm fully capable of skinning a catfish. (It required two sets of pliers, a knife, and a bit of tenacity.) I can also crochet a beautiful and delicate doily from fine cotton thread.

Now, it's not likely I'll ever use these skills, but I like having them, and they don't take up much room in my brain. In fact, they probably sit quite comfortably with all sorts of other stuff I'm not likely to use, like how to extract chromosomes from a few milliliters of blood and how to play Liszt's Rhapsody No. 2--though I don't play it as well as Bugs Bunny.

I'm a fierce autodidact. I tend to collect this sort of stuff. It's not a terrible hobby. I had to work harder at it when I was a kid. No internet. I had to actually go to the library. My dad always drove me on Saturdays. He didn't go inside. He'd sit outside and smoke cigarettes and wait for me.

But he took me because it mattered to me. That it mattered to me made it matter to him. He was a good dad.

Now I have the internet. I don't have the brain speed I had at 15, but self-teaching keeps it in fairly good shape. It hasn't made me better at finding my reading glasses. That's a different set of skills, one which I seem to lack, despite efforts made.


Knowledge. Stuff we learn. Stuff we might ignore because it falls under our 'need to know' radar. It's good stuff.

My formal education is scientific.
My real jobs were in laboratories, clean rooms, morgues.
Aside from a drawing class in college, I'm a self-taught artist.
I learn a lot from reading textbooks and manuals.
I learn a lot from reading fiction.
I learn a lot by watching.
I learn more by watching differently.
I learn a lot by quietly thinking about things I see.
I learn a lot by trial and error.
I learn a lot by completely fucking things up.

All the stuff we learn goes into our 'soup.' Some of it floats right on top, in plain view. Skills we use regularly. Some of it is without substance. It's flavor, an interpretation of lessons past learned, the essence of information--the stock.

What did I tell you? You can't go wrong with a soup metaphor. It's all in there.

I make custom- fitted mold boxes from which I make molds of originals. I make them from Lego blocks. There's no waste, nothing to throw out. I just take them apart when I'm done. When I know the size I need, I can outline it, and Orion can build the boxes for me.

(Now he has another weird application for his collection.)

I learned to make these mold boxes by watching a documentary on paleontology on the Discovery Channel.

I learned an awful lot about construction and cathedrals from Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth.

Once, at a cocktail party, a man said this to me, "I never read fiction---you can't learn anything from it."
What a gul-a-bull! What a maroon! You couldn't have paid me enough to sleep with that idiot, I don't care how much his suit cost.

The list of what I've learned from fiction is at least as long as the list of what I've learned from every other source.

School is crap. The model of school is archaic and the curriculum is rudimentary. School mostly teaches kids to walk in line and to follow a schedule very much like that of modern prisons.
It's of paramount importance to teach kids how to research. How to find what they're looking for, and to teach them a love of reading of books of any form---print or electronic.

Orion, at seven, knows how to use Google. It's not much, but it's a start.

By definition, a good education is to know everything about your chosen subject, and a little bit about everything else.

I don't know everything about art, but I know everything there is to know (so far) about my own art, and the craft required to produce it. I'm still working on the little bits about everything else. As always and as everyone else, I will always hope my best work is ahead of me. I'll always look forward to new discoveries. I intend to continue to read and geek out to the science channel at every opportunity.

Learn. Read. Your time won't be wasted. I've been surprised so many times when some obscure bit has solved a contemporary problem. The stuff is in there. It's part of your Soup. Make it rich and it will sustain you.

As always, I welcome and enjoy your comments and discussion. Thank you.

---your artist

Our Winter sale is going on right now on Etsy and Ebay. We'll be adding new art all week.