Saturday, October 30, 2010

Beware the Wheel, it's a trap, for sure

I tend to see mornings as series of hurdles and hoops. I don't know when it started--possibly when Phillip (my oldest) was a tot. But likely way before. I remember waking in the dark in my parent's house, making coffee and toast quietly, fumbling in the pockets of my scrubs before heading to the hospital at 5am, cursing myself for not working at McDonald's like my friends still sleeping in their warm beds. Moving through the familiar steps until I woke up where I needed to be, which then was the basement morgue.
I called my friend David. "Is it too early for you?" I asked him. He told me it wasn't and that the only times he could find any peace were very late at night and very early in the morning. "But," I said, "those are pretty much the same time." He agreed.

Right. So I jump these hurdles, moving fast through mornings to get to the 'real work' before the sun burns all the color from the sky. Tasks completed, hurdles cleared, I grab another cup of coffee, tie on my apron and 'begin again.' Now, I'm awake. So...what was I then?
Sometimes the hurdles last all day. Sometimes it seems my whole life is made up of 'have to's.' Some days go by in a blur, all but forgotten in the next.

The most important casualty here might be passion. Where do our desires wait while we're running our daily races? Certainly hidden from those around us. Ideas, revelations and joy are no more than a trail of bread crumbs, blown away or eaten by thoughtless creatures, gone before the trail could lead anyone to us. How often is it that we investigate our parents' cases after they're gone, to discover our impressions of them are mere sketches of the living, breathing, passionate people we never knew. They were whole, in all the ways we ourselves are.

Did I have a meaningful conversation yesterday? Did I marvel at something I'd never seen before? Did I speak to my children about some thing in the world that makes me angry? Did I take any action to change that thing? Do I even remember yesterday?

A few weeks ago I made a small change in my routine. I get up 15 minutes earlier. I go outside and sit on the little penninsula over the pool. It's a quiet spot where I can see the mountains and feel the air, where the sound of the water covers distractions. I sit or kneel there. It's not prayer and it's not meditation. Some people might call it 'centering' but even that would be generous. Mostly I'm sitting there without a clue what to think. But what I am doing is showing up. At this point, it's both the least and the most I can do.

Possibly this simple act is a symbol. I'm here. I'm present. Like Poppet's wake up? It's too early for me to understand how this is working, but I can at least tell you that, somehow,

When I know more, I'll tell you. If you've had experience with this, tell me, and the others that visit here.

True enough, this 'stuck on the wheel' is a problem created by the machinations of modern society. True enough, anything I say here could likely be reduced down to something that would fit on a button. Still, if I've learned anything since I started writing here, it's that language is limited and that human beings still don't understand each other. In other words (pun intended) many different translations are needed. The one I offer is one of millions and, if we're lucky, writer and reader, it's the one that works for you...occasionally.

I'm off to make art, that today, will be another way of saying what I wrote here.

To my friends at the Rally to Restore Sanity, YAY FOR YOU! Hope you took your Poppet. Have a great time and be loud. To the rest of us I say, VOTE. Don't expect others to speak for you. They won't.
I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great Saturday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I am here. And you.

Oct 21
Morning. Signing the bottoms of Poppets. Catching up, finally, with orders waiting for my return from Baltimore, sending some out with apologies and gifts to wonderfully patient collectors. The light is interesting today through the remainder of storm clouds drifting away en masse, like some grand exodus. Giants fleeing the sun that, glaring, reminds us that we circle round it. Drawn to this brilliance that governs us and sustains us, knowing it will someday consume us.
Sheesh. Must everything be a story? The words are a ringing bell today.
The noise.
The Noise.
Right. The words we humans mutter to ourselves at the rate of 300 to 1000 per minute. Oh yes. We do.
Is this madness? The short answer, MOO.

ok. just kidding. It's Mu, or something like it. The answer to a Zen koan that can't be answered simply. Because the question of madness can't easily be answered with a yes or no.

I don't know how many of my peers fight the endless mental drivel. Artists, writers, other creative types of humans tend to be isolated from others of the same ilk. Who has the time for comparing notes? If we have time, we're creating, because of or in spite of the endless chatter in our heads. So I don't know if other creatives struggle with this flood of thoughts and ideas that won't let up. And I don't care, because what difference would it make?

So I'm painting poppets and thinking about them fondly, knowing that I won't be spending many more days like this one.

Scared? You bet.

Saturday--whatever date this is--23rd? right. I copied the entry above word for word from my notebook. Would've scanned it but asking you to read the handwriting would just be cruel. True, it sounds a little cryptic. I don't mean to, it's just the way I write notes. I copied it here because I wanted you to be with me as I make this change, for good or worse. After all, that's why I started writing here, isn't it?
Trips to Madcon and to the museum ate up the month and I came home knowing that I'd turned a corner. It's time to work on books. I'm clearing the way now. I've just put a lot of art on Ebay. What doesn't sell there will be sent out to convention shows. I'll be putting more art up, clearing the space in my painting studio (which became a catch-all for art) and space in my head.
It's been over seven years since I made the first Poppet. I know! I can't believe it myself! But there it is. It's time to explore their 'bigger inside than out.'
I hope, I hope, I hope you'll come with me.

Poppet collectors---
Don't worry. I'll still make Poppets, just not so many at once. There will also be prints and other art. So much waiting patiently for me while I make Poppets all day.
I can't make Poppets all day any more.
Later Poppets are very likely to come back in force, though not so many will have my signature on the bottoms. That's actually good news for your Poppets. They will be extra special.

I'm stepping off. This is a leap of faith for sure. I don't know what's coming, just that something is. It's the real-time, here and now, without the perspective that time will allow. I don't know what lessons will be learned. I may fail miserably. I may find something astounding. But I'm turning this corner now. Later on maybe I'll look back at this entry and hopefully, you will be there and...

(you know what I'm going to say) it will be like time travel.

My stat counter hasn't worked in forever. I have no idea if there are 20 or 200 of you. But thank you. I said I'd keep you posted along the way through thick and thin. (another soup metaphor. Told you--you can't beat a soup metaphor.) I'll do my best.

That said. the first thing Poppets told me is that it all started with the Crows.
Secretly, it feels like, maybe, I knew that all along. Hmm. Maybe you did too.

warm wishes to you, dear friends, and g'night.

As promised, prints are available now, on Etsy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clean. Next step, stop.

Orionids will be visible this week.

Since last post--I followed my plan and spent a couple of hours cleaning the painting studio. I finished my cleaning, feeling quite satisfied with myself. My tables looked like the tables of an artist both professional and sane. Immediately, I was hit with a grand case of the fuck-its.
Possibly my efforts were too little, too late. At any rate, the space wasn't going anywhere.
So I napped. Then I caught up on missed shows, read several short stories from the Haunted Legends anthology from Tor.

I think the Pat Cadigan story might be my favorite.

So, in a nutshell---I prepared myself for working, and listened to the fuck-it fairy, who is apparently smarter than me.
Today was dark and rainy all day. We all enjoyed it. And now Spencer's brought me some delicious-looking thing that smells like vanilla and nutmeg. So I'm off to watch the clouds cross the moonlight and Jupiter knowing full well that they'll show up in the work to come.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

A short report from the front

Found my tape measure. Soosi may hang there until I try to pick it up, then she'll jump on my head. Isn't it just fitting that I'd pick a cat that appears to be insane and can fly?

This winter Poppet sculpture completed for Worlds of Wonder.

--with a Poppet for scale.

Now the daunting list of things still to be done and little time to regroup and recover. The near-panic that follows.

The blog is a strange animal. It forces us to share in 'real time,' without the benefit of time and perspective. So, I won't try to do more than account.

Today is for putting lessons into practice. Sounds simple enough, but knowing something and living that something are vastly different actions. I've managed to answer a lot of questions about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I know the work I want to do. I understand it finally,enough to create it.
Possibly, finally understanding what we want is more difficult than searching for it. And more frightening. Now we begin to see the cost, the choices, the risks, the potential for failure--all those things just ghosts without the objective we desire in sight.
Now defined, the road is cluttered with obstacles and odd turns, foxes and saboteurs ready to ambush. I continue stumbling toward the light, just like every other self-aware creature. Just like you. Proverbs come to mind, about narrowing paths.

So. Now what? What now? Today? Steps. Maybe even just a few, but chosen well. Today, I keep things simple. I choose the tasks that can reasonably be done today-- simple tasks--and I focus on those. One such is re-ordering a workspace thrown into chaos by two exhibits and production deadlines. I won't throw myself into it--it's not a volcano and I'm not a virgin. Instead I'll give it two hours of focused attention. I'll employ my mother's technique, "handle each item only once." So simple, so effective. I'll exercise my ability to focus only on the task at hand. Music will help. I know myself. In two hours I can find an invitation to make good art under the mess.

A simple thing, yes? But I know that this simple action will clear my mind and restore the physical space. I can't work well without respecting both the mental process of creating and the skills and tools required. Who can? You know the answer.

I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pics from AVAM weekend

Still catching up, but here are the photos Nora and I managed to get of the AVAM 15th Anniversary activities and various moments between.

The flight out was The Red Tree, by Caitlin Kiernan. I especially appreciated Caitlin's voice here, rereading passages more than once, for edges both sharp and silky. I hope to work with Caitlin soon.

Baltimore skies.

I could say a lot about the museum, but it's already done here. So I'll say only that it's playful in layers and levels. It made me want to make things to play on, and more.
out front, raincoat, clever bus with unfortunate fowl.

mosaics offer twisted reflections.

This artist (will add link) talks about the motorcycle she and her husband made from great junk.
Press makes the Ticket Taker nervous. "One crime at a time," he says. I'm not convinced.
The docents were wonderfully tolerant of the artists. They gave us bagels, but no forks. They know better.
Rides. Art. Machines, systems, dynamics, humans, physics, coffee. It's always something.

Poppet informs us that, though it was interesting to see two humans jump into action, climb over furniture and contort themselves to get this shot, this is not, in fact, The Favorite Hat. The Favorite Hat remains a mystery.

Harold, sleeps one off on Nora's deck. Give him a break. As squirrels go, he's fairly dependable.

Beak kisses are different from lip kisses, but good in their own way. Thyme gave me kisses. I gave him ice cream.
Nora and I visited Howard and Jane Frank. We had a lovely dinner and great conversation. They are charming and engaging as always and we ended up with just this one photo of 'Cutie Pie' (a bit of Rocky in the blue) because after a while, the camera was forgotten in the company.
The child in me cannot pass up a forced perspective. Still, the strangest thing about this photo is the sign (click to enlarge) announcing karaoke bowling.

Everything about this photo works for me.

Center position. An honor and a suck.
Nora's look of striking satisfaction.
Falling leaves, cool air, gurgling streams far from the desert.

So good to spend real time with my 'sister.'

I meet Ravynesque, who shyly introduces me to Gallant.

And then, I spot Zane. Handsome, handsome Zane.

Not sure we got each other's jokes,

but he did kiss me goodbye.

Exhibit night. Very little time for photos, but Nora managed to get a few.

John Cmar and Laura Burns. Reconsidering the whole bang thing. I look a bit like Katey Sagal's less interesting sister.

Rebecca Hoffberger, Matt Groening and Gary Panter.

Some of my work in the exhibit:

I love the egg. The egg wobbles.

Mimi Ko. So very happy to see her, not nearly enough time.

Same for Adrienne Reynolds (below) and Joe Ward. (Please send photos!)

And Nora and me, well after midnight.

There were other friends there, including Joe and Rebecca Bushong-Taylor. Was so lovely to see them, I hope photos of them from other cameras will be added soon.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

cloudy with rumors of stories

Zen Poppet--photo from Adrienne Reynolds

Soosi follows Orion everywhere.
I'm having coffee at my desk. Earlier I made eight cheese sandwiches and a huge pot of Chinese noodles. Washed a mountain of black grapes. Poured cups of Sunny D. Lunch is served. This house is full of children today. Damn you, innocuous Netflix!
I wore my painting apron throughout, and a paint-stained and faded cotton t-shirt. The apron is to protect my jeans and because it's damned handy. In between kids and Soosi-who-is-Legion, I touch up and sign Poppets that will be sent away next week.
What I really want to do is sleep, but the list is long at the moment. Mostly it's the weather. Cozy as home, warm and humid, clouds and showers. Part of me will always live in South Carolina. Outside, the kids are splashing in the pool, made magical by rain. It's a happy sound and today I don't have to be in the water to enjoy it.

I'll leave for Baltimore on Tuesday. Press stuff and docent meetings on Wednesday, opening party on Friday. See AVAM. If you're there, please look for me. I'd love to see you.

coffee's gone. Your artist is full of art and stories. Poppets have been busy, for sure. I'm a little nervous. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Once, as One

Painting helped. As I said, I'm learning to better follow my own advice. This time, that sometimes it's the right choice to let all else go and make the image in my head. I've waited a long time for Poppets to tell me their story. I'd be foolish not to listen. And too, it was good to get away.

Hope you like it. Prints will be available soon.