Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Poppet Needs the Water

  It seems to me that artist types tend to think too much. 

   Without this deep examination, where would the work come from?  It's the looking outward and looking inward that creates layers and imbues the work with meaning.
The art expresses the thoughts and the expression isn't lost on the viewer, who also tends to think too much.
   The viewing is a conversation.  It's where the artist and viewer can connect on a level not accessable in any other language.  It's a private conversation and it's where we spill our guts.  It's you and me in the treehouse in the back yard, eating stolen cookies and talking in whispers about our parents and the stuff that really scares us.

This is important, I think, because it keeps us from feeling alone on these deeper levels, these places where we keep the things we don't talk about at the office.

 So thinking is valuable.  It helps us create the work that brings us together.  But what is too much?  When do we know we've gone too far?  When do we know we're out of balance?
For me, it's revealed in sleep, or lack of it.  Less dreaming, more waking.  When thinking follows me to my pillow.  

  I've seen enough news for now.  I'm starting to connect the dots.  Not good.  I'm going to tune it out for a little while.  The world will spin on and I will take to the water.  Under there, in the blue and cold, there's little but the present.     I haven't been swimming much lately.  Been too busy thinking.  But I dove in yesterday and remembered that under there, there is only being.  It's a refuge from myself. 

  What's your refuge?  How do you know when you're thinking too much?     What do you do to tune it out?   How do you manage, when you need to, to simply be?




Monday, May 21, 2012

Another View

 When I was a little kid, I used to lie on edges and look at the world upside down. 
 I'd lie on the floor and imagine the ceiling was the floor.  I liked the strangeness of it. 
Thinking about things upside down seems to be a good exercise for humans.  Our brains have rooms that seldom get explored.  They're good rooms, bigger inside than out.  When we leave these rooms, we take something with us-- perspective.
And perspective changes our world.
Silly humans!

I forget this sometimes.   I'll tell you how that works out.  Not so well.   So I made this little Poppet to remind me.   This is the sort of thing that helps me make sense of things that don't.  And it seems a really good reason to make a Poppet.

If you try some upside-down viewing, or other brain exercises, tell me about it.  I really want to know.
Have some fun.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Strange Chapter 2

   Change is a funny thing.  When I watched Can't Stop, the documentary about Conan O'Brien, I realized that I'd forgotten how much we humans are alike.  You'd think that nothing about this documentary would apply to your own experiences, and you'd be dead wrong.

Size matters not.  A very wise being has taught us.
Bigger inside than out.  Wise words from a very small other.

  While I watched, I was reminded that creative humans are driven similarly, and that the roller coaster ride of using one's craft to support one's life is difficult on every level of 'success.'    I learned some things about this firsthand in my experiences with Neil Gaiman.  Having had the opportunity to spend enough time to know the writer at work and the human at rest, along with the very human transitions that come with life.  And of grace.
Change.  It's inevitable and sometimes it's gradual.  But sometimes we get knocked over sideways by a big event, or a cascade of big events. 

 What we're really thinking about here is adaptation

  One of the things Conan talks about in the documentary is his pivotal moment- a particular morning when he woke up after months of agonizing depression and knew he'd turned a corner. I think he said something more along the line of "getting my balls back," but you  get the gist of it.  By the time I watched that documentary, I'd began to be afraid that I wouldn't be having that experience.  Don't get me wrong, I've pulled myself off the floor more than once in my life, dusted myself off.    But when things go badly for long enough, we can start to doubt that change will come, even though everything reasonable and rational dictates that indeed it will. 
  The funny thing is, when I started to know I'd turned a corner, it came very quietly.  I honestly thought it would be bigger, some fanfare for the shift.   But no.  Today I'm looking back over the past few weeks and realizing that it's been creeping up on me.  Others noticed before I did.

  I posted recently that I had the sensation that I'd walked into the ruin of a room after a party and was frozen, not knowing where to start.   I didn't realize that walking into the room was a beginning--was, symbolically - what happened after 'waking up.'

  I hesitate to post about this. What if I have a bad day?  What if that means I was wrong?  I will have a bad day.  It won't mean I'm wrong. 
  It will mean adaptation is not a straight line.

   I did eventually decide where to start.  Close to home.   It seems such a little thing, this change.  Time will tell.  But it's a start.
I want to introduce you to  Little Red Poppet.  You can add 2.0 if you like.   Or organic  if you like.  It is that, in style, with softer lines and more fluidity.  And in the materials, which are infinitely greener than resin.    (I feel good about that.) Still, always watching.
 Eliminating resin casting is a simple but  fundamental change that will free me to work
more creatively.
 This change will open the door to others. 

 Adaptation and evolution.  Poppets told us this was coming.    Your Classic Red Poppet is officially that.    And your artist is, once again, dusting off her pants and tying on her apron.
  Yes.  It's a start.  If you're feeling bogged down, do watch the documentary.  Even if you're not a fan of Conan, you may well relate to the process. You may find out you're doing exactly what you should.  And I'll keep posting so you can watch me slip and stumble through mine.   Thank you, as always, for being here. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Prepare to be Surprised

 I should likely continue with my 'summer camp' analogy.    The temperatures are moving and there's no denying that some brutal months are coming up fast.  I want to say this will be my last summer in the desert.   I'm going to operate on that theory anyway.  It might make the summer months more bearable.

So, back to that summer camp analogy.  I've had several lean years recently.  Right.  I'm in a lot of good company.  And some real relationship upsets.  Can't have everything.  I told you I've learned that a girl needs a knife.  What else have I learned?   I've learned that interesting people aren't safe and that safe people aren't interesting.  I'm fairly convinced that the best approach is to decide which one of those things you are, and which one of those things you like in others,

 because you aren't going to get both.  

I'm also fairly convinced that there's a general rubric hiding in here, about being human.    I've wasted a fair amount  of time and energy trying to change certain things about myself.   For instance, I'd like to be one of those people who has an organized closet and always knows exactly where her phone is.  I'm not.  In fact, I'm not sure where my phone is right now.   I'd also  like to be one of those artists who exudes coolness and mystery. I'm not that either.  I wear jeans and ratty old sweaters and if something truly strikes me as funny, I might smack my leg like a hillbilly.  Yeah, I know. That's hot.

  I guess what I'm trying to say here is  you can't make something(or someone) fit if it just doesn't and you can change your habits, but not your hard wiring.  Some things just are what they are.  If we can know these things and accept them in ourselves and others, we might save ourselves some real wheel spinning and disappointment.  What if that which we want, simply...isn't?  Are we sure we know what it is we want?  Are we asking the right questions?

  It seems to be a matter of being honest with ourselves  about what we value most (like safety vs challenge)  and the stuff we can't change  (like hard wiring and height) and then working the details around the edges.

  It's harder than it sounds.  But the rewards are very high.

  Still, after all these words about knowing this and accepting that, there is the unexpected.  True surprise is a rare thing.  We can understand and still have a sense of wonder.  We are, after all, bigger inside than out.   And, once in a while, it rains unexpectedly in the desert.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What I Learned in Summer Camp


 Safe and Sound

are only words until they're gone.  If we're lucky, they'll come back
 and give us another chance at understanding what they are.
Silly humans.

Every now and then I imagine myself at some later time, talking about this particular 'processing'  period.   I'm not sure when this imagined future is, but in it, I don't feel lost and most of the things I'm struggling with have been figured out.   I'm not sure when I labeled my present  as 'summer camp,' but there it is.  I can write home while I'm here, but not with perspective.  Perspective has to come on its own time.  Still, I think I'm getting somewhere with this one, about sleeping safe and sound.   I only now begin to understand what I lost when my own spaces were violated.  And how fortunate I am to be on the mend. Or even to have ever felt safe in the first place.
And I've decided, learning this, to cut myself a little slack. I'm not going to exempt this exam and I might need an extra pencil.

  Maybe you've gone through something and you're plowing through and soldiering on, assuming that functional means sanity, patting yourself on the back for being brave, for pushing your hurt aside so you can do a good job, be a good parent, finish one more project. You're determined to out-think, out-run and out-perform after a shake up. All that's admirable, but maybe not so realistic.  These unexpected life events change us profoundly and sometimes all it takes is to acknowledge their importance.  That we're change by them is part of what makes us human and that, as humans, we're going to be lost sometimes.  It's our nature.  Don't forget to be kind to yourself during the transitions.  It's when you'll need it most.  Remind yourself that you won't stay lost.  Because, you won't.



Sunday, May 06, 2012

between the between

  Between coats of paint and firing of sculptures, I had a discussion. (below)  Seemed as good a post as any I can come up with at this point.   I worked since 7:30am and I are tired.

But, last night my kid and I howled at the moon.  And today, his dad and I worked together for same such kid's well-being and education.  The good stuff,  not in the curriculum.  Schools don't tend to  teach our kids what they need.  They weren't designed to.

Don't coddle me.   If you're here, you know me.  And you know I love you. It's okay to disagree.  Another  reason this makes a good post is that it's an opportunity to share an interesting technique:  When having a disagreeable discussion, I like to imagine myself in an adorably cute sleeveless cocktail dress.  It helps keep things civil.
  Often.  Not...always. 

But mostly, because I'm tired and can't compose something better than this at the moment.  Off to get a beer and watch Game of Thrones.

*** the U.S., first and foremost it is man-made and can be removed by, the people who are actually in poverty.

  • Rashad Richardson likes this.

    • Lisa Snellings I have to disagree, though I agree poverty is man made. Many people in poverty don't have the resources to affect change of any sort.

    • Feo Amante ‎@Lisa,

      Can you give me an example?

    • Lisa Snellings A single mother, for instance, working full-time at one low wage job and part-time at another still may not earn enough to do more than survive. That life style leaves little time or energy for education or other programs that might help her rise out of poverty. A frank look at the 'working poor' can be found in the groundbreaking Barbara Ehrenreich "Nickled and Dimed."

    • Feo Amante

      ‎@Lisa Snelling,
      "A single mother, for instance, working full-time at one low wage job and part-time at another still may not earn enough to do more than survive."

      You mean, like author J.K. Rowling?

      ... I have had the good fortune to not know one single mother who was an orphan without family or friends to help her get on her feet. Of course, I've only lived for 51 years, but still, I've met an awful lot of single mothers who take care of their child/children.

    • Kris Saknussemm Really fair and statistically relevant example Feo.

    • Lisa Snellings Then the best thing I can say here is that your experience has been quite different from mine. And, I didn't at all imply that these mothers didn't take care of their children. I stated that they were unable to rise out of poverty. I'm not sure where you live, but demographics of poverty show otherwise.

    • Lisa Snellings

      I also have a great deal of personal experience. I'm educated, relatively healthy, resourceful and (I'm told) quite talented. I've worked extremely hard these last four years to pay the bills and feed us. I'm not in poverty, but even in my ...situation, I'm hard pressed to make any real forward momentum. There are a lot of myths out there about poverty. Getting at the truth requires an open mind and a lot of research past your own back yard.

    • Feo Amante

      ‎@Lisa Snellings,
      "And, I didn't at all imply that these mothers didn't take care of their children."

      I'm not saying you did. I'm only quantifying single mothers who are taking care of their children, as there are those who aren't. The ec...onomic issues between the two are very different.

      @Kris Saknussemm,
      "Really fair and statistically relevant example Feo."

      Two things to take into account, Kris.
      1. Most humans will not work hard to achieve their goals, but only achieve enough to get enough of what they want and stop. Every self-made millionaire or billionaire on the planet worked much harder than that. Because of that, the number of people who achieve their dreams, like Kris Saknussemm, are statistically irrelevant compared to everyone who dreams of being a published writer.

      2. J.K. Rowling's relevance is the fact that when I mention her, everyone on my FB knows who I am talking about. her story is not obscure.

      I can reference obscure single mothers and provide valid newslinks to them if you like?

      For example, there's Sherelle Derico, a single mother who went from poverty in Florida to becoming a millionaire.

      There's Patricia Kirtley, a single mother of five who is also partially blind. She didn't become a millionaire but even with five children, she worked hard to pull herself out of poverty. the dole helped, family and friends helped more.

      It should be noted that Patricia even adopted her ex-husbands son from another Mother, because her ex and his girlfriend chose to live in poverty and pursue a life of drugs.

      There is no statistically relevant comparison between self-made wealthy people who came out of poverty and those who stayed because most people will only work hard enough to get what they want and then enjoy their leisure time. Which is fine because it's their life.
      A viral video vaulted Ted Williams and his golden voice to fame, but the real of this story is the woman he left behind.Patricia Kirtley raised four daughters alone after Williams split 23...

    • Lisa Snellings No thanks. I'm pretty sure you've embarrassed yourself enough.

    • Feo Amante

      ‎@Lisa Snellings,
      "There are a lot of myths out there about poverty. Getting at the truth requires an open mind and a lot of research past your own back yard."

      As reality would have it, I was born and raised in poverty. We moved constantly... from one dire situation to another until my Pop finally returned to the military and got a steady paycheck. then we went from poverty to just being broke all the time. I left home long before I turned 17. Unable to finish high school, I got a GED.

      So yeah, Poverty: I have an open mind about it and I know what I'm talking about.

    • James E. Gurley Same here Feo. Poverty is caused by poor descisions - marry young, don't marry but have a kid, poor education, lack of self respect, buying what you want instead of what you need - people can get into dire staits and ned help, and I'll help, but not their grandchildren. At least people in a 3rd world country want to better themselves and know noone is going to do it but them.

    • Lisa Snellings

      Feo, of course there are notable (and admirable!) exceptions. My problem is with your broad statement that poverty can be solved by the impoverished. That simply is not true- or even rational -and not at all what Nelson Mandela intended. ... And James - though some of what you say is viable, those decision-based circumstances aren't the broad brush with which to paint all of poverty, much of which is inherited. If we take a step back, it becomes evident that it's the system that's broken, not the individuals

    • Feo Amante

      "Feo, of course there are notable (and admirable!) exceptions. My problem is with your broad statement that poverty can be solved by the impoverished. That simply is not true- or even rational..."

      The massive reasons behind poverty... cannot be distilled to the single example of single mothers. Not even when you narrow the point, as I did, to the U.S. *That* red herring is irrational, and also a fallacy argument.

      I presented evidence to support my claim. I also admit that there are far more reasons for poverty in the U.S. than simply single mothers.

      So unless you can present counter-evidence to support your claim, then you are being both untrue and irrational.

      And by the way, in a country like ours where both adoption and abortion is available for free to single low-income mothers who do not wish to keep their baby, such poverty is precisely man-made.

    • Lisa Snellings My claim is that the solution to poverty entails much more than the impoverished (inclusive of all) working harder. I may as well make a case for evolution or the super moon. I don't need to. It's already been made. I'm fairly certain that this the point where, were we having this discussion at a cocktail party, I would politely excuse myself and thank you for an interesting discussion. I vote we agree to disagree on the subject. I don't think there's a chance in hell either of us could change the other's mind.

Friday, May 04, 2012


  I've been ill for days with a sore throat and ache thing, so today, feeling a bit better, I packed Poppets and sent them on their ways with apologies for the delay.  If you're waiting for arrivals and wondering, please don't hesitate for a second to ask after them.  I'd always rather hear from you than not.
  I took a break when my son Phillip called.  We talk on Fridays and tell each other about our weeks.  He sees the world often through the same lenses I wear, so there's usually laughing.  Today was no exception.  The sky had begun to darken as we said our goodbyes.  I watched the snowy egrets soar in and circle, then finally take their positions in their nesting tree.  The crows too, coming home to the palms around the house.  I knew these weren't ravens by the shapes of their tails.   "You are a crow," I said to one, "and I love you."   And before the crows were fully settled in, the bats began to flit and flutter out of their secret places.

 The changing of the guard is different each time and always exactly the same.

  I haven't witnessed it in some time.  Before I was sick, I was busy, before that...  That it captivates me still reminds me that things out of sight are not necessarily lost.  Possibly this time I finally get it.

  Now I've come inside and opened all the windows to let the desert night whisper in.  The moon is full and glorious and at any moment the coyotes will make themselves known.  Cats and rabbits, beware.
  This might be the moment I love her most, this desert.  Finally, I know with certainty I'll leave her.

  But not today. It's the weekend and I intend to embrace it as it unfolds.

I'll introduce you to Flower, and wish you happiness until next time.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Half Day

Sore throat and body aches all day.  No playing with roots.  Sitting and working on small things.  Sipping tea and moaning and groaning occasionally.

Did get the Lady Catelyn Stark photographed, and two potential ads.  Between complaining, did a bit of writing too.  All things considered, I've had worse days.  Still,now it's  time for mandatory rest.     Silly human am I.