Nov 092011
 

I’ve been a bit more quiet than usual, as you might’ve noticed. Mostly I’ve been recovering and trying to get things back together after last month’s show. The current decorative motif in the studio is Hoarder Nouveau. I’ve been attempting to shovel out. For a while I thought I was making good progress. I now don’t feel like I’m making good progress. It’s pretty hard to do anything in there at the moment.

However, last week I decided @#$% it, and managed to move enough piles aside to make room for a little paste painting. I’d come across an interesting set of scraper/spatula things at a store that were, the package said, for the kitchen. (Really–are you going to scrape dough and not paint with something that looks like that?) I also recently found some interestingly shaped toothbrushes and a square wire whisk. I’ve been wanting to try out my new toys tools.

 (Clean and unused) cat litter pans of water are great for wetting sheets of paper.

I like to work on a sheet of plexiglass. The white surface you see underneath is a super absorbent incontinence pad. It was a gift from a friend, who told me they’re wonderful for when her kids paint and do messy things. She’s right–it makes cleanup easier and keeps all the nasty stuff off my cutting mat underneath. This has been a very thoughtful gift.


A square wire whisk was new for me. This definitely has possibilities. This is painted on Tyvek.

 

Toothbrushes.

 

This one was made with miscellaneously shaped cut-outs of sticky-backed fun foam mounted on a rolling pin. After it was dry, a second layer with a comb was added.

 

This was originally done with a fat grouting comb and a golden color that I didn’t like so much (nothing against the tool–I just didn’t like the paper). Then I went over it again with a different color, and liked the result even less. So most recently I went at it a third time with a thin rubber comb pattern and a different color. Now I like it.

I added some more to a paste paper set on Flickr.
Jul 012011
 

Some of my blogging friends have been doing things like Worktable Wednesdays or finding other thematic days to highlight their studios. I thought I’d join in. Muddled Monday came to mind, but it’s not Monday. Disarray Daily is more all-purpose. Although Freaked Out Friday might’ve worked as well.

I need to get stuff done. I have a show headed toward me. Thanks to my various maladies, I feel muddled and very, very tired. Pretty much all the time. I have been doing things, but not finishing much of anything. I have quite a few half-made prototypes and projects. I keep telling myself this is good — better than no projects at all! Still.

I decided that I need to pick one thing and focus on it as best as I can. Just start working through the list. First up is a flag book called You’re Not Paranoid. I made one similar to it a couple of years ago, and decided to make a more polished small edition. This is my prototype copy. I took Karen Hanmer’s advice and used a heavier weight paper for the flags than the spine. This ensures a satisfying tactile experience when opened.

A few other things in the pipeline: a small edition foldout book about germs with petri dish covers; a Board Book for Bored Children that will require a disclaimer that, no, I’m not really suggesting children play with matches or bleach etc; a book about memory made with a dollhouse window in a box (still being assembled); and an accordion consisting of layers of transparencies. Still not started, but being contemplated, is something with a skeletons in the closet theme. And I haven’t forgotten the vending machine minis, although I haven’t been able to do much with them at the moment. I feel overwhelmed.

The pages will actually all be connected, accordion-like and attached to the petri dish.

Transparencies layered with dry mount adhesive. This is becoming more complicated than anticipated.

Really kids, don’t try this at home.

Most of these projects keep winding up piled on my table. Often all at the same time.

Reminds me . . . years ago a friend came to visit. He was a sculptor whose work emphasized open space and clean lines. After sitting down in my studio, he began to look noticeably uncomfortable. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. He needed to go outside.

My workspace gave him a panic attack.

Jun 252011
 

http://www.says-it.com/safety/index.php

With grateful thanks to Buechertiger, I discovered that my blog feed was messed up without me knowing it. The new feed was working on my end and sporadically working elsewhere, so I didn’t realize that others were having a problem. It used to work. I’m not sure what happened — possibly it had something to do with the forward that I have set up from the old blog. Whatever it was, I’m grateful to my persistent friend for leading me to dealing with it.

Unfortunately, in spite of trying to do it without dumping everyone, the only way I was able to get everything working right in the end was to start over. ARGH!! My growing list of deeply appreciated followers is now . . . gone. Blogger misery and isolation.

I do realize I’m trying your patience at this point over this @#$%! blog move, but please, I’m hoping you’ll find it in your hearts (and that you’ll find that, on the whole, I’m more entertaining than annoying enough) to resubscribe, even if you just did after the move. This really should be the last time. Thank you very much. And now please excuse me while I go pound my head against the wall.

My answering machine says that I’ve been abducted by aliens again and when the probing is finished, I’ll return the call. Moving this blog has, at times, really felt like. . . never mind.

I’ve been thinking about caution signs. I’m currently working on an edition of flag books that has some inside. Not showing aliens, but surveillance cameras. A peek is coming soon.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a paper crafts story. I have a surveillance camera in my studio, aimed over my worktable. It’s actually just a paper model designed by Kenn Munk that came with the book Papercraft: Design and Art with Paper. But the weird thing is, even though I glued it together and put it there, I found myself, in the first few weeks it was there, frequently looking up at it with a vague sense of unease, as if it were real. I’ve noticed that people quietly eye it when they come in. Interesting.

Dec 202010
 
Purposeful studio chaos.

I threatened to someone that I would post a picture of my work table. Now I’m getting around to it.

Along with it, some background. It’s been an interesting time. I have a show coming up next year, and need to be productive in the studio. I also have been dealing with health matters that make that difficult. I used to spend a lot of time cutting paper and creating intricate collages. Over the last decade or so, it became impossible to continue doing that.

Getting a diagnosis has been a long struggle. One neurologist years ago told me that my problem was that I was an artist. He informed me that the same “fantastical imagination” that allowed me to create my artwork would lead me to have “a fantastical interpretation of my bodily sensations.” This neurologist also, by way of emphasizing how funny and crazy we artistic types are, told me that one of his patients was the musician and painter Don Van Vliet, popularly known as Captain Beefheart, who, incidentally, lived in my small town and died just a few days ago at the local hospital. To emphasize his point, the neurologist, while laughing, impersonated Don’s distinctive Multiple Sclerosis-related movement difficulties with what I’m sure he thought was a comic flourish. I didn’t know Don, but had heard that he had a reputation for fiercely defending his privacy. We wild and funny artistic types.

I was also told that I’d caused my painful problems myself through my artwork (too much fine hand motion, even though I had other symptoms that clearly had nothing to do with my arm pain). I am now careful to avoid mentioning art to medical people, lest it bias my care.

I could spend several web pages detailing cruelties from doctors and others. A friend once laughed at me and made it clear she thought I was a contemptible hypochondriac. Others haven’t said it to my face, but I suspect they’ve thought it.

This past week has been bittersweet. I finally found a decent specialist out of town. I now have a name to put to this (it’s basically M.S.). It’s degenerative, but the decline won’t be all that quick. But I can shelve any fantasies I might’ve still been harboring that things will get better.

I recently started a new medication that has helped with some of the more distressingly mind-numbing symptoms. A few days after starting it, I had a sudden urge to pull out some of my old collage things, including a little 4 x 6″ picture I hadn’t worked on in almost 6 years. The picture above is my chaotic worktable when I had it out. It was wonderful to be immersed in my old work again. My recent trip put a damper on my stamina, but I’m hoping to get back to it. I’ve also been working on some book-related projects (pictures to come).

I’m always torn over how much I should post about medical things. There is a sense that one should maintain one’s privacy, and other people’s medical problems are boring. On the other hand, I don’t like that vague feeling of stigma. Being ill or having a disease isn’t a source of shame. I’ve also long been using my experiences with the medical establishment as creative fodder. I can’t pretend this aspect of my life doesn’t exist.

Product of creative fodder?
(As I wrote out those last few lines there was a sudden massive flash of lightning and a thunderclap outside the window. A sign?)
Jun 162010
 

I’ve been rereading one of my favorite art books, Drawing the Landscape by Chip Sullivan. Its intended audience, I believe, is aspiring landscape designers and architects who want to learn to draw, which wouldn’t include me. But I love street views and maps, and this book is so quirky and full of good advice. It’s hard not to like an art book—one meant to be used as a textbook, no less—that tells you that a proper art studio needs to include a comfortable place for reading and napping. “Perhaps a couch with a bookshelf nearby.” He then goes on to describe napping and reading as essential parts of the creative process. I hadn’t looked at it in a long while, and was surprised to realize it even included a few examples of book art at the end. He cites his earliest artistic influence as Mad Magazine.

I’ve been going through one of those physical periods of frustration where I haven’t been able to do much. Rereading a favorite old book like this has been like comfort food.

From the section on the creative process:

“There is a certain degree of magic and mystery to creativity, but if you understand the process, it may come easier. First, you must be open and receptive to your imagination. Creativity is not one of those things that comes effortlessly; it is not instantaneous. It takes a lot of work, and artists strive for it constantly. Creativity is 90 percent hard work and intense preparation. Ideas implanted in your mind linger for a long time; they’re nurtured, then explode into a burst of creative energy. . . The creative flow is very much intertwined with perseverance.” (My artist friend Joan also blogged about this very thing a while back.)

A practical consideration is how does an artist persevere to create when lacking in physical stamina and fighting off other forms of physical limitation? But I keep trying to actively feed my head with ideas. Favorite books are good nourishment.

Pictured: The couch in my studio, which is actually a covered plastic love seat. The framed print above the road sign pillows is an example of Joan’s artwork. The deer crossing sign next to them is papier maché.

Jan 012010
 

This doesn’t have anything to do with paper or art. But since I started this blog nearly a year ago mentioning the black widows in my studio, I thought I’d kick off the new year with another black widow in the studio story. Yesterday afternoon I reached behind my cutting table to grab a piece of cardboard. Suddenly, a you-know-what was scurrying toward my hand.

Mercifully, she then turned and ran like hell in the other direction. Still, one does not want to be holding a piece of cardboard with a startled black widow running around on it. I caught her and put her outside.  I imagine she’s left some cousins and sisters and maybe an egg sack or two behind. They hide well.

So I was amused to run across this old story on the BBC today. They’re so common around here. Apparently, they are quite a rare sensation when they show up in Wales.

700 eggs in the egg sack?

Dec 142009
 

Finally, I’ve been able to spend a little bit of time here and there in the studio. After a longish period of not being able to do much, I’m trying to get caught up on some projects. For one, I’m completing a couple more copies of the Literary Cure (pictured at right). This particular small edition seems to be developing a following. I hadn’t realized that the concept of literature as pharmaceutical would resonate so well with others.

Here are some mini book blocks drying while clamped in small clothespins. They will be trimmed down and have covers added later.

Then they will eventually be put in capsules. Here’s another example of what the finished encapsulated books  look like.

There are also little book-like items with printing on them that are clamped and drying with the others (in the picture before last). They are miniature prescription pads for a pharmaceutical shrine I’m finishing up.

This is a sneak peek through one open side. Better pics of this will appear in a few days, hopefully photographed well enough so that you’ll be able to appreciate the gold-leafed interior and offerings.

And while I’m at my messy worktable, I’ll show a couple of my favorite tools that are sitting here. Top left is an ergonomically shaped teflon folder. It makes folding papers so much easier. The blue item is my British scalpel handle, which makes grasping the scalpel easier. In general, I prefer working with scalpels rather than craft knives.

More soon as things progress . . .

Sep 112009
 

One night as I was flailing with gunk-covered hands for some freezer paper or waxed paper or some such, inspiration struck. The resulting roll holder has worked so well, I thought I’d post pictures. The whole thing hangs down from underneath the side of a table, so it doesn’t take up any space.

There was also already a nail above, and that turned out to be perfect for holding a letter-opener type cutting implement, which is great for slicing off pieces of freezer paper.

The green stuff on the tabletop in the first picture is some used stencil material. It doesn’t have anything to do with storing rolls of waxed paper. As I say to every visitor, don’t mind the mess!

Mar 072009
 

Much to my amazement, we didn’t find many black widows in the studio the other day, but instead found all kinds of other things that had fallen behind furniture and storage boxes.

Cleaning my work space feels as futile as going down to the beach and attempting to bail and organize the Pacific, but I guess one has to start somewhere. Part of the problem is that I sometimes do use things like leftover packaging and scraps of paper, so I can rationalize having things like that around. But one needs limits.      

I discovered a while ago that those 3-tiered plastic bin organizing things designed for kids’ bedrooms are useful for messy, visually-minded artists. I’ve had one for a while and have grown fond of it. I keep rulers, inks, glues, small toys (for assemblages, of course), etc in it, and it works great. I like having things out in the open where I can grab at them.

                      
Mar 052009
 

Several of these ladies share my studio (which is a converted garage) with me. I have nothing against them. They don’t actually bother me much (I like spiders). However, given that black widows like to live and hide behind boxes, and that my studio is filled with . . . er, boxes, I’ve decided it’s time for the arachnid equivalent of U-Haul (well, that and the fact that one was running past my toes when I looked down the other day). So, tomorrow I’m hiring somebody to come over to help with black widow removal (nobody wanted to volunteer—go figure).

The last time I cleaned the studio and evicted spiders, I fell so ill afterward that I wound up at the hospital the next day. My husband, aided with a home health manual and the Internet, came to the conclusion that I must’ve been bitten by a black widow. (More likely, it was food poisoning.)

I’ll let you know how it goes.