Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting my hands “DIRTY”

Hopefully absence makes the heart grow fonder. But, I date myself with that quote. OK, well, then: Have you missed me?

As usual, life conspires to get in the way of all the “To Dos” on my list. Somehow, I think I’m managing a half-way decent job of balancing housework, paperwork, art, friendship, family and health. I WOULD prefer to allocate a smaller slice of time to health, but that’s not possible at this point. I may PLAN to vacuum the bedroom AND dust the living room, get one thing done, and find that some side effect or loss of energy sends me to bed for restoration. I must appreciate that THAT is an option. And my husband repeatedly tells me how much he likes just having me home. It’s sweet.

Last time I wrote, I was in Hawaii, awaiting the arrival of my newest grandchild, a little guy who made his appearance on June 8. Bradley, is OF COURSE, adorable! I’m thankful Skype enables me to see Bradley and his family in between trips. Of course, a few pictures have been exchanged, but it’s not the same as hearing their little voices and seeing them in action. It may be another 6 months before I get to hold them again.
As wonderful as it was to spend time with the family, it was AWESOME to come home. One month was just too long; I missed my husband and my home. I know there are many people who live for their vacations, for that destination. I’m glad I’m not one of them…that I have a home I love to come home to, which I prefer to the destinations! I wish my family lived closer, but Hawaii isn’t for everyone. And since I was unable to swim in my private pool (due to my catheter), and the overly-abundant mosquitoes kept me indoors too frequently, Hawaii as a vacation spot didn’t happen for me this time. A few friendly folks (wise guys?) suggested that I could at least dip my feet in the ocean. What the hell kind of pleasure is that supposed to be?? The rest of me would be fried in the tropical sun, but I could wet my toes?! Oh, boy, oh boy!! Thanks, but there’s a beach a half-hour from my home, and all my art supplies are here!

…which leads me back home, to my newest passion, or at least one of them!
I signed on months ago to participate in a 3-day art retreat. I’ve never treated myself to anything like this, and anticipated it excitedly. The 3 artist-teachers have previously taught this class in Paris! It was hosted right here in Del Dios, less than a mile away. I knew Renee, the artist at whose home the class was given, but had only admired the work of the other 2 artists, Pam Carriker & Lisa Bebi, from a distance, via magazines and online. To see them teamed up was a persuasive temptation!

The retreat was 7 hours daily, Monday—Wednesday. It was fantastic to learn new techniques, observe the different teaching styles, AND get treated to lunches prepared by one of the teachers each day! Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling well for part of each day, as I continued to deal with digestive issues that made me uncomfortable enough to consider skipping classes twice! I did find that once I arrived, immersion in creativity distracted me from discomfort!

During the retreat, I was reminded of how slowly I process new information. It reminded me of a dance class I took in college, where I got frustrated to the point of tears, as everyone else seemed able to pick up the routine, and move forward. I know I tend to OVERTHINK things, which doesn’t always work in my favor creatively. At art retreat, it seemed I was always the last to complete a project, I know: It wasn’t a competition!

During the workshop, I was reminded of another issue with my creative approach: I’ve tended to rely on “the TOOLS” to apply paints and glues, and avoid getting my hands dirty! I tried to make a point of getting some paint on a finger or 2, but I began considering a 12-step program to work through it! Kinda crazy, since I’ve done my fair share of ROUGH camping. On a few Baja kayaking trips, (only about 10-15 years ago) the fresh water was saved for drinking, so all bathing was in salt water. On one of those trips, I lived without my hairbrush for over 10 days, since I’d mistakenly left it at home. This was back when I had LONG hair…so you can imagine what the combination of salt-water and no hairbrush did!

The avoidance of getting my hands dirty has carried over into my gardening. Up until recently, I gardened with gloves on, and NOT just when I was working with thorny plants. Recently, I’ve made an effort to leave the gloves inside, to connect with plants, weeds, and dirt.

One of the techniques I learned involved making a 3D “portrait” using a Styrofoam wig-head. I enjoyed this lesson so much more than I thought I would, tho’ I went home with an unfinished project. Everyone else's portrait was more complete. Oh well!
(Mine is on the top left.) They're all so different!

This week, I made use of the techniques to begin re-finishing a water-crock stand (for bottled water.) I started out with torn newspaper, and initially thought I was going to dress it up with images of morning glories. I fondly recall a splash of them spilling down a bank of the property next door to where I grew up, but have never grown any myself. As I was attaching the bits of newspaper, the earth-tones directed me to consider a different color scheme. I’ve toyed with the idea of trying trompe l'oeil (fool the eye) painting, but, since I’ve never done it, it scares me. I’d be over-thinking this project until my daughters are grandparents. So, I’ll let this project evolve, and avoid planning out too much.
AND, I found that the easiest way to work out air bubbles when I’m gluing paper is to USE MY FINGERTIPS. I started really getting into it! Periodically, I’d take a break to peel off layers of gel medium/glue, as it inhibited my ability to feel what I was doing. What now looks like a skin condition is proof that I’m in recovery from my “dirty-hands” phobia!

I squoze (past-tense of squeeze, which OBVIOUSLY should be a word) in another hour or two a week ago to move a couple of other projects forward. They were languishing, but I think I like where they are headed! I just love my collection of tissue paper!

Oh, yeah, and tomorrow I start a 5 week on-line art retreat, given by Pam Carriker…one of the artists who taught at the art retreat. She’s the one who presented the 3D portrait lesson. You can check out her work here. In a prior blog post, I referred readers to the site for Lisa Bebi, who taught her awesome paint-over technique. In case you’ve not visited her site before, you’ll find it here. While I don’t believe Renee Richetts, who taught cold-water paper making and hinged metal books, has a website, she does have a blog, which you can view here.

Gotta go create!!