Art play date

My art buddy and I enjoyed an art play date this weekend. We attended a two-hour free demo workshop sponsored by Golden paints at the New Art Center in Newton. Artist Adria Arch showed us a large variety of the mediums, gels and paints that the company makes. She opened up a whole new playground to explore. I never knew there were so many possibilities with paints, gels and mediums. I plan to try out many of them to see which ones I like best. One of the best things about the workshop is that we got free samples! I love free! So I rushed home and used all of the items in my little bag on this 9 x 12 mixed media piece that features collage work, glass bead gel, fabric paste and molding paste. I just wanted to see how each one worked. Great play date!

You can find out more about the free demo workshops and locations here. The artist does talk about the company’s products a lot, but there is no hard sell, which would have sent me running screaming from the room. Check it out.

Spark 13: “Escalation”

Escalation: phenomenon of something getting more intense step by step.

I’m participating in Spark: art from writing, writing from art. It’s an event in which artists and writers respond to each other’s works over a 10-day period. This one is from September 21 through September 31. Participants sign up and the organizer e-mails the inspiration piece for the works that will be created. Each person gets a different piece. Artists get words, writers get art for inspiration. This time, we had the choice of honoring a young writer who has participated in Spark in the past. She recently died suddenly. I didn’t know her, but her work definitely sparks emotions. In fact, when this poem was offered as one of the choices for inspiration I asked for more choices. The honest nakedness of it touched such a tender place in me that I wanted to turn away. But I realized that this is exactly what good writing is supposed to do. Good art should shake you, should linger in your heart and head, even disturb you. I hope I’ve done justice to her poem (which she wrote in response to a photo of a staircase) with this black and white pencil drawing that I call “Escalation.”

Farewell, stairwell
By Charisse Cecil

I’m ready.

I’m standing in these slotted
shadows, leaning against this
cinderblock wall that is coated in countless layers
of paint vainly attempting to cover generations
of ubiquitous crew tags and psychedelic
profanity.

Under this metal staircase, where I used to huddle
with my girls, harmonize to hip hop soul
pop rhythm & blues slow jams and practice
lyrical freestyles in an impermeable cipher
that the boys could not enter unprepared
for verbal battle.

The light shone through the slats and created
stripes across my loose-leaf paper,
shining on my algebra homework
brightly enough for T. to copy my answers
while I crushed on him so hard
that I didn’t mind doing all the work.

Tucked  inside that acute angle under the stairs
with T., I tasted my first kiss – a heady blend
of heat, his sour apple Jolly Rancher
and my pink lemonade Bubble Yum
that made all those late nights of memorizing
theorems and formulas worth every
missed must-see TV show and girly conference call.

Whenever I hear the crunch of broken glass
and discarded Newport filters underfoot,
I remember the night L. forced me to my knees
under those stairs and pressed my face
against his open fly, when he was supposed to be watching
me while my mom went around the corner for groceries.

Under this stairwell, I learned one source of my power
that will take me beyond this stairwell and these shadowy halls.
The power is in my mouth –
to recite rules or rhymes,
to sing songs or wail battle cries,
to give ardent pleasure or exact excruciating pain.

New jewelry

Busy. New jewelry for Open Studios in October. Shrinky Dink.

Art anywhere

Proof positive that you can be Creative Every Day anywhere anytime. Today, at my office, I walked by a table in the copy room. There was a beautiful yellow leaf that looked tie-dyed. It had fallen off of the office plant that we all forget to water. The administrative assistant had placed it on the table. I was drawn to the dramatic color of this seemingly “dying” leaf. I took it and put it on the window seal, ran to my office to get my blue tea cup, moved the funky white chair that was sitting in the hallway, styled the scene, and asked my colleague to photograph it. Viola! Art! Beats having an afternoon snack for a pick-me-up. Well, I did eat two pieces of chocolate right before this. 🙂 I call this “Office Still Life.”

Rediscovering a painting

Each year, my biggest show of my work takes place at the Dorchester Open Studios in Dorchester, Mass. This year, Open Studios will be Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22 and 23, from noon to 5 p.m. I’ll be at First Parish Church, 10 Parish Street, along with many other artists. Time has really zoomed by this summer and now I’m really busy making new jewelry, greeting cards, drawings and paintings. Here is one of the paintings that I will be taking there. It’s acrylic on clayboard. I created it years ago. It’s a portrait of a friend. However, I thought she would critique it when she came to visit, so I slipped it behind my refrigerator and forgot all about it until recently when we bought a new refrigerator. So no one has seen it–until now. I hope that she is not reading this blog. 🙂

The theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge this month is “history.” Art certainly has its own personal history. Looking at this painting, brings back so many memories from the time period in which it was painted. I was in such a different place in my life when I knew this friend. I had a different job, no son, and a French-speaking-sexy-saxophone-playing boyfriend (who later became my husband :-)). It’s a nice memory, surrounded here in the current reality of the life I love.

New jewelry, courtesy of Hurricane Irene

While the power was out after Hurricane Irene hit, I had a chance to focus on making lots of jewelry. Here are just a couple of the necklaces. I’ll post more later. This display unit is courtesy of the brainstorm I awoke with this morning. I’ve had this “body” for years after picking it up from a retail store that went out of business. They used it to display lingerie. I knew it would come in handy one day for something creative. I made the top of the dress out of tissue paper and the skirt is made of wire mesh. These items will be in my Etsy shop soon.

The bright side of being in the dark

As I sit here in my local YMCA with my cup of coffee, this is the first time I’ve been able to use my computer in five days. Last Sunday, Hurricane Irene arrived in full force in Massachusetts, knocking out our power in the early morning hours. I knew right away as I heard our fan die down and the howling winds kick up outside. National Grid, our power company, still has not restored power five days later. And I’ve grown wreary of the company’s daily promises to have power to most customers by 6 p.m. this evening. “6 p.m. this evening” comes and goes each day, and each day our hopes of returning to our daily routines are dashed. After having to throw away more than $300 in defrosted food, I’m not sure it really even matters now that it likely will be several more days before the power is back on. I keep looking with envy at the lights on surrounding streets, just blocks from us. Why them and not us?

But then I’m reminded each night as we sit in the dark what a great lesson this is for all of us. Why not “us.” Bad things happen to everyone–and in the great scheme of life this is not a really bad thing. Most days each of us is lucky/blessed to escape a bad thing happening, some of us are not. It is a good thing to be reminded that we could be one of the unlucky ones any day now. It keeps us balanced. Reminds us that we are all on the same playing field. We all suffer at one time or another in life. This fact keeps us human and connected to others. So often we are too busy with our TVs, iPods, iPads or whatever electronic drug we use to escape that we are removed from the suffering of others, just standing by watching, thinking, “boy, I’m glad that’s not me.” So funny how electricity, in this case, has become the great equalizer. Without electricity, we are all powerless——at least for awhile anyway——until we can get to Panera, the local Y, or whatever  to borrow “power.”

Let’s say it, being without power SUCKS! (I cannot take one more cold shower. And I’m missing all of the important news of the day like where Gaddafi might be hiding and whether the rumor is true that Jada and Will Smith are splitting. But there is a bright side to being in the dark:

  1. Going on a treasure hunt with my 11-year-old son, searching for ice (when we still had hopes of saving our frozen food), C batteries (for the radio), gas (for the car I didn’t fill up before the storm because I thought it would be no big deal.) My preparation for the storm involved making sure I had enough guacamole and chips in the house, not enough gas in the car. 🙂
  2. Working all day for several days on art. Finally, while on vacation, I worked on art! Believe it or not, I made 13 necklaces, which is good thing because I have Open Studios coming up in October in Boston. I go to bead dreaming about the beads in my little bead chest, designing in my head and then executing designs when I awake.
  3. Gaining time. It is so amazing how much time you have when it is not measured out by the tick of a clock or doled out in 30-minutes of TV episodes. We have no working clocks without electricity so I have no idea what time I’m choosing to get out of bed, no idea what time I’m going to bed. There is no need to rush. How can I rush? Rushing to where? No clock to give me a reason to hurry up. I sit in my all-glass studio and watch the sun slip from the sky in brilliant colors, and when it is gone, I know that it is time to stop working. I then wait for my husband to come home so we can turn on the radio (sparingly using our C batteries to listen to the news and hear National Grid promising to restore power–soon).
  4. Carrying out impromptu cookouts to salvage what food we can.
  5. Being unable to check work emails the way I always do when I’m on vacation.
  6. Hanging out in the dark in the glow of candles with my son and husband, listening to Nina Simone on the iPad that my husband charges up at work each day and reading (oh, my God! READING) by flashlight. I think the last book I read involved Dr. Suess.
  7. Having conversations without the distraction of CNN or “iCarly.”
  8. Commiserating with strangers about our common predicament.
  9. Finding out how many neighbors have chainsaws, as I awake to the sound of them chopping up trees toppled that have been toppled by the storm.
  10. Reflecting on how easy so much can be lost; being thankful for so much we still have.

When that power comes back on…what is the first thing I’m going to do? Hmm….catch up on “True Blood” and “Drop Dead Diva,” cook and eat pasta and meatballs, and take a HOT shower. Ideally, I’d like to do them all at the same time. 🙂

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