Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sunshine walks and the Triple X...

Today was a day that should have been spent outside. And luckily my truck was broken... so I was forced to walk. I say forced, because otherwise I would have driven everywhere due to a heavy load of books that I seem to think I need with me at all times, books that, today, where left behind. I walked this moring from my dad's (where I slept lastnight due to the broken truck), to the coffee shop, to the gallery, later walked to get lunch and back, and again from the gallery to school. Ah, felt good.

But what feels even better is having a show hung in the brand new Triple X Gallery at the BCAC. The Basement Studio artists, myself and 5 others, have hung our work together. And I must say: wow! We look good together! (although I must admit I wish I had better NEW work--an ongoing desire). But it is not often that 6 individuals can come together at the last minute and create a cohesive show. And in a beautiful space to top it off!

A day of art, good company, and warm weather... what more could I ask for?

But now... it is time for bed. If only it were earlier... the day would be made perfect with 8 hours of sleep. ha!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

This morning.

This morning I got up to 2 cats and a dog licking my fingers simultanously. Meowing, stretching, and sighing expectantly. I went outside to let Abe out and say good morning to the woolfie when a flock of little song birds flew by, stopped at the empty feeders and flew away while the white tails of 8 healthy deer crashed past not a hundred yards away, down into the swamp. Such a beautiful ruckus it all created, the sound of deer legs swishing through frozen grasses, breaking through brush with loud cracks, brown and grey birds splintering the air in a multitude of wings. I held dog collars and watched, but they sat quietly, watching too. Silence returned.

Filling the bird feeders for the first time in weeks, I wished the birds would come back. But they are gone. Owing nothing to a winters worth of neglect.

And now, I think it is raining out. Today I need to DO without worrying about what needs to be DONE. Otherwise I'm afraid I might run off into the woods chasing deer... and maybe never return.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

And I thought I'd get something done today...

hahaha. Maybe I just started out on the wrong foot... making flower bouquets for the funerals in Red Lake. I spent my morning with sweetgrass and cedar and wild flowers sent from somewhere warmer than this still snow-covered climate. It felt good to do something, to create a little bit of beauty for the grieving. But every time I answered the phone to take another order, the person on the other end of the line was crying. They each told their story. It was their sister, their aunt, their god-daughter, their nephew. I kept my voice strong and steady and told them that my heart went out to them, but what they couldn't see were my eyes brimming with tears each time I hung up the phone, then turning back to the work table, taking another drink of coffee, another trip to the cooler, and making yet another bouquet. I left hungry and depressed. Then went to my studio to write, to do homework. But instead I hung out in the gallery with Nina, Tori, and Teresa and talked about art. When I finally sat down alone, I did nothing except look at books and cover a pink canvas yellow.

Nothing done. Just a headache to remind me how far behind I am.

And if I could just muster up the energy I would try to accomplish all the homework that has piled up from Cont. Writers and Theory. But papers and Virginia Woolf and planning class are nagging at me. My energy is spent. If I only had the kind of mind that is able to do one thing at a time, to set everything else aside, the type of mind that has the ability to focus, single-mindedly. Then would I get something done?

Friday, March 25, 2005

 Posted by Hello

Maybe this one will go in the show, an old friend who I painted more than a year ago.

Stopping to Watch the Moon Rise.

ah, I've missed writing. Tonight the world feels peaceful. As though there has been just too much pain for one week. So many deaths, not only in Red Lake, but aquiantances too. All young people.
But tonight the moon rises, held just above the horizon as big as I've ever seen it, pale orange. Deer running in herds, another standing quietly out on the frozen swamp. For just a moment--peace. The world around me feels tired. But now it is time to just be. To breath, to listen to silence, to take in the beauty that surrounds. The moon tethered by invisible strings, held close, as if for comfort.

I find myself wanting to do nothing else other than sit deep inside myself. To write, to paint, to think. It was a warm and sunny day this morning in class. With half the students gone, we aborted mission and just talked. For nearly 45 minutes we just talked about writing. I didn't care that people were gone. The small class was nice. It felt good to have a conversation. Not to lecture, not to be separated by my position at the front of the classroom.

Next week I will be meeting with the Voyager highschool students in my studio. They are learning about the creative process and thier teacher decided that the best way for them to learn about it is to talk to artists. So next Wednesday that is what I'll do. I'm looking forward to it and am honored to have been asked. This, and an upcoming show (next week), has made me realize how much I've been away. What is creative process? It means being involved in your art. It is making it a part of your everyday life. I have been away and miss what happens with complete devotion... the way my mind works-- the way thoughts settle, and come naturally. It is an active, yet peaceful state of mind. I look forward to talking to a group of young people about creating art-- especially a group of highschool students whose education supports such notions.

The opportunity to talk and to be part of another show has reopened my eyes to the necessity of creation in my life. I have not allowed myself the space to write creatively or to really involve myself in a painting from beginning to end in many, many months. Yet it is what makes me happy, it is what makes me a better person, and it is what will make me a better teacher. To live from the center. That is the only way I know how to make the world a better place to live.

My monkey mind has begun to eat me up. But my dreams lately have been filled with a need to return to the creative. Like I talked with a friend about the other day... doors open up when you are ready. I've been away from myself-- and now I am ready to return.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Ode to Barb...

The happy dance:
I'm done.. I'm done... I'm done, I'm done, I'm done!

... and my bags are packed.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

coffee, cigarettes, tea, wasa crackers, water, pizza, pretzels, and malia kofta...

... and still only 6 pages. Another full day down the tubes. 10pm...do I continue, or quit and hope for a fresh mind in the morning? I fear that the last page might take me another full day if I put it off. I fear everything that I have is garbage if I continue.

But the best part of today... was picking fights with Vinny about sun-block and vitamins and whether or not a spray-tan would turn me orange. It was nice to focus on something other than my essay. But when we ran out of things to be ridiculous about he sent me back to my room.

Here I sit. Waiting for something good to happen.

97 degrees in Texas today. 50 miles from the airport is the Padre Islands. We'll be there in less than an hour once the plane hits the ground. Bare feet in the sand.

3rd day of spring break...

... and I am still working on that Virginia Woolf paper. I have 3 pages to show for a good, oh, 15 hours of work. Vinny's analogy: Watching me write is like watching ice melt on a cold day.

The question I'm trying to answer: Why does Virginia Woolf use stream of consciousness in her two short stories, "Monday or Tuesday" and "The Mark on the Wall"???? (the first part of my question anyway)

If she were alive I would just ask her. I'd get on a plane, go to England, and bang on her door until she let me in and gave me some answers. Unfortunately I'm left to my own devises. Seems like an easy enough question... ha! that is, until you actually sit down and try to figure out the workings of her mind. I have my theories... and good ones, but trying to explain them in a coherent way is another matter.

So the fuck what, is the question I keep getting hung up on. Every time I try to make it seem important I lose my train of thought. How the hell did Woolf manage to create such strange and wonderful stories... yet still write kick-ass essays? A woman in control of both sides of her brain. I have complete respect.

I'll admit that an entire book could be written on these two very short stories (one is less than a page long)... but somehow I've managed to make quiet a mess of it. I was not prepared for the complexity involved in this task. I've been humbled.

ok... but today, if I am lucky I will write the remaining 4 or so pages and have tomorrow to revise at a more leisurely pace... and have time to grade papers so I don't have to bring them with me to Texas. I am amazed just how long I can spend trying to get each sentence right... and amazed at how much I am capable of getting wrong. I keep telling myself-- just write!! Yeah right, but you should see where that got me. chuckle chuckle.

ok...enough complaining. I'll get to work.

Friday, March 11, 2005

2:30 pm

...I've decided to take a nap instead.

Good for me.

The first day of Spring Break...

...beginning at 9:15 am that is. That's when I left school and headed down to the Spanish grotto to do some writing. Well, that's what I've decided to pretend the back room at Moose-a-Brew to be anyway. I planned on doing some dialectic note taking for my Virginia Woolf paper, but got side-tracked by Poetry Pete's Europe story. Its the part that he's sitting at the back of the bus next to the toilet, then in a purple hostel sewing pants, exchanging gender roles with a Moroccan woman. Afterwards I took a long look at my yellow legal pad and decided that dialectic note taking is only good in theory. I wrote in my journal instead. I wrote until my coffee was gone and I was ready to face the world again. Leaving, I was blinded by white snow; I walked away from the Spanish grotto and across an icy street.

Once home I took a short nap and ate Mac-n-cheese. ick-- it makes me want to take another nap. But it is already after 2pm with nothing accomplished on the V.W. paper. Maybe I'll try an outline...and then work on it in chunks. It's too overwhelming otherwise. Just bite size pieces, maybe that will work better. Anyway, I was given advise today: to give myself time to relax. Good advise. And I think I will. My arms feel floaty... but first I want to get something down on paper, just something.

But instead of working I've been wearing flip-flops around the house and trying on shorts to make sure they still fit. I'll be in Texas in 5 days. I'm hoping to sit down next to a big cactus and write some real poetry. Maybe sun-bathe in the prickly grass outside my grandparent's trailer house, read a book, visit the trailer park hot-tub all afternoon. I'm looking forward to going for late night walks in the warm air with Vinny or my grandma or all of us. I don't care what we do. It'll feel good to be gone. We'll eat challupas with my grandpa, buy cheap bananas and onions and hopefully avoid any old people birthday parties or bridge games. We'll walk to Mexico, drink beer, and maybe, if I can talk everyone into it, drive to San Antonio to visit an art gallery that houses a Gauguin painting.

Oh god... I can't wait. I've never looked forward to visiting an elderly retirement community so much in my life. It will be fun. They might even make me feel like I have a lot of energy.

In the meantime, I just want to get done with everything else... so I can forget about it.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

a poem...

You can't read poetry in a hurry. Therefore, I'm in the mood for poetry.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, nothing and everything. I said it because I don't have anything else to say. My feet are cold. But that's not interesting.

Here's a poem instead:



yes, that was the poem. It's the first poem I've written in over a year. And it reads best if you sit with it for awhile.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

This day is dedicated to V.W.

I woke up with sunshine blanketing my body, my cat at my head and my dog at my feet. I've concocted a brew of greasy French roast coffee with cream and sugar and cinnamon... and today I am going to attempt that seven pager (a good start anyway) on that Virginia Woolf paper. As for my thesis statement, I still need on explanatory metaphor and to change a passive sentence into an active one... but I'm close enough to get started with it.

I have a plan... I'm going to take V.W.'s two short stories and write "between the lines." Her words in black, mine in red. I'm going to try to figure out what she is doing sentence by sentence, thought by thought. I'm going to plant myself smack dab in the middle of her mind and hope that she reveals herself to me. What I'll do with it afterwards is still undecided. I guess I'll just cross my fingers and hope her ghost whispers in my ear, moves my fingers across the keyboard. Fuck epistemic...I'm going all out expressivist... an exorcism will be in order when I'm done. Call the priests.

As for my preoccupation with passive thought (as revealed through word choice)... where did I pick that up from? Do women write more passively than men? If so, why? Oh, but that's a different topic. Today I'm going to stay on task.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Tonight while driving home...

... I saw a shooting star and then a coyote. Both ran across the road. The coyote, the second I've seen 3 days, or maybe the same?

Keeping me from saying: I give up.

Instead I will go to bed and hope that tomorrow works out a little bit better. Light a candle for the muses and hope that a possession takes place. Virginia Woolf... I'm calling you.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

And I'm talking about more than just painting here.

Spent the afternoon watching the gallery. It was busy and therefore I didn't get to sit in the X2 and read all day. Usually it's dead around there on Saturdays... but not today. I spent the day talking... first my mom, then Dallas, Monica, Ben, Vinny, Dada, Abbey, an out of town skier.... some good conversations, but no reading, not as much bathing in color as planned. Not surprisingly my mom wasn't as impressed with Natalia's work. I'm glad I'm not her. She has a hard time finding beauty in anything she can't buy.

Then I got home, made tacos, ate, and exhausted, I fell asleep. So much for today. Before coming home I sat in my studio wanting to paint... or something... and instead attempted a photo transfer, painted a page of my "art journal" and decided to call it quits because I had too much to do (not that I got anything else done). Found myself wanting to just sit and daydream ideas, which I did for awhile. It reminded me of those months preparing for my India show... all those long hours of painting, but also of just sitting, thinking of what would come next. That mental down time, such an important aspect of creation. I had forgotten the true necessity of it. Well, actually I am constantly aware of it... I had just forgotten what an absolute luxury it is.

I've recently acquired an approximately 5'x6' framed canvas. An old painting that needs resurrecting. I'll restretch the canvas and start over. Oh the possibilities! I have little wall space in the new studio, but have devised a plan for an impromptu easel. 2"x4"s to the rescue. But what to paint on that big beautiful space?

I was talking to Dada today about how, since starting my master's degree, my painting has changed. I used to be obsessed with realism, always trying for a more expressive form of realism. But in the last year, my brain and body (and the challenge of time) seems only capable of abstract. Abstract, which to be honest, I don't know how to do. I haven't figured out what place it comes from. I've experienced it for moments at a time, but it is fleeting. Like closing your eyes and trying to hold a picture in your mind that keeps disappearing. I find it difficult to know how to finish what I start in terms of artistic vision.

And so on that big canvas, I am trying to decide whether to go realism or abstract. It kind of feels like trying to decide whether I should do a scholarly or creative thesis. Not that I ever consider painting to be "scholarly." But there's a difference in approach.

Today, between visitors, I studied Natalia's paintings. I was trying to memorize them. Trying to find a place inside me that they will hold. Her use of color and texture. Her ability to make a flat surface jump out as though it is 3 dimensional. Her ability to tap into her memory and imagination to create form.

In between these musings and talking with visitors I snuck pages of Orlando. Amber was right. It's hard getting into, but once you're there it sweeps you away. I have an image of Orlando laying on the ice, looking through its clearness at the frozen scene below, a woman with her apples.

There is another part of the book than I marked in ink because it is a scene I'd like to paint.

To the oak tree he tied it (his heart) and as he lay there, gradually the flutter in and about him stilled itself; the little leaves hung; the deer stopped; the pale summer clouds stayed; his limbs grew heavy on the ground; and he lay so still that by degrees the deer stepped nearer and the rooks wheeled round him and the swallows dipped and circled and the dragon-flies shot past, as if all the fertility and amorous activity of a summer;s evening were woven web-like about his body.
Maybe this is what I will paint on that big canvas. To combine reality with imagination. An image to hold in my mind until it finds completion on the canvas. Perhaps the most natural step in my progression as a painter... to find the middle ground between realism and abstraction.
Strange the way life's experiences constantly leads one to the moment. Detours that frustrate and exhaust... and in the end make the rest happen. Ok, fine. Maybe I just need to quit fighting so hard. Every experience lending to the next.

Friday, March 04, 2005

"To write is difficult. To write about art is more difficult." ~Natalia Klyova Himmirska

Tonight I visited an art show at the BCAC that I find hard to write about. Natalia Klyova Himmirska, is an artist from Russia and a professor at BSU. I have met her before-- and thought her an extremely intimidating woman. But tonight I proved myself wrong. I met her again, this time through her paintings.

I felt like I had been away from the sun for a long time, as though I had been in the darkness, a long winter... and the color from her canvases fell on me like the sun itself. Greens, blues, oranges, reds, sienna... my skin instantly became thirsty, so thirsty for that color. It was the teal that I drank in the most. I only wish I could describe it the way it felt; I am failing miserably.

I was so, so thirsty. And I drank, and breathed, and drank. I would have liked to lay down on the floor and bathe in it, except it was an opening and I shared the small 10 foot square room with several others. I had a jacket on, my scarf still wrapped around my neck... but I felt its warmth as though my body was bare.

Her artist statement said something about time. Time being a theme in all her work. The past, the present, the future--a realm melded, transformed, imagined...transcended.

I was instantly glad that I agreed to work at the gallery tomorrow... and greedily made plans to spend the entire afternoon in that room. I will sit there and read. I will soak in those colors until I am no longer thirsty.

Because I am so thirsty for color. Just so thirsty.

Something happened in that little room. But words swim away. Stumbling over language to describe. The sun, those colors... I have missed them dearly. But there they are, I can still feel it, a body memory.

...and I realized just how much there is to learn. Will I ever? Does it matter? Can I really believe that I won't?

Today was a strange and heart-felt day. Intimate, honest conversations about writing with my students during conferences. We sat and talked for a long time, not rushing. The struggle. with writing, with school, with what stunted them in the past-- they poured their heart out. And we talked. and we talked.

Afterwards I went out for lunch with V. and as I told him about my day I was surprised by a welling of tears. I don't know why except that everything today feels so real. so real. on the surface of the skin. we talked and talked.

and like the colors of those paintings... everything feels so real.

Tonight I drove home thinking about that thirst. Thirst for color, for life. Surprised by how deeply I needed to drink, to satisfy that something I've been neglecting.

...as though these words touch any of it. Why is it so hard to explain? That color that exists and does not exist in so many ways.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

don't forget to write.

I am feeling restricted in two ways (in terms of writing).
#1 time
#2 self-censorship.

I haven't figured out how to resolve the first one in a reasonable manner. And as for the second, I guess I should just get out my journal made of paper. But my life feels a little disjointed and writing in several places makes it feel even more so. Which means that often I don't write about certain things at all. Mildly important thoughts that I find myself wishing I could write about.

But on another note...Ashleigh is in town. It was good to see her. Yesterday we sat in the art lounge and talked and laughed. I felt more relaxed than I have in a long time. I left feeling incredibly inspired. And this morning we met for coffee. Sat in the sunshine with big mugs, surrounded by a friend's art, and enjoyed each other's company. An alter world in comparison of where I sit now. How nice it was.

But as for the rest that I've been thinking about will have to wait until I someday have time.

Reminder to myself: write about everything. ha!