Of Mice and Snakes (and Sticks that look like Snakes)

On my walk yesterday I walked right up to a stick, that was actually this!

snake.jpg

"How stupid of me", I immediately thought then realized I didn't even know why I felt stupid; for thinking it was a stick, for being alarmed it was a snake, for feeling jumpy walking past it when it clearly didn't want to harm me?

"Either way, I'll keep an eye out when I walk back. Oh look, there it is!"

stick.jpg

Nope, just a stick. I felt stupid again for all the same reasons in reverse; for overthinking it, for being too cautious, for not enjoying my walk correctly, for not keeping it breezy, cool, and strong. 

This all-knowing, I am consumed with getting right, that runs like a soundtrack to my life, changing tempo to cue hilarity, peril, passion or the mundane is wildly distracting and I'm trying to understand it better to tamp it down. I'm sure you've surmised by now this got me thinking beyond snakes and sticks.

As the "me too's" roll in and men understand more about how women navigate the world, I'm not sure they realize how consistently women assess situations and turn the responsibility on themselves. Many times, I didn't even understand the situation I was in until it was over and I vowed not to be fooled again. Brave women sharing their stories have liberated me from some of the guilt of not getting it right but not from the reality I live in. If I get hurt or put in danger, I understand someone will eventually say it is partially my fault. That "someone" could even be me accusing myself. Getting it wrong is embarrassing at best and fatal at worst. 

Here's what I found in the parking lot.

"Stupid mouse, never saw it coming." "What's up with whatever killed it? Didn't even eat it?" "It's not about food! It's about Power! "or "Poor mousey!" Maybe some wisdom about nature and the universe? Does it even matter?

"Stupid mouse, never saw it coming." "What's up with whatever killed it? Didn't even eat it?" "It's not about food! It's about Power! "or "Poor mousey!" Maybe some wisdom about nature and the universe? Does it even matter?

So I guess this is a plea for compassion from the "good guys" out there. Please understand, sometimes you look like a snake. I know it isn't your fault but sometimes we get it wrong about you when we are always trying really hard to get it right. It is so hard to know and many of us have been lied to by people who swore we could trust them. If we do read it wrong, taking your "stick-ness" and beating us over the head to prove how much you are not a snake is more painful than avoiding an actual snake. I get that it is frustrating. It is frustrating for us too!  It is a skittish time for a lot of women talking about this for the first time, so anything you can do to help out is truly appreciated. 

I'm ready to let some defenses down and I've felt encouraged by meaningful conversations I've had with men about new understandings they are coming to. I want new understanding too. I think we've been so conditioned not to tell the truth we don't even know how to speak about it properly.

However, I remain hopeful. 

 

 

 

Let's Get Creative

As my newly activated friends and I continue our journey, one theme consistently emerges, "How do we get to a marathon pace?"  Like many others, I've wondered if my engagement is sustainable or a simply a part of a reactive mind trying to heal a broken heart. I've even considered if I might, at one point, "get it over it." as many have suggested I do.

Well I'm not over it and I can say after much rest and perspective, I won't get over it. I don't need to rehash the shock and horror I felt or shed one more tear. I can organize, get out the vote, learn more, engage more and get creative. It helps and it helps me to see others do it too! 

So here are 3 things to stir your creative juices and hopefully inspire you to use what talent you have to express yourself. This isn't a sprint, so it helps to do what you love while making a difference.

New Postcards
This time I included a detail of my own painting, "Miss Get Over It 2017" inspired by...well...I bet you can guess...you know that... (Unintelligible.)

As always they are free to download and donations are gladly accepted. The downloadable .pdf works with 4 Tall Postcard stock or Avery product numbers 3263, 33380, 3377, 3380, 3381, 5689, 8383, 8387, 8577.

getoveritpostcardimage.jpg

Episode 2 District One Media Report (Now with a podcast home and bad-ass logo)
Listen Now

districtonemedia.jpg

New Column
A brand new voice at Broke Ass Stuart. Meri Mohr is one of many new friends I can thank the President  for. I am so happy she is sharing her story here.
THE RESISTANCE IN TRUMP COUNTRY CALIFORNIA

I am working on some tips to get you and your community organized and engaged. Kindergarten rules still apply: sharing is good and I'm happy to let you know what we've learned. Stay tuned!
 

New Postcards and a Donate Button

I have been overwhelmed with requests for the postcards I created this week. I wish I could fill every request and hand deliver each one with a big hug and cup of tea.

That doesn't seem practical though. 

And I'm working on being practical. I'm trying to use my emotions as fuel to create change and spread understanding, not burn out quickly in a fiery show. I know that sounds like some hippy stuff but in simple terms, I need to work, eat, love my family, and still show up in a new role as politically active. I thought I was active before, ha! 

In my effort to find balance I'm including a donate button as people keep generously offering to purchase cards. That doesn't feel right though. I made them with the intent to gift them to my community at a small event for free. I wish I could afford to gift as many as were requested (with the tea and hug too). 

The card designs are fairly simple but it did take me about 5 hours to design them, print them and now upload them. I'd like to continue offering digital designs for free as well as my FB "Today I'm thinking about..." posts that have generated lots of great feedback and discussion.  I do much of it for myself, to figure out where and how an artist, LA transplant via Cleveland and Pittsburgh, mother, wife, friend, writer, fits into the big picture but I've come to understand that sharing my vulnerability helps other people too. 

So until we can meet for tea, I'd be grateful for any donation to help keep me working, thinking, sharing, and painting. My friend, Elisa tells me to be more open to abundance around my gifts.

I will take people asking to give me money as a sign and humbly attach this button. 
 

To be clear this is not going to any non-profit. It is going to me. If you like what I'm doing, I'll gratefully accept a donation and keep going.

If not, please still enjoy these cards! They are designed  to be printed on card stock 8.5" x 11" or Avery style Postcards 4 to a page. Some will have a back but if you don't have a fancy 2-sided printer I encourage you to just print the front. I bet a friendly local printer could whip some up for you too using the files provided. 

Thanks for letting me share.
 

This download includes 2 sides with the back addressed to Doug LaMalfa. Feel free to download and only print the front so you can address your own state representative. 

This download includes 2 sides with the back addressed to Doug LaMalfa. Feel free to download and only print the front so you can address your own state representative. 

Word for the Year 2017

My 2016 Word for the Year was "Solo". It was effective and helped me navigate storms I never saw coming.

2017 word is "nuance". 

noun
1.

a subtle difference in colour, meaning, tone, etc; a shade or graduation

verb (transitive; passive
2.

to give subtle differences to: carefully nuanced words.

Word Origin

C18: from French, from nuer to show light and shade, ultimately from Latin nūbēs a cloud

As I scratch to find common ground and purpose at the end of 2016 (a shit show by most standards), my greatest obstacle is binary thinking, absence of nuance. I was lectured quite definitively about "fight or flight" when a gun enthusiast questioned if I had the guts to take a life to protect my own. As a victim of gun violence, I shared the nuance of what actually happens when a gun is at your head. I think we found common ground there and I'm glad for the conversation. 

That conversation eventually hit an impasse but even my progressive friends have left me flat with their own popular "love or fear" world view. I have tried but I can't assimilate that narrow choice and apply to my own emotional state. I wish I could. I'm jealous of the clarity but unable to find inspiration or comfort there. Can't hating something be part of the chiaroscuro of love in action? Can't a person fight something by turning away from it? Shouldn't a person show up to defend what is right in a democracy before 20/20 hindsight makes everything perfectly clear? I owe it to myself and my country to observe the nuance in individual experience; to struggle for deeper understanding before charging ahead.

"Doing it right" is impossible in this clumsy mass of emotions and experience that is "me". I'll say the wrong things and I'll tend to my ugly feelings in ugly ways but I'll try to do better. I suspect other good people feel the same; cowed and quiet or crippled by rage due to impossible choices fomented through media machines, political agenda, familial loyalty, educational bias, sexual urges, parenting anxiety and marketing hacks. I'd like to get to know more about those experiences. I think it will require more face to face time. I know it will require an easily replenished well of forgiveness for myself and others. 

The origins are from the Latin "cloud". I was waiting to find a word that felt more definitive, more clear but that isn't going to happen.  It is my job to find the lines to draw and the edges to soften. It can't be all broad strokes although sometimes they are required.  

2017 I will move forward, embracing the lack of clarity, walk in the clouds, armed only with the confidence that I know the difference between piss on my leg and a soft Spring rain. 

"Miss Get Over It Series" will be on display at The Osborn Woods Gallery at The Miners Foundry starting January 12. 

Miss Get Over It 2017 18" x 24" Oil, Acrylic, Graphite, Pastel on Canvas

Miss Get Over It 2017
18" x 24"
Oil, Acrylic, Graphite, Pastel on Canvas

Miss Congeniality 2017 18" x 24" Oil, Acrylic, Graphite, Pastel on Canvas

Miss Congeniality 2017
18" x 24"
Oil, Acrylic, Graphite, Pastel on Canvas

First Runner Up 2017 18" x 24" Oil, Acrylic, Graphite, Pastel on Canvas

First Runner Up 2017
18" x 24"
Oil, Acrylic, Graphite, Pastel on Canvas

Back to the Sea

I ran into another artist the other day who mentioned a critique she was given. Her paintings need "more narrative". I almost gasped as I recalled a critique I was given, "too much narrative." Like parenting, I'm able to find an expert to tell me I'm doing it wrong no matter what I do. What a relief to consider it doesn't matter.

Not caring is a lifetime practice. I try to go deeper into the stretch of not giving a fuck, every year. Drilling down to the marrow of experience to find the purity of my vision, that will take a lifetime. I'm almost certain I can't transcend it completely, but the journey is the practice and the journey is worth it. I try to save my worries for my kids' future and remembering to buy dog food.

"Mermaid Girl" is an attempt to capture a "real mermaid". The image is about authenticity. What would it be like if you saw a real one? It would probably be out of the corner of your eye, not preening on a rock.  Maybe you'd doubt you actually saw it, doing her own thing regardless of perceived deformity or sexualized mythology. She doesn't care about your legs and there is something magical about that. 

Solo Update

I love when past self does future self a favor. 

"Damn out of coffee... (pause) Wait a minute? Didn't I stick an extra bag somewhere once thinking I'd one day forget coffee?"

Yay for past self! You knew future self would appreciate it and she does. 

This morning I was looking at an application for a show and was about to call friends who had done it before or friends who have attended or other artists to see if they wanted to share the booth but something felt wrong. Processing opinions and consensus into a decision is often the basis of my navigation system. There was a nagging feeling that I should try a different way this time.

So back in January I picked my word for the year: "Solo".

On this day in 2013 this interview was published on Lucy Meskill's awesome blog Tincture and Spill. 

I read them both and it was like remembering I bought the bonus 2 pack of deodorant on the day one fell in the toilet. I needed to hear all this and had past self to thank for it.

I submitted my application without "checking in" "reaching out" "picking brains" or "just wondering" and felt a little queasy. It is a tiny, mental, victory but a win none the less. It is a validation of the person I was when I chose the word of the year late in 2015. I can almost hear the echo of past self cheering me on.

Also, thank you for supporting my eBay auctions! It feels great to be back there, a little older and wiser but still open to the magic of putting my work out there. Please know, no bid is small. Every bid from .99 on means I can keep going and is a vote of confidence when I don't feel brave.

I currently have 3 auctions going with one ending today. 

This two 4" x 4" pieces will be available to bid until September 8. 

Before and After

I'm resisting the urge to continually document and pay homage to the "before". It robs me of momentum.

Review, documentation, and transition are job requirements but measuring success based on the mess you were drags down the future. It isn't an apology, it is a journey.

I am wrapping up the residency. I'll be porting over my main site content to this new site with my remaining time. I'll leave behind the "before" to focus on the "after". 

I can't tell you what I learned. I can only show you. 

Join me this Fall:

  • Featured artist at Conjuring Designs
  • Auctions on eBay throughout the rest of the year
  • Work from this summer on display at Cult of Gemini, Grass Valley, September-December
  • 3rd Annual "War on Women Art Show", Pittsburgh, October 13
  • New small works arriving at Neva Co, Nevada City, Mid-October
  • Of course my store is always open.
  • Special studio visits with art and ideas will be scheduled for  October/November/December
  • Stay up to date on events, works in progress, videos and auctions on Facebook.

Book of Secrets

When I'm raw, exposure is the measure of healing. Is it wise to share everything, bleach out the infection with the light? Maybe I require a salve and bandage to smother and heal? The pendulum is maddening.

Balance is the key to finding the groove in time with the earth. I've learned some things this summer. I'm carrying them with me into the longer nights and am completely comforted by seeing my art, my collectors, my computer are all here. 

My daughters have secrets they need to keep too. I have to trust them to manage their internal lives and keep open to any opportunity to learn more. 

Next week school starts and I'll officially be out of my "residency" and moving into a new mode, online, in stores, at shows.

I'm looking forward to sharing and getting lost in it all over again. 

"Kitty Girl and Her Book of Secrets" 8" x 8" Oil Acrylic Graphite on Canvas Available to bid on eBay until August 27, 2016 Starting bid .99 with no reserve.

"Kitty Girl and Her Book of Secrets"
8" x 8"
Oil Acrylic Graphite on Canvas
Available to bid on eBay until August 27, 2016
Starting bid .99 with no reserve.

Insecurity in the Age of The Humble Brag

Is insecurity it’s own form of vanity? A Facebook Friend presented that concept and it felt like biting on tin foil; nerve struck. Could insecurity be the devilish end to an overblown ego? I considered my own. 

It manipulates me into thinking people actually care. It recommends ideas to manipulate others to prove it, concepts I try to consistently reject. It clutters my thinking regardless. It is an embarrassing funhouse mirror; try to appear so small you may slip through a storm drain. Look like a fool screaming "Save me! I'm Tiny!" 

"Tell me I’m big."

How about...

Tell yourself you are an average sized human and maybe quit standing in the gutter.

Finding the sweet spot of sharing creative life online hasn't become easier the more I do it. Practice makes cloying. I cringe at some of the things I wrote 6 years ago but they were honest at the time. I'm sure I'll do the same here, six years from now but I can't be honest writing for "Future Me".

Creating for posterity? That is just shameless ego. 

Sharing vulnerability isn't about size. It is about time and space. "Where I am?" not "Where do you think I am?"  On a true course, other travelers will recognize the honesty.

The humblebrag, is a burp. Bad manners born of insecurity and the inability to know when you're in a good location.  I know I'm in a good place but there is always a real tug at my ego. "I'm not there yet." Where's there anyway?

So yes, I'm insecure but I try not to use digital life as a salve for those paper cuts of perceived slights (hurts like a bitch but really quite shallow). Managing disappointment is a fundamental part of this job. If you don't have it checked, you're not successful.  

I am recalculating my position as I age, make art and parent my children, dropping a pin on the map.

I'm asking questions that don't need answers and just wondering if you are asking them too.

 

Disappearing Woman 8" x 10" Oil Acrylic Graphite on Canvas $180 Available in my store.  

Disappearing Woman
8" x 10"
Oil Acrylic Graphite on Canvas
$180
Available in my store.

 

Two Months to See

Yesterday I posted about struggling with clarity. Last night I dreamt I was called into a room of specialists who had finally figured out what was wrong. It was serious.

I only had two months to see. My vision would be completely gone in a matter of weeks. I had to decide if I wanted to make the best art with the vision I still had or start figuring out how to paint without it. 

It was so real and terrifying. 

Perspective.

Also a good lesson for artists.

Invisible Woman 8" x 10" Acrylic Oil Graphite on Canvas

Invisible Woman
8" x 10"
Acrylic Oil Graphite on Canvas

Exercise in Futility

I want to emphasize the fact that we all have the same experience and the same concern, but the artist must know exactly what the experience is. He must pursue the truth relentlessly. Once he sees this fact his feet are on the path. If you want to know the truth you will know it. The manipulation of materials in an artwork is a result of this state of mind. The artist works by awareness of his own state of mind.

-Agnes Martin
 

I want to crush the reactive pace that keeps my feet off the path.

 "Get things done in order to get other things done," is not serving my summer schedule well. Prioritizing time and intensity is scary. I'm afraid of the worst monster I can imagine. The one that screams, "It's not worth it." 

I'm feeling the lack of clarity more acutely as I take the time to focus on it; like shining a headlight on fog. 

Also PMS.

Save me today Agnes Martin. I can't slow down. I need to slow down. 

 

Exercise in Futility 9" x 12" Acrylic, Graphite, Pastels on Paper

Exercise in Futility
9" x 12"
Acrylic, Graphite, Pastels on Paper