Change and fear

Mal | Art Journal | Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Change [FEAR] (© turning*turning.com)

So much has happened, friends.

So much of miracles and sadness. So much change. So much opportunity and growth and risk and reward.

And it’s possible that I have resolved one of my major ethical dilemmas regarding this blog — the question of personal and professional space, of balancing anonymity and confidentiality, of client privilege vs. self expression.

I hope this new plan works because I miss this space. A lot. And I’d like to start visiting here again.

The a-ha moment

Pie Chart, Integrated

A good friend (and amazing art therapist) came over last night for dinner and was tooling around in my workspace. She illuminated the fatal flaw from the pie charts. Several of you also pointed it out. (Leslie, Victoria, I’m looking at you.)

Integration is the key. Combining. Overlapping. Interlocking. I am better focused now after speaking with her. I have clarity again. I remember my bigger-picture goals and I feel like i’m back on track.

  • Taking a walk with a friend and bringing the dogs along, rather than always just going out to dinner = fun + chores + health.
  • Photographing a project I do for work, or bleeding the project out into one of my own journal quilts or blog entries = work + creativity + fun.
  • Taking the stairs, avoiding the cookie counter at work, and planning ahead for snacks = work + health.

At least I made sure not to overlap the dating stripe into the work wedge. Some things just aren’t made for integrating.

Journal Quilt: Membership

Mal | Art Journal,Media,Quilting,Sewing | Monday, August 31st, 2009

Journal Quilt: Membership

 A new journal quilt, titled “Membership.”  It’s sized around 12″x12″ and was one of the many that I sketched/designed before going on hiatus for my licensure exam.

My next exam is scheduled for this Friday. Oy.

Journal Quilt: Membership (back and tag)

I’m experimenting with new ways to attach the title to the quilt. This is permanent marker on a strip of ribbon, hand-stitched into the binding. The flip side shows the date, ”August, 2009.”

I’ve been using “throw-away” fabric for the backs of these journal quilts — the less it matches the quilt itself, the better. I’m a little bit thrilled to realize that I subconsciously chose a fabric for this cheeky quilt that matches the favorite pajama pants of my ex-boyfriend. I’m just sayin’. You do the math. Membership.

Journal Quilt: Membership (closeup)

PS: I passed

Mal | Art Journal,Collage,Here and Now,Media,Paper | Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

PS: I passed

Against all odds, I passed my exam yesterday. Thank you for all the well-wishes, public and private.

I’ve got one more exam to take for my license, and will likely attempt that one in a few weeks.

Hopefully I can get back to normal for 10 days or so before the freakout starts again and release some of those ideas that are bursting at the seams.

PS: I passed.

On bodies, fragility, and journaling

Mal | Art Journal,Media,Paper | Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Bodies are Fragile

It’s been a bit of a rough patch at work. I know that this kind of thing is to be expected when you work at a hospital or hospice. (PS: “This kind of thing” is death and, whether we like to talk about it or not, death is to be expected for all of us.)

Mort

One of the things I like best about my job is that it keeps me constantly aware of the brevity of life, the preciousness of every day, and the power of human connection. I process these big emotions in my art journal, as always. The image above was done in the subway on my way home from work one evening last week.

Am I hungry?

Bodies and health have been much on my mind recently, and not just because of work. I’m trying to return to better eating habits and nutrition (you may recall), so naturally these themes are showing up in my journals, too.

The plateau

It is my life’s struggle to explore my relationship to food and its effects (positive and negative) on my body. This image was made as I contemplated last year’s dramatic and successful loss of 80 pounds, and post-medical-crisis plateau in weight. There I stand, a little figure on the precipice of the plateau, wondering how to jump off into the next phase of health.

Just begin

Thankfully, my journal often reveals answers when I ask it questions.

What about you? Do you journal?

Journal Quilt: Ice Cream for Dinner

Mal | Art Journal,Finished Projects,Handmade,Media,Quilting,Sewing | Monday, July 27th, 2009

200907279315

One of the personal issues I have dealt with over the years is a form of disordered eating. These struggles become pronounced whenever I have extended or intensified contact with my family, as I’ve had recently.

200907279320

I’m happy to say that although I’ve mostly been able to get my binge-eating under control, I still slip into patterns of unhealthy eating choices when faced with stress. I eat out, neglect proper nutrition, and generally choose convenience and comfort over actual self-care.

Journal Quilt Inspiration

My recent indulgence has been a treat from Cold Stone Creamery. Unfortunately, the “Ice Cream Dinner” became all too common in these past few weeks, as I compulsively ordered and ate “Founder’s Favorite with chocolate base, please add marshmallows and could I get that in a sprinkle bowl?”

200907279321

When I needed to turn this ship around, I started to journal about it. I journal about everything that is on my mind, and this was definitely something that I needed to explore.

200907279314

And, in fact, one evening this week, rather than engage in the behavior, I decided to make a journal quilt about it instead. This is also my submission for this week’s Mini Quilt Monday.

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I used Dale Fleming’s pieced circle technique for the first time, and found that it worked perfectly for this purpose.

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I even pieced the fabric of the “waffle” to represent the waviness of that crunchy bowl of artery-clogging death.

Journal Quilt: Ice Cream for Dinner

At least making this quilt kept me from actually having an Ice Cream Dinner for a few nights. Maybe I can finally put this bad habit to bed.

200907279311

I still haven’t attached the beads to represent the sprinkles. What do you think? Beads? No beads?

 

What to do: Push boundaries

Mal | Art Journal,Art Process and Creativity | Thursday, May 14th, 2009

As I was looking through some old journals, I got a needed reminder about experimentation.

Mexico Wire Play

These scans are from an older journal — artwork done on a Mexico trip a few years ago. I mentioned when I posted some of my Mexico pages a few weeks ago that I had gone on this trip without taking a camera. That’s how serious I was about visual journaling at the time.

But, I didn’t just sketch and paint in my journal. At that time, I was so into visual journaling that I started to push the boundaries of what could or should be included in a journal. In a bound book. On paper, even. The spread above has shapes I made from some colored wire that I found. These are attached to the page with glue. Later in the book, I attached another wire sculpture to the page with stitches. It’s wonderful.

Mexico Swatches

What happens when we push the boundaries between the expected and the unexpected? The possible and impossible? The traditional and non-traditional? We can end up with tin foil, popsicle sticks, and snippets of armature wire stitched into books (as above). Swatches of colored masking tape. A traced-around pair of scissors. We invite happy accidents. We shake off experiments that don’t quite work. We move on.

Mexico Coins

On this page, I remember I really wanted to include some of the Mexican coins in my journal. They were so beautiful — so much more artistic than our boring, patriarchal, American coins. I tried several ways (glue, tape, etc.) but each time, the coins fell out. So, instead, I made rubbings of the coins, cut them out and pasted them into the book. I’ll never forget the cafe where I sat as I worked on this. It’s not something I would have ever done before, but I was experimenting.

I don’t have other great words of wisdom on this today. As you can see, these pages were made almost 5 years ago. Today I feel somewhat overwhelmed by issues at work, the sort-and-purge project at my apartment, a complicated social life and (of all things) budgeting. But, I am reminded that sometimes experimenting — pushing the boundaries of what we are accustomed to — is a quick little pathway to freedom.

What to do: Make do

Mal | Art Journal,Art Process and Creativity | Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Green Blue Purple

 Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Theodore Roosevelt

Things got better when I finally got over myself and stopped complaining about having imperfect conditions — about not having enough time or space or energy to create — and just made do.

Recently, one of my employees has run into the problem of not doing things because he can’t do them “perfectly.” Here’s an example that he doesn’t mind me sharing.

The other day, as lunchtime was ending, I asked him, “What are you going to do in your teen workshop today?” He answered, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ve been wanting to do a comic book project, but we don’t have any more 11×17 paper.”

Comic strips in the journal

I had to tell him about what has happened in my art journal recently — about how comic strips have spontaneously begun to crop up, and are made with crude pens during jostling, cramped subway rides. I told him about the ugly paper I was using and the limitations of my drawing abilities. I told him to stand up, take whatever paper we had available, and just make do.

The truth is, very few of us will ever have enough time or space or energy. We will, for the most part, not build a perfect studio space (though some of us will),  or have a perfectly encouraging family, or be able to quit our day jobs in pursuit of art-making.

The trick is to make do with what you have. The painter, Paul Klee, actually felt that working with limited options increased your creativity.

 … to adapt oneself to the contents of the paintbox is more important…

Paul Klee

Maybe the perfect shade of green would turn your painting into a masterpiece — but it’s 2 weeks to payday and all you’ve got are yellow and blue. Make do. You’ve been wanting to start a journal, and spend hours online researching leather-bound notebooks, expensive pens, and carrying cases. Stop it. Make do. Maybe it’s time to help out the planet by making cloth bags to take to the market, but you are worried that the fabric in your stash is not sturdy enough, it doesn’t match, or you need 4″ more. By the way, there’s enough fabric in your stash to make two hundred market bags. Make do.

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about having enough and making do. Here are a few more examples, if you’d like some further reading:

Journal Quilt: Showering with the lights off

Journal Quilt: Showering with the lights off

Last week, I wrote about eliminating or reducing input from one of my senses — vision. As part of these experiments, I’ve been taking showers at night with the lights off. Although the idea is to reduce the chatter of visual input, the experience is still visual: the way the moon hangs in the upper corner of the window, the silhouette outline of the neighbor’s tree against the night sky, the invisible (but present) droplets. I love how the moon makes a halo of light around itself. It all adds up to a calming and soothing experience. I think I have finally found my insomnia buster.

Journal quilt: Showering with the lights off

I think I’ve also found a way to bind mini quilts into a book. The Art Journaler and Book Binder in me is so excited! Journal quilts! In an actual journal! Awesome.

Journal Quilt

This is my submission for Malka’s (of A Stitch in Dye) Mini Quilt Monday.

Mini Quilt Back

Getting back to it

Mal | Art Journal,Media,Quilting,Sewing | Monday, April 27th, 2009

Hexagon colorway

Enough with the bellyaching already. Just because I can’t set up my sewing machine in the kitchen, or an easel for painting or anything else, doesn’t mean that I can’t get back to the business of creating. Thanks to some good advice from you guys and my own private butt-kicking, I’m back to it.

For instance, I had spent all that time describing how I can take my hexagon project on the road. There’s no excuse for not working on those just because my apartment is upheaved. Here are some cell-phone-cam shots of me working on hexagons in various places last week:

Hexagons at the laundromat

At the laundromat.

Hexagons on the subway

On the subway.

Hexagons at my desk

In my office. (Shhh… It was lunch hour, mostly.)

I also pulled out my art journal on the subway the other day and was a bit surprised to find that the rectangles I sketched out for drawing quilt ideas turned themselves — suddenly and quite unexpectedly — into a comic strip. Woah, dude. Guess I needed some blatant insight into some of my recent decisions. You can stare at a page all you want and wonder about subtle meanings and nuances until there is a drawing of yourself talking back to you. Yeah. Not so subtle.

Comic strip in journal

What about you? How do you kick-start yourself after a low point in creativity?

Roundup: Anatomical Art (Therapy)

Mal | Art Journal,Art Therapy,Resources,Roundup | Sunday, April 26th, 2009

 What hurts?

One great way to facilitate a good mind-body connection is to make artwork about your body — its ailments or its triumphs. Today I’m thinking more about ailments.

Surgery

I made a lot of art about my own body last year before, during, and after surgery. I even wrote about it here and here. As an art therapist who works in a hospital, I’m always interested in representations of physical, mental, and emotional pain.

Frida Kahlo famously lived with pain caused by childhood polio and then a traumatic bus accident. Her art is generally labeled as Surreal, though I see it as a therapeutic reflection of reality. Frankly, with varying degrees of technical skill, this is the kind of art that shows up a lot in a hospital setting. The problems of pain and the foibles of the human body are, as we all know, very very real.

fridakahlobrokencolumn

 My painting carries with it the message of pain. (Frida Kahlo)

The Problem of Pain

Obviously, the human anatomy is a common theme in artwork of all kinds. Click the image above to find out more about the artists and their work.

Other very excellent examples include:

Of course, actual physical representation is not necessary. One of my favorite flickr images is by karmapolis and is called “Mi enfermedad” (My Illness). It depicts a dragon, not a body or a brain. Other people may just use color, shapes, and lines to abstractly depict what they go through.

Parts of me

What about you? Have you ever made something about your body, an illness, or a physical ailment or triumph? Please share!

Color Study: Mexico

Mal | Art Journal,Color study,Links to Others | Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Mexico Courtyard

With the Granny Day Giveaway going on, I’m thinking about color this week.

Somehow I had missed (or forgotten) that Geninne lives in Mexico. Her recent post about the colorful country she lives in reminded me of my trip to Mexico from a few years back. (I highly recommend you click over to read that post, as it is very beautiful and insightful. Go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back.)

I first visited Mexico in 2004 for some art therapy classes and was so into sketching and visual journals at the time that I didn’t even take a camera with me! This strikes me as absurd — my first time visiting in a new country and no camera!? — but I sketched my way across the Mexican countryside as evidenced by this photo below:

Sketching (under the arrow)

Yeah, that’s me. Under the orange arrow. Note that I am the only person not paying rapt attention to the speaker, and instead am sketching the cactus to my right. I remember it was bursting with small fruits and I couldn’t NOT capture their deep burgundy-gold-ness. The photo was taken by a friend who sent it to me with a note: “This is what you looked like the whole time in Mexico, FYI.” I think she was a little annoyed, but my sketchbooks from that trip are their own reward.

Mexico Colored House

While I was in Mexico, I read a quote that I thought at the time really summed up my thoughts on color in that country. In hindsight, I think it is rather Aryan-centric and a little class-ist, but I still think it’s interesting:

In Mexico, the people who have no money make their walls beautiful to show off their one element of wealth: COLOR.

— Elena Ponintowska

And, it’s true. My journals from that trip are filled with warm oranges, reds, yellows, and pinks. The blues are really bright, and the greens kind of fade away. Here are a few more scans:

Mexico Fountain

Mexico Blue Sky Church

Mexico Bar

Mexico Umbrella

There’s still time to enter the Granny Day Giveaway. Just think of your current favorite color and an emotion you associate with it. There are 5 ways to enter!

(Note: There are also giveaways at Bumblebeans and Mrs. Schmenkman Quilts. Go stash up while I work to stash down.)

Growth is coming

Mal | Art Journal,Here and Now,Prosaic | Monday, March 16th, 2009

Growth is Coming

I’ve had trees and buds and blossoms on my mind a lot this week. I suppose most of the world is sitting up to take notice of nature’s cues as spring marches toward us. But, since I live in Southern California, the differences between the seasons outside are much more subtle and apparently I was making art about buds and new growth last fall.

I’ve grown increasingly tuned into my internal seasons. I feel like this image is related to Friday’s post in a way that is both obvious and subtle. It’s more about holding on and less about letting go. It’s more about hope and less about acceptance. Both are important processes in growth.

20090227-goodmorningworld

Here’s a final little image I found in my journals this weekend. I have to say that I did not feel this way about the world when I woke up this morning. But, I’m grateful for my journal because it reminds me of the wide range (and transitory, temporary nature) of my feelings. Yes, my mood was a bit foul this morning, but sometimes I do wake up feeling joyful!

What about you? Do you keep a journal, or do you wish you did? Have you gained emotional insight from your journals or sketchbooks? Please share!

Art Journal: The Anchor and the Bird

Mal | Art Journal | Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Art Journal: Faith

This girl has shown up in my journals before — with her limbs all twisted and her crooked neck. I don’t know what she means, but with the inclusion of the little bird, apparently this time she meant Faith.

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Here’s another recurring image — the fish and its anchor. Does the anchor keep the fish from swimming at all? Or does it just keep it from swimming at its full capacity? What is holding me back in my life?

I suddenly realize that maybe these two images are connected for me today. There is a lot of “stuck” going on in certain areas of my life right now. How can I get unstuck?

Feel like sharing? What is holding you back today? Where do you place your faith?

Links: Creative Therapy

Mal | Art Journal,Art Therapy,Links to Others,Paper,Resources | Saturday, February 28th, 2009

creativetherapy

I have been following a lovely little website called Creative Therapy which celebrates the art of visual journals. The site serves as a community for creative/visual journalers, and its administrator, Karen Grunberg, puts forth “catalysts” (journaling prompts, basically, but with an awesomer name) to which the CT team responds. She then invites readers to respond as well, and to post links to their creations.

There are lots of things that I like about this website, including:

  • Each contributor is invited to write about their project and their process, which can be really illuminating. This is something I often do with my art therapy clients, as it can sometimes facilitate a better connection between our rational and emotional selves. On the practical side, you can learn new techniques from these artists’ blurbs. On the emotional side, you can really get a feel for the way that creating these responses has touched people. As you know, the emotional side of art-making is something that interests me very, very much.
  • Karen tries to eliminate the all-too-common air of competition which can seep into these kinds of community ventures. She seems to truly celebrate creativity and personal expression and to genuinely encourage it in others.
  • There is a spotlighted artist for each catalyst, and it’s often someone I’ve never heard of (though some famous faces have made appearances).
  • The site has sponsors who sometimes do giveaways. Not that any of us need extra stash, but… I do think it speaks to how involved and proactive Karen (and maybe her team?) has been.

The responses seem to be largely grounded in the world of scrapbooking, altered books, and other popular paper-based arts, but are not exclusively so. For instance, a recent response to Catalyst 50: What is something that you turn to, to lift you up out of a bad mood? was a crochet project made by Debee Campos. Debee graciously gave me permission to post her artwork and words here, because I feel they really speak to some of my own explorations about the emotional impact of various art media. In this instance, Debee writes about the experience of learning and practicing crochet.

I’ve recently taken up the art of crochet. And just in the nick of time. Wedding planning. House hunting. Future dreaming. All have left me a little chaotic. You would think it’s crazy of me to take up crocheting during this crazy phase of my life. But in fact it has helped silence my thoughts. During these times of learning and practicing the rhythm of the process, I have found my thoughts are all hushed. My time has been well spent. Thinking pondering and praying. There are times when I just listen. And most of the time I’m not such a great listener. It has also helped my patience level :) But the combination of the two has helped my outlook on all the things I’m juggling. I find this time to be the best at bringing peace to my heart. All the while I am bursting with pride taking up a lost art in my family and creatively expressing myself in another form. This is for sure something I hope to continue throughout my life.

 

I laid a drawing I drew years ago of one of my hands over the top of my blanket that is still a work in progress. I felt like it fit the picture perfectly. As drawing was once my quiet time long before scrapbooking and crochet came into my life.

How about you? Have you ever used journal prompts or participated in some kind of creative community? Do you keep a visual journal? Why or why not?

Art therapy and health

Mal | Art Journal,Art Therapy | Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

My art journal when I was in the hospital.

I don’t know how many of you are interested in formalized art therapy (I am — but as an art therapist who works in healthcare I’m slightly biased). There is a recent article making news today that talks about art therapy with breast cancer patients. If you’re interested, you can read either the full article, or a quick news summary of it.

Between this and the researchers’ other articles, their evidence seems to indicate that breast cancer patients who engage in art therapy show:

  • Improved psychological health
  • Decreased side effects of radiation treatments
  • Higher overall quality of life
  • Increased physical health
  • Improved coping skills
  • A ”better ability to deal with others’ demands”
  • More positive self-image

Why is this important, if you are not an art therapist, an art therapy client, or a breast cancer patient? I guess I wanted to share it with you on the hope that you’ll feel some deeper meaning in the art that you make every day.

Maybe you are making art to sell — to put food on the table or supplement your family’s income. Maybe you make art because you’re bored in meetings with nothing to do but doodle. Maybe you make art as gifts for loved ones, decorations for your home, or to explore the outside world. Maybe it is simply your hobby — your pastime. But, maybe it could be much, much more?

Whatever art you make, I hope you make space for it to have a deeper impact on your life.

Please share: How has making art impacted your life?

Media and Meaning

Mal | Art Journal,Art Therapy,Media,Sewing | Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Ingredients

Jennifer, over on Craftstylish, posted an essay about the meaning of making. As an art therapist, these are the types of philosophical questions that are on my mind daily, so I was happy to read them as phrased by someone else and Jen did a great job with a focus on the reputation and perception of people who engage in certain crafts. Behold (emphasis mine):

 

 I haven’t dipped my toe into the world of scrapbooking [. . .] As I ponder the profile of the scrapbooking enthusiast, I think it’s for folks who like to bring order to something and create a perfect world even if their lives are chaotic and messy. Come to think of it, I could use some order. Cue the jones for acid-free paper…

The opposite of pristine and controlled, silk screening seems gritty and radical. I desperately want to try it. It seems counter-culture, very Haight-Asbury in the ’60s [. . .]

After seeing Erika Kern transform a T-shirt in a couple of hours through the magic of embroidery, I view embroidery fiends as not only traditional and elegant but also meticulous with a side of inventive. Or maybe that’s just Erika.

 

Art therapists are trained to consider the inherent qualities in various art media and use them to their advantage when working with clients. What’s interesting is that I can trace the thread of my own psychological growth through the labyrinth of my meanderings in arts and crafts and media.

I mentioned before that I had a meaningful love affair with pottery when I lived in Boston 9 years ago. At the time I was profoundly depressed, lonely, untethered, and riddled with anxieties. In hindsight, I realize that working with clay, smelling the earth, allowing myself to get messy, and working on the wheel were exactly what I needed at the time. The process of centering — of muscle-ing a hunk of clay into a stable position on a spinning wheel — of finding stillness in the midst of chaos — was a big part of my transformation. Then, once you had crafted the “perfect’ piece, you glazed it and offered it up to the kiln god. The kiln, that paragon of unpredictability, would either accept your offering and bless you with a beautifully glazed bowl, or it would chew up and destroy whatever piece you had devoted your hours to. Dealing with that unpredictability reduced my anxieties; it had to.

I later went through a bookbinding phase. This was sparked largely by my first love: writing. (Writing’s purpose? To incubate my rebellious and revolutionary thoughts quietly, until I could escape my repressive upbringing.) I made journal after journal out of boards and papers and fabrics, as though I were a robin building a nest. The beauty and richness of my current life has hatched from the ”eggs” I laid in those journals. There, I questioned, experimented, railed, accepted, cried, destroyed, exulted. And then, at the end of the day, I could close the book — contain it all neatly inside — and move on. It was the only way I could make it through grad school. I would go to the books, make a tremendous mess of things, and then close them up so that I could go about my work.

Other phases have included watercolors (letting go of absolute control, learning to “go with the flow”), screen printing (productivity, planning), self-portraits (body image issues, self-exploration), altered books (questioning authority), and more.

My current phase is very textile driven — sewing, quilting, embroidering. I’ve postulated that there is a sort of healing taking place — a stitching back together after the ripping-apart of a difficult breakup, the physical effects of a traumatic surgery, and a long convalescence. 2008 was a time of yanking and pulling and tearing. I enter 2009 with needle and thread in hand, ready to follow wherever the line of stitches leads.

What about you? What do you gain from the things you make?

Knowing is not enough

Mal | Art Journal,Band Sampler,Media,Sewing,Stitching | Monday, February 9th, 2009

Knowing is not enough 

I learned to embroider when I was a very young girl. As a sometime-farm-girl, I learned all of those skills necessary to become a good, midwestern housewife. Most of the skills stuck (though I do still struggle with knitting and tatting, and have never canned produce without an older relative providing guidance) and I go back to them, periodically, in their turn.

My exposure to embroidery, as was true for most crafters in the 80′s, was comprised mostly of cross-stitch. I did learn to do simple backstitch (mostly to define the facial features of my cross-stitched Precious Moments figures) and running stitch. My grandmother taught me to do french knots, and called it candlewicking. But, after completing a large piece at age 14, I burned out on cross-stitch and put the needle down for good.

Well, I put it down until a couple of months ago, when I suddenly became consumed with stitching. I also googled for tutorials, and found blogs like Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘n Thread and Primrose Design (especially her Stitch School). It didn’t take me long to realize that while I had been taught a few embroidery stitches (and I had become adept enough at making my own designs out of straight stitches and knots), there were huge gaps in my actual embroidery knowledge.

Stitch dictionaries

Knowing that samplers in Britain and the US were used to teach young schoolgirls how to stitch, and wishing I could go back and learn/re-learn the basics of traditional embroidery, I decided to seek out a sampler pattern. That way, I reasoned, I could be learning while I make something purposeful.

I found one sampler online that interested me, designed by Mary Corbet.

Then I found Sharon B.’s Pin Tangle and Annie’s Crazy World blogs. These women, real-life friends, each work on a band sampler. In her archives, I read Sharon’s musings about autobiographical textiles — the use of stitching as a journal. Annie does it, too and, are you kidding me? A combination of stitching and journaling? I am in love!

Linens

It’s time for me to pull out the linen I bought before Christmas and finally start work on my own band sampler. After all, Knowing is not enough; we must apply. (Goethe)

More hospital art

Mal | Art Journal | Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Hospitalization, broken down

I had such a nice response when I shared some of my post-surgery artwork that I thought I would showcase this — my favorite in-hospital piece. It was one of the first I did after I was able to get upright and pick up a pen.

One of my friends kept bringing me magazines while I was in the hospital, which was great because my surgery happened less than 48 hours after Obama was elected president and I missed a lot of the post-election excitement. Well, in short order these magazines became art materials.

Hospitalization

I had found this image of a scantily-clad Vegas showgirl in one of the magazine ads, and lying there in the hospital — with a neverending army of doctors, nurses, nurse assistants, specialists, social workers, and innocent bystanders marching in to raise my gown and poke at my naked body — I felt a certain kinship with her. I mean, I hadn’t so much as shaved my legs for over a week, but you catch my drift. Her body was for public consumption and, seemingly, so was mine.

So, I drew in 20 or so of the accoutrements of hospitalization — including my IV pole, my gown, the pajama pants I was finally able to send for, the sports bra that really only lasted for 2 days or so, my pulse-ox meter, JP drain, and other awfulness — and labeled them.

#7: IV site.

#8: Backup IV site for when #7 collapses in on itself.

Best of all, the dancer’s ridiculous headgear represented my awful case of bedhead, and her puffy blue tailfeathers were reminiscent of my hospital bed with its neverending supply of pillows.

It’s not fine art, but there was something about this piece that really, really satisfied me and, even now, brings me right back to that moment.

I’d rather be stitching!

Mal | Art Journal | Friday, January 30th, 2009

I am on deadline tonight for an academic chapter that I’m co-authoring with a friend. As fun as it is to see your name in print, to be honored by your peers and referenced by grad students everywhere in their mid-term research papers, I am growing tired of academic writing.

Stitches in the journal

I’d rather be stitching! I don’t want to write, I want to sew! But I’m not allowed to sew until I finish writing.

Sigh!

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