Please hold

Mal | Here and Now,Prosaic | Friday, July 31st, 2009

LA Skyline

I dream a lot. I do more painting when I’m not painting. It’s in the subconscious.

(Andrew Wyeth)

I hate this. I have scheduled my first license exam for 8/10. I don’t really think I will pass it this first time, but at least it gives me a deadline to cram towards.

Unfortunately, it means that I have to put a stop to all creative/artistic work for the next 2 weeks. I can’t sew the beads on the ice cream. I can’t cut out shapes for my next 3 journal quilts (already planned and sketched out). I really shouldn’t even be photographing or blogging.

I guess I’ll just have to reframe this time as an incubation — a preparation for the deluge of work that is certain to come after I finish these stupid exams.

What about you? Are you incubating anything right now? Or are you actively harvesting?

Make it because

Mal | Art Therapy,Finished Projects,Handmade,Here and Now,Prosaic | Monday, June 15th, 2009

Maxed-out bag

Because I started it a few weeks ago in one of my therapy groups, and have been meaning to finish it.

Maxed-out bag

Because sometimes just saying, “I’m maxed out” isn’t enough.

Maxed-out bag

Because I just finished a whole series of blog entries about how to fit creativity into our busy lives, after all. (Thank you, Emma, for the reminder.)

Maxed-out bag

Because I’m an art therapist, and I believe in the power of art to express and explore our thoughts and feelings.

Maxed-out bag

Because even though it took precious time, it made me feel better.

The view from here

Mal | Handmade,Here and Now,Prosaic,Works in Progress | Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Markers

Pictures from around the studio — lots of works in progress right now.

Blue and green

A little something to look forward to.

Beads

Another little something to look forward to.

matisse

A month ago, Victoria of Bumblebeans issued a challenge to make a quilt based on this Matisse painting called Interior in Aubergines. She encouraged us to “turn off your brain” and work quickly, intuitively. I wasn’t able to participate in the challenge at the time due to great disarray in my workspace, but the idea stuck with me.

Last week I was given a stack of home decorating magazines and, well, add in a little late-afternoon migraine medicine and the rest is history.

Matisse collage

It’s many weeks late, and it’s a collage (not a quilt), but hey. The other submissions are really neat to look at (scroll down). I’m so glad Victoria got this idea.

What about you? What are you working on today?

Fulfilling obligations

Mal | Finished Projects,Handmade,Here and Now,Prosaic | Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Anatomy closeup

I completed and mailed my piece for the flickr Phat Quarter swap. There’s a sneak peek for you.

Stash giveaway winners

I bundled up and mailed off the stash stacks for the Granny Day Giveaway winners. I ended up sending more than I intended (including some felt because HOLY CRAP with the felt already,  mom!) but it was fun to get the packets together. One red, one blue, one brown.

Baby McGooey

I spent some quality time with the dogs, including a spontaneous photo shoot with a very sleepy puppy.

Plates

And I spent the rest of the weekend manning a booth at an art fair. We were soliciting donations for my department at work. It was a hot, dusty couple of days but I’m glad we were there.

200905178739

Late Sunday night, I found out that my sister-in-law’s father had passed away and I spent Monday afternoon and evening with her.

Sometimes we don’t get to write our own to-do lists. What’s on your list today?

Some days

Headless monster

Some days are just like this, I guess. Some days I feel all stretched out and strung — like a too-tight banjo that’s been hammered on for hours. Like a hurricane blowing out in every direction, a circle of destruction. Like that plastic monster from my yard who battled valiantly and lost — plaintive and empty.

Rawr.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do this hour, and that one, is what we are doing… Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern… There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. 

Annie Dillard

I started this blog with a few different aims and purposes. One of them was to have an excuse to be making things — an accountability to myself that I would create art in my free time. I wanted to honor my mission of bringing art and creativity to other people’s lives by also bringing it to my own life. To have that little extra push. To find and make time for creativity.

And, let’s face it — some days it’s all I can do to make something other than a bowl of chocolate ice cream for dinner. Some days I am happy if I make my bed, wash my hair, tie my shoes. Some days, I feel extremely lucky to have sewn one bead, one green loop, one hexagon seam.

Green loop

At work, I am the boss. I head up a team of people who bring the arts and creativity to those in need. I don’t always get to see patients, though in general I wish I could sit every minute of every day, with the suffering and downtrodden. Instead, I sometimes spend eight hours a day writing reports, grant proposals, and performance reviews. Compiling statistics. Oh, and I answer e-mails. So, so many e-mails. I supervise my staff, making myself available to discuss their triumphs and failures. I build bridges in hopes of building bigger bridges. Bigger bridges lead to new lands and unforseen challenges. But, it’s all in the service of a greater purpose. I have a clear vision for where I want to go with my little department, and I chip away at it one day at a time.

I also have a vision for my life outside of work, though it is not always so clear. I try to maintain a social life, courting the someday-fantasy of having a partner. I budget my money, trying to get out of debt. I attempt to eat right and exercise so that I can continue to lose weight. (Last year I lost 80 pounds, but I still have more to go.) I maintain contact with my huge and expanding family. I care for the dogs. I clean and wash and fold. I sit. I rest. I shower in the dark.

Hex flowers

And, I guess that’s what Annie Dillard is trying to say. Maybe I don’t finish a quilt in a day or participate in all the swaps and challenges and trends and movements. But, if I sew two hexagons today, and one tomorrow, eventually they start to build up. Today piles on top of yesterday and forms the base for tomorrow. It all blurs together into a pattern, just like Annie says, and I want the pattern of my life to be about compassion and creativity and community.  

So that even on days when I am only able to do the very smallest thing, it’s okay. As long as I am facing the right direction, contributing somehow to my life’s larger purpose, stringing together my days, my stitches, my pencil marks, and my paint strokes into a life of creativity, then that’s what matters to me.

What about you? What small thing did you accomplish today in the service of your bigger vision? I hope you’ll share.

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!

What to do: Cultivate potential

Mal | Here and Now,Prosaic | Friday, March 13th, 2009

20090313-treebuds

One of the small citrus trees outside my front door is suddenly covered in buds.

I mean, this tree has virtually exploded with potential. Its branches are alive with a snowstorm of possibility — the hope of new life. 

20090313-tree

There are many more buds on the tree than the tree could ever support eventual fruit. Hundreds more flowers than could ever be pollinated, plucked, and eaten.

And you can already see evidence of it — little white dots are beginning to blanket the ground underneath. Some of the buds drop off naturally, I assume. Maybe they are too weak, or too crowded, or too tenuously attached. Some of them are knocked loose in the wind or get jostled loose by dogs playing beneath the tree and kids kicking their soccer ball around it. Others cling tightly to their stem, but soon there will be more buds on the ground than there are blossoms on the tree.

See the cast-offs there on the bricks already?

20090313-droppedbuds

For me, the buds seem to represent ideas, dreams, intentions, wishes. They represent potential results. Some of the wishes are good — strong and healthy and plump — and will withstand a little wind to become fruit. But, it’s important to understand which of the ideas are fruitful and which are better left to decompose underneath the tree and fertilize next year’s crop. It’s important for me to identify which of my potential projects has “staying power” and which is born only to die.

I’m in a phase of abundance right now. I have lots of ideas and creative energy. I have lots of things that I want to do and see and experience. My “ideal self” is peeking out at me from every imaginary corner. You know the one — she wakes early and writes in her journal, takes the dogs for a brisk walk, does yoga, and eats a balanced breakfast before arriving to work on time. She never runs out of gas, receives a late bill notice, or leaves trash in her car overnight. This ideal person never forgets to take her vitamins, eats fast food, or gets to bed late. She makes her own clothes and gives only handmade gifts and produces and produces and produces.

But I am faced, every day, with the realities of life’s limitations. I don’t have enough hours in the day. I must sleep and eat and pay bills and clean. I try to cultivate a social life and am actively searching for a romantic partner. Yet my current fascination with stitching, my art journals, and even this blog are brimming with potential ideas. It’s a blessing to be cursed with abundance. I’m so grateful to have too many ideas.

I take deep breaths and allow the natural process of pruning take place. I try not to stand in its way. I follow the growth wherever it leads and I feel grateful, today, for what I have.

What about you? Are you in a phase of too much or not enough?

Biting the trinket

Mal | Collage,Media,Paper,Prosaic | Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Collage Girl

What is this girl thinking? Is she sleeping? Is she scowling? She emerged from a collage activity during one of my groups this week, and I’ve enjoyed postulating about what part of me she might represent.

Today is Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras. There’s a new girl at work from Louisiana, and her mother shipped a traditional King Cake overnight express. Well, no one explained to me about the little plastic baby baked into the cake, so when I bit into something hard that was all arms and legs, I honestly thought a beetle had traveled to California from Louisiana.

20090224-plasticbaby

But, no. That painful little crunch apparently signified the onset of a year of good luck!

Normally, I wouldn’t put too much stock into such a thing, but last night when my back tire popped and deflated not ten feet away from a tire store, when the guys who work there were still cleaning up even though the shop had been closed for over 30 minutes, and when they quickly changed my tire for a reasonable price, I thought: THANK YOU BABY JESUS! I hope I didn’t spend all my good luck in one night.

Please share! Have you had good luck recently? Do you celebrate Fat Tuesday or Lent? How do you make traditional celebrations meaningful for you?

Colored flowers

Mal | Current Events,Home,Prosaic,Simplicity | Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Valentine's Day

My dad sent me these flowers for Valentine’s from 2 states away. Something about the colors really appeals to me — feels like a vintage print.

I spent a good portion of the day cleaning my house to get ready for a [pretend to watch a video but really make out on the couch all night] date. The cleaning included clearing off the table pictured above, which doubles as a dining table and a craft/work space. My sewing machine is now put away for at least a few days, which means I can focus on some hand stitching — getting a jump on the band sampler and hand stitching a quilt binding. Pictures to come.

Being in a clean, clutter-free place inspires my creativity.

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