Well, it’s pretty clear I’m not going to get all 30 days done in my drawing self-challenge, but I’m cool with that. I accomplished what I wanted, which was to confront and beat back my fear of drawing. I’ve rekindled an old love affair with pencils, gum erasers and big, blank, pieces of paper. I got comfortable with a technique that’s faster and edgier than my careful and meticulous high school-age sketches. The end result is much more than I ever expected. So, Success!
23 Jul 2012 4 Comments
28 Apr 2012 9 Comments
A couple of things I’ve noticed while doing these sketches (aside from the anxiety):
I only spend a couple of minutes on them, working quickly and leaving lots of the image undrawn. This is a completely new way to work for me. In the distant past when I drew, I spent hours filling in every detail and reworking an image until I ripped holes in the paper. I like this breezy approach. It makes me focus on just a few details to “make” the image and keeps me from obsessing.
I can’t erase. The type of pencil I’m using and the way I’ve treated the pages of my sketchbook won’t allow it. This was not intentional. I meant to use the sketchbook as an art journal for collage work. Not being able to erase means I end up with lots of stray lines and can also see where I’m missing perspective. I see how I misjudge shapes and dimension. This is really helping me hone my “eye.” It’s also creating a completely different look to my drawings.
It will be interesting to see what will happen if I spend a little more time with a piece, use a different pencil or pull out a different sketchbook. I still have 24 days to play with, so playing around with the tools could be part of the process. As I get more comfortable with a pencil in my hand again, I hope to do just that.
05 Nov 2011 4 Comments
in art, bipolar disorder, developing consciousness, exercise, family, friends, mixed-media art, money, nature, TV and Movies, writing Tags: art techniques, compulsive eating, distraction, evolution, home, management, routine, shopping, transition, volunteering
I’m going to say I’m back from the bipolar battlefield even if I’m not sure. I seem to be back enough to do triage, sorting the casualties into who needs immediate attention, who can wait, and who is too far gone to warrant any attention at all.
What needs immediate attention is my home. During an episode, I tend to “let things go.” So, the bathroom needs a scrub, as does the kitchen. Laundry, vacuuming and a general picking up and putting away. I have a duffel bag full of pictures and photo albums to put away from creating the slide show for Dad’s funeral. A general dusting might be a good idea, too.
Concurrently, I need to get my routine back. It’s not too far off—I’ve been getting to the Y every day, doing a little writing and art—but off enough. Watching TV during an episode is positive distraction, but watching too much and continuing on after the episode fades like this sets me up for mindlessness and compulsive eating.
Once I get my apartment and routine in order, I need to stock up. The cupboards are pretty bare, which makes me reach for take-out, which I can’t afford. I’m out of any kind of analgesic (Advil, Tylenol, et al.) and Kleenex (little things, but vital when you’ve got fibromyalgia and allergies).
Finally, I need to move ahead with projects and plans that I set for myself. Check out another juvenile book from the library. Call my cousin, Ray, to set up a time to meditate together. Call my friend, Joyce, who I haven’t even told about my dad yet. Go out to the Animal Rescue League and talk to them about volunteering. Get outside while the weather holds. Dust off my sketchbook and draw.
I’m relieved to see no dead bodies in this triage run, no parts of my life that I’ve ruined or blown up, no relationships destroyed or bridges burned. That, in itself, is a miracle, considering my past. It makes me think I can actually evolve with this illness, learn from it, and make a few lasting changes. One thing about bipolar disorder is that there’s always another opportunity to practice these new ways of thinking and behaving, always the next crazy-bomb set to explode. Hopefully, the casualties will continue to stand up and walk away.
30 Aug 2011 10 Comments
My creative projects seem to be managing far better than I am at the present. While I continue to slug it out with all the usual bipolar symptoms and pitfalls, my novel, Callinda, keeps writing itself; new greeting cards appear on my worktable; and a collage I’ve wanted to do for years hangs on my wall.
To the Muse in my ear who refuses to shut up, to the hands that paint and snip with a mind of their own, to the part of me who plugged into the Cosmic Creative Source the day I was born and never looked back, I say thank you.
And now, for your creepification, my new collage, Bad Clowns.
The fear of clowns, or coulrophobia, is the number 3 phobia in the United States. Only the fear of needles and spiders beats it. Think about it. A grown man in disguise around little kids. Eew. Remember John Wayne Gacy? Remember Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as The Joker? My man, Stephen King, knew exactly what he was doing when he made his monster in “IT” a clown. No one understands what scares us like Stevie, and his icy little fingers are ruthless.
For me, Santa Claus (at least the department store kind) is just another clown. My three-year-old self knew instinctively to stay away from that lap. So, if you ever take your kids, nieces, nephews, grandkids, or friends’ kids to the circus or want a picture of them with Santa, and they start whining and digging in their heels, do me a favor. Don’t tell them they’re being silly. Don’t scold them and force them to make nice to the funny man. Just hold their hand and slowly, carefully, back away.
I got this icky rubber stamp clown from my favorite vendor, Teesha Moore. I knew someday, he’d be central to my Bad Clown collage, and here he is. I also cackled non-stop while “editing” these Pictionary cards.
I thought busted and bloody-looking balloons would help create the atmosphere of evil and danger. What do you think?
The central clown figure started out as a teeny, tiny photo of a circus troupe from the 1920′s comprised of midgets and dwarves. I took the face of one of the clowns and had my print shop blow it up 1000 %. I transferred that vague image to the canvas, then used paint, chalks, ink and markers to make him my own. I like that he doesn’t scream “EVIL” but that you know there’s something definitely wrong about him.
I found the plastic clown cake decorations at an antique store a year or so ago, and I knew immediately they’d end up with nails through their heads. Yeah, that’s the way I roll. I’ve been saving scrap of circus advertising and early images of clowns for years. It was a wonderful feeling to put them all together in one disturbing place.
Ahh, how’s that cotton candy tasting?
06 May 2011 3 Comments
I’m excited to present this finished piece. It carries so many layers of meaning for me.
As all fathers do, mine created the template for all subsequent relationships with the men in my life.
As a tween, I transfered my longing for attention and protection from my dad to Spock, the ultimate unavailable man. In my fantasies, I found the secret pathway to Spock’s heart. Of course he would never demonstrate his affection, never claim me as his, but I knew he would protect me. It seemed more than I could ever ask for.
My affection for Leonard Nimoy is deep and abiding. He was, after all, my first.
10 Apr 2011 7 Comments
The depression has been pretty bad the last couple of days. Again and again, I reach into my “toolbox” for the skills, behaviors, thoughts, reminders that keep me from falling into the gravity well of my illness. It all feels very counter-intuitive. When my body and my brain feel so tired, exercise seems exhausting. When tears are close to the surface, calling a friend or getting out of the apartment seems humiliating. The animal seeks easy comfort and avoids pain, so thinking of healthy distractions instead of my usual bingeing and spending or being quiet enough to feel where the depression resides in my body seems overwhelmingly difficult.
Since I’m dipping into my toolbox so much, I thought I’d share the one on my altar, the one I made so I wouldn’t forget.
There’s no doubt about it—this illness is hard work. And we’re called to be the most diligent when we are at our worst. Courage and strength in the face of adversity—isn’t that a form of heroism?
I want my own action figure.
06 Feb 2011 1 Comment
A couple of years ago, during a manic episode, I gave away all my art supplies–every stamp, scrap of paper and paint brush. The notion came into my head that I needed to “make room” for my writing, to clear out any other drains on my creativity. Since I had previously given away meaningful belongings as a spiritual practice, this seemed very natural. I hadn’t yet recognized the black and white thinking that came with my BP episodes or how to keep from acting on them.
When my calm and steady mind returned, and Art started tapping on the door to be let out, I realized creativity was not an Either/Or proposition. Art requires And/Also. The answer to its tapping on our inner doors is always “yes.”
I was living with my best friend and her husband at the time, and she offered the use of her art supplies. But I decided to dive deeper into discovery. I used what I could find in the house–coffee and teas for stains, markers and pens scavenged out of a closet, images and text cut from magazines and calendars, leaves and seeds found on walks.
Because I could make something from nothing, I relaxed. I could take my time acquiring new materials and tools. And I could begin to say yes to the other forms of creativity shyly asking for expression.