Pebbles on the Edge

Pebbles on the Edge
Lake McDonald, 2014

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Studio Progress and First Week of School

During painting

Where everything got stuffed

This was last weekend during painting. Originally I wasn't going to paint but I decided since almost everything was out anyway that I needed to do it, so I took everything off the shelves, took down the shelves, and we painted. I did the walls and William did the ceiling, sort of an off-white. It looks great, especially with the blinds!

Yesterday we painted the orange part to meet the white (second coat to be applied today) and started putting the shelves back. I decided to paint those too, since they were brown. Maybe, finally, I'll be able to start putting stuff back. The other three units, which are sort of like tables rather than cabinets, will not be arriving until after the 19th, so I still won't have a finalized floor-plan or a place to work until those get put together. They're movable so I have considerable flexibility.

The other morning, I did do a bit of watercolor experimentation trying to find a sketchbook that wouldn't bleed through. It was fun working on a proper surface.

As for the first week of school, I survived. I have huge art classes (27, 25, 25 & 17). The 17 are seventh graders and they are probably the most immature and recalcitrant bunch I've ever had. Behavior problems abound. Perhaps my expectations are too high. After all, they're only twelve.

None of the art materials I ordered were there yet, so I punted and gave the kids simpler projects that nevertheless help me understand where each student is in terms of skill level and understanding of art concepts. They are all over the place: my advanced classes have people who have never had art alongside those who've had it for six years. Stick figures (literally!) next to rendered and shaded objects. I must be insane.

I've got mid-school art, ninth grade art, and basically just two high school art classes. Because I'm part-time again this year, I have no true art program, no sequence, no scope, very little to build upon, but I try to provide as much rigor as I can with such a mix of kids.

Such are the woes of the teacher in a small school whose programs have been steadily cut over years of state-sponsored non-support of public education. I don't even want to think of what it's like in the bigger cities.  

I am, however, looking forward to retirement. I've been a department of one for too long.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Studio Reorganization and the Full Moon

Relatively clean after the major junk was cleared...

 ...and some shots of the moon during the last two nights, after the day's work was finished

Moon Calligraphy

Moon leaf

I neglected to take pictures of the horrible mess that was my studio before I started clearing it out. Probably just as well...These shots were taken more than halfway through, after I'd removed four tables and all the mish-mashy storage carts and boxes to the guest room and thrown away several large trash bags of garbage.

The first cabinet has now been put together (five to go; two more today and the rest are on backorder), and the old window shades were taken down and replaced with blinds. It's looking more like a professional studio now, after more than 12 years. I'm pleased and looking forward to going through all the art stuff crammed in the guest room: culling, keeping, putting away, painting the walls, installing shelves and lighting, and adjusting over the next few months. I'll (hopefully) have stations for the all the different work I do: drawing, painting, metal clay, polymer clay, traditional jewelry making, beading, sewing, printmaking, and stamping. I might even have space in the computer side for writing my story, doing my Gaelic homework, and lesson plans for my art classes!

Meanwhile, I'm making cool headpins out of silver scrap wire. I love torching stuff!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hope Amid the Ashes

View from my deck: Morning.

So, there are still days, and hours, and minutes; these treasures we call time. I am alive for some reason, or maybe no reason. I can still see the loveliness of a morning from my yard, can still hear music that makes me feel in the deepest part of my soul, can still see images of little kids starving in Somalia that make me ache for the world and detest the cruelty of people.

I am so lucky, I tell myself. I have friends and family, a house, a car, a job, a spouse who likes me, two kids who make me laugh even though they are far far away...I have eyes and ears and a body that still works, albeit not as well as it used to...I have time, still.

And therein lies the rub: our finite time on this lovely and sometimes brutal planet; this stunning, outrageous, extravagant world. I'm not afraid of death, or dying. I'm just afraid I won't be finished. But then none of us is, I suppose.

I often wish...well, time-travel is impractical. Life is what it is. My life is my life. I cannot change what was; I can only alter the future by my choices today.

I love being alive, really. I love the morning light. I love the green things growing. I love autumn's bittersweetness. I will miss these someday, and I love that, too.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eilidh's Dilemma

"Libretto", by me (in the collection of Myrna Dow) not a particularly good photo

Okay, so this is going to be depressing to's certainly depressing to write. I apologize in advance. You can stop reading now.

So...I'm going through all of my old artwork, some of it 26-30 years old, most of it, however, executed between 1994 and 2002. I'm sorting and culling and keeping and moving in anticipation of new studio furniture arriving next week. I wonder why I even ordered new furniture. For decoration, I suppose. I won't use it.

Here's the dilemma part, LP version: 

From this distance, I used to be quite good, even while I was teaching.  However, my creativity has vanished and I wonder what happened to it. Gone somewhere, I suppose, in a place hidden from me, perhaps forever. I can't remember how I did anything, much less how I came up with it. I was so full of ideas and passion and I was happiest making things.

I spent six fairly contented years between teaching gigs as an "artist" (I use the term loosely), although it was depressing being so isolated sometimes because eastern Oregon is not an artist's haven. But I did have art friends, did display and sell my things in galleries, did win awards for my paintings, did get into juried exhibitions, did feel good about my growth and progress as a practicing artist, did learn a great deal from the workshops and classes I took.

Somewhere in there, I realized that one of the requirements for continuing this pursuit (imposed from without, in part), was being able to make a living at it, to pull my weight around here, to help provide an income to this household, even though I was never very interested in making money from my work. All I wanted was to do it, to play with stuff--all kinds of stuff, every kind of stuff: paint, ink, clay, metal, film. I love tools and I love art materials and purchased quite a lot of it. But it became too expensive to keep messing about with things. I had to finally support my habit financially (why I do not know). I had to start work for real, like a job. I was a gallery director for about 3 years. I also worked as a picture framer for 4 years. I hated it.

So, after about a year of feeling suicidal, I copped out and went back into teaching in 2003. I do like it sometimes but high school level is exhausting. This year will be my 8th at Stanfield, my 16th altogether, and I feel so empty of any kind of creativity at all. Maybe all I can do is eight years at a time, like some kind of prison sentence.

Whatever...I was someone else back then, and now as I slowly go through my old work and get ready to burn it, I wonder what happened to my blazing ideas and the fire in my head. All I see are ashes. There will be no phoenix rising.

Retirement holds out little hope. The white flame is gone. I've lost the world's delight, and I'm not even dead yet.

Okay, I'm done whining.

(with apologies to Rupert Brooke, via Danny Kirwan: Dust)              

Monday, August 1, 2011

Outrageous Banality

Take Five

I just experimented with self censorship and was wildly successful: I deleted an entire post. I have no business posting my opinion on anything on this public forum, as little-read as it is. So, in a tribute to banality, here's a painting executed a few years ago. It hangs in my foyer. Enjoy.