Day 31

One whole month! Woohoo! Today’s piece is a watercolor of a photograph of Istanbul. We crossed a bridge, and just like that we’d gone from Europe to Asia. Our tour bus smashed into a sedan (not his fault; the driver of the tiny car thought it would be a great idea to swoop into a small spot behind the bus while it was still in the process of parallel parking), so while they worked out the paperwork, we hung out in a small park and took pictures.

I distinctly recall a few things about that stop, and these were: a lady in a full-on leopard-print catsuit (thanks for marring my nice memories with your horrible outfit, woman), some fisherman who thought we were all obnoxious, and a woman who didn’t speak a single word of English who got me to take a photo with her for no apparent reason.

As I mentioned, I do have the crescent moon and star tattoo, so I suppose it’s possible she saw that. But why she signaled to me out of a crowd of hundreds and motioning, explained she wanted to take a picture with me, is beyond me. Her daughter appeared somewhat mortified, but also posed. She didn’t even want to see the photo on the camera afterwards. Perhaps she wanted to make sure I remembered my stop there so that I would grab this photo and spend five hours making it into a pretty rad watercolor. A Turkish art-psychic. Hmm.

I’m heading out to Newark to help my mom through a surgery this week, but the art project will continue. Whether or not I will be able to load photos on to the computer my father so frequently “fixes” into a non-functioning state remains to be seen. Hence, please excuse any poor quality images this coming week. I’ll update them with better ones later when I return home to my familiar editing tools if necessary.

Day 30

In general, Rob and I are peaceful with critters great and small. We have a standing agreement with spiders that if we don’t kill them, they won’t bite our faces off. Hence, hubby removes these and other invaders from the home safely. We’ve even saved a few from Chester the terrible..

… Chester doesn’t think he’s much of a menace, clearly.

But when it comes to pigeons, our “heal the world” mentality changes. I long ago developed what I consider a genius plan to rid our neighborhoods of these poison-pooping stoop-bunnies which I call “Squab Meats* The Streets”. Squab, as you may know, is a fancy term for pigeon you eat in restaurants. The “meats the streets” part refers to the crux of the plan, which is feeding the homeless with captured pigeons. If it’s good enough for rich people, it’s good enough for the destitute. It would even create jobs!

While these things do irritate me and literally crap all over our porch, I do feel bad for them out in the cold. I see them clustered together on poles and wires and think “why don’t they find some nice exhaust vent at an apartment complex or something?”, and then I realize they have tiny, tiny brains, and I feel more sorry for them. So today I immortalized a flight of pigeons in watercolor. They do make a fun composition. I suppose I can hold off on writing up my full proposal for project “Squab Meats the Streets” for a little while longer.

* P.S. I know you’re thinking it should be “meets” and not “meats” but I selected that homonym to express the idea of feeding pigeons to people, and not just say, introducing them to the homeless as a new means of inexpensive communication or companionship. 😀 See? Just another Californian with creative ideas to help solve this budget crisis.

Day 29

For the record- this painting and I are not on speaking terms. I started this around noon and “finished” around 9:30. I’ll let the many photos and my text messages tell the tale.

Me to Jen: “This painting is f%@*ing torturing me with its horribleness.”

Jen to me: “I like the blue space and the colored spots, I think maybe the problem is the green and yellow sections.”

“It’s like an injured tortoise from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

“It’s not that bad.”

“I thought you got my picture text.”

“Tortoise had a bad acid trip and ran into a mine field.”

“Umm…”

“I’m working on it. THIS SUCKS SO MUCH UGH.”

Jen to me: “So did you get that painting wrangled?”

Me to Jen: “Well I do not approve of its dangerous drug using lifestyle, so we’ve parted ways.”

“So you finished it?”

“Yes, but I still somehow feel like vomiting on it would have been an improvement.”

Day 28

I ended up trapped in line at a grocery store today, waxing philosophical with a random nice lady about what we’d do with ourselves if we had more time. I told her I hoped to go back to school for my master’s degree if I could raise enough in grants and scholarships- which at this point feels essentially the same as saying “if I can trick that leprechaun into showing me where he hid his gold”.

And she immediately proceeded to tell me about all of her family members who are talented artistically, which was a laundry list of her grandkids and nieces and nephews- particularly a 4 year old who is really just brilliant with fingerpaints.

Now before I proceed with my mini-rant, which will be Part One of my Art Public Service Announcement series, I’d like to point out emphatically that I am always delighted to hear about people who are into art. It’s great that families and friends support them and talk about their skills and pursuits- hell, that’s where pretty much anyone that’s reading this came from- okay? I love hearing about it and I’m always polite and interested when I do. So I’m not coming down on people who do this. It’s great. However..

This is, on a small scale, part of the great social problem of belittling art as a skilled, professional pursuit. It doesn’t make sense when applied to the same situation in any other field. For example, if you met someone and he told you he was an Electrical Engineer, I doubt that your immediate response would be “Oh, right. My son made a battery out of a potato in science class.” Because when you do this, you’re essentially saying, “Oh that? Pshaw. I know forty people that do that. Anyone can do that. Children are equally talented. In fact, I am probably going to make a piece of art when I wipe my ass after coffee in the bathroom later.”

Okay, so maybe that’s taking it a bit far, but that’s how it FEELS. For the record- making art is hard. It’s tiresome. It’s a struggle. And in general it takes a lot of time and practice and frustration to get to the point that you’re doing anything good or worthwhile. And even then, the entire art world is filled with some of the snobbiest snobs in the history of snobbery, so it’s not like we’re even immediately accepted among our own kind.

Just because it’s damn hard to make a living doing it doesn’t mean it isn’t important. On the contrary, people who tirelessly follow that pursuit should be applauded and praised for their foolhardy dedication, but they aren’t. They’re looked down upon as layabouts and hippies who don’t want to get real jobs- unless they get super famous and people are forced to respect them.

So, the next time someone who is trying to make a real go of art as a livelihood tells you about it, do all of us a favor and don’t immediately jump to comparisons with barely potty-trained family members. Thank you. Now you know.

/end rant

Day 27

It feels like the last week of high school at work, except that the excitement of embarking upon new adventures has been replaced with the fear of financial failure. No actual work is really getting done for the most part. Some people are sending each other “keep in touch” messages while others are thinking about how they’ll never see any of us again and how they could care less.

Modest Mouse’s “Third Planet” keeps playing in my head…“everything that keeps me together is falling apart/ I got this thing that I consider my only art of fucking people over”.

That’s how sales feels sometimes. Like the art of f-ing people over. I know if I stayed in sales forever I would eventually lose it. I’d have a nervous breakdown or combust spontaneously or develop mental divergence like TJ Washington from Seven Monkeys. “Are you also divergent, friend?”

The President gave the State of the Union address tonight. And as I listened I felt solidly jaded; I remember how I started to feel that way as a teenager and I told myself not to let it happen, not to let it take over, to make sure I wasn’t like that as an adult.

I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I applied for the only muralist job I’ve ever seen posted and haven’t heard back. I still don’t know if I’ll get the bonus they’ve carrot-dangled at us since we got the pink slip news two months ago. I don’t know what will happen when I run out of extensions on my student loan forbearances.

But I guess the scary part is that I do know what I’ll do- I’ll get another job like I always do. And if nothing else, I’ll suppose I’ll also be making art.

Today’s piece is a watercolor/drawing of a photo I took in Berkeley. I love Berkeley’s oddness and industrialism- it always inspires me. I loved going to Berkeley a long time ago, when what I saw on the horizon was smog and not doom. When I loved punk music and read the thousand fliers wallpapered to the telephone poles with excitement and felt like I’d find a way to carve out my spot in the world instead of the world carving me out instead. Maybe I’ll find that bright spot again one of these days.

Day 26

I’d like to pretend that each painting begins with some magical spark of divine inspiration; that each good painting idea falls upon my shoulders in some gorgeous ray of sunlight- a gift from God, the touch of a muse to my otherwise dullard noggin. But it’s not true at all. Often times I have no idea where an idea comes from or why I’m using it, as was the case today.

I walked into the studio, grabbed a small canvas I tried to print a linocut on that only took the border, thumbed through my tattered Capote book until I found a line that caught me (which never takes long), ripped it out, affixed it with medium, cut some yarn and wrapped it around the snippet in heavy gel, stamped it with today’s date, dripped wax on it and painted it red.

All quickly, while the dye in my hair set. It took hours to dry and then I discovered I’d left the damn camera on so I had to emergency charge it to get this post up. So I don’t know where the inspiration for this piece came from or why it happened. I usually don’t do creepy pieces. *Shrug*

So what happens with the actual inspired ideas I do get? Some of them get abandoned midway through when I realize they suck or shouldn’t be executed in my medium, some are forgotten before they’re written down, some live with me for years before I make them- literally, years. Sometimes I have a feeling I want to turn into an image but I don’t have the image to go with it. Sometimes it’s a song. Sometimes it’s the way rust runs down deteriorating buildings, or bolts painted red a thousand times or colors left over on my extra sensitive retinas when I close my eyes… it isn’t always easy to make it into something.  At least it’s always a surprise what tomorrow will bring, right?

Day 25

I was chatting with my friend Jennan about this project today and I told her it was eventually going to come down to picking inspirational topics out of a hat. I even thought of doing a discussion topic on the facebook fan page and asking for suggestions, but then I thought of how we used to take improv classes and the slips of paper from the audience would always have crazy shit like “humping a lawnmower” on them, so then I figured I’d hold off on that idea for now.

When I sat down in the studio this evening, my idea slate was as blank as the canvas. I’d been clicking around on Etsy most of the day at work, and I love so much of the great stuff on there. Etsy itself has kind of a cute/indie/hipster aesthetic and I remembered these cool paintings I’d seen recently by BenBen and I thought, “Hey. Why can’t I make something whimsical and rad like that?” so I started out and after a few minutes, I’d ‘erected’ this….

… which was far from cute. Rather, it looked exactly like a tiny city built of band-aid clad penises. Or the tentacled appendage of a Technicolor alien. Or stepped-on fruit stripe gum. But mainly tiny penises. Soooo I decided to try to make it into something else…

And eventually I ended up with this. I don’t love it, but it’s certainly better than a poke in the eye. HAHA! Yes. I’m a child. Feast your eyes on THIS! Hahahaaaa. Clearly it’s getting late.