Day 67: Vaguely Vain

Day 3 of the “wow, I really love mixed media work” series. The president of the California Council of the Blind gave me a call in reference to an inquiry I placed a little while ago. I want to do an art project for the blind, but as a sighted person, I wanted to get some insight as to how the blind community currently experiences art. As an exercise to get my brain thinking in terms of touch and sound instead of purely as images, I decided to take a quick trip to a great local thrift store for inspiration.

There, feeling baskets and dishes and crochet with my eyes closed, trying to create mental images based only on the texture, size, weight and spatial relationships, I started to get some insight as to how I might tackle this project. When I returned home, I had a totally rad old physics textbook, some vintage sewing patterns and yarn to add to pile of mixed media resources and today’s piece to do.

I am trying to spread out how frequently I use a canvas since they don’t grow on trees… well, they have wood, so I guess they kind of do, but anyway, I’ve been meaning to use more paper and fabric and whatnot. The thing is that I just love the way canvas feels under the brush. There is a distinct difference between painting on a wood panel, painting on a stretched canvas and painting on a flat canvas panel (where the canvas is adhered to stiff board). The brushes have different tension, the paint reacts differently…. there are just subtleties that you come to notice about your favored media over time.

It was an interesting moment today because as I finished this one up and put it on the wall with its brother and sister, I thought “I can kind of see me making these forever”. I’ve never had an art moment quite like that, so we’ll see where it leads. “Vaguely Vain” includes the Spanish/English “mirar” page, a scientific diagram of a mirage, part of a sewing pattern and a few other odds and ends. I think I like it the most, but then I like all three together quite a bit. 



Day 58

I saw a blouse today with a fascinating bead-curtain mardi-gras-esque type of pattern on it. For some reason, it reminded me of a drawing I’d done years ago, between classes in college, sketching in ballpoint pen because that’s all I had on me (believe me, normally I would have used pencil so I could fix mistakes).

Despite being an art student, I could be remarkably unorganized with art supplies some days. I’d be CERTAIN I had my pencils and charcoals somewhere in the bottom of my bag, when really they were in the backseat of the car since I’d been sitting there doing a drawing last and forgot to return them to my satchel, which I’d only discover after parking a half mile away from campus in the hills of Oakland. I distinctly remember sitting in the cafeteria in the fall, nursing a cup of tea I’d bought with the 75 cents I’d fished out of the coin dish in the car door that morning, glaring at the people who’d let the door fly open in the wind and not bother to close off the cold air behind them.

I drew this figure then- a stripper leaning lightly to avoid the sticky wall, staring blankly at the dark- out of my head, which is always tricky for me. I work much better with a model, but I wanted to try. I found it difficult to add little details like the feather hairpiece, beaded bikini string and tucked dollar bills in just the ink, but when I was done, I was really happy with it. And I kept it all these years.

So today I decided to begin an old/new series. Artists are constantly inspired by other artists- anyone who says they aren’t is either insanely vain or a liar- and I thought “why not be inspired by my OWN work?”

I chose a wood block and painted the beaded curtain pattern in washes of color muted with charcoal and finished it with the bright orange red of cathouse neon and tacky lingerie. For me, the grain of the wood feels like both the movement of the curtain and an echo, which I think is appropriate here since we’re looking at two pieces connected in time. I left the background the wood color too, since it’s warm and close to flesh tone, which I think references the other piece as well.

My cold is primarily habitating my throat now, which Rob has jokingly referred to as the “Kathleen Turner” phase of sickness. He made me a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea with soy milk and amber honey. As I sit here sipping on it, I feel as if things come full circle sometimes in unexpected ways and smile.