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Rust and Red

The leaves are gone. The green is fading. Everything is rust and red. It’s an odd feeling being able to see distances I couldn’t during the lush summer months. Houses and roads are gradually being revealed. Secret spaces aren’t so secret anymore. The foliage has thinned. The hills have furrowed brows.

I mostly missed Halloween this year. And now Thanksgiving and Giftmas are creeping up on me. It will be nice to have a more permanent home again, where I can nest and create traditions.

I’ve dipped. I’m low. Is it the weather? Is it that things haven’t worked out the way I had planned this year? I’d like to think I’m flexible, but my energy is low and I am sad. It would be nice to feel safe enough to let go for a day. It would be nice to feel taken care of sometimes, not because I can’t take care of myself(I know I can), but because I’m deserving of it. I’m not sure that I am, but I’d like the illusion. I’m held together by a cracked eggshell, the armor is worthless, and it’s only a membrane holding it in place and giving the appearance that it is whole.

I wrote before about learning the difference between what I want and need. I need more golden light, soft words, and unsolicited kindness. And time. Let me hoard time in a drawer. Let me grow tougher and harder and sip time. Thorns last longer than petals.

I’m not crying for help. I’m just crying. I’ve been thinking about how different people approach their public personas, specifically when expressed through the internet. I feel a pressure to only be positive, barely personal, to chronicle just the pretty parts of my struggle. I’m overly edited. It’s not honest. Hurt and disappointment are equally authentic.

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Grown Up Life

I’ve found gainful employment as a store artist at Greenlife, a local grocer owned by Wholefoods. My position is a fun mix of graphic design, data entry and illustration. I get paid to draw fruit and veggies with chalk markers! This is a huge relief. Up till now I feel as if I’ve just been floating along the summer months and watching my funds slowly deplete(and I’ve gone through them faster than I expected). Finding out that I can(probably) take care of myself has been the biggest learning experience this year so far. I suppose I realized it was there, that it may have been the most important goal beneath everything else, but coming face to face with it is much different. That isn’t to imply I was anyone elses responsibility before, but this is the first time in quite a while that I’ve been on my own. I guess I am a grown up despite still feeling like a little girl. I’ve learned so much so far, and not just about drawing and art. I’ve had to figure out what I need versus what I want. More meaningful than that, I’ve learned to mostly be satisfied with less wants. I’ve learned to take pleasure in being more self sufficient. I want to need less. I need to want less. I’ve made some progress. I think. Maybe.

The summer slowed my posing jobs down, but I expect to start picking up evening work sitting for drawing groups again. Sitting for drawing groups has been a good way to meet other artists and find out what else this town has to offer. I suspect it has a lot, but again, I’m finding that at my core I am an introvert. Working, at Greenlife or sitting, will help tug me out of myself a bit. Whether I am reclusive or not, living near Asheville keeps me in contact with out of town friends. It’s a destination and I’m lucky that friends and family come through the area regularly.

As much as I just babbled above about simplifying my life and trying to want less, I’ve been nesting quite a lot. Perhaps it’s the changing of the seasons, starting a new job, or the decision to winter in Marshall, but I can’t deny the urge to make my room on the hill as homelike as possible. It is primitive. I feel like the chickens in our yard, scratching, clucking and pushing straw and leaves around into a pleasing scene.

I have set up a desk before my bedroom window and plan on treating this as a sacred place to draw. I’m patching and painting the walls and unpacking my still life objects of bones, bottles and superstitious toys. I may only have a room to live in, but I’m making it mine. It’s all I need for the time being. I started a new moleskine and plan on filling it from front to back. I actually have two. One is larger and full of watercolor paper. In that one, shown on my table easel, I collage with paper and paint(sometimes glitter!) in an abstract way in an attempt to discover pleasing compositions and colors without the burden of subject. It also allows me to play with texture in a way I avoid on canvas. I’m not sure if these exercises inform my painting choices, but it’s fun and freeing.

I love how the flowers seem to bloom with color coordination here. A month ago it was all orange and yellow. Now it’s purple and fuchsia. Prickly thistle along the roads, butterfly bush, petunias, morning glories, passionflower and more. I’ll be bloodying my hands hacking at flowers to dry for my still life set ups and to keep me company during the winter.

The sun is setting earlier. The air is growing colder. The changing of seasons is an exciting time. It makes me fidgety. I feel like I’m supposed to be burying acorns. I’ll miss the lush summer, but I’m eager for sweaters, cinnamon and crispy leaves. It’s harvest time. I am ready for hot tea, heavy blankets and ghost stories. Western North Carolina is bound to be lovely during autumn. The leaves are turning. The trees are slowly discarding their garments and will soon just be gritty bones.

I sound silly, but Halloween is coming. I’m allowed to sound spooky.

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Flow and Ebb – Life on the French Broad

Life is different. Life is interesting. Life is a bit hard to keep up with.

I’m on my last month of officially studying with Angela Cunningham at Marshall High Studios. It’s time to find a full time job and figure out a schedule to allow me to continue self study. I believe I will stay in Marshall for the time being. I like the quiet and slower pace. Things aren’t frantic here. I feel myself slowing down as well. A sense of urgency will always be part of me, but it is nice living somewhere that doesn’t exacerbate it. This place is full of quiet moments of meaning. Or maybe it’s just helping me focus on the moments that are already there but that I usually miss.

I love the sound of the French Broad always rushing within ear shot. I’ve never lived somewhere that has smelled so sweet. The spring flowers have melted like heated sugar, but now summer blooms like orange lilies and trumpet flowers are replacing them. I may be alone much of the time, but there are always lightening bugs to keep me company.

I’ve met good people. My studio mate Dan has been a great comfort and an easy friend. My roommates, Frank(another amazing artist) and Zane, have been a wonderful surprise. Having Chelsey, a friend from Norfolk, here eased my transition.

To help fund good times and my coffee needs I’ve been posing for drawing groups in the evenings, specifically for Lawter Studios and Ben Long’s drawing group. It’s been an interesting experience being on the other side of the canvas. It’s been a valuable lesson. I have found figure modeling easy in surprising ways and extremely hard in others. My feelings of exposure disappeared almost immediately. I came to realize that modeling for a drawing group is not about me at all. It’s the parts, not the sum of them.

I feel that I’ve learned a lot, and very quickly, while studying drawing with Angela. I have learned to appreciate and maybe even like graphite when before I avoided it in favor of charcoal. In the past I have been very heavy handed while drawing. I always seemed to be scoring the surface of my paper. While here I have grown much more delicate with the amount of pressure I use while drawing. My perception of value has always been a big source of frustration for me. I have by no means fixed this problem, but have made the steps towards increasing my sensitivity to it. I’m physically stronger as well. In the past I haven’t made myself stand while drawing. I’m required to now. At first the pain in my back and legs was incredibly distracting, but it eventually eased off. I’m stronger. I see more clearly. I translate. I’ve taken painful steps in the right direction.

I wasn’t sure how I would handle drawing bargue plates and doing cast drawings. They seemed inaccessible before coming here. I didn’t understand the process. Now, while not terribly skilled yet, I feel like I have the tools and vocabulary to unlock this mysterious method of learning. There is nothing magic about it. Just like most things, it’s hard work and discipline, but possible. Feeling that it’s possible makes all the difference. I have less fear.

I miss my friends in Norfolk and Philly. I miss my step children and life in Virginia, but I am also happy.

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Wishery Experiments

playing with ink wash, gesso and prismacolors

This semester I am in the last drawing course offered at TCC. My assignment is to basically create a cohesive body of work in a drawing medium by the end of the semester.

Drawing is definitely not one of my favorite things to do. I like to sketch and doodle, but otherwise when I draw it is drawing to paint. I’m not sure if that makes sense. I know how to, but I don’t have a delicate touch and don’t believe I ever will. Which is exactly why I love to paint with oils.

So, because of how shaky my hands can be, I had to come up with a different method. I had enjoyed ink wash before, but wanted to add more to it so I taped off a section, gessoed it(was pissed to see that the waterproof india ink smeared a bit) and then added colored pencil. I admit, I was looking at Erik Jones work a bit and James Jean trying to figure out how they get some of their effects.

I’m not sure how I feel about what I did. I want to keep the subject in the same vein as my paintings. I just wish I could figure out how to do them well larger.

And damn colored pencils to hell! I think all the pigment in mine are cracked. I promised myself I would have a prismacolor bonfire by now but it looks like I’ll be putting that off.