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first semester: the end

Ooh, and 2016! Yes to the end of 2016! Let us construct a 2016 wickerman woven out of memes and broken dreams!

My first semester at PAFA is coming to an end. I must admit to being relieved. It’ll be nice to spend the next month not being covered in a fine grit of charcoal and pastel.

I am so grateful to be here, but, just as I knew it would, it has beaten me up. And that, of course, is all down to me. Nobody beat me up. I beat myself up. I beat myself up with school.

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It’s been weird to study under so many different teachers. I’ve realized I don’t always know what they’re talking about, and that I haven’t researched them enough as artists to be prepared for their point of view and vocabulary. I think I was hard to understand for my teachers as well. I’m hard to know(I’ve been told over and over again for years). I don’t have a traditional art college education background. I am not looking at the same artists as my classmates and instructors. I don’t have much art history education. The answer to that may be lurking more museums and galleries, getting over my social phobia in order to get out there, maybe even subscribing to more art publications and finding art history online video lectures(do those exist?).

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I was told that I shouldn’t look at art online, and while I understood the point(that it’s best to see paintings in person), the comment smarted, and here’s why: Up until recently, I have not lived or visited many places with lots of museums and galleries. The ones I had access to, I did visit, but in general, if it wasn’t for the internet, I would be even more in the dark. I’m lucky that there is so much content online, from blogs, social media to museum high resolution scan archives.

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I also struggled with some pain this semester, and found that incredibly demoralizing. My hands and feet ached constantly. I wake up to them stiff and swollen. It was like a constant poke in the side reminding me of my age. It caused me a lot of anxiety. Over the break I intend on attempting to get a hold of my health again. I’d hate to finally get HERE and then have my body fall apart.

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It is kinda funny. You want your teachers to care enough to criticize you. I found myself really courting crits, useful ones of course, as a form of approval. Does that make sense? If they don’t care, they won’t bother. If they don’t think you can improve, why spend time with you? But sometimes, deep down, I’m still just a little girl who wants to be patted on the head and told ‘good job’. It really, really is funny.

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I know I improved a lot! But I am not completely sure how. I’m a little dizzy! And that’s the beauty of it. I have no idea how I’ll come out of this. I don’t know what my work will look like, what it will be about, what it will be made out of.

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Now is also the time to start hoarding funds. I’m hunching over my computer researching grants and scholarships. I’m trying to remember how to write an interesting essay. I’m taking photos of work and trying to curate them into a compelling body of work. Art supply contests? Yes please! You want to license my image? Sure! Dumpster diving school supplies? Gonna try it. Filling out surveys? Sure, why not? I may even look into seeing if an affiliate link on my blog could work for me. It’s all about maximizing passive income. I have to. School has to be my job.

I’ve been experimenting a bit in my RedBubble shop, delving into the easy crowd pleasing world of cats! Below are two happy customers, Sparkles and Lydia Beans. The gist is that I requested friends send me pics of their kitties. I’d do an illustrated portrait of them in exchange for them then buying some stickers of the portraits out of my shops. I have many more to do, and it’s been some silly fun.

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the antique dress

The Antique dress by Thomas Eakins
The Antique dress by Thomas Eakins

When walking through PAFA’s museum this painting just about jumps off the wall and onto your shoulders. It hangs in a large room with walls covered in art salon style.

This painting is by Thomas Eakins, PAFA’s most celebrated former student and instructor.

I love it even though it strikes me as a little ridiculous. It’s eerie. The woman looks like a ghost out of an english horror story.

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leopold seyffert

Behold! The only two paintings I can find by Leopold Seyffert that I super dig! Seyffert was a PAFA student and also a teacher at Moore College of Art & Design. His painting career seems mostly centered around working as a portraitist. His portraits are skilled, and he was hired by and painted many notable people of the day. They get the job done, but they look like work to me. Does that make sense?

I was walking through PAFA’s historic building museum with one of my classes, and saw the below first painting. Of course, it’s much more beautiful in person. The colors, specifically the magenta, is vibrant. There is something Klimt-ish about it, and the Art Deco color scheme particularly appeals to me. The skin sparkles.(edited to add: for some unknown reason, my pictures in this post disappeared, so the new photos don’t convey the color that my former pictures did.)

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The Lacquer Screen

I assume these were painted as a pair. I can’t seem to find anymore work of his similar to these. I wonder what made him paint these, and why he didn’t seem to return to it. He did paint other nudes, but none of them, as far as I’ve seen, are as exciting as this pair.

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Nude with Chinese background

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Moving on again and Patreon

I’m getting ready for another move! This will be the fifth time in about three years, and I am ready to stay put for a while. I’ll be moving in with an old friend and her housemates in South Philly. It’s kinda like a punk rock house, except for old people that have jobs and don’t want kids on their stoop.

I am actively looking for a job that I can carry while also attending PAFA. I’ve put many of my painting studies up for sale in my shop, I’m close to finishing some larger pieces, working freelance part time, have my Redbubble shop stocked, and opened a Patreon page.

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Patreon is a new thing for me, and I don’t know that I have enough *fans* to make it work, but I really like the idea and hope it becomes a useful tool for visual artists. Patreon is a site that enables creatives to fund their careers through patrons, rather than individual art sales. Someone may really love your work, but can’t afford that $800 dollar painting you made. Patreon invites art lovers to pledge a monthly amount of cash to their favorite artists or to specific projects. I really love the concept. We can’t all be a Medici, but that doesn’t mean people don’t enjoy and want to support art of all kinds.

What else I like about the idea is that the artist isn’t getting something for nothing. It’s a bit like Kickstarter in that rewards are offered to patrons depending on their pledge level. Also, patrons are able to edit or end their pledges at any time. They can change their mind.

So far I am offering non archival prints, sticker packs, painting studies, coupon codes, and thoughtful art critiques in return for pledges. My page is still a work in progress. I’ll be editing it quite a bit over the next week, but I’d love for art lovers to look at it and let me know what they think. Of course, I hope people consider pledging as well.

The next couple years are going to be tight again. I have definitely lowered my cost of living by renting a room instead of apartment, leaving my car in the ‘burbs with my parents and many other ways. Living cheap is a trick. I’ve done it before. I can figure it out again. That said, school is going to be expensive. I earned a substantial scholarship, but tuition isn’t really what I mean. I am speaking of supplies, food and even time. Time is valuable. It’s what you spend when studying and creating new work.

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Nesting in Pennsylvania

I’m here. I’ve landed. It’s happened.

I drove 12 hours with all my earthly belongings in a box truck while towing my car and with 2 cats in the cab with me. Aside from my calico exploding out of her carrier several times and almost killing us all, the drive was pretty uneventful. It wasn’t till I got to Pennsylvania that things got interesting.

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I wasn’t even an hour into the state when I experienced my first tailgating incident complete with middle finger. Thank you, PA. I’m glad to be home, too.

Once I reached my family’s compound out in the country I found myself unable to get my truck up their driveway due to the ice and snow. There was lots of sliding, face planting in the snow and cussing. My first 24 hours in PA I spent driving, shoveling snow, hacking at ice with an axe and then ate a cheesesteak stromboli. I am now one with the commonwealth.

I’ve been visiting new and old friends and am looking forward to next month’s First Friday art walk. I’m seeking a crew to lurk the galleries with. I love Philadelphia in all it’s grotesqueness. I love it. I love hating it. It’s horrible and wonderful. It’s home. I know locals can relate, but trying to explain it to others never seems to be successful.

I’m painting while staying with my family, working long distance on my computer, but soon it will be time to find consistent work and a place to live downtown. I’ve been told my best options will be South Philly or around Fishtown.

Next week I visit PAFA’s campus. It will be for the first time I’ve been in a traditional school for years, but I expect it to feel comfortable.

I’m here. I could kiss the concrete out of gratitude, but I won’t, because Philly.