Thursday, January 20, 2011
It is so exciting to know that I have no obligations, no interruptions, and that when I wake, after I have shook off the drugged feeling of medicated sleep, I can draw. I started a new drawing yesterday and had to stop only when my concentration quit me. There were still visions dancing in my head. A figure here. Two figures there. What are the two doing, fighting or playing leap frog? I don't know until I put pencil to paper and until I have a new day with new powers of concentration.
There is a wealth that some artists have that isn't measured by money. I see it as a mental wealth; the ability to draw for hours upon hours. To meter out their concentration as steady and abundant, this the gift of others, not me. A local art school has drawing classes where they draw from life, hiring a model, and I know I would be lucky to last for forty-five minutes. That would be all that is in me. And yet sometimes this class has marathons where they gather and draw for many, many hours. It boggles my mind, what some others are capable of.
This drawing, "Pulling Hair" was started in for a class that I took over two years ago. I started the drawing and it lay unfinished in a sketch book. It was fun to finish the drawing - I dare say that there are elements of good creativity in it. To draw the braided hair I took two sneakers and braided their shoe laces together then drew what I saw. But the untidy hair that is being pulled will be the most fun to paint. I intend to use a pallet knife and brushes and to make it as wild as can be, many shades of yellow. Or is she a red head and needs shades of orange? I haven't decided upon a color scheme yet, but one thing is for certain. All the outlines are intact. It is truly a primitive drawing, all done from the imagination. No real hands, no real feet, no real faces, only the shoe laces to make a believable braid. And the cat? It came from an artist's book of cats - cat pictures all painted, no photographs. So I copied the cat, stole the cat. Even though there are two cats in the house it was easier to copy. So perhaps the claim that it is all from imagination is false. But those dresses, patterns I made up. And the basic premise, one woman pulling another woman's hair, that was all my own. It has just a touch of violence about it. Maybe more than a touch. I think I'll put hair pulling in my next drawing as well. You don't need a sword or a gun, just your fists to inflict harm. No blood, just a little agony.
I've barely painted with a pallet knife but the experience was so profound that I am incorporating it into this painting and my next one. Here it is hair that will be depicted by the scraping and blunt and smeared lines of the pallet knife, but in the next drawing it is a blue cascading waterfall that will be constructed using a pallet knife. I'm interested in a painting where different techniques are used. I'll have my usual blending and layering of transparent paints with the tiniest of brushes. Truly, I've walked into an art supply store looking for the smallest brushes they sell. But the down side of using tiny brushes is that it takes so long to paint and in my case boredom sets in.
I tried explaining to my husband that the death in November of my German Shepherd has shaken me to the core. I don't feel depressed, indeed I look forward to the puppy that is waiting for me at the breeder in New Hampshire, but inside of me a little spark died when my dog died. I told my husband that it feels like my ambition has abandoned me. I simply don't care about getting ahead in this world. That is not a natural state of affairs for me, I tend to be always scheming how I'll have another art show, or write a book and get it published. I used to like to push myself to work toward a goal every day. But since my dog died I've noticed that I do what the day requires of me, and find something to occupy my time, but I'm not pushing in any direction. Thus the conclusion that my ambition has abandoned me.
But my husband saw a different phenomena. He said that my ambition has been redirected toward getting another dog. I put in the energy and the drive to make it happen, from emailing breeders to telling my family that the only Christmas presents I wanted was money to cover the costs of the next dog. And truly, step by step my home was transformed to welcome the puppy. We bought baby gates to keep her confined in the kitchen. We bought all the supplies a new puppy might need during multiple trips to different dog stores; a pink collar, a pink leash, a leash that attaches to our body for training, a leash that is 50 ft long for training that essential word "come", soft treats cut into small bits and plastic containers to hold them, so that the container might be shook and make a distinctive sound, signaling that a treat is coming after the command is given. Of course there was the heavy large bag of puppy food, and some canned food to mix it with for taste, there was the washing out of my dead dog's own puppy bowl, (how on earth it was saved and found is a little miracle after 9 years, a small metal bowl for small puppy meals served three a day). We bought a smaller crate for the puppy to be house trained in, when crated they will hold their pee and poop for fear of fouling where they sleep. So many tiny steps, even, the last, done just yesterday.
We went to Wal-Mart to buy some ribbon. Pink ribbon for Cherry Blossom. The ribbon is so that a bell can be hung at dog nose level. Leave the house, and say "outside" and ring the bell each time. Eventually the trained dog will ring the bell with her nose when she wants to go outside to go to the bathroom. A ringing bell to alert anyone near that the dog has a physical need. Fair play, since she won't be allowed to go in the house. As the dog grows, and nose level changes, we can shorten the ribbon and up the bell goes.
And then there was the very big task of vacuuming carpets, rolling them up, and storing them in the barn. At the age of 6 months housetraining should be complete, and hopefully the dog will have good muscle control over its bowels. Then the rugs can go back. But I'm uncertain. The rugs might go back once the dog has stopped its chewing phase. We are being careful. I took all the magnets off of the lower part of the refrigerator. I don't want my museum art magnets chewed. Once the dog is left alone in the house, we will see if separation anxiety causes her to chew.
I told my therapist that some of my ambition is gone because my dog died. He said that apathy is a part of depression, and that what I may be feeling is apathy. It could be apathy. I just didn't care very much about being creative for a while, but I will admit that is changing. The drawing "Pulling Hair" is finished, the next step is to transfer the drawing to gessoed board. Inbetween steps I will work on the drawing I started yesterday. Two paintings should be going at one time. When one is wet I can work on the other.
When puppy arrives I must spend my days in the kitchen and paint or draw there. The kitchen table which always has a decorative table cloth and runner, as well a flowers and candles (my little pretty display in the middle of the room that screams "domestic") has been replaced with a bare table covered in a long strip of brown craft paper. Don't want the puppy to pull at a table cloth, and I need a place to paint and to accidentally drop paint. My art table is in a room that is unsuitable for a puppy, so, at least until spring, I'll be setting up my table easel on the kitchen table. The light there isn't as good as in my art room. In the art room there is a line of halogen lights bolted to the ceiling above my work space, aimed down at me. In the kitchen there is just a regular lamp in the ceiling to my right, and to the further right a big window. Behind me there is little light and no light to my left. Have to plan all small scale paintings that can fit on the table easel. The drawing that I've shown here in the beginning of this blog entry is only 8" by 10".
A new puppy and new paintings. A finished drawing and an unfinished drawing that is begging to be filled with detail.
Life is pretty fun.