Thursday, January 08, 2009

Build Joy, or Play

Build Joy, or Play
Prismacolor Watercolor pencils, Golden Fluid Acrylics, Pitt Artist Pens, White Gel Pen

I had some technical difficulties yesterday, both computer and brainwiring.

Here are my lessons. First, if you can't upload photos, turn the computer off and on again and check if it's okay then (because this morning it worked fine). The same lesson works for digital cameras, celphones, dvd players and all those other indispensable electronic gadgets that didn't exist 20 years ago.

Second lesson: Don't stay up to watch Night of the Living Dead with your uncle so that you are then falling into bed with zombies running through your head, and decide to open up the last book of Harry Potter to chase the zombies away, but instead get caught up in the climax at Hogwarts, not closing the book until 3am. Because on that night, sure as tooting, the babygirl will wake up at 6:30 am and your day will be shot.

On to the story.

The story, my friends, is about play. That is the optional theme for the month over at Creative Everyday.

The last few days, in my "exploration" phase of my Portfolio Project I have been trying to reconfigure my head around what I REALLY wanted out of the project. All the work I had been doing before was more like what I thought I needed to get where I wanted to go... but what good is that if you are blocking all joy from entering???

The first thing I did was get all gloomy, because that's what I do.

The second thing I did was go on the internet and look around at what other people were doing. There was one about by Shayla about hiding in a tree. There was a video about doing an art journal a month at Suzi Blu's and there it was, it all came to me.

I didn't want to just do disconnected pieces of art to sell. I wanted to go back to who I used to be, the girl who carried a journal everywhere and filled it up at the drop of a hat, with poetry and art pieces, collages, inspiration, pages and pages of thoughts.

Granted, my life has changed, and I'm lucky if I have 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to finish a thought, and web logging has replaced much of my handwritten rumination, and yes, I want finished works that I can sell, BUT I still want to do the work that filled me up all those many years ago.

A lot of that was my play. My exploration. My sitting on swings and getting dizzy with the world going by. My leaning on a tree and looking up at the branches, watching them sway, reveling in the dappled light and the smell of growth and decay. My staring out the cafe window at the people passing. My getting messy with paints and glue. My digging moments out of my dreams and my past and bringing them to life again. My collecting images that capture me. My talking to friends about what it all means.

Oh, exploring and wondering and getting dirty and skinning knees, wandering and getting lost and found at the same time, reading and movie watching, dancing and listening to music, learning new things and getting obsessed with new loves.

I decided this week that I don't want my project or my life to be all about work. I've decided that I want my project to be about my life, and out of that, the work will flow.

So to remind me, I drew this treehouse, and the largest word is BUILD, and it turns into JOY and then into PLAY. It's not about Building a business (although it is) it's about building a life that is worth living. Work is a part of that, but if I focus everything on product product product commerce commerce commerce, I'm afraid that I might just freeze up and start shrinking.

And do you know the work it was to make this treehouse? It took me most of the week, including the times I had to set it aside and stare at it in dissatisfaction. It started out just a drawing with watercolor pencils, which I could manage while the kids watched Sesame Street. And I didn't like it. Then I painted it all with a layer of cream acrylic. And it was still too pink. And I stared and stared and stared and decided it needed definition, so I finally went in with a pen to pin down the thoughts and the words and the forms. There it started to take shape. I drew in the house. I added details. I added more thoughts in the leaves with white pen. Slowly it became something although it still didn't feel right.

Every time I sat down I added. I considered. I altered. I built this drawing much the way one might build a real play house. Starting with a foundation, a structure, adding the walls, adding the trims.

And then there came a time where it was close enough to being done that I could look at it and see where my discomfort had been the entire time. It was just too pink, too pastel. And I took out my medium dark pens, tan, green, beige, and gave it the definition I wanted. And then it was there. The way I wanted it. Take to places I hadn't quite intended, but being closer to what I felt than the original vision.

The truth is that while I am generally an optimist, I am not a pastel pollyanna. I need some weight to my bright, some shadows to the pink and green. Maybe the entire time, I wanted something a shade darker in my Play and my Joy. A little darkness to define the dawn, a little cold Winter to show us the soft Spring.


Julita said...

It came out beautifully, and so inspirational! I love it!

JES said...


Remind me never to approach a gallery showing your stuff -- not with a checkbook or credit card on my person.

(I hope a certain nervous, self-effacing mutual friend sees this from her aerie in Texas. She'll like it too, I think! [waves to said mutual friend, just in case])

Emme said...

Once again, I love your artwork! And I totally get what you are saying. I've been thinking a lot about what my "inner child" used to be too, and how free and open I was just to create and play and ENJOY it all. And yeah, I've had a couple nights like that too. They have a "mommy's really tired" radar don't they?

Shayla said...

My heart pounded when I saw this piece. LOVE IT! I have a thing for tree houses. My dream house will also have a studio tree house. The way you did it too is awesome. Love the design/math aspect to it.

Natasha said...

Love this one...been working on my inner child and playing...when we create from that space as you have done here...well, beauty is born. Awesome work

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