Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Head of a Girl from the Past, and Changing

Head of a Girl from the Past
ink on moleskine

I have lost count of what number "head of a girl" this is. I've decided to go with names form now on, rather than numbers. What started out as an exercise to see what I could do with ink wash portraits has begun to take on meaning on its own, it's begun to become something of its own.

I suppose that's the nature of a series. It serves as a way for you to grow. You keep going back to the same theme or technique and you develop it with each following piece.

I don't know where this series will go. It's led me back to portraits, which I've always enjoyed, so that's good, and also drawing from references again, instead of making things up wholesale in my head. That's not a bad thing either.

In this season of beginning of the year resolutions I've been thinking about change a lot.

I think sometimes we expect to be able to change, just like that, make a resolution and that's it, quit cigarettes, lose weight, get published, go back to school... whatever the goal. But I don't think that change, real change really works like that.

Change doesn't happen all at once, it happens in stages and baby steps. Change is more like growth, or evolution. Change is something that happens inside of you first, that makes you want to take that small step, and the small step is what helps you get to the next choice, and making that choice convinces you that this is where you want to go.

Maybe change begins with an idea, "I can do that..." or "I don't have to be this..." A possibility. An idea. A realization that the dream is possible, an opening of doors, a willingness to take a chance, a first step out on that long journey, the beginning attempts at an exercise, even if they fail at first, and the commitment to keep trying, even though it doesn't seem like you will ever see that desired, whole-sale change or growth.

Maybe life is all about change. We have the illusion that things won't change or we will always be where and what we are, but the truth is, nothing stays the same and we are always in flux.

Perhaps part of our issues with making lasting change in our life is that we don't expect to fail in our attempts. We think that we make up our mind to change and that's it, it should be smooth sailing from then on in. But change is such a all encompassing thing, from the inside out, that it doesn't make sense that it would be all that easy.

There are going to be set backs. There are going to be moments where you are just not living up to your high ideals. There are going to be moments when you are scared and don't think you can do it. There are going to be moments where the old fears and bad feelings rise up again. There are going to be external difficulties, time constraints, people who don't support us, physical difficulties, unexpected disasters, whatever.

But in our journey to truly change, to GROW and develop and transform, we have to trust that the path we've set out on is the right one. And if it isn't as easy as we thought, we are still moving forward, despite stumbles or road blocks or detours. Sometimes, our journey might lead us into places we didn't expect, places we didn't dare hope for. Sometimes we might find we have to rest on our journey, or stop not quite at the end, or re-evaluate our destination.

Keep going. Don't give up. Expect set backs. Trust yourself. Trust the process.

Change is hard. Growth is hard. Life is hard.  Yup. So we might as well just keep going through.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hush or Keeping It Inside

Hush, or Alice Keeps It Inside
4 3/4 x 7 1/2"
ink and acrylic on vintage Alice in Wonderland book page

I've taken a little blog break. You see, I've had a lot going on.

I know I was blogging last year when I was in the midst of a move and I was blogging all my art from my 100 days challenge but I think that I had a moment to stop and think about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do... and in order to think about that with my blog, I had to stop.

What I've thought about doing lately is making my blog more intentional, and I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to do it yet.

Sometimes there is virtue in being quiet.

In quiet, we can start listening to our internal voices, and these voices can whisper very silently sometimes. We have to stop talking, stop declaring ourselves, stop shouting to the world, just so that we can hear the whispers of intuition, emotion, idea, belief, desire, fear, hope, story, inspiration.

I know that it can be hard to be quiet and still, to not jump right in to actions or decisions. Sometimes, when you get that initial idea, it can be so exciting that you want to race to the finish line and go all in.

But the truth is, very often, the initial idea, or even not so initial, needs care and silence and darkness in order to grow to fruition. I've seen it with story ideas, for sure. I get a great idea and I want to start writing, but something in me tells me to hold on, let the idea germinate, let it grow and become stronger, let it feed on different thoughts and experiences, mull it over in the darkness. I sit with it deliberately, jot down a few notes, go to sleep with the idea in my head, throw in another intriguing concept, stir them up a bit and still... still hold on to it, silently.

There is no need to rush to speak it.

Not yet.

Hush. There is time to let it grow.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Evolution of a Doll, Creating Yourself

 Every day, I feel like I am creating myself. Who I am as a mother, as an artist, as a friend and partner and sister and daughter. Who I am as a thinker and a doer.

It's an evolution not unlike creating... art, crafts, food, novels, business plans, outfits, papers... whatever.


Like this here doll I made my daughter for Christmas.

Here she is, nothing but a sketched out pattern and some upcycled t-shirt material.  I took my scissors to it and cut away everything that she was not.

Leaving her with a basic, disassembled, empty shape.
 In this scene, my doll has been sewn up and filled with stuffing. I've begun to MAKE her, to take the ideas of her and put her into reality, give her form and shape. She's a doll now. Anyone could look at her and say, that's a doll. (Here she's sitting next to another gift, unformed, which turned out to be a pink kitty.)

You see the thing is, nothing we create will ever get to BE anything until we actually start, until we put it through that sewing machine, and take it all the way, see what happens with all that machinery and sharp pointy things and fears of what might go wrong or how the machine might break down (mine did) or how we might forget how to use the mighty machinery (I didn't) or maybe my doll might not look like what I wanted her to look like (she didn't really look like what I imagined at all, she became her own thing.) You just have to do it. Put yourself out there and say, YES, I will do this thing.

Once you have the basic shape of your doll, that's when you can start putting your personality into her. That's when you can start giving her the colors, trying out different ways of making her look. Here, I'm giving a go to see how the different colored felt pieces might make her look, trying out some placements for her cheeks and eyes and lips and hair. This was not the first combination I tried. I held up different colors, cut out many little circles, tried different shapes and sizes. And this was not the first time I'd made this kind of doll face, either, she is just another variation on work that I've already done.

 Here I have committed to my choices. I've gone and pinned them down. Made them real and permanent. There's no more changing my mind on the color of eyes or lips. Again, did she turn out like I thought she would? Not quite. But in the sewing, in the doing, she became her own thing, not just an idea, but a doll. This doll.
 Then I tried some of the stuff I'd never tried before. Always in the past, I'd made hair with yarn or embroidery floss, but this time I knew I wanted to try felt. How would it work? I didn't know. It was an experiment, something new to try, a risk. And I gave it a shot.

 Here she is with face and hair, after all my giving it a go and planning and making my ideas come real and trying out different variations and committing to my choices and stitching it all down and making it real.

She's a doll.
 I like her.

Originally, she was inspired by two things... the scrap fabric I had, aka brown t-shirt, and the vintage doll dress. I made the original pattern so that she would fit into this dress. After that, I allowed myself to be inspired by the various dolls I have seen and loved and by what I had already done with doll making. I mean, this is why you have a daughter, right? To make girly stuff for them?

It doesn't matter that she didn't like the yellow dress on this doll and made me make her a pink dress out of scrap fabric, right?  Or that she'll probably change the scrap pink dress, even though she designed it, and put her in a different vintage doll dress.

What matters is I went all the way in and trusted my abilities and my judgment and gave it a go. What matters is I took it to the end of the journey and didn't give up. What matters is I made it. I thought of it, dreamed it, planned it, trouble shot it, detailed it, put it all together and then put it out into the world, I mean, gave it to a five year old.

Make a doll. Make a craft. Make a painting. Make a novel. Make a home. Make a business. Make a life. Create yourself. Those things are not you, and yet, the making of them makes you.

What are you making?

Monday, January 07, 2013

Head of a Girl 14 or Marilyn in Rose and Dreaming

Head of a Girl 14, or Marilyn in Rose
ink wash on watercolor paper
4.5" x 6"

I've been thinking about dreams lately... not the close your eyes at night kind, the big kind, the kind that get you up in the morning and get you moving. The kind where you envision a life that you'd love living. The kind that are about goals and wishes. Those kind of dreams.

Marilyn Monroe was a dreamer. She put herself out there and she was hurt. She never stopped being vulnerable and I think she achieved her dreams... although perhaps sometimes those dreams ended up being painful and sometimes she had to sacrifice for them and she definitely experienced loss in their pursuit.

When you commit to your dreams... what happens?

When you take steps to achieve your dearest goals... how does your life change?

When you accept that this is the risk you are willing to take and this is the cliff you are willing to leap from... how do you learn how to fly?

btw Marilyn is for sale in my etsy shop

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Girl of Freaks: a novel of not werewolves (pending)

Girl Of Freaks: a novel of not werewolves by Rowena Murillo (cover mock up)
ink, acrylic and pencil on paper

This year, I am going to do my damnedest to get my novel published. It's ready, now it's just up to me to put it out there.

When I told Jen Lemen of this goal, she gave me an assignment to create a mock up of my novel cover.

Immediately, the impulse is for me to say, "no, that's not what I had planned for the day," but considering that I say "no" too often, and my word for the year is...
sharpie, tape residue, and "vintage" foam core board.

..."YES" it was time for me to try the challenge. I took out my ink and my journal and searched for a likely photo reference (my first instinct was to use one of myself, but I really didn't want to paint myself for my book cover as the mc is not me) and got going.

This is what I did. Of course, when I get published, this will not by the cover. I'm not even sure it's the best cover for the book, but putting it out there, visualizing it, making it a real thing helps me to focus on my goals.

Thank you Jen for the good assignment and giving me a leaping off point for the rest of my year.

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