Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Khnum Update

This is what happens when you try to photograph a semi-wet board on a sunny day: 99.995% of the blue isn't actually in the painting. It's the sky reflecting off the glaze in the background. That's sort of cool, in a bizarre kind of way.

Now I just need to pull the "people-esque" shapes out of the background a little more and tone Khnum Himself way down before the detail goes in (I think I need to work in a few more colors too.) Some of the strange texture in the background is where I had the paint run down the board to represent Khnum's water aspects. Now it just looks like part of the wall.

There for a while, I had some serious doubts about this thing. I threatened several times a day to just take this painting right off the easel and let Him think about how He was treating me it sit until I was good and ready to work on it again. Maybe we're finally coming to an understanding.

I certainly hope so.


Was I in a mood or what? Sorry about that.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A little gratuitous ego boosting

Okay, I admit it. I'm a little vain. I also realize that I am not always the most forthcoming about myself, my life and my experiences when it comes to this blog. So, in the interest of applying a little Fix-A-Flat to my ego, here is an exercise I've used every so often over the last ten years. There are probably other versions of it floating around out there. Someone once gave me the barest bones of it while telling me about an experience they had with a spiritual counselor. I ran with the idea of "meeting" different facets of myself.

"The Dinner"

Get comfortable and relax. Let all the stress and tension drain right out of your body. Especially get it out of those little nooks and crannies we all forget about: drop your jaw, unscrunch your forehead, work on that little tight spot right between your shoulderblades...

Now, ground and center, using whatever technique works for you. When you're ready, start visualizing a room. This room can be anything: a ski lodge with plenty of soft, comfortable chairs and couches. A formal dining room, complete with fine china, silver and a chandelier. A kitchen. You can even visualize a meal or snacks if you want. Just create the room with the intention of inviting in various parts of yourself that want to "meet up" or socialize.

When the room is ready, visualize a door opening and various "people" coming into the room. These are different facets of yourself. They could appear as anything: archetypal beings, people you know, characters from stories, fairy tales or myths. Greet them, talk to them and get to know them. In other words, you're the host of this party - mingle! Ask them questions. What do they represent? Do they have some information you need? Some of these facets you may be very comfortable with and not so comfortable with others. Sometimes, there are parts of us that we can't or don't want to face or accept and they may show up in strange ways. Are any of them angry? Sad? Do they need you to make amends?

When it's time, thank "everyone" for coming and let them leave the room. Get ready to come out of the visualization by consciously taking a few deep breaths and perhaps gently stretching a bit. Open your eyes.

I don't want to influence anyone's results so if you're curious about what some of my facets were, I'll post them in the comments.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Note to self:

Dear Self:

Go to The Wish Jar Journal and read the entry called "Grinding Grinding Grinding," especially the part called "Exhibit B."


Thank you,

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

They're on to me...

Shhh...don't tell anyone...

You are faking non-gothness! You're the type that tries to not be goth, hiding it by listening to emo and/or underground hip-hop. You can't hide it though, we all *know*! We see your Neitzsche and your TKK!

What kind of goth are you?

Created by ptocheia

A week of misery

Man, I've been in a truly nasty funk since the last post. Yes, a funk for a solid week. Everything got turned on its head: I'd get up and try to work on the painting of Khnum for a few hours, only to be wishing to be anywhere but standing in front of this *&#^@!*%^ painting that isn't cooperating. By six p.m., I'd be dozing off in front of the TV, only to be raring to go back to the studio at two a.m. or three. I kept arguing with...Khnum? Myself? The Keebler Elf? that wouldn't accomplish much since there isn't any power down there at the moment and I absolutely refused to try painting by lantern light. Then, the insistent feeling to get myself to the studio would stay until I was just too exhausted to do anything else collapse in bed so I could oversleep and start all over again the next day. I did try to write about what was going on but the little bit that made into pixel form sounded like so much shiny, patent bullshit - which didn't help things any. I just could not figure out what the heck was going on. (Yeah, I know...I never said I was brilliant.)

Yes, people, I was getting really cranky. Today, I decided to get away from the whole sorry mess. My mom came by and we ended up leaving the state (that sounds sort of impressive until you realize the Kentucky state line is only about twenty or so minutes away.) I got to walk a little bit along the creek in the Franklin city park. The water was still way up but the thunderstorms over the weekend washed all kinds of mussel shells on shore - there were almost as many of them as rocks. I picked up a few, as well as a small bone I found. It looks like part of an animal skull. I started feeling almost normal after that. I really felt normal when we got back to Portland and discovered the library had a ton of sci-fi books for a quarter each. I walked away with Heinlein, McCaffrey and I don't remember what else.

Anyway, the bad thing about all this funk is most of it could have been avoided if I only listened and actually gone to the studio. I went down there tonight to feed Toby (who knew he'd become a studio/cemetery cat? That's my boy.) I lit a candle so I could see his bowl and turned around to see the shelf along the wall in the back of the studio. There it was - the answer why the painting wasn't working.

All this week, I'd been trying to make this painting exactly what it shouldn't be: a bright, shiny Ode to All Things Sacred and Boring. "Behold! Bright and Shiny Lord Khnum is forming another worthy soul on his wheel! See? It's sacred! It's bright! It's colorful!" It's sickening.

Standing there, watching the shadows flicker around the shelf, I realized this painting needs to be much, much darker. The stories say Khnum created himself before forming an egg that hatched the sun and earth. He then went on to form all other life. That's where this painting wants to go: Khnum, alone in the dark (except for a fire somewhere out of the frame), sitting at his potting wheel. Behind him, a suggestion of shelves lined with greenware - the egg, the gods, humans, etc. - waiting to be dry enough to go into the kiln.

Yeah, I like that...and it only took a week of misery for me to figure it out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Here I am, Zan!

(Alternate title: Huh? Whadaya mean it's been ten days? Didn't I just post a day or so ago?)

Okay, y'all - you can kick me from here to Memphis (take your pick between Tennessee and Egypt) for not posting. This has been one of those weeks where nothing seemed to go right so perhaps a kick is exactly what I need.

My mom and I did take in the Hermitage. It was pretty neat, considering they've added a few new things, but I didn't get one sketch and only about twelve odd photos. Part of the reason was the wind - all a person had to do was hold out their arms and they could have flown straight home. The crowd wasn't so bad at first but it got worse as the day went on (Gee, I wonder why?) My particular favorite things were the Belted Galloways, the donkey and the tiny, tiny cotton patch. Oh yes, a person might have gotten a whole pair of pants out of that field.

The rest of the week felt like a total bust. I kept playing tag with the mailman because I had a notice that he tried to deliver a book. Every day, I felt like I couldn't start anything major because I'd have to drop everything to chase the mailman - only to miss him and realize there was only a little bit of light left to get any work done...and yes, after a while, I did feel like running around in circles, chasing my tail and barking.

I ended up calling the post office, only to be told they didn't have any record of the notice or the book. When I finally did catch the mailman, I got the feeling he did know what happened to my book but didn't want to tell me. So...after about four days, the mundane work was done with not much to show for it. It was time for the big guns. Hey! I never said I was especially brilliant on timing...

I took a cue from the cave artists of Ice Age France, only instead drawing an auroch on the end of my arrow, I had my book. A neat thing happened as I finished drawing it: I "saw" a silver arrow laying on top of the one in the drawing and a silver longbow in my hand. I notched the arrow, drew it back and said, "Find my book!" as I sent it into the air. Two hours later, my mailman was calling me to tell me that the book had been delivered to the wrong house and I should have it later that afternoon - and I did. It's a great book too: "Problem Solving for Oil Painters." So far, this one book has told me as much - if not more - than three semesters of oil painting classes. Now I hope I don't have to repeat the process for the other two books I ordered. ("Technicians of Ecstasy: Shamanism and the Modern Artist" and "Dreamtime and Inner Space" if anyone wants to know. Used books from Amazon are a wonderful thing.)

The prelim sketches of Khnum are finally starting to work. I had to do some serious research on Him and make some adjustments. I found a neat page about the wheels used in Egypt to throw pots and it had pictures! (Yay!) I also had to research the type of clothes to use - Pharonic? Royalty? Laborer? A mixture of both? The jury's still out on that one.

The breed of sheep the Ancient Egyptians used as a basis for Him went extinct just after the Middle Kingdom era (circa 1640 BCE.) I found another breed - the Damara - still in existence that had its beginnings in Egypt around that same time. Their horns aren't as straight as the others but I got the idea that Khnum was happy with my decision as I sketched it out. Now I just have to figure out how to fit it onto a human body and have it look like it belongs there.

Oh good grief - it's 2:30 in the morning and I've been rambling on and on. No wonder I'm yawning. See you in a bit. I'm off to visit the dreamtime.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Phase two

I wanted to sit down and write a little bit while the water is warming for my tea. I don't want anyone upset with me - it's 11:12 p.m. and I want to properly thank everyone who left birthday greetings but I have to be up again in about seven hours. I will do it. I promise - but not tonight.

My dad just left a little while ago. It was a good day for the most part. We had Chinese for lunch and ended up doing something extremely fun on my part: roaming through the aisles (again!) of the Lowe's, only this time it was the new one in Gallatin. We spent a large chunk of the time looking at the power tools and I got a lot of practical advice: "Don't buy Ryobi. They've been bought out and you can't get parts for the tools anymore. This attachment is great for the dremel - I use it a lot. Here's what you should do if you want power in your studio..." Yeah, it was good. There are a lot of things unsaid between us but this day, neither of us let them get in the way.

I really want to type more but I'm beat. I'm going to go try to watch Stargate without falling asleep with my tea in my lap. I'm counting tomorrow as "Phase Three" of my birthday - admission is free to the Hermitage tomorrow for the 191st (!) anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans and I'm hoping to get there early enough to get some good sketches before so many of the church crowds get there. After that, I'll get back to work on the sketches for Khnum. I think he's getting a little impatient with me.

Goodnight y'all.

I'm her granddaughter all right

Day One of the celebrations is over. It was a pretty good day: both my horse and DVD collections were expanded and I got caught up on some of the family news, as well as some history I didn't know. I even went to Lowe's and Home Depot for lumber and masonite - it's impossible to not have a good time roaming the aisles of a home improvement store. Wood! Gadgets! Plants! Adhesives!

The story I learned about the family history involved my maternal grandmother. Now, my grandmother was a character anyway. The story came up about the time one Christmas when my mom was wearing dress shoes and nearly did a split in my aunt's gravel driveway. On the way home, my grandmother heard what happened and said, "You ought to be careful! That walkin's dangerous!"

Here's the part of the story I didn't know: Sometime before this particular Christmas, my grandmother had taken care of her own funeral arrangements with one of those "pre-paid" deals. Instead of waiting after the holidays to tell the entire family, she sat my mom and her sister down at the Christmas get-together and started instructing them on how to act at the funeral - a good twelve years before the actual event. So here is my mom, who is in her early forties, and her thirty something sister sitting there at kitchen table with my grandmother saying, "Now don't just sit there when somebody comes in. You go on up and you greet them at the casket..."

That's my MaMa. I've always said that I am certainly her granddaughter and this pretty much cinches it. I've already done something similar with my dad and paternal grandmother. The topic came up and I said, "I don't want to be pumped full of chemicals and put in the ground like an old hot dog at a landfill. I want to be cremated." When they objected on the grounds that there wouldn't be a place (a tombstone) to visit afterwards: "Then buy a rosebush and throw my ashes around it. The bush will be happy, you'll be happy and I won't care."

Speaking of my dad, he's coming over today. I'd better go get ready. I wonder if I'll hear any new stories today?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Gratuitous Self Praise

I couldn't stand it. Since I couldn't get the cats to sing to me, I'll just have to do it myself:

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday dear meeee
Happy birthday to me

Let the party begin!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I don't know exactly what to say

I found out today that Chris Dayman died...in December of 2004. I only met him once when he was the guest artist at my college in 2003. His work was on exhibit for a few weeks and he gave a lecture about his art and experiences. I guess he - and his work - made a bigger impression on me than I thought because I am, well, stunned.

I really liked the works he chose for the show. I remember a lot of people were horrified by several of them because he depicted the dead - a mouse, a bird, a rabbit. One with a well-dried mouse juxtaposed with a female model (called "Epitaph," I think - it's on the website under drawings) caused a big ruckus.

His lecture was filled with humor and things from his life. He talked about how therapeutic one particular sculpture had been, because he had covered it with rants about something going on at the college where he taught. He laughed about how great it was because people tried and tried to read it after it was glazed and fired (including some of the ones he ranted about) and couldn't. At another point in the lecture, he talked about using the animals in his drawings when he took a baggie with a well-mummified dead mouse out of his shirt pocket. After he made his point, he held the mouse by the hindquarters and said, "...and besides, Look! You can make it run!" and bounced it through the air.

I also remember, unlike many of the guest artists we had, he also took the time to talk to us and look at the stuff we were doing. Many a time he would say, "Oooh...that's juicy!" when he liked what he was seeing. I guess that's what the biggest impression. He was as truly interested in us and our work as we were of his.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Note to self:

Khnum - Egyptian, ram headed god who creates human souls on his potter's wheel.

Ram - a male sheep, not a goat.

Back to the drawing board.

Because goofiness needs to be vented...

...or the results could be very, very scary.

This is how I spent the first day of the new year. I tried to get a better image of the thing - I even waited so I could use direct sunlight today - but I guess my camera wanted a few more days of vacation. So, here it is anyway, grey and all. Just click on it to see a larger version.

Yep, that's me - always on top of the latest in music and pop culture.