Monday, April 27, 2009

Hungry and Homeless

0604 Hungry and Homeless

This is a sketch of a woman that I encountered in Santa Monica when I was there in 2004. She had a sign that said "hungry & homeless" but she seemed pretty clean and well groomed.... Maybe she was homeless, maybe she wasn't. She was not an annoying begger - she just sat with her sign - sometimes talking to people. I went to see a movie one day, (The Chronicles of Riddick - the first time I EVER fell asleep during at a movie theater...) And I walked out with a giant sized almost full soda. I saw her as I walked out, and if she was truly homeless, I couldn't just throw the soda away so I handed it to her. She thanked me and set it on the ground next to her. Maybe she drank it, maybe she threw it away...

A few days later, I was walking around the SM Farmer's market and I saw her again. I bought some of the most amazing white nectarines. I never tasted such a perfect fruit before. I bought an extra one and walked up to her and handed it to her. She thanked me and put it with her things. Maybe she ate it, maybe she didn't. I hope she's ok, wherever she is.

When I first visited SM in 2001, I was a bit put off by the enormous homeless problem. As a smoker, I couldn't walk a block without someone asking me to bum a smoke...spare change...etc.

One time I saw a woman and her Mom sitting in a doorway with about 10 suitcases stacked behind them. I sat down and asked the girl what led them to be living like this. She was nice - told me that they ran out of money...no job...evicted... so sad.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Did I go too far with this mandala?

Did I go to far with this piece?

Once in a while, I wonder if I take a piece of art too far. I started this mandala with watercolor paints in a Cachet watercolor sketchbook, then doodled over it with some Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens, (which I love) and then added the black pen (also a Pitt pen - F nib) over top.

Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens

Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens

Colorful Cachet Watercolor Books

Cachet Watercolor Sketch Books

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Mandala Process Continues...

Watercolor Mandala (I don't remember doing this one)

So you've tried making a mandala? Good for you! Advice on creating them? You bet.

First off, don't judge yourself on their quality, because making them isn't about art. If you end up with some cool art, that's merely a bonus. Creating them is an outlet... a meditation. Some people knit, hike, play music - all for the purpose of letting go. This is the same with the mandala process, and the cool thing about them is that you can reflect on them once completed- and sometimes, you might just notice meaningful things amidst all of those lines and doodles.

I always start at the center, (I consider it to be "me" in the center) and then I work outward in concentric circular patterns. It's helpful if you try (at least in the beginning) to go only in direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) as it helps you to develop a rhythm to your pattern-making. It gets much easier once you develop a rhythm to your work.

Develop a small library of shapes and designs to use. Don't over think it. You can do it all with little circles, lines, X's, triangles, or try using letters from the alphabet - M's work well, or an "S" on it's side.

Remember that no line or mark you put on the page needs to be perfect. In fact, they shouldn't be perfect. Because if they are perfect, you are putting too much conscious effort into it. Again I stress, this isn't about creating art - it's a meditative process and you shouldn't overthink it. Do enough of them (I've probably done over 400 of them) and the various patterns and gestures start to come a little easier. Remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process - resist the urge to judge your creation. I give you full permission to make mistakes and crooked lines and so you should extend the same permission to yourself.

I recommend using some kind of tablet that allows you to easily spin it so you can continuously work in every direction. Select a writing implement that allows you to work effortlessly. If the pen/marker, etc. doesn't move smoothly on the paper in every direction, it may cause frustration and/or hand fatigue.

If like me, you end up sitting and concentrating on a piece for a long period of time, remember to consciously breathe, and stretch yourself out every once in a while. It's easy to get lost in one of these meditations and you don't want to stop and find yourself all cramped up.

But most of all - have fun & just let go!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In Tribute: I Went Back To The Roller Skating Rink So You Don't Have To

Quite possibly one of the worst photos of me...ever.

As a tribute to one of the funniest bloggers I know - Julia at I Do Things So You Don't Have To I present to you:

"I Went Back To The Roller Skating Rink So You Don't Have To"

Last week, one of my friends rented out the local skating rink for a private roller disco birthday party. (She just turned 42 - and yes, she made us do the hokey pokey.) It was strange to go back there because I literally grew up in that place. I was there 4-5 nights a week for two years, (7th-8th grade) which would have been in the very early 80's. Roller skating and "the rink" - that was my life. My skate bag was signed in permanent marker by all of the rink regulars, I had Pacer skates with white Zinger speed wheels. I'd read skate magazines on how to clean and tweak open wheel bearings and occasionally, I'd have a loose lug nut that would cause one of my wheels to go spiraling off...

It was so much my life that on my birthday (12/31) on the eve of the millennium 1999, (don't give me that crap about the millennium starting on 01/01/01 - let me have my dream...) it was the one thing I felt I had to go back to represent what was most fun about my so-called innocent youth.

At that time, they were still playing mostly disco, early funk, and only the rare occasional rock song like "Juke Box Hero" and "I love Rock & Roll." It was all Sugar Hill Gang and Patrick Hernandez... it took me YEARS to find all of my favorite music from back in the day - I only recently just found "On the Beat" by the BB & Q Band as an audio clip on You Tube.

Not to say that I'm any kind of ravishing beauty now, but I know back at that age (11-12) I was an A grade doofus. (See picture above. What ex-disco queen did I steal that shirt from? And get a load of my Space-Sac purse that's probably not even a real Space-Sac, but a K-Mart knock-off. I think I'm also wearing feather earrings and an authentic pair of Sergio Valente jeans - how cool...) I was just starting to get interested in boys and they would do nothing but make fun of me and go running in the other direction. It was slightly traumatic save for one boy (who will remain nameless) that provided me with my first kiss. He tasted like pickles and I don't think I ever saw him again - more jabs at an already low self esteem...

Anyway... some of it was the same, but some things were different. Same disco balls, but the old light-up board that would show whether or not it was an "All Skate" or a "Couples Only" - that was gone. The pinball machines were gone. The round carpeted mushroom shaped benches that you would sit on to put on your skates - still there. (Which also acted as a "time out" place when you got "benched" for bad behavior. I did...once...)

I had to go and check out the bathrooms. Back in the day, they were just stalls separated by brick walls - no doors. Now, they attached doors, but the walls are way too skinny and I had to have the door propped half way open to be able to get my fat butt anywhere near the toilet. Luckily no one came in or I would have traumatized them with my lily white ass.

Since I hadn't eaten much that day, I stopped at the snack bar and bought a watered down Coke and a slice of the nasty pizza that didn't seem to change from what I had eaten over 25 years ago. I wonder if the expiration date on it still had a "19" in it.

And how did I manage to do back on 8 wheels after all those years? I'll put it like this. At one time, I was a pretty good skater that could both dance on my skates and keep up with members of the speed team. Wearing a 30 year-old pair of rental skates on legs that see most of their activity nestled under a computer desk, I think I did ok. 3 laps around and I was ready for a Vicodin. Parts of my legs hurt that I didn't know existed. After a short break, I headed out again and while my mind remembered all of the moves, I could only get my body to do a few. I think I skated for about 45 minutes when a bolt from the inside of my skate was starting to take up permanent residence inside my big toe. (You didn't think the rentals came with insoles did you?) That was enough. I returned my skates to the rental counter, took a last look around, sucked in a big deep breath of sweat and polyurethane, and hit the dusty trail.

Perhaps I'll stop back in another 100 years...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I Refuse to Let a Piece of Art Stay Ruined.

122708 092

It was late and it was quiet, and that's usually when my brain starts to relax and it's my favorite time to create because it just flows....

122708 090

I remember taping down a piece of watercolor paper. My plan was to draw with some Sennelier shellac based ink and once dry, I would watercolor over it. And so I proceeded to draw something most likely mandala like...

It looked dry, it felt dry, but when I started to paint over it, bye-bye drawing. It washed away and I got pissed. Started throwing water at the paper, mashing paint around...this one was destined for the trash can so why not let out a little aggression?

As the paint is drying, I notice the paper is now slightly raised where the paint had crossed over the area where the inked lines had been. (Following me?) I grabbed a scissors and started scraping and peeling away strips of paper at these raised sections. So now I have this wrecked painting with torn away sections revealing white underneath. I grab the brush and start painting in the areas that were revealed. It's starting to be a little more interesting, but I'm still totally intent on eventually chucking it and heading off to bed.

My final (or so I thought) grand gesture to this messed up adventure was to grab a scissors and cut the whole thing into thin little strips, and as they started to pile up, I remember thinking about keeping one as a book mark.

And that's when the light went on.

122708 086

I don't even know what time it is at this point, maybe midnight? I just know that I have to run up to the attic to look for that roll of copper foil tape.

I found it, and ended up spending at least another hour creating the final product.

Several years ago, I took a workshop with the Queen of using textile techniques in metal, Ms. Arline Fisch. She taught us simple weaving techniques that could be used with wire or thin gauges of metal. The image below show the projects I created during her class and when I saw that orange paint sitting in those recessed areas, I had this idea that the copper foil tape would look so good along side it.

And that's how I refused to let a piece of art stay ruined. I made lemonade instead.

Projects from Arline Fisch Workshop
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