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The adventures of an artist–the continuing and ever surprising saga of trying to exist in a world that doesn’t quite understand us…
One summer day Jeff and I had taken a job building a fence at the home of a woman I knew. (Jeff could build and fix just about anything, so we were perpetually looking for odd jobs to supplement our income.) After we met with my friend, discussed what she needed and agreed on a price, we showed up as planned to begin work. The homeowner was going to be at work that day and had directed us to just set up in the backyard and go ahead and get started. Shortly after, an alarmed-looking woman came trudging down the driveway, talking on her phone. She was the next door neighbor calling the homeowner to report that there was something suspicious going on in her backyard. We were friendly and introduced ourselves and chatted a bit, of course. After she interrogated us and looked around at our tools, etc. she seemed assured that we were not burglars and she went off on her way.
Later my friend called me to tell me her side of the amusing story. Here is the conversation she had with Mrs. Conservative Nosey Neighbor who called her at work to report the “disturbance” in her backyard:
Nosey Neighbor: Are you aware that there are people in your yard?! There’s a guy covered with tattoos and a woman in a black halter top! (I can assure you I was NOT wearing a “halter top” it being 2011 and all. It was a tank top; it was summer! And we didn’t rumble in on a Harley but even if we did…)
Homeowner: Oh! It’s OK…They’re Artists! We hired them to build a fence for us.
Nosey Neighbor: You hired artists to build a fence?! Are you sure they’ll get it straight?
Homeowner: (trying not to laugh audibly) Yes, I think they’ll do just fine.
Here are the scary-looking culprits:
This was Jeff, a skilled blacksmith, wood-worker, sculptor, and jeweler who graduated with a BFA summa cum laude and me a realist painter. And yes, we did get the fence straight.
Day 2. I like them at the beginning. Loose. Full of possibilities. Quickly becoming a thing recognizable.
This is my Saturday morning.
Another painting started. Another finished and on the wall.
This is what I do.
It’s been over three years. You’ve been dead for longer than I knew you now. There is still this raw piece of my heart, this hurt that I work to keep buried, but that sometimes surfaces unexpectedly. I try to keep it secret, thinking that nobody wants to hear about you, that part of “moving on” and healing is to not talk about you, worried that I’ll make my current boyfriend feel jealous, scared of making people feel sad, or making people think I’m wallowing in grief or using it all selfishly just to get attention. But it’s there, always, on the outskirts, sometimes appearing again in my artwork. I guess it always will be. When those images of you flash back I try to bury them again, hoping it doesn’t show on my face. What is a healthy way to keep someone who’s dead in your heart? How much should one reminisce, honor, worship the dead? How does one navigate how much to let go of and how much to cherish still? I guess it depends on how important they were in life. You were a shining wonderful thing in my life, the answer to what I always looked for; I fucking adored you! One minute you were alive, loving me, and then I found you hanging there, a light extinguished.
This painting is called The Brief Madness of Bliss, part of my thesis work which I dedicated to dealing with my grief associated with my fiance, Jeff Taylor’s, suicide.
For years I’ve painted things, my things – objects I’ve collected and inherited, positioned in an eccentric contrivance or a more conventional arrangement, sometimes nestled among abstract expressionist elements. Monumental objects that require immortalization as well as small almost incidental items that collected dust on a grandmother’s shelf for ages.
Now I’d like to combine my passion and my need to support myself. I’m available for commissions (various sizes and prices to fit your needs.) Send me a photo of your cherished, heirloom, beloved, item and I can reproduce it in paint so you can display an oil paint reproduction of your item next to the beloved item, or split up the heirloom and it’s intricate reproduction so you can keep one and your ever-squabbling sibling can keep the other, allowing everyone to enjoy said heirloom.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Roll me over – oil on canvas
Recently I presented my work as part of the Greenhill Open NC Art Review program here in Greensboro. It was fun to participate and see other North Carolina artists’ work and offer feedback. It was good to present again, to keep myself from getting rusty after presenting so frequently in school. Here’s a recording of a presentation of my work, what it means, what I mean to capture, what I want to show to entice the viewer’s reactions and memories…
Kewpie Culture, charcoal and oil pastels on paper.
To interpret my individual culture, this was a bit of a challenge. This was the final assignment for a drawing class last year. Although my family heritage was mentioned to me as a child, it was not a major influence. My upbringing did not include much tradition from a specific culture. The biggest thing that molded me was the chaotic feminine energy I was surrounded by–my mother and grandmother and this dysfunctional triangular relationship. So instead of making my final drawing about that, I chose to draw something that makes me happy, something I want to look at, something other people might enjoy as well.
Kewpie dolls really turn me on. I discovered this sweet little doll in a consignment shop last year and immediately fell in love with her but the price was astounding, really…150 bucks! And her entire painted surface is completely chipping off. I visit her sometimes. Even though her price has been reduced, she still sits there, in a glass case, hidden behind some piece of hideous consignment furniture, hiding and waiting for me to come up with the cash–bail to spring her from the bondages of retail.
This drawing is of a kewpie doll on a fluffy, happy cloud floating over a cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood with various objects encircling her head. The drawing represents me transcending the mass-marketed, consumerist society that I previously thought I needed to conform to. I now intentionally influence myself with cultural items that I choose–art/painting, drawing, literature, Buddhism, the heart, music, and nature. I surround myself with a combination of cultural elements that bring me joy.
Buddhism, when revealed to me, made perfect sense. The messages have been packaged and repackaged in various ways over many years. My current favorite is Alan Watts. I know, he existed years ago, inspiring a turned-on hippy generation, but his relaxed attitude and simple down-to-earth delivery of ideas calms me, helps me make sense of things. I like to listen to Alan Watts recordings while I paint. On days that music with lyrics only adds to the swirl of ideas in my head, Watts helps me focus.