The Sun is a Peach

Encaustic is a technique of painting using hot wax mixed with pigments which has fascinated me for some time. Beeswax is the preferred wax, and encaustic pigment sticks are the preferred colorants, and if you shop for all the supplies and tools you need to use this medium they will take a serious, bleeding bite out of your budget.

I don’t even have a budget for art supplies right now, which leads me to doing one of the things at which I excel:  using whatever is available to create things.   Here is where my parents and I differed in our maker’s philosophy,  leading to  frowns and discouraging remarks and the label “careless” to my persistent experimental habits.

This is why I cherish that label:  because everything I ever made that was good began with that restless determination to make it work, without waiting for everything to be ordered properly or learned correctly.

I began this painting with acrylics sometime last summer, and lost interest in because it was so timid and blah. It couldn’t get any worse, so I went back over it with encaustic, genie-style.   Just a blow torch, wax, and oil paints.

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Things I made that i love….

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I’m at that place once again where I have to decide what to make. Beginnings are more difficult for me, so I tried this exercise:     I made a poster of all the things I have made in clay that I know that I LOVED.

thingsilove1

 

 

 

 

 

 

I initially made two columns, one for things that  I loved, and one for things that others have loved and critiqued well.  But my column filled up and I still had more, so I eliminated the other one.

Here’s what happened:

thingsilove3

I think I know what I need to do next.

 

 

 

thingsilove4

 


I Apologize in Advance of of my Bitter Frustration with Theoretical Know-it-Alls.

Come on, all you bootstrapping (insert political party here)

you Ayn Rand  enthusiasts.

Please, show me how its done. Not by your pompous theories and meaningless words. I need to see you put your money where your mouth is.

Show me how your ideas hold up to reality TODAY. Not twenty years ago.

I will walk you through it:

As of today, you have:

No savings. No retirement.  No valuables on hand. No job. No experience. No credit.  Your credit score is 80.

I’ll give you $200 in checking (monopoly rules).

Keep your vehicle, and continue living in your current abode, as long as you are paying a mortgage or rent.

Your resume may include your education, but no work experience beyond age 21. 

You must keep all your debts.

As of today, you have no spouse or parent to support you in any way.

No health insurance, no car insurance.

Go.

Enlighten me. Show me how great the current market system is, and how well it helps hard-working Americans succeed. I am having trouble understanding the practical applications.

Now, if you need me to switch places with you, I would be happy to help you out with that.


Creative Process part 2: The Secret of Creative Magic

I’m about to describe to you a secret that very few people on earth know, and the ones that do aren’t telling everyone about it. I take that back – they do tell us, but most of us don’t believe them.

I’m here to confirm those hidden truths.

This is how an artist makes artwork. Anyone can do it, because talent doesn’t matter much. The hurdle for most of us is simply identifying ourselves as a creative, and then behaving as though that were true.

I’m going to walk you through the process, step by step. Are you ready? Get some sleep.

Make yourself get up.  Get up as early as the earliest riser in your house, and make them a little breakfast or pack a lunch, and pour yourself a cup of coffee.  Drink it.  (If you are a morning exerciser, or, God help you, a runner, then get that over with.)

Send off your loved one with a kiss, and sit right down and write your morning pages.  If your loved one does not leave the house, then you have to leave.  Find a coffee shop or your office or your car, and write your morning pages.

Julia Cameron links morning pages to the creative process, and she was right.  Just empty your head for three pages, no more and no less. Write lists if that makes you happy, it doesn’t really matter.  Your rational mind gets bored by the last page and checks out, and then you can tell yourself some nice things, a little pep talk, without getting the eye-roll from yourself. This is important.

(You may need to shower, or get dressed or comb your hair.  Or just put on a hat).

This is a studio day. Go to the space where you make things, and pace around.  You have some unfinished projects.

( They are unfinished  because they lack a crucial component:  a deadline.  Leave them until a deadline makes itself available.)

Turn on music.

You have  a project that started out as puttering, a side thing, something that if one asks, “What are you doing, what is it, what will it be?”  you would say “Oh, its nothing”.  Its an exercise, a study in color, I was just using up some leftovers, I’m going to throw it out/give it away, you tell yourself.

Get it out and work on it. If someone asks you about it today, you may not call it “nothing”.  You can distract them by asking them a personal question, but you have to be honest about this project.  You have to say to them, and yourself, “I don’t know yet”. YET, I said.  Don’t forget the “yet”.

If you don’t have one of these tentative things, then begin one.

Go eat lunch. Eat until you aren’t hungry any more.  Talk to some people, make a phone call, check on something that has you worried.

Go outside and pull some weeds, plant a few seeds, dig around in the dirt, or mow grass. Be startled by the Sandhill Cranes flying in formation overhead, honking in the quiet sky, or a nest tucked away on the porch.

Run some errands if you have to in order to keep peace with the ones that you love. Sit down and research something that came to you while you were puttering. Check facebook and emails, and go back to that thing and there it is.

The idea.  The reason, the connection, the focus.  You know what to do next  in the studio.

You know what to do next.

Creative Magic (or Process, as some like to call it)  is knowing what to do next.  Not the final product, but just the next step.

porcelain pears

Get some sleep.

 


Getting my intuition back….

“You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn’t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.”

 

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Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird


Jealous of Jealous

(I’m jealous of the Jealous Curator, a blog about artwork that she loves and wishes she had done herself. WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT is an exasperating feeling sometimes.)

Longing is

that terrible beautiful ache

that  I continue to seek out

like a bruise

lets see if it still hurts

if I still feel

anything

It does, it hurts, thats good

I’m still living, i am

Only making toast plates this week

But I am still living, making, being.

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Fig Brownies

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Now, the waiting.

To take my mind off the possibility of rejection, I made fig brownies

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(I like fig newtons, I like brownies, so…)

I adapted a recipe for dried cherry brownies, to this:

1/2 cup of unsalted butter

1/4 cup of coconut oil

3 oz. (2/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. table salt

1/2 cup of chopped dried mission figs

1/2 cup of wine (or port, amaretto, bourbon, rum…or whatever sounds good.  I used wine, but I think amaretto would be amazing.  I added some almond extract to the batter, I was so sure of it).

 

1) Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9-inch-square metal baking pan, tapping out the excess flour.
2) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk or stir in the sugar, followed by all four of the eggs and the vanilla. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, starting slowly to keep the ingredients from flyin gout of the pan and stirring more vigorously as you go. Stir until the batter is smooth and uniform, about 1 minute.
3)  Stir in the wine/amaretto soaked figs, along with any remaining liquid from the saucepan. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing it so it fills the pan evenly. Bake until a toothpick or a skewer inserted 3/4 inch into the center of the brownies comes out with just a few moist clumps clinging to it, about 40 minutes. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack.
I’m telling you.  These are fantastic. But maybe only if you like figs and chocolate.
fig brownie

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