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My Art Therapy Journey

Posts from the Art Tools and Supplies Category

For my Ceramics 2 class this semester I intentionally signed up for the section taught by an instructor who focuses a lot on figurative sculpture.  I want to explore and express the immediacy of what is going on in my life, but I am scared of it.  Our first assignment has a completely open ending.  I guess just writing that and seeing “open ending” gives me a place to start from.   Yesterday, in class, I was feeling blocked.  After many days of feeling full of inspiration class finally started and I couldn’t move.

Terror.

The assignment is meant as a warm-up exercise and I was dead cold.

 

 

 

Instead of starting on my real assignment I spent some time learning to use the clay extruder.  I think it’s going to make my ceramics life a lot better.  It will help in saving my hands and wrists and might be a significant addition to my toolbox.

Discovering there was this extruder in the school studio the entire last semester of Ceramics 1, but never being informed of it or taught how to use it is a little perplexing, if not a bit irritating.  But…at the same time I’m glad I didn’t know about it.  I learned things the “hard” way.   I learned how to do everything through hard work and determination and it got me more intimate with my clay.

It feels like life is that way sometimes.  Doing things the hard way through blood, sweat and tears and then someone tells you about something that gives you the same result with, essentially, the flip of a switch.

I mean, seeing this extruder machine in the studio is an extremely concrete “in reality” sort of thing.  I can see that it’s a lot easier to make coils or forms using this machine than it is to roll out coils tediously by hand.  But what if someone tells me an easier way to do something I can’t see or touch?

I have to admit, I even looked at that extruder with skepticism.  I didn’t want to deal with the anxiety of learning how to use it and, at first, I viewed it as a sort of “cheat.”  After all, shouldn’t everything be extremely difficult in life?

This seems to be one of my switched wires in my brain.  Why do I go around thinking nothing is worthwhile unless it is painful and difficult?

What if I can go about putting my creative ideas into reality through simpler means and enjoy the entire process?  Is it then, somehow, not as good???

It’s a little crazy, really.

 

I need to get over this idea that enjoyment has to be counter-weighted by misery.

It’s just a LIE.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The counter-weight of misery does NOT make joy any more safe.

 

And this brings me to the topic of Joy.

Joy is extremely risky, dangerous and downright chill-invoking without faith.

I might even believe that without faith there can be no joy at all.

 

This isn’t something I’ve thought about before writing this, but it just sort of dawned on me.

 

It’s all a part of letting-go and getting somewhere.

For me, it’s a part of getting unstuck.  That’s what if feels like.

 

There’s enough aggression and violence in the world without me needing to add to it through the creative process of my life.  Is it really needed?

 

What if I let the clay be soft and didn’t fight working with a clay that’s not workable yet?  What if I took the steps to help the clay work for me and not power through by sheer force that is only going to break me and not lead to the greatest creative outcome anyway?

 

It’s back to breathing.  Letting go, letting things be ok.

Accepting help.

Making a beautiful life willing to be made.

 

I have come to this acceptance the hard way and I wonder what miracles are ahead.

What other amazing machine I didn’t know about before hangs right in front of me on the walls of the studio awaiting discovery?

 

 

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I’m back in business!  At least to some degree.  Yesterday I went to my previously scheduled Monday night sewing class and felt better for it.  I’ve been working on this darned stuffed cat for months.  Of course, I did just successfully thread my sewing machine by myself last week.  Next up: Bobbin Winding?

So proud I learned to thread my own machine!

One step at a time.  That’s what I’m always telling myself.

My awesome (and she really is completely  awesome!) sewing teacher announced to the class last night, while talking about when you’re learning to sew,  you just start at step one and go from there with one new skill at a time…And then continued her announcement with the exception for me here, who started on about step 4.  : )   Whoops.

But I swear when I found this cat pattern I thought it was so cute and it wasn’t that big, and besides, don’t babies play with stuffed animals?  How hard could it be, really?!

So…I toted in this (non-beginner) pattern to my very first sewing class and in the past couple of months have fallen in serious intense like with sewing.  It’s teetering on love, I think.  I’m trying to keep it on the down-low though.  I don’t want to get tooooo excited about it just yet.  My sweet kitty is still not quite done and she might not love me back…?  Oh, I hope she loves me!

If she doesn’t I don’t think I’m going to give up on sewing just yet.  I’ll try a stuffed teddy bear next, maybe.

**

There’s more.

I noticed something else about sewing last night though.  And I think it’s an awareness that has grown from the beginning of my stuffed cat project.   But last night it was all in the right place and came together and YES, definitely this cat is a representation of me.

Maybe not the cat, per say…but the process of this cat becoming a cat…The cat becoming/forming/growing into what/who it is.

I’m sure I’m taking my connection with this stuffed cat a bit too far for some people’s comfort level, but I’m always looking for ways to connect and, more-so, ways to express the way I’m feeling inside.

And last night at the tail-end of my class this is how my cat ended up…

inside-out cat-arms and tail folded inside, detached legs, pins that once held it together still sticking out after sewing the body

Of course, I identify with the pins in the body right now due to my recent surgery…and the stitches. The stitches…of course.   And I watched as my cat’s arms and tail went inside and the “beautiful sides” (my teacher refers to them as the beautiful sides!)  were pinned together before sewing…  I thought to myself, “Yes…just like that.  Nobody can see. what’s in there.”

Inside that’s the way I feel…(but I don’t necessarily feel beautiful in there.)  I am all tucked inside, facing a needle, facing surgery, facing life, facing the unknown.  And nobody can see me.  “Nobody can see that I actually have a face under here…if they could see inside me here they would see my face!”

Now, I know sometimes people see me.  Sometimes people are even there when I’m a bloody mess, all contorted and turned certain ways.  But deeper…deeper hidden and hiding is how I sometimes feel.

Having the surgery and the following restrictions on my mobility and the fears about a repeat emergency surgery happening if I don’t follow the rules…and all my body image issues…and the control, or rather the loss of it….has had me pretty “triggered.”   I’m primed and ready to go.  Anxiety…check.  Depression…check. Body Pain…check.  NO CONTROL NO CONTROL NO CONTROL….checkcheckcheckcheckcheck!!!!

It’s not true.  I know I DO have control over myself.  I know that I’m going to be ok in the end.  I know that even if I did have to have surgery again I’m (pretty) sure I’d live through it…even the part that comes after where I can’t get my blood pressure up, walk around,  pick up and play with my daughter and do my projects.

And I also know that I have my attitude at my disposal.  I can choose to stay positive and hopeful at most times.  I can keep the faith.  I can see the bigger picture through anything.  I can do all that!

But then, sometimes…well, sometimes I’m just wrapped up tight inside and it feels like I’m not in my own hands.  Maybe that’s just the place we’re all supposed to be sometimes mid-process of becoming who we are?

And it’s then that I’m really thankful I am a human…and not a stuffed cat after-all.

And I’m completely  made as me. Lovable, huggable me, already!  (Even if I do hide inside sometimes!)

(And I super-super know I am eager to love my creator back…and my creator will not give up on love…because creation doesn’t give up on itself!  I didn’t even plan on that…I’ll have to think about this!)

The end.

No, not the end!  But just the end…for now.

(I wrote this stream-of-consciousness style so I can’t guarantee all of this completely makes sense…have mercy on me! 🙂

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Life is ever-expanding!  Right before coming here to post I learned I can actually buy an attachable lens for my iPhone!?  What?  Maybe if I get one I can take some pictures from this paleolithic photog cage I’ve kept myself in.

I am excited about this newest discovery, but I’m wondering if it borders on too much of a  “gadget.”  Does anybody know?  I for sure don’t!  Believe me, I am reserving ALL  judgements about everything photography, (maybe indefinitely!) after my rude awakening from my prissy analog attitude I once protected from the digital light!

I have taken a lot of Instagram shots and even though I have 3 more editing apps now I haven’t found the right combination of time and energy to begin using them.   It makes me cringe to know there’s so much more I can play around with, and I’m still not playing as deep there as would like to.

**

The word of the last week has been *BUSY* paired with *Follow-Thru*, and for a happy trio *Patience* has had to sneak in by necessity.   So I’ve been super freaky busy working on my projects, but I can’t say that any single one has made it to completion. (YET.  It will!)

This is actually one of my favorite states to be in. While nothing is yet done, so much is getting done!   Everything is in a frenzy of movement, going somewhere with so much forceful purpose it has no idea where or when it might land.  This is The Beautiful Unknown.

On my porch I have plywood patiently waiting for sanding, paint and assemblage.  In the garage I have wood waiting to be turned into a table for my sewing machine which is waiting to finish up a stuffed cat I started over a month ago, and the front room awaits the crafting supplies (for making art dolls, art journals, cards…) I am moving there from their former residence in the family room. The basement walls quietly wait for the canvas that is waiting for paint….because I’m starting an anticipated painting class I haven’t even had the chance to say anything about!

Everything is so moving and still in my life now.  The tension is killer.  Thrilling!

I know I’m getting closer to the deepest place of creativity when life starts looking and feeling like this. Something is about to pop…My life is 10 months pregnant!

Wish me luck on the delivery!

Gotta fly…the baby (turned toddler) is awake!  And she…does not wait! : )

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It’s not just you.  Or your computer.

I really did change the format/presentation of my blog.

I figured since I was already in construction mode, why not?  I had my circular saw out already today anyway!

First time using the circular saw!

 

As with everything else, I probably won’t get this all figured out immediately, but my goal is to understand how to work within this layout better by tomorrow. (I need to figure out the formatting of pages, widgets, custom options, etc.) This format should offer me more options and it changes the “feel” of things.  I hope it will offer a little more space and make it easier to read and view images.

 

In other construction news… I was able to follow through on getting one step closer to completing my current build project…the rolling storage cart!  I am afraid I might become addicted to cutting wood.  I really loved working with the cut-off saw, but these power tools have a way with me!  I’m all over the circular saw now, and I hear there will be access to a jigsaw soon!  The possibilities really are endless.

 

Using a power tool makes me feel strong,capable and effective which are all feelings I like.  Using them also conveniently has the side-effect of  helping me make cool and useful things!  I like building.  I like things that function–Most of all when that “thing”…is ME! : )

 

My Saw and Me : )

 

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I’ve been pretty busy, but not too busy to think about Life With Light.  In fact, I guess I’ve partly been busy because so much of my attention has turned to this “life with light.”    Sometimes the days just seem to slip away…and the day becomes more like an inhabited friendly oasis rather than the harsh desert island I’ve been accustomed to in the past.

My Friendly Oasis on Wednesday

This week me and one of my best friends began a woodworking/building project together!  You can see there are 2 sanding blocks there.  We “turned our doing dials up a notch” ala Home Depot, lol.  My friend gave me that line 🙂  She always makes me laugh.  She’s the kind of friend I can laugh with and cry with in the same day…or even within the same minute.  I count myself pretty lucky, fortunate, blessed… (take your mix n’ match of the assortment,) to have her in my life.  We’ve known each other since we were kids…have been in each other’s weddings…that kind of friends.   We’ve been through a lot together, even during times we were apart, often living sort of seemingly parallel lives.

So I have this to share…a great big burst of light in my my life if you ask me!

This week we bonded over the cut-off saw in my garage…

We got as far as sanding and painting these boards which I was pretty proud of!  I’m hoping to work on the completion sometime this weekend.  The weather outside looks good, so as long as the weather indoors stays as calm then I will hopefully have a storage cart on wheels by the time Monday rolls around…complete with victory pics to share!  (Crossing fingers, toes, and a few hairs.)

**

If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll probably remember me talking about my euphoric discovery of Instagram  and my reformation of the repugnance I once had for digital photography.  You won’t believe what I’ve uncovered now!   I am forever humbled.  My former repugnance is regrettable.

Another thing that has had me busy this week is this!

The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity

And!

iPhone Obsessed: Photo Editing Experiments with Apps

And I was even more humbled when I learned there are even people who consider themselves to be  iPhoneography Purists!?  iPhone purists!  I never knew!

I am SO SLOW.

My husband laughed at me because he tried to get me into digital when we were dating, but I would have nothing of it.  I’m too embarrassed to even admit to the things I said about “lowly digital.” LOL.  And now I’m begging him to go to Photoshop World with me!  I have had to swallow some pretty big words and eat a lot of humble pie.

I haven’t actually even had the chance to experiment with any new apps.  I was thinking Instagram was the schizz, but I guess there’s more out there to explore. haha.

It’s a bit hard to not have all the time in the world to traverse all these extraordinary ventures.   These discoveries have  kept my mind going at a good speed, which is necessary because I apparently I have a lot of catching up to do.  But when it comes to all this newfangled stuff  I have to approach my discoveries more as a section-hike and not a thru-hike for now…(hiker lingo)  Oh…and just to think of all the photos that could be unearthed on this hike!

I cannot wait to dig into digital and see how I can pal around with it in the area of art therapy!

Patience will be a personal challenge on this one.

**

And an update on the rest of life…well, what is the rest of life anyway?

What if the rest of life was just like all the above…happy to be alive?

What if…something to think about.

And maybe something to feel.

Sadly, I have not been spending many hours trying to figure out Photoshop, or even messing around with Instagram.  BUT, I have been busy working!


Yesterday my “night job” duties (the time after my daughter goes to bed for the night) consisted of painting the basement….because!  Because it’s in the process of transforming into my studio! Yay!

I’m so excited to have a designated place that might be large enough to become a holding place for the art I crave to do.  I have a lot of plans for it, but mostly the plans are open and evolving as I speak.  I think I have an area picked out for metalworking and another corner space picked for painting…

It’s exciting to think about, but for now my most used studio supply is elbow grease!

Speaking of, I better get back to it since my daughter is down for nap and time does not hold back!

 

Some picks from the journey… 🙂

 

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All Hail the King!  I don’t know why I just said that other than I’m trying to refrain from saying OMG?

I just figured out that I can layer filters with Instagram!  My night job (my night job playing around with photos I took earlier in the day with Instagram) just became a lot more loaded.  Which means that with the knowledge of the power of layers I’ve just come across, I’m going to have to dedicate myself to learning Photoshop now because Instagram will be too small and slow to suffice.  How did the world ever get by on no layers at all…and then one single layer…and then….as many layers as I can imagine?

This is what I get for being an “old school” snob about all this photography business.  I completely deserve to not have known.

But now I know.

I wanted so much to not like digital.  I was doing so good too, with getting all the way into the middle of 2012 carrying rejection of digital with me.

But now the world has changed.  I’ve sunk ever closer to the big black hole of the digital darkroom…In fact, I’m running to it and slamming the door tight so nobody can disturb me here.

Phew.

It’s going to take me a while to process this….

Layers….Filters and Layers, people.  I’ve lived with them for years and nobody ever told me how cool they could be!

This will require the addition of several hours to each day for quite some time.

 

 

 

 

This will be a great way to explore filters and layers on the inside (of me.) But for now, the layer of me that made another recent discovery only a few days ago…a television series I discovered on Netflix called “Breaking Bad”…needs to go get that fix.   I never actually watch TV either…but I’m doing that now too, apparently.  And pretty happily so far, I might add. I’m going to go try to rot my brain quickly so I don’t get any more anxious about this.

 

Bite me, old school.  Sheesh.

Me and my daughter went on another photo-taking extravaganza today, and it’s final…I’m thinking of moving to Instagram.  Because everything is cool in Instagram.  I think my eyes have acquired Instagram lenses.  I think in Instagram.

Now, I know I am a little behind the times.  I know Instagram is probably old news to some people, but I, for one, sometimes find myself in losing battles, lol.  Like…digital photography, for instance.  I took a photography class in 2002 and learned how to do the “real deal” and vowed it was far too amazing of a world to cheapen it with instantcy. (Which I think might only be a word because I just made it be one.)

But now, well…look at me now.

Now, I am not only in favor of digital…but iPhone digital?  And Instagram?  Like a cheap, uneducated version of Photoshop!?  Oh my goodness, I’m sure I’m offending someone right now.  Am I?  Omg. I’d like to make friends here!

Well, anyway, imagine I never offended you (if I’ve offended you) and imagine I just said…”I’m old school.”  Because that’s what I really mean.  I like to get my hands dirty, or in the case of photography…clean.  I like to dip my hands in chemical and feel the rush of it right up into the cells of my brain and then wash it all away with water and watch things transform in my hands.  I probably have some kind of God complex.  Is there such a thing known to exist?  I mean, there is something SO powerfully wonderful about creation.

I’m not saying digital isn’t creation and isn’t wonderful.  It is!  I even want to  live in Instagram, for goodness sake.

I think I’ve said  enough.

Yes, enough.

On with the show!

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(Note: Many of these photos tell a story or have a string of words behind them, so they may reappear at a later date with more to say here.  For now, we’re doing good (and I’m so grateful)  to have the time to get this far!   : )   …But, until I’m back with my stories, feel free to use these photos as prompts for your own! 🙂  (After all, I don’t want to keep my God complex all for myself.)

Dremel Baby!

Look at what showed up on my doorstep today!

I’m pretty sure I love power tools more than my husband, considering he had this sitting around his office at work for two years and asked me today if I was interested in having it!

Are you kidding!  If the way to a man’s heart is food then the way to my heart is a multi-functional power tool.  Hell yeah, bay-bay!!

I’ve looked at knock-off Dremels for at least a year, debating on buying one, trying to find a convincing enough reason I just had to have it.  So now that I have this sweet one in my arms I am convinced I have to put it to use ASAP!

I wonder if he’ll find any metal fabrication tools sitting around anytime soon!?  And maybe a nice welder?  Oh, a pottery wheel and kiln wouldn’t be bad either.

Anyone up for a Dremel Challenge!  : )

This recent addition is definitely lifting my spirits.

 

Edit: oh no, I hope this is not something subconscious coming to the fore.  I just read what I wrote and I did not mean I love power tools more than my husband.  I meant, I love power tools more than my husband loves power tools, ha.  Whoops!  Freud, get lost!