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My Art Therapy Journey

Posts tagged learning

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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This is a project I’ve been working on almost all semester.  I think it’s been through the kiln 5 times for different processes.  It’s experienced some experiments and some hardship.  The lid  has been cracked (and fixed) once (fell off my project shelf)  and it’s had a bit too heavy an application of copper oxide for my liking.  The egg no longer looks like it goes with it’s “nest” and the thing is starting to look overdone.  I’m not happy with it now, so I’m thinking of just throwing as many things as possible at it to see if I can miraculously bring it back to life.  I don’t know what else to do with it at this point.  It’s one of those projects that starts out with a lot of promise, but in the end is a big disappointment.   I kind of want to throw it at a wall.  It’s a “learning” piece, but I didn’t want it to be a learning piece.   I wanted it to do what I wanted it to do, and it’s not doing what I want it to.  I’m frustrated with it and starting to be embarrassed by it.  But I will keep throwing things at it until I just can’t take it anymore and throw it, itself.

There are only a handful of weeks left for this semester until all of our “wet work” has to be completed and the kiln is going at full tilt to get everyone’s projects fired for grades.  I have other projects I’m working on currently, and at least one project I’m pretty happy with that is complete with another cool one in the wings.  Then there’s the wheel thrown stuff that is somehow miraculously working out.   But this is the one I’m showcasing because it’s the one that’s been the most emotional, so far.  The most “unsuccessful.”   The most troubling.

This is the one that feels so totally out of control, and the one that at some points I have tried to control the most.  Because I’m looking for an outcome.  Because I had a finished picture in mind somewhere along the way.  And I am not happy because this is not it.  I have quit feeling enjoyment while I am working on it.  Will I be able to reclaim my joy with it?  Can it be redeemed?  Can it  survive?  Can it become good again?

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I have already written this post several times in my head tonight, so forgive me if it doesn’t seem fresh.  If it helps at all I still don’t really know what I’m going to say.  I often feel that way, and not just here or when I’m writing.  It’s just me being typical me.  And being me, typically, gets me in trouble sometimes.

I’m hoping this isn’t one of those times though.  I’m never actually wanting to get myself into trouble.  (Usually.)

I’m surprised I’m seeming so chipper because I’ve actually been feeling more on the blue side.  I apologize if what I’m offering here is all really a defense mechanism against feeling sad.

Despite (or because of) feeling a lot of feelings lately, I have been super busy.

And just the other night realized I’ve completed several projects that I’ve talked about here and haven’t had a chance to share the results.  I guess that might say something about my focus.  My favorite part of any project is the process of it.  I’m always happy to complete something and actually getting something done is one of my strongest motivations, but I’m more of an experiencer.    It’s the “problem solver” part of me.  For instance, if I’m building something and it collapses under the weight of the drill I’m excited for the challenge it presents.  Even if  the “F” bomb does slip out first…we don’t have to actually tell that part, right? ha.

Anyway…Since I’m playing catch-up here I’m going to post a couple of  2 for 1 pics….

1st sewing project EVER!

My first sewing project EVER! (Because the gym bag that mean home ec teacher forced me to make in 7th grade doesn’t count.)

I finally finished my sweet stuffed cat with a likeness to me!  I posted about her several weeks ago when she was still turned every which way and outside-in.

She survived her insides coming out!

My sewing teacher did help me get her where she needed to be though.  She said she was good at getting that done because she had birthed big babies.  By the time I was ready to stuff the poor girl there wasn’t a lot of breathing room at the opening.

You might notice she’s a friendly, sociable cat, and not too afraid to enjoy life too.  She is perpetually waving her hand in the air “like she just don’t care,” because I made her that way. (Which means I had to detach and affix her arm in the finishing stages due to an error and her character comes from overcoming that obstacle.)

So here she is…and she’s sitting on top of the rolling storage cart I completed last week!

What do you think?

2 for 1: cat and storage cart creation

So this brings me to the storage cart creation!

My storage cart also gets its character due to some less-than-perfect conditions in its lifetime!  Imagine that.

Originally, there was no staggering planned.  (That’s what they all say, right.) And I didn’t have a single beer the whole time I was making this thing.

But as the actual building proceeded it was clear that my measurements weren’t exactly exact.  So I improvised!  Hence, the staggered stacking of the layered shelving units.

In the end I think the cart looks reminiscent of a beehive box and that makes me pretty happy.  Although, I think beehive boxes are a little more square….

I thought I’d include a few more views of my storage cart so you can look at it to make one of your own if you want  (and stagger the boxes purposefully.)  Or message me and I’ll make one for you and for the low price of $1,000 shipping and handling I’m make one for you and ship it, imperfectly finished and all, straight to your door.  (This thing is no lightweight and can hold its own…and should last a million years.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In further developments I also finished my “flower painting.” I put it in quotations because it also turned into something a little different from anticipated.

 

I said in my last post that I would post pictures of it and I am all about the follow-thru, so here it is.

Not all it was to become…When the flower painting was still a flower

 

I figured I would start where we left off….

The following photos show the process from this point to its end/beginning…

 

white

 

adding purple

 

etching “love me” (request)

etchings…”dear flower” (sound familiar?) and “VOICE”

 

etching “listen”

 

etching “I

 

white covering the stigma (center) of the flower

 

Painting marks on the canvas as an expression of “listening” …simply looking and responding with attention and care, not knowing the details (the whys, the what fors, or what’s this going to get me?)

 

In hindsight, I think this might have been where I could have stopped…maybe…maybe my next word should be “trust” and “listen even more”

 

adding in (and covering over) black…and pink

 

turning the canvas, adding blue and orange

 

 

 

working on bird

 

final bird close-up

 

 

In the end I am not too sure if I exactly love my “flower painting.”

BUT…what I love about the process of my flower painting is that I didn’t stop.  I didn’t give up on it.  And I learned a lot through working on it.  I do feel that where I chose to stop is a better spot than where I started from and through all the layers and all the restarts and false finishes I stayed with it.

 

I GREW from it….

and my stem is reaching just a tad bit higher toward the light for it.

 

It did wear me out too, though.  And I’m a bit wore out now!  And I’ve told my therapist I’m working on getting to sleep at a half-way decent hour. (and it’s 1:33am now…actually early for me! 😉   Supposedly sleep helps people function better, but whatever.  What do neuroscientist know!? ha 😉

I guess this leaves me little time for reflections and commentary on the flower painting process, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to it.  I’m sure I’ll be talking more about the stuff that comes up for me while I’m painting  as I post more of my paintings though, so why attempt to tire myself of it now, anyway…

I was actually planning on working on a rather large developing painting tonight (with a certain exciting image from last weeks photos in it,) but that’s out too now, I’m realizing…

Doctor’s orders say I must sleep to dream…so this is it for now.

 

 

There is actually even more going on and more updates to fill you in on, so the plan is to be back before another week passes me by!

 

More paintings, more photos, more life and more light to come! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My question today is this: When do you let a thing go?

I just want to know, is there ever a time to give up?  And is giving up -giving up?… or really just letting go? And if it is then the question is less when than “how?”

I didn’t come to this canvas wanting anything but to paint.  It turned into a flower.  But I didn’t think it was good enough so I kept painting.  I wanted more.  Suddenly I became attached.  I was so happy to see a flower on my canvas when I didn’t even try to get it there.  I was ecstatic because for so long I’ve talked about “people who paint flowers” and how I definitely was not one of those people.

There was a part of mE that has always  wanted to paint a flower.

But no flowers would ever come.

It made me sad.

Flowers weren’t for me.

But I like flowers.   Flowers are special.  They make me happy.

“Flowers come from happy people.” (That’s what I thought.)

But I was not a flower person.

Then this flower came to me.  And I wanted it so much, even if it looked like a 5-year-old drew it.  It was still my flower and I loved it.

But then…the paint-parent came out and said it wasn’t right enough, there wasn’t enough “pop,” it wasn’t bright…it wasn’t right. The background had no foreground and blah blah blah, BLAH!  It didn’t look like other people’s flowers at all.  It didn’t even necessarily look alive!  So hopeless.

So I tried to help it out.  I tried to be better.  I tried to make it work…but then….

It died.

But it hadn’t signed a DNR.

So I kept at it.

The following photos are  the journey my flower has gone through and it’s still not done.  In fact, as soon as I get done writing this post I am getting right back to work on it.  I wanted to come here first though and talk about what’s been happening and mark it as part of my journey.  I don’t know where it’s going to go….

Do I stop?  Do I give up?  Today I’m working out how to let go.

I think.  I mean, I guess.

There’s just so much I don’t know right now.

(I have chosen to not digitally enhance any of these…they just have to sit there and deal with it, boo.)

close-up

 

Where I think I should have stopped and maybe just added some black and translucent layer(s) of color. It was going to be titled…”The First Flower of Recovery”

 

close – up

 

Where it all started to go wrong…

 

and even more wrong, haha

 

“Doing Battle”

 

close-up

 

a part of the paint I liked….that didn’t last, lol

 

trying to get my orange to cooperate…We still aren’t talking

 

The “Fuck It” stage…sorry, but it’s true

 

The “I feel this is an exceptional depiction of BOREDOM” phase

 

Up now…the “Trying too hard” period

 

but at least I felt there were some successful elements…and it was good time to experiement

 

When I thought maybe the carnage was over…It wasn’t! 🙂

 

stuff I liked, but it wasn’t likable enough…and I was irritated I could only get 5″ of things to go my way

 

And this is when I came to you with my questioning….How to give up…I mean, let go…yeah, Let Go…that’s so much more therapeutic, lol

Ok, so I know earlier I said I still wasn’t done, but I lied.  I kept painting before finishing this post because all the pictures were taking too long to upload.

And this is where we (me and this damn flower!) stand now.  I don’t really love it.  I feel like it’s so wrong and not doing anything for me.  But I’m learning…just not at the pace I would like to and I think I still just want my first flower back because it was the truest and I should have just chilled out and sat with it a while before destroying it in my haste to make it something it never could be anyway…perfect.

I love you not, flower!!!!

Sometimes I really hate my issues.  Stupid damn fucking issues, AURURRURURURHHHGGGGG!!!!

There.

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.