Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I just can't wait...!



I had all these good intentions to write an exciting blog entry, and then I got consumed in almost a stasis of hibernation while winter has been dragging on. There have even been spectacular snow days, and I still didn’t write anything.



If you haven’t guessed by now, there’s little hope for me ever being a serial blogger. Not that that’s a goal of mine.



Anyway… so yeah! That blog I was going to write





In the last entry about exiting my 20s, I mentioned that I thought it’d be cool to go see the Lion King for my 30th birthday but decided against asking for tickets. Instead, I thought it more practical to ask for new glasses. Which I totally got. Check ‘em out:









… Just kidding. This is what I actually got.








I decided that I wanted something different from what I had before, and this was the result. I’m used to thicker framed glasses, so for the first week of wearing these babies I felt like I was looking at someone else in the mirror. In some crazy way, I attached part of my visual identity to “artsier” glasses. This was completely unexpected, and I’ve since gotten over it and love my new glasses on my face as much as I do off of my face. Although it’s very awesome that I have new specs, GUESS WHAT:








BAM!!

Remember how I mentioned that I told my husband to plan everything for my 30th birthday? And I was really anxious about if he was going to do anything at all? Yeah, he totally wins the gold in joining forces with friends in surprising me not just with a grown-up-version of a Lion King party – which is really awesome on its own – but ALSO  tickets to see the Lion King. Which we are going to go see TOMORROW.

 WOOHOO!


Okay. Perhaps I’m disproportionately excited to see the Lion King as a 30 year old woman, but you have to understand that the Lion King was my favorite Disney film as a kid. I like to think I was busting through stereotypes without even knowing it, because though I may have liked the typical princess films I never really got into them. I was into 101 Dalmations, Aristrocats,  The Rescuers and Rescuers Down Under, and non-Disney films featuring animal characters. I was also extremely into Big Cats when the Lion King came out, so of course it was my favorite and holds a special place in my heart. But along with that, I'm also super pumped to see the costume and set designs. From what I’ve heard, the sheer artistry put into the show is pretty amazing and I want to have all my senses full present to drink it all in. Since I’ve been making stuffed animals, I hope the show will be inspiring on that end and feed into my creativity. 

I have to admit, though. I will probably cry. Especially when Mufasa dies, because even just listening to the music that accompanies the whole wildebeest scene tears me up. Seriously. And I may cry anyway out of sheer joy in going to see my first ever Broadway production.

Can't wait!



Saturday, January 04, 2014

The Three-Oh: Part Deux



I figured that, since I wrote about my Bucket List of 30 things to do before I turn 31, I may as well write some reflections on turning 30 because Lord knows that hasn't been done before. That and I tend to get all contemplative when my birthday rolls around in part because it also happens to be 8 days into the New Year, when folks are all abuzz about reflections on last year and resolution about the next.

Normally I don't make any big deal about birthdays, at least not my own. Since my birthday is in the winter, it inevitably fell during Winter Break during high school and college when many of my friends weren't even around. I'm also an introvert, so a great birthday party to me looks like hanging around with a handful of friends and watching a movie or playing games. Or going to a museum or similar institution. Case in point: I wanted to go to the Franklin Institute in Philly on my 16th birthday, the Earth and Space Museum in NYC on my 21st birthday, and two years ago I wanted to go to the Baltimore Aquarium. This year I would have liked to break the mold by going to see the theater production of The Lion King in NYC, but those tickets just crazy expensive so I felt all weird about asking for something that didn't have any practical use. Instead I'll be getting something much more insane: a new pair of glasses. I know, I'm totally living on the edge. All you extroverts can't handle this.

Additionally I threw the planning for my birthday into the capable hands of my husband and friends, and told them to make it a surprise. The lesson learned here is that combined with my winter blues, letting my friends decide my 30th birthday fate has led to bouts of subtle anxiety and thinking that nothing will be done to celebrate because my birthday doesn't really matter. This is actually the result of my birthday being during Winter Breaks, and self-inflicted scars from my young teenaged brain thinking most friends didn't come to my birthday invitations because they didn't care. As an adult, I know better, and soon enough my insecurity gets coaxed out of the dark and told to breathe into a paper bag. I'm sure whatever is planned for me will be awesome and fun.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about turning another year older and not about birthdays past.

I'm about to turn 30. There is no pandemonium, panic, or worlds falling apart. Turning 30 is not this looming cliff I'm about to fall off of from youthful radiance into a pit of old age. Seriously guys, that's just buying into what fashion magazines and cosmetic plastic surgeons exploit: fear of aging. I suppose I've always thrown a proverbial middle finger up at that noise and I don't see it suddenly stopping any time soon, as I have always felt that 30 was decidedly not old and not that big a deal. But when I think about it just a little more, I guess it is a little more than "just another birthday."

The good part is that I'm looking forward to getting out of my 20s because for some reason, that will make me feel more like an adult. You'd think that living apart from my parents after college and getting married at 24 would have set the adult status in stone. It helped, but for some reason, exiting my 20s seems like the real initiation into adulthood. Nope. I don't know why. Perhaps it's that I think that in my 30s, I will finally have figured out what I'm doing with my life or at the very least have a pretty good idea of the direction we should be going. That we won't keep falling off the horse in attempts to get stable (no puns intended there). I know it's not a magic potion to make everything right in the world. I'm pretty sure crazy things happen without irregardless of age, and I probably won't have everything figured out either. Besides, God has certainly provided and carried both my husband and I through the various ups and downs through my 20s. Perhaps a good exercise would be for me to come up with a list of ways that God provided and what I'm grateful for from my 20s. It might offer some great perspective. A list of 30 seems too limiting, but it seems fitting. Who's with me?

If you are 30 and beyond, or not there yet, how do you feel about it? Did you ever feel snubbed as a teenager because your birthday was during a month when most kids are on vacation? (there's gotta be more people out there besides me that felt that way)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Three-Oh is Fast Approaching

At one point, I had these 30 ambitions to do before I turned 30. They promptly fell to some crazy gorge and got stuck somewhere. So like New Year's Resolutions, I only got part of the way through before I forgot about them. Well here they are again, but I'm changing the rules! I'm giving myself another year to complete my list (that I modified for the umptenth time).

"Why," you ask?

Why! Because I am turning 30 in thirteen days! That's why! And I feel like the things I said I wanted to do should still at least be given a shot. Trust me when I say I tend to give things a chance well after the expiration date.



Here's a handful of accomplishments:

We have a real bed, as opposed to a futon frame with a mattress thrown onto it.
I had a consistent exercise/yoga routine for a few months. It counts.
I've done a professional photo shoot with hubby.

Find a way to make art and make money in a consistent way. (sewing, sewing, sewing...)

I was cooking for others more... then I started sewing more, and I saw no one.

Be less cynical. (I go in seasons - but I swear I'm better than before)

Have a mini-garden... or be a part of a co-op.  I am successfully growing inedible plants in my cubicle at work. That's as good as it's going to get realistically, right now, so I'm counting it.

I had a professional massage (once again, thank you Erin and Katy!)

I did an MS Walk last April.

We went camping this past year and it was AWESOME. We're working on camping more.

I'm pretty sure I eat better than I used to when I started this list.

One of my goals was to go to a city I have never been to before, and we went drove to Clearwater, Florida.

I've been able to visit my brother a little more than usual, which is nice.

I'd like to apply to more art shows in the coming year, but I am in a year-long exhibit at a college right now and I'm in an exhibition I'm curating, coming up in January. Which is more than the previous year, so I AM COUNTING IT.

My artspace at home is kind of more conducive to making art... however now it's getting cluttered with the many products of said the art making.



Here's what I still want to do:


Ride a bike in the city. I promise to find someone to take a video of me being terror stricken while riding down a Philadelphia street.


Would you believe I still haven't gone on a legit picnic, you know, with basket and blanket in tow?

I still think it would be fun to go on a Philadelphia Tour of some kind.

I think it's a little late for me to try going somewhere outside of the US on my birthday, considering I don't even have a passport. So the goal is for me to get a passport and then jump over the border if I can.


I'd still like to take a self defense class, just in case.
....and an art class again (an encaustic class would be my dream) or have access to a printing studio...





Seriously, guys, I would love to have a separate studio for my painting and art-ing. ... Seriously.



It would still be kind of cool to jump in on an Improv Everywhere... uh.. somehow.

You know, I wanted to participate in the Sketchbook Project, and I still kinda do. But I think instead I really want to spend time developing a "business" out of the stuffed animals I sew.

I still think I should start making a comic revolving around our cats, Autumn and Tobia, having adventures. 

Reviewing this list reminds me that I am still failing at writing in my prayer journal. I should get on top of that because there are so many crazy things in my head.

Originally one of my goals was to participate in a print exchange again. I would love this. But seeing that much of my time is spent sewing right now, I think a better goal is to find a balance between working 40 hours a week, and creating things/visiting friends/reading/journaling/spending time with hubby with the rest of those hours.

I've thought about it more... and I still want to go on a fishing adventure!! I don't know why!!


This last one is a bonus that again I was going to remove, buuuuut it would still be a super great bonus:

I discovered that petting a tiger is not as far fetched as I originally thought. Or, at least being in the presence of a living, breathing tiger. I don't know if I'd be able to touch it. But you can "adopt" tigers at the Philadelphia Zoo, and as chance would have it, for $150 you can set up a personal meet-and-greet with a tiger and its handler.

Actually a secondary bonus would be to go see the Lion King in NYC.



Friday, November 01, 2013

The Sweet Spot I Accidentally Found

I’ve noticed I have a habit of getting geared up to write a journal entry, and never end up actually writing anything. Kind of like how I will have an important conversation with someone (a friend, a family member) in my head and work out exactly how it’s going to go, only to have it never happen (I’m not the only one that does that, right?). So finally I’ve got a moment where I can focus my thoughts and throw them out into the blogosphere to see what happens.

Recently, I discovered a funny thing about my personal creativity over the past year that I never would have expected. It’s kind of awesome – which is equally unexpected.

When I was in college working on my degree in Fine Arts, I had a special appreciation for my friends who were in the Craft department. You know, the fiber artists, ceramicists, jewelers, wood workers, etc. The skill it took to make what they were making was mind boggling. While I admired the Craft department’s work, I also made sure to differentiate what they did (artisanal arts) with what I was doing (the FINE arts). Thinking about it now, this is actually kind of odd because I decided to pursue Printmaking, an art form that I would say has deep artisanal roots and it’s often paired with book-arts. The difference between the Fine Arts and Artisanal Arts/Crafting in my head was that the Fine Arts hefts emotional and conceptual weight to visually communicate with the soul of another human being. Meanwhile, Artisanal Arts were aesthetic goods that were for function or d├ęcor. Honestly, I still think that’s at least partially true, but the notion I once held was that the Fine Arts were somehow a better pursuit than Artisanal Arts – a notion that my spidey-sense has picked up on from other fine artists and galleries.

As I’m writing this, the more absurd the notion seems, and hopefully it seems just as ridiculous to everyone else reading this. But also as I’m writing this it seems apparent that this really comes down to Enlightenment (and certainly before and after that) mentality: that intellectual pursuits are somehow better than physical ones. Although not a definitive statement by any means, the Fine Arts seem to hang out in a high realm of intellect whereas Artisanal Arts spends time in the physical earthy world of “things.” At least this seems to be how the camps are perceived in a worst case scenario. And so with this idea buried in my brain, I’ve kind of always poo-poo’ed the idea of crafting with any kind of seriousness. To be clear, that’s for myself: I always wanted to make paintings and etchings and Fine Artsy things and be that kind of capital A Artist full-time, a lofty dream that for practical reasons doesn’t seem achievable until I’m old and retired.

On to a side story but it’s important to where I’m going with this, so hang with me.
 
Being a Creative type, with the absolute need to be making something, I’ve also been interested in other creative outlets besides the Fine Arts. Illustrating and cartooning were a focus when I was a little kid up through a good portion of college, and I still do that. To make some extra money, I flirted with making costume jewelry for two or three years, incorporating elements of illustration. I still have a bunch of supplies from that and still fiddle with it now and then, and turns out it’s a handy skill to have. I would sell the necklaces on Etsy and also in two boutiques in the city, so it was cool. But all of that wasn’t stuff I took seriously, and looked at it more like a hobby.

About this time last year, I was selling the necklaces (oh, and tile coasters with bird illustrations which I still make) at an adorable shop called Nice Things Hand Made. As you can probably guess, the shop features items that are handmade. Every month, the owner, Elissa, does a little second Saturday exhibition in the shop to feature a local artist or artist who sells items in the shop. In December, she puts on an ornament show. I wanted to participate, and decided I wanted to make little animal ornaments made out of felt. Where THAT even came from, I haven’t the slightest idea. I’ve never worked with felt before, I don’t own a sewing machine, and I only really know the basics when it comes to hand stitching. But I decided to give it a go, and next thing I know Elissa gave me the kind of look that is a window into the gears turning in her head. She asked if I can make the felt animals bigger, I said sure, and for the past year I’ve been making stuffed animals made out of felt for the shop, through Facebook, and on Etsy. Things aren’t crazy, but picking up.





I absolutely love making these stuffed animals. It’s very cathartic, and utilizes a very different creative process than the one I use for painting or printmaking. It’s like I’ve been meandering through different creative outlets outside of Fine Arts, and I accidentally stumbled into a sweet spot. Up until very recently, I was pretty shy and felt awkward telling people about what I’ve been up to when they ask what I’ve been making lately. I don’t recommend telling a gallery owner that you’re making stuffed animals when they ask this question, even if you have a pretty good relationship with them. You get this blank stare like you just said something a little crazy but they don’t want to offend you by reacting to it. Enter in the Fine Arts and Artisanal Arts divide that I discussed earlier.
Maybe it’s just awkward to me because more of my free time is spent sewing, and less of it has been spent working on paintings, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve “given up” on being a “fine artist.” I still love painting and printmaking because it meets a different kind of artistic need. The thing that comes as a complete surprise is that for the first time really ever that I desire something other than being a Fine Arts Artist full-time. Turns out I would really love to make stuffed animals as full-time work at some point, and continue painting/printmaking on the side.

Who knew? I’m slowly but surely getting to a point where I’m okay with this weird Fine Arts / Artisanal Arts dichotomy that exists within myself, too, possibly due to the stuffed animals (okay, maybe more craft than artisanal) and painting/printmaking pieces feed two very different creative outlets. I’ve discovered that several other artists are multi-disciplinary in this way, which helps a lot.

If you’re an artist, do you find that there are different creative outlets you pursue? What are they?
Have you experienced the same weird Fine Arts (which I think includes theater and dance and music, not just painting etc) and Artisanal Arts divide as I have?

Please share your thoughts!


P.S. For the curious, I sell my stuffed animals on Etsy at yivviepants.etsy.com.





Tuesday, April 09, 2013

30 Buckets Before 30

Though there are some other things buzzing around that I could write about, for now I thought I might update my bucket list. Because I know you're very interested in knowing about the things that I've accomplished in the four months I've been 29. (don't worry, I'm not altogether interested either)

What I've got done:
1. Have a grown-up bed, and not a loft bed - DONE! As in, officially done, and not just kind-of done. We officially have a grown-up bed. I wasn't expecting this to happen until... I don't know, sometime after 30.

2. Have a consistent exercise/yoga routine - Believe it or not, I actually am trying to exercise on a regular basis thanks to Tony Stark Horton's Power 90 Workout.... not to be confused with his p90x workout. So this can be legitimately crossed off the list.

3. Do a professional photo shoot with hubby.

4. Find a way to make art and make money in a consistent way. This is worthy of a separate blog post.

5. Cook for others, and with others, more. - Not consistent, but we did host Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner this year. I look forward to doing that more.

6. Be less cynical. I *think* I'm better at this?

7. Have a mini-garden... or be a part of a co-op. - I didn't have a mini-garden, but the unedible plant in my office seems to be living and doing very well. I'm counting it. This will be moved to another list whenever we happen to gain a house.

8. Get a professional massage - My friends Katy and Erin got me a massage gift certificate for my birthday!!! YAY!


9. Do an MS Walk - I am signed up to walk on May 4th!





Ongoing, or things that just need work anyway:
10. Visit my brother more. - I saw my brother for Easter! This sounds like a simple task but it's, um, more complicated than it should be. 

11. Have a healthier diet / eat less processed foods. With exercising, this seems to be going better.

12. VOLUNTEER!!



Here's what I want to accomplish by 2014, with the rest of my 30 items:
Now that it's starting to get warmer again outside, several of these should be pretty easily accomplished.


13. Go Camping - We have a tent and a camp stove. We need to take a trip to an EMS to get sleeping bags...

14. Ride a bike in the city - Now that the weather is getting warmer, the opportunity to do this is near. I promise to find someone to take a video of me being terror stricken while riding down a Philadelphia street.
15. Go on a legit picnic, basket and all

16. Go on a Philadelphia Tour of some kind, because I've lived here for 6 years and I'd like to learn something about the history of where I live.

17. Go somewhere outside of the US - Canada is looking like the least expensive option. Maybe a pre-emptive 30th birthday adventure... That's a hint to my friends. And my husband. If he read blogs.
18. Now that I'm thinking about it, Get a Passport should be on this list.

19. Take a self-defense class

20. Take an art class of some kind. My soul is turning into a pill bug without some kind of input.
21. Pursue getting into art shows again - I kind of fell off this boat and into a black hole last year.

22. Make my artspace at home more conducive to art making - I started!! I just need to finish. Still.

23. Go to a city I have never been to before - There aren't too many cities that I've been to, so there are all kinds of options.

24. Participate in an Improv Everywhere event - I don't know, it could be fun. And totally outside of what I would normally be comfortable doing.

25. Participate in the Sketchbook Project

26. Start making a comic revolving around our cats, Autumn and Tobias - This is replacing the idea I had to start writing a book, because drawing my cats having adventures is more fun, and in theory easier to accomplish. Doing that before I'm 30 is another matter.

27. Get back into writing in my prayer journal - FAILING.

28. Participate in a print-exchange again - I so miss printmaking. Ugh.

29. Go fishing - OK, I'm not dead set on going fishing but I'd kind of like to catch a fish. Who can I go fishing with??
30. Seriously pursue having kids

BONUS!
I considered nixing my BONUS Bucket, but after some investigating I discovered that petting a tiger is not as far fetched as I thought. Or, at least being in the presence of a living, breathing tiger. I don't know if I'd be able to touch it. But you can "adopt" tigers at the Philadelphia Zoo, and as chance would have it, for $150 you can set up a personal meet-and-greet with a tiger and its handler.

This kind of tiger is not acceptable.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Inspiiiiired

You know, this blog used to be an attempt to sort out my thoughts when it came to art making, and posting images of my work in progress. Wonder what happened...

So, in light of that, here's a brief entry to let you know that I think I found my arts' soul mate. Okay, maybe not soul mate, that's too strong an affiliation for someone I don't know and for a process that looks to be quite different from my own. But the layers of color... the layers!

http://seedsgallery.com/artists/jeremy-fahringer/#
http://jeremyfahringer.com/

Paintings by Jeremy Fahringer. I don't know who he is, but I dig the paintings. This one in particular.


Developer, 2007

Since the latest images seem to be from 2007, I have to wonder if he's still working on this type of painting. I know my own work has taken on different forms over the past several years, although in a strange way carrying some similarities along the way. I wonder how much Mr. Fahringer's work has changed since 2007? Hmm...




Saturday, January 26, 2013

Don't Take Politcal Anger Out On Hair

It isn't often that I come across a photo meme that makes me have any kind of response other than being amused, for ill or good. However, today while breezing through my Facebook news feed (the bane of any kind of valuable time), I came across the image below, shared from a Republican friend through a right-wingers group lauding the image as accurate.



Now, as I have stated in previous posts, I'm politically independent; I am not keen on pledging allegiance to a political party. What upsets me about this image actually has nothing to do with what I think about President Obama and his presidency, and everything to do with the snide "Fake Hair," the ignorance of white people, and putting women in a box. It has me in such a mental fit that I felt I needed to get it out there in a blog post.

I'm about as white as you can get when it comes to skin tones, thanks to some Irish heritage somewhere in there, so I've been told. You can literally see veins through my skin on my arms and legs if you're looking close enough. I noticed this one day (to my horror) when I was shaving my legs. My version of tan is laughable, and for the most part concentrates into wonderful freckles on my face and shoulders during the summer. My hair fair and it is not thick; getting it to stay in some kind of real curl is nearly impossible but I can manage some slight waves naturally. All of that is to say that I don't have any experience being dark skinned or have thick, textured hair. But I do have a few friends who do. And I live in a city where you can find all kinds of hair products that tailor to all kinds of hair-types, products I had never seen when I was living in the suburbs.

The first thing about this image that comes to mind is, what does Michele Obama's hair have do with the quality of presidency or anything to do with politics at all? It seems to suggest that if you have fake hair, you are not a quality person. It's an unfair attack on a woman, and an unfair attack on the First Lady -- which I can't really think of anyone doing except when it came to that whole Clinton cheating fiasco.

Secondly, this seems to really come down to white-ignorance. Michele has had a lot of different hair styles, and I don't think it has anything to do with wigs and everything to do with having the resources to do different things with her hair. From what I've read and heard from friends, African-American hair takes a LOT of work to maintain, especially if you want it straight. About two years ago, I went with an African friend to get her hair done (she was born and raised in South Africa and came here for college, and stayed). She was getting the twists in her hair re-done, since they had grown out quite a bit. I have to tell you, the whole process looked painful and tiring, since took a long time. I also had helped the same friend get ready for her wedding, and she showed me how she puts natural oils in her hair to keep it nice, and we put her twists into rollers to make them curly instead of straight.

I briefly had co-worker who would openly admit that she wore wigs and they were so beautiful, I didn't even know it until she told me! For all the work and effort that goes into maintaining, I don't blame any woman who would rather opt for a wig. So to go on and basically attack Michele Obama for wearing a wig (though I don't think she even did), you may as well attack every woman who chooses to do so. Or better yet, get educated about African-American hair.

Another issue that this brings in for me is the idea that if you don't fit a certain image of a woman, you aren't good enough. Why is it that African-American women straighten their hair in the first place? Certainly, some women like it, for the same sorts of reasons that a white woman with ultra curly hair may want to straighten it out once in a while. But, I have to wonder, how much does it have to do with just not feeling pretty enough? An African-American friend of mine was very candid once, in admitting that she didn't feel pretty growing up because all the beautiful women she saw in the media - TV, the news, advertisements, etc - had either pale Anglo-Saxon skin or pale-as-you-can-get African American skin; and their hair was not coarse like her's was. I had never noticed this before, until I was watching some TV station that was tailored more towards the African American community. There were different commercials for the same products on that station, that I had never seen on any other station before. I thought this was extremely odd, and wondered, "Why would you do that??"

This story from my friend was echoed through the show "My Strange Addiction," when it featured a young African American girl who had a particularly dark skin tone. Her "strange addiction" was to rub bleach lotion all over her body several times a day, in order to lighten it. She said she felt very ugly because of her natural skin tone. She was 15.

Unfortunately, this kind of idea is not exclusionary to the US. I'd read a BBC article about the outrage in India over a special bleach lotion that was meant to lighten the skin in the nether-regions of women. I read several other articles afterwards that revealed that having darker skin as an Indian woman is looked down on, while having fairer skin is preferred. Bleach lotion is no stranger there. Women have been photoshopped to have lighter skin than they actually do for magazines, and I'm sure that's a practice that happens over here in the US and no one has come out to say anything about it (that I know of). Additionally, a friend of mine spent two years in China, and the paler you were, the better.

I grew up hating how pale I was. I would burn all too-easy, and I felt like a ghost compared to tan friends. I hated my freckles. Just like tan bodies are preferred for white women, I guess lighter versions of dark complexions are perceived as being preferred for black women. I don't understand this, and I think it's outrageous. Why is it that women can't just be who they are, and be seen as intelligent, authentic, beautiful, and loved? Thankfully, I've gotten over my complex of wanting to be tan, and I rather enjoy each and every freckle that is evidence that I really do have melanin in my skin.

I'm sure that if Michele Obama went with her natural hair texture and style, the right-wingers would still not be pleased, and proclaim that she is dirty and go further to say that Obama's administration and presidency is somehow wild and uncontrolled. Because of some crazy logic that ties together the First Lady's appearance with political virility and authenticity of the President.

Now, my hope is that no one who is African American would be offended by my thoughts. If anything I would very much like to be corrected where I need to be; I prefer to know where I am wrong than continue living in some ignorant bubble based on what I've seen/heard through the lives of others. Please contribute your thoughts!