Monday, March 31, 2008

My art-making fuss

This weekend was a long clean- and chore-a-thon----WAY overdue, to be sure----but I confess that the good feeling that usually comes from really, really cleaning the bathroom maybe didn't last as long as I'd hoped it would. I finally fixed the towel racks (I'm so embarrassed to admit that one of them has been broken since before Astrid was born....when the other one broke last week, I decided that I had to fix both of them). I also put down a new rug (which can't happen, of course, until the floor has been scrubbed) and put up rosy pink linen curtains that I made on Saturday morning. The bathroom looks great now, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the glow lasted only about 28 hours.

(Not coincidentally, perhaps, the kids and I have been watching a lot of 1970s TV commercials on YouTube. Astrid's favorite is the "Ring Around the Collar" ad for Wisk--the one where the dingy shirts taunt the perky-haired wife.

Maybe I've been watching too many of these. Since when did having a *really* clean house [as opposed to a not-so-dirty house] actually make *me* happy? A rhetorical question, to be sure....except for the times when my mother came to help us after the births of Elliot and Astrid, I probably haven't spent any time in a *really* clean house that also belonged to me.)

Anyway, all of the weekend cleaning (and shopping and cooking) left me too tired and dispirited to work for more than about 30 minutes on art. Feeling "put upon" (my favorite Thomas the Tank Engine descriptor) led me to behave rudely to my family, which made for a lovely Sunday evening all the way around. Tonight, when I actually did have a bit of time to work on my collage, I felt too tired, so Elliot and I watched a documentary about the Pixies 2004 reunion tour. (I enjoyed it a lot....Elliot got bored after an hour.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Been working, just haven't been blogging

I was startled when I saw that I last posted on March has been full and challenging since that time. My husband had surgery about 10 days ago, so I've been extra busy with the kids and the house (not to mention my paid job....dear God, will things ever slow down?), but I have also spent a good deal of time on two art projects: the collage I started on over a month ago (I think.....feels like forever ago) and an 8 x 10 linoleum block printing project (I'm about 60% done with the carving). I'm posting some pictures of the collage as it's developing; I'm nervously pleased about the two faces (detailed here), as I rarely try for realism, and I rarely stick with the attempts I do undertake. In other words, I'm proud of my doggedness, even if the painting itself is iffy. The face on the darker-skinned woman looks better "in real life" (that is, on the canvas) than it does in this photo.

Speaking of iffiness, here is a picture of Astrid on the new scooter she received from the Easter Bunny a few days ago. The iffiness in the image takes several forms, some more obvious than others. As you can see, there's SNOW everywhere--we got about five inches two days before Easter, but a lot of it melted by Sunday. We are soooooo (SO!) sick of snow. We had our egg hunts in the messy living room (much more challenging than in the backyard--- the kids seemed to like it that way). It's hard to see this, but Astrid is also a bit iffy, never having ridden a scooter before. She should have been even iffier than she was: less than one minute after I took this picture, one of the back wheels fell off the scooter, because I didn't exactly assemble it correctly. She and I had a good laugh over *that*. Really, the scooter falling apart was emblematic of the past couple of weeks we've had: things don't feel like they're put together quite right, but we're doing our best, and leaving plenty of room for do-overs and necessary repairs.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Collage in progress

Here are two details from my collage-in-progress, a big (36"x24") canvas incorporating image mosaic, traditional collage composition (using paper and fabric), and acrylic paint (click on the images to see bigger versions). The collage shows tired men in a medical office waiting room (not pictured here), women worrying (together and alone), and other images connected to the U.S. crisis in health coverage. My main sources of imagery for the large figures are depression-era photos from the WPA and U.S. health service agencies, and for the mosaic components I am using tiny bits of posters from countries that have socialized healthcare. The big idea is that, in spite of what Republicans and too many Democrats say, socialized health sounds mighty fine (sounds like a human right, even!) to the millions of people in the U.S. whose access to doctors, nurses, hospitals, and medicines is criminally, unconscionably limited by a system tilted toward profit for insurance companies. End of speech. (But, hey, Obama, please listen up! I sure want you to win--*and* I want you to do something big and responsible about the healthcare mess we're living in. Please, no halfway measures.)

The photo below shows my new use for my mini-muffin tin--as a sorting tray for image mosaic pieces (Elliot's collage-in-progress is underneath everything). I had this idea a couple of years ago that I'd start making mini-muffins at dinner time (instead of regular-sized muffins) because they bake faster. But they don't bake all that well, at least in our oven, and they aren't as satisfying as a nice big muffin that you can slice in half and butter. (We really like muffins with dinner at our house. I make them probably twice a week, often with Bisquick, but sometimes from scratch. I usually dump a baby-food jar of squash, carrots, prunes, or some other vitamin and fiber-rich goop into the bowl. The whole process, from light-bulb-over-Mom's-head to dinner table, takes less than 25 minutes, and we often have enough left over for breakfast the next morning.)

This is one area in which I truly do feel like one of those cookin', nursin', husband-pleasin' women I read about in my mother's early-1970's copy of La Leche League's cookbook Mother's in the Kitchen. (I love, love, love that old cookbook. I especially like reading the lengthy section on the importance of including organ meats in the family diet, as well as the zillion and one uses listed for creamy canned soups. No, I don't make those recipes, but I have *very* happy memories of eating that stuff--especially the recipe for "Glory-Fried Chicken." Thanks, Mom!) Though I never attended an LLL meeting when I was a nursing mother (all the meetings were while I was at work....what's up with that?), I can't tell you how many I attended as a kid (my mom was an LLL group leader in Denver). Between two kids, I spent five and a half lovely years as a nursing mother. Hurray for the lessons of La Leche League!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Moses and Jesus had them, from what I've heard

Lately I'm blogging way too much about work, which is something I do not want to do. When stuff is going down, though, what else can I do? This week some of my colleagues are putting up a stink about a very solid photo exhibit at my campus. The exhibit, which includes at least 50 images related to assisted reproduction technology, has one small picture of women holding signs at a reproductive rights rally, a picture of an unclothed female torso (no face), and an analogous image of a male torso. A colleague said (I'm paraphrasing, but you'll get the gist): "I'm the sponsor of a Christian student group, and at the student organization fair, our table was really close to the naked pictures. It was *not good*! It was *not good*!" He was gripping the seminar table as he said these words.

We work at a private, explicitly secular institution. I really didn't think we'd ever be having conversations about whether Christians have penises and breasts (I am a Catholic Christian, and I have the latter, though not the former.) From what I learned today, some Christians don't want to be exposed to pictures of body parts that many of them also have. I grew up in a household with a (Catholic Christian) mother who specialized in painting nudes; at this moment, four of her paintings and drawings (including one of a hugely pregnant woman with a broken arm--it's awesome!) hang in my house. Updating my little family on the "naked people drama" at dinner tonight, Elliot just shook his head and said, "Well, you probably shouldn't invite that guy to *our* house, Mom--I don't think he'd feel comfortable." Lucky for all of us, I don't think *I'd* feel comfortable, either.

Back in the No Picture zone....

I've been wanting to post for several days, as I'm working on a big collage that is coming along strangely--sometimes I'm very happy with it and relaxed as I work, while at other times, I feel an uncharacteristic self-consciousness about my drawing and design skills (which are rudimentary [that's the self-conscious me--I should probably say that I'm largely self-taught and "free"--that's what my classically-trained mother says about me, and I'm never sure how to interpret it--sorry, self-conscious me again]).

I finally took some pictures of it last night, but I didn't have time to transfer the files to my jump drive....since I still can't post pictures from my charming Vista "enabled" home laptop, that means I have to do it from work....

I'll try to get some up from one of the other computers in our house. Gee, I'm territorial about computers---I hate my own so much of the time, but I don't feel comfortable on Elliot's or Terry's.