In order to maintain my equilibrium, I periodically find it helpful to engage in methodical activities like pulling weeds, painting 'barn quilts' or hanging clothes on a clothesline. I find a calmness in the activity. My brain gets a rest and afterward I can head back into a deeper and more demanding art project with restored and refreshed vision.
Yesterday, my husband and I had a visit from our old friend Robin. Drummer. Poet. Leather artist. Gentle soul. Not 30 seconds into the visit (theres no small talk with Robin), we were off on discussions about creativity which eventually led to the artistic benefits of methodical activity.
I discovered that he, too, finds hanging clothes on a line is one of his favourites. Currently, he is engaged in a love affair with his frozen, twisted pieces of clothing that he has left on the line for a long period of time this winter. He finds the beauty in th twists and curves of the fabric. I get it, but I'm more of a warm weather clothesline enthusiast. I love to see the sheets flapping and snapping in the wind. And, oh, how glorious bedding smells that has been dried outside! But that's another story...
Awhile ago, I heard a CBC radio newscast saying that somewhere in suburban Canada, outdoor clotheslines were being banned. It seems that the folks living in this area were offended at the sight of their neighbours 'undies' billowing in the breeze. At first I laughed out loud, but then, I felt astonished that in a world rife with problems, why would anyone get their 'bloomers in a knot' (pun intended) over such a triviality?
CBC recommended that, in protest, all listeners across our nation who are passionate about their right to hang laundry in the fresh air, do a load of washing, hang it on their clothesline, photograph said clothesline, and send it to them. So I did just that; it was amazing how many others did the same.
It seems that people are very partial to this activity and would defend their right to it with gusto! (Living in Podunk, I have no worries about a law like this encroaching on my rights.) So, I decided to take the idea a step further and eventually developed a series of drawings called Clothesline Wars. The series deals with how differing personalities would exercise civil disobedience and break the law to hang their clothing 'plein air'. (I wonder if Monet enjoyed his clothesline?)
The following are images of the two of the drawings that were the final result of 36 developmental sketches. The Peacemaker sits naked in her backyard with laundry strewn over the shrubbery, the Mercenary stands guard as a hired gun for her neighbour.
If you have any methodical madness ideas that work for you, please share them here.
Until next time.
1. Barn Quilts
I believe in civil responsibility - giving back to my community in some way. Volunteering. I've been know to say that if all the volunteers in our country resigned, our society would collapse. I believe that. Currently, my contribution to Podunk is a public garden that my husband and I created and have maintained for 11 years. Among other things, this garden hosts an annual outdoor quilt show. So, to add a little colour throughout the rest of the year, I've been creating 'barn quilts' - traditional quilt patterns painted on wooden sign board and put up on barns, if you have one, if not, your house, on your gate, or whatever space you can find. This is a fascinating grass roots art movement that has gained popularity in North America & Canada. To my understanding, in 2001, Donna Sue Groves, from Ohio, painted a wooden 'quilt block' and put it on her barn in honour of her mother. From there it has spread far and wide. You can check out the barn quilts at eleanorroseoutdoorquiltshow.com to find out what I'm talking about.
For me, as an artist, I find it helpful to do something methodical once in awhile to keep me from becoming lopsided. In the past, I have made some very beginner quilt tops and I have made the barn quilts. I also find weeding a garden helpful. I find it is a way to keep my hands busy while, in some ways, resting my brain.
2. Website Building
This venture definitely does not rest the brain. Every step I take seems to lead me further and further into the rabbit hole of technology where no one speaks my language. But, I press on and hope to emerge into the sunlight at some point, where I can understand SEO and how to do mass emails and write effective meta descriptions and...and...and...Yikes!!! Will I ever be bilingual? Probably not.
3. Packing and Transporting of Large Paintings
I am trying to develop a professional, clean, and simple transportation method for my large paintings. Tricky. One of my profs told me once that an artist should paint according to the size of their car. Well, I used to paint to the size of my van, but then a deer sideswiped me; I ended up in the ditch with a destroyed steering system, bent front wheel, etc, but I got a fantastic photograph while waiting to be towed! Large poplar trees are beautiful at dusk but unforgiving to motorized vehicles.
Now, I paint to the size of my husband's tool trailer! Very handy for me, not so much for him, as he has to move all his tools every time I need to move my paintings. I would like a trailer of my own to pull behind a car. One that I could modify to suit my art. Anybody ever made anything like this?
4. The Art of Managing Your Career Course
This course is offered by ACI Manitoba and is well worth the time. Very inexpensive for the massive amounts of insight and valuable management tools you gain. I'm saying that and I'm just getting started. Heather Bishop is the instructor with a plethora of knowledge and insight. Check it out as they're offering it again in the fall, I believe. The great thing is that from the comfort of my home in Podunk, I can attend class using Skype.
5. Riding the Edge, the Sequel
I have 6 large canvasses stretched and ready for paint application. I have my paints and tools all assembled and ready to do another version of RTE. Date for initial paint application is set for March 21st. I need to start shopping for that small tool trailer soon, as one of these babies is 7 feet tall.
5. Searching for Luminosity (working title), a new body of work
Ah, now, this is the good stuff! The marrow. The candy. The piece de resistance. The jewel in the crown. This stuff is what gives me goosebumps and makes me do a little dance and maybe even leap around like a crazy person. This is where it's at! All new territory. A new learning adventure. A place I've never been before.
Using photo manipulation and my sketchbook, this new body of work has been brewing and developing for two years. Lately, I've been watching woodcut tutorials by the score and I have placed my order for tools and inks. I will be doing lots of practicing on MDF wood, to begin with, and maybe progress to Japanese shina wood. The concept is in place, I have an outline of an artist statement, and now this is where another stage of the process will begin. I cannot wait to get at it, see what's in store, and experience the ride!
Until next time.