Lisa's Musings

there's little i control

Luminarias Originally uploaded by dressform.

lovely ain't it? this is the first post where I'm using flickr the web's new (new to me) photo sharing arena to host my photo. I haven't really poked around, but it seems like a pretty fun darn good time!

hope everyone had a very nice holiday. mine was deliciously uneventful and luxuriously quiet. it's amazing how a few days of rest can actually make you feel human again. that and some thoughtful gifts.... ooooh presents! there are still a few under our tree that have to be doled out. (I like the giving part almost as much methinks)

in this state of rest (rest is a relative term for me - but let's just say this time around it meant no phone calls and no work for pay) I have managed to finally finish my orange mohair scarf - the one I started LAST year.... it has tassles and everything - I'll have to take a picture and post that next.

I also added some Mill's student work to my website. Unfortunately there are a few really good drawings that I either didn't have a photo of, or the photo was pretty crappy, but I still managed almost 3 full pages of examples (12 per page) - yes I'm bragging about them!

I'm happily squirrled away in the studio today. this morning I thought of the hundred and one other things I should be doing and I decided to screw it all and have a day to myself in the studio (I do have the dogs with me, so I'm not totally alone). I am noticing though, that I'm like an out of shape artist. I haven't spent a WHOLE day in here in god knows how long and thus I'm finding that I am running short on focus. The ideas and possibilites are swarming around me but my hands and eyes (which are quite weary at this point) can not keep up. And so I am snacking on a tangerine and taking a break to note this state of being. It's time to do some art crunches.....

I do feel good though (like that post exercise goodness - this analogy is funny considering I hardly ever excercise). I have learned how to cut glass pretty well with my toyo glass cutter - my nifty new toy. somehow I can justify spending $$ on tools.... I just sort of ignore the fact that they make me feel almost as giddy as a new pair of shoes (which I can not justify buying). Yes I am aware that the post-holiday credit card bill will be a bit out of control.... but oh well! I am saving $$ in the long run by cutting down the glass for these cute little frams myself instead of paying someone else, or buying more expensive framing devices (love IKEA and sales) - right? right! (you are buying this line of logic?)

OK rest over.... back to work.... ;)

Agnes Martin. I got an email that I think sums it up perfectly:

"I wish the idea of time would drain out of my cells and leave me quiet even on this shore". - Agnes Martin 1912-2004

May we all be so blessed as to allow just a little of her life seep under our skin. - my friend

I agree wholeheartedly. She has been one of the first I turn to when I'm unsure, when I'm looking for answers, seeking solice of a wise art practioner. She has also been fundamental in my teaching practice..... I have been fortunate enough to see her work and experience it in person - may we all be so lucky (and dedicated and honest as she was).

Agnes' passing made me think about the recent conversation I had with my grandmother about the "philosophy" behind art making. We discussed what Jackson Pollock and Warhol were doing with their work - amongst other things. Although I already thought this - it seems as though the coneptual stakes have been raised in the contemporary art arena. The quest for art to REALLY MEAN SOMETHING seems incredibly important. The undertone of what does this work mean and how personal is consistent. The tricky part is figuring out a balance between personal and universal - if it's only about you it could appear selfish or narcisisstic - if it's too broad you could be borrowing from other cultures or trying to talk in a language that isn't your own. Even formal/minimal work seems to have a statement to go along with it - it's the quest for finding the colors in nature - the interpretation of skin/sky - the investigation of where pink turns to red.... all noble concerns I agree. Is beauty in or out of current fashion? I can't tell (do I really want to tell?). I guess that for myself I seek a balance between the formal and the conceptual. Although I love how conceptual work tickles the brain and makes you aware of layers and meaning or even just the absudity of life - I still look at art as an OBJECT as well - if i'm not intrigued by the aesthetics I feel like something is missing. If the object is empty of any meaning it starts to feel more decorative - like it's pulling away from the art context. I think this line of thought could be endless and inconclusive....

ultimately my favorite part of our conversation was that my grandmother proclaimed that my "profession" was artist. That made my heart glow a little bit. In our society I find it hard to proclaim that I'm an artist. Perhaps this is my problem, perhaps this is an accurate interpretation of how our culture thinks of art. Perhaps I've absorbed the notion that you have to be famous to be considered an artist - or perhaps I just hate the immediate and what seems inevitable follow up of "oh! what kind of art do you do?" Maybe it's all of the above. Instead I'm always listing the things I do... I'm a teacher/professor, a freelancer, a doer of whatever comes my way..... and finally at the end of the list is artist. Nonetheless it is a blessing to have family that support what you do - and think that your endeavors are worthwhile and perhaps even interesting!

happy happy and merry merry. there is something about a tree with sparkly lights and pretty shiney ornaments that makes me happy. this is why we get a tree - it smells good - looks fabulous and doesn't mean a religious thing (at least in this house)! this year we even have two! I found a small tinsel tree and I've always wanted one of those - it's decorated w/ a mix of these really pretty hand painted eggs that my mom brought back from abroad and some really old ornaments from my friend Marilyn (I have been the lucky recipient of many a vintage item from her). There are a few glass ones, but also some cardboard ones from the 40's (the little houses underneath are also from then).... we also got a bigger tree this year beacause of all the glass ornaments we received... there are a few really amazing ones - a coulple of robots with rocket ships (uh yes my personal favorites), a poodle.... a bird with a wispy tail.....

I just got back from a whirlwind trip to LA where I didn't really see much art - I was mostly visiting family. I did get to do a quick drive by/looksee of giant robot and their gallery which featured the work of Souther Salazar - quite cute and charming and practically all sold out... why is it that once you see such a flurry of red dots you start to want one too?? it's like psychologically you are missing out on something.... Of course I feel in love with the $55 Marcel Dzama book... sigh.... and several adorable t-shirts.... I guess I could jaunt to the SF location to see if they have the same stock.

the funniest part of the LA trip was how many hats I wore - I was a • computer tech (bought and set up a new PC) • an electrician (fixed a bad socket) • a cook (made some lima bean soup, and assisted with potato latke production) • a chauffer • a personal shopping assistant (fortunately I was also able to pick out some really good goodies for myself. I have not grown out of the shopping is fun phenom) • and just a granddaughter (best role)
also it was like 80 degrees the whole time - no socks - no jackets.... wow. quite a change from needing to wear a hat indoors because your thermostat reads 55. AND I got to eat yummy food at multiple restaurants... one of which had a suite of Richard Serra prints on the wall as decoration....

yes, I still have to organize/get to posting some images of my students work.... I am also working on FINALLY getting some printing samples up on my website.... no teaching lined up for spring (have to wait until summer) and thus I must find another way to make a living... more freelancing for me.... anyone have a job they need done?? hopefully I'll also get more studio time... fingers crossed.

it is official - I very much dislike the last day of class.... OK, that is not entirely true. On the one hand it is amazing - my drawing students put an incredible amount of effort into their final projects. All the love and care and hope and time that you are supposed to spend on artmaking was there for every one of them.... there wasn't a dud in the bunch. This makes me (and my TA) feel all warm and fuzzy and proud. We had a few minutes at the end of class and so I told them what a great class they had been and then the flood gates opened. They said such wonderful things and thanked me and I immediately got teary-eyed and had to fight the urge to flee.... the most complimentary moment came from one of the students that I wasn't sure I had really been able to reach. It was a consistant struggle for me to figure out how to get her to leave her comfort zone and get her to look outside of the "bay area figurative" box.... (this will sound like I'm tooting my own horn, so forgive me) she said that I was one of the most knowledgeable teachers she'd ever had, and that I pushed her to try such new things and that she was so happy with the results. If that doesn't put a smile on your educator face I don't know what will! After a few rounds of hugs and some promises to keep in touch I managed to escape before my masacara ran down my face.... I even got a gift of a LOVELY fly drawing (yes, a house-fly and YES it's lovely which seems like an oxymoron, but that is intentional and that's why it's so great) which I now have perched on my desk.

I also was asked to substitute for Katherine Sherwood's UCB beginning painting final critique. There is something so charming about beginning students. They often say things like: well this is my first painting class and I really wanted this to look like X but I don't know how to do that and I think I failed miserably. There are those that are just bursting with conceptual thoughts, those that have an innate natural talent that makes your heart melt and those that are defensive and scared but with some thought could really get somewhere.... \ some of the ones that are trying art even though they are MCB students "for real" are incredibly articulate and open and so much fun (this is why it is SO great to teach at a Liberal Arts college). Luckily I had met these students before (Katherine brought them to see the Emerge show) so I wasn't coming in totally cold. Critiques are mentally taxing and draining (I think I used up my allowance of adjectives) - but also important - and you can see and feel how crucial they are to the student too. They really work when not only do they take you as the teacher seriously, but also when the comments and thoughts of their peers are taken into account as well.... It's amazing to see minds at work.... (yes I think I'm really getting into this teaching thing... it's amazing how stimulating it is for my own mind and practice)

After driving down to Aptos 2 days in a row I am only convinced that I am not suited for any kind of commute. We were going to be good samaratins to D's mom and stepdad. they are moving to Santa Fe. they have A LOT of stuff. big lesson in the burden of possessions. (um yes, this is coming from a perpetual pack rat who loves to collect random crap - crap to you gold mine to me!) We inherited some lovely furniture a bunchs of potted plants and a big polar bear of a dog - this is temporary (I'm praying it's temporary. he's a great dog, but we've had 3 dogs before and 2 is immensely easier than 3). We are joking that this is the fat farm for him because he is 30-40 pounds overweight. He's a goofy lab that would eat 24-7 if he good. I have a sad feeling that for the next couple of months (until we can drive him to Santa Fe) I will be perpetually covered in a white haze of dog fur..... ;) note to self: moving is absolutely AWFUL - do it as little as possible. stop buying big things because they are harder to move. practice a zen like attitute toward possessions (well, I can try).

this is the bat commission.... it has been an interesting journey to get to it. It was sparked by a tank paper piece - but in speaking with the person they really wanted the bats and not so much the tank.... and they wanted it on something a bit more stable than that school paper....but they also liked the colored squares.... hmmmm.... I had actually been thinking about what would happen if I removed the whole tank element anyway - so I was intrigued. I tried painting on the fabric (OK, I just miss painting sometimes) but that was a complete failure. I couldn't get the paper to sit well on the fabric, so then I knew it had to be fabric squares - but with out the tank just a plain fabric didn't seem right.... so out came the floral pattern (which happily reminds me of wallpaper). then came the bats (which are stitched w/ contrasting top and bobbin threads - my new favorite trick for subtle color shifts). and then into the frame and voila. I was actually amazed that I didn't miss the tank. Granted - it's a completely different narrative now, but that's OK. In fact I had been starting to get depressed by all the tanks (not the felt ones - those are still eerily cheery). But in listening to NPR all day while working and hearing about the war the tank has started to become weightier. Originally I felt like since I hadn't really started the tank pieces with a direct political agenda (political as in war political - obviously the feminist agenda was there from the start) that it was OK that they had sort of morphed and now held this other layer. Something has shifted though.... it's funny how this happens - it's sort of like things begin percolating and morphing.... I don't think the tanks are gone forever and ever, but I need a break. If somehow I manage to get some actual studio time in this insane holiday season I think I will start to develop the other stuff (as I've started to mention in previous posts).

speaking of holiday cheer - I finished making this year's holiday card last night.... I realize that there is this very funny part of me that now will just not capitulate even under exhaustion. Let's just say that I ended up punching out and gluing (with the aide of an exacto) 150 little pieces of confetti.... can you say obsessive.... is it tolerable because I realize this?? frankly I'm not sure. But I like how they look - so there!

this year's perpetual blizzard of holiday madness somehow seems a bit more taxing. is this the fate of aging with out children? somehow I have this mystical idea that christmas/hanukkah becomes glorious again when there are children involved. it's not that I dislike the season in theory - it's just that it seems like every year there is just a bit more... one more obligatory cocktail party - the decorations come out one day earlier (what happened to the post-Thanksgiving rule?) then there are these people: weewonderfuls , this crafty spot , and paper crane (where by the way I just purchased two adorable scarfs - one for me and one for my fabulous TA as a holiday gift). These girls are so crafty and busy and happy about it that on one hand I smile and get all giddy and on the other hand I wonder where they find all the time and energy.

and tomorrow is the last day of my Mills class. How bittersweet.... I'll try and post pictures and thoughts about this sooner rather than later.....

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Name: lisa s
Location: oakland, CA, United States

hello and welcome to my blog. i'm a mixed media artist living in oakland, CA with my husband, 2 dogs, 1 cat and my baby daughter. i try to post once a week about things that inspire me, what's going on in my studio, and little tidbits of my life. thanks for visiting, reading and commenting!

please please please :: i am happy to have you use an image of mine on your blog or somewhere else, but PLEASE just ask permission before you do. and please don't hot link. it really is important that we respect one another and the work we do. and if you are too shy or busy to ask, could you at least link back to me? thank you in advance!


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