- Post-bronchitis, post-installing three concurrent shows, post-Moore County Arts Council Tour de Moncure show opening, the first with my name on the postcard (along with nine other artists). Busy weekend and it’s still only Sunday morning!
- 1. Acknowledge that this is the first time I’ve been able to stock three concurrent shows–Willow Walk in Burlington, Moore County in Southern Pines, and the Holly Hill Daylily Festival just down the road a mile in Haywood. Took Cub in a Stump over to Holly Hill last night–I’d overlooked him when I loaded up on Friday–and he sold within five minutes. Carve another!!
- 2. Much fun to be on the Artist side of the opening. Hang out with the sculptors, be accepted as a professional. Getting increasingly comfortable with this idea.
- 3. After-party at Jason Arkles’ studio. Wow. Why do I bother with a living room? You walk into his modeling space; tiny bedroom off to one side, kitchen on the other, that’s it. No ground for the suburban accoutrements, and I think it matters that I have a dining room, even if I’ve only eaten there about three times in the years I’ve lived in the house. It’s all but official studio space as it is, currently full of paint as I decide what I’m doing with the kitchen floor. Jason keeps a workshop in the back, and a marble studio beyond that. Lots of technical assistance for duplicating and enlarging sculptures from his maquette. Lyle, Kevin and I are a bit taken aback–we’re not making identical copies and enlargements just happen, not according to exact measurements. But then we’re not doing realism, either.
- Massive debate in my head this morning about what is art, what is my art, where do I fit. Am I wasting time to carve the doors in my house and paint Celtic patterns on the kitchen floor; what’s the point of the new screen door on the kitchen deck? Traces of suburbia that I should abandon? Or filling my life with art to encourage me to make more? So Jason’s carving allegories and I’m copying patterns from the Book of Kells and where’s the creativity in that? (Except that no other c-s carver in the US is doing anything like what I’m doing, and it’d be better to do bears?)
- No answer today except to observe that I’ve missed out on some opportunities recently for lack of preparedness, and the only way to avoid that in the future is to be as ready as I can be. I’m learning my way around the knotwork and I don’t know why it matters. Yet. But looking at what I’ve learned about carving knotwork shows that it’s not theoretical–anyone can get the patterns out of the book but that’s what I carved at Ridgway and I’m way better than that already.
- 4. Got a call from the Carve Smart publisher about the cover; indicated I would see the proof copies this past week but nothing came in the mail yet. I’ve read the *.pdf and made some of the corrections on my own file copy; hoping this will speed turn-around time for the final print run. Called most of the buyers and told them to expect the hard copy in July, not May as originally expected. I forget how much work I’ve already put into this project. Not sure if I’ll do volume 2 or not. Just got a cable modem connection so downloading will not be the excruciating process it was over dial-up.
- Monday over breakfast with John’s children, we decided to float the Yakima River rather than drive around the valley. $140 later after stops at WalMart and a Truck Supply store, we were off.
- The water isn’t quite snow melt, having been tempered slightly in Lake Keechelus before flowing down to Roza, but it’s not exactly Jordan Lake-warm, either. If it hadn’t been 103 degrees out of the water, it could have been cold, but the sun warmed enough blood to prevent hypothermia. We floated almost four hours and saw deer, sheep, a bald eagle, blue herons, diving ducks, and a flock of Canada geese, as well as other boaters and rafters. Powered boats are restricted to the Roza Dam vicinity, and we got out when we heard the JetSkis. I’m pretty amazed that we could have that much fun from a suitcase and $140, compared to what it takes to own a JetSki.
- I have to add, I was amazed by the agriculture in the valley. Many of America’s tree fruits come from central Washington, except for citrus. They’re all grown under irrigation, coming from snow melt off the eastern side of the Cascades. I have seen commercial orchards before, in South Carolina, so the trees weren’t much of a surprise. Hops are an interesting crop with a huge amount of infrastructure required (vine support) but I don’t drink beer so they are an academic interest. I had never given any consideration to the commercial production of mint, or dill, or asparagus, and so was more astonished when I recognized those crops and their processing paraphernalia. I still don’t know how Del Monte peels pears.
- Friday morning, we took the ferry out to Friday Harbor, both to wander the island and to meet up with two friends from Oak Harbor who were vacationing on the island for the weekend. We had lunch, and they showed us some of the shops (lavender, hot sauce) and went over to Roche Harbor to see the changes in the Inn and the old Lime Factory, and we wandered a bit more and then parted. We had an hour before the ferry home and walked around town a bit more, visiting galleries.
- Elephant Crossing, an Asian importer, had a fabulous mirrored and gilded carved goldfish in the window. I have carved a few fish in my time, and this was an amazing flowing fish and I thought it would make a great model. I also realized I was in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. “Upscale” doesn’t begin to cover the prices, so I didn’t think I had to worry about getting the fish home. We went in and asked, “how much is that goldfish in the window?” The shopkeeper said, “Funny you should ask. It’s broken, so we’re selling it at cost. You can have it for $70. Normally, it would sell for $350.”
- I was fully prepared with a “I love it, but I have no where to put it” answer, which I’ve heard as a vendor many many times myself (alternate: “If only you had a pair!”), but $70 for that much fish, mirrored, gilded, and totally over-the-top fabulous as only the Thai or Vietnamese can go, was something I couldn’t pass. I asked, “Can you ship?” and she said, “Yes.” Many of her customers fly to the island on sea planes with tiny luggage limitations. Others arrive on boats–large boats, in relation to the ones hauled in and out of Jordan Lake on a Saturday afternoon, but boats nonetheless, and few boats have much extra room. Of course she could ship.
- So now I’m awaiting arrival of my gilded mirrored goldfish, and I don’t know where I’m going to put him, and I don’t know how my art will shift as a result of this addition. I am sensitive to the effect of artifacts in my home; sometimes I tell myself I’m a carver/sculptor now in part because of my experience at Mount Rushmore (1997? 98?) and all the postcards of Rushmore I had around the house afterward.
- When I moved into this house, I decorated the living room in a fairly “suburban” palette, all red and dark green and eucalyptus and peach. It’s been a bit stale for a while, and I have wondered what it would be like to live in emerald and ruby and sapphire and amethyst. Might be time to reupholster that couch, once the fish arrives. (I am not sure how I can do this using recycled material from the swap shed, but that’s an idea.*) Again, stay tuned. Perhaps fortunately, I have a new house to rennovote (rental property) and I need to get the house finished and occupied ASAP. After that, who knows?
- I’m now post-MRI, pre-followup visit with the orthopedic doctor. Of COURSE I studied the pictures (5 sheets of 20 pictures per knee). I am a sculptor; I can figure out the anatomy, basically. What I don’t know is what “normal” looks like. I suspect I would be able to see more meniscus in a younger person’s knee, but the real question is, “what does another 47-yo’s knee look like?” I wonder if it would be possible to send the data stream to a 3D printer and build a working model of an individual joint: certain, actually, that it IS possible; less sure about the cost and value thereof. (HowStuffWorks.com says a 3D model is already possible. I did not get one.) These things one ponders while face-to-face with a multi-million dollar, very noisy machine that is pulsing all sorts of strange energy one’s way.
- A full scan of two knees is an 80-minute experience, which leaves a lot of time for thinking. The noise, despite earplugs, makes sleep difficult. I neglected to read up on what exactly it was than an MRI does before the scan, but today’s check confirms that many of my component atoms where being jerked around magnetically. (Four years of Duke chemistry is not lost…) At times, I could feel waves of something pouring along my legs. The most superficial answer is that I was simply tired of being confined to a hard table with inadequate padding for a person of my size and my legs were restless. However, I can also believe it is possible to feel the effects of the atoms falling back into their preferred rotation, but in the absence of both a) appropriate sensors and b) experience interpreting any sensations I might have, I was on my own.
- Not surprisingly, the technicians present during the scan were not interested in aswering questions. They run a tight schedule in that unit and want to keep the machine as full as possible. Somebody has to cover the cost.
- People who gain their sight after years of blindness have to learn to see. People who receive cochlear implants have to learn how to hear. That is, they need to tell their brains what the different patterns of incoming data MEAN. Babies do this while they’re busy being babies. It’s possible that with enough exposure and some feedback, a person could learn to interpret the various sensations that accompany an MRI. I am not volunteering. I found the process slightly interesting and a tad unpleasant. In the long run, I suspect multiple MRIs is not a long term health plus, just as we’ve come to understand multiple xrays are not a good thing.
- (I am not entertaining a discussion of the benefits of diagnostic xray vs long-term cost to the health of the patient here; simply expressing my belief that we eventually come to discover most interventions have a higher cost than originally understood.)
- I had a reasonably formal dinner party last weekend, at least in as much the plates and utensils weren’t disposable, and we used cloth napkins and table cloths. Fancy for my little piece of these parts. Point: Neither David Tutera nor Martha Stewart ever has to worry about what to do with the chainsaws on the dining room table when he or she is having 12 to dinner.
- I still can’t find the 12″ dime tip bar that had been hanging out on the kitchen table over Christmas and was “put away” somewhere just before the party. It will turn up, one day. I miss it. I have a 16″ quarter tip and an 8″ dime, but they’re not the same. 8″ is too short for a lot of carving that the 16″ is too long for.
- Some years ago, I remember taking the week of the 4th as vacation time, planning to practice being a full-time artist over that week. I remember being very disappointed in my productivity and how little art I actually created that week. In time, I came to understand it was as much a matter of knowing how to go about creating as it was the act(s) of creation itself. Six? years later, I’m almost right back there again, with slightly more understanding of the problem.
When I posted last about finding a way into Celtic knitting, I was chock full of ideas that were bursting everywhere. I was also, unknown to self at the time, full of rickettsiae doing exactly the same thing. Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, probably from a tick carried in by one of the two stray dogs I picked up at the end of May. Nothing like a potentially fatal illness to put a ding in one’s energy level. Waiting now on the results of blood tests to confirm that doxycycline did its thing and I’m “over it,” but the nurse did say that the fatigue takes a long time to clear. (12/9/2007: as it turns out from the datestamp on my next entry, the doxy had not completely worked at the time of this post and I had to go back on it for a whole month. Difficult year, health-wise.)
There’s the fatigue of just being tired, and not wanting to do much that requires physical effort (chainsaw carving, for example) but there’s also a fatigue of ideas and follow-through. The follow-through is really the more critical element, because it’s turning out that’s the crux of making art, at least in this studio. Ideas are easy. Taking an idea through the hundreds if not thousands of decisions that have to be made between concept and final product takes a lot more energy than I’ve had to spare, some days. And so I stumble.
The nice part of stumbling is that if you have a decent enough road and a general direction, you can still make progress. Not pretty, but progress. I have some designs in B&W that could probably be interesting rugs. They need color. And after the first draft, they need refinements. Today, I can draft. I don’t need to commit to a colorway yet, or even pull the yarn, or think about tying up. Color a few designs, don’t like much of what I have, and the truth is, I HAVE made art. It just doesn’t look like much to the general public. Or maybe I have made NOT-art, using the same logic that T. A. Edison used to say, “I haven’t failed 999 times. I have learned 999 ways that it won’t work.”
It’s all art. Sometimes it turns into a product I can display at First Sunday, and sometimes it’s just colors on paper that I couldn’t sell for a dime.
Originally written on July 3, 2007