Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Beware of simpler times...

The BF and I visited the Schenectady Museum the other day. It’s a very small museum, housed in the historic Stockade section of the city, in an old two-story home, built in the 1800s. As you might expect, the museum’s exhibits focus primarily on items and events of historical significance to Schenectady, New York and the surrounding areas.

The BF was a history major in college, and he has a particular appreciation for New York State history. Among other things, we were there to see a new exhibit that highlighted the creation of the Erie Canal and the railroads, and their impact on the growth and development of the State.

I am more interested in the personal and social aspects of history, and while the canal and railways certainly impacted the social mores of the day, I found another exhibit at the museum much more fascinating…

The medical exhibit.

All I can say is, be grateful you live in 2014. Medicine and dentistry has come a very long way since the 1800s. This is a photo I took of the exhibit. The room is assembled to look like an exam room may have looked back then. In addition to a speculum on the exam table that looks as though it could give the doctor a clear view of your tonsils through your vagina, and a hammer (to test reflexes?) that could knock a prize fighter out cold, notice the rifle on the fireplace mantle in the background.

Based on some of the instruments I saw, along with the long list of deadly viruses that wiped out entire families during that era (cholera, Spanish fever, tuberculosis), the rifle may have been one of your better options as a patient.

Of course, as an artist and irrational lover of all things paper, my favorite item in the exhibit was this old prescription ledger. While I did my best to try to read some of the scripts, one thing hasn’t changed in centuries – it is still impossible to read the doctors’ handwriting.

And here  is my "altered" book of potions...

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Digital collage fun...

My heart keeps beating out a rhythm that seems to be asking me, over and over... What next? What now? What? What? 

Monday, June 30, 2014

NEED to make art...

It has now become an uncontrollable urge, as though I cannot think straight or do my work until I make one (and only time prevents me from doing this all day). It literally clears my head to make these digital magazine collages -- or DMCs, as I am now calling them.

On the practical side of my world, it seems that the lesson I am meant to learn this year is to let go (a little) of my need for order. I do not crave perfection, but I love visual order. I love to see the little bit of world that I imagine is within my control (i.e. my house and my garden) neatly groomed -- from folded laundry to a neatly mowed lawn, and perky well-watered flowers. But this year, time, nature and freakin' LIFE has conspired against me.

A summer flu, a broken lawnmower, and weekend family celebrations have forced me to accept the inevitable - grass gets high, thirsty flowers droop, laundry piles up, and dust settles on hardwood floors, accentuated by the long-awaited summer sunshine through the blinds.

I cannot keep up this year. And I am okay with it. Now. Mostly. I prefer when things are in order. But my DMCs allow me to exercise some control over a tiny party of this uncontrollable world.

DMC - collage therapy...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

More collage therapy...

Just kicking up my vision board a notch... Same image, some new splashes of color, etc. (maybe it's just me, but I find this process addictive - in a very good way).


I am off to Boston to visit my sister, pull on my cowgirl boots, and enjoy the Zac Brown concert at Fenway.

My sister also has a sizable magazine stash, so there may be some spontaneous collage therapy in the works as well. (I am sure she won't even notice if a few Newsweek's and O (prah) magazines are missing!!

I can't believe it is the last weekend of June already. Summer is flying by. I am savoring every minute. I hope you do the same!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Digital vision board collage...

So you want to be an artist. Then make art.

It really is that simple.

It’s not enough to envision the life of your dreams. You have to act on that vision. Even if the act is as simple as a few brush strokes on paper, you are, in the moment you pick up the brush, an artist. You have acted. The dream is already a reality. Are you good? Who is the judge? It is more important that you begin. And that you pick up that brush. Again and again. Day after day. Ask any artist who is living their dream how they did it. They will tell you they failed, dozens of times. They were terrible before they were good. They ignored their critics. Or they learned from them. But the one thing they never did was quit.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Collage Therapy

WARNING: Flaky artist story below. Read with caution.

A few days ago, I was silently lamenting my “word for the year” choice. I chose a biggie. Maybe THE biggie -- certainly one of them – LOVE. I was thinking that for the first time since I began this practice of a one-word new year intention (six or seven years ago), I had perhaps not chosen the best word to fulfill my goals for this year. I thought perhaps the word was too big, too vague, too needy.

Around the same time, I had this irresistible urge to make a magazine collage -- to cut words and phrases and images out of magazines, and see what emerged. I should also mention that I was at work when this urge came over me, so I was extremely limited with time (my lunch break), and materials (three issues of Real Simple, a couple of decorating magazines, and no adhesive of any kind.)

My original plan was to arrange my collage, and then bring in a glue stick or some gel medium to finish it up the following day. I found a scrap of cardboard as a base, and began flipping through my old magazines for whatever caught my eye. With no plan for color, composition or message, I just cut out whatever appealed to me. Once I had an assortment of pieces, I began to lay them onto my cardboard, rearranging them just a bit, until I liked what I saw.

As I went to set it aside (to glue down on another day), I decided to take a quick photo of it, just in case I knocked it over. I liked the photo a lot, and it already looked like it was permanent -- and then it dawned on me -- I could now remove all of the pieces, and do a totally different collage on another day Or I could import the image into Photoshop, and enhance my collage digitally. Or I could do both, over and over again! I could not wait to get started.

The process is very different than when you commit to finalizing a piece with gel medium or glue. It is so freeing and fun to remove all fear of making a wrong choice. -- You don’t like how that looks? Move it. Take that piece off. Add those words. There. Take a picture. Add some digital magic in Photoshop. Then start again!

The most amazing part happened the following day. It is difficult to put into words how I felt, but I had somehow worked out my “LOVE” issues through this process. My word was working for me again. I had clarity about what I needed and wanted, and what was missing. Some of it was certainly the process. Making art is a very effective form of meditation. Creating, in the present moment, quiets the mind. In this case, I also felt that the piece itself was telling me something. All of those random words and images were not so random as they spoke to me:

There is only love. And what you do with it.*

*I wish to credit the Crew at Storypeople.comfor my closing, which I found in my email this morning, not at all by coincidence.