Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Raucous

Gwen Diehn doesn't know me from a hill of beans, and I don't know about her personal life, (she has a son and a cat,) but I've been an admirer of hers since I found her "The Decorated Page" at our local bookshop in 2002. This was in the days when I was still exploring how to "be a weaver", crawling out of my should-have-been-an-academic mindset and looking for the right door to hippie/artist/artisan/that-other-life-dom. It may have been around the time I dedicated three months to every task in "The Artist's Way". 
 
I remember being somewhat surprised, (perhaps unfairly,) an art book had arrived at Nelson so soon after publication. I felt I was meant to have it. By the time I learned "The Decorated Journal" came out, it was a no brainer. This one even included detailed instructions on how to make our own books, a craft I marveled at and imitated since kid-hood.
 
I could never get enough of the beautiful drawings, the astonishment of seeing, (I had an inkling artist kept them,) beautiful notebooks/sketchbooks filled with not only drawings and mini paintings, but notes, tickets, maps, stuff, etc. The examples of travel journals still take my breath away. I learned "journals" had a specific meaning in a hitherto unknown context. And I gazed and gazed at the process pics of how-to pages but I never got my hands dirty. 
 
It was and is drawings that fascinates me, that making of shapes that remind me of "things". Of the many skills I envy in others, drawing easily, often, or without pain and anguish is among the top on my list. (Also true: I have no idea if the makers suffer in silence.) It's something I wish I could/would do more light-heatedly. For pleasure. If not of doing, then of having done it. I manage sometimes, but even a project like copying a Matisse portrait in a really tiny, quick, line or gesture drawing can be onerous. When you grow up with parents who nonchalantly repeated, "we are not people who draw or paint," as if this is OK, and still, "If you're going to do something, do it right,"... well, no wonder I carried an emotional boulder. 
 
A few years later I mustered the courage and took a short screen printing course locally, because I was good at prints in school. And because I loved the teacher so much, (still do prints with her when I can,) I took a mixed media drawing course with her without knowing what mixed media was, but I still did OK. Although... I swear everybody else had drawn/painted all day every day of their long lives, this was a short course and we were busy experimenting, so bad shapes didn't interfere. Finally, after a few low-enrollment cancellations and bureaucratic disappointments, I bit the bullet and signed up for a figure/life drawing class, which I thoroughly enjoyed for 6? or 8? years, culminating in a small exhibition with two classmates who were far more serious about it. 
 
I've done a few other things since, learned some skills, bought, tried and even used up new materials. I know I prefer old fashioned material like pencils, watercolor, (still have no idea how to use it "properly",) charcoal, collage and woodblock prints. I still admire well-made shapes. I'd like to be that person who draws a little, not just gaze and appreciate, I'm only 62. Early days. 
Lest you think this is going to be another one of woe-is-me-I'm-so-un-good post, there's a postscript. From time to time I look up artists' Pages on Facebook for my daily dose of eye-candy. I can't remember the specifics but I probably couldn't find Gwen's page and audaciously friend-requested. And well, politics has been stupid, the year has been weird, and social media has its own protocols, and as I was adding yet another raucous comment on her post yesterday, I realized, she doesn't know me from...

6 comments:

  1. Awww, Meg! Such a sweet thing you have given me! I loved learning about you more. I already knew we shared the same sense of humor and disrespect. I think you live in New Zealand or Australia, is that right? Your instagram post of seeds sprouting makes me think it is late spring for you whereas for us it’s the beginning of late fall/winter.
    Now I will tell you more about me. I actually have three sons and nine grandchildren, but one family lives in New Hampshire and one in New Jersey right outside of NYC. The one who lives here has my 21 year old soul mate grandson who we have hired to paint the exterior of our house with us as a quarantine project.
    I have always drawn and made things. My Dad was an architect and drafter in the days before CAD machines. I grew up in New Orleans in the lovely days before safety and spent all my time outside playing in the nearby cemetery or the big city park. At five I used to walk to art classes on Saturday mornings at the nearby museum. I was the eldest of five children, all boys and me. I took private drawing lessons in high school but really learned how to draw as an undergraduate.
    Altogether I’ve written twelve books, plus a recent self-published on that I published after completing a four-year project of drawing ten thousand things. You can find it on Amazon or through Ingram Sparks. All the drawings are on my blog, www.real-life-journals.blogspot.com

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    1. Gwen, nice to (re)make your (re)acquaintance.

      You had me at "the same sense of humor and disrespect."

      I was born in Japan, lived in Minneapolis and Tucson, (the year JFK was shot, I was in Tcson,) Japan again and 10 years of Catholic convent school, Minneapolis again in a public high school, (co-ed!!), St Paul for collage back in the days we never admitted to living in St Paul when with friends from Minneapolis, back to Japan, worked for a Kiwi in IBM, and got married to a fellow IMBer rumored to be the most old-fashioned Japanese youth who turned out to be not. Then New Zealand since 1994, a small town of Nelson on the South Island since 1997. No kids, no pets, but one husband that needs trimming every so often. A spotty career in menial office jobs, unspectacular academic record, wannabe spectacular weaver and good visual artists. But as I said, early days.

      I did not know you were surrounded by men/boys. I only know of Jacob from your book. I sensed you've written a lot of books, but 12! Recently I've had my eyes on your print book. Lastly, your childhood sounds like a movie to me.

      Internet is wonderful. And the plague hasn't been so bad for me.

      PS. Let me think. Currently we're in mid/late spring, occasional mild-wintery evenings and scorching summery afternoons. Still, much easier to survive than Minneapolis or Yokohama. MUCH.

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    2. PPS. I respect the right people. :-D

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  2. Folks, not Instagram. I don't have that. It's Facebook.

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  3. Meg! We also both have convent school in our background! Mine was four years of Ursuline nuns in New Orleans, which turned me into a maniac of petty rebellions. My best friend and I jumped out of a window during charm school class once in order to chase after the Roman candy man ( salt water taffy) and then had to figure out how to slide back into the heavily-guarded gothic building.

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    1. You jumped out of a window? Gracious me, Gwen 1: Meg 0. I tried to rebel, but wasn't a very good one. One of the major deficit in my case was most/all? of my classmates didn't really see the need of it, saw me as just immature. Decades later I found out some rebelled outside the school in ways I could not have imagined, but here we are. It turned out I was rather mild!

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