Why Don't I Draw? / On Color-Experiment-Art-Therapy

I've been gazing at the works of Spanish artist Jesus Cisneros several times a day, because I am yearning to draw little whimsical sketches, a little every day, and color them in, but I have that usual mental block when it comes to drawing. Last year's Bard drawing worked because I was only "copying" the same painting. A few years ago, before I embarked on Will, I had a Matisse and a Modigliani portraits phase, which I enjoyed very much; I've thought of revisiting Matisse, but haven't actually done any. 
I wish I could draw freely subjects I like: domestic scenes, interiors, kitchen scenes, or kitchen/weaving/sawing/art tools and supplies, or cakes and pastries and tea cups on tables. It's not that I've never tried - I had a capsicum-drawing phase late last century, but I was never happy with them so it didn't last. The funny thing is, and now I know this painfully well, that some of the "baddest" drawings are what I like best later, while "OK" ones often turn out boring. So I'll be happier if I did a bunch of bad drawing now, to perhaps color them in later and self-congratulate, or cut them in shapes to paste, or scan/copy and manipulate. Still, long evenings are lovely; at least I have been indulging in befriending watercolor and brushes.

The original plan was to make collage fodder for my journal (and other) swaps. It so happens I've been out in the garden most days, and by the time I finish dinner I'm exhausted; these "no thinking" stuff on paper also turned out to be an antidote, stopping the incessant replay of "tomorrow's garden jobs" at all hours. 
Because I'm working under artificial light, colors look duller while I work, and I'm surprised/shocked how bright and saturated some look the next morning. Gradually "intention" started to creep in. Most sheets, I work over two nights, wash, and/or majority of elements going in the first night, and editing the second. I posted a couple to the FB journal swap group page, and friends' comments steer me in different directions. Here are some examples from the last ten days. 
I needed saturated but nuanced yellow sheets. This was #3, where I incorporated more yellow greens and oranges; originally they were to be covered by yellows, leaving just nuances rather than the original colors, but I liked the orange bloom so much I stopped working.
Then I concentrated on the bloom, and made this very pale sheet. I knew this would come handy in collage, but I felt ambivalent about its done-ness.
After several yellow-all-over sheets, I decided to "diversify" one night. Truth be told, I was running out of some yellows, oranges and greens, so I used some colors I have plenty of, ergo the pink.
The top sheet I made up one evening, and worked on some more the second. The bottom sheet is the same as the bottom sheet in the previous picture, with additional colors. The first layer on this sheet was so very saturated I had to add new colors rather dry and lightly, or they became mixed with the bottom layers almost instantly. Another good swap friend Tess commented it looked "shiney", which in turn made me think about saturation.
So the next two evenings I thought about saturation. The first sheet, you can see I tried layers, so even in the too-muchness, there are nice nuances. The bottom one, I don't know what I was thinking, really. I associate this degree of saturation with circuses and carnivals, totally not to what I intended to make, but they will work cut up and pasted in journals, I think. But all was not lost.
Here are some nice layers from the top sheet, worked over two or perhaps three nights.
The bottom sheet starting to look so loud, I made an attempt at some bloom. But the most surprising was the top right kite-shape; although with a mix of good colors, it looked totally blurred and unfocused, and I revisited over and over to see how I could improve it, or if it was better left with "less". In the end, I had a  dark green in my brush hovering over the entire sheet looking for nice home, and inside the kite was the only "vacancy" I found. And I'm so glad I did, because it finally brought a visual focus, a tightness to the whole shape. Phew! 
Sorry this one is blurred, but it best represents how watery the latest attempt is. Exhausted by the two  loud piece, I've returned to layers and layers of wash plus some colors, on top of the bloom sheet, second from the top picture. This is after one or two nights, and probably unfinished, but some show breathtaking delicacy I hesitate to ruin. I may revisit, I may "touch up" some, I may leave them as they are, in which case I'll show you up close later. But a good contemplation on less vs more, and the opposite of what happened to the kite shape above. I'll start a new sheet, and just stare and stare at this while I work on that.  
In journal swaps, we are encouraged to, and most folks enthusiastically, decorate the envelopes, too. I've been a slackest member in that regard, so I brought out my lino and woodblock and printed out a bunch of envelopes. My main goal was to improve my inking and print skills. The beauty of these swaps, though, is if I print badly, (or even well,) I can add elements so the (bad) print job recedes into the background. (Also at the bottom are some of the yellow collage material.)
I particularly liked the red print on red paper, a new swap with one of my steadiest swap mate Fran, on the subject of Covid/Lockdown. Of the two designs, I like the top one better, although even for me they are so similar I have to look for the fish or the fin in the middle to see which is which. 
I still want to draw simple scenes/things, but for now I'm happy with these experiments; I even sense there may be a couple of new woodcuts/linos coming up. And with prints, it's the carving I enjoy, so I'm not worried if they turn out to be more of the same.

I also think I'm OK to thread the big loom, although still not sure about the tiny camping/fishing seat; I'm thinking of kneeling on inflatable rubber cushions, (think Swiss balls, but in the size/shape of cushions.) I can't stop visualizing my weaving that warp!  I just have to rethink the time I spend cooking, weeding and weaving.


Of Weeds and Hips

There has been no weaving or weaving-related activities taking place, due to my self-inflicted hip problem earlier, and the arrival of the brisk season plus a new toy called the Green Bin. This is another random, meandering post. (In great details, nevertheless; goodness, I'm long-winded!)
The days are finally cooling down, and I am in my element weeding for a few hours in the afternoons, and doing light-hearted things in the hours after dinner watching and not watching whatever is streaming on the computer. Oh, I love the cooler season! The next couple of months are my favorite time of the year. 
Autumn arrived very late this year, and this might be just a cold spell and we may return to the lukewarm temperatures again. The big maple still has 20-25% of the leaves and cherry hasn't started falling yet. The hills in the distance had its first snowfall just this week. 
This is what is known as the Green Bin; we opted for the 240L rather than 120L; and we can throw in most garden waste up to 70kg, (no soil, no flax leaves,) haul it up the steep driveway to the main road, and the rubbish will be taken away every other Monday for only $5.35/fortnight. I may have been aware of this service, I can't remember, but Esther recommended and we slow-jumped on the idea. Weeding constantly, steadily, incrementally, and have it taken away regularly suits the chances in my old body/head/stamina, rather than ordering a huge skip once a year and having to load it up within the week. (For that, we save a year's worth of garden rubbish in about a dozen wool bags, and some compost. One year we had too much and picked out bad roots, bulbs, and vines, bag by bag, but most years we just chuck them all out.) 
When it arrived, at 7.07AM a week ago Friday, the 240L bin looked bottomless, but this week, after a fortnight of rain, I weeded for eight hours over two afternoons, and filled 2/3 of the bin with very wet weeds, which is about the maximum weight Ben can manage up the driveway. I'm a little disappointed because I was hoping for... maybe twice as much at least. While discussing the size of the bin to order, size-wise, Ben imagined we could load it up on the back of the Pajero, but it's too wide to fit and too heavy to lift. We haven't experimented with dragging it up the driveway, yet. :-D At roughly $5.35/fortnight, it's still a great incentive for me to get outside on a regular basis. And maybe it's a good thing it doesn't require 80 hours to fill the whole thing. And the rest will go into the wool bags to supplement the bin in weeks we don't have enough, or to let compost and to deal with maybe this summer.

It's crushing to contemplate the magnitude of our mess, though sadly this is nothing new, us being the great indoors people. But once I'm outside, I am able to concentrate on the weed in front of me most of the time, and the brisk air and birds lift my spirits. When someone else's power tools come out, I just raise the volume of my audiobook. There is one tui that has been around for months now, and doesn't seem to be too afraid of us. Sadly the kowhai doesn't have a lot of flowers this year, again, so I hope he gets to have the tree to himself. 

Oh, the self-inflicted hip problem. One Monday I woke up and I had sharp pains on my right hip and I couldn't put any weight on it. I didn't recall sleeping in a weird position, I didn't fall off the bed, I wasn't sure how I got it. By Tuesday afternoon, I realized I am fine standing up, and it suddenly dawned on my I had the same problem some years ago, caused by my not sitting straight. Because I'm so short there's been only one chair in my life I could sit on comfortably. (Well, actually, a few, they being my parents' dining set, with one remaining in Mom's apartment until the last days in 2019. If it could have been taken apart, I would have brought it home; I even contemplated sawing a few places; and it wasn't ugly!) You can imagine in New Zealand my problem is worse. I find myself sitting with my weight on one side or another, and it's worse when I sit on the floor, which I do often because chairs are so uncomfortable, but I prop up the same side, (it must be the left?) with a cushion for some reason.

Last time it took months to remedy, ending up in the purchase of a nice-looking but not exactly comfortable rocker/recliner, but this time I stayed standing up most of the day for a few days, (and boy, I got a lot of cooking done, all the ironing, and even some print work!) and the pain went away by the end of the week. I'm dying to go downstairs to keep threading the tied-weave, but that's very problematic as I sit on a tiny folding camping/fishing thing, and even at normal times I have to quit after a couple of hours because my lower limbs go all funny. I am now considering different ways of sitting on the floor, or a stack of books, for that.

Meanwhile, this hay-fever-related problem isn't going away, and we look set for a very warm winter, so... life is never boring.


The April that Was

I gave myself a week to take care of my Letter Journal bottleneck, to various results. This is an unfinished spread, (i.e. someone else has to work on it to "complete" and sign it off,) but my favorite; I worked on this the week leading up to the Bard's 459th and the First Folio's 400th, in a swap with my usual friends. This steady group produce very layered, always surprising, and even if difficult at the time, always, always rewarding collaborative results. 
I got a little adventurous and joined another swap with not my usual friends also; this is always a gamble. I struggled with different view on simple/layered, collaborative/not, and communicative/not, but I survived, finishing my bits early the following week and now await mine to return. I had a bunch of little life stuff that needed attention, also had a mild cold, so the rest of the week was a write off. Except life's little stuff included a good crop of feijoas, (still ongoing,) and making sorbet every few days.
I had a doctor's appointment, not for anything specific, but for an annual overview to get my annual blood test organized. Since we had time, (since my latest "ailment", the shoulder problem, having magically disappeared,) Dr sue and I discussed the weird effect of hay fever on my face/eyes, to which she said some people some years need HF meds year round in NZ, and face cream for skin sensitivity and hot compress for the eyes were what she would have prescribed, short of a cortisone cream. I also brought up my cognitive problems, for which she set up a short assessment. 
Today I had said short assessment, which I aced 30/30, but Nurse Jo and I discussed age-appropriate decline, but what specifically are they in my case?? I said my having been healthy most of my life makes me notice every little defect, and I sometimes don't know which ones to ignore and which ones to worry about, or for how long. At any rate we're going to meet in six months if there are noticeable changes. One of the questions, though, was today's day of the week and date/month/year, and I have a hard time saying it the NZ way, (d/m/y), still prefer either the US (m/d/y) or Japanese (y/m/d), and I always have to think a bit. But lucky I had to do a lot of pension-related paperwork earlier in the year, I know it's 2023 for sure, because I got a little confused about the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 before that, and I still think in terms of  "which lock down".

There is one aspect that bothers me more than most, and that's my not being able to find things. Like this morning when I cut some rosemary to drop off at friends' and I put down the secateurs, somewhere I would have to walk passed later, just long enough to tie all the branches into one big bunch, and loaded in the car, and... I spent 15 minutes looking for it. And to make it easy to find, years ago I painted it very bright orange! It's worse when I know I'll need something later and put it in a "special place" - that is a guarantee I won't be able to find it. I am seriously considering carrying a small notebook and a pen or a pencil around my neck in my house, because I can get quite angry at myself wasting so much time and then waste time being angry or disgusted. Dear me!
There is no question I need to exercise more, though; lifetime of obesity, high cholesterol since middle age, (what exactly is the definition of middle age anyway?) and recent cognitive issues can all be helped/delayed greatly, and since I don't like gyms and swimming but don't mind walking, I just need to get my unsmall butt in gear pronto, with or without Ben. And it's nice we're heading into the cold season, because it's nice walking in the brisk air.
We had our 33rd anniversary on Friday. Ben had the day off, but we had errands, groceries shopping, and my doctor's appointment, so that evening we indulged in my favorite food group, cold cuts of meat, in sandwiches, and leftover soup. On Sunday, however, I attempted Ben's favorite cake, angel food cake, only for the second time in my life. It was Mom's favorite to bake when we lived in Minneapolis, (and later Tucson,) in the early 60s and I had until a few years ago her giant angel food cake tin with three little fingers to stand it upside down, but in one of our "seriously low carb" phases, I gave it away. Looking for some depth, I couldn't find any metal tins, but the portion was perfect for splitting into two in these two vessels. That CorningWare is also Mom's from the 60s, although in the last few years I broke the lid. I knew it would still be useful. The recipe itself isn't difficult, I just needed a way to stand it on its head. In future, I know to halve the recipe to make one small cake, (and quarter the sugar;) I use the recipe from my copy of 1969 Betty Crocker, so there is a good chance Mom's recipe was the same, or very similar. Although I don't recall her having her own Betty Crocker, we did have a tour of General Mills; I vaguely remember it.  

Weaving-wise, I'm suspending the clasped weft project; I'm probably not going to use the warp I showed you in the last post for that purpose, but returning to threading my tied weave warp.