PostModern Coloring Book

Now that I’ve had my iPad and its various drawing and art apps for about six months, you might hope, if not expect, that I would have gained a certain amount of fluency in the medium. You would, of course, be disappointed in that. I’m still as ignorant a neophyte as ever. But I’m having a good time, and that makes plodding along at my own minimal speed worth my while, all the same. I suppose it could be compared to the childhood love of scribbling and crayons and such excellent things that leads to our continuing to practice for extensive periods over our early years despite being unlikely to become little masters of art for a much longer time yet.
Digital illustration: Modernist Coloring Book

It would be more meaningful to me, I imagine, and to those who know me, if I could extend that youthful courtesy not only to playing with my latest techno-tools for art making but also to other areas of my life’s education, the many in which I have far less patience with learning as slowly as I do and therefore generally end up quitting or making virtually no progress for eons. Imagine if I loved studying personal finance as much as I like scribbling: I might be rolling in wealth by now instead of still struggling to count change when I buy a few groceries. If I had learned to enjoy practicing exercise—any form of exercise at all—I could have been fit and fabulous and looking at living enough more decades that I could learn a vast quantity of other fantastic and exciting things.

But alas, none of that is my nature or my passion. Plodding along and just playing with those things that amaze and amuse me, that’s my style. I may get up a short burst of energy or speed and manage to improve at one thing or another in my repertoire occasionally, but if you’re looking for snappy progress, cast your eyes in any other direction and you’ll have a better chance of seeing something new and inspiring happen. I’ll be right here in my little corner, scrawling with a stylus like a crazed second-grader mauling her coloring book and cackling with delight over the slightest mark that pleases me. Just think how well I make the rest of you look good!

We were So Civilized

Digital collage: We were So CivilizedNo matter where I am on the Fourth of July I am likely to think about the country in which I was born and have lived all of my life thus far: the United States of America. The Fourth is the official birthday of the nation, though many of the current states joined the union long, long after that July in 1776 when it was established by its founders. Like so many nations around the world, this country and its history are a tremendously complicated and varied patchwork of fact and fiction, hope and fear, two steps forward and one step back. Over and over and over again.

Imagine this: a pack of refugees from religious persecution left their homeland and sailed into the unknown across an ocean of which they also knew very little except that their passage across it was dangerous and miserable and killed plenty of them before they hit the new shore. When they landed, to their surprise there were already plenty of other people living on that new turf, and did that stop the interlopers from moving in, too? Of course not. I don’t expect it ever occurred to them, to be honest, that there wasn’t room for everybody or that if they took a ton of the resources around them that might just mean there were fewer for the previous residents of the land, folk who had, indeed, already long established a very different relationship with the continent.

That the illnesses and diseases the newcomers brought with them from Home would endanger and kill many of their new unwitting and unwilling neighbors could never have entered these interlopers’ minds, when they were so preoccupied with not only their current survival but their escape from the hardships and sorrows back in their own homeland. That they themselves would suffer privation, fear, danger, loneliness, and the loss of their lifetime homes, belongings, families and friends across the vast ocean they had crossed was a stark enough reality that perhaps they willed themselves not to think too hard about all that they faced next also affecting the long-tenured native peoples across whose lands they moved like human bulldozers.

The establishment of this new home was far from smooth and easy too, as anyone could probably guess, though I wonder if any of them really considered that the goal as much as simple escape from what they’d known before. Still, none of those inhabitants of North America—invaders or original denizens—could possibly imagine at the time, I suspect, quite how vast the whole continent was and what that meant in terms of creating new colonies within it, let alone new nations. In the years that followed, the westward migration confirmed the existence of innumerable tribes and clans of people not before known to the new arrivals, but also of wild creatures unimagined, of terrain unlike any they had dreamed possible, of climates that had been the stuff of legend until then.

In those many decades of carving out new paths and territories, it was inevitable that, just as it had been with the foregoing generations of various indigenous peoples, there would be struggles over who had access to what, who could live where, and who belonged together with or as far as possible away from whom. No surprise that this led not only to separated towns and enclaves and ethnic, religious, political or philosophical communities but also, in turn, to a wild array of accents and ideas that might as well have been different languages and different species altogether.

Amazing that all of this could remotely possibly coalesce into what is known as the United States of America. Today’s states are still so diverse, even sometimes from county to county or one side of the railroad tracks to another, that it’s nearly laughable to call them United. We fight like pesky siblings with each other all the time; it’s a miracle, in my book, that the so-called Civil War, one of the most uncivilized events in the country’s history, hasn’t simply continued from its beginning to the present day. It does, perhaps, at subtler levels. Just because the invasion of the continent by a bunch of frightened Pilgrims who only thought themselves seeking freedom from tyranny didn’t destroy the whole land and kill every one of them off outright, and because the various internal skirmishes that led to, but were far from limited to, the Civil War didn’t complete that annihilation doesn’t mean we’re not still perfectly capable of incredible incivility at every turn. We try, we fail.

On the Fourth of July, I think of how astounding and—generally—good it is that this messy nation has managed to survive this long without self-destructing. But I can’t help also thinking this of most of the rest of the world. Humans just plain are messy. We form and break alliances; we argue over being Right instead of being compassionate or practical, let alone pursuing justice. We blunder around, hog resources, ascribe privileges and powers to ourselves and our chosen comrades that we willfully deny others, or just pretend the others don’t exist, and thanks to our weirdly, wonderfully diverse array of accents, when we do get around to discussing the least of these things, even those who ostensibly share a language can’t understand each other half of the time anyhow.

Just possibly, our life form may have been civilized at a few choice moments. There is plenty of potential in this odd species of ours, I like to think. Even we Americans aren’t entirely irredeemable; we keep bothering and beating up on each other like so many brothers and sisters, and yet most of us still manage eventually to just agree to disagree and, in moments of precious lucidity, even to see each other’s point of view and operate in an environment of respect and hope. As rotten as we can be to each other, we care enough to wrestle it out and try to find ways to go forward. Together, even. If that isn’t a family worth saving, I guess I don’t know what one is. Happy birthday, USA. Go forth and get a little more civilized, if you can.

Portals

Photo montage: Portals 1Every doorway, every window, every gate is a portal to adventure. It may well be that those  portals are locked when I approach. More often than not, I find that it’s I who locked them up, who put impediments in my own way. That is the price of fear, of laziness, and of self-doubt. What holds me back or shuts me out is rarely an insurmountable obstacle; it’s me, often and only me. If I want to grow and change, learn and progress, it’s up to me to find the openings I most want to explore, and challenge the barriers with all my might. If I can’t find the key, I should make one. And frankly, if I can’t do that, I should probably make some adventures of my own and not bother waiting for the right portal to appear. Knock, knock! Life calling!Photo montage: Portals 2

The Intersection

Lacking, as I do (see yesterday’s post!) any real sense of direction, physically or otherwise, in my life’s journey, I kind of live it in the middle of the intersection. You know, when the traffic slows down and the smog clears, it’s kind of exciting and always interesting here at the crossroads.digitally doctored photo

There are not only all of the events and incidents that brought me to the place where I stand at any given moment, but so much more that enriches life in the intersection. All of the peripheral things that I didn’t do—yet, anyway—lie somewhere nearby, should I change course or take notice and choose to move accordingly. There are all of the other people who come and go up and down the same roads and walkways, and there are all of those who cross my path at any given intersection, and all of their lives and adventures are influences on my own travel, even on my moments of standing absolutely still there.

And then I move on, often without any greater sense of direction than before, but also, often enough, with an optimistic sense that I will soon find myself having yet another unexpected, very unplanned trip through yet another unknown intersection.

Green Means Go

It’ll be a while yet. Spring and its sprouts aren’t making any particular headway even here in Texas just now, and I don’t expect to see any more than tiny hints of promising green until the current cycle of typically unpredictable and radically changeable temperatures settle into their usual late-February-into-March kindliness. But I can’t help thinking ahead.photoAfter all, there’s such a compelling sense of momentum that comes with those first tiny glimpses of something ever so delicate and yet determinedly pointy that forces its way out of hard ground and harder branches. The very fact that they can emerge from such unwilling sources tells me that once they’ve driven through those barriers, not only is there little that could stop them, they will pick up speed as they go, unfolding, uncurling, swelling, bursting into bloom, and finally, enlarging into the full fruits of the season. Such a suffusion of newness and energy and purpose!photoI look forward, in the same way, to some of my many projects coming to fruition, as I so rarely know what the final outcome will be, really. What seems like a perfectly lovely little green bell pepper can grow up into a dramatically bold but even sweeter scarlet capiscum, if nurtured and tended along its sojourn of development; in the same way, what may have begun as a quick little one-line idea sketch with pencil or pen while I sat in the back of a rehearsal hall or in the waiting room before an appointment could well grow up, over time, into a digitally enhanced illustration full of color and texture and layers that I hadn’t planned at the start. Whatever the result, it begins with the green bud or the green light of an idea, and I cannot resist the allure of that color, beckoning me with its promises and possibilities.

A Glimmering of Sweetness Exceeding All that has Gone Before

This is my wish for all of you as the new calendar year begins. May you find goodness and contentment all around you, and may you in turn share and propagate it everywhere you go in 2014. Peace and abundant happiness, my friends.photoI rarely have an actual Plan for the upcoming year, but this time around I do want to move toward a few specific things. First and foremost, I want to be more deliberate about finding ways and excuses to be an even happier person, and to leverage that happiness to spread it as far and wide as I can to other people. Call it intentional optimism, call it doing random acts of kindness, call it whatever you want, but I think it’s more likely to be good for the overall tone of the year than not, and that alone is worthwhile.photoIn addition, I intend to start making money this year again, however little it may be. I have no delusions of getting rich, but would love to put my own tiny dent in our family expenses, savings, and/or retirement. It’s been a long time since I got any actual dollars for anything other than a present, and I know that, however unlikely a choice I may be on paper for anyone who’s hiring, I will find a way. Or two. It may not be a regular job, or it might be a conglomeration of tasks and sources. I’ll keep you posted, friends, but if anyone happens to have any brilliant insights before I do, chime in; I’m listening! Meanwhile, I’m happy to keep working on increasing the happiness quotient however I’m able. That’s Job #1.

Reading the Classics or Writing Them…

There’s this little spot inside my skull that gets kind of itchy. Pretty sure it’s not dandruff, seeing as how that’s usually external, from what I’ve heard. Can’t be an excess of brains, something no one’s accused me of having in that nice cobwebby attic of mine.

I think it’s a bit of me that wants to Make Stuff. Specifically, to write things. I can’t say there’s any legitimate or meaningful purpose to this writing, or even the slightest logic to the motivational itch. But I write.photo montageWhether any of the scribblings comes to fruition beyond becoming letter-shaped specks on the ethereal pages of my blog or typed or scrawled word-like objects spilled all over my notebooks, concert programs, receipts, paper towels and shoebox lids–further polish or publication remains to be seen. Memorable, respected or classic status is improbable to within the neighborhood of outrageous fantasy.

But I’m a first-class fantasist at heart, after all. By my own admission. photo montageMeanwhile, several friends whose work I respect have put their longtime writing itches to good purpose and published, recently. I’ve been writing to scratch my inner itch for a number of years now. If I’m going to make anything out of it other than random scratching I suppose I had better take heart from my predecessors’ bravery and get serious about putting my writing into something a little more challenging and concrete than my lifelong style of clinging to the safety of the familiar land of personal sharing and blogging.

Uh-oh.

Time to suck it up and nerve myself. I suppose I should warn all of you to shore up your own nerve as well. It seems that this particular kind of itch might well be both dangerous and contagious.photo montage

On New Year’s Eve: 2012 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. I, as proprietress and perpetrator of this site, THANK YOU all from the bottom of my humble heart for your kind and gracious and astonishingly friendly support here. It’s a joy to meet with you here and share our lives and loves so happily. May each and every one of you be gifted with a sweet, magically wonderful 2013!

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 35,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

 

More Fun with Drawing Toys

Not much needs to be said here. I’m on another of my tangential rambles with my art practice, and what pleases me a great deal about crawling my way into the digital era is that not only can I document my work better than I used to do, I can retain it in numerous, widely varied states and play with it without nearly so much difficulty in changing my mind and erasing or altering things as I like. Talk about a bonus for a mercurial goof-off like me.graphite drawing

digital artwork from a drawing