The Remedy

A month ago, I was depressed.  Not hugely depressed, but enough to be annoying.  And I wasn’t making any art.  I stop making art when I’m depressed, and I knew that I needed to start again to get un-depressed, but of course I was depressed so I didn’t feel like it.

On top of that, Messiah Conference was coming up, and I was supposed to put together a couple of posters for events that Hero was running.  So that was a second reason that I needed to make art.  I still didn’t want to.

Finally I was telling my sister N about all this, and she suggested that I switch mediums.

My sister is a genius.

It took some discussion to find something appropriate (having small kids means I rely on media that are a) non-toxic, b) quick to set up and clean up, and c) not easily ruined by household accidents) but I ordered a big set of oil pastels and some gesso later that day.

Happiness is a big set of oil pastels and a big chunk of gesso’d paper bag.

This is one of the posters.  (I didn’t photograph the other, but it was much simpler.)  I added the necessary text in the white space, then brought it home and painted over the text.  It’s around three feet tall and I love it.

It took me about an hour and a half to do – I outlined the red curve and added a few more random curves inside the space to serve as markers and destinations, and then just added lots of blended filling.  My fingers got very messy :)

(I finished it with several coats of Krylon acrylic spray, and that seems to have stabilized it.  I ended up signing it in frequently-wiped sharpie, since I couldn’t think of anything better.  Following a search online, my other oil pastels have been signed by scraping into the pastel rather than writing on top.)

Since my fingers aren’t great at detail work, I knew I needed some sort of blending tool.  My pre-conference haircut was a couple doors down from an art supply store, so I picked up a tool like this one to help with blending.

Since then I’ve done a few other things:

Page in an altered book, done during the conference.  Don’t really like it, but the little bird turned out really well.  It was useful for getting to know the blending tool.

Then there’s this:

This started with the cloudy blue background, and I love the tone-on-tone lettering.  The problem is that I didn’t have anywhere to go next.  So I painted on the yellow flower (which I kinda like), added puffy paint circles, decided I disliked them and scraped them off, painted the red thingy, and gave up and left it on the shelf for a while.  Now I’ve added a bunch of pastel, and I still don’t much like it – but at least it’s further along than it was.  Maybe I’ll work on it more.  Maybe I won’t.

The girls have joined me in the fun.  I love that pastels are cheap and not very messy, so I can let them play all they want.  Kitten has done a series of scribbles, and Beauty has been coloring my hastily-sketched depictions of the characters from Frozen.

That’s Princess Ana, Princess Elsa, and their father.  Princess Ana has a purse, at Beauty’s insistence.

And then there’s this, which I love:

You may remember this flourish painting, which has since been named Vivant.  (It was Carnival Flourish for a while, but I never much liked that.)  I pulled it out and did what my high school art teacher used to do: cut a window out of a piece of paper and moved it around until I found a composition I could blow up for the next artwork.

I intend to give it to my sister C, because I decided it felt like her about halfway through making it and Beauty spontaneously commented that it was for C when she saw it.  So she’s stuck with it.

Maybe I’ll give the next one to N, seeing as this is all her fault in the first place.

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Resurrection and Nihilism

My family has a new tradition!!

As Messianic Jews, we celebrate Passover every year, and not Easter.  The traditional Passover seder includes several elements that represent Yeshua (not that that’s the traditional explanation, but it’s hard to imagine what else the afikomen is meant to represent), and several years ago my family expanded the end of the seder (the Cup of Redemption, the Afikomen, and the Cup of Praise) to include the account of Yeshua’s death and resurrection from the New Covenant.

A few months ago, my mother mentioned to me that it would be nice to do something on the third day to celebrate Yeshua’s resurrection, and she suggested that I turn the idea over in my head and see if anything occurred to me.  So I did, off and on.

It seemed to me that Yeshua’s death marked victory over sin and our justification, but His resurrection marked victory over death.  So I wanted something that would emphasize that.  None of the Jewish traditions I’m familiar with seemed to fit the purpose, and the Christian Easter traditions are mostly centered around symbols of fertility and new life borrowed from pagan spring festivals.  I have no problem with swiping other traditions when it seems appropriate, but victory over death isn’t quite the same as fertility, so it felt a bit off.

So I poked around a bit on the internet, reading about springtime festivals in other cultures.  A lot of them have a big bonfire around now, for fertility or cleansing or to bring back the sun.  Or just because bonfires are awesome and it feels right to our hearts to have one every so often.

So tonight we showed up at my parents’ house after dinner (well, after our dinner anyway – they hadn’t eaten yet, as none of them are four).  I brought dessert in a fireproof dish (a tiny Le Creuset dutch oven, which was a wedding gift from my grandfather and his wife) and wrapped it in flash paper.  I had my sister and my mother read two passages: first Ecclesiastes 9:1-6, which is as nihilist a passage as you’ll find in the Bible, and then 1 Corinthians 15:53-56, which celebrates Yeshua’s victory over death.  Then I lit the flash paper (which burned beautifully, and completely freaked out the baby) and we discovered that death had not triumphed and we could eat the dessert inside.

It was simple and it said all it needed to and it involved fire and ended with yummy dessert.  What more could you need?

(If you are doing this, please do remember that flash paper is designed for indoors but isn’t actually safe.  We had the paper-wrapped dish sitting in a glass pie pan, with a big sheet of aluminum foil underneath.)

The dessert was Eton Mess, made with store-bought meringues, homemade whipped cream, and frozen raspberries (microwaved for a couple minutes with a spoonful of brown sugar, to make a thick sauce) since strawberries aren’t in season yet.  It was even kosher for Passover.

I can think of ways to expand it – but I think this probably works better when kept simple.  So we will.

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Getting Out

(Two posts in a row?  Don’t get too excited – I mostly posted yesterday so the art post would be on top because reasons.)

Anyway, I’m sending out a whole bunch of postcards at once, some new and some old, and I figured I’d show them all at once.  Voilà!

postcards

As I said, some of these are older ones that you may have seen before.  But I kinda like having them all together, and it’ll make a useful post for people who want to see my art.

I guess I should have numbered them if I want to talk about them properly.  I suppose I still could, but I’m not going to.

Anyway, the bright pink and green ones (left top and left bottom corners) were done on paper grocery bags – I had some contact paper stencils left over from another project (the Silhouette kept shredding them, or stopping halfway through, or otherwise mangling cuts – eventually I realized that if I left the contact paper under something heavy so it was flat when it got cut, the cut went more smoothly) and I laid them down more or less at random and started piling color on top.  Once I’d pulled up the stencils I could cut them into postcards or other collage material – I’ve actually still got some left.

Several elements here were inspired by i am rushmore, including the overall layout of the one that says “I can’t have a saber toothed walrus,” the circle stamp that you can see on several of them (made by cutting circles out of fun foam and gluing them to the lid of the mod podge – I guess I’ll have to keep the lid when the jar is done!), and new experiments with transparent layers.  I have a roll of rice paper diaper liners lying about since my abortive experiment with cloth diapers, and I recently discovered that it makes a great transparent layer.  It’s sturdier than tissue, but it disappears almost as well when I glue it down.  So I wrote on it with sharpie and the glued it on upside down, to make an abstract-ish handwriting element, and I stamped it and ran it through the printer and generally had an excellent time with it.

As for the quotes, “secret place of thunder” is from Psalm 81, “I cannot have a saber-toothed walrus” is from the very funny (if you’re enough of a nerd) Things Mr Welch Can No Longer Do In An RPG, and “I was too busy watching you going wild child to be worried about going to jail” is from the song “Cop Car” by Keith Urban.  I thought “Cop Car” was hilarious, actually, but I think it was only funny at that time and that place.

Beauty and Kitten added paint to some of my old ICAD cards, and I cut up the resulting cards for collage elements in a few places.  That kind of iterative art is really fun to play with.

And now most of these are going out in the mail to various friends, and that makes me happy.

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Ducklings

I’ve started calling my girls my “ducklings.”  I’m not sure why – it started a few weeks ago when I turned to see them trundling along after me and their little bobbing heads (well, mostly Kitten’s bobbing head – Beauty is a bit big for bobbing) reminded me of ducklings walking.

Since then Beauty has decided that only children under the age of six or so can be ducklings.  If I ask if any other family members or other adults are ducklings, I get a resounding “nooooooo.”  Other children are sometimes ducklings, depending on mood.

Beauty has really been blossoming lately, though.  I’m not sure what triggered it (time, probably) but the past month or so saw a whole little renaissance in how she thinks and interacts with the world.  She suddenly started coloring in the lines (at at least attempting to) and has colored several beautifully-vivid mandalas I printed from the internet.  She used to just stack stickers on top of each other, but now she notices what they are and creates abstract map-scenes depicting the interrelation of the items.  She speaks English far more than nonsense now, and she makes up “games” and tells Kitten to “fly like this, and then turn around, and then a big jump, and then…”  Admittedly Kitten mostly laughs and flaps her arms, but it’s the thought that counts.

She’s also (finally!) potty training.  Last time around I tried using treats, which was useful for getting her to try the potty but ultimately hurt the cause, I think.  This time we used a “paradigm shift”: from now on you use the potty because that is how it is.  It’s going pretty well.

Beauty still loves painting and still mixes all the paints together into brown most of the time, but occasionally she will keep them separate, and she always wants to tell me about what she painted.  Kitten is finally able to paint with a brush instead of trying to eat it, so I’m excited to see what she gets up to next.

And Kitten is racing around as fast as her little feet will carry her, which is faster than I expected sometimes.  She loves to find pieces of clothing – from the laundry, from the dresser, from the floor – and carry them all over the house.  She also likes dancing, and I see her carefully focusing on sequences of motions (first raise hands, then turn in a circle, repeat) when there is music on.  She likes stickers – mostly peeling them off the sheet and handing them to me, but sometimes she sticks them herself – and pulling all the spoons from the silverware drawer and waving them around with a gleeful flint in her eye.  My current theory is that she’s planning on turning them into shurikens somehow.

We’re also getting her first real words, aside from “yeah” and “hi.”  Beauty listened carefully and pulled out whole words at once, so that her vocabulary seemed to spring from nowhere.  Kitten has spent ages experimenting with all the sounds she can make, and now she’s starting to take a stab at the words they go with.  So she says “ma” for “more” and “me” for “milk” and “ah da” for “all done” and (cutest and happiest of all) “ah-la” for “I love you.”  She isn’t very consistent with any of them, but it seems to make her happy.

While Beauty has long enjoyed watching me shower, Kitten insists on getting in with me, and Beauty usually follows her.  This makes bathing interesting, as I’m sure you can imagine.  Kitten especially likes hugging my leg and letting the water pour over her – which is surprising given that I don’t make the water any cooler than usual.  (Though today Kitten decided to investigate the shiny silver knobs and made me yelp when she turned the water cold!)  But it’s a nice way to keep them both happy for half an hour or so.  It was especially helpful the last time Hero was sick – he would stand under the hot water until it ran cold, allowing the steam to help his congestion, while the girls cavorted in the water around him so I could have a break.

And that is my girlies.  I might add pictures at some point, if I’m feeling ambitious, but don’t count on it.

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The Sound and the Nerdery

I was fairly good at recording Beauty’s every move and word and discovery, but less so with Kitten.  This is life.  We do have plenty of photos of her, so that’s something.

Kitten is more cheerful than Beauty was at this age.  She’s more convinced that life is wonderful and people are friendly and things are waiting to be enjoyed, where Beauty was more inclined to study and analyze and understand things and people before attempting to interact with them.

Consequently Kitten is more eager to walk, and insists that we walk her everywhere, all the time.  I don’t think Beauty ever showed interest in walking with support.  Kitten grabs things, and eats things, and loves to feel textures and find pretty pictures and taste things and make sounds.  Beauty looked at things – especially text – and I think listened to words more than music.

Beauty valued words and sounds because they let her communicate.  Kitten values sounds because OH MY GOODNESS I CAN MAKE ALL THE SOUNDS!!!  She says “yeah” a lot (I think it counts as her first word, since she seems to know it means “positive.”) and spends ages making as many noises as she can find to come out of her mouth.

Beauty is painting a lot these days – I wrapped all our holiday gifts in paper grocery bags and let her paint them.  She generally ends up painting herself as well, but that’s okay.  She also likes homemade puffy paint (I love homemade puffy paint!) and gluing bits down.

She’s also enrolled in toddler gymnastics, and it’s wonderful for her.  She’s more active, more willing to try new things, more social, more confident – I’m not really sure why, but it just seems to click in her brain and unlock new paths and achievements.  So we’re *keeping* her in gymnastics.

(Gymnastics also gives me a mini-break, since I’m not required to be present for the 45-minute class.  There’s a shopping center around the block, so Kitten and I go to the grocery store or Plato’s Closet.  I’ve gotten some cute tops that way.)

Beauty seems to be interested in trivia – she wants to know the name of every song and the label for every day’s weather and so on.  I don’t get the impression that she cares much about the meaning behind the questions she asks sometimes, but she asks and locks away each fact as it’s given to her.  She’s a nerd in a way that I’m not; she’s constantly looking for trivia to file away.

And as for me, I’m painting and writing and blogging a Bible study and life goes on.

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Peekaboo

I’m not feeling well enough to write fanfiction tonight, so I figured I might as well let you lot know that I’m alive and well (well, mostly) and not quite insane yet.

But yes!  I’ve been writing fanfiction lately.  I should probably put a link on the sidebar at some point, come to think of it.  Maybe replace the zibbet button, since I don’t think anything is listed there.  I’m writing under the name ladyphlogiston (what a surprise, I know) at fanfiction.net and I’ve currently got a shortish LBD fic (which is probably finished, but I might add another chapter so someone can ask Darcy if he has a bum-warmin’ toilet) and an AU Pride and Prejudice set in the 20s and a four-way Sherlock Holmes crossover.

I’m enjoying myself.  The Holmes one is fun and easyish to write (though I don’t actually know what the bad guys are up to yet, so I should probably figure that out) and the 20s one is harder, in part because I have to stop every other sentence and find the right slang term or figure out what hats men wore or whether the Charleston was danced in the closed position.  Which it was, at first.  Now you know.

I’ve also been reading a ton of Pride and Prejudice fanfic, because it’s relaxing and fun and usually decently written.  So has Hero, actually

In other news….Beauty and Kitten are still growing and doing their thing.  Beauty takes great delight in confirming (over and over and over) that the sky is blue and the clouds are white.  I feel like there’s some spiritual lesson in that, but haven’t bothered working out what it is.

Oh!  I finished a chainmail bracelet for my sister.

The weave is called Open Round or Roundmaille, and it’s pretty simple and quite fun.  I’ve started taking my kit to the women’s bible study sometimes – it occupies my hands, like some women do with knitting.  Anyway, I used that tutorial to get it started, but every time I dropped it, it got horribly jumbled and it would take me ages to figure out which way I was going.  (Once you’ve added a few more rounds that’s less of a problem, of course.)  So I threaded a piece of t-shirt yarn through it to keep the shape, and when it was long enough I replaced the yarn with pretty ribbon.  There’s a clasp under the bow, by the way.

I haven’t seen anyone else doing this (putting beads or more rings inside is fairly popular, but I haven’t seen the ribbon through) but I doubt I’m the first to think of it.

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Dentist

I kinda feel awful right now.

Beauty’s first dentist appointment was today.  She’s three.  I keep seeing articles and things saying that your child’s first dentist appointment should be when she’s two, or one, or when she gets her first tooth, or whenever, but when I called a year ago they told me to call back in a year.

So there we were, and we put her on my lap and the hygenist counted her teeth, which went okay (though Beauty tried to close her mouth whenever they put something in it), and then they got out the polisher and the hygenist asked Beauty if she could use it on her teeth.

And Beauty said no.

And the hygenist asked a couple more times, and Beauty said no, no, no I not!  And I explained to Beauty that we needed to do this a little bit, and the hygenist got the first few teeth and then started asking again, and Beauty said no some more, and finally she gave up.

We’re going to a different dentist next time, I think.

But the reason I feel awful is that this is probably the first time that Beauty was asked if she wanted something, and she made it very clear that she did not, and I made her do it anyway.  If the hygenist hadn’t asked permission, but instead had taken a “this is what we’re going to do…” approach, I wouldn’t feel bad.  We’ve been down that road at the doctor’s office plenty.  But as it is, my daughter was asked what she wanted and then her wishes were blatantly ignored and I really don’t like it.

I feel like I didn’t have any good options.  Right now I wish I’d advocated for her.  I wish I had pushed the hygenist away and pointed out that she asked and my daughter said no.  But it’s also a fact that I need to teach Beauty that what she wants isn’t always what’s good for her.

It is not helping that I’ve been seeing a lot about rape culture and consent and things lately.  I haven’t been seeking it out, but it’s been there.

I’ve always embraced a mind-minded approach to parenting.  It’s one of the things that makes me good at it.  I don’t think I did a good job today.

I think I’m finding a new dentist.  In a year.  Her teeth are fine.

And so is she.

Update, later that evening: I’m a lot calmer now.  Hero says my neurochemistry is clearly off-balance, and he’s usually right about that so I’m believing him that this will all look much better in a few days.  Stupid hormones.

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Beethoven

Just a little recent art today…

Postcard for a swap I’m in.  It’s a challenge swap – make a postcard with elements representing window, marsupial, Beethoven, purple, and six.  At first glance I dismissed it as impractical, but my brain kinda liked the idea.  Beethoven was the hardest – I didn’t want anything stodgy.  Eventually I found an image of his signature online, pulled it into Inkscape and made it into a stamp or brush or whatever you want to call it, and made the background you can see there.  (I printed it onto tissue and mod podged it onto my painted background.)

A progress shot from halfway through, so you can see the background properly:

The colored strips are from a photo of brightly painted windows that I found on Pinterest.  They’re my window element.  I had planned to gesso over this and get partway back to neutral, but I liked it so much I went with it.

So I stenciled on my purple six (done with bubble wrap – a few days ago we got something wrapped in bubble wrap, and I cut off a chunk and attached it to the bottom of an Altoids container for Beauty to stamp with.  We’ve both been pulling it out at every opportunity ever since :) and added my marsupial (that’s a sugar glider, found on wikipedia) and a few other odds and ends.

I really like the composition on this one – I feel like there’s a good balance.  There’s the purple curve triangle (the two parts of the six and the purple circle) and a yellow-greenish triangle (the strips of paper in the upper two corners and the green gem dot by the six’s tail) and it seems to keep the eye moving.  I like it a lot.

I liked the background enough that I did it again, to see what happened if I did gesso over it.  I like this one too.

I’ll probably just send this out as random mail art.  The strips are from an old map, again printed onto tissue.  (You take a facial tissue, separate the two layers, and use a gluestick to glue the edges to a piece of printer paper.  Then run it through the printer.  We have a laser printer, so the toner doesn’t smear if it gets wet, which is handy.)

Why “flutter”?  I don’t know.  Why not?

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Time for some thrilling heroics

Can I just brag about my Hero for a minute?

I had an awful “fussy hour” today, with Kitten fussing and Beauty melting and demanding more stickers to put on me and too much touch and too much noise and I burned the greens I was trying to cook for dinner and things were just miserable.

Hero got home after a two-hour commute through the snow and popped Kitten into the Hotsling, snuggled Beauty back into sanity, and then made an omelet for dinner.

He’s pretty amazing.

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Hope

I’ve managed to keep doing a little art, despite children and things.  It makes life messier, but it keeps me happier, and that’s important.

This isn’t quite done, I don’t think, but it’s getting there.  And I think it’s called I Hope So, because one of the layers is a page of journaling and that was the last thing I wrote.  It’s been an experiment in layers – Karen at I am Rushmore has been doing the 40 Day Creativity Experiment by adding one layer per day for 40 days.  I’ve never been one for layers, but having a target seemed like an interesting thing to try.  So the background here is about 20 layers and the spiral is about 10 more, though you’ll need a looser definition of “layer” for that.  It’s been interesting.  I find I do like having some variation in the background, so we may see more layering in the future.  Maybe.  And probably not collage.

And these are some postcards I’ve done.  The red one with fishes was started before Kitten was born, but I only recently figured out how to finish it, with the quote and the white ink.  (That’s an opaque white Sakura Glaze pen, which I’ve discovered I really like.)  The quote is from Emma: “It was just what it ought to be, and it looked what it was.” Emma thinks that as she’s admiring Knightley’s estate.  (I’ve noticed that for art I like quotes that barely make sense in context and feel rather surrealist on their own.  It’s and interesting discovery.)  The card doesn’t have a destination yet.  Random mail art.

The two blue ones are for the Mail Me Some Art blue postcard swap…I think.  I’m feeling odd about sending them in, and I’m not at all sure why.  Admittedly I’m feeling a bit insecure about the abstract one, which is not one of my best efforts, but the turtle one came out fine.  So I dunno.  If  decide to just send them out at random that will be okay too.

The two turtles are from a stencil I cut with my Silhouette from a design I made.  I cut it in a few different sizes in a sheet of cardstock, and then coated both sides with cheap spray paint to keep the cardstock from absorbing moisture and buckling.  It makes me happy.  I mostly did it to finish that top one, which was a background seeking a subject until recently.

And the cream one isn’t finished yet, but I like the background I’ve got so I included it.  It’s for a swap that was very complicated and half the people sent to the wrong partner and as a result one of my partners (the one who was supposed to send to me) didn’t get anything, so I’m making an extra to send to her because that doesn’t seem fair.  Anyway, that’s a painted paper with doodled lines in clear Glaze pen (the doodles are meant to look like a topographical map, which I tried as a layer in I Hope So and decided I really liked) and then cream paint scraped across, so that the clear ink lets the paper underneath show through.  (Glaze pens have a raised ink, so the scraper pulls the paint off the lines.)  It kinda looks oyster-ish now, but that’s okay.  I still like it.

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