Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hoppy Ears-ter!

Chocolate bunnies 3-31-13
Our sweet neighbor Vera gave the boys Dove solid chocolate rabbits for Easter, and they still hadn't eaten the Dove solid chocolate rabbits she'd given them last year.

Like ravenous animals, these same boys, as if they haven't eaten in weeks, will devour two full racks of baby back ribs for dinner tonight. But a couple of chocolate rabbits? They'll leave those languishing in the back of a drawer for an entire year, as if they're made of poo rather then creamy, dreamy, solid Dove chocolate.

Boys.

So I decided to execute the old bunnies and re-purposed them as chocolate chunk cookies. But not before I made them model for today's face -- er, faces. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Because they ...

"Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it,
and a lethargy steals over all the final nerves and faculties of the soul.
She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous and indifferent."
                                                                                                               
                                                                                                  -- Virginia Woolf

Barbie head with cutout eyes and mouth 3-30-13

You never know when you meet someone
Will she be the one?
You never know and I wonder to myself
I wonder to myself
Are you beautiful?
Are you beautiful on the inside?
On the inside?
Are you beautiful?
Are you beautiful on the inside?
On the inside?

                                                      -- Chris Pierce, "Are You Beautiful"  (from the movie Crash)

Barbie head with cutout eyes, mouth (2) 3-30-13

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lighten up

"It was the possibility of darkness
that made the day seem so bright."
-- Stephen King, Wolves of the Calla

Self portrait 3-29-13

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cut it out

"Arrange whatever pieces come your way."
 -- Virginia Woolf

Arranged cutout eye and mouth 3-28-13

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Back to the Wilde

“I am not made like any of those I have seen. 
 I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence. 
If I am not better, at least I am different.”
                                                                   -- Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

Self portrait 3-27-13
 "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken."

I read this quote on a high-end car ad in my program at an orchestra concert last week. My husband elbowed me and pointed it out. Clever, I thought. The quote was un-attributed and I momentarily gave credit to the ad writer for the cleverness.

Then I smelled a rat. Or rather, I smelled a copyrat.

As it turns out, Oscar Wilde said it first. Oops, wait, no. It was Winston Churchill. Er, I mean Abraham Lincoln. Wait, wait, George Bernard Shaw! Yeah, that's it, Shaw said it first.

Here's my beef.

If you didn't say it, write it, sing it, whatever it, please don't take credit for it. Attribute properly and carefully. Give credit where it's due. Don't  co-opt someone else's clever witticism as your own. Because it cheapens you.

If you read it in a book, give the author or the character credit.
If you read it on the internet, say so.
If you heard Seth Myers say it on SNL, say you heard Seth Myers say it on SNL.

I love the sentiment of the Wilde-Churchill-Lincoln-Shaw quotation. I was actually kind of geared up to write a little blog post about the importance of being myself. But I have to admit that its potency got diluted for me somehow once I sniffed out a copycat. So I am ranting instead about the importance of being honest. (Yep. I am playing with Wilde's title The Importance of Being Earnest.)

In his how-to-succeed-at-business book Rework, Jason Fried says:

“... if you’re a copycat, you can never keep up. You’re always in a passive position. You never lead; you always follow. You give birth to something that’s already behind the times—just a knockoff, an inferior version of the original. That’s no way to live.” 

Ew.

Getting back to Wilde ... In his letter De Profundis, which Wilde wrote to his intimate friend Lord Alfred Douglas during his imprisonment in 1897, he (really, he did) wrote:

"Most people are other people. 
Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, 
their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

That makes me super sad.
Mostly because it's super true.
Here at A Face A Day, I sincerely try to be myself. I have zero interest in being other people. That's why I am so passionate about self portraits. I try to think my own thoughts and have my own opinions. If I exercise mimicry, I will tell you am exercising mimicry. My passions are my own, and if I quote someone else to communicate my passions, I will give credit to the best of my ability. If I get it wrong, I apologize. 
But wrong attribution is still better than selfish misappropriation.

You can quote me on that.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Two-faced

"If you're gonna be two-faced, at least make one of them pretty."
                                                                   -- Marilyn Monroe

Self portrait 3-26-13

Monday, March 25, 2013

Taste the happy

"You know, all that really matters 
is that the people you love 
are happy and healthy. 
Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae."
                                                                            -- Paul Walker

Orange twist with sprinkles and a face 3-25-13

There's a little takeout ice cream stand smack in the center of our town called the Pied Piper. It officially opened for the season about a week ago, and even though it is still winter here (my kids have a snow day today), opening day at "the Pied" is always a definite sign of Spring.

The Pied is best known for a sundae called the "Nut Dip," but even more so for it's orange-vanilla twist soft serve.  If you go, I recommend the orange-vanilla twist. It is creamy and tangy, perfectly balanced, and the orange sherbet gets that sort of crunchiness to it that ... well ... sorry ... I drifted off a little there.

OK. I'm back.

About the only thing that can improve on the Zen-like perfection of plain orange-vanilla twist is ordering it with "sprinkles and a face," which upgrades it into an adorable, meltable, edible little buddy. (Well, maybe not so meltable right now, what with the blizzard and all, but soon. I hope).

"Sprinkles and a face" is targeted towards little kids, of course, but my almost-18-year-old son Sam still orders it from time to time. And he still reacts with childlike glee when they hand his cone through the little sliding glass door.

Which I love.

Sam is a kid with a big personality, so it makes sense that his ice cream cone should have one too. And even though he is all grown up and heading off to college soon, he is still my little boy. And going to the Pied, watching the cars drive past while we enjoy the simple pleasure of a frozen treat, still takes me back to some of the best days of summer -- and of my life. 

What does an orange-vanilla twist with sprinkles and a face taste like?

That's easy.

It tastes like happy.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

The way you make me feel


"Who cares about pretty?
I'm going for noticeable."
                                                                           -- Veronica Roth, Divergent

 
Thrift store doll and Barbies 3-24-13
 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scarface

 “The human race tends to remember 
the abuses to which it has been subjected 
rather than the endearments. 
What's left of kisses? 
Wounds, however, leave scars.”
                                                   
                                                    -- Bertolt Brecht

Wounded (Styrofoam wig forms) 3-23-13

 “Some wounds run too deep for the healing.”

-- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


Friday, March 22, 2013

Big bag 'o Barbies

"Do you think I'm wonderful?" she asked him one day as they leaned against the trunk of a petrified maple.
"No," he said.
"Why?"
"Because so many girls are wonderful. I imagine hundreds of men have called their loves wonderful today, and it's only noon. You couldn't be something that hundreds of others are."

-- Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated
 
Thrift store Barbies 3-22-13
I scored an unexpected windfall at the thrift store when I bought a bag of seven Barbie dolls for $2.99. It was mere minutes before the store closed, and yet, somehow, nobody had snatched up this lucky find.

I'm no math wiz, but at $2.99 plus tax, they come out to roughly 44 cents apiece. Of course, new Barbies come with clothes. Mine are all buck naked.

I didn't have my own Barbies when I was little. My sisters had them. Although I did have a Ken. He was a "mod-style" Ken, (right) with bushy long-ish hair and a stick-on beard, sideburns and mustache. (I scissored his mod-style hair into a buzz cut and stuck the facial hair on myself -- big surprise).

I preferred playing out back in the dirt with my "Best of the West" action figures. I had an Indian chief, an outlaw cowboy clad in all-black, with guns and a quick draw arm, and Johnny and Josie West, a couple of horses and a Jeep (not pink -- a rugged, copper-colored, real Jeep).

Thrift store Barbies (2) 3-22-13
I read a very insightful essay recently, about the psychology of girls and their Barbies. Here is an excerpt:


"In the past few decades quite a few people have suggested–citing most often the offense of impossible proportions–that Barbie dolls teach young girls to hate themselves. But the opposite may be true. British researchers recently found that girls between the ages of seven and eleven harbor surprisingly strong feelings of dislike for their Barbie dolls, with no other toy or brand name inspiring such a negative response from the children. The dolls “provoked rejection, hatred, and violence” and many girls preferred Barbie torture–by cutting, burning, decapitation, or microwaving–over other ways of playing with the doll. Reasons that the girls hated their Barbies included, somewhat poetically, the fact that they were “plastic.” The researchers also noted that the girls never spoke of one single, special Barbie, but tended to talk about having a box full of anonymous Barbies. “On a deeper level Barbie has become inanimate,” one of the researchers remarked. “She has lost any individual warmth that she might have possessed if she were perceived as a singular person. This may go some way towards explaining the violence and torture.” -- Eula Biss, "Relations"

If you want to read all of Eula Biss' essay (I recommend it), you can find it here: http://www.identitytheory.com/eula-biss-relations/

If you don't want to read it, that's fine. Do whatever you want. 

I will be out back torturing my new Barbies.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dreamy

“A kind of light spread out from her. 
And everything changed color. 
And the world opened out. 
And a day was good to awaken to. 
And there were no limits to anything. 
And the people of the world were good and handsome. 
And I was not afraid any more.”
-- John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Self portrait 3-21-13

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Weird is better than boring


"Failure is unimportant.
It takes courage 
to make a fool of yourself."
-- Charles Chaplin

Self portrait 3-20-13

"Everybody's doing it 
so why the hell should I?"
-- Gin Wigmore, "Black Sheep"

In preschool, my favorite day was painting day. It was the day the teachers set up the big wooden easels and we put on our art smocks (our father's discarded dress shirts, hanging past our knees, buttoned up the back with the collars across our necks, sleeves rolled up). We painted with fat brushes on giant sheets of paper held up by clothespins, with primary colors mixed from fat tubs of powdered pigment.

The teachers only gave us a single color to paint with, and everybody got the same color. If it was blue paint day and you wanted to paint a dog, it had to be a blue dog. If it was red paint day and you wanted to paint a landscape, it had to be a red sky.
Red earth.
Red sun.
Red trees.
Red house.
How weird.
How wonderful.
How liberating for a child to paint something the "wrong" color and have it be perfectly alright.

Probably the one-color rule had more to do with not wasting precious paint and the ease of clean up at the end of the day than it did with unlocking our creativity. But 4-year-old me didn't care about practicality. All 4-year-old me cared about was slathering on bold strokes of beautiful paint.

It's all 45-year-old me cares about, too.

I have always told my children that weird is better than boring. I believe that deep down in my heart. It's like my personal pilot light, a little blue flame that burns fierce and hot and keeps me alive. When I die, I want it as my epitaph. Beside my name and the dates of my birth and death, I want the words: "Weird is better than boring."

I hate conformity. 
I hate "groupthink." 
I hate anything/anyone that discourages creativity, individuality, uniqueness or independent thought. Yeah, I know, hate is a strong word. But in this case it's an accurate word. 

I have been part of enough groups in my life to know that I no longer want to be bound by any mentality that operates under an "illusion of invulnerability," that becomes so inflated with it's own "rightness" that it rejects any alternative point of view as wrong -- not because the alternative point of view is necessarily incorrect, but simply because the alternative point of view is different.

Choosing to live outside the group can be risky. It can feel very lonely and vulnerable out here on the fringe, without a group huddled around you for protection. 

But it can also feel like freedom. 

Stuck in the middle of a group huddle, you see only group. You see only bland, boring, muddy brown, group-colored sameness. But on the fringe, the palette is marvelous, a dizzying array of differences. 

The brushes are fat. 
The colors are bold. 
The paper is HUGE. 

And whatever color you're painting with -- even if it's weird -- is perfectly alright.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The other guy

Steve Rogers: Dr. Banner, now might be a good time for you to get angry.
Bruce Banner: That's my secret, Captain. I'm always angry.
(he transforms into the Hulk and smashes the giant worm-like ship to bits)

Self portrait 3-19-13
We watched The Avengers recently, and I must still be subliminally channeling the Hulk, because I made this Hulk-flavored self portrait. Honest, I wasn't even trying to look like the Hulk. It just kind of turned out that way.

Hulk is the emotional and impulsive alter ego of  mild-mannered physicist Dr. Bruce Banner. Banner's transformation into the Hulk is always triggered by strong emotions -- anger, yes, but also fear and terror and grief. Despite his outward appearance as a simple, over-muscled, out-of-control wrecking machine, Hulk is a surprisingly complex character, both emotionally and psychologically.

Dr. Banner calls his emotionally charged Hulk-self "the other guy," as if Hulk is a completely separate person, or being, with his own inner and outer life. Hulk is so "other" from Banner, that whenever Banner wakes up from being Hulk, he doesn't remember what he did as Hulk -- it's as if Hulk functions completely independently, as if Banner isn't there at all.

I feel a kind of kinship with my angry green brother.

Because I get angry a lot. I get angry a lot because sometimes life just plain hurts a lot. It feels mean and unfair. And when it does, it gets real hard not to transform into my Hulk-self and rampage around growling and gnashing my teeth and smashing stuff. I also understand the desire to somehow separate my selves -- to categorize, and sort, and compartmentalize my selves -- to have "others" who seem to act of their own accord. If an "other" did it, then I can blame it on him.

I am not one of those serene, reflective types. I can't meditate myself calm. Counting to ten just pisses me off. Counting to thirty just pisses me off for twenty more seconds. I like a more visceral approach. When I feel the anger rising, I try to diffuse it through strenuous physical exercise. I ride my bike, or run, or lift weights. Whatever works, just as long as I can feel it. I exercise a lot. Physical exhaustion settles me, for a while at least. It's how I "smash."

Self portrait 3-19-13
Art settles me, too.  Especially honest, visceral art.

I can often diffuse my anger by taking pictures of it. Taking a self-portrait when I'm feeling not so incredible, when I'm feeling my angriest and ugliest, is not something I enjoy doing. But it is something I need to do from time to time, so that I can look into the ugly
and really see it.

I've said before on this blog that I don't trust self-portrait photographers who only go in front of the camera when they look their best. I still stand by that, because I'm trying to capture images that comprise a whole self that includes all of my "other guys." Not just the pretty bits. Not just my good side. The whole Chimichanga. And like Bruce Banner, even though I don't really want anybody else to see me when I get like this, the plain and simple fact is: I get like this.

If this 365 days project is going to function effectively for me as art therapy, then there is nothing to be gained from denying what's real at any given moment. If it is nothing else, this project will at the very least be bone-honest. It's a promise I made to myself at the outset, and it is a promise I have no intentions of backing out on. And that feels pretty incredible.

And now, back to our movie:

[Banner now in his human form, wakes up naked in a pile of rubble in an abandoned building]
Security Guard: You fell out of the sky.
Bruce Banner: Did I hurt anybody?
Security Guard: There's nobody around here to get hurt. You did scare the hell out of some pigeons though.

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Insomnia" the movie


video

Today's face is my first ever animated video face!

It is a special kind of self portrait -- a sneak peek into what it's like inside my insomniac head when I am desperately seeking sleep. Even in the deepest, deadest silence of the calmest, darkest night, it can get pretty noisy up in here, here inside my restless, wide-awake mind.

I mean, I want to hear the calm and blissful harp, but it seems as though all my mind can conjure are crying babies, beeping alarms, blaring sirens, crowing roosters and ticking clocks which, at 4 a.m., might as well be f***ing jack hammers.

If you've ever struggled with chronic (or even occasional) sleeplessness, you have my deepest sympathy and understanding. If you sleep regularly, deeply, soundly and undisturbed, don't ever take for granted how lucky you are. Oh, yeah, and also, I hate you.

Insomnia sucks donkey balls. Big. Fat. Hairy. Donkey. Balls.

But then again, without insomnia, there would be no "Insomnia the movie," now, would there? Without insomnia, half the posts on this blog wouldn't even exist. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe it's just a thing.

Hey. I can't sleep. Give me some slack.

And while I am pretty experienced and well-versed about the subject of my own insomnia, I admit right up front that I am a very extremely amateur stop motion video artist. Very extremely amateur. My work is rudimentary at best, I know. But I am trying to learn.

There are folks out there who do amazing things with this super fun visual medium.

I am not one of those folks.

But that does not mean I can't still play with their toys.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beginning again. Again.

"The beginning is always today."
                                                 --Mary Shelley

Polymer clay face with egg shell 3-17-13

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Scaredy face

“If we stay where we are, where we're stuck, where we're comfortable and safe, we die there ...

Eyes in a box 3-16-13
... We become like mushrooms, living in the dark, with poop up to our chins. 
If you want to know only what you already know, you're dying. 
You're saying: Leave me alone; I don't mind this little rathole. 
It's warm and dry. Really, it's fine.
When nothing new can get in, that's death. 
When oxygen can't find a way in, you die. 
But new is scary, and new can be disappointing, and confusing - 
we had this all figured out, and now we don't. 
New is life.” 

-- Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers

Friday, March 15, 2013

Going, going, gone



Drifting off to sleep,


I thought about her.


How nobody is perfect.






How you just have to


close your eyes


and breathe out


"Drifting," self portrait series 3-15-13





and let the puzzle


of the human heart


be what it is.


-- Sue Monk Kidd,  
The Secret Life of Bees

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wild thing

“And Max, the king of all wild things, 
was lonely and wanted to be 
where someone loved him best of all.”
-- Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Self portrait 3-14-13
 
I am a monster
Leave me be
Don't let 'em dig too deep
You might just find the monster in me
The things I hide
These things inside
Don't let 'em dig too deep
You might just find the monster in me.
-- The Stolen Season, "Monster in Me"

We can all get a little monstrous from time to time.
Keep me fed, exercised, occupied and rested, and I'm a real gem.
Mess with the balance and I am likely to turn on you. Especially if you mess with my sleep. I'm like a beast with a sharp, sharp horn, and I will rip, tear, chew and gouge anyone who tries to get too close.
I am best left alone when I get like that. Trust me, it's better that way. 
There are fewer casualties.
Less bloodshed.
It will pass. Eventually I will work it out and come back around.
Sometimes, I just need to growl for a while.
Get it out of my system.
That's all. 

I don't necessarily like my monster self. But it exists. It doesn't do any good to deny that it is a very real part of me. Like many monsters, mine is a shy and frightened beast who lurks in the shadows and shuns the intrusion of others. But we have found ways to co-exist. Sometimes my monster even holds still long enough for me to take its picture.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's therapy. But is it art?

Screaming polymer clay face with Mohawk 3-13-13

Art therapy.

I tag that label onto a lot of my posts here at the AFAD2013 blog.

There are myriad "official" and "accepted" definitions and ideas about what art therapy is. I don't really care about definitions. Definitions aren't always helpful. For me, if it's creative and it helps carry me through a day or a week or a moment without totally losing my shit, then it's art therapy.

I began taking daily self portraits on Jan. 1, 2011 as a self-imposed 365 days art project. It was definitely therapeutic. With the important guidance and support of someone a whole lot steadier, wiser and settled than me (I'll call her "M"), I journeyed through some pretty delicate and dangerous emotional, psychological and spiritual territory.

I didn't show the photographs to anybody outside my own immediate family and one very trusted friend, and they saw only a very select few.
 "M" saw every photograph.
Even the ones I didn't want to show her.
Especially the ones I didn't want to show her.

Those 365 days were transformative. Not to get all maudlin and dramatic about it, but those 365 days probably saved my life. At a time when I felt like I was disappearing -- dissolving -- the task of making a self-portrait every day gave me a reason to get up, to look around, to move forward. I created a photographic record, concrete visual proof, that I was indeed still there.

And I had a witness.

Screaming polymer clay face with Mohawk (2) 3-13-13
Sharing the portraits with "M" gave them importance. Urgency. Gravity. It made them real. It made whatever I was thinking or feeling or saying real. I wasn't just spitting into the wind or shouting into the void.

I am still imposing art therapy on myself because I need it, and I know it.
And "M" still sees every photograph. Her tender and willing participation in this project (along with my family and that very trusted friend) has encouraged me to open the door to a wider audience (you!)

I am not going to pretend for even a hot second that I believe that the portraits on this blog will rock anybody's world but my own. And that's OK, because whatever the accepted definitions might be, art therapy isn't about rocking anybody else's world. It's about keeping my eyes wide open as I travel through my own personal interior landscape and being brave enough to document what I see. It's about daring, and caring, enough to be an observant and curious sight-seer along the highways, back roads and dark alleys of my own life.

Polymer clay face with Mohawk (3) 3-13-13
At the end of the day, creating and  capturing faces for this blog is less about art, and more about art therapy. Whatever is happening inside and around me, whether I'm feeling happy, sad, angry, confused, sure, inquisitive, silly or volcanic -- art therapy gives me the tools (and the toys!) to say what I need to say. Or in today's case, to scream what I need to scream.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Up all night

"But three, now, Christ, three a.m.! Doctors say the body’s at low tide then. The soul is out. The blood moves slow. You’re the nearest to dead you’ll ever be save dying. Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death! You dream with your eyes open. God, if you had strength to rouse up, you’d slaughter your half-dreams with buckshot! But no, you lie pinned to a deep well-bottom that’s burned dry. The moon rolls by to look at you down there, with its idiot face. It’s a long way back to sunset, a far way on to dawn ..."
-- Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Self portrait 3-12-13

Sleepless.
Again.
Grrrrrr.
On the brighter side of being wide awake at 3 a.m., I got to watch that new episode of Pawn Stars (Chumlee lost 5 pounds and Steve Carell dropped by the pawn shop).
So, there's that.
Jesus. Just shoot me.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A little rebellion

"I'm not going anywhere. 
I'm going to stay right here 
and cause all kinds of trouble."
-- Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire

Polymer clay face with paper eyes and cigarette 3-10-13
Polymer clay face (2) with paper eyes and cigarette 3-10-13
A little face.
A little attitude.
A little trouble.
A little bad ass.
A little rebellious.
A little defiant.
A little insolent.

Totally adorable.

Thomas Jefferson said "A little rebellion,
now and then, is a good thing."

I agree.

I made this face from clay and paper scraps while I was supposed to be cleaning out my office/studio/workspace.

I didn't get much cleaning done.
But now this little rebel exists.
And I definitely think that's a good thing.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

To sleep: perchance to dream

Ay, there's the rub.

Polymer clay sleepy face (2) 3-9-13
I sculpted this little face during a long car ride yesterday following a string of difficult nights of very-little-not-til-the-wee-hours sleep, and fresh (or not so) on the heels of a night that yielded absolutely no sleep at all.

Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. None.

I rode in the rear seat and passed the time there and back pressing and molding and smoothing and rubbing the egg-sized lump of clay in my hand until this sleepy guy emerged.

He is my second sleepy head this month (see also March 2). Maybe in my desperate quest for sound, regular slumber (who am I kidding? At this point I'd settle for any quality of regular slumber) I am subliminally (or not so) shaping sleep totems for myself. Maybe by making sleeping faces I am trying to conjure magic or some kind of spell for myself that will hold the sleep stealers and insomnia bandits at bay. I don't know. But at this point, I'm willing to try just about anything.

He looks peaceful, despite his earnest little furrowed brow. He makes me feel peaceful. He is resting on my pillow. And I did finally sleep better last night. So maybe some drowsiness really did seep out of him and into me.

Maybe not.

At any rate, sculpting clay is a lovely way to pass time in the car. I highly recommend it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Getting graphic

Self portrait graphic art poster design 3-8-13
Letting my inner graphic designer in on the action.
Not gonna lie. I'm pretty taken with this one.
Celebrating 67 days of faces (so far). Only 298 more days to go and still loving it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Whimsy

"You must not ever stop being whimsical. 
And you must not, ever, give anyone else 
the responsibility for your life."
-- Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

Self portrait 3-7-13
"The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, 
who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, 
and gave to it neither power nor time."
-- Mary Oliver

These are words I try to live by.

They are the words of poet Mary Oliver, and they strike such a deep chord in me. I don't want to be a regretful person who neglected -- or worse, suffocated -- the cries of my needy, unruly, goofy, curious, rebellious creativity and let it turn blue with neglect in its cradle.

In the end, my "work" may not make a damn bit of difference to anyone else.  But I can't worry about that because I can't do anything about that. I am the caregiver of my own creative life. It is my responsibility and I take it very seriously. I must feed it. I must teach it. I must discipline it. I must indulge it.

And above all else, I must let it out to play.

Self portrait 3-7-13

That is what this blog is about, really.  It is a nursery where, for these 365 days at least, I am feeding and teaching and disciplining and indulging and playing with my "restive and uprising" creativity. There is necessary structure -- crib rails, if you will, to keep the child's body safe from falling while its dreams spill and burble unbound. But the structure and rules also have doors that open wide onto abundant freedom, a sprawling playground with plenty of vast space for whimsy and silliness to shout and swing, to run and ramble.

I am not trying to impress anybody. I am not trying to be profound. I am simply trying to nurture my own personal and creative growth by giving it a space where it can explore, experiment, try, fail, succeed and test possibility. You are invited to join me as often or as rarely as you like. I hope you feel welcome here. I hope I make you smile sometimes and I hope I make you think sometimes. I hope I make you feel something. If I am occasionally profound, I apologize. It is most likely an accident.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fusion


Self portrait 3-6-13
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
       We wear the mask. 
 
-- from We Wear The Mask, by Paul Laurence Dunbar
 
Every now and then I like to stroll through the costume store, just to see what's new. Little costume pieces and disguises are an essential (and fun) part of my self portraiture from time to time. On my most recent trip I found these transparent masks with a little bit of "makeup" painted around the eyes, cheeks and lips. The masks are lightly opaque, but still see-through enough to render the contours of my face visible under the overlaying plastic surface.

Some masks cover the whole face. Others only cover part (like with an eye mask) and leave the rest of the face fully exposed. These masks are unique in that while they cover my whole face, they still allow my own features to emerge beneath and fuse with the masks' features into a whole separate identity. Kind of like hiding in plain sight.

Self portrait 3-5-13
In the article "Mask" by Hana Kim (link below), the author says "People do things they would never have done in their own faces under the new persona of a mask. They become somebody else that they may at any time throw away."
  
The "somebody else" is a third party. It is not mask alone. It is not person alone. It is a whole new "somebody" born from the fusion.


That fusion of me with mask gets at something interesting -- the possibility of mask and self becoming not "throwaway", but permanent parts of each other, so that even when the mask is "off," the wearer still bears its imprint, or some residual effect (even if that imprint is psychological). And so, too, the mask. Can its pliable shape, through repeated wear, begin to re-form itself according to the landscape of the real flesh and bones alive beneath it's surface? With repeated wear, over time, will the distinguishing characteristics that differentiate mask from face become blurred as the two mold toward one another, assuming each other's characteristics, until eventually there is no longer a distinction?

And if so, which face has the stronger power to force the shift ... the real or the false? Does the mask mold itself to eventually fit the unyielding face of the wearer? Or will the human face give way? Will the human face allow its topography to be transformed until it is permanently re-shaped by the mask? Or do the two "faces" perform a slow crawl of plate tectonics toward one another, giving and taking, molding and shaping, until the fusion is complete and an altogether new face is forged -- a times-two face that either emboldens the wearer by veiling inhibitions and self-consciousness, or creates a barrier from behind which the wearer pushes others away ... or a passage through which she entices them to come closer?

Read more:  ("http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/mask.htm)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Face yourself

"God has given you one face and you make yourselves another." 

-- William Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1

Wood mannequin with polymer clay face 3-5-13

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wig out

From my good friends at Urban Dictionary:

1. wig out
    To throw a huge fit.

    When Ko called Johnny a bitch, Johnny completely wigged out.

Eliana's wig 3-4-13













Sunday, March 3, 2013

Shadow play

"If you don't have any shadows you're not in the light."
-- Lady Gaga

Shadow face (polymer clay) 3-3-13
 Playing with light, dark, planes and angles.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sleepy head

“I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. 
Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. 
I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. 
That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning.” 

-- Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

Polymer clay sleepy face 3-2-13

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pulling faces


Staple puller with foot 3-1-13

This is my staple puller. It is one of the many faces looking back at me in my workspace everyday

I don't know if it is supposed to be an alligator or a crocodile. I honestly don't know the difference. I even looked it up on the Wiki, and I still can't say for sure. Oh, well. I'm going to call it a tie and say it's a crocogator.  Pulling staples is a pretty mundane chore. A crocogator staple puller makes it more like an adventure!

(Shout out to my model, Joe, for volunteering his dismembered limbs for this shoot.)

Staple puller 3-1-13
Staple puller with hand 3-1-13