Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Speak up

“When people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time.”

                                                                                           -- Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak  

Collage 4-30-13

"Do the other kids make fun of you? For how you talk?"
"So why don't you do something about it? You could learn to talk differently, you know."
"But this is my voice. How would you be able to tell when I was talking?"

                                                                                          -- Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Past tense

“Time held no meaning as my mind darted in and out of memories. 
Past and present collided to create a full-sensory collage out of my life ...  
through it all, a demon stalked me from the shadows of my memories, 
never quite showing its face, but crouching, waiting."

                                                                                           -- Kimberly Kinrade, Forbidden Fire

Collage face 4-29-13
“... everything is illuminated in the light of the past. 
It is always along the side of us ... on the inside, looking out.” 

                                                                                               -- Jonathan Safran Foer

  “Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” 

                                                                     -- Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Sunday, April 28, 2013


"My insides don't match up with my outsides."
"Do anyone's insides and outsides match up?"
"I don't know. I'm only me."

 -- Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Self portrait 4-28-13

“I was not ladylike, nor was I manly. 
I was something else altogether. 
There were so many different ways to be beautiful.”

-- Michael Cunningham, A Home at the End of the World 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Read my face

“There is something about words. 
In expert hands, manipulated deftly, 
 they take you prisoner. 
Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, 
and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, 
they pierce your skin, 
enter your blood, 
numb your thoughts. 
 Inside you they work their magic.”

                                                                              -- Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale  

Self portrait 4-27-13

“What is life? 
Thoughts and feelings arise, with or without our will, and we employ words to express them ... 
How vain is it to think that words can penetrate the mystery of our being. 
Rightly used they may make evident our ignorance of ourselves, and this is much.”

                                                                                                     -- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, April 26, 2013

Don't be gruel

“I’m glad scrambled eggs don’t have lips, 
because when I’m grinning over a hearty breakfast, 
it would really freak me out to see my breakfast grinning back.”
                                    -- Jarod Kintz,
There are Two Typos of People in This World:
Those Who Can Edit and Those Who Can't    

Porridge face 4-26-13

 "Hurray', shouted Glokta. 'Porridge again!'
He looked over at the motionless Practical. 
'Porridge and honey, better than money, 
everything's funny, with porridge and honey!”

                                                                                      -- Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself

There's a saying that if you walk around carrying a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.
What if you walk around carrying a camera? Does everything start to look like a face?
It seems to hold true, because I see faces everywhere. 
I see faces in the wood grain of the bedroom door. 
I see faces in the texture of the carpet.
I see faces in the paint swirls in the faux-finish on my bathroom walls.
I saw this guy smiling back at me from my bowl of hot quinoa porridge. 
And since I do walk around carrying a camera, I did what I do.
He was there. So was I. It happened. We both liked it.
I think he's pretty cute.
I ate him anyway.
He was mushy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

True confessions of a cutter

“In her more lucid moments, she knew that half her life 
had been sacrificed to safeguard her secret heart, 
to appease that unreasonable, mortal dread she suffered 
of being suddenly revealed to others in a nakedness of spirit 
that terrified her more than the concept of God's own retribution itself.”

-- Raymond Kennedy, Lulu Incognito

Collage 4-25-13
 “That was the irony of Lulu's days; 
that she who lived in a torment of concealment 
had never known a moment when she did not feel 
the eyes of conscience upon her.” 

-- Raymond Kennedy, Lulu Incognito

On rainy days, when she was in a good mood and usually after a feverish bout of house cleaning, my mother would give me and my sisters her old magazines to cut up and paste into collages. 

Mostly she read Redbook.  The covers were warped and stiffened from the wet rings of coffee cups and Pepsi cans. Some of the pages were folded in half, diagonally, right through the middle, marking something my mother must have thought was important, or worth remembering later. The boxes of the quizzes were filled in with her funny looking, left-handed, backward-facing checkmarks.

My mother's magazines did not interest me until they became the raw material for art. I could spend forever cutting and creating with my dull-tipped safety scissors and squirt bottle of Elmer's glue. I usually made faces (go figure!)  I should say, I re-made faces, switching out the eyes, noses, mouths and hair of the beautiful models and transforming them into something a little less lovely, but definitely more interesting. In my little-kid collages, the proportions were all mixed up and wonky. The eyes didn't match. The mouths were huge. The noses went in the wrong direction, like Picasso. 

I wasn't trying to make anything meaningful or profound or controversial or attractive. 

I was just making.

Psychologists and therapists often use collage as a non-threatening art therapy tool that helps clients communicate their feelings, thoughts and emotions. According to art therapist Cathy Malchiodi:

"Magazine photo collage is widely used by art therapists largely because it's a forgiving medium, especially for individuals who are intimidated by pencils, paint, or clay. In making a collage, you don't have to go through the agony of drawing something realistic and are spared the feeling of embarrassment that your pictures look like a ten-year-old drew them ... It also doesn't demand an immediate commitment like a brushstroke across a canvas. In fact, until you glue the images to a surface, you can change your mind, experiment with composition, and add and subtract pictures until you get it right." 

I don't make collages much anymore. I made a few mixed media pieces during my "No Day Without Art" project last year. But we have had some pretty rainy days here lately and the magazines have been piling up, so I decided to go for it. There are men putting new siding on our house right now and it was kind of a weird, unsettling fishbowl experience having dudes in tool belts right outside my window while I was cutting and pasting pictures of naked ladies and eyeballs and popsicles. But hey. The show must go on.

And I must say, the collage-bug bit me again. Pretty hard. Cutting out images with an X-acto knife is super-therapeutic. Way better than safety scissors. And in case you're thinking about trying a collage yourself, glue sticks and spray adhesive make a much smoother finished product than good old Elmer's.

I know there are collage artists who do amazing, unbelievable things with this medium. Wanna get blown away? Check out the work of Derek Gores http://derekgores.com/. I don't expect to approach anything near his kind of genius with my humble collages. But I like to think that he and I can share the same swept-away,  complete absorption of losing-yourself-in-art feeling. On his website, Gores says he isn't interested in "heavy, conscious concepts" with his art, but that he is "always hoping for that feeling of having the senses of a kid, where everything is new." 

Me too.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You raise me up

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wooden mannequins 4-24-13

“For the rest of his life, Oliver Twist remembers
a single word of blessing spoken to him by another child
because this word stood out so strikingly
from the consistent discouragement around him.”

                                                                                          -- Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

I took my first art class in middle school. It's where I first tasted the sour bitterness of artistic discouragement. We were making still life charcoal drawings of a pile of fruit and a couple of vases on a burlap cloth. I was drawing away, painstakingly penciling the criss-cross textured weave of the burlap, when I felt our teacher, Ms. Anderson, looking over my shoulder.

"You are paying way too much attention to detail, Erin. We don't have time for that."

Crushed. By an artist.

I shut down.

I didn't take another art class until my senior year of college. I couldn't stomach the possibility of another comment like that.

Fortunately I did get my nerve back, and my subsequent art classes, whether in theater, dance, ceramics or drawing, have been much more encouraging experiences. Still, as much as I like to think that I don't need praise and wear an armor of "other people's opinions of my art don't really matter to me," I must admit that sometimes, a genuine "atta-girl" from someone who I admire and respect, feels pretty damn good. Especially if that someone is another artist.

I don't invite comments on my blog, simply because there are just too many haters out there, and life in the arts can be criticism-riddled enough without opening the floodgates to the naysayers who like to pick apart and point out all that they think is wrong with what other people make and do. I don't want to be poisoned by that kind of toxic energy, and I don't want to even tempt the possibility of making art to satisfy some critic's idea of what I should do. If I want to spend time drawing the details of the burlap, I will draw the fucking details of the fucking burlap, thank you very much.

But that doesn't mean I don't like feedback. And it definitely doesn't mean I don't like encouragement.

A little drop of encouragement goes a long, long way. And I guess I don't always realize how hungry I am for encouragement until I get some and taste how satisfying and nourishing and soul-fillingly rich it is. I received that kind of encouragement yesterday when fellow 365-days artist Noah Scalin featured me on his Make Something 365 & Get Unstuck blog. http://makesomething365.blogspot.com/2013/04/erins-face-day.html

Noah is all about encouragement. He is a busy artist himself (check out his amazing Skull-A-Day project  http://skulladay.blogspot.com/p/about.html) but he also an extremely generous artist. Noah spends ample time pouring energy and encouragement into other artists. He even wrote a book to help blocked or "stuck" artists to get moving, to get creating, to get living, again. When he asked to feature my project on his blog, it felt like he was hanging my work up on his refrigerator, and I felt so happy and proud to be magnet-ed up there with all of the other artists like me who are going hard after a 365 days goal.

As artists, we can become conditioned to survive on precious little. We make and create and give from ourselves every day, but we don't always get the nutrition we need. I truly believe that the term "starving artist" has less to do with physical, not-enough-food starvation, and everything to do with an artist's failure to thrive due to an encouragement deficiency. We could starve to death waiting for the right kind of specific encouragement to drop on us, or we artists can cultivate our own flourishing, fertile, flavorful encouragement garden and make sure we are feeding one another.

We can lift each other up, like Noah Scalin does.

I love this quote from Kevin Smith, a screenwriter/director/comic book author/actor who wrote a book called Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good:

 “Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. 
A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, 
or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. 
Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.”

Take that, Ms. Anderson.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Try a little tenderness

"Tender," she said again. 
"Tender is kind and gentle. 
It's also sore, 
like the skin around an injury.”

                                                                                        --Brenna Yovanoff, The Space Between

Polymer clay sad face 4-23-13
Please be gentle.
I am feeling tender today.

P.S. I am featured today on 365-days guru Noah Scalin's "Make Something 365 and Get Unstuck" blog. Check it out at http://makesomething365.blogspot.com/2013/04/erins-face-day.html

Monday, April 22, 2013

In good company

“There's such a lot of different Annes in me. 
I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. 
If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, 
but then it wouldn't be half so interesting.”

--L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Self portrait 4-22-13

“My Personality
unfolding before you
like a Swiss Army knife.” 

-- Katerina Stoykova Klemer, The Air Around the Butterfly

Sometimes it gets a little crowded in here.
That's alright.
I happen to enjoy my own company.
I like solitude.
I am happy being with myselves.
When we are together, I don't feel alone.
Together, we are a party.
A party of one.
Maybe I should get out more.
Spend time with other people.
Be social.
Then again, maybe not.
I might miss me.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


"If you have zest and enthusiasm, 
you attract zest and enthusiasm. 
Life does give back in kind."

                                                                                              -- Norman Vincent Peale

Lime face with a cherry, jiggle eyes, and zest 4-21-13

"True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, 
the zest of creating things new."

                                                                        -- Antoine de Saint-Esupery

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Behind every beautiful thing

"Behind every beautiful thing
There's been some kind of pain."

                                                                                                 -- Bob Dylan, Not Dark Yet

"The pain passes, but the beauty remains."

                                                                                       -- Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Styrofoam wig form with cutout eyes, mouth and push pins 4-20-13

"You," he said, "are a terribly real thing in a terribly false world,
and that, I believe, is why you are in so much pain."

-- Emilie Autumn, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls

Friday, April 19, 2013

All up in my grill

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, 
it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” 

                                                                                                                 – Paul Caponigro

Self portrait 4-19-13

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pick me! Pick me!

"You can pick your friends, 
and you can pick your nose. 
But you can't pick your friend's nose."

Strawberry faces with jiggle eyes 4-18-13

"Strawberries  are the angels of the earth, 
innocent and sweet with green leafy wings reaching heavenward."

                                                                                                                 -- Terri Guillemets

Strawberry faces with jiggle eyes 4-18-13

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wear protection

“...sometimes we enter art to hide within it. 
It is where we can go to save ourselves, 
where a third-person voice protects us.”

-- Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero

“Nothing is more real 
than the masks we make 
to show each other who we are.”

-- Christopher Barzak, The Love We Share Without Knowing

Self portrait with papier-mache mask 4-17-13

I made this papier-mache mask during last year's 365 days project.
I like this mask because of how closely it resembles my own face. So when I'm wearing it, even though I am disguised, I still look like me.
Me, only stronger. Like some kind of warrior.
Me, only mystical. Like some kind of shaman. Or goddess. Or creature.
Me, only protected. My soft-and-vulnerables hidden beneath the safety barrier of a rigid face shield.
Me, only hidden. With my own identity obscured, I can be anybody. I can be anything.

Self portrait with papier mache mask (2) 4-17-13
I watched V for Vendetta the other night. It is one of my favorite movies, in great measure because of how it illustrates the transformational power of a mask. Toward the end of the movie, after the masked character "V" dies, there is a "will she or won't she" moment when you wonder if Evey will remove V's mask and look at his real face. And you kind of want her to, so you can see it. But you also really kind of don't want her to, because you know it will somehow diminish V. It will diminish his power. It will diminish his mystery. Without the mask, V wouldn't be V.  Like when Darth Vader takes off his helmet and underneath it his head is all burned, and pink and punky and raw and it's sort of sad and pathetic -- seeing him exposed that way.

Evey doesn't look. She doesn't need to, because she's already seen deeper. She has already looked past V's mask. Although not literally, she has already see his "real" face. With his mask firmly in place, Evey pulls the lever and sends V hurling along on the subway car to his explosive final creative act, with his strength, his mystique, his power, his self, all in tact.

There's a lovely scene earlier in the movie when Evey and V are dancing. And Evey kisses V on the lips of his mask. It is painfully intimate, more intimate, I think, than any flesh-to-flesh contact. She gives what she needs to give. And he receives what he is able to receive. It's the best they can do, and it is enough.

I guess if we're lucky, we masked characters, we have at least one Evey in our lives -- someone who respects the mask and yet sees past it, someone who looks deeper, without judging, who won't try to rip the mask from our faces because of what they want or need us to be, but who'll leave the mask in place, who'll  work around the mask as best they can because they understand and respect the importance of what we want and need to be:


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Eat me

“You can't possibly ask me to go without having some dinner. 
It's absurd. 
I never go without my dinner. 
No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that.”
-- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Veggie face 4-15-13

 “Oh, please don't go—we'll eat you up—we love you so!”

-- Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are 

Sometimes I go looking for faces, and sometimes they find me first.

I steamed some fresh veggies for my dinner, and when I turned it out of the steamer, there was a face on my plate! Well, almost. It just needed some eyes. So I popped a couple of black olives on top of the carrots, parsnips, zucchini, red bell peppers and brown rice. I added a little drizzle of olive oil and some pink Himalayan mineral salt and, well, that's food with a face that I don't mind eating.

And if it is really true that you are what you eat (and I believe it is), then I guess that makes me a twirly, curly tangle of fresh-steamed tasty. Or something like that.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Thank you, Mrs. Roosevelt

"What are you?" I rasped.
It smiled. 
"Whatever scares you."
                                                       -- Kim Harrison, Dead Witch Walking

Magazine face with eyes and a lizard 4-15-13

 "I must not fear. 
Fear is the mind-killer. 
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. 
I will face my fear. 
I will permit it to pass over me and through me. 
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. 
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. 
Only I will remain."
                                                                       -- Frank Herbert, Dune

Magazine face (2) with eyes and a lizard 4-15-13

Eleanor Roosevelt famously once said: "Do one thing every day that scares you." 
She was basically saying "face your fear," but with an important twist.
Notice that Mrs. Roosevelt didn't say, "Look at one thing that scares you." 
Because you can look all damn day at something you fear. But fear doesn't blink. It just looks back. Like those staring contests when you were a kid. Eyes wide open, watering. Waiting for the other guy to blink first. Trying like heck not to. But that's just a standoff, really, a deadlock where nobody ever emerges a clear winner. And if someone wins, who really cares? What do you get? Dry eyes, that's all.

Mrs. Roosevelt also didn't say, "Talk about one thing that scares you."
Because you can talk all damn day about what scares you. Blah, blah, blah-dee, blah. Fear just gets off on the attention.

That's why the girl in today's face is speechless. There's a void where her mouth should be. Cuz that lizard is in no mood for chit chat. And nothing she could say will make it go away anyway.
Because fear doesn't discuss.
Fear doesn't "dialogue."
Fear doesn't  give-and-take.
Fear just takes.
Fear takes a lot.
Fear takes a lot of time.
Fear takes a lot of energy.

Mrs. Roosevelt said "Do."
She said "Do one thing every day that scares you." Because doing something is powerful.
Once you look at something, it's looked at.
Once you talk about something, it's talked about.
But once you do something, it's done
It's done, even if the doing simply means waiting for the fear to pass -- to skitter away on it's little lizard feet and go stalk someone else.

I'm not going to list my fears here because:
A: The list is too long, and 
2: Listing them won't make my fears go away. They'll just be all like, "Hey! Check it out! We're on a list!" Like they got their damn name in the paper pr something. I don't want to give them the satisfaction.

But I will say that doing this blog every day scares me. It scares me because it bumps up so hard against so many of the fears that are on my list. 
And that's exactly why I do it.
Every day.
Because it scares me.
Every day.
This project, these faces -- this is how I "do" something about my fears.
Every day.

Thank you, Mrs. Roosevelt.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up

“There are no bad pictures; that's just how your face looks sometimes.”
                                                                                                          -- Abraham Lincoln

Self portrait 4-14-13

“I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect --
they are much more interesting.”
                                                                                       -- Marc Jacobs

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Am I missing something?

“There is an optical illusion about every person we meet.”
                                                                                                -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Arranged face with glasses, cutout eyes and mouth  4-13-13

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
                                                                                                  -- Henry David Thoreau 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Is that all there is?

“It's a very salutary thing to realize that the rather dull universe 
in which most of us spend most of our time 
is not the only universe there is.”
                                                                                                 -- Aldous Huxley

Self portrait 4-12-13
I am a prisoner held captive by chronic pain.
It is a lonely confinement that holds me hostage, day and night.
Some days are better than others.
Sometimes, my pain allows me some freedom -- a little fresh air and sunshine, some semblance of "normal."
But other times ... other times are something else entirely.
Other times, daylight is snuffed out and the prison walls close in.
The unrelenting pain is exhausting -- physically, emotionally, psychologically.

It starves me of precious sleep. (The stingy sleep rations here are like watery slop shoved under the door on a filthy tin plate.)
It steals my confidence.
It grinds down my defenses.
It erodes my relationships.
It devours hope and shits despair.

It's tempting to give up.

Except that I've found an escape.
I've located a secret passageway that takes me to another place. A place beyond the pain.
These faces.
This art.
This blog.
This is how I escape the pain.

I can't stay here forever, of course. My visits are clandestine. It is a temporary sanctuary. But a sanctuary nonetheless.
Here, I forget the pain if only for a little while.
Here, something like a blessing lifts me up and out and away.
Here, there is a kind of relief, even if it is simply a momentary distraction, a fleeting illusion.
Whatever it is, I don't care.
Until the pain snatches me back from this other place, I'll sink hard and deep into the sweet beautiful weightlessness of this atmosphere. I will cling desperately, begging it to devour me, to gobble me up so that I never have to go back into my hungry captor's claws.

But I know pain will hunt me down.
I can already hear its footsteps closing in.
Feel its hot, sour breath on my neck.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This s*** is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

"In nonsense is strength."

                                                               Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Banana face with jiggle eyes, cutout mouth and a sticker 4-11-13

Banana face (2) with jiggle eyes, cutout mouth and a sticker 4-11-13

“When bananas blush, 
they turn brown, not red. 
And when tomatoes blush, 
you’ve probably said 
something really naughty.
   -- Jarod Kintz 
99 Cents For Some Nonsense

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


“Some bruises you wear like badges of honour: 
when you got it playing rugby, or quad racing, or falling off something while drunk, 
no opportunity is lost to show off a good contusion. 
A bruise inflicted by someone else, however, is a whole other story: 
it's like a big flashing arrow marking you out as punchable."
                                                                                                             -- Paul Murray

Son Gohan and Joe 4-10-13
There's a new troublemaker causing a ruckus here at A Face A Day.

His name is Son Gohan and he's a character from a Japanese manga series called "Dragon Ball."
I only know this information because I looked him up on the Internet.
I don't really know anything about manga, or anime. Nor do I care. All I know is that I got a pretty angry action figure for 99 cents at the thrift store.

His face looks like this.

All the time.

Son Gohan 4-10-13

His arms move a little bit, but they don't go all the way down, so he's always got his dukes up, like he's perpetually looking for a fight -- or perpetually in a fight -- constantly throwing, or blocking, a punch. Also, he twists at the torso, but his legs don't move, so his stance is fixed and rigid.

Sadly, there are people in the world who are a lot like that.

People who are perpetually looking for a fight. People who are forever stuck in a fixed and rigid stance.

Inflexible people.

Angry people. 

With angry faces.

He and Joe got into a bit of a scrap.
Actually, Son Gohan kind of beat the shit out of Joe.
But it's all good. Joe's tough. Joe's flexible. He'll bounce back.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Baby come back ... a love letter

“Fatigue is here, in my body, in my legs and eyes. 
That is what gets you in the end."
                                                                               -- Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

Self portrait 4-9-13
"Sometimes you just gotta hope for the hope of having hope some day."
                                                                                                        -- Jeffery Thompson

Dear Sleep,

I miss you.
It's been so long, and I feel like we've drifted so far apart. But if the chasm hasn't grown too wide and deep, if there is still even the slimmest shred of a possibility of a tiny flicker of hope that we can somehow maybe repair the rift, then I am ready to make amends.
Our separation has been painful for me. 
If I have offended you in some way, I am sorry. 
If I have taken you for granted, please forgive me.
Living without you has been miserable. My days and nights are flooded with sweet memories and happy thoughts of you and how we used to be.  
We used to be so good together.
Can we please try again?
I promise I'll treat you better this time. 
I'll be nicer. 
I'll try harder.
I'll be prettier, taller, funnier ... whatever you need me to be.
Just please, please, come back.
I'll leave a light on for you.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Oh, say, can you see?

"People are forever watching things. They should be seeing
 I see the things I look at. I am a see-er."
                                                                                  -- Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear

Self portrait 4-9-13
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you 
because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”
                                                                                                      -- Roald Dahl

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Shine on

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, 
but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”
                                                                                        -- Hugh Downs

Balloon face 4-8-13

"You can turn off the sun but I'm still gonna shine."
                                                                                                         -- Jason Mraz, "Remedy"

Is it happy in here, or is it just me?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Humor me

“Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.”
                                                                                        -- Groucho Marx 

Self portrait 4-6-13

“I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh.”
                                                                                  -- Maya Angelou

Self portrait (2) 4-6-13
I don't care how pretty you are.
I don't care how much money you make.
I don't care what you drive.
I don't care what you wear.
I don't care who you know.
I don't care what you do.
I don't care what you're worth.
I  don't care what you drink.
I don't care where you came from.
I don't care where you're going.
I don't care if you fancy girls, or boys, or both, or neither.
I don't care what you believe in.
I don't care if you don't believe in anything.
All I really care about is if you have a sense of humor.
Be it big, brassy, wry, subtle, droll, searing, intellectual, whatever -- 
If you can laugh with me, I'm sure to like you.
If you can laugh at yourself, we'll get along all the better.
Life is hard enough, serious enough, and painful enough already.
If we didn't laugh, we'd probably just cry our eyes out. 
So how about you turn that frown upside-down.
Come on.
Humor me.
I'm totally serious.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hey. Hey? Are you awake?

"The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to." 
                                                                                                -F. Scott Fitzgerald

Self portrait 4-5-13
I don't sleep well.
I don't sleep enough.
In fact, all too often I don't sleep at all. 
This is not by choice.
I get super annoyed by the "you need more sleep" advice that says people need to stop skimping on sleep, stop being so busy and dedicate more time to shut-eye. As if sleeping or not sleeping is merely a simple choice.
Like blue socks or black socks?
Tuna or salmon?
Paper or plastic?
Trust me, if sleep was merely a simple choice, I'd be choosing it.
But you can't always get what you want.
And sometimes, you can't even get what you need.
Because the cruel hand of whatever evil tyrant rules the night keeps rocking the cradle, jarring you awake as soon as you begin to drift.

"Hey. Hey! Are you awake?"

I understand now why they use sleep deprivation as a means of torture.

Insomnia is a cruel, cold-hearted bitch.

I read a lot about not sleeping when I'm not sleeping. It doesn't help. It's kind of like smelling something delicious, like fresh bread baking, without getting to eat any of it. It just leaves you feeling left out and hungry. Also, it's not all that sleep-inducing or comforting, at 3 a.m., to find out that chronic sleep deprivation can increase your risk of heart disease. And type 2 diabetes. As well as cause:
  • irritability
  • cognitive impairement
  • memory lapse/loss
  • impaired moral judgment
  • symptoms of ADHD
  • impaired immune system
  • decreased reaction time/accuracy
  • aches
  • tremors
  • hallucinations
  • psychosis
The jury is still out on whether sleep deprivation can kill humans. But it has killed animals in sleep deprivation research studies. Rats. Dogs. Puppies.

That's right. Puppies. Dead puppies.

Sweet dreams.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

If looks could kill

"I wish everyday could be Halloween. 
We could all wear masks all the time. 
Then we could walk around and get to know each other 
before we got to see what we looked like under the masks." 

                                                           ---R.J. Palacio

Self portrait in Medusa mask 4-3-13

I am  supposed to be cleaning my workspace. For about two weeks I've been meaning to get to it. But I keep getting distracted. It doesn't take much. There's so much fun stuff competing for my attention. Like my Medusa mask. Come on. Be honest. How much housework have you avoided because you were distracted by your Medusa mask?

Oh, you mean it's just me?


I made this mask in 2012 as part of my 365 days project, "No Day Without Art." It is  made of papier-mâché clay over a wire armature. It is very heavy. It is very cool.

Self portrait in Medusa mask 2-6-12
I wore this mask once for some self portraits after I made it. I frizzed out my hair, put on body paint and looked pretty convincingly badass as the Gorgon whose looks could (literally) kill. (see photo, right)

The UPS man rang the bell while I was in costume, and I toyed with answering the door. But I didn't. I stayed hidden instead. What if he looked directly into my masked face and dropped dead on my doorstep? How ya gonna explain that to the nice officer? I didn't need that kind of hassle and was in no mood to clean up a mess.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if we could wear masks that reflected our moods, our states of being, like in the old Greek theater days where the actor's mask outwardly projected what was going on inside the character's emotional and psychological reality?

I truly believe that wearing a literal, obvious mask like that would be far more honest and open way of being. It would definitely be better than the way we keep trying to fake everybody out with our own self-induced masks of cheerfulness or patience or happiness or stability or whatever.

What about those days when you feel super unattractive? When your eyes are all puffy because you slept like shit. Wouldn't it be nice to just be like,"I look like a Gorgon today, so might as well wear the mask." Because a Gorgon mask is so much cooler than regular-old puffy sleep-deprived-I-look-like-shit morning face.

Am I wrong?

And if we wore masks whenever we wanted to, maybe nice people would give us candy all the time, even if it wasn't Halloween.


I love wearing masks. I love making masks. I have made several: theater masks, skull masks, Medusa, leather fetish masks, masks from found objects and recycled paintings, full face, half face. I want to explore Medusa some more with other materials.

I like to make masks in Spring and Summer, when the weather is warm enough for the masks to dry quickly outdoors. So I am rooting for Spring to win this endless battle with Winter, who is digging her heels in way too deep for me. I wish she'd just let it go already.

Maybe I should put on the Medusa mask and go outside and give Winter a good hard  looking at. Then maybe the bitch would finally die and I could just get on with it and make some new masks.

But first I have to clean my room.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Portrait of a soul

“Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations 
without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers,
and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.”

                                                                                        -- Stanislaw Lem, Solaris 

Paperclay face 4-3-13

“The most adventurous journey to embark on; 
is the journey to yourself, the most exciting thing to discover;
 is who you really are, the most treasured pieces that you can find; 
are all the pieces of you, the most special portrait you can recognize; 
is the portrait of your soul.”
                                                                                             -- C. JoyBell C.

There comes a time in every 365 days project when I consider how many of those 365 days still remain. And I wonder ... 

Will the supply run out?
Will the ideas dry up?
Have I discovered all there is to discover?
Have I thoroughly explored my own "labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers," or merely tapped lightly, timidly, at their doors hoping no one answers?
Have I found all the pieces of who I am, or have I only just begun assembling the scraps?
Have I plumbed the murky depths, or barely skimmed the surface?
Will sameness and repetition ground my enthusiasm and spirit of discovery?
Is it over?
Is there more? 
Am I done?

And I pick up the camera.

Somehow I catch a thermal, an updraft, a rising column of -- not air. Something purer lifts me up and over, carrying me beyond my limited down-here point of view. Scanning the landscape from up here I spy movement, I spot a frightened little possibility, a skittering something, zipping and dodging furtively across the ground looking for a place to hide, hoping I won't notice.

But I do notice. 

And I capture it. I capture an image that didn't exist a moment ago. A face is born. Maybe it's my own face seen anew. A me that changes every day. Maybe it's a brand new face, a face made of paper, or clay, or in today's case, Paperclay. 

I mold and push and carve and pinch a shapeless blob of plasticized paper pulp until my hands cradle a little man. And the little man is smiling.

Paperclay face (2) 4-3-13
"Hold still," I say. "While I take your picture."

He indulges my intrusion. Like a gentle, tolerant old family dog that has spent its life submitting to silly costumes and the poking, prodding hands of clumsy, sticky children, the little man keeps smiling as I pose him, position him, turn him, move him. I encroach on his boundaries and trample all over his comfort zone as I shove the camera lens smack into his face, all the while pressing the shutter again, and again, and again trying to crack the code and get at his personality, to unlock his mystery, to catch a glimpse of his soul. 

To catch a glimpse of my own soul, which is far more skittish and elusive.

The pursuit is intoxicating. And like any potent intoxicant, addictive. I will want more of it tomorrow. I want more of it right now.

Yes, there are worlds and civilizations out there for the discovering. I am not interested in those worlds. I am not that kind of archaeologist. I'm searching for the bits and pieces of "me" that are still hidden, pieces I've subconsciously or all-too intentionally locked away, and which have become entombed in something like hardened earth, which rest sparkling like treasures in a riverbed.