Wednesday: Image Post Day

I started doing “Mindfulness Drawings” at the beginning of this month, February. I got the idea from a patient who showed me their journal and how they were trying to write down the time and do something to get them more in the moment doodling things.

It’s a great idea and has brought me back to drawing in an observational way. It’s also a great way to draw everyday things without judging your drawing harshly.

It started like this one below in my journal, done on Feb. 4. I wrote down words that were either in my head or observations of the environment or conversation if I was with other people.

I was thinking about mindfulness principles in this one here, like “Observe and Describe” from DBT Mindfulness. In DBT there is also noticing when you’re in “rational mind”, “emotional mind” and “wise mind”.

Some of these drawings are layers of time, where I did some one evening and added more the next day.

The drawing below shows the heart hole puncher I drew as I was using it to make Valentine’s. I drew most of it during a phone session. My communications expert friend had told me recently, “Communication creates reality.” and I shared it on the phone. It was resonating for me and my patient.

This image below is the other side of the page posted as the first image, with the words “Observe and describe.”  I was looking at my watch and a clock so I drew the hands of my watch as well, and the song quoted was going on in my head about time…

The image below from Feb. 9 is in my journal. I started drawing scissors a lot because they were there. I hadn’t yet gotten inspired to make the objects talk.
  This one above is the other side of the journal drawing from the same day/time.

This one below is from yesterday afternoon during another phone session, and the tea pot is talking…

The one below was done last Friday, when I discovered that the heads or objects on the page were talking to me and about me. It started with the objects saying whether I drew them right or not and kept going. I had been drawing these heads from the coffee mug I made out of my images. The heads are from a collage piece; I noticed I was thinking about posting this picture of this drawing on Facebook which I do a lot, so the heads made a bet about when I would post it!  

This one above is from earlier yesterday. I had been drawing pens a lot and hadn’t drawn a bunch of pens in a cup as it seemed too hard. I was thinking of Morandi’s still lives and looking at post cards of them. I think I’m also thinking of Morandi as he mostly did still lives of everyday objects, and this series is starting to be about objects which are used, mostly basic office materials or art supplies, cups, etc.

This one above is on a piece of drawing paper and done last night as the date shows.

These drawings have become a way to be reminded to be mindful, in a different way than the bracelet. Drawing things you see often does get you into a different level of discovery, of looking closely at things you see every day.

This morning I drew the keys on my keychain; I’ve been challenging myself to just draw things, which get rid of judgment, another aspect of mindfulness, which is to be neutral about what is going on right here right now.

The added discovery of the objects talking to each other or saying things is partly thanks to my reading more this year, and thus reading more graphic novels, which inspire me to make my own talking pictures…

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End of Month Art Post!

I started this as an ongoing regular series of images posted the end of each month, specifically involving images in my journal.

As of this month and for the new year, I’ve decided to change the focus to posting pictures of my art at the end of every month and reflecting on my goals, objectives and accomplishments. So this month I picked my series entitled (for now) Expansion. All work is made with pens on paper. I’m considering adding pencil into the mix.

 
These four are older ones I started in mid May 2015, about 6 and a half months ago. 
This one, begun in May, I have been working on for two days. My current new goal after restarting this series in the fall is to focus more on finishing the drawings I’ve started.

It’s nice to have a goal that is doable and what I enjoy about this series is that my goal for each drawing is to cover the whole paper with marks, so it’s easier to be able to know when I’ve finished one. 
   
This one is a large one started recently. 

 
This one is an example of a finished drawing.  It’s the biggest I’ve completed: 15 x 18 inches.

Here below is a picture of that one with other finished ones on my studio wall: I will end the post with it. So by next month I hope to have finished at least 5-7 more of already started ones!  

Serially Lost: How many beautiful pens by Retro 51 will I lose?

  Ben and Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk
Limited Batch 2003
Full-Time Flavor 2004-2012

“From the moment that this oatmeal went
There’s been no end to fans’ lament.
If you’d “sowed more oats” before the reap
We wouldn’t have buried it quite so deep.”

This is all in the context of my misplacing things a lot, and, it seems to be very particular things. The Retro 51 pens are the most crazy. I discovered this pen many years ago when another pen enthusiastmily in my fa gave me a couple of them on different occasions. At some point, I got excited about them. At that point I had an old red marbleized one, a cork pen and matching cork pencil, and a very pretty bubblegum pink one. Then I found a leopard print one and started to get obsessed with these pens. the design is simple, retro and beautiful, and they keep coming up with cool patterns and textures for them. The first one I lost was the bubblegum pink one. I got that one when my gifted gave me a shiny red one. I didn’t like the red color and already had a red one, so I went to the Fountain Pen Hospital, cool pen store down the street from me and exchanged it for this great pink one. I remember losing that one mostly because I remember frantically looking on the internet for a replacement one as I loved the color so much, and it had become my favorite pen. I snagged one probably on Ebay and payed around 28$ to replace it. I had my head on with that one, as I at some point decided to leave it in my studio and use it there. It is in my studio and with the leopard print one it stays there, the only place these pens are safe from being lost.

I now cannot find a photo of it, but here is a photo of the cork ones, which I never lost, mostly because I forgot about it for a few years and only recently got it out with it’s pencil partner when looking for several other ones in a frantic attempt to find a few of them: This pen now resides in my studio, and the pencil is precariously traveling with me in my bag, in great danger of getting lost! This is an old set, and they are of course out of stock, so I luckily have a rare set that I have yet to lose

http://www.monstermarketplace.com/pens-and-leather-executive-gifts/retro-1951-tornado-deluxe-vino-pen-and-pencil-set

Coninuint my saga of my growing relationship with Retro 51 pens, a few years ago, I found a really cool Limited Edition “Bloom” pen, which I gave as a gift to my Retro 51 family member; I liked it so much, I ordered one for myself. I think I lost that one twice; I have memories of frantic searches and snagging a replacement, but get this: I lost the replacement one. I can’t even remember when or how I lost it, but I was so annoyed with myself; I had to give up. By then I had expert skills at trolling the internet and knew all the pen stores and pen blog sites,so I gave up. Recently I found the Retro 51 blog and commented on a post. The guy from the company actually gave me a phone number to call, so I called them, still a year or so later desperate to find this beautiful red pen with flowers on it. A person from the company actually called me back and did a search for me to no avail. I then confess that about two weeks ago, I texted the family member I gave it to and described it, asking her if she wanted to trade it for a different one. Rightly so, she said she likes it and wants to keep it. I’m the fool who gave it to her and then gave myself two copies of it! Here’s a photo of this pen that feels like The Pen in my life; the one that got away…
There are only 500 of these that exist, so I am very jealous of the 498 ones out there and the two that I lost:

Continuing my ridiculous saga of this pen obsession, which you can understand more when you look at their website: this company has something cool going on with their retro look. Limited Editions have become a big thing in the past few years. I’ve actually gotten obsessed with the concept of the “limited” edition. Ben and Jerry has Limited Edition Ice cream flavors. I still remember one of them that I got obsessive about finding and figuring out which places still carried that flavor. Ben and Jeryy actually have a “graveyard” filled with their Limited Edition flavors, what a great idea to have a “graveyard” for objects that are purposefully “ended”, as a way to torture the consumer and make the obsessive collector happy they have something special! This week Target had a crazy crash on their website due to the new designer they are collaborating with,; it was similar to the 2011 fall Missoni for Target, which was very limited. I confess to loving Missoni, and I scored on that one as I was very crazy, went online the moment it came out, and even as late as a year ago, found a pair of gloves from them under the 20$ or so they charged just by looking on Ebay. I was happyy to read about this craze from a distance, and to not have had any interest in running to Target or their website for this round of Crazy Designer Collaboration. Here’s the Ben and Jerry graveyard: the little poem at the top is about the flavor I obsessed about for a few years of its existence! They not only have the graveyard with tombstones of ice cream flavors, they have a separate link to the most missed flavors. They have a great flair for feeling the enjoyment of the Limited Edition: There is something almost sexual about this whole idea of tasting something, or having something, that then becomes extinct and gets taken away, that only a select few get to keep!
http://www.benjerry.com/flavors/flavor-graveyard

Retro 51 have a series of Limited Edition pens. Since the “Bloom” pen incident, I have bought a few more of these pens, mostly in the past six months or so. The next one I remember getting was the Pinball one, called a “Popper” pen, this one is “Flipper”. I think the Popper series is one of Limited Editions. So this one is still hanging out on Amazon and in other stores. There are 750 of them, of which I have now bought two.
http://www.amazon.com/Retro-51-Flipper-Tornado-Rollerball/dp/B00M18XETI
I got this one a while ago, very excited as Pinball itself is a very vintage retro game that I loved playing in college. I manage to keep this one for a while, during which I discovered another “Popper” called “Splat” Snapper. It immediately seduced me as it is a comic book graphics design. There are 750 of them out there. I resisted buying one, as I felt guilty about my recent purchase of the Flipper, so I decided to ask one of my relatives to give it to me for a holiday present, which ended up being a late birthday present that i just recently scored. This cool pen which you actually push down to open instead of rotating the top, I have managed to take with me on my spring vacation and kept in two different bags without losing it. Since losing the Flipper one right after my vacation, I put this one in my studio. IT’s there right now, and I think I need to leave it there until I learn how to hold on to these pend hns.

These limited edition pens are their Pop series and have a history which they explain on their blog, if you’re actually crazy like me to want to know about this idea of torturing people with a 500 or so limit!
The Tornado POP Series
Right before getting the Splat gift pen I had suddenly realized I lost another pen recently purchased. This one is from another Retro 51 collection named “Vintage Metalsmith”. I bought the “Roosevelt” when I was obsession about trying to get the Bloom Popper and failing; it was meant as kind of a replacement pen, some device I invented to feel less guilty about spending so much time and money on these pens and losing them constantly. I’m not sure how long I had the Roosevelt, as I actually lost it but did not even notice I lost it until a while later by which time I had no ideaa where it was. I had taken it on my week off in December I think but it disappeared at some point. Meanwhile I found out about the “monochromatic” ones. As an artist, this appealed to me that the pen is dipped in color and the whole thing is that color. OF course I got the bubblegum pink one:
http://www.retro51.com/fwi_tor_vintage.html
By the time I had my spring break upstate a few weeks ago, I had spent a frystrating time looking for the Roosevelt and the flower one and getting those last two. So I brought a bunch of pens and art supplies on my trip, including the Pow, the Flipper and the monochromatic pink one, as well as my newly dug up cork pencil; I knew I was tempting the Fates. Could I hold on to that many Retro 51s and carefully use them?

The answer was no. I got home and as usual, had “forgotten” about “checking” that I had them all until some time last week when I realized I had lost my Flipper pinball pen. I was so enraged at myself that I shared my loss with a patient who has a lot of so-called “anger management” issues; the share was about me being annoyed at myself and super frustrated and feeling angry right before seeing this patient, who I’m sure was amused to see me so pissed off because he commented on it.

I then in secret proceeded to find one of the 750 online that I think cost a few dollars less than the first one I got. I received it in the mail this monday at my studio and it has not left my studio.

I am happyy to report that i have refrained from getting the following other Retro 51 pens that tempt me. The bamboo one: that was hard; I almost bought one but managed to stop myself!
http://www.retro51.com/fwi_tor_bamboo.html
The “stealth which is kind of monochromatic black one:
http://www.retro51.com/fwi_tor_deluxe.html

And I now almost lost this whole post, which I better save or I will go nuts!

writing this post caused me to really look at their whole website, and I discovered just now that they have started making tiny little pens, so cute. I will not buy one. I will not buy one. I will not buy one. I will just check how much they cost…
http://www.retro51.com/fwi_tor_elitebpandpc.html

Worst of all, going to the blog post on their website about the Limited Edition Popper series, I saw the very first ones, so pretty and floral, and now I’m thinking, where the heck could you find one of those?

Luckily the pen industry seems to have no graveyard, no place to get second hand pens. Ebay sells Retro 51 pens, but only the ones that are recently out. No pen collector seems to want to part with their old Retro 51s.

So anyway, now I am trying to hold on to the lovely pens I have, the pink, the leopard print, the cork pair, the old red one I left in my house, and the special Flipper and Splat. I am attempting to keep the monochromatic pink one in my bag with the cork pencil. Who knows how long I can hold on to them, but I like to draw and write in my just found journal with these writing implements, so I will carry only one or two on me, and keep the rest safe. I will attempt to avoid purchasing any more for at least six months. Let’s see if that lasts…

Day Two: A Room with a View

Writing 201 Assignment: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.
– Joan Didion

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. – Virginia Woolf

Substitute studio and art: A woman must have money and a studio of her own if she is to make art.

Susan Rothenberg: I believe very strongly that if you’re not in your studio physically most every day, you’ve denied the possibility of anything happening. So, even if you’re reading a detective novel, you should be there. I don’t go to the studio at night anymore, unless I’m on a deadline or fussed at Bruce; then I go back. It’s my sanctuary. It’s a great studio. It’s a great place to have a studio.

I am lucky enough to have a studio of my own, it’s even two rooms. I got my first such room years ago right after college; It was in Paris in 1991, a tiny room in the top floor with a sloping roof; a little bigger than the size of a regular bathroom. It’s the only one I’ve had with light pouring in from the ceiling.

My second one was also back then in Paris. I moved to the Monmartre area and had a two bedroom place with a tiny kitchen. The second bedroom was my studio and it was large with windows.

Back in NYC in 1993, I got my third studio, my first NY art studio, in Tribeca, around the corner from my current one. 368 Broadway, number 510 on the fifth floor. It actually had windows. Back then the Tribeca Open Stuido Tour (TOAST), which has become a big event with lots of ads and marketing was called “Franklinfest”. My studio was between Franklin and White streets. I participated in this first small open studio tour back then. When I moved to a bigger place at the end of 1997, I thought I could have a studio in my apt., but realized it wouldn’t work with the setup, so I went back to 368 Broadway and got a smaller studio with no windows on the 4th floor. I shared it with another artists for a while. It was the studio I had during art therapy grad school. I kept this studio until 2003, when I moved to a bigger studio on the 3rd floor of the same building, Suite 307. It had a window stuck next to a brick building so air, but no light. I stayed in that studio the longest, for 10 years. I made my biggest art piece in there, a 7 foot diameter mandala. I was convinced I would stay there ten more years, but in 2013, I had to move out as the landlord would not renew my lease after 20 years in that building.

I was very happy and lucky to find this last studio, my sixth in my lifetime, around the corner from my old building, 59 Franklin st. on the second floor. This studio has no windows but it is two rooms and has a column in the second room. When I first moved in, the column was painted whiite; I made it a community art project to paint the column, inviting all visitors to paint it, all ages, patients, supervisees, colleagues, other artists, friends, family.

I just renewed my lease for two more years. However, a while back, I found out that my building was going to be demolished so the owner could build one of those big residential high rises, like the other ones in my neigborhood that caused all kinds of places to close. The big art store, Pearl Paint closed about a year ago, which was devastating. I had been in the neighborhood over twenty years. The deli on the corner of Broadway and Leonard street where I used to get bagels and lunches closed about 6 months ago after years of being a presence there. The great P & S Fabrics store has moved three times but is still within a block of my studio.

This is the trajectory of my own “rooms” for creating. But a room is not just an art studio; it is something you carry with you. I have many series of drawings and other work made outside the studio, in transit, wherever. Right after 9/11/01, I did not go back to my studio for quite a while and started making very tiny art work. It was a “moveable studio”.

I was shocked that this new studio I managed to score right when getting kicked out of the old one, that I have grown attached to, my best studio so far, is again a fragile reality; here today, gone as soon as the owner kicks us all out.

Which brings me to the main part of the assignment: I’m interpreting this not as where I would go to right now in this moment, but an opportunity to score my ideal studio, my future room of my own:

Ever since I heard of Pollock and saw his “barn” studio in East Hampton, I have had a “barn studio fantasy”. I saw photos of one of my favorite artists, Susan Rothenberg’s barn studio in New Mexico,
Here is a great interview with her, including her daily habit and the importance of the studio:
http://www.art21.org/texts/susan-rothenberg/interview-susan-rothenberg-the-studio

photos of Pollock’s barn studio:

So I want my studio to be not just in a barn, but the whole barn. A big red barn with windows that has been winterized to have heat. Gigantic ceilings, even some old partitions that animals used to occupy. Plenty of room for old big paintings to be stored. A lot of space even if I end of in a corner sitting on the floor making tiny art. room for all kinds of materials. Ideally this barn would be in New Mexico, like where Susan Rothenberg lives, with beautiful light and a beautiful view, for my New York starved for light artist.

http://www.art21.org/images/susan-rothenberg/production-still-from-memory-2005-22

That’s really it. A big beautiful barn art studio. That is my own and that I actually finally own! The only thing that can kick me out of it is my own demise. I would like to be working there when I am an old lady artist.

Daily Prompt Post: I picked Nov. 20, 2014, Sparkling or Still? Glue, still and sparkly!

What’s your idea of a perfect day off: one during which you can quietly relax, doing nothing, or one with one fun activity lined up after the other? Tell us how you’d spend your time.

With water, I don’t drink “bubble water”, never liked it. Best straight from the tap, still.

Perfect day off: Depends on whether I am alone or whether my family also has the day off.

If I am alone, it is neither fully sparkling or still. Probably on the “still” end of things, as, if I had a day to myself, I would spend it by myself. Maybe spend a lot of time in my art studio on Franklin Street, working on various art projects. Today when I had time to myself and wasn’t doing paperwork, I was in my studio going a bit nuts with my new favorite art material, the glue gun with colored glue sticks. You don’t use it to glue anything, but for decoration. I had a lot of gold and silver glue sticks, and every color glitter glue sticks. I used so many of them today that I ended up with just green glitter sticks and one black stick. I used up all the gold and silver, the purple, silver, gold, red and blue glitter glues sticks, and I had a lot of them. I used them on everything from altered books to a pair of blue crocs I keep in the studio. So I can have a big party with just three glue guns and a bunch of colored glue sticks. I also took apart a box I had decorated and put parts of it in four altered books.

So my idea of fun is to “think about paint and… think about glue
What a jolly boring thing to do” (from Andy Warhol, David Bowie song)

Rest of my day alone would involve doing yoga again by myself in my studio, using my Simply Yoga app, for about an hour.

Then I guess I might meet one of my close friends somewhere nice for dinner and a glass of wine, just one person, as I prefer one on one.

If my family had the day off, then the day would probably sparkle with adventure and maybe a little glitter of some kind, glue or otherwise…

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Creativity and Inspiration: Leonard Cohen Agrees With Me!

I started a series of posts about creativity and so called “creative blocks” quite a while ago, and now that I’m on vacation, I will post someone else’s words about the creative process. “Show up” is the message, and I would say its true of everything in life. What’s the key to bring a good parent? You gotta show up every day however flawed a person you are…

My mantra or idea that we artists don’t wait for inspiration, we make art on a daily basis just like any other daily habit is not original or particularly earth shattering, but are you practicing it with your particular medium/media?

Most of the time I am lucky because I simply don’t care that much if I “like” what I am making or not, sort of like how you feel after your yoga class that the benefits come from doing it often and it doesn’t make much sense to judge how you did yoga.

Anyway, Leonard Cohen is one of my favorite musical artist, and he talks about his own process from “Brain Pickings Weekly:

“There are always meaningful songs for somebody. People are doing their courting, people are finding their wives, people are making babies, people are washing their dishes, people are getting through the day, with songs that we may find insignificant. But their significance is affirmed by others. There’s always someone affirming the significance of a song by taking a woman into his arms or by getting through the night. That’s what dignifies the song. Songs don’t dignify human activity. Human activity dignifies the song.”

I would add that sometime so called boring activities inspire all kinds of creations from Charles Schultz’ beloved Peanuts to the TV show Seinfeld (which I believe took a lot of inspiration from Peanuts). There is a line in a David Bowie song about the artist Andy Warhol that I love:

“Andy walking, Andy tired
Andy take a little snooze
Tie him up when he’s fast asleep
Send him on a pleasant cruise
When he wakes up on the sea
Be sure to think of me and you
He’ll think about paint
and he’ll think about glue
What a jolly boring thing to do”

I myself do love to think about glue and tape and practically any material.
Anyway here is the piece:

“Cohen approaches his work with extraordinary doggedness reflecting the notion that work ethic supersedes what we call “inspiration” — something articulated by such acclaimed and diverse creators as the celebrated composer Tchaikovsky (“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”), novelist Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”), painter Chuck Close (Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”), beloved author E.B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”), Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope (“My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best.”), and designer Massimo Vignelli (“There is no design without discipline.”). Cohen tells Zollo:

I’m writing all the time. And as the songs begin to coalesce, I’m not doing anything else but writing. I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is. So I’m working most of the time.

To find a song that I can sing, to engage my interest, to penetrate my boredom with myself and my disinterest in my own opinions, to penetrate those barriers, the song has to speak to me with a certain urgency.

To be able to find that song that I can be interested in takes many versions and it takes a lot of uncovering.

My immediate realm of thought is bureaucratic and like a traffic jam. My ordinary state of mind is very much like the waiting room at the DMV… So to penetrate this chattering and this meaningless debate that is occupying most of my attention, I have to come up with something that really speaks to my deepest interests. Otherwise I nod off in one way or another. So to find that song, that urgent song, takes a lot of versions and a lot of work and a lot of sweat.

But why shouldn’t my work be hard? Almost everybody’s work is hard. One is distracted by this notion that there is such a thing as inspiration, that it comes fast and easy. And some people are graced by that style. I’m not. So I have to work as hard as any stiff, to come up with my payload.”

Taken from:
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/07/15/leonard-cohen-paul-zollo-creativity/

Art Therapy and Anger; Can Art be Used to Discharge Agression? Yes!

Inspired by a session I had today, I write this. I spent the whole day at SVA at a conference on trauma, and I even saw a presentation of a former marine who is managing her PTSD through oil painting, but what really inspired me was a session I had later with an adult who never engages with my art materials, much less, makes art.

We were talking about anger in the workplace and I started modelling ripping paper from a National Geographic. I had told this person about this app on the iphone called iShatter, which we both agreed is quite limited and not great. It does let you choose what to “shatter” and then you can “break” things on the screen with your finger, glasses, mirrors, windows, etc. Somehow after the first time you try it, it loses its fun. 

So as we were ripping the paper, I got the idea to get out oil pastels and show how to use them heavy handedly to scribble on a piece of paper and discharge excess anger. We were discussing how nothing takes the place of breaking plates, especially throwing them against the wall. I had hear from another patient that there is some place in Brooklyn you can go and actually break a lot of plates or glass. Anyway I modelled scribbling hard on the paper, I happened ironically to have a paper plate I scribbled on, so I invited my patient to try it. We did more rough scribbling, the kind that breaks the craypa, then I accidentally cut into the craypa thick marks with the edge of the paper wrapper so i got out pencils and showed how you can scratch into the craypa, then I remembered you can poke the paper hard with the pencil which we did as well. I was explaining that  it helps to pick yucky “ugly” colors and fill up the paper with them on top of each other, creating a big mess of brownish color, although we noticed with just the red that it very satisfyingly looked like blood. My patient noticed it was hard still to try not to make the picture look nice. I was using uglyer colors and encouraging more ugliness.

The main thing was the kinesthetic discharge of using the crapas and the pencil served as a knife like tool to poke with and atually attack the paper. Meanwhile I wondered aloud if I could get some cheap plates, bottles and cups and some area of the studio to actually break real plates, so we discussed that.

This week I will look for cheap china and some face or eye masks so we can actually destroy some real plates, cups and other vessels!

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