Darlings, I must start writing again. With the five children and the career and the husband and the life swirling around me, my concentration is not good. I’m very much doing that whole young family thing all over again, but now I’m old enough to know how well my head can work when all these wonderful, beloved people aren’t constantly around me. I’ve been waiting for my ability to concentrate to come back, but I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon, and I miss blogging. I miss life outside of this new house and studio, I miss Karen, and I miss the way that writing centers and clears my head. I want something back that’s always been and always will be mine. I’ve been waiting until I get my feet under me, but I am constantly finding and losing my feet again and again in this new life of mine.It might not be grammatically correct or even make sense half the time, but post I will. Seriously, it’s like my brain is like a puzzle that has a different piece missing everyday. Yesterday’s missing piece might be back, but SURPRISE! A new one is gone! So ok, I promise it won’t be grammatically correct or make sense half the time; that should be exciting. You can rate my ability to think on a one-out-of-ten scale in the comments.First, I’d love to show you what I’ve worked on lately, ok? Ok.
Back to work! But, if any of my old readers are out there? I would love to hear from you!
Working on this painting (below), listening to this, headed to Mass at 12:15. This afternoon I’ll finish some custom pieces, and maybe post photos of how the painting is progressing. Maybe, blogosphere. I promise you nothing.
I’ve temporarily given up on the last painting (here, here, and here… see the problem?).
Sometimes a painting flies out of me (figuratively not literally, because that would really hurt. In fact, if paintings literally flew out of me then I’d probably stop painting, because ew. ). Sometimes a piece deserves abandoning: once you get started it just does not pull together, and the concept or idea is weak and not worth pursuing. And sometimes–like this time– the concept is deeply compelling, yet the piece is really hard to get.
One night, Vinnie and I were talking about the nature of the universe, and I said that trying to understand the universe made me want to cry. It was too much, too big, too complex, too indefinable. Vinnie said that understanding the nature of the universe through string theory made sense to him, and that he found it quite reassuring and beautiful. Curious, I set out to understand string theory. And because I am me, I felt the need to process this concept visually.
“But you can’t draw string theory,” said Vinnie. “It’s a concept.“
Oh Vinnie, concepts are meant to be drawn, painted, sculpted. That’s what art is: visual communication where words fail.
Vinnie’s painting, then, was about connectedness; about emotional string theory. It was about the almost spiritual feeling of being gently connected to another entity within endless planes and dimensions within endless time and space. To paraphrase Rick in Casablanca, “of all the gin joints in all the world…” What are the odds of that connection? What an amazing thing, and yes, how very reassuring and beautiful.
In the second painting I wanted to explore the multi-planed individual components of Vinnie’s painting further, but…… but I can’t f***ing make it work, blogosphere! Honestly, I think the subject is just too emotionally loaded for me at the moment; my feelings about it change day-to-day and moment-to-moment, and so I can’t find clarity in either my head OR this work. Confused and yet compelled to clarify my thoughts and the work, I’ve gone at the painting from every direction, and to no avail.
And so…… that painting is out–placed out of sight and out of my mind– and this one is in. Interestingly, today’s painting is one I abandoned in frustration once before. Perhaps there is something for me to learn here: understanding and resolution will come when they will, and not a moment sooner.
My mom loves the Netherlands. She loves the wide-open green flatness, the canals, the skinny city houses, the Noordzee, and the spring flowers. But most of all, she loves the Dutch. There was never a Friday when she left the office without her Dutch coworkers making sure she had plans, never a moment when she didn’t feel welcomed and included. While she’s enjoyed the people most everywhere she’s worked around the world, the Dutch became family.
After years spent living and working in The Hague, my mom has come home for a job in San Diego. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. While there were many compelling reasons to move back to the States, it was so very hard for her to leave her friends; her Dutch family.
As my mom readied herself for the move to San Diego, her beautiful friend Susanne emailed–on behalf of all the Dutch friends– to ask me for ideas for a parting gift. I suggested they take her for a tattoo, but the Dutch are way classier than me: they opted for jewelry, and ordered my Aquamarine Waterfall Pendant.
And that would have worked out just fine, if my mother wasn’t so damn full of damn opinions. Luckily, her Dutch friends know that she’s a veritable opinion piñata.
Mom asked that I use a stone she already had instead of the aquamarine cabochon (above) my design called for. Her stone was a big, gorgeous, faceted aquamarine she had purchased from a British friend in The Hague shortly before he died (we’re going to call that the new aquamarine from here on).
The challenges? The new aquamarine wasn’t interchangeable with the stone in my design, and a new design was needed to account for the stone’s unique attributes. I did, however, need to keep with the two-stone look of the pendant I had been asked to make.
Where the original aquamarine cab in the design was all about watery relaxation, the faceted aquamarine was all sparkle and glamour, and just didn’t work well with the laid-back moonstone cabochon of the original pairing. I opted to pair the new aquamarine with a gorgeous cornflower blue, flower-cut sapphire.
Another challenge was the cut of the new aquamarine: the stone was incredibly deep--half as deep as it was wide– and I needed my design to creatively account for that depth; to allow the face of the sapphire to be on the same plane as the face of the aqua, without looking awkward.
My solution: A medieval-looking b0x setting, stones set with prongs to keep them open and airy.
I hope all of my mother’s Dutch friends love what I came up with, I’m really pleased with my design, and my mom loved it. After gasping, she declared, “I’m going to get mugged wearing this!”
This started off even more monochromatic, and I really wanted to love it. I did. I wanted to love it in the way a kindergarten teacher really wants to love all the wee little children, but just can’t warm up to that one prickly five-year-old who never smiles and never has anything nice to say.
I loved the more monochromatic version in theory, but it was just so cold. So, I’ve added color, removed color….added and removed AGAIN, and this is where I am right now. I want to love it, but it still doesn’t sing for me. Now it’s stuck in the middle, it feels anemic and chilled, and I desperately want to give it a warm blanky, a nice cup of tea, and a place by the fire.
Back to the studio it goes.
And it really doesn’t help that my camera just…well, my camera is useless.
The process of painting is a lot like naming a baby.
Some people have the name all picked out before the baby is born. The baby WILL BE Joseph Jumping-Geranium Smith. There is no wiggle room. Everyone will be told far before the due date of the baby-to-be’s name, and when Joseph Jumping-Geranium is born, no one will even consider that he might look more like a Peter Potted-Petunia Smith. Oh no, no. JJGS he is, and JJGS he will be. These are the painters who set out to paint exactly what they will have painted when they are finished. I don’t think many of these painters are ADD.
Some people pick a likely name or two, and when the baby comes flying out into the world they quickly decide which name the baby shall have. “We’re thinking Pookie Punkinhead, but we might go with Lola Lemondrop or Suzie Salmonloaf.” These are the painters who set out with a somewhat solid idea in mind, but there’s wiggle-room. I sometimes paint this way, but I’m more committed to the wiggle-room than the solid idea.
Then, there are the people who decide that the baby will present the world with its own name upon its arrival. “Oh! He looks like he’s laughing! Let’s name him Isaac.” Or, “Look at that red hair! Let’s call him Rufus Henry!” Some of these people might wait and wait for the baby to give some indication of its moniker, and these people live in communes and have children who are called Lalalala or Mine!, until they are five. It’s all wiggle-room, all the time. In my painting, I often hang with this crowd. I just….. start, and see what happens; see what and where the painting feels like it’s doing and going, and I happily change course until I hit a sweet spot.
Painting is like a relationship. There is me, and there is the painting. The painting is always changing; colors and textures popping up in ways I didn’t quite expect. If the painting is never static, then how can my idea of its outcome be so?
When I go the let-the-baby-name-itself route, remnants of earlier ideas are often visible, and lines or shapes or colors I put down when I had a different path in mind now glow through and assert themselves. Incorporating them into the newer incarnation is a puzzle that is joyful to solve; these old fossils are like gifts to a new painting. They’re found money and they’re always welcome.
Blogosphere, the Jewelry Axis of Evil has a new member. Today, opals join silver, my camera, and white gold on the list of Stuff I Really Hate. White gold moves up a spot on the list, because I was using it in combination with the opal. My camera jumps two spots, because it’s very frustrating to be unable to show you a quality image of that which deeply offends me.
I’m pretty sure that the opal would have behaved nicely if not for the bad influence of the white gold. Similar to my stance on teenagers, I expect white gold to behave like white gold; it is what it is, and it can’t help its nature. Foolishly, I expected better of the opal. If only I had listened to the rumors about opals and their sluttish ethics, I never would have left the two alone together.
This morning, as I sat polishing up this pretty opal ring, I mentally wrote a very different post; a post extolling the virtues of opals and expounding upon my new, improved relationship with white gold. Then, I noticed the bezel was a speck loose, on the left. Back in the vice it went, one gentle press on the bezel’s edge, and CLICK: the unmistakable sound of an expensive stone fracturing. A unique stone, a match for which will be difficult to find. CLICK: the sound of yesterday’s work, wasted.
Now I have nothing nice to say about opals and white gold. Not. One. Thing.
I need it. I have something pretty to show you today. Something silver, if you can believe it.
Here. I’ll describe it, which is almost as good as a photograph, but not really.
A chunky silver ring, set with a beautiful, glowy piece of lime-green Maine seaglass. At the base of the bezel, I’ve left a heavy lip of textured silver. I’ve oxidized the setting, and then rubbed it back to a satiny finish.