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Archive for the ‘Thinking with my hands’ Category

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Bassam's Café , the post-art hangout

[ Updated, more crisp scans.
I hereby promise not to post phone photos when I can provide scans. ]

On the evening before the Winter Solstice, I rejoined the group that meets in the lower level of the San Diego Arts Institute {The Museum of the Living Artists} in Balboa Park, for “One Last Hurray”– tonight was the last night Live Modeling will be hosted in the Gallery . These rendez-vouz became scarcer with the passing of the last few months, from every other Monday, to one Monday a month, to a late summer hiatus, to this…the end.

Once more I am reminded that the only constant in life is change. I will miss these evenings of art, self-paced, the bodies of the models always surprising once translated into the page. The outcomes always tell me more about myself than them. I had not attended these Live Modeling sessions since October, when the school year resumed and I found myself teaching First Year again on Mondays and Wednesday evening (which was exciting, and cyclical at the same time…because as things change they do, occasionally, repeat).

It was nice to say goodbye tonight. I pushed colored water with brushes, with no expectations, reminding myself that I am a painter more than a drawer, and reciting my farewell to painting/drawing nudes. My interest lies in making (collages and pantings that do not involve bodies) and these ‘art therapy’ sessions did much good in helping me find time for art, but it is time to move on and find the discipline within me.

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Watercolor on the wrong paper- Strathmore Bristol. San Diego, December 21, 2015

Speaking of discipline, this time physical, this Fall I was also pining for my old Wednesday night zumba/dance class, taught by one of the best teachers in town and, lo and behold, that class is also no more. Everything is telling me to let go and let myself be unmoored because routines, and certainties, are only illusions of the mind and of time.

I am reminded at least few times a day that, since I became Assistant Professor, a title that I longed for and a milestone for me, the time that I used to have for Art and SketchBloom has vanished, leaving me with scraps, and occasional posts during school breaks. It is bittersweet, because when I had more time, I also had different challenges.  On the plus side, I feel that my classes are getting stronger and that all the energy put into what I do is bearing beautiful fruit, and my travels a re translating into lectures, thoughts, incipits of papers. My students have been blossoming , and what I offer them, though intangible, is perhaps my greatest art…the words and the stories shared in the intimacy of the classroom.  My favorite part of this Fall was new lectures on Native American Architecture and the Empires of the Sun (Aztec, Maya, Inca), along with those for Hindu and Buddhist Architecture. It was wonderful to share my travels to Teotihuacan and Mexico City, DF (July and November) and various museum visits. All these will be documented here in the coming days.
I am going to visit new Mayan sites soon 🙂 and I feel blessed that what I love to do (travel) also makes me better at what I do. One of my students wrote me that what I shared from my travels was her favorite part of the History of Architecture and Urban Design course, and that made me smile inside. Another told me that I am, indeed, a ‘collector of legends’, what I knew I wanted to be at 6 years old as I was put in charge of our classroom’s bookshelf.

I have been reading a lot on Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and there is a whole section of advice on, basically, doing your best, and letting go. Letting go of what you think is the idea of perfection, because life is already perfect, in secret ways that we will only understand in time. SO many ways to convey a message that I run into again and again.

I swear at least once a day in the past few months I have encountered and recorded places, people, feelings, stories, books, quotes, readings, images  that I wanted to share here but pressing obligations and life prevented me. I trust that what I have been collecting (the speed and quantity of memories accumulated akin to hoarding for its sheer size) will be shared and enfolded in time. The thought of living hard and traveling harder to make memories for my old age has crossed my mind. One thing I did not do is draw  or paint, but I believe, now, there are other ways to make art.
Photography is one. Or writing.
Also, creating the space and conditions that allow art to emerge: clearing your life and decluttering, physically and emotionally, to make room for art, for the NEW.
Is not prepping the canvas also part of the painting? Then I have weaved that canvas fabric with the threads of days full of wonder, struggle and discovery, primed it with an unshakeable faith, and strengthened with tireless service, resilience and endurance.

Please forgive me, it is the end of the quarter, and the end of a stupendous year …and I am waxing poetic. Time to sum up the past 12 months. I wanted to count all the things I was grateful for in 2015 and I counted 41. How many things are you grateful for? Every difficulty came with a breakthrough and a blessing for me, a strengthening lesson. I hope the same for you, Reader.

I know it is not the end of the year proper yet, but for me it already has come, with the close of another quarter and the time, silent and special, to calculate grades, my students’ and mine. I wish all my readers and visitors a great journey in 2016, untroubled by worldly events and guided only by that ‘light that never goes out’, our own.

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Watercolor on the wrong paper- Strathmore Bristol. San Diego, December 21, 2015

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Watercolor on the wrong paper- Strathmore Bristol. San Diego, December 21, 2015

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The sacrificial lamb- an old leather jacket already repaired twice.

The sacrificial lamb- an old leather jacket already repaired twice.

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With my pattern and leather in the Materials Lab, to trace images in Illustrator and experiment with the laser cutting process. “The object feels good if the process feels good.”

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The laser etched leather swatches. Fire drawings…scars…tattoos and cattle branding.

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Preparing for night surgical cutting, tailoring and riveting. And documenting. The whole project came about in three days (Friday to Sunday), but was months in the making (and in the thinking, and in the promising).

 

 

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The prototypes are done!

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Laying out this graphic board illustrating the process took longer than I would like to admit. In the end, it was a process of elimination…which is the secret to design, really.

 

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Exhibit time. Board layout #2 with Illustrator patterns :).

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Project fini. Ready-to-wear, custom-made temporary leather tattoos....by yours truly.

Project fini. Ready-to-wear, custom-made temporary leather tattoos….by yours truly.

 

 

Idea #13: Temporary Leather Tattoos

Experiments with recycled leather, tattoo patterns and the laser cutter in our Materials Lab for the Action/Reaction Faculty show, where students react to faculty work.

I chose to explore these tribal tattoo patterns I drew long ago and finally turn them into ‘temporary’ leather tattoos – since an actual tribal armband tattoo is out of the question (#italianmother).

In the process, I learned how to make leather-on-leather tattoos, used the laser cutter for the first time, hand-cut till my hands were sore, learned how to put rivets, and was taught about vector lines and patterns in lllustrator by my wonderful, patient students.
Thanks to student feedback/critique (which was extremely positive about the artifacts :)) the board could use one more ‘pass’ as far as fonts and background, but I wanted to post this now, as the show is coming to a close.

While researching case studies, I was astonished by the amount of cool accessories, arm bands and earrings made with recycled bike tires and inner tubes.

Etsy, here I come.

 

Here are some photos from the Action|Reaction opening, by Donn Angel Perez, the curator of the show (and author of the beautiful paintings shown), along with student Chuck Wilson

For the opening- in keeping with the recycled/sustainable theme, and to save time 😉 – I projected my board.

 

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littlescreenshot <<<and this, this little guy on my desktop just makes me happy.

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I found and lost myself inside of that night. Collage. Graphite, fountain ink, found objects. San Diego. December 9, 2013.

I found and lost myself inside of that night. Collage. Graphite, fountain ink, found objects. San Diego. December 9, 2013.



These collages are starting to need a change of byline for SketchBloom: Art Therapy. Oh well;)

Above, a work in progress (and, darling aren’t we all?)..not sure which way it will go.

In the midst of nude painting to be done from memory (and I have started sketching, too bad the final product won’t be posted here), there’s been art and feelings on fire.

In the quest for ASCII hearts ( yes, lots of hearts are needed ) I found these lovely images.

All credits to benjscott.com

All credits to benjscott.com

The image above is from http://www.benjscott.com/artscii/. Click to be taken to more exquisite ASCII art images and his program.

The ascii art images above are from http://www.benjscott.com/artscii/. Click to be taken to his program.

This is a program called ASCIIART – which goes beyond recreating images in characters to delving into typography…and…this had me at hello.

I cannot wait to experiment with some black and white art.


Also, a return to poetry, literature and tender music. Maybe a new poem will blossom soon…the ingredients are there once again.

Some quotes from a book I am finally finishing (quotes that became a poem): The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
Freedom and loneliness overlap, look in the mirror, my face, these words reversed.


Hearing his name caused him to turn back again

looking into her eyes was like standing by a door slightly ajar

how could you not push open the door

see what lay inside?

And that door seemed to open a little.

and the glimpse he had beyond the door tortured him

he wanted to say more, to say everything on his mind, but he couldn’t.

It wasn’t a question of language.

He doubted the words existed in any language.

He  forced himself to look away from her then.

It was like prying a magnet off steel.

It was as though, outside of that room, there could be such a thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

And then there was her.

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Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

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Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

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Thoughts set free. Ink on paper and trace. November 9,2011.

“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time,

then I’m neurotic as hell.

I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another

 for the rest of my days.”

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 8

 

I have to thank my colleague Alan Rosenblum for sharing the concept of thinking with one’s hands and the visual poetry of The Mystery of a Murmuration. His advice is to watch this in silence.

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