Frantic Pet Peeve

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I have a pet peeve. My right eyelid itches or a trembles at certain not-so-convenient times.

The crisis occurs a few moments after I plunge my hands into soapy cleanser or when I begin a greasy goo-covering task, it is then my right eye cover kicks up a twitch.

“I feel a disturbance in the face.”

My eyelid is frantic to be soothed. It feels weird to speak of part of my body as somehow removed from me, but my right eyelid seems to have a mind of its own. When I ignore the facial tug-of-war the results have been strange to witness.

One afternoon I was hip deep peeling and de-seeding tomatoes for a familiar recipe. The usual-suspect went into a mini-tremor then escalated into a full -fledged line dance across my face. I madly washed my hands and dried them for this was a true emergency, yep, my eyelid said so. I tried to gently shush my face-quake.

“Let me say, I was not put on this earth to sing Soft Kitty to my eyelid.”

My hands were not sufficiently free of tomato residue so some of the acid crept into my eye. A lot of rinsing later I finished preparing the tomatoes.

I have a new plan when I have messy jobs. When I begin a messy job I wear gloves. Somehow I feel I have out-flanked my right eyelid.

“Now, left ankle I’m looking at you, do not try my patience.”

Lemuel

Frantic

3-29-18

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Being ready by Design

Whenever I am in the notion to work I do not want to have to struggle with tools, find things I need, clear off messy work surfaces and do double work type work to make something. I am a one person shop-studio- en plein air Artist. It is up to me to give myself every advantage I am able.

Junk in Plastic Boxes

Containers on a shelf. Like things with like things. 

On the bus I have my tools in a neat vintage Lands End™. One zipper and a snap I am ready to read or sketch. The other places I create are fairly organized, but just. I can wander between projects and return to the easel over many days. Tools line the drawers and parts and pieces fill bins, containers, and the occasional peanut butter jar.

I make it a rule to finish projects– they may not be perfect, that doesn’t matter, I complete my work. Work I’ve promised by a deadline gets to the person before the deadline. If something is needed by Thursday and I get it Monday the piece is ready on Wednesday before 5 p.m.

Because I’m cool? Nope. Because I don’t like things hanging over my head. Besides it’s my word that is worth more than the project I’m working on. If I lose my good name, even if it’s not my fault, then I cannot buy it back.

Brushes cleaned and ready

A process of brush care at the end of a session.

So I keep tools, materials, and work spaces ready for work. I won’t win any awards from minimalist decor folks. I can find anything and I can usually remember where I have filed most of my stuff. That’s my test. Keep like things with like things; label the drawers; use clear containers with labels; put up things as I go and simple processes like that. This keeps something like a mess from hanging over my head.

As I typed before, I admit I won’t win at perfection, zero mess, just a bit of wisdom in the seeming madness. I have a shop-vac, several brooms and dust pants, even a magnet on a rope when needed.

Note I didn’t say “rules”. When things are ‘supposed to be’ done a certain way, or controlled this way, or filled with judgment I usually baulk, or “buck-up” as the Aunties used to say.

Rules are fine but if I make a process that functions well, it will not be perfect. I might leave my acrylic paints all out, in trays that go into a cabinet when I’m finished, but I want to see my materials. It’s like when I get new color pencils–that excites me. I can’t wait to use the new pencil. I’ll even start a new page just to incorporate it into the composition or just go crazy mono-chrome.

Leaving an organized neat area dedicated to acrylics, or oils, or wood-block, or just my easels helps me organize my day-week-month. It’s like my “visual-control” for my project management. I can manage what I see and I “go-and-see” continuously as “walk-around-management” of myself. Big job.

Raygun Build Parts

Selected items ready for  a project.

I know by working with materials on a daily basis, seeing them regularly, and monitoring my progress what I need to replenish. I don’t have duplicated materials, nor do I run out of 20% gray pencils at 3:00 am Sunday morning. I don’t waste time looking for materials and resources; I don’t have waste in duplicated items–6 pounds of “sinker” nails is more than I need for this project–and I keep a re-order list and make a time to order as needed. I also keep a list of items to trade, give away, or sell.

These concepts help me keep my spaces ready to work. Organized for production is what I like to call it. It’s also a fun way to engage with the materials, to bring an idea or inspiration to the front and spring-board into the work.

I have to make the most of every opportunity I make or every time I get the chance to make something that I think is cool. When I’m ready to get busy I am more motivated to do just that.

Going to the shop or to the studio not a struggle, it’s a pleasure.  By design.

A Study in Green

I will reduce the number of my unfinished projects.

The reasons I fall back on for why I fail to finish a project are killing my creative drive. I realize the explanations I use for not finishing must stop. I need a plan for improvement.

I will get better at finishing projects.

Staying on task is the objective of this Study in Green.

Sometimes I use a reference. This time I did not use a picture but I had a person in mind, so to say.

Materials

  • Old bristle brush, customized
  • Cedar shingle
  • Nearly dead acrylic paint, mix blue green (teal-ish), Phthalo green, cool gray

 

The Experiment

This was a test with minimal parameters, leaving judgment aside. Doing my best in the time allotted. Stay loose. Finish the assignment.

Parameters

  1. Portrait
  2. Make the eyes “vivid”
  3. Limited pallet – two greens plus a cool gray
  4. Twenty-five minutes

no flash 5

Results

  1. I put the brush down when the timer rang
  2. I cleaned up my mess
  3. See the photo

The Day after the Big “Art”

 

Big “Art” creates big messes and I help.

In the shop there is a work bench, a small cubby I call my “study” where several easels and project tables await, and a finishing room I keep very clean.

In my practice myriad cast-off chips lounge and parts dance on the flat surfaces everywhere. The second and third attempts at Big “Art” loll against the wall. My sad secret is I prepare two canvases in case, no, when I goof.

Cleaning after each session is my habit, however the “neat-ifying” comes later.

Big Clean is the order of the day after an intense effort of what I call Big “Art”. Creating “order” is part of the process and the “muse” does not ‘get-it’. In fact ‘she’ is very absent with never a peep from her golden lips.

The Shark™and the Swiffer™ take their turns. The smell of turpentine is replaced by Pinesol ™ and Clorox™. Windows sparkle, everything is dusted, all pillows plumped, the fridge re-filled with drinks.

Fuel Filter Lamp toggle

The day after Big “Art” should receive an “H-rating”, to be hated, but I enjoy the work. It is a true ‘catharsis’ (like the pun, keep it) I am getting ready for the next scheme.

And I cannot wait.