Sunday, March 12, 2017

Making Art... counter the anxiety of the 45th administration as much as I can.  Since the 2016 election I've had to double down on self-care as I send cards and letters to people in government leadership demanding of them. begging of them (and sometimes thanking them) that they do the right thing for our nation. Mostly it hasn't worked but, like teaching, maybe I rarely get to see the direct impact I've had on an outcome...even though it is there (I have faith!).

So as an art teacher, I get to work on my own art as part of my job, a definite perk to my low-paying career choice. These little pieces are simple objects but they are touchstones for me to remember that "this too shall pass" and maybe in fewer than 4 years at the rate it's going. I'll be posting a few of those pieces here.  And perhaps if I can bring myself to it, some of my poems.

Be honest. Be kind. Be creative.

Friday, April 12, 2013


In Chinese Astrology I am an Earth Dog.  Perhaps it is the reason for this recent Haiku:

Earthbound, roots burrow.
Cold crumbles of detritus
cling like lost lovers

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

asleep at the screen . . .

Oh Good Heavens....It has been a while since I last posted.  That's what happens with the ever-stampeding school year.  Meetings after school with other teachers, administrators, parents, students, clubs, and then the school year flings itself past me. I just finished grading a pile too many of student projects in a rush to get them in the grade book before midnight, the hour that all the A grades turn to pumpkins, and the D grades turn into rats.  Ever-mindful of schedules and deadlines, I like to sidle up against them (the deadlines and schedules) and dare them to cross the line.

Perhaps the best thing about this time of the night is that the house is completely quiet, aside from the snoring bulldog next to me as I type.  An occasional car rolls past out front, the grandpa clock chimes (although it's an hour off since the last time change) and I just finished a wee bit of red rye ale.  I have a week of spring break to look forward to and all my students' projects are nestled close and soundly graded in their basket.  Just wish I could be a little more awake to fully enjoy the sensations. 

Well, anyway--here's a picture of lately.
whoa--some specs there annie

Monday, May 14, 2012

Making Faces

Self portrait contour in baling wire
Talk about not being able to erase . . . . well, I was able to rebend, but you can only do that so many times with metal before it breaks on you.  Unless you heat the metal with a torch, I think it's called annealing, to relax it enough to bend again.  Kind of like working out, I guess.  The warmer you are, the more flexible you can be. 
Dan Dwyer and I did a collaboration between his class (jewelry and small sculpture) and mine (drawing and painting) at the beginning of the year (maybe ten years ago?).  I know, many of you think I've barely aged . . . well, that's the power of art.  Anyway, we hung them at the Gavilan show--there must have been a couple of hundred of these--one for each student in our classes.  Each so similar yet very different from each other. I also hung some pen and ink drawings that came from the process of creating the wire drawings, and some colored pencil drawings as well.  I like the possibilities of sustained metaphor in a project--how far can you push an idea.
I can't help but wonder if my obsession with drawing faces is contagious to any of my students.  Wonder if they continue to look in mirrors to call upon their ever-present, and hopefully ever-willing, subjects.  Some days my face is less than willing to be drawn.  But maybe that reluctance only comes with age.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting grounded by the Pacific Ocean

In one of our very favorite places. I wish that all people left behind were their shadows. Not exactly Carmel--but close . . .

Robinson Jeffers' poem . . .

Carmel Point

The extraordinary patience of things!

This beautiful place defaced with a crop of surburban houses-

How beautiful when we first beheld it,

Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;

No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,

Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads-

Now the spoiler has come: does it care?

Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide

That swells and in time will ebb, and all

Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty

Lives in the very grain of the granite,

Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.-As for us:

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;

We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident

As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Goodbye to Etta James

When you're young, it seems like all the notes in a good song stick a little tighter to your soul and you end up carrying them with you for the rest of your life. Then, when you hear that song again, the notes kind of pull the old years forward with them--kind of like the memories are stuck on the little stems and flags of those particular notes. When I hear Etta James sing "At Last," the years of the early-sixties in Turlock start to accumulate around me. The most most clearly focused of those years hold a memory of me being baby-sat by my cousin Patsy (closer to the age of an aunt to me than a cousin). Patsy takes over for my mom for awhile while Mom is working some hundred miles away and has to leave my two brothers and me during the week. Somehow in my memory, the boys are barely there--probably in school, and mostly I'm hearing songs--songs playing on a record player, songs from Patsy's record collection.
And this song comes on and it's perfect, because even though the lyrics are about winning her love--at last--there's such a sadness to the music. The lyrics and the music counter each other. Like they should in this song. I don't know . . . it's as if once the loneliness gets into a person, it can never really leave. It becomes part of you--on a cellular level, forever.
It kind of feels like that.
And now Etta James has gone . . . and not exactly. . . because she's in our cells, together with the loneliness and joy and everything else stored up in the years.
I'll be celebrating my birthday this Wednesday--it appears she and I share the same date. This year it'll be a lot like that song.

Friday, December 2, 2011

2 December 2011

Sure gets to feeling like this illustration . . .

I guess I have so many of these modified contours because I make a new one , or a few new ones, every year that I demonstrate them to my students. I actually have a kerjillion of them that I haven't photographed, so maybe one day when I have a bit more time, I'll post them. And they aren't all of me, either. I'm not so narcissistic as that. But, boy, I have met quite a few of them along the way . . . .

Anyway--writing again and it sure feels good. Guess that's why I'm back on the blog after a year and a half. Well, that and I couldn't figure out how to get here after I changed my email address--true to my semi-luddite tendencies. But once I managed that hurdle, I'm back in print, er, screen. Don't know if I'll post the new stuff for a while. Nothing has been critiqued yet, and I still need to find a good writing group to help with that. School is out for winter break in a couple of weeks, so I'll focus a bit more then. Will say that the new poems are art-based, almost primarily so. Except for a couple that slipped out about "the troubles" (divorce American style). But really, those are a little too personal and I've never been much for confessional anything. I'm waiting to get far enough away (emotionally) from certain crises that I can represent the universal in them, rather than the "all about me" side. But how does a person write about herself without it being about her? Layers, I suppose.

Maybe it's true that here has to be a personal layer in a piece of art or writing, but that if that's all there is, it doesn't go to the deeper level. When I read something, like memoir or poetry, I really want to see the humanness in the writer. I guess I want to merge somewhat with that person, through their writing, so I can be bigger than myself--so my life can be fuller and richer than what it usually is.

There's a poem by Joy Harjo, "Perhaps the World Ends Here,"about what goes on at the kitchen table. Births and deaths--the end of the world, eventually. That kitchen table connects my world to hers in a way that takes me back to my grandmother's chrome dinette, and back to the sounds of her shuffling in her leather slippers in the kitchen. That was the beginning of my world, and I expect something like it will be connected to the end of my world as well. I've written so many poems about that time and still return in my mind to that place, even though the house has been torn down for a few years now. I understand the world when I arrive at that sense of place such as we read in Harjo's poems. I'm also thinking of another poem called "The Song of the House in the House" and of course about the rememory of the main character in Morrison's Beloved.

Art pieces provide that same connection for me when I write ekphrastic poetry. After I've fully experienced a painting or sculpture--even if it's on-line or in a book--I feel like I'm in that painting. This is similar to the character in Kurasawa's Dreams who walks through Van Gogh's paintings--well, essentially into Van Gogh's world. Walking along the ripples of paint, standing beneath towering sunflowers. And all that without drugs! Heh heh. Not a bad way to be.