mouse manifesto

More from the pandemic diary canvas:This time the words came to me while I walked the labyrinth this morning:

“in the eye of the storm, in the mouth of the predator, with or without you, i dance”

I wish I had a very pale pink Sharpie to give her feet some color.  But I don’t, and I am committed for the moment to using only what I’ve got in the studio, so she has little ghosty feet.

Fun fact: I found a mouse like this in my desk once.  I scooped her out and put her in a bucket while I went out and bought a cage for her.  She was my office-mate for three years.  I called her The Poopsmith because of what she’d done in my desk.

a prayer

This is from a canvas I’ve been working on – a sort of pandemic diary:

The words came to me while I was drawing:

i pray for enough light and courage to take one small step

 

Kali has her day

(Actually, I think it is Kali’s year)

Here’s what the Kali canvas looks like after February 3rd’s open studio:

Somebody wrote on it in Arabic!  He wouldn’t tell me what it meant.  If you know, would you please tell me?

A small girl insisted on drawing a winged unicorn (with help from her mom):

And then she drew a cat:

Later in the evening, a friend told me about a cat who stole green beans whenever she cooked them.  And I told her about a cat who loved potato chips.

bug sketches

After finding six moths in my studio in the other day (quelle horreur!), I took my wooliest sculpture down for an inspection. Didn’t find anything awful, but there’s a lot of interior real estate that I can’t really see. So I gave her another coat of acrylic and hung her back up.

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The next night, I dreamed of finding a small blue beetle in an envelope in my mother’s attic. I took it downstairs to let it go in the backyard. Before I opened the back door, I peeked inside the envelope. The beetle had turned into a small dragonfly. Out in the yard, I held the envelope upside down and shook it. A large butterfly came out. It picked up a rubber ball that had been lying in the grass, and it flew away.

Because of that, and because my house reeks of polyurethane, I’ve been in the studio this weekend drawing bugs on scraps of canvas. None of them are bigger than six inches square. I’m using Sharpies, of course, but also various other kinds of permanent markers. And Wite-Out pens. Because apparently I am meant to be inhaling noxious fumes right now, one way or another.

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A year ago I was having carpal tunnel issues and mostly doing blind contour drawings because it was easier on my hand. It was so much fun that I kept doing it. Now I’m constantly having to remind myself that I need to look at the surface I’m drawing on.

I haven’t seen any more moths since those six on Friday,which is both a relief and a mystery.

enough

I finished that canvas I was working on. I wonder if I’ll ever be up to having it professionally photographed.

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Everywhere I go, I’m carrying this crummy little story with me. Nobody can see it, but it’s there. It’s surreal. How many other waking nightmares have I been in the same room with this week, without being aware of them?

Shame and vulnerability play tug-of-war in my belly. I find myself having to listen to Brené Brown’s Ted Talk again.

“I am enough,” says the last slide in the show.

Julie says:

feel into the bones of your skeleton – the big bones of your pelvis and thighs, the little teeny bones of your fingers and toes.  there they are – nothing missing, nothing to add.

I am enough, I am enough, I am enough. I’ve said it so many times that some days I believe it.

exorcism

Shingles made it onto the canvas too. Of course it did.

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“I’m sorry you have shingles,” E said. But I’m not.

Shingles is an exorcism, driving the pain out from where it’s been hiding in the roots of my nerves. It blooms on my skin like phantom fingerprint flowers.

“Go in peace,” it says, as the scabs fall away.

There’s still an ache in my arm, my shoulder, my chest. But now it just feels like my own ache, and not the combined ache of generations of my ancestors.

Thanks be to God.

they don’t want me

Kathy asked if I had ever written that story on one of my canvas prints. I had not, which was both surprising and not-surprising-at-all.

So I started. It’s coming out in the disjointed way that these stories do. Not a straight line, but a zig-zag lightning-strike path.

when i was nine, my mother got very sick

Last year E suggested that I write a question with my right hand, then answer it with my left hand.

Q: What are these panic attacks about?

A: they don’t want me they don’t want me they don’t want me

I woke up at 3 o’clock the other morning, having put the pieces together in my sleep. Suddenly knowing that “they don’t want me” belonged on this piece of canvas with the rest of the story.

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Back in E’s office, after we finish laughing about the wastebasket, I pull up this picture on my phone. We pass the phone back and forth. There’s not much talking. I zoom in on the details, one after another, so she can see the whole thing.

it got worse. i decided to run away.

A list of the things I had in my pockets when I left:

  • two dollars and sixty-three cents
  • a girl scout knife
  • a small red and silver flashlight

Last, but not least:

i brushed my hair for once.

We’ve been working together for more than five years, but I’m not sure I’ve ever told her that before. I’m not sure I could have said it aloud.

E looks up at me. We’re both crying.

Some things can never be fixed, but maybe you can find a way to stop being alone with them.

more fun with sharpies

Someone posted a picture on Facebook recently of a pair of sneakers that had been made to look tie-dyed with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol. Well. You know I love me some Sharpies, especially on canvas. On my way to the studio, I picked up a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol at the drugstore.

I have been drawing a lot of bugs lately, so I drew a bug on this scrap of canvas with the Sharpies:

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The red is actually a Bic permanent marker that I bought in British Columbia in May. I’m tempted to say that from now on I will always travel with a red marker, but it was actually a lot of fun to go on a quest for one and not know exactly what I would find. So maybe more shopping for art supplies in out-of-the-way places.

Here is what the drawing looked like after being sprayed with rubbing alcohol:

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The lines at the bottom are acrylic paint, dried a long time ago, which is why the alcohol didn’t make them run.

Here is what it looked like after it dried:

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I like the semi-predictability of the process, the sense of motion that the blurred ink gives the drawing, and the way the colors change. I’m think I’m going to be doing more of this.

(Don’t worry. I am working on another wire sculpture too.)