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Still Making Art (Every Day)

16 Nov

          This will be short, I’ve been taking care of my little man the past week and a half. He’s been really sick and I’ve been giving him Albuterol therapy with the machine 3 times a day for about 7 or 8 days. Oh Joy!

 

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          The workshop I have been participating in since the beginning of November has brought forth so many ideas, so much inspiration, that I keep feeling the need to make journal entries or spreads from quotes I’ve found as I read this wonderful book Life is a Verb (Patti Digh) under the expert guidance of Effy Wild (Wild Precious Studio).

 

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          One of the things Digh discusses when touching on the subject of your life as your personal story is the concept of Quiditty, or that which makes you “you”, the embodiment of your individuality. She talks about patterns, of the fact that we should take note of those things in our lives which have become part of a pattern. Are our patterns working for us?, If not, what should we do to modify them?

 

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          This idea of what makes me ME, and of the fact that there are so many patterns in my life drove me to a journal entry I really enjoyed making. I have realized that it is life which has helped me become an individual. I recognize that there are aspects of my character and personality which are inherently part of my upbringing, but life has thrown quite a hefty amount of curveballs my way too, and those have shaped me as much as erosion reshapes a rock. Many of those things that life has offered me are part of patterns: the kind of men I fell for, the kinds of people I surrounded myself with, how much of a people pleaser I used to be… well, the list is too long for today and you already know how I feel about lists!

 

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          After this, I kept on going and did an entry totally unrelated to the workshop, yep, I was on a roll!

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The page has a cut out, so I had to finish the dress on the next page so it would show on the page as part of the piece:

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Then I saw I would have to justify hat piece of fabric there on the next page when it came time to use the page. What to do? I created a window with four panes so the piece of fabric could be turned into a curtain:

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          I did the same thing with the missing wing part. The page says:

“I always wear my heart, its wings make for a pretty dress. It’s all made out of feathers and I can put it on whenever I feel safe to take flight. I keep my pretty white dress in a safe place, its feathers are really worn.”

          Come to think of it, it actually has to do with the workshop too, and the patterns and my very own Quiditty.

This is as much as the fat lady can sing for today. Thanks for looking and reading and making the visit.

I love your comments and am planning on a give-away pretty soon. So don’t only visit, follow me here too, subscribe and you’ll always be on the know.

As always, Blessings, Love and Light!

E.

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On Making Lists

13 Sep

I have never been fond of making lists. The last few years this has become even less likely since I have become increasingly absent-minded (yep, my mind is not present in the moment, but almost always absent) forgetting to bring my cel phone with me when I go out. Going out and forgetting my keys inside the apartment and ending up locked out of my own house. Noticing after hours in front of the computer that my eyes are red -haven’t put on my glasses- and it’s almost bedtime and I haven’t ushered my son to the bathtub… well the list goes on and on.

Which brings me back to lists. I hate making lists, maybe because it means that I am forcing myself to follow a set of “rules” (I know that is NOT what lists are made for, but my rebellious nature gets caught up in the small things). Hated them to begin with and now I just -if and when- make a list and totally forget I have it in my purse/pocket/bag/hand… And that is when I remember to make a list. This almost-gone-summer was one for lists, mental or written: lists of things we had to take on our trip, lists of bills to pay as soon as we got the loan, lists of things I WANTED to get when the money came, back-to-school lists… Well, summer is almost gone and I finally have decided to sit down and make a list. Not a shopping list, not a chores list, an important “things-I-want-to-do-with-all-my-heart-list”. Although it is not a “Bucket List”, it is a list of things I have been lazily putting off till later but have to face head on. Some of the items in the list are things that will be hard to accomplish and so have been put off till later. Some things imply some soul-searching and this can sometimes be hurtful, any kind of self-search is always difficult and I -who used to pride myself when younger on the fact that I was not “scared to look inside” have lately come to feel so out of touch with myself that the young woman I just mentioned actually seems like a stranger. Someone I’d like to get to know better, though.

I have come to rely too much on the grounding effect that my husband’s love has on me. I have become complacent with myself because he just makes my life so much easier, so much simpler, maybe because he loves me deeply and shows it frequently. I have come under the impression -false, of course- that there is no more struggle for me, that I can just lay back, be a mom and wife and use as much free time as I want for my art. But I want my art to be as meaningful as my life is, as deep as the love I feel for my husband, as bright as the pride that fills my heart every single day when I pick up my six-year-old son from school… as joyful as my memories of my father, whom I feel closer to me now than when he was alive. I want my work as an artist -now that I finally have come to a place where I feel free to call myself an artist- to show my own depth, my own sparkle, my own Faith. I want all of me to be there present in each and every piece I create so that when anybody who knows me sees it they can see Me in it.

But for that I have to be present for myself. And I have to accept I have let myself “go”. Yes, emotionally, spiritually, and sadly in a very physical sense too. So, soul-searching is first on the list. Looking deep inside once more to see who it is that looks back from within. I used to write too. A lot. I loved to write and read and do stuff that helped me grow. It seems as though I have -in some unconscious level- believed there is nothing further, no more frontiers to reach. I have forgotten that the Human Spirit is much more than just a ball of energy inside my soul. Spirit, when let go outside of the physical body, is as limitless as the sky. Why then should I have become so complacent? Was the road here so hard at times I have just taken a longer rest on the road than I should have? My life is full of meaning, full of joy and beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware of this and grateful for each and every day I wake up and count my long list of blessings. But my spirit feels asleep somehow, so it is time to wake it up.

I have had the pleasure of late to enjoy the company of many interesting and special Spirits, women whom I have come to know through my friend Jeanette House and who share their work and progress at Wild Precious Studio, with the fearless pajama-clad leader Effy Wild. Something has started to wake up recently and nagging me to wake up entirely. It’s my Spirit calling out from within, feeling the tug of kindred Spirits who have come up to me for a reason. It is the time and place for list writing, and this time I better sit down and listen to my heart. I signed up to do the November worksop: “To See Us Through The Long Dark: Life is A Verb”. I got my book in the mail today “Life is A Verb” by Patti Digh, which we will be using with Effy in the 37 days to”…wake up, be mindful, and live intentionally”.

Self-Portrait

I Am ...Who?

It’s gonna be a long list.

If you want to come along for the ride, you can follow my progress here.

Blessings, Love and Light!

E.

Up till Now

22 Aug

It’s been more than a month snce the last time I blogged. I know, I promised myself it would not happen again, and it has. Great, this only means I’m humas -at least that’s what I keep telling myself. It’s been more than a month and lots has happened since then. We took our anual vacation to Puerto Rico, this time in the summer instead of the Christmas holidays because there will be too much to do this end of the year and not enough mula to go around.
So we went to the island and had one of the best trips since we came to NY; thanks in part to my Mom-in-law who rented a beach house at a small coastal resort for a week, for the whole family. Least to say we had a blast! See for yourself:

Villas del Mar Hau - Isabela, P.R.

My son at play with his cousins Villas del Mar Hau - Isabela, P.R.

My son had the most fun, playing with his cousins that he only sees once a year. I had the chance to work on a tan -something I hadn’t done in ages… lets say the last time I had a tan line I was a size 10. We enjoyed spending time with those we love the most and I had the joy of hearing my son play in Spanish.
After returning from the island we have regrouped as our usual tiny family unit and I’ve been able to come back to my work table and do some much needed journaling which has shown some improvement and some evolution. Take a looksee:

Inner Warrior I

Inner Warrior II

Inner Warrior III

She’s called my “Inner Warrior”, someone I really need to reconnect with and am in the process of bringing her back. I started with the first image which I made while at my Mom’s in San Juan, then I sat down here at home and worked on her till I was happy. It answered to a challenge from Effy Wild, of Wild Precious Studio, where I have joined the wonderful group of women to keep honing my craft in the journaling department a little more.
This is my report so far, there is a lot that still remains to be said, of art and dreams and bitchy inner critics.
Till next time, this is all the fat lady has sung.
Blessings, Love and Light
E.

One Mom’s Epiphany

13 Jul

I have been having a hard time lately. I have been angry and tearful for no reason.

I have learned over time that -as far as my own case goes- my bouts of depression come when I am under great stress or when for any given reason I start losing sleep. And I’ve had a whole lot of losing sleep lately. My son is not sleeping well and neither am I. 

You see, I have made some changes around the house and my son’s room has been included in those changes. I try to make things special for him as much as possible and decided to catalogue his books and organize them in a simple way for him to be aware of how important it is for him to care for and enjoy his books. I already did the “cataloguing”. But I also changed his bed to another area after doing some heavy-duty cleaning in his room (I had no idea the amount of strange stuff that can get accumulated in a little boy’s bedroom besides hairballs from our two cats). Well, for whatever reasons -it’s also summer and the young guy has no routine whatsoever- he has started to wake up in the middle of the night; once, sometimes twice a night. He comes in our bedroom, wakes me up -startles me, actually, pretty bad- and then I have to escort him back to his own room, tuck him in again, and stay with him till he falls asleep again. Only to have him wake up and start the same thing all over again one or two hours later. So I find myself having the nightly routine of a newborn’s mom with a boy of six.

It has come to a point where I just can’t fall asleep because I just KNOW he’ll be opening our door and startling me awake. This has been going on for almost a whole week. You can count on the fact that we have done everything imaginable to get him to just turn around and find sleep again in his own bed. We have had all the conversations about the dark, and monsters, and how safe he is in his own room. We have explained how happy and lucky he should be that he has his own room with all his toys and his books and a place to sit down and read while we were short for space and stuff when we were his age… well, you get the picture: from soothing and caring to plain old guilt, we have tried everything.

But last night I think I had some sort of epiphany. As I lay in bed fully awake waiting for him to open my door -around 3:30 a.m.- I thought: I will fight this no longer. My son is just five. He turns 6 in August and will star 1st grade in September. This is summer, he’s on vacation and I’m just being an uptight bitch about this. No more fighting, no more coaxing, no more scolding. When I was his age I was just as scared as he was and I just wanted to have my Mom and my Dad close to me during the night. I still feel aweful about the hard time I gave my mom back then. Because I’m a Mom and love mine, I understand how difficult it must have been for her to spend the whole day toiling around the house, cooking and cleaning, washing and ironing clothes, and making all the extras that moms always have to do… and we were five kids at home. I only have one. If I dare to feel tired, I can only imagine how exhausted my poor Mom was back then.

The thing is, I can also understand how scary it was for me to find myself alone, in the dark, in my bedroom in the middle of the night. Even if my Mom always left the halway light on. I cannot judge her just as I can’t judge myself for not letting her sleep at night thirty years ago. Which means I will not judge my son either. I spend the day doing as much as I can and have the help of my husband, I can’t complain. I always find time -no matter at what time of day or night- to do my own stuff, that which gives me my individual, personal joy which is art. There is still more than enough time to get my son to his old routine of sleeping the whole night through. This is the summer, after all, and I will not let depression overpower me again just because my son needs to squeeze in bed with us. I know my Mom loved me just as much as I love my son, and still does. But that does not mean I have to be like her. I will follow my heart and let him in, even if it means giving him my place in bed and spending the rest of the night in his.

Last Summer in Austin

Frida’s Elusive Mistique

6 Jul

Frida in pencil, from a photograph.

I have been toying with the idea of writing a short series of articles about Frida Kahlo and her influence on mixed media artists today. It is an understatement to tell you that it’s difficult. I have sat down more than once to write down my ideas, to send e-mails to as many artists as I can asking them if they might be willing to respond to a couple of questions about their use of Frida’s image, why they use it and how they see this artist, how influential she is in their career.

I have come to understand that it is a personal failure of mine, this inability to put into words the how and why of my interest in this Mexican woman who was once simply known as Diego Rivera’s wife. I am not talking about Frida the Holliwood creation, the symbol of Mexical colorful musical culture, or the mad lover who once said she loved Diego “more than her own skin.” More than the quality or influences of her life’s work, Frida has become an icon recreated by all of us in the image that best suits our idea of her. The same thing has happened with her image. It doesn’t matter the size or the shape we give her, as long as we see the dark unibrow and the hair full of flowers and ribbons, we know it’s Frida. We have each of us created our own Frida, She who always refused to conform has become with time a pliable substance made of pain and vibrant colors, a suffering glory who procalims above all pain “Viva La Vida” – “Long Live Life”.

Frida con mico.

We may each have different reasons why Frida has been so attractive as as woman, an artist and an image. Some people may see her as a “go to” figure that has become so commercial that it’s sure to attract the attention of art buyers. Some feel an attraction to the colorful flowers, the clothes, the lush plants that sometimes adorn the background of her self-portraits. All of those things are attractive to me. But more than her image, her life and the resilience with which she faced pain, adversity and betrayal are my personal reasons to admire her and to have made her a part of my art and my life. I knew Frida was a Mexican artist, married to Diego Rivera the famous muralist, etc., etc., etc. But it wasn’t until I purchased Hayden Herrera’s book that I learned the details we all know now about her painful -physically and emotionally- existance.

Young Frida

I have not had to live a life in pain, having to undergo surgery after futile surgery to brake and reconstruct the spine. I did not have polio at the age of six. But there are some aspects of her life that trully resonate for me. Frida was unable to have children because of the horrible accident she suffered when she was eighteen. One of her biggest desires was to give Diego a child. It was not to be. I have a wonderful healthy son, but for a couple of years I have been trying to have another baby and it just hasn’t happened. Even worse, I finally got pregnant last year and misscarried shy of a first trimester. It was the most harrowing experience I have had to endure. Frida turned to painting since the accident to pass the time she had to spend in bed. Later on when time in bed became part of her life she would install a mirror above the bed so she could look at herself and paint her self-portraits. Art helped me after I lost my baby to channel all my anger and frustration of having had my dream destroyed. Months later I had to have surgery to remove one of my ovaries, reducing in half the chances of getting pregnant again. Since then I’ve had a journal and at least one pencil beside my bed, close enough for me to jot down my ideas and try out new techniques.

Frida Dreams The Pain Away - ATC

The first ATC (artist trading card) I ever made for a swap was my first drawing of Frida. Since I was not very good at doing facial features back then, I left her eyes closed. I followed the requirements of that particular swap and came up with this: It was the first of a dozen Fridas I have made. I love her image and every time I’m trying out a new medium or technique, I always make a Frida. It always makes me happy. If Frida has truly become an icon, I choose to dress her as Goddess. An empowering image full of life-giving strength, who gave of herself every time she painted a self-portrait as a gift for a friend, that struggled to remain permanent, an ever present image reconstructed in the retina of people’s memories. I think that is the experience I create for myself every time I paint. I do not paint self portraits, I paint women whom I have come to understan and accept as parts of me, versions of me. Pieces of a puzzle that make up who I am: woman, daughter, lover, mother, artist. This is my present for Frida on her birthday. An ongoing present that will hopefully grow as I grow with my work.

Hello world!

1 Jul

Hello World!

What a great way to begin. This is my second attempt at doing the “Blogging” thing. I’ll be writing about what I do in terms of art, my life as a developing artist in mixed-media, being a mom, being in my 40s, what I cook, etc. From time to time you’ll read or see something about the men in my life, my husband and my son, who really make the world go-round.

For those who do not know me I’m 41, a stay-at-home mom of a soon-to-be 6-y/o boy and the wife of a wonderful man who daily burns his eyelids in front of a computer screen working on his PhD dissertation. We have been living in the Bronx for the past year and this is also a process of discovery in a beautiful artful place I hope you will learn to love as much as I do. We spent our first 6 years in New York living in Washington Heights, almost at the tip of Upper Manhattan. I miss the old neighborhood as a place full of great people who learned to love us and who helped us along the first difficult years of our own private diaspora. We still visit as much as we can, since we are not too far and our son goes to school there.

I want to write about what I do because it is such a rewarding process that I feel the need to share it with others who may be in the beginning stages of their own process. That is one of the ways that I came to art and to mixed-media, thanks to other artists Blogs, their websites and in some cases, their Youtube  channels. When I started to paint I had no idea where to begin, I was lost in a sea of wants and want-nots, doubting myself at each turn, but happy to be in the process, and it was thanks to those artist/bloggers that I started to follow along a clearer line. I design and make my own polymer clay jewelry line called Madre Luna. I have an Etsy shop and am a member of a great community of artists on Ning called Mixed Media Workshops, where I found some of my first teachers. I have stumbled upon so many kind artists, most of them women but also many men. They have guided me, inspired me, cheered me on so many times and so well, that I want to be able to do the same now, at a point where I finally feel confident enough to call myself an Artist, when I can recognize my own style in what I paint and/or make. That is the main reason why I am doing this, hoping you’ll accept the invitation to get to know me and my work, be inspired -hopefully- by my story, and see that no matter how broke, how depressed, how insecure you may feel, it is possible. If you cannot afford art supplies pick up a pencil and a piece of paper. You need nothing more.

I started with maybe a bit more than that and right now I wouldn’t trade that start for anything. Above all else, art was a way for me out of the darkness, out of depression and back into myself, to be able to see myself in a new light as a different person, capable of so much more than I ever thought I could.

Black Cat in Repose

This is my first painting!

If you want to know the whole story make yourself a cupa, sit back, and read my “About” page. I think it’ll help you to get to know me better and maybe even come back for more.

For now, that’s all the Fat Lady has sung. Till next time.

Edna