“What do you do?”

I have hated to answer this question when I’m out and meeting new people. Here’s a poem I wrote in the last five minutes of my writing time today:

When someone asks you, “What do you do?”
Don’t tell them “Mom.” Don’t stare at your shoe.
Look them in the eye and proudly say,
“I write and draw and walk and pray.”
Don’t let their looks of doubt prevent
Your smile and power; don’t explain what you meant.
Stand by your words and, loud and clear,
Display with your body your lack of fear.
Plainly express, “I am what I do.
And now –your turn– who exactly are you?”

Coursera Design course

“Design” has always intrigued me. What is design? It’s more than just graphic design. It’s architecture, engineering, software, and so much more. So I’ve signed up for a Design course through Coursera. It just started yesterday, and –as I always am when it comes to new classes and learning something completely new to me– I’m pretty psyched!

I hope to learn about design, try my hand at it, and stretch my brain. As with anything completely new, it can’t help but relay insights to other parts of my life as well.

Here’s to learning!

from The Writer’s Life (Julia Cameron)

“Writing is about getting something down, not about thinking something up. Whenever I strive to ‘think something up,’ writing becomes something I must stretch to achieve: it becomes loftier than I am, perhaps even something so lofty it is beyond my grasp. When I am trying to think something up, I am straining. When, on the other hand, I am focused about just getting something down, I have a sense of attention but not a sense of strain.”

Following up good writing

I wrote for a while yesterday. Put together a personal essay, which I’d already written about once — just so I wouldn’t forget — and this time, I wrote a more complete, more polished essay. I was very happy with it, and I’m even thinking of taking the plunge and sending it out for publication. But first, I need someone to read it and give me feedback. At least, I think I do. I wonder. Do I want someone to read it just to give me more confidence in sending it out?

Challenge #1 is that I don’t know who I can trouble to read it. I decided on asking my 14-year-old daughter — a very good student, especially in English. She might be just the reader I need. On the other hand, she might not be. Anyway, it’s a start.

So today — and here’s the real “follow-up” that I was talking about in the post heading — I was out in the woods again walking the dog, and I found myself censoring certain thoughts. And the reason I was censoring was because I wanted to get to the good thoughts that would provide me with my next topic of writing. But that’s not how it works. The cool topics only come when the mind is allowed to wander wherever it wants. Goodness! I knew about the critic chiming in as you write, but to have it chiming in just while thinking? That’s going too far.

Once I recognized it, I banished it. I let my mind wander and I didn’t even bother to pull out my little notebook for most of the walk. So ha! Take that, Critic!

But isn’t that just how it is? The same with visual art. You do something you love, and then your critic is ready to pounce on the next project, because it can never be as good as the last one! Ack! Go away, critic. Just let me be.

Dreams and acorns

I woke from a dream in which I kept telling different people about this idea I’d had, about how if you finish a chapter in a book, you can put it down, but if you close the book in the middle of action, you’re still attached. And I was saying how it’s the same with people — that you need to close the conversation with a definite goodbye phrase so that you aren’t still attached. “Attached” is the word from the dream. Very Buddhist. I’m still wondering what it means. It made so much sense when I dreamt it. Isn’t it funny how there’s a whole different set of rules about logic and reasoning in our awake minds than in our sleeping minds? You’d think logic is logic.

I walked in the woods today for an hour and a half, lingering in places to pick up acorns and other nuts which I can’t identify. Must get out the tree identification book and see if I can find out what I’ve got here. I had so many nuts in my pockets, I had to keep pulling my pants up. It would have helped if I’d had a better belt, too. You know how fruit is appealing to animals and so they eat it and that spreads the seeds? And of course how burrs travel on your clothes so that they get spread around in the world and planted? I think acorns are so beautiful for the same reason. I cannot go to the woods without picking up at least half a dozen — even when I tell myself I will leave them “this time.”

figuring out the writing part

Okay, the decision was made. I’ll add my writing to the blog. But there are some logistical issues. Turns out, it’s not so easy to indent lines here, so how do I put in a poem? Then I began looking at other writers’ blogs and they don’t actually include their writing. I mean, not their WRITING writing. They just write. Does that make sense?

I could do that, but when I write, I write with pen on paper. I don’t type. (Call me old-fashioned.) So I was thinking I’d just transfer those many writings from my notebooks to the blog. Hmm… Doesn’t seem to be the way things are normally done. Must ponder this, because my brain works best with a pen in hand, not with my hands resting lightly on the keyboard.

Ongoing adjustments to the blog

I love art. I also love writing. I also love animation, video, knitting, quilting, photography, ideas, books. The list goes on. I spend my days not just on drawing and visual media, but on writing, thinking, pondering, experimenting, revisiting. I have decided that making this simply an art blog is too narrow for what I do. I know professionals say that you should narrow your focus, that your style should be easily recognized. If you want to succeed as an illustrator, for example, you need to work in a certain way, not in every and any which way you feel like. Well, I can’t do that. I can only do that which I’m excited by, and if I try to limit my focus, I will get bored. It’s as simple as that. Therefore, I’ve decided to change this from an art blog to an everything-creative blog. And I believe that will increase the number of posts dramatically.
What a freeing step! I can just be who I am! Hooray!

And… I’m back.

Okay, I wasn’t actually away — not out of town or anything. Just busy. It happens. Also, I’ve been spending more time on writing than drawing. It’s my other creative necessity.
From the library I got a book called: Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists by Carla Sonheim. It’s a nice little book but I haven’t gone too far through it. Anyway, here are a few cat drawings I did. It was just a 5-minute exercise. (Sorry for the fuzzy first picture. I’m just using my iPod to take the pictures.)

After loosening up like that, I decided to draw my daughter.

Then I did a gesture drawing of her. I like this one:

Another thing I’ve been doing a lot of is walking in the woods with my dog. I am fascinated by mushrooms and there are a lot of them right now. I have positively identified many Sickeners and a Destroying Angel. (Gotta love those names!) Here’s a picture of a log I came across. (These are neither Sickeners nor Destroying Angels. I’m not sure what they’re called.) So beautiful!