Archive for June, 2010

Published by PaintingChef on 28 Jun 2010

Some people know their own limits. I tend to forget mine until I attempt to test them. This never ends well…

I should know better. At this point, I should just know how this is going to work itself out. And yet… here we are.


Inevitably, whenever I get an idea for a piece in my head, much as I did for the second week’s challenge (for which I am already more than a day late turning something in), it will involve me creating something that is…. recognizable as an actual thing. Something that would require a modicum of drawing talent. Because I forget that this talent is not a gift that I possess. And so I go into an artistic endeavor with this fully realized final product in my head and it NEVER comes to fruition. I am always disappointed.

This week is no exception. Even as I look at my nearly finished piece (I’m having some… technical and construction issues), while I’m PLEASED with it, it doesn’t say what I set out to say. It’s close. It’s a version of what was in my head. But it’s somehow off, less personal.

I understand that art evolves. As we begin to work on something, it takes on life and moves and changes and finds its way into your heart and pulls out what you maybe didn’t know you needed to say. But just once in my life, I’d like to start a piece with an idea and finish it, step back and say “Yes. THIS is what I envisioned.” Is that even possible? Do I need to take some classes in drawing? Or should I just learn to trust myself more?

Well, regardless. I won’t tell you where it started because maybe that still lives in me somewhere, maybe its taken up residence with all the other pieces that are named and thought out and full of meaning but live only in my head (and holy crap is it getting cluttered in there!!)

But that said, the challenge this week was to incorporate a piece of technology into a piece. Be it sculpture, painting, whatever. This one is called “Chasing the Dragon.” And the correct answer is definitely… yes, Susannah… look into life drawing lessons.

Published by PaintingChef on 22 Jun 2010

Not that been covered in sugar is a BAD thing…

The first challenge went well, I started painting my grandmother and the more I thought about her, the more I went back to spending time with her in the kitchen, flour flying, the cloud of powdered sugar settling down over everything like a fine mist, the smell of scalded butter (or as the TRENDY chefs refer to it, browned butter) and melting chocolate infused into everything I wore. But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered how she kind of disappeared into whatever she was making. I don’t know any other way to describe it. Her hair and her clothes would be covered in whatever we were making; “The Remains of the Day” as I called it.

But somehow, she was just hidden beneath it. Since she’s been gone, I’ve learned that I knew her in a way that nobody else did. In talking to my mother and my uncle and my sister and those who knew her best, I’ve come to realize that the hugs I received were so much more of a gift than I realized. The long conversations about life and the past and the future and my dreams and hers were something she shared only with me. To everyone else in her world she was so guarded, almost secretive. She kept to herself and wore a thick coat of armor with the spikes pointed outwards. She was a porcupine, prickly if you tried to get close. What was it about our relationship that made her drop those defenses?

And why, as I painted her, did her blue eyes and her soft skin disappear into a fog? Instead I saw only her hair, full of the evidence of the day’s hard work, a smudge of red lipstick left behind from the morning’s errands and the glasses. She was the only person I knew who was blinder than I am. But as I painted the glasses, the paint was thinner than I realized and one spot started to run down the canvas. I left it… somehow it seemed appropriate. I was the only person who ever saw her cry.

Published by PaintingChef on 11 Jun 2010

On checking in and getting my ass kicked.

Call it a check-up. An open up and say “ahhh” sort of moment we’re going to have here. When you work full time and don’t have children, other than the weekends, summer kind of loses its luster. But in spite of that, I feel like the summer kind of kicked off my whole “New Attitude” (and if you don’t hear Patti LaBelle right now in your head, you are dead to me) and much unlike, um, pretty much everything else in my life, I’m trying really hard to make this one stick.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the being healthier or getting motivated to not be quite so ass on the couch-y all damn day even when it’s perfect and gorgeous in the out-of-doors that had me shaking in my boots. And that’s because despite my lack of self-motivation, I KNOW how to do those things. I KNOW how to swim and walk and run and work in the garden (oh lord… what a fucking fiasco THAT has been. The veggies are good, so are the herbs, there are just so MANY of them. And its not even that there are tons of vegetables, its just that these plants grow so many damn leaves for a few pieces of squash or peppers. Good grief!) I KNOW how to cook healthier and live actively. Those are things that I’ve done before and are ingrained somewhere in my subconscious buried deep under layers of cake, chocolate frosting and sourdough bread.

No, the one thing that terrified me more than anything else was telling myself that enough was enough. It was time for me to stop making excuses and empty promises and just get up and rediscover the artist side of me. I remember the feeling I used to get working in my sunny kitchen studio nook painting and grooving to the music on my ipod. It was the most blissful, free feeling I can think of. I would be just enchanted by the swirls of colors on my paper plate palettes (I tried so many things, wet palettes designed to make paint last, those cute wooden ones you see in photographs, but nothing works like a good old oversized paper plate! I blame the lazy housekeeper in me…). It was like this electric current of creativity and passion was flowing through my entire body.

I think that in procrastinating my return to art, I’ve been afraid of not being able to recapture that feeling. I tried to tell myself that it was because I’m scared that I’ll stand there in front of a blank canvas and nothing will happen, nothing will come out. In my previous artistic life, I called my work “happy art”. It was all bright colors and whirling dervishes and abstract shapes that were meant to do nothing more than evoke a smile and brighten a wall or maybe even the day of someone who saw it. But, in general, I live my life in a slightly darker place now and while maybe that very fact is part of what I’m trying to change, I don’t think its going to ever go away. There is a side of my psyche that, over the past 2 years or so, has been designated to house the loss and disappointment that has managed to sneak into my life. It doesn’t go away, I still miss her every day and that emptiness has just become part of who I am. I dream about her so often. She tells me that she is fine and when I try to explain how I miss her, she tells me that there isn’t a second of the day that she isn’t right by my side. But still… she’s gone. She’s gone and I can’t have a baby. These are my realities and they’ve changed me.

So I’m scared to try and create something because I don’t think I’ll recognize what comes out. But… scared or not… I think I’ve finally received the kick in the ass that I’ve needed. One of my FAVORITE internet girl crushes, Lindsey Smolensky (whose name I can’t even say without having to take a breath and be in awe of her balls-out creativity and dedication to making her art infuse itself into every area of her life, she is… her work leaves me speechless, I can’t even explain it, I ADORE her) has started a project that runs alongside Bravo’s “Work of Art” reality show and I’m taking a deep breath and diving in.

There are a group of artists, of which I am one, who are challenging themselves to follow along with the challenges on “Work of Art” (think Top Chef, Project Runway, the standard and HIGHLY addictive Bravo reality show format) and create one piece a week. Then we will post them online and share them with each other and have a discussion. No winners, no losers, nobody gets voted off. This is just a great way to be involved with other artists. She modeled the challenge off of Becky Cochran’s AMAZING Project Runway/Barbie project. (You must check that one out… it is GREAT! I think most everything is under the “fashion” tag).

So… long story longer… (I know, are you exhausted, if you are even still reading, I so applaud you.) The project is going to be pretty fantastic. The first challenge is a portrait and I have to have it done by Monday. I am, of course, doing my grandmother but the coolest part? SO IS LINDSEY!! Hers will kick mine’s ass but they will both be beautiful because they will both be full of love and honesty. I’m scared shitless about this project. But I’m also totally grateful to Lindsey for coming up with it and asking me to be involved. If you want to follow along, I’m going to add a link in the sidebar somewhere at some point but for right now… you can find it here.

Wish me luck!!

Published by PaintingChef on 07 Jun 2010

Be still my heart…

All my lovelies. In one boat.

Published by PaintingChef on 02 Jun 2010

Oh… and the sand in my swimsuit. That made it home with me too.

As my most recent decision in the whole Uterus Chronicles: Not Without my Fertility Meds: Too Many Needles Lifetime movie version of my life takes some time to sink in and wedge its way into my life and my world and my duodenum, I feel little pieces of me unclench and relax every single day. The breath I didn’t know I’d been holding for 14 months finally being exhaled.

Two weekends ago we finally got the boat out for the first time this summer and it was just perfect. I swear to you, I could feel the winter cobwebs just falling away. We zipped all up and down the lake and stopped in a beautiful little cove to float and just BE for a little while. Suddenly I noticed that the dull ache I hadn’t been able to shake for at least six months was gone.

Since making this decision, so many things have occurred to me as to why it is the right thing for me and for Patrick right now. As anyone who reads this website knows, I’m prone to expounding on how happy I am and that having a baby with Patrick would just be the icing on the cake. But over the past few months, that theory had lost steam and while I was taking the time to work in the garden and read in the sun and walk the dogs, I realized that I had started to be one of those women who believes they can’t be happy or complete or fulfilled without having a child. Who are those women? That’s not me! And my own happiness is too great a burden for a little person who, if they even actually existed, would routinely shit their own pants.

So I just decided to focus on my continued plan of waking back up to my own life. And then? In the most perfect timing in the world, we went to the beach with friends and it was divine. Do you know why? Because I did absolutely nothing but lie on the beach and read and float in the ocean and catch up with friends. I played with Belle on the beach and snuggled with my husband in bed. We slept late in the mornings and drank and played poker late into the night. We had a Wii bowling tournament. We drank wine and ate delicious food and just sat and talked and talked and talked. And not once did I think about my uterus. Not once did I bemoan the fact that I was childless.

I didn’t take pictures. I didn’t check email aside from what showed up on my Blackberry. I didn’t read blogs or look at Facebook. I didn’t pay attention to the sample sales that have become the crack of which I am trying to come clean. (Oh RueLaLa, how you taunt me!!) I didn’t browse infertility message boards. I didn’t worry (too much) about what was going on at the office. I was just completely and totally on vacation. And I think it was the perfect way to transition into this new way of thinking and of living my life. I came home to over 500 emails, only about 5 of which were truly relevant. Why do I keep so much crap running through my life?

So yes. I’ve been gone. I went on vacation. The only proof I have are my brown legs and one little camera phone picture. And that’s enough for me.