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11:33 a.m. - 2012-05-12
Painting my way back to you, babe.

Amazing what parking the mess in the blog, then going off and painting, laughing with my guys, a good giggle of a movie, and a solid night's sleep will do for a girl. Also didn't hurt that Mick brought home a huge bouquet of carnations and kissed me a lot.

The movie? 'The Addams Family'. See last week I'd tried to watch 'Black Snake Moan', which was a terrible idea- only made it in about 15 minutes before the violence and sorrow tweaked me too hard to keep watching, and since then have been thinking about Christina Ricci and her star turn as Wednesday Addams. No actor has been more physically perfect for a role since Shelley Duvall played Olive Oyle. So 'The Addams Family' it was. Silly, cartoony, a perfect upper for me. A nice surprise was discovering a young Mercedes McNab as the snooty girl scout. Mercedes McNab grew up to become Harmony the dimwit on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. Don't you love when you see big time actors in their earlier bit parts? Not that Mercedes McNab became a superstar, I'm thinking more about small roles like Kevin Spacey playing Bob the coked-up stock trader in 'Working Girl'. I imagine the pleasure for a starting actor to score a gig like that and how they'd probably think, "Yay! I'll pay the rent this month! And maybe even eat!" And how a few years later things like sweating the rent and surviving on macaroni and cheese go away forever. Unless, of course, you get a real coke habit and after ruining your career and putting all your money up your nose you end up starving again in that same scummy studio apartment and wondering how you managed to screw up your life that badly.

Now, about the painting. I am graduating myself to acrylics this week. I like watercolors, they were a good way to get back into painting. However I'm needing to layer colors and add details in ways I can't do with watercolors. My technique is primitive in the extreme and I don't have the finesse it takes to layer and overpaint with watercolors without turning everything into a muddy smear. Might even get an easel. I saw a small table-top one for $12 at Hobby Lobby that looked pretty sturdy.

I'm also delighted with how uncritical I am about my painting. Right now I'm content to try things and don't mind if it comes out goofy and childish looking. I did a sunflower yesterday that would prompt any sane person to ask, "That's cute! Did Wolf do that in kindergarten?" The whole point behind painting is to do something arty that won't tie me up in knots as writing does. Writing is too important to me. Painting is a lark and I am allowed to be bad at it and still enjoy myself. Painting is far away from the bitch mistress of my keyboard and that horrible blank white screen.

There's a painting in my dining room that the ex's mother did about 20 years ago. I had to beg her for that one, she was shy about giving people her artwork. Her painting was as serious to her as writing is to me and there was no such thing as 'good enough'. She was harsh on herself and on anyone who liked her work. She thought I was being a kiss-ass and/or I had no clue what good painting looked like. Wrong on both counts. I am never a kiss-ass about art. If it's dumb or badly executed and you ask for my honest opinion I'll tell you. And while taste in art is the most subjective thing in the world, even if something isn't your style you can tell whether it's done well or not. The piece in my dining room is a good painting. I've been looking at it for 20 years and can see where this one section might have been balanced off better against another and that her brushwork was still a bit shaky, doesn't matter though, it's a fine painting and I like it.

My ex-MIL, btw, did go on to get up the chops to begin selling her work professionally and did okay at it. She moved over to ceramics and making gorgeous dolls some years later and has done fabulously well with them. She liked making dolls more than straight up painting, dolls had a known form and she could use all of her creative juice on their construction and dressing. She makes all the clothes and styles the wigs along with making the bisque body parts in her kiln. Dolls cover all of her creative bases.

Why am I painting again? Besides the therapeutic value? This might sound weird but I saw a mixed media piece of mine in a dream. I haven't done it in real life yet, but I know what it is and what it looks like. I'm nowhere near ready to try it yet, I'm still way down on the learning curve with everything I need to pull it off, but I will do this thing someday soon. I even know its name. Got a place picked out for it in the stairwell too. Now all I need to do is get my technique up to speed and 'Fish and Chips' will be born and will hang in my stairwell and make me smile every time I go upstairs. And what else is art for if not for the pleasure it brings?

With so many other things in my life stuttering to an end- my period, my time as a babe, as a fulltime mother, as a young person of any kind, beginning a new adventure with painting feels good. It's a happy, hopeful thing that with the exception of the piece I saw in my dreams is without expectation or need to please anyone but me. It's fun too. And God knows there's been little enough of that in my life.

So there you go. As I said the other day, the funks still get me sometimes but I know that with time and effort and some self-comfort they can be banished.

Sunny again in more ways than one, ~LA

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