Goings On About Town

Big things are in the works. Baby steps!!!

Though my drawing a day project has once again fizzled, I have in fact been making art nearly every day.  When I started the project, my intention was to do all kinds of work, showing progress, drawings, sketches, and finished work as it went on.

But as the project went on, my parameters got more and more narrow.  First, somehow, I decided it had to be a drawing. Then I decided it had to be a drawing on a particular size of paper.  But as an artist, I’m all over the place.  I do several bodies of work in several media all the time.  All those limitations are not how I work, but somehow I talked myself slowly into that consistency and regularity.

Some of the work that I do as an artist is less photographic.  Like the above shot, a photogenic rearrangement of something much less exciting to look at: making the “paints” for my “paintbox.”  Each sheet has to be torn and in order to use them more efficiently be rolled into a ball so when it comes to making the carpet, no detangling is needed.

In any case, I wanted to outline for you some of what I’ve been working on, though each of these things will get more attention as time goes on this summer, perhaps you would like to know the whole list of “what’s up” in Adventurous Art land.

Recycle Ann Arbor had an Earth Day Art Contest, and my “Sun Rug” was selected to be a finalist.  Though the turnout was small, I stuck around for the Public Reception and made some good connections to people in the community.

My small success in that contest persuaded me to shoot higher and I’ve been working on a proposal for a larger series of rag carpets to be displayed in narrative series from Cloud, to Rain, to Rainbow, to Sun.  The first proposal contains some mistakes and omissions, so we will see.  In either case, I’m excited about the project and you will see some progress shots soon.

One person I met through the program was the Outreach and Zero-Waste coordinator for RAA with whom I’m coordinating the translation of some of their materials about how to recycle in Ann Arbor into Spanish.  It’s cool to get to do some translation work, if only as a volunteer.

She also introduced me to someone at the Ecology Center, and I’m volunteering with them to do an interactive recycled art table at the Eco-Ride on June 23 at Riverside Park in Ann Arbor.  Yes, Ann Arbor, not Ypsi.  I’m going to do a whole entry about this since I made them a video and I think you’ll enjoy our project, even if you can’t attend the Eco-Ride.

Another of the people I met through the Recycle Ann Arbor Earth Day Contest was the director of FLY Art Center, an Ypsi organization that does outreach to under-served public school children.  We met up and I’m going to teach some “Studio Skills” classes (one about no-sew upcycled t-shirts, and one about rag rug coasters or placemats), and do some volunteering for them in their outreach and public programs.

 

 

Symmetry

Red and white exercise on symmetry and mirroring

This week I was digging through some old image files for one reason and another.  This one stood out as something interesting.

It was done during one of my private lessons while I lived in Madrid.

At the time, most of the drawings from those classes seemed un-interesting.  During classes, I mostly did figural works, both because it made it easier to present ideas to the children, but also because at a certain age (that these students were), students are more interested in plotting ways to draw real things.

But one of the students who was just learning to write was having a problem writing her letters facing the correct direction, and this was a visualization exercise that my mother found for me when I was a similar age, with a similar problem.  I’ve since used it to help students learn to see line and proportion in drawing as well.

Anyway, it’s funny that a drawing done in less than a minute during a class should stand out as something that I want to write about today.

It just goes to show that the values we place on our actions are often misaligned with reality.  Because of the context, and the fact that it wasn’t part of my pure artistic practice, I denigrated this drawing at the time.  But now, years later, I look at it and love the motion of the lines, and the play of positive and negative space.

That isn’t to say that I didn’t see value in it at the time it was made, just not artistic value.  At the time I saw how the series of mirror drawings we did helped the little girl get her “e” facing the correct direction.  I also saw what it could teach for future lessons.

Someone once told me that you never know how important something is at the time you do it, so you should just do things that seem to go in a direction that you want to go.  I guess this drawing is an example of that.

Putting the act of drawing into another context helps reduce self-imposed limitations of what a “good” drawing is.  It creates a separation from the usual process of drawing’s purpose, allowing a re-direction.

Life can be like that too.  Sometimes it’s easier to meet people, or make professional progress, when you are doing something unrelated.  It is easier to meet people, for example, when you go out with the purpose of walking the dog.  People talk to you because you are there with a dog, and they have a dog, and eventually you make friends.  But if you go out to the park (or a cafĂ©) alone, it’s often harder because you are more intent on the purpose of meeting people, so your behavior can become stilted.  (At least this is true for me, and I suspect it is for many other slightly shy people).

Basically, moving through life with purpose is important, but assuming that the only thing that is being moved is the purpose that moves you is limiting.  I’m trying to remember this lesson right now.  That even if what I’m doing seems small, that in the course of every day life, other things of value ripple out from my actions and influence my life and the lives of others in ways that may not be visible now.