Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

This Artist and the Ego

When I first started contemplating being a visual artist instead of a performance artist, much of that decision was based on a inner search for some deeper meaning in my life and how man fits into the scheme of nature...the grand plan if you will. I am not trying to sell anything or suggest this is a path for everyone just telling a story.

My perception is not that we have dominion over the planet but instead is more as if we are a part of the network that is the web of life on the planet. More simply put we are just another aspect of nature as valuable as trees and grass, etc but not separate from them.

The entire body of my work has been based on this relationship between man, mostly myself, and nature. I didn't choose this theme with intent; it chose me. I am still chewing on this piece of gum. However, with the planet in an obvious major transition, my work seemed to want to move in a new direction as well. This has been an intense struggle for trying to find your way in an unfamiliar dark room.......which, along with many other family and business why you have not been seeing any new work on the blog

Trying to overcome this dilemma, I have spent many hours in thought.....always a good way to stop working...and have finally come to a realization that part of the problem was that pesky ego thing. Would I still have an audience if I changed style...what would happen to my teaching dates, etc. Although I have spent many years practicing meditation and tyring to rid myself of ego to enter into a place of deeper spiritual awareness, the ego rushed back in full force to protect liked being Gabrielle Swain and wasn't ready to endanger that.

Basically, I was at war with myself....when suddenly the light bulb turned on. The simple answer was to step out of the way and let the art make itself. Quit trying to force the work in any particular direction just be silent and wait. Accept whatever comes as a gift and tell my ego to pack up all the luggage and either get ready for a new trip or leave town.

My firm belief has always been that art is for the artist....a process of discovery, finding meaning and tapping into unknown areas of self. The second part of the equation...the out of my control. How my work effects the viewer is a truly unknown conversation.

Sorry for the long post but this has been the culmination of a I am stepping aside, removing the ego factor and eagerly awaiting what will manifest from this decision. It is almost as if i am starting back of at he beginning...a very exciting process.

Thank you four recent comments and for putting up with my diatribes, This is an amazing community so valuable to our work. So the new journey begins, I will try to keep you posted on the progress. But in closing, while the ego is necessary, fame, fortune and all the trappings are not the focus. It is the work that leads us down the road to that place of understanding.

Stepping off the soap box in the hope that this made some sense. Thank you for your patience in this stream of consciousness post.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Being Off the Road

This is a whole new world. Adapting to being at home has been a real challenge which has also been a real surprise to me. Of course, I know this is only a short respite but it has been quite interesting. Just a couple of oddities: all of my cd's are completely out of order and the house is in danger of being closed by the board of health.
Not that I am the greatest at cleaning in the first place but this is beyond the pale. With Thom coming home, I did the bare minimum but it made me realize how bad it was. The only two rooms worth any good comment were the studio and the office. How odd, huh? Naturally they were the best out of necessity since they are the two rooms where I spend the most time. The lesson I learned is that I am not house proud.
Let me clarify: I love my house and all the doo-dads, especially the blue glass, but we don't entertain so I don't feel the need to live in a show case. Sweet Ronnie and I are truly reclusive. We enjoy each other and we both fiercely guard our private time. Who would I be showing our home to?
Instead of a show case, we have a livable home. Everything is about comfort and not worrying if something is out of place. However, I must admit one can take this just so far. It isn't the dust, or the dirty dishes that is driving me nuts. It is the clutter. Unread stacks of books and magazines, clothes thrown in a pile from one trip to another, shoes tossed in another pile, papers that need to be shredded.....and those @#$% cd's. It is overwhelming how lax I have been in dealing with these simple tasks.
On the brighter side, it is good to be rested and finally coming out of total exhaustion. I am so excited about working on the dvd zine which is falling into place almost too easily. It is a challenge learning to edit and a gift to have the time to do so....and a joy that on Tuesday I will get to spend the day with my grandson , Gareth (Charles and Christy's youngest) since he lives in Virginia with his mom.
So the clutter will just have to be dealt with in small will get done but just living in a timeless world takes precedence at the moment. I often don't know what day it is since neither of us are working. I never realized what a luxury that would be free from time.
I plan on wallowing in that luxury for as long as possible because it will end all too quickly.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thank You Louise

While in my usual repose on sofa reading, I found this quote from Louise Nevelson whose work I admire immensely.
"Logic, where you ponder and, oh dear, it sounds so fancy----what in the hell do you need it for?
It measures you and limits you. See now take a word like imagination. Imagination is not vague. Imagination is flash thinking, instantaneous." Louise Nevelson 1900-1988

Well slap myself on the forehead and shut my mouth. What I have been doing is trying to put some rational, logical reason in my head for not working. Kinda Freud on demand. I can no more make a logical reason for this than I can stop breathing...well let's hope I don't stop breathing. Being an artist is akin to being a child, playful, open and curious as to why all those adults are so weird. Problem solved: I became an adult.

Granted it is hard not to do with the world in its current state of feels the heavy weight of adulthood deeply. But as Louise stated so beautifully all the logic and pondering I might do will not change anything but me. Artist must be optimist, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that they are an intrinsic part of that light.

I am not implying one should not take responsibility for their a matter of fact that is the major problem we are currently is always someone else's fault....not the Attorney General, the Republicans and Democrats, the VP or the President. Some unknown is at fault...gee, I wish we could find that person and put an end to all this.

One must guard their creative energy like a mother lion with her cubs. If we aren't always on the look-out, a world weary energy creeps in and steals it away piece by piece. We must always be aware of the power that creating gives soothe the emotions of others, to bring beauty into an uncertain world. I am reminded of Franklin Roosevelt's WPA projects in which he hired artist and craftsman as well as engineers and labor. Some of the most beautiful of the projects are still with us and were created in a deeply troubled world. However, these artists brought to the poor and unemployed, hope and joy from the beauty of the work.

So Mr. President, VP and all the other pundits that have put us in a dark place, I will defy you and pledge to bring beauty into this world. I will stop thinking and start doing....even if it isn't successful, I will continue to try. Imagination will be my constant companion and logic can go jump in the lake.

Eye Candy

Just a few glimpses from around my house....a picture is worth a thousand words.

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The Lost is Found and Other Stuff

Ta da! I found the illusive cable hiding in my projector case....right where it belonged. What idiot put it there I have no idea but now the blog won't be so unattractive. I was not going to give up I knew it was in this house. Now I think I will turn it into some lovely piece of jewelry so I will always have it on my body. Sigh of relief.

Since I am behind in pictures here is an assortment of oddities. Chris made me post a new picture of him so you wouldn't think he was actually as fat as the previous picture. Here he is hard at work setting up one of the cameras for our last project. As you can see, he is quite intense about the angle of the shot. We did this shoot in a record two days...all to his skill. Thanks, sweetie.

The next photo I couldn't resist. My last teaching gig in California we were using light boxes as usual but the room had great light for sewing which was interfering with the
light box. The ambient light in any room shines down on the light box while the light box is pushing light upward. Occasionally they really get into an argument. Mark was working on a fairly dark fabric so that didn't help. Creativity abounds.....he used the old camera technique of covering the lens while viewing the subject.

I had such fun with this class. What a hoot! I told them I thought we had more fun than what we learned but they disagreed....and it wasn't just the class, it was the entire guild. During the lecture, there was plenty of interaction and lots of laughs. Thanks for a great trip.

Last photo gives me just the excuse I needed to not be working. Now I can blame it on someone else instead of my laziness and other questionable reasons. Thom moved home Tuesday from Baylor. Since I co-opted his old room for my office, the poor thing doesn't even have room for his bed. We got out the Aero mattress and stuffed the rest of his life
in the studio. Just the excuse I needed for my total lack of productivity.

Regarding my lack of working again, (I promise I will shut up about this soon) I am totally baffled. I have never gone this long without doing something my whole life. I am constantly questioning is it all over....time to move onto something else....retire...what?
Still hoping the October retreat in Taos will shed some light on this fallow period but what if it doesn't. Panic!

I have become exquisitely good at sitting on the sofa reading or watching bad tv. I got out a layered quilt the other day put about ten stitches in and went ...nah! Put the sucker right back where it was and went back to the sofa. It wouldn't bother me so much if I could just stop thinking about it and enjoy the sofa. However, there is always this little kernel in the pit of my stomach that makes me believe something is wrong with me. I try telling myself that I am incubating some great new series and that when
the energy returns, it will be even better than before.

Blame it on the heavens...maybe my planets are all mis-aligned. Would you guys get it together...puleeze! I never dreamed of a day that I would not want to make quilts....I still don't believe it....but for sure I am not doing it.

Now that I have my camera cable back, I think I will go out and shoot off something. Maybe that will help. I just gotta get it together before I drive everyone, including y
all nuts.
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lost Something Again

This cleaning thing is for the birds. Remember my last lost transparency and sketch. That went well after reverse engineering and the new dvd is ready to be edited. However, now I have gone and lost my USB cable to my new camera. It is cord world around here anyway. We have chargers for cell phones, laptop chargers, a power box for the editing computer so you have time to save what you are working on in case of a power outage but no camera cables. I decided to do this Feung Shei (okay I spelled that wrong) thing in my office, moving furniture, placing things facing east (apparently my direction for good fortune) and doing an overall re-organization. Suddenly no camera cable. I am stymied.
I had just been using it for the Florida pictures and now I can't find it anywhere. Gremlins are afoot in the cord world of my house.
The real question is why was I cleaning again. Two answers: Avoiding working in the studio and son Thomas finally coming home from Baylor. He took the bar exam last week. 3 days fifteen hours each and has to drive down on the 10th of this month to take another test....some sort of multi-state thing.
Glad to have him home for awhile but the house was a pit. Don't get excited I only did the bare minimum but tomorrow have to make a trip to the grocery store. Ronnie and I are so accustomed to just the two of us that we don't buy big any more. However, Thom is still a growing boy and wants to eat lots.
Back to the bar exam, I am sure it was a monster but here's the bad news...he won't know if he passed until November. Sheesh! I would be a bundle of nerves. For me that isn't so far away because of having to get ready for Houston but for him it has to be torture. On the brighter side, every single Baylor Law graduate who took the test in February passed. Woo hoo! Of all the law schools in Texas, Baylor has the highest number of graduates who pass the bar the first time....something like 96%. So everyone keep their fingers crossed for Thom...he has worked so hard....two undergrad degrees in 3 years, graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and now 3 years at Baylor. I think he needs a break. No pressure from us to get a job...we are going to let him chill awhile before we start whining.
How boring this is going to be with no pictures...ugh! To reason number one, avoiding the studio. I have no idea what is wrong with me. I have several quilts started in various stages of production, tons of drawings and just can't seem to do anything. Every morning I wake-up with the today is the day and then nothing. Sweet Ronnie says I am just re-charging my batteries from so much traveling but all I could think about when I was on the road was being in the studio.....and how wonderful that was going to be. Enough whining, surely someday it will hit me to work again.
Rhonda asked in my post on photography how I got two pictures in the post. Hey Rhonda thanks for the comment. I use Picassa 2 which allows me to click a dot that holds the pictures I want to post. It does have a possibly 3 or four pictures in one post but give it a try. I downloaded it free from Google. Are most of us using Picassa? It is kinda quirky occasionally but is pretty reliable. Of course, you have to have camera cables to upload from your camera. I'll shut up now. This post is way to long and has said nothing but the news about Thom. Be back soon.