Friday, February 01, 2008


"...I don't invent the whole of the painting; on the contrary, I find it readymade - but to be untangled in the real world." ~ Vincent van Gogh

Today I was ready to do something, anything in the studio. I only had a bit of damage control to take care of on the snow front, and it has been discouraging to see January pass into February with two projects not completed as planned.

The shoveling I did still left me a little tired, so I started by grabbing my thesaurus and the journal I started for the Take It Further Challenge. I have not been able to get anywhere with this idea based on the key concept of "feeling of admiration." The only thing I feel is stuck. Previously I thought something might jog loose if I listed other people I admire and why. No luck. Brain couldn't think past Mom. So I concentrated on the "why" instead of the "who." Still stuck and this is ridiculous, I decided. So I started with words on her headstone, keying in on "teacher" and "advocate." I pried a few other words out of my memory and have been thinking about it off and on all week.

Last night I came up with another word I really liked: gritty. But I still felt pretty stuck. So today, I wanted to record "gritty" before I forgot it, and pulled the thesaurus to help me pin down some words for concepts I was having a hard time reducing to one or two words. I started scanning the category section in the back, hoping something would break my thoughts loose. It indeed helped, and now I have a list of maybe 30 words to choose from. Part of me wants to add these to the quilt while another part of me is afraid that is too predictable and trite. We'll see.

So when you think of the attributes of someone you admire, are they all positive ones? I surprised myself a little by jotting down "imperfect." But truly, one of the things that made me appreciate my mother more than ever was when I discovered an awful thing she'd done in her youth. She hid it from me, I'm sure because she didn't want me to think it would be ok to do the same. On the contrary, knowing she had made this mistake and not let it totally destroy her life gave her more credibility when she'd warn me not to do this or that, and definitely made me admire her more.

And then there was the positive attribute that I realized I didn't necessarily admire. What do I do with that?

Some words assigned to certain categories surprised me. Do you think of gentleness as being a sign of weakness? I certainly don't. My mother had her gentle side, but I don't think for a minute you would consider her weak.

I also felt my memory of Mom hazy. Whether that be the passage of time since her death or just my own state of mind and tiredness, I'm not sure. I jotted down several things that I thought described her, then put a question mark afterwards because I wasn't sure. What am I remembering here?

I didn't have any breakthroughs today, but at least I sat in the studio and did something on this challenge. I also cut some Bubble Jet Set treated cotton and ironed it to freezer paper, ready to print off my portrait. I decided to leave well enough alone and add no more quilting to "Off the Grid" which allowed me to square it up in preparation for attaching it to its mount. Time to get moving even if I'm not sure where I'm headed.

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