Yesterday I received the most fantastic package in the mail: Flat Anna! She came from my step-mother, Margaret, in Alaska. Well, let me re-phrase: Margaret sent Flat Anna to me. Margaret lives is Alaska. Flat Anna came from Aurora, Colorado. Specifically the Aurora Academy. Ms. Fahlstedt, presumably the teacher at the Academy who initiated a project, is currently teaching the children in her Geography class about maps and globes. To reinforce the point, they made Flat Anna - a laminated paper doll about 8 inches tall with auburn hair, lovely pink fingernails and toenails and who wears a pretty, pink dress - with the purpose of sending her on a global journey. I don't know all of the places she's visited so far, but I do know she's spent some time with my family in Alaska, which must have been really exciting for her. She landed in Anchorage and from there was taken on a small trip to Whittier, which is about less than an hour's drive from Anchorage and where my Dad, Step-mom and brothers run two restaurants, the most established of which is called Varly's Seafood Cafe. In order to get to Whittier from the mainland, you have to drive through a 2.5 mile long tunnel which goes through a mountain. It used to be, over a decade ago, that only a train could pass through the tunnel, so in order to get through you'd either have to ride a passenger car or drive your car onto a flatbed carraige. Nowadays, the tunnel has been evolved so that cars and trains can drive/ride on the same track. It's pretty cool. Anyway, when you arrive in Whittier you're immediately welcomed by a harbor and find yourself almost engulfed in mountains. And you'll also find the most amazingly beautiful emerald green waters of the Prince William Sound. It's fabulous.
I'm glad Flat Anna had a chance to spend some time with my family and that they've decided to send her on to me here in England. So far, she's spent a bit of time with Butler and has been helping me bake bread today (a new recipe from the internet: 3,2,1 Lentil Bread). Dave and I plan on taking her with us this weekend to London, where we'll be celebrating our one year anniversary (appropriately our paper anniversary).
Gotta go for now - the buzzer just rang. Flat Anna and I have some dough to knead. Later!
Six months ago after seeing my crocheted cafetiere warmer my friend, Matt, told me he would like one of his own. This weekend I finally made it for him. We've been busy, what can I say? And I was so pleased with my efforts that I've decided this would make a great addition to my website, so I took some pics and put them up. It's really therapeutic to crochet those little beauties - and it's a nice way to do something creative outside of the studio. In fact, I was able to make them in the perfect environment; my sister-in-law, the impeccable hostess that she is, hosted a craft day with the local ladies. She made fresh-brewed coffee (she even frothed the milk!), cupcakes and banana bread. It was perfect to spend a day full of chat, food, and creativity! Now that the weather has turned, all I want to do is curl up under a blanket with my slippers on and heat cranked up while I crochet to the lovely music of Count Basie.
I've also been doing a bit of graphic design, creating a brochure that I can take to galleries and boutiques to encourage sales. I have to admit it's not nearly as relaxing as crocheting, but it does come with its own little perks - namely listening to news radio while drinking coffee. Which I need to do a lot of (drink coffee that is) because we've had some workmen in painting the exterior woodwork. This requires all of the windows in the house and the front door to remain open for several hours. It happens to be breezy. The wind comes from the arctic circle. So it's a bit chilly. And right now I want nothing more than to wrap my hands tightly around a warm cuppa brew. Mmmmm. I better go get some down me!
Last year I read a book that probably ranks in my top 10 titled The Last American Man. I've passed in on to a few friends to read. Which I don't do often, but am willing to with books I believe worthy of praise. I just loved it. I didn't pay much attention to the author's name and never really thought much about it to be honest.
Now jump forward a year. I'm sitting in my studio updating my blog and I realized that it would be a good idea (not to mention a really nice thing to do) to provide links some key items from my previous blog "Today's Inspirations". So I'm adding Elizabeth Gilbert's website to my own website (because I mention her book Eat, Pray, Love, which I'm currently reading) when one of her books catches my eye - it's the cover for The Last American Man. I've always been a believer that books find you when they're meant to. And maybe this sounds normal and or perhaps even insignificant to most people. And I guess in some ways it is. But to me this is HUGE! I love it when I see little tiny dots connecting to create an arc which is part of a large circle which is what we call life. I just love it. Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert. Thank you very, very much.
As my readers know, I need to frame five pieces of work from my "A Family Story" series for the gallery in Oxford, so they can test them out. I've been giving this a lot of thought and have been wondering whether I should have them professionally framed or do it myself. I am not afraid of using tools and I think I could do a good job making them myself. The only concern is that this really would be a new endeavour. But I lack a proper interior wood-cutting space. So I'd have to do it out in the back yard. Which isn't as problematic as it would have been in Lancashire, where it seems to never cease in delivering rain. Of course, this option would require the purchase of equipment (which I'm ALWAYS willing to do). Because Dave is the sole breadwinner in our house (at the moment!), I feel that I have to bring a solid case before making any larger purchases. So today we visited a framer to get an estimate for what it would cost for them to do the job. I was quoted just under £500. Now, keep in mind the largest piece would measure 17" square. Lordy! This would be fine and well if I had confidence all of my pieces would sell. But, I just don't. I mean I'm really going out on a limb in this journey so far as it is.
So here's my option: buy a plunge router/table combo so I can do the job myself. I found one on ebay for £64.99 + £6.98 shipping. The way I figure, I make an investment of this equipment, which is less than the cost of any individual professionally framed piece or art. And then I'll have to buy some strips of wood - which might cost, let's say, £50. Plus the cost of glass. Maybe another £30 or £40. And then my time, but let's face it, that's what I do have to spare. So for about a total of £200 I can frame all five pieces plus have the equipment to frame more. Maybe if all else fails I can become a bespoke framer! All in all, a no-brainer I think. Man, I hope this art thing pays off!
This poem by Langston Hughes, which Lorraine Hansberry uses as the intro to her play "A Raisin in the Sun", has been playing in my head today. It goes:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore -
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over -
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Also, I've been reading Eat, Pray, Love. I couldn't bring myself to read it for years because it's been so popular and whenever something ranks high among the collective public, I just automatically shun it. But usually just for a little while. Plus, I strongly believe that books find you and inspire you to read them when you're ready for it. It's been true so often with so many books in my life that it's the closest thing to a religious experience I've ever had. Anyway, I'm finding this to be a very pleasurable read and the way Elizabeth Gilbert has with words is an inspiration to me to keep writing my blog, even when I think I don't have anything to share. I love her humor and playful style. And of course, the book os SOOO much better than the movie!
I'm always inspired by the artwork of Ray Johnson. If you've never watched the documentary about his work, life, and mysterious death - How to Draw a Bunny - you definitely should. It's amazingly intriguing.
And without fail, these lyrics from Leonard Cohen's song Suzanne sinks into my body, wrapping itself around my spine and swirling like (in the words of T.S. Eliot) "yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes" before curling "once about the house" before falling asleep:
Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
Just a quickie today to let you see what's going on in the studio today. I'm working actualizing The War Girls as paintings on board from the digital thumbnail form they've lived in for a little while now. I realize I need to work on "focusing" as my creative endeavours branch out into so many directions, but I just can't help it! Plus, these beauties are just so fun to paint! Plus, just look at these glorious colours - how can I say no? Oh, and did I mention you can buy your own War Girl wall hanging? They measure 15.5" x 5.5" x .5" and are individually painted to order. To buy your own (or even better yet, buy one for a friend or loved one for the holidays!), just click on the SHOP: ARTWORK tab to your left there, on the navigation bar. They're a barg
Back-to-back blogging today - apologies. It's been a busy weekend and I have only finally recovered from my self-inflicted illness enough to actually do some work. This is just a quick blog to update any readers (do I even have any readers?) about the gallery follow-up meeting I had last Thursday. Well, if you read my blog prior to the meeting you'll know how sick I felt in anticipation. But, by the time Thursday arrived, I was feeling quite calm almost like "duh! of course I was going to meet up with a gallery in Oxford!" I'm not exactly sure why I felt so calm - it could have been because I decided to wear my nicest underwear because - ladies, I know you'll all understand - when I wear my good underwear I sort of feel better about myself. It gives me a sort of confidence. Not too different from the special underwear Mormon's reportedly wear to protect them from evil. Whatever the reason for my calm, I was just happy that it had descended. The last thing I needed on this follow-up meeting was to blabber on like an idiot with a face on fire out of embarrassement, anxiety and nervousness. But anyway, getting to the point (sorry). I went for this meeting and the gallery owner, Aidan, greeted me with a warm smile and hello as I imagine he always does - he's such a nice guy! - and asked me to show him what I'd done. I told him I'd completed 10 pieces to which he responded, "wow, you've been busy!" And then I told him how I was going to pull out what I thought was the best work, but then I thought better of it because he knows his audience far better than I and he would be the best judge. So I pulled out the work and told him the story behind each one. And of course these are quite personal pieces of work, so the mood changed just a bit - it just got a bit quieter and a bit more serious. He allowed me to take my time giving an explanation for each one and he asked me a bit about my process and he seemed to be genuinely impressed. But it wasn't a homerun. Although he likes the work, he's not sure how his collectors will respond because it's so different to anything else they carry. It's not painting. And it looks a bit like production work, but it's not. He says that what I do so so unique and he's not really come across anything like it, so it's hard for him to instinctively know whether or not it will sell. The long and short of it is that he's invited me to frame five of the pieces and bring them back and they'll try them out. All in all - a very positive outcome. I told him I appreciate his honesty and straight-forwardness. I mean, I went into this thing with no expectations. And I realize he understands his business far better than I do, so he's really the best judge. I just appreciate that he's frank with me, yet also sensitive to my feelings.
I thought it would be a good idea to put up images of my work with their individual, corresponding stories. So without further adieu, I give to you A Family Story:
An Inherited History
This was the first piece of the series I created. I had been thinking for a long time about my family's history and the ways in which I was or wasn't affected by it. After a short while I realized that even though it was a history that didn't involved me, it was one I inherited. Those who suffer from abuse carry it with them all through their lives, often passing it on from generation to generation. This picture incorporates images I think of when I think of my Grandmother - the Raleigh cigarettes she loved to smoke, the Bourbon she loved to drink, and the Crisco she loved to cook with. It makes me chuckle to myself when I say this, but they all rank equal in my memories of her. Sadly, the great losses in her life drove her to drink; this made her less capable of dealing with the responsibilities of raising her children, which led her to beat them; the guilt of this drove her to drink more. A vicious cycle and one that remained with her most of her life.
When you were a teenager did you ever write a letter to your TV star or musical heart throb? I did. What was his name....Tommy? He was the guy that played on that show with the kid who had Downe's Syndrome. The theme song for the show was "ob-la-dee ob-la-dah, life goes on, oh! la la la la life goes on." Oh right, that was the name of the show - Life Goes On. Anyway, doesn't matter. So I wrote a letter to this Tommy guy - it was the one and only "fan club" letter I've ever written, which is fairly incredible when you consider that I was such a big fan of New Kids on the Block and had such a huge crush on Jordan. To my surprise, I got a response to this ridiculous little letter I wrote. It was pretty standard and lame - I had been hoping for a handwritten response telling me how unique my letter was and how mature my writing - but instead I got a stupid sticker or something. Kind of like that scene from A Christmas Story where Ralph gets his special decoder ring and, anti-climatically, is told to drink more Ovaltine.
As a self-respecting adult, I don't write "fan club" letters to heartthrobs or admirees (although I did want to write a letter to Kevin Spacey quite recently after watching his performance as Richard in Shakespeare's Richard III at the Old Vic in London - it was such a moving play and his passion was so infectious I almost felt it was my duty, as one artist to another,to let him know what an amazing job he did. It's a good thing I possess a certain laziness, which I'm sure saved me a bit of face - not to mention prevented me from wasting my time. What would I do with a sticker of Kevin Spacey, anyway?), but I did recently blog about another artist I admire - Dolan Geiman. And guess what? He commented on my blog. How cool is that?! It was a quick one-liner, but I tell you what - it made my face light when I read it. Just to think - what I write DOES makes its way into the ethos. Fabulous!
October 4, 2011
So here we are. October. It has been exactly 1 month and 3 days since I visited the gallery in Oxford. Yesterday I emailed the gallery owner to set up a follow-up appointment. I just heard back from him that he's free to meet this week. And now my stomach is up in my throat and I'm feeling a bit pale. I'm so nervous! I wonder if I've done enough, if what I've done is any good. I'm driving myself crazy. I feel kind of like you do in the moments before taking a test - when you think, "maybe I should study a bit more." But you realize that if you don't know the answers now, you never will. Yet I keep making art. Art that I keep thinking is probably rubbish. I can't get a quote by James Rosenquist out of my head: "Art is the greatest risk of all because when you're making something, you're constantly asking yourself what the hell you're doing." What am I doing? There's a constant internal struggle raging inside of my head: I waver between feeling confident and incredibly stupid. The meeting is set for Thursday morning. By the time I leave I will know whether I will beI feel like throwing up.
Erin Singleton is an artist currently living in the bucolic seaside town of Marblehead, Mass. She loves to explore her creativity in her studio and in the kitchen. She also loves to read, watch movies, spend time with friends and enjoy the great outdoors with her husband, Dave, and their daughter, Maisie.
Blogs I'm Reading
Through the Distances
Following the Silver Thread
Bronte Weather Project