self portrait – painted with beer, steak sauce and ketchup on watercolor paper
I got on this whole jag a little while ago; a distraction that seeped into the nether regions of my psyche and had to be exorcised for a while. The people who know me, know how much I love drawing, scribbling; I don't really know if I'm good at it or not – it's just entertaining and engaging for me. It makes the rest of the world drop away, and more and more I need that sort of thing.
What got into my head was a discussion I had with a friend. She is a teacher, toiling in the world of instructing middle school students, where, to the benefit of none; there are no art or music classes. All this in spite of the fact that she lives within spitting distance of Silicon Valley. I'm guessing that Californians pay a lot of money towards public education – more per capita than my parents paid when I was attending junior high in the late 70's and early 80's, where amazingly, I did have art and music classes. How? Why? Where does that money go these days?
Of course, It's a question not worth answering; because money that is designated for school, doesn't really make it to the classroom. It's the nature of government, and all public enterprises – they grow, they bloat, they make excuses, and they demand more for doing less. To be angry, is like being angry at a dog for stealing a pork chop when you're not looking… It's what they do. That's why they're both best kept on a short leash, and trusted with as little as possible.
What really came to mind was the bulletin board at the art supply store where I periodically drain my bank account on some new medium I'm going to experiment with all because I'm an eternal work in progress. It made me think that surely – in this gal's town – there's a similar art store, with a similar bulletin board, with hundreds of artists all looking to connect with each other, show skills, have drawing sessions… It made me wonder why one can't simply go there and ask if anyone wants to volunteer to teach kids in middle school art.
Of course there's the excuse of supplies – and that's what got me wondering what you really need to make art. I think, of course, first to things like cave paintings, stuff drawn with charcoal, or clay on stone walls eons ago, and I realize that supplies are abundant if you have the urge to simply look around. In fact; that could be lesson number one. Make, or find your own supplies. Lesson number two; draw or paint with them, whatever is in front of you or on your mind. And so on…
The first one I did; painted with coffee (and a brush made from a straw with a cigarette filter stuffed into it), Sumi and walnut ink on watercolor paper.
To be sure; it's not the easiest way to create art; in fact it's frustrating and humiliating, just like all of life is sometimes. Maybe that's why it's a good exercise – and maybe it's good because you're drawing and painting with tools and media that you've never tried before; trying to figure them out all the while you're trying to make something with them. For a while; you simply play the fool and fall on your face. You think one thing might work, when in fact it just doesn't . But it's exactly the sort of thing that gives you perspective on things.
It gives you perspective because, in time, you actually appreciate that some things are better suited to a task than others. You see the world differently. It also makes you realize that you’re not as dependent on organized ‘anything’ as you might be coerced into thinking. You can paint with coffee, with beer, with juice, with crushed berries, with stick and twigs and grass clippings. In fact, long before paints and brushes and pens and pencils – people still made art. They sculpted with mud and clay, drew things on walls of caves, and baked bread over fires.
In its own convoluted way; it makes me appreciate and realize the thing I’ve only ever sought in cooking and making food, too…