This blog is meant, mostly, to be a sort of running update of my creative projects, to both inspire and encourage those of you who might be following along. I believe everyone has the capacity for creativity, in as many different ways as there are different individuals, but we don’t always prioritize it in our lives.
I believe we should.
But life is unpredictable and, despite our best efforts as a human race to control it, life remains untamed and even a little bit feral. And so this blog is meant to record that, too, because, while being artfully creative cranks up the colors and the volume and the textures of the life experience, being mentally creative can help us turn the prism of our understanding, to find a new angle and a new perspective. Even (or especially) when life takes that unexpected twist.
I believe we should do that, too.
After all, we are all under construction until our last breath on this earth. We are all a creative project-in-progress.
This week, I had no time in my personal studio, as I was traveling for a funeral, so I turned to the greatest creative studio of all time, instead: the big world, outside.
I met with family members I hadn’t seen in a long time, and we cried together for our loss, and we laughed together for happy memories.
The ending of one generation.
The mantle is picked up by the next.
I tasted new cultural recipes, and found old favorites and some new ones. I relived the feel of cheeks bitten raw by Michigan winter, and kissed the feel of cheeks turned soft by years of friendship.
Korean foods are on the way.
A window scraper didn’t come with the rental car.
And among the many moments–of lives at an end, of lives at a beginning, of lives on the verge of change, and lives embracing the comfort of the known–there was even time for teaching and learning some artful creativity, as there should be.
This is the architecture of me. Moment by moment, I build by encounters, and events, and observations.
I am the structure built by my life experience, and creativity is my windows.
This week has seen a lot of work going on, so, please, pardon my dust.
This week, I’ve been self-reflecting. Usually, that sort of thing comes with a kind of fierceness, a mental violence I perpetrate on myself over past mistakes, missed opportunities, and the like. I simultaneously recognize my failings, and blame myself for having them.
It’s not a productive way to go about it, but it’s all I’ve known for the better part of my life.
Better part of my life. Now that’s an ironic statement, if ever there was one.
The reason I say “usually”, is because this time, my reflection comes without the usual self-flogging. It comes, because I have had a death in the family; my husband’s step-dad and a very dear man whom I have also known for the better part of my life. He joins my husband’s mother, who died about two years ago, sadly, and far too soon.
Being faced with death tends to make me look at my own ending in this world with a razor focus. I ponder on the things people might say about me, how I might be remembered. Betty’s death brought waves of uncontrollable grief for a very long time–she was as much a mother to me as she was my husband’s. But, eventually, I began to see her ending as the way of all deaths. Inevitable.
No matter how wondrous one’s soul, no matter how special one’s presence on this planet, eventually our time here ends. I don’t mean the statement as dark, or fatalistic. It simply is the way of things.
Which brings me full circle, back to the topic of self-reflection.
As I get older, I have a lot more life to look back on. Many more chances to regret, and to do double-damage-points for not only having things to regret, but also feeling guilty for feeling regretful!
But regret and guilt are time sinks. I know there are plenty of adages out there that apply here to “look only forward” “you can’t plan your future if you’re living in the past”, and all those empty words that make great memes but fly through a Facebook timeline as fast as they go in one ear and out the other while actual people are trying to get through actual difficult times in actual life.
But I do get it, finally. I have precious few moments to get where I’m trying to go, and every time I stop and flog myself, it breaks my momentum. It steals those valuable emotional resources I need to propel myself.
I’m pretty sure Dwain wouldn’t mind that his death has, among other things, given me pause to check my navigation. But I’m absolutely sure he wouldn’t want me to use it as new, inventive way to self-punish. Dwain would want me to be gentler to myself. Kinder. I need to start talking to myself the way I talk to other people.
The way Dwain talked to me.
Betty once called me outrageous. We had been wise-cracking, and I said something funny and off-the-cuff, and she laughed, and looked at me with warm, happy eyes, and said, “Jackie, you are outrageous.”
It set me back at the time. To me, “outrageous” was this terrible insult. It was one of those words that described the parts of me I’ve always tried very hard to suffocate. My artsy-fartsy traits. My penchant for “head in the clouds” and wearing jammie pants to go grocery shopping, and raising my Millennials with birthday parties where everybody got a prize just for playing games and there was no “winning”. As a kid, I was weird and hugged trees (literally) and wrote stories with happy endings, and loved shoes with strange colors I never saw anyone else wear–without realizing no one else wore them because they thought they were ugly.
I was not appreciated for my weirdness. I was mocked. Relentlessly teased. Violently bullied.
And so, when Betty, a woman I enduringly admired, looked at me with such a light in her eyes, and called me outrageous, I was shocked. I just tucked the moment away behind a little door in my soul, and left it there, puzzled and a little sad.
It has taken me all this time to realize she wasn’t teasing me. She was loving me. That was the expression on her face at the time, but I didn’t recognize it. I didn’t know she could think I’m outrageous, and at the same time, love me for it.
I honestly didn’t know.
That’s another lesson I can add to all the things I’ve learned from Betty.
Maybe it’s time I learn to start loving myself they way I love other people.
Well, our Halloween 2017 was, by all accounts, a huge success. We met lots of folks from the neighborhood who enjoyed our mutant maze, and we had so many Trick-or-Treaters that we had to raid a couple bags of candy we held back for “just in case”.
It was everything we hoped it would be!
Alas, the very next day, I was hit with the fever and fatigue that seems to be going around, around here. I lost some days this week due to illness, so I’m working to rebound.
But it’s been a great week, nonetheless! Much of the focus has been on my film studio, Big Imagine, because I am officially in pre-production for my first indie (microbudget) feature film! Principal photography (that means, filming) will take place in early summer 2018, and there’s a lot to prepare for.
This past weekend, my hubby (and fellow producer) and I sat down to work on our business plan.
And we also had a production meeting with our other producer, and good friend. It’s the whole production team, together again! We’ve done other short films and projects together, but this will be our first feature-length film.
I have another important meeting soon, as well, and other challenges that include making a good impression. Hey, I’ve been wearing paint-splattered yoga pants and bandanas for so long, I’m not sure I remember how to assimilate back into “out-to-dinner” culture!
But I’m excited to see the beginning movements toward making this film a real thing. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time, and sometimes, I thought maybe it was time to let it go. But I didn’t.
For a while, I did have to wait. Some day, when we’ve gotten to know each other a little better, I may talk about that.
But not today.
Today, I’m not waiting–I’m walking.
What’s something you’ve been waiting to do? Why don’t you get it down off the shelf and breathe life into it, with me?
#DontWaitCreate #TurnItLoose #GoForthAndRock
If you’ve been waiting for permission, I hereby give it.
The fungus-carrying meteor has officially crash-landed in my front yard!
But this is just the beginning. Soon, tendrils of fungus-y alien membrane will crawl across the ground, shoot into the trees, and begin swallowing everything in its path–including my family!
A lot has been happening in my studio this week to make these things happen (sometimes aliens need a little help from earthlings), and I’ll be working right up until trick-or-treat kicks off in two days.
Here’s what I’ve been up to.
I used the same spray foam insulation and whirled it onto some nitrile gloves we already had in the garage. I also purchased some heavy duty elastic from a craft store, and sprayed foam onto it, to create the chunks of alien fungus we’ll wear as part of the makeups. I’ll tie or pin the elastic strands around our shoulders, arms, wherever.
I painted basically the same techniques from the meteor onto the body parts, except instead of rock colors, I used flesh tones to make it appear as though our skin itself is bound up in the blobs of disfigurement taking place. I also made some green nurnies.
Wait, what the heck are nurnies, you ask? More about that if you keep scrolling!
But I wanted to give the meteor every chance at surviving long-term, plus I wanted a shiny, gooey finish on the fungus parts, so I hit them with a glossy clear coat.
And then it was time to remove the beach ball innards! Swirling lights will go inside to give it a glow, so I had to make room. First, I deflated the beach ball. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in our modern day inflatables, there’s a little flap inside the plug that keeps air from sneaking out involuntarily. Handy. But also tricky, when one wants to deflate on purpose! So I inserted a screwdriver to hold the flap open, and just pressed, and waited, and waited, and waited…until the beach ball was small enough.
Then I gently peeled the beach ball away from the foam, and, Voila! No more beach ball, and room for lights!
But let’s get back to nurnies.
That’s the term for bits of stretchy, mangled, latex ropey blobs that are usually stored in a sandwich baggie in a makeup kit for adding texture or other interesting things. They tend to look like tendons or cartilage, and can be bitten and torn to add some realism to the ripping away of body bits by zombies or monsters.
They’re super easy to make, but I’ve added my own twist of using yarn, as well, because I want long, swinging, membrane-like tendrils to drape from the meteor and the trees, and all over my family.
Makeup suppliers like Kryolan have skin-safe latex (be aware, some people have latex allergies), but you can also get the same stuff from places like Spirit Halloween or costume shops. Since I am using so much for many tendrils, I’m using the stuff I got from the Halloween store. I also chose green yarn I already had, with dark spots and light spots, to really sell the creepy factor.
Here is my step-by-step, nurnie-like technique for creating drapey, icky alien tendrils.
Paint out a strip of latex onto a smooth surface.
Let the latex dry. Or, if you are like me, and don’t have patience for the natural method, hit that strip with a blowdryer. It will turn clear. Add one more coat of latex, and dry it again.
Then lay a long strand of yarn across the dry latex, and start rolling your hands (and the yarn) back and forth. The latex will peel up, and stick to itself, and to the yarn…
… and you’ll get wobbly, bobbly, pieces of ick!
I’ve only made a few, but I need SO MANY MORE, so that’s what I’ll be doing for a couple days. Plus, I’m going to experiment by dragging these things through some homemade slime to see how I like that, too.
As always, you can keep an eye on my Facebook page for daily(ish) quick videos in between my more detailed, weekly blogs.
I hope your Halloween is out-of-this-world! Hey, don’t wait, create! Get out there, and turn it loose.
Today is raining the kind of warm, thoughtful rain that makes its way into the bones, and encourages you to pull the covers up, roll over, and press that snooze button. And I wanted to, this morning. I really did.
But I have things I want to do. And Humphrey, my #WonderDog, needed to go outside. He didn’t want to go outside, but he had to. We both got drenched. He did not like it.
But more than that, Halloween is coming up in a mere week, and I have a space invasion to orchestrate!
I’ve been posting teaser videos on my Facebook page, and having some fun learning my way around my smart phone with it. If you haven’t visited me there, you should! I keep it chock full of daily(ish) quick bites right here.
On this blog, though, I’ll go into a little more detail about what I’m working on.
For now, I’m making a fungus-infested space rock, that will soon crash land into my front yard, and, just in time for trick-or-treating, will disfigure my family into fungus-infested zombies. Yay!
First, I started with the biggest beach ball I could find, and cans of spray-foam insulation. Gloves are super important when spraying this stuff! Trust me. I found out the hard way.
This particular meteor took about five cans.
I gave it some extra loop-de-loops to give it plenty of texture and viney, retro-monster-alien blobs. I had to let it set, turn it to a fresh patch, spray again, and let set again, slowly working my way around the ball for a couple days, so it wouldn’t just slide right off the plastic.
Then, I coated it with a dark paint I already owned, that happened to have some metallic sheen to it, to really bring out those textures. Again, I went bit by bit, first brushing it on, then after a few seconds, wiping it back off, leaving it in the crinkles and wrinkles.
It really makes a difference in giving textures depth and shadow.
Next, time for color! I like the green and yellows of the classic monster types, plus they’re the color of slime and ick.
I’ll be adding more extra detail for a day or so with more paints:
So far, so good! I have a couple more days of detail paints to work on the space rock, but then, I’ll be repeating the process in smaller patches.
More of that next week!
In the meantime, we have been stocking up on candy in the hopes of having many victims–er, I mean, neighborhood kids.
And I’ll be working in my studio, hunched on the Fuf (like a beanbag chair, only better), with a space rock held between my knees, and Humphrey The Wonder Dog cuddled against me. Pretty much like this:
Ain’t the creative life grand?
Find out what being creative can do for your life! Take a chance. Write a poem, paint a rock, knit a placemat–anything you’ve been wanting to try, but have been putting off.
Well, there’s still a corner in the room, but it’s full of things I intentionally placed there, instead of the random “what do I do with this?” menagerie that has plagued me since we moved in.
I’m tired. I’m sweaty, despite the chill in the Autumn air. And I have cobwebs in my hair, and on my clothes, with dead bugs wrapped in the silky threads that dangle and smell funny. But the space is crisp with possibilities and freshly ready for all my VBP (very big plans).
From overwhelming (and this is even after a lot of progress!):
To under control:
And I’ve even begun the painstaking process of repair and prep, to get ready for the repaint!
But I won’t be waiting for the room to be “finished” before I dig in and start being truly “creative on the loose!” I’ve got a meteorite to make (see beach ball in the “under control” photo) for Halloween decorations, and zombie prosthetics to make and paint, and so many projects!
Stay tuned; I’ll be blogging every step of the way.
Don’t you wait, either! Go do something creative, and have fun!
I have been working diligently, over time, on transforming a large section of my garage into a creativity studio. I hit it here and there, on weekends, or between other chores and tasks, and some days I really see a difference. On other days, not so much.
One thing that has remained virtually untouched and unchanged, however, is the little bit of space I call “The Persistent Corner.” Now and again, I pull open a flap to a box and peek in to see the contents, and then, because I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do with it, I close the flap and go somewhere else to work.
It’s the subconscious of my studio’s soul. It’s the blackness, the crowded emptiness I don’t want to have to look at, sift through, or deal with, to get to the place where I’m trying to go.
It is, very nearly, the last patch of unknown out there, blocking me from moving into the better stuff: organizing, repairing, and painting it with fresh colors and bright energy.
I realized today that I don’t have to wait until I’m ready to face the whole monster.
On tv shows advertising DIY projects, or weight-loss programs, or workouts, or other overwhelming goals, they always make it look so easy, don’t they? From being a smashed-out shell of a kitchen makeover to polished, matching cupboards and sparkling counters in 30 seconds. A blink of an eye. Practically effortless.
My monsters don’t usually conquer themselves like that. Especially not my “Persistent Corner”:
But, as I realized, I don’t need to face the whole thing at once. As long as I keep at it, little by little, each step is progress. Today, I decided I would get rid of the cardboard boxes on the floor, at least.
And I did!
That was it. Three little boxes, ready for recycling.
I also put away the opened umbrella, swept the webs and leaves outside, and pushed together what was left to clear more floor space.
And that was enough for today.
Not a dramatic, 30-second version of a makeover, by any means. But that corner got a lesson in just who’s the boss around here.