Creative Prompt for Today

Today’s inspiration is a childhood memory.  So first close your eyes and focus on a landmark from  childhood.  This may have been a friend’s or relative’s home, a park, a backyard sandbox,  snow fort, swimming hole/pool.  The possibilities are endless.

More Snow Forts

More Snow Forts (Photo credit: CaZaTo Ma)

Now take out a crayon or some other crude implement of mark-making. If you have anything else around the house that could help jar some memories, get that too.  Something with scent is good: a flower, a can of play-doh, a chocolate chip cookie, etc.  (Personally I like bubbles for this exercise when I assign it to my college writers.)

Missing chocolate chip cookie.

Missing chocolate chip cookie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Next take the crayon/implement and begin to draw the place/item from memory.  (You can use more than one color.)

The second step asks you to take it to the next level.Once you finish, you can branch out with whatever you do that’s creative.

For fiction writers and poets, the memory can be used for narrative inspiration, image and detail.  Essay and memoir writers may even want to talk about the process itself and then proceed to the story and descriptions.

If you’re wanting to do something visual, continue the drawing on your medium of choice:  canvas, drawing paper, assemblage, sculpture, collage, film-making or whatever else strikes your fancy.  Just let the child-like brain keep plowing forward.

Play-Doh festival

Here is Your Handbook for Heartbreak: A Springback Survival Guide for Single Girls When Ice-Cream is Not Enough

Ophelia, oil on canvas, size: 49 x 29 in

Ophelia, oil on canvas, size: 49 x 29 in (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But you know, the most perplexing part of this is, it  I could barely tolerate him upon our first meeting.  And then as fate would have it, the moment I rearranged my thoughts about that, he began to back away.

All of a sudden it was me working to keep him instead of him trying to woo me and win me over.  I mean as if I couldn’t do a thing for myself anymore.  I spent all my free time looking for  ways to make sure he was happy and confident in knowing how much I loved him.  And now I”ve done that, he’s moved on to the next conquest.

Why did he try so hard at the beginning just to let me go like this?

Last week I found myself listening as a friend let go those words in the sauna at the girl’s gym, her eyes rimmed in crimson, tears making rivulets that dripped on her terry cloth dress and neck; meanwhile, as I groped to find the right response, I felt my own sense of longing and loss grabbing at the hem of my heart.  After all, it wasn’t so long ago I had found myself saying such things as well. And in the throes of that full-throated aftershock of agony and insecurity, it also occurred to me

how ill-equipped we mortals be in the face of heartbreak.

It would seem that biology prepares us in oh so many ways to fall in love, but sadly does nothing whatsoever to help us fall out of it.

And so in light of science and lack of knowledge about the actual anatomy and physiology that supports such insanity, here I humbly offer this virtual handbook for heartbreak, something I’ve been trying to do for myself for quite some time as well.

To begin, I thought I would start with a to-do list for you, (but also for her in my groping, I am pretty sure I only said something to make it worse, not better) something printable and easy to carry around in your purse.  Because coping with the loss of love can be exhausting.  Especially when it seems all you can do is obsess  over and over to the point of neglecting the most basic need for sustenance and sleep.

Let alone tend to the needs of a battered and abandoned psyche.

So here it is, something to focus on after the (much needed) first crying spell passes and you start to get some perspective back:

Number one and most important of all:  Let go of the urge to make contact with someone who’s not going to appreciate it and write a love letter to yourself instead.

The fact that you were able to open your heart to him like a rose in winter speaks volumes about the way you view the world in general.  And chances are you didn’t break that mold on him either.  You are a bundle of love and cuddles no matter where you go or who you meet.  There are a bazillion creatures out there who appreciate that trait in a person, from the homeless guy you bought that sandwich for to the baby bird you scooped up off the ground and climbed that tree to put her back.

You are the embodiment of love and kindness.  And what’s not to cherish about that?

Time to pull your petals close to keep your heart safe from someone who doesn’t love himself enough to open up to you. .. so that later you’ll be able to open them again for someone who loves you just the way you are, unabashed lover of the ones who are hardest to love in the first place.  You touch a lot of lives with that stuff, Honey.  And the world will never forget you for it.

2. Now that you have written that love letter to remind yourself how precious and special you truly are, it’s time to do a bit of triage and bandage-rolling.  Time to focus on helping your heart to heal again.

Make a list of cons to avoid.

Jim Morrison's Mugshot - Florida 1970

Jim Morrison’s Mugshot – Florida 1970 (Photo credit: SongLyrics)

And do it first thing in the morning before the light of day hits the empty dent on the other side of the bed. ..and the tears begin to fall again. (Ordinarily I would suggest a pros column too, but let’s face it.  If you have read this far, it’s a good bet you have that one down ad nauseum.)   The truth is, we already spend a lot of precious reality hours fantasizing and assigning all kinds of unearned adoration to the objects of our infatuations.

 

Ask yourself the hard questions now and don’t be afraid to let the fritos fall where they may.  Among the beercans and roach clips that your once beloved left lying all over the house as well.

Is it really all that cute when he burps the words to “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” ?   Or is it cuter that  you were able to overlook it and laugh with him. .. the unconditional depth of the way you let yourself open to a dope who didn’t deserve you. .. like a magnolia or a lily of the mountains?

Get real, Girl.  And give credit where credit is due.

Continue reading

Process and Painting: On Bartering a Portrait to Pay the Rent

So here is a new work, one born of necessity. ..the necessity arose from having to pay rent between semesters sans a paycheck.  It started with a conversation wherein I sort of hinted at the barter and then when my landlady found herself in need of a gift for her mother, she remembered that conversation.

I asked for a photograph so I could get started and she obliged with this one:

If you look closely, you might note that this drafting table doubles as a sewing table, but also perhaps something about my process which involves using the grid technique.  In this next photo, you can see the sketch done with an olive gray wash:

And here is the finished portrait:

Tess Farnham, Untitled Portrait, 16x20 acrylic on canvas

Subterranean Homesick Blues, Norwegian Wood and Bubblegum Soul: On Dylan, Dope and the Breakup of the Beatles

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Image via Wikipedia

Ah get born, keep warm

Short pants, romance, learn to dance

Get dressed, get blessed

Try to be a success

Please her, please him, buy gifts

Don’t steal, don’t lift

Twenty years of schoolin’

And they put you on the day shift

Look out kid

They keep it all hid

Better jump down a manhole

Light yourself a candle

Don’t wear sandals

Try to avoid the scandals

Don’t wanna be a bum

You better chew gum

The pump don’t work

‘Cause the vandals took the handles.

Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

Aug, 1964  Hotel DelMonico, New York City:

After much anticipation and excitement, Dylan  meets the Beatles for the first time. . .his jealousy over their “bubble gum” success almost palpable. . .

As the story goes, the unwashed phenomenon offers the fab four their first marijuana cigarette and bam, music is changed forever.

At least that is what they say anyway.  It was the drugs that did it.

Fine.  I will grant you that one in theory.  No doubt the sloshing and slowdown of brain function had an impact. . .there’s zero denying that.  Love minus zero denying the altered state and how it changes things. And if you want to go to that altar and worship the gods of creativity, you can use drugs to do it. . .

Or you can just let the awkardly emo chips fall where they may.

There is a price to pay for imbibing. . .no denying that either. And speaking strictly for me, I would have to admit that my own delicate physiological state can’t absorb the shock of it so I choose to abstain. . . not out of any kind of moral high ground choice. . .it’s just simply a result of cause, effect and lesson learned.  I simply cannot handle the crash that follows a high.  It feeds these suicidal tendencies, ones that I already have a hard enough time with, minus any other kind of input from unprescribed chemistry. But there is also a price to pay for sobriety, especially when it comes to friends and fitting in, having something significant to offer in a situation wherein many of the participants are saying things you really can’t relate to. . .

It’s not hip to open that can of worms, I know. And I await the backlash to come. But whatever.  (I still say that 40 minutes of meditation does a kickass job at calming the nerves and relieving social anxiety, without the accompanying slowdown of actual awareness followed by a significant chemistry crash and paranoia.  And people forget to mention it. ..especially in a culture dominated by a consumer mindset, one that says if you are lacking something, especially charisma, creativity, self-confidence, there’s an app for that.)

Again, you get screwed up for turning it down too. . .you spend a lot of artist time alone for being such a square that way. . .  That’s life, I guess.

So anyway, back to the Beatles vs. Bob and August 1964.

And a question for you to ponder. Just suspend your belief system for  a minute with me here, and then let go of everything you know about music and drugs. Then consider this  question and proposal if you will:

What happens when strong emotional input follows intellectual stimulation, mixed with a bit of jealous venom from the guy who could/would smash the competition in a single strum?

And there is just no denying it. Something happened that day. ..something that had a massive impact on the fab four plus one.  So here we go again. ..which one had the most impact that day? The weed or the seed?  Maybe a bit of both; you decide.

No doubt it had to hurt the first time the boys heard  Bob’s unabashedly sneering parody of Norwegian Wood. . .

Enough for them to have wanted to break free of that kind of scrutiny, looking for the cracks in the floor, lettin the shortcomings slip into them. . .

And what ARE you really saying with your art when all you do is sit in a room and pencil dream about some girl who’s got you by the short and curly:

Bob Dylan holds a cue card in the music video ...

Image via Wikipedia

And then enter Yoko, who was undeservingly designated as breakup scapegoat for a lot of years. . .I guess if you forget about Bob, you might want to grab a club and go after that, but think about it.  That moment when Dylan saunters out of the room after having been introduced to the newest Lennon/McCartney collaboration.

Think of it again.  Hard.  Imagine half of that creative team walking away that much more determined in his resolve to writing “Silly Love Songs,” and the other just feeling crushed and stuck to the bottom of Bob’s bootheel.

And now to drive it home and see if I can get there without anybody getting hurt by this rant. ..(with apologies to Doors fans as well as anybody who has to deal with the insanity of the prison industrial complex, one that punishes us all for just trying to escape this ratrace and make some art.  Love to you all. xoxo)

This is your brain on drugs:

English: Mug shot of Jim Morrison.

Image via Wikipedia

This is your brain on Bob.

Any questions?  😉

Our Art is All Made of Stars: On Finding a Twin Spirit on the Tumblr

Today right off the bat, as I opened the dashboard on my tumblr account, smack!  this image hits me right between the eyes.  Seriously!  Like pow right in the kisser and then some!

Really engaging you know. . .understated. ..movie star glamour, movie star glamour ..and beautiful and minimalist yet oddly sort of disturbingly like a few of the works from my own portfolio. ..online portfolio, also mind you. ..except you know minimalist!

Minimalist and kickass!

(which if I had a lick of sense I would learn to do myself instead of so many feathers and flourishes all the time. ..alas poor Yorick I knew he used too much mascara.)

English: Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet.

Image via Wikipedia

But back to my initial rant.  About the work that wasn’t mine. . .

I know! Yipes, right?  My ideas are still mine and nobody else can borrow.

Just look adoringly and you know longingly. . .with much respect and appreciation for the genius that isn’t me.

Bimbo Breads Logo

Image via Wikipedia

me thinking I had been so original with that star man stuff. . .first using a small school of fish to represent he form of an intangible man, young girl embracing it as if. ..well  you know, aria and chrysanthemums everywhere. ..

--Tess Farnham "Ophelia and the School of Fish," 9x12 collage

Tess Farnham, mixed media, 9x12

So of course the minimalist version of either of those would just be this:

English: A catwalk for the gutter.

Image via Wikipedia

A piece that is called ironically enough, “Catwalk for the Gutter.”

So anyway, sadness sets in when I see this  Tumblr collage image that depicts, sigh,  a bombshell from the fifties (silky locks, slinky evening gown.) .locked in an embrace with a silhouette of stars, I think to myself:

Hey!  Wait a minute!  I save stars!  I mean books and books of stars in my life here!

Nebulas, and galaxies and Chevy Novas!

And damn, I wanted that woman embracing a silouhette of star-like stuff to just be mine.

But then I remembered something. . .kind of in the back of my head. . .

"The moonlit knight" Genesis, Massey...

Image via Wikipedia

Sledgehammer video.  Peter Gabriel.  Circa something the eighties. . .

Guy made of stars. . .remember that, sort of this big hulking dude all made of stars.

at any rate, whatever you do, do not let yourself be tempted to google images using these keywords “Sledgehammer star man.”  All you get is a screen full of porn!

And then you know there’s Moby.  As in the opposite of minimalist concrete art. ..and this song, which is pretty great too.  So I guess, it wasn’t my idea anyway. . . not anybody’s really.  Just part of the fabric of you and me all woven together like a sweater. . .made of yeah, you guessed it:

Process Diary and Some CreativeTips from Charles Bukowski via Tom Waits

Tess Farnham, acrylic on artist's panel: Lily of the Valley

Last night as I was poring through my collection of gardening catalogs, tearing at pages with white flowers mostly: roses,  irises, magnolia. . .I was thinking about the mixed media piece I wanted to finish, but also getting an itch to paint again.  So now I’ve taped more photos over the drafting board and small easel, assembled my brushes and paints. . .the prints from Chagall and Degas are permanent fixtures. Sometimes I add or subtract things, but the photo(s) in the bottom right corner is/are always changing from project to project.  Mother Nature has a way with the arrangement of color and line and I like to follow her suggestions for abstract.

This is almost a spiritual activity for me. I am particular and superstitious about these two things; the same way a little kid can be vigilant about avoiding cracks in the sidewalk, I am persistent about avoiding a naked workspace. After I finish one project and clear the easel or table, I go to the basement and take out a new canvas or wood panel. . .depending on the project, a sheet of Arches, Canson Mixed Media or Mei Teints paper. I may not touch that blank slate for days; nevertheless, I find its placement necessary. It’s my dreaming time, a time for walking past the table or easel and imagining the possibilities.

Chagall Museum Paintings, Nice, France

Image by Jon Himoff via Flickr

In the same way, I also like to have drafts of poetry or blog posts accessible. . .folded fabric and patterns. . .the spices set out for a dish I plan to cook.

Last night, I also spent some downtime reading Sylvia Plath, Rumi, and Robert Bly.

I need to rest in between projects as well. I have to crash. . .to sleep for hours and hours, I guess to incubate and charge my batteries. I think perhaps it’s part of what we do as artists, these periods of intense creating followed by quiet time. Perhaps it’s just mania followed by depression. ..I’m not sure. . ..the scariest feeling being the one when I fear the sleepiness won’t go away. ..I won’t ever write or paint again. ..or be able to stay awake.

And on this final note, I will end with an amazing clip of Tom Waits reading Charles Bukowski, two of my favorite artists, guys who are quite familiar with the reality of the outsider stance and the very real feelings that lead to it.  I hope it inspires you.  . . .

Flying Saucers, Evolution of an Abstract, and Losing My Ruby: A Couple of Unrelated Stories that Turn Out Totally OK in the End.

So in spite of everything that has happened in my life lately, including a rather embarrassing extreme close encounter with some rather unyielding asphalt last night, an experience that left this blogger somewhat bruised and disoriented if only momentarily, followed by this crazy headache left over, skinned knees and sore palms. ..sigh. ..

Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...

Image via Wikipedia

all of these atrocities giving way to a small revelation which, I should also own up to having posted on the installment plan in my Facebook status, admittedly a very lame attempt at garnering some single girl sympathy. . .AGAIN. . .after a very long string of episodes involving some very weird luck. . .

enclosed please find installment number 1:

Note to my Dansko clogs: Dear shoes with soles that squeak like the wheels on a trojan rabbit. ..and take me from home to work and vice versa going on four years. ..I love and adore your loyalty, truly I have no idea what I would do without it. . .but please TRY and remember that superpowers are for comic books. . . and that yours truly will fall on her big fat keyster . . .especially if you let go of the asphalt long enough to make my legs go airborne. . . knees and hands ouch!!!!

Installment 2:

I am thankful I did not break my noggin last night when I fell on the asphalt.  And hoping I will be able to find the stone for my ring when I go searching the street for it this morning.  🙂  Wish me luck!

And the ending:

You guys!  I found the stone!!! I just combed the corner where I fell, seeing all that dark stuff. ..thinking I’d never find it. ..and there it was in the middle, scratched. . . but found!  My neighbor had  super-glue too so it’s all fixed.  Sticky with glue on our fingers but fixed!  🙂

And IN SPITE OF ALL THAT STUFF, including the awesomeness about finding my stone. . .which I learned is a ruby, a North American unfaceted ruby. ..

(Note: these are cheap so artists can afford them and have a circulatory healing stone as well. ..)

In spite of all that stuff, I was still able to get some art making accomplished this week. . .and a new listing for my Etsy shop too.

And the story is, I began staring at a beautiful (and yes professional. . . yay inspiration, man!) photo of white flowers against stems and a dark sky. . .and then loading up my palette with paints. ..moving the brush around a little bit and getting down with the greens and red maroons

then mixing up some yellow white and ecru, ivory. ..

Oddly enough and much to my own surprise, I somehow ended up with a mass of lavender scribbles at the pause point:

Tess Farnham, work in progress, 8x8 Mixed media on canvas

But sadly, when I took this piece outside to see how it behaved in the daylight, I was rather disappointed at the washing out of much of this color. So after going back inside, I got to work, sort of getting lost in the memory of this beautiful shiny work of jewelry I’d seen at a fair-trade place, one incorporating pearls, amethyst and amber. I ended up collaging more lace into this and adding a few of the flowers from the photograph. And here it is now listed and ready to be adopted into a kind and loving environment:

Tess Farnham, untitled mixed media on artist's panel, 8x8.

and alas, artists gotta eat too: http://www.etsy.com/listing/86093373/original-floral-abstract-painting

Scantily Clad Insanity, Provocative Tagging and Poetry!!! Testing One, Two, Three

(this post is dedicated to my church-going friend, Nicole)

So a couple of weeks ago, I was facebook wall chatting with a friend whose initial status was questioning the integrity of people will go to great lengths of craziness. . .to gain a readership online. I can’t remember the actual conversation per se, only that I wanted to write a blog about it so here I am. . . with this experiment.

OK, I confess this is post is inspired in part by a very needy desire to increase readership  (a very large part so go ahead and shoot me already, I deserve it. . .)

but also (to continue with what I was saying before that last parenthetical). . . also a furious curiosity to see what will happen after I’ve attached the following tags/links and/or language to this artist’s blog:

nudes,

reclining nudes,

naked ladies,

burlesque

erotic poetry.

bipolar illness

You could call  it a hypothetical experiment, or some other kinda sciencey thing that indicates scholarly involvement, experiment in which a part of me finds itself feelin kinda jazzed about making waves in these otherwise calm waters (so far the seventh biggest day I’ve had around here was an artist interview that included a couple of nude paintings. . . accompanied by a buxomy shot of the budding and lovely young artist 😉  )

and the other part finds itself feelin kinda nervous. . .about what to expect in the aftermath of such a blatant attempt to draw attention to oneself.

http://grumpygardener.southernliving.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/10/13/tree2.jpg

Introductions first perhaps and check out this sclera slash aqueous matter in the baby blues up here. . .”hi, i’m tess; part-time artist/ part-time community college instructor . . .

And truth be told, I kind of had to draw the line at actual pornography as mostly I find the stuff to be boring and exploitive. . .and so as not to throw my unsaved soul completely overboard.. . .and end up getting devoured by a drunken boat at the corner of Scylla and Charybdis, I’ve decided to limit my tagging vocabulary to “art” and insanity words.

So here I am at any rate, having tied myself to the mast. .. seasick with sirens blaring loud in cyberspace. All kinds of things to worry about now and fodder for serious neurosis.

Anyway, here goes nothing.

Exhibit A, some original art with an erotic theme followed by exhibit B, a poem on the topic of a semi clad exboyfriend, one having sold himself out to find work as a model for phone-sex.

"Orchestral" 9x12 mixed media on paper, piece inspired by the poetry of Mary McCrary Ladd, --Tess Farnham, 8/2011

http://www.etsy.com/listing/80849466/mixed-media-fantasy-lavender-glitter

At any rate, I have just discovered what would happen to my experiment by posting this title in the WordPress promotional forum. 

And that is a swift reprimand about the misuse of tags. . .which is kind of embarrassing even when you are just kidding around. 

So I won’t actually be attaching any of the tags I said I would use.  And truth be told, I never did.  Even from the beginning.

In some future post, I guess maybe I will write about about PRETENDING I attached too many provocative tags, and then admit I totally chickened out in the end. 

 

exhibit b: to be continued at a later date

 

On the Mend: New Work, New Prints. . .Lucy, You Got Some Splainin To Do!

After having spent a couple of weeks once more in this recurring episode of what I like to call my bride of frankenstein gig. . . undressed, sedated, i-ved. . .

. . .electrodes fastened to my temples,

I now find myself back to almost normal. . .

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Horror Flicks and Billy Goat Chips: A Day in the Life of a Cosmically Down to Earth Guy from the Middle West, Collinsville artist and poet Terry Pierson

I met Terry Pierson a couple of years ago when he showed up in the front row of a Creative Writing class I was teaching at Southwestern Illionis College on the Belleville campus.  Strangely and serendipitously enough, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen him though.

“Hey, I know you,” I said after taking attendance. ” You are the painter guy from the Joan Baez concert. . . sitting one seat over in the next row.  I remember because you had paint on your jacket and a sketchpad. You were also the dark figure following on the sidewalk just past the Metrolink station.”

In the course of that conversation, we agreed that the concert had been a memorable one, each recalling the moment in the encore after hearing one of our fellow concertgoers shout, “Take it to the full moon, Joanie!”

And take it to the moon she did.  Continue reading