Thursday, November 14, 2013

Floating Along

Well, I'm almost done with the school year.  I had a few very stressful weeks where I had a ton to do and things kept going wrong.  But now, I am almost done and I think I will end up passing all my classes.  I want to reflect a little bit on how it ended up, and also, I am sorry to say, I am going to whine a little.

This last term was only six weeks long and we had the whole time to work somewhat independently towards final projects.  So, it was good but required self-discipline and pacing.  I worked all through the last break so I felt like I was in good shape, actually ahead of schedule.  I was pretty happy with my artwork and my ideas.  I had all the research and report writing done by the second week and only needed to do my printing and computer work.  I was working hard and pretty much constantly, but it was all moving along till I printed my design for our final brief - "Epic Ocean Adventures/Sirens and Sea Monsters".  The watercolor effect in the artwork didn't translate onto print.  All the subtlety and personality of my crab was lost leaving it looking like a shell (pun intended).  The design looked empty and unfinished.                       

I decided that if I was going to re-do my computer work to come up with a better design, I might as well work on my Nautical Toile de Jouey which was the center piece of my collection.  I had spent so much time on the artwork for this but I had thought it would be too hard to print.  I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say, I was right.  Anyway, I thought I would give it a go.  I had three weeks to print and the repeat layout seemed to work, after I spent about three hours on it.  But, in the end, there were so many details that weren't quite right, and they multiplied as I went along.   After two weeks of roadblocks and f@#k ups with the computer and in the print room, with one last class to get a piece of fabric printed, I decided that the toile was in the toilette.  I worked up a third, clean and simple design using one of the components of my toile that I really loved.

  (just as an example of how cursed the Toile print is, I tried to load the image 4                
different times in 4 different formats and it wouldn't load!!!!)

[In the midst of all this, David's 50th birthday was coming up and I had to organize something for that.  I wanted to do something out of the house with his work colleagues so I started searching on line and looking around at "venues."  I went wandering around a little old neighborhood called Darlington, and I found the pub that David had mentioned before - The Duck Inn.  They were really nice and I set it up with them for the wednesday before David's actual birthday.  I thought this would be better for work people and I thought I would be done with all my work by then (ha ha ha ... not funny really)  I sent out email invitations and got a good response.  It was such a relief to get that settled.  It might not seem like a lot, but I am not good at setting up events.  Something about just getting started, focusing in on a time and place, etc. makes me cringe and hesitate and procrastinate.  It just seems vague and unknowable but I am proud of myself for being a grownup about it and making the effort for David.]

we had dinner at home on the actual birthday. Mira cooked and made a cake!

To try and make it all come together and to relieve some of my anxiety about finishing, I worked extra and even crashed a couple of other people's classes so that I could get my screens ready for printing.  In the final class, I powered down and got the prints done in time.  Thankfully, they turned out really cute, I think.  I only wish I had had more time to try different fabrics and color combinations.  The teacher and some of the other students who were done with their work helped me so I could get it done, and I am so thankful for them.
a digital print on linen based on some photos I took of the girls' hands when they were little and we were in Canberra

David's party was a success.  The final print was finally a success.  Is it right to say that the worrying was for nothing?  I don't think so.  I think I needed that to keep me focused.  Having said that, I think there is another way.  I don't want to be bored, but I don't want to be pushed to the point of frazzled stress.       I wish there were a happy medium - a healthy challenge.

I know that people say that you have to push yourself to grow, that you have to take a leap to see if you can fly, that you have to have darkness to see the stars, doors open for those who knock the hardest, blah blah blah…  The thing is, I don't feel stronger or smarter, or better when I am pushed.  I feel smaller and weaker.  I feel stronger when I have success, when I am on a roll, when I get positive feedback.  What is wrong with that?
last day of drawing class.  We were doing Life drawing aka nudes.

I realized something about myself doing this course.  I realized that I have always chosen paths that I know I will be good at.  I think that when I was growing up, I was naturally good at some things, so I gravitated towards those things and stuck with them.   I guess I always thought I either could or couldn't do something.  (I think there is a whole book written about this that my sister Ellen wanted me to read).  Funnily enough, as someone who loves being a student, deep down, I guess I don't believe that I can actually change through learning.  I don't believe that new skills grow like branches on a tree.  I do believe in improving - a little.  I do believe in expanding one's repertoire.   I definitely don't want to fail.  I don't feel better or wiser after I do.

I also realized something else.  I really have to manage my stress.  I want to enjoy what I am doing.  I want to be present in my life, with my family, friends, and work.  Too many people are flying around working harder, faster, and longer.  I find the whole fast-paced, 21st century, city life interesting and enlightening, but exposure to it has made me feel stronger about my desire to fight it.  I am now working on a plan to build a 21st century hippie - more on this later.

sailor girl color 1

my teacher hiding behind the print

I have to turn in my portfolio next week and give my final presentation.  After that, I am away from school for two months.  I have applied to the second year of the program and, if I get in, I will be working all next year to hunker down and strengthen my own style, keeping it sane and healthy.
I folded it over the chair just to get an idea of what it might be used for.

color ways with a more summery feel
When I first drew the design for my final print, I showed it to my sister Sharon while we were Skyping.  She said it was symbolic of me - adrift in a small boat, alone and searching, and finding a dolphin (the symbol of joy).  I really liked that and I think it is true.  I drew it for my daughters, as a feminist symbol of the independent, adventurous girl.  I also wanted to show something that celebrated the earth and the wild creatures in it.  I guess, since it came from my imagination, it is about me too.  I am not really a sailor, but I am good at floating along and taking things in.