072:365 Think 3 Steps Ahead

072:365 Think 3 Steps Ahead

072:365 Think 3 Steps Ahead
This morning, despite Monday’s brief foray into shorts-weather, there was nearly an inch of snow on the ground when I went out the door. Although it was barely an inch, it was more slippery than some of the piles of snow we got in February, maybe because it is a little warmer outside and so it melts and re-freezes as you drive on it.

After my morning errands, I arrived home and decided to walk in the bright cold air to get us some coffee and donuts. I realized that I haven’t taken many snow-photos, so I snapped a few.

So much for an early spring!

Then on the way back, one patch of sidewalk had been un-trampled and I decided to do a playful photo of my footsteps being laid out before me. Of course it is a simple photo to take, you just jump off your footprints, walk around the outside of where you’re going to frame the photo, and then snap it. But it adds a touch of surprise since the footsteps usually go behind the person, not vice versa.

And it got me thinking about how people make plans, play games, run politics. It’s almost as if we think we can know what the next three steps are in life. But it isn’t like chess, which already has a lot of permutations of moves, in life, there are so many ways of being that who we were and who we are do not predict who we will become as people.

Making the choice of studying to be an artist or an engineer; a lawyer or a novelist, changes the possible outcomes to an extent because in a world as big as ours, having qualifications is extremely important.

But I have a friend who has an engineering and a law degree who works as a circus artist and teacher. And I have an art degree, but am currently making the most money from the little bit of computer-geekiness at manipulating data and light coding that I’ve accrued by osmosis and necessity. Even my father, who speaks several languages and graduated with English and Russian majors, didn’t work in his fields of study until retirement, now publishing articles, teaching, and researching.

And those are only the very concrete things that make us who we are. How we treat other people, how we choose to react to problems, and how we are able to solve daily problems are a whole other field of being that qualifications say nothing about on paper. We may guess that a person who is good at engineering will have a neat house, or that a lawyer likes to argue, but I’ve met messy engineers and reserved lawyers.

When I was twenty, I knew who I was. It was a certainty that I had defined. Allida is this, she isn’t that. But in the last several years, choices and opportunities have come that changed my direction. I’ve met and got along with the kinds people who I always thought hated me. I’m more flexible and stronger than I thought, and though life has been difficult sometimes, I now feel a graceful balance at the core of myself. It was always there, but now I feel it more deeply.

But now, seeing all the choices ahead of me; all the steps that show the way forward in the snowy sidewalk of life, I’m not sure of myself. Those three steps ahead seem to open up an infinite number of other steps in an infinite number of directions. There are limitations set down by the first step which will mar the snow. Perhaps I’m afraid that this next first step will limit the next three.

By now, I know that you can’t always go back, but with a little creativity, like the photo, you can get around things and get somewhere that seems impossible when you start.

062:365 Icy Dream of Spring

062:365 Icy Dream of Spring

Today, as long shadows get shorter and days get longer, I am worn out and ready for the ice to melt, but simultaneously grateful for the demarcation of the seasons on my life.

Living in Los Angeles, I had no sense of time and things seemed surreal. I appreciate, after spending just over a year there, that there was a change of seasons, but living through it just one time, it felt like there was no change. Maybe the milder changes of Madrid and the Bay Area were a little more to my liking than this harsh beautiful midwestern winter, but still, the snow and ice are beautiful in their way.

This is a study of how simple shapes can create an atmosphere. By changing the width of the dark stripes, a sense of space is created, delineated both vertically and horizontally by the performance of color. The peachy color in the middle evokes the reflection of sun on an icy lake and the dark stripes shadows cast by waves.

It isn’t realistic, but it gives some sense of space and atmosphere.

The first time I saw a Rothko in person, big blobs of not quite geometric color on an unprimed canvas, I wasn’t impressed. But the grad-student who taught our Art History Seminar at SAIC made us sit in front of one at the Art Institute of Chicago for a good 20 minutes. She made us look first and then told us things about the way the colors interacted with each other, how they faded out onto the canvas and created the illusion of space by their contrast or similarity, by the diffusion of color into ground. She was so enthralled, it was hard not to look at the picture plane in a different way.

This drawing didn’t start out with anything in mind about Rothko or mid-twentieth-century abstraction. I made it thinking about a scarf I’m knitting in two colors, with broadening stripes so one color resolves out from the other. When I photographed it, I realized that if I flipped the drawing upside down, for some reason it created a sense of receding space, but the way I drew it just looked like stripes. So, here you have it, upside-down from how I drew it, but nonetheless properly oriented for what it signifies.

Funny how a change in perspective can be the key to an epiphany.

033:365 Fast as Lightening

033:365 Fast as Lightening

Another Gracie Comic.  Don’t you just love when the cat says, “Let me out NOW!” then makes you stand in the door for awhile before turning and fleeing the snowflakes!  He looks disappointed when he finally comes and settles on the chair, but I suspect it is because he wants attention.

For some reason today, my head is full of ideas and images and I’m having trouble writing any of them in words.  Maybe I’ll do another drawing, or just work on my rag-rug (and the second one I’ve started).

I’m going to go to an art-opening this evening at a local gallery that I hadn’t heard of until this week. No idea what kind of art, or anything, but going places to meet other artists is probably something I should be doing. Welcome to Ypsilanti!

029:365 Amidst the Mists

029:365 Amidst the Mists

The fog today was inspiring. I used to love East Asian watercolors and Japanese Ukiyo-E prints that showed distance with faded colors.  This morning’s weather looked a lot like that.  Trees appeared as dark tears in the world while buildings emerged suddenly, foreboding behemoths.

The anger and discomfort of the last few days is fading, and quotidian things take over.  Chop wood and carry water, a ghost once told me.  He was right.  Though the abyss still looms large now and again, observing changes in the world around me and doing things like cooking dinner bring me moments of joy and love to leap across it.

I started the second more square rag rug, though the first isn’t finished, because there are things afoot here, and our forays into flooring have led to more intensive plans than plopping down some pad and vinyl.  If we end up with a loud floor, I guess my beautiful sun rug will be go up for sale, and it already represents more time than most people would like to pay for.

028:365 Icy Branches Abstract

028:365 Icy Branches Abstract

Last night was an ice storm. It is too warm for the branches to be as gorgeous as they sometimes are after a storm like this, but they are still rife with drips and drops lazily funneling down branches and sparkling in the light.

There was, at 3AM, a cat yowling outside my windows. It wouldn’t come in out of the ice though. It kept hiding under the window box, running away, scratching at the exterior door, and coming back to the window to yowl. Gracie was not amused, though he did eventually go back to sleep.

I had been waked up by the existential dread that used to wake me more frequently. These last months, it chases me again and more suddenly and intensely than before. Perhaps this bare drawing is just as emotional as the last couple colorful ones. An expression of desire to branch out in the world and shade with leafless sparkling branches.