Art Project: “Choking”

artprojectPainting is a relatively new interest of mine, or at least, I’ve only actually been painting since January — I’ve been saying that I’d “like” to paint for ages now, but only in the last six or seven months actually taken the plunge.

I’m not very good.  Which I guess I should expect?  I’ve only been at it six months, I’ve had no formal training, I took a full month-and-a-half off to participate in various challenges, and it’s not like I have time to sit and paint for hours and hours a day.  I mean, it’s a skill to cultivate, not something I should expect to be awesome at right at the start.

And honestly, I’ve seen a lot of improvement over the past few months, just as I can see a lot of ways in which I still have to grow.

To make an effort towards actually becoming better, I’ve tried to focus on human figures, particularly faces and hands, as those are both favorite subjects for me to paint (I might have a bit of a hand kink, honestly?¹) as well as things that give me a lot of trouble.  I had an idea for a mixed-media piece in mind for a long time, and had been putting it off for a while for fear of, well, fucking it up, I guess.  I tend to build up projects in my head, have a very set, clear visual image of what I’m setting out to commit to canvas, and the fact that it so very, very rarely matches up means I procrastinate on the attempt in the hopes that at some point I’ll simply arrive at the level of skill and talent I’d need in order to do the project justice.

(Of course, you don’t get to that level without painting, but let’s not go crazy by bringing logic into this.)

So, given that I had time off this week, I finally made an effort.  And… well, it’s not nearly as good as I hoped, but it’s probably a shade better than I expected.

The proportions feel off, first of all, though that bothers me less than you might expect, and I’ll be honest — I’m proud enough of the way the hand turned out that she could Untitled design (1).pngproportionally look like a T-Rex, and I think I’d be a-okay with it.  Look, I know it’s not perfect, but that’s the best damn hand I ever painted.  I certainly wasn’t going to roll the dice and attempt a repaint after getting that on the first shot.  

I’m also incredibly pleased with how the background — which was a spur-of-the-moment, last minute addition turned out.  That’s a Dollar Tree stencil, by the way, and I am inexplicably proud of that fact, as well.  My camera does not take the best photos, so it’s less obvious here than looking at the painting in real life, but the metallic on black, and the busyness of the background does a lot to make the figure stand out, and I love that.

I’m less thrilled with (though not totally hating) her facial expression.  I had a very clear “look” in mind, a very visceral, panicked expression that I just don’t yet have the skill to capture.  As it is, she looks vaguely distraught, but also like maybe she’s wondering if she left the oven on??

The roses themselves I’m very pleased with — this is the second batch, after badly scorching the first (look, it’s been a while since I’ve used Sculpey, and may have mis-remembered the bake time/thickness ratio), though the pink ones are a little more, uh, vibrant than I would have liked (I’m going to try to mute them a bit with some matte pink eye shadow (which is awesome for shading Sculpey) before I seal them.  I still feel like the floral piece is a bit sparse (you can see small patches of canvas in the gaps between flowers), but that will be a project for another day.


¹I have the fairly idiosyncratic tendency to become very enamored with particular body parts, and they are never the ones that most people would guess.  Even in people normally considered unattractive, I have fallen head over heels.  See:  Steve Buscemi’s shoulders; Mackenzie Crooks’ hands.

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Children and the Relentless Onslaught of Time

adventures of the everydayThe last few weeks, even more so than usual, has been one long reminder of the relentlessness of time.

This should not be some grand revelation.  I know I’m getting older, you know?  Like, unquestionably.  My joints make noises that if, say, my car was making, it’d be in the shop the same day.  One beer, and I’m falling asleep at the dinner table.  And this past year, I realized I have a favorite goddamn Tupperware¹ — that’s game over, folks.  That’s peak Old Person, right there.

But I have the context of years to gauge my change, you know?  Everything that I’m cognizant of everything that defines me as a person, has come to be over the course of years.  And at some point, I don’t want to say I stopped growing, but I definitely hit a plateau.  Twenty-seven-year old Jess was a totally different person than seventeen-year-old Jess, but twenty-seven year old Jess and  thirty-seven-year old Jess have a hell of a lot in common (minus a penchant for painting, a few stretch marks, and about fourteen inches of hair), even though the same ten years separate them.

That’s because at some point we just sort of stop Becoming, and just… Are.  We spend years and years figuring things out, making major cognitive, social, and emotional leaps, and then — for most of us — that all sort of tapers off.  It’s not that we don’t still grow and change, but at some point in our adult lives, personal revelations and milestones generally become a lot fewer and further between.

But having a kid has thrown my sense of time out the window.  Because my son is four-and-a-half and still very much Becoming, and he is Becoming at a pace that is astounding, and exciting, and relentless.

Because in his life, absolutely fucking everything is revelatory.  Everything in his life is felt with the intensity of the novel: an Experience, or an Adventure, or a Tragedy.  He’s hitting new milestones at a breakneck pace, waking up some mornings suddenly able to do something or understand something that he’d be struggling with hours before sleep the previous night.  New words are entering his vocabulary everyday, and his ability to regulate, read, and respond to his own and other peoples’ emotions with nuance is growing and developing constantly.

And now he’s starting pre-K.

And we’re jumping in with both feet.  No half-day, three-days-a-week trail period; starting in September, Bear will be at school from 7:45 to 3:15, five days a week.  He has a uniform.  He’ll pack a snack and eat a served breakfast and lunch.  He’ll have music and theatre recitals, he’ll do art projects.  He’ll learn to read.

Jesus.

It’s scary. I mean, it’s ridiculously exciting, too, but also scary, to see the last remaining vestiges of the Baby I’ve coddled for the last four years fall away and reveal, like, a Big Kid.  Someone who gets their own food from the fridge, uses the potty by himself, picks out his own clothes and dresses himself, and now, goes to school.  Someone who’s sphere of influence is about to grow dramatically.

That does scare me.  I’m ecstatic for my son to meet new people — he is social and sociable almost to a fault (“I have no stranger danger!”) — but I am afraid of the boy I have raised to be curious, creative, experimental, and unburdened by gender expectations being hurt, or ridiculed, or called out for being different.  It’s a common fear, I know.  It’s probably also mostly unfounded, as he always has the support of our family and friends, but the fear is there.

My time as his Greatest Influence is coming to an end soon.  His peers, his friends — their opinions are going to start holding a lot more weight very, very soon.  It’s scary.

And it’s relentless.  It just keeps going on from here, where I watch my son move further and further away from me.

Here I am, trying to juggle the time I have left with my Baby while prepping him to be successful as a Big Kid, struggling to keep my own life on track and my creativity afloat.  Trying to cram as much as I can in the brief time I have before I have to re-add work to this mix.

Right now, I have one week left.

I wonder how long I would need for it to ever feel like I had enough.


¹Mr. Lid.  Fucking life-changing.

If you enjoy reading my ramblings or keeping up with my projects, consider maybe donating a few dollars to my Ko-Fi.  Thanks!