Wrapping Up The Semester

Haven’t found the time to do anything remotely related to organizing or planning for the blog. So many Life things happening and not enough time to relax and take a breath.

We’re in the home stretch of the semester, two weeks of class left and then finals week. My head is swimming with due dates and project requirements, but it’s time for a much needed break so I thought I’d just do a photo dump of the recent projects in both Drawing 1 and Fundamentals of Design 1…

Drawing 1

Contour line drawing – had to set up a still life and draw it using only various line thicknesses to communicate form and depth (as you can tell, I’m particularly good at that).

Design principle contour line

Reverse value (meaning black paper and white charcoal) egg drawing – the piece I can point to that made things “click” for me and the first time we were allowed to use value (shading).

Reverse value egg drawing

Halloween chiaroscuro (extreme light to dark) drawing – it’s a still life of a ceramic jack o’lantern with a gnarled¬† walking stick over top.

Scarecrow drawing – had to create a “scarecrow” (meaning a dummy) out of found materials and set up a scene with compositional climax … another project I had trouble with and did not enjoy; my scarecrow is a crystal pitcher “bird” with wooden salad tongs as wings and tissue-paper-filled tea cups for eyes.

WIPsmall scarecrowFINAL scarecrow

Current WIP: Kitchen & Bathroom drawing – had to create a scene that emphasized a juxtaposition between kitchen/eating objects and bathroom/grooming items; I enjoyed setting up possible options and have a couple great thumbnails, but the angles are proving hard to translate to larger paper.

Pt2-dark for detail.jpg(I jacked up the photo so my lines are visible, I keep them super light to start)

Fundamentals of Design 1

Project 3: Geometric Assemblage – the object of this assignment was to take foam core and create a closed shape with at least 10 planes; it was to be kept as pristine as possible because the second stage of the project was to transform it through texture.

I used a sculpture by Jacque Lipschitz as inspiration to create a pair of figures I affectionately named Frick and Frack. I had a blast playing around with foam core, creating a beautifully-assembled cube as practice for gluing together the final pieces.


The texture and transform part was much more difficult. I had several conversations about this part with my professor, the first of which totally extinguished all the excitement I had and left me stagnating with indecision. I pulled through and after wandering around Jo Ann’s and buying way too much fabric, I was back on track and came up with something quirky yet edited.

FandF part 2 final

Project 4: Selfie – as the name implies, this was a project involving a self-portrait, but like “Hand as a Narrative”, it was all drawing – graphite or charcoal only. Our inspiration was a self-portrait of a historic artist modernized to reflect ourselves. I chose Zinaida Serebriakova’s 1909 painting, “At The Dressing Table” and put my own spin on it using my clippers and staging it in my mom’s packed studio-turned-closet.

It was very tough and caused me so much stress, but I’m pleased with how it came out for my very first attempt as anything remotely close to a life-like portrait drawing of a recognizable human being. It’s hung in one of the classroom bays on campus and I’ve already been recognized a few times in the hallways as “that girl from the drawing”.

Project 4: Multiples – for the last project of the semester, we have to take a manufactured object and repeat it at least 20 times such that it loses its individuality and becomes part of a larger whole. I chose Q-tips because they’re plentiful and cheap and with a nod to Tara Donovan, I’m making my way along, pushing cut Q-tips in a 4-panel staggered arrangement with a horizontal wave undulating across them.

I’m more than halfway done with inserting Q-tips, but I still have to tackle the mounting part. It’s meant to be an installation and the spot I’ve chosen on campus is on a wall in a large stairway underneath a horizontal lighting sconce. I don’t have much time to experiment so I’m hoping I can find a quick solution.

That covers the major assignments since my last previous posts and an idea of what remains. There is one last Drawing 1 assignment involving texture and a collage, but I’m still confused about that one so I hope to get clarification from the professor on Wednesday.

Very shortly, I’ll be registering for the spring semester and I plan to have an identical schedule, just one level up — Drawing 2 and Design 2. I’ll have the same drawing professor, but a new one for design. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow and improve as an artist and a student.

Let’s hope these last few weeks fly by in all the right ways, as in slowly enough to get everything done without losing my mind but fast enough that before I know it, it’s Winter Break!

Happy Birthday To Me!

Last Thursday the 24th was my birthday, I turned an age in the lower 30’s. I was overwhelmed with love and support from all over the place, but it was bittersweet. Mine was the first birthday in the family without my dad and his absence was more pronounced than ever.

I coincidentally scheduled therapy for first thing that morning, which was crucial for getting myself into a better headspace for the day; without that appointment, the day could have gone much differently. From there, I grabbed some lunch and headed to class – Fundamentals of Design 1, which gave me the chance to get feedback on a foam core sculpture we just started for our next project. I’m excited about what I might be able to execute as I feel quite comfortable working with geometric shapes and x-acto knives, I’m just trading the paper for foam core (granted, that’s a big change, but I’m up for the challenge). I also learned I got an A on my hand drawing, which I know would have thrilled my dad. I’m absolutely floored given that this is absolutely not my forte and I tend to be quite critical of myself and my gaps in my abilities.

Following class, I puttered around like I do before a friend came over to watch the Grey’s Anatomy premiere (a wonderful birthday present I get every couple years when my birthday falls on a Thursday). I don’t endlessly watch mindless television – in fact, I avoid cable as much as possible – but I have a handful of programs of which I am die hard fan. I look forward to escaping my reality for a bit to get engaged in an awesome storyline – it’s similar to reading a few chapters of a book before bed for me. On Thursday, we lost ourselves in reconnecting with the folks from GSMH and it was delightful, complete with Chinese food and an ice cream cake.

All in all, it was a good birthday and I did hear from plenty of people (though not from a few I would have liked and I don’t just mean my dad). And as I’ve come to realize as an adult, birthdays don’t have to be just a single day. On Friday, my mom and I spent almost 2 hours at the Crime and Punishment Museum in DC. My dad and I had been meaning to go for months and months, though his health would have prevented him from being able to do it (now having gone and seen the layout and structure of the exhibits), but it’s closing on September 30th so we needed to get down there. I’ll write another post on that visit, but suffice it to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Source: http://bit.ly/1GmMJVl
Source: http://bit.ly/1GmMJVl

As we made our way back from DC, I got a text from my friend confirming that the tickets to a Brandi Carlile concert on the 7th that I am dying to go to would be in the mail to me the next day. I was blown away and started tearing up on the Metro platform. Seeing her perform live is another activity I wanted to share with my dad, we both love(d) her music so much. We missed her at Wolf Trap the last two years so when I saw this concert, it was a must. But the convenience fee to buy tickets online was almost as much as a third ticket so I put out a call on Facebook to friends in that area and she came to my rescue. I was expecting to hear from her Monday or Tuesday about it, but she managed to take care of it on Friday. I cannot wait to see this dream realized.

When it comes to birthdays, I try to think of it as a day (or number of days as the case may be) in which the sole purpose is self-care: doing things to make yourself happy and surrounding yourself with people who reinforce the positive things you feel about yourself. I’m hoping that in addition to the concert, I’ll made self-care activities a focus of October.

Life Goes On

I’m back!

And what a time it has been. So much has happened, it still makes my head spin.

The most important relationship in my life ended at the beginning of the year (yes, the one for whom that cut-paper proposal book was made) and it’s taken me a long time to crawl out of the hole I buried myself in in response. The summer was taken up by moving out of the apartment we shared and back in with my parents – partly to save money and get back on my feet, partly to help my mom care for my dad as he endured cancer treatment. Then the 11th of August saw a pivotal change in my life: my father passed away suddenly.

The events of the last month and change have been a whirlwind as you’d expect, but maybe not in the ways you’d expect. I won’t go into the details of the relationship I had with my dad over the years, but I find that with his passing I’ve been overcome mostly by a sense of calm and relief, for a whole host of reasons. I’m looking much more to the future than I ever have before and I’m thrilled with the possibility. I’m no longer weighed down by expectations, doubts, and fears, and I’ve found I’m carried through the tougher moments with this momentum.

Two weeks after he passed, I started art classes at the local community college – Drawing 1 and Fundamentals of Design 1. They’re both in the afternoon, allowing me to avoid commuter traffic and arrive at the parking garage during most folks’ lunch break. I enjoy my classmates for the most part and my professors are knowledgeable and articulate. I’m being challenged with assignments and learning skills that I normally would avoid and it’s strengthening my abilities and confidence. I plan to take a few more semesters of basic art instruction with the intention of combining it with my undergrad degree in Psychology to pursue a Masters in Art Therapy. We’ll see if I get that far or if a renewed love of art steers me in a different direction!

As my priorities change and I’m forced to flex my artistic muscles, I’ll have more to share here. Bear in mind that I’m still learning these techniques – they aren’t second-nature or very polished so suggestions are welcome, but be polite. :)

ART 121 – Drawing 1: Contour line drawing of shoes using the grid method (no shading allowed, only line variation to communicate value)

birks - croppedBW5x7 birks no reference

ART 131 – Fundamentals of Design 1: “A Line in Space” 12″ minimum height sculpture using only tie wire and cold connections demonstrating a design element

Cube Final 2Cube Final 1

I know I’m still learning and have to ways to go to satisfy my inner perfectionist, but I know these skills come with time and lots of practice. And on that note, back I go to the FoD project I’m working on: a realistic and life-size drawing of my non-dominant hand holding something (I chose the JDI/IOJD Honored Queen gavel my dad hand-carved for me)!

WIP: Love Yourself from Head to Toe

I’ve finally dusted off my art supplies and started a new project after many weeks away. I haven’t felt much drive creatively and my spoons have been quite low so I sleep more than I probably should. This time of year is never friendly to me and being unemployed has meant I’m back in that precarious financial state again. I have to hope that I’m not staring down another hospitalization.

This latest artistic endeavor was inspired by another piece I did several years ago. I’m quite proud of the original and haven’t listed it anywhere because I hate to part with it. It took quite a bit of planning and intricate cutting and I’m thrilled to pieces with how it came out.

4panel fullRT-WM

I decided to pull out the phrase “love yourself from head to toe” and make that a piece by itself. I like the sentiment and it’s something I’ve been trying to instill in myself for many years. My current medication regime has the nasty side effect of weight gain and the lack of spoons means exercise is not possible on most days so I don’t have the greatest body image at present. But it’s a process and I’m just putting one foot in front of the other.

love yourself WIP

I like the color scheme I’m going with – soft turquoises and lavenders. I’m not sure what the background will look like yet. Since the lettering papers are quite busy, I think it should be more on the simple side. I always run into problems when I try to mix too many funky designs together. My goal is to finish the cutting today and then work on assembling it later this week. I don’t want this to be a half-finished project that ends up getting thrown away so I need to keep up the momentum.


Newest Family Member

A few weeks ago, on a whim, my partner and I visited the local animal shelter to look for a furry friend to bring home. There was one beautiful cat in particular we were looking at, but she turned out to have a bit more attitude than we were ready for. Her neighbor, however, was delightfully friendly and very curious, especially when treats were involved. After visiting her a few more times, we decided to take the plunge and get our first animal together.

Introducing Kira!

kira1She’s wonderfully playful and very vocal, meowing loudly when it approaches her feeding time. Occasionally, she’ll nip when she’s done being pet and you best avoid touching her belly. It’s been an adjustment getting used to her personality, which is vastly different from the cats in my past or my partner’s, but we still love her dearly.

kira2According to the shelter, she’s an only child, though her surrender paperwork indicates that she’s fine around dogs. I want to have multiple cats eventually, but for now it’s just this fat little gray girl! She enjoys going out on the balcony and watching the birds swoop and dive around the courtyard below and she makes the cutest chirps while doing so.

kira3We’re looking forward to many more years of fun antics and comforting snuggles!

Unexpected Hiatus

It’s been many months since I’ve jotted down ideas and shared art photos here, mainly because I’ve been working diligently on finding a Real Job. In early August, I was hired by a membership organization that caters to homeowners associations and management company.

It’s been a struggle getting back into the daily grind, working 8-8.5-hour days and I’m hoping to work out a modified schedule to ease myself back into the workforce. I want to succeed at this job, I know I’m capable enough to handle the responsibilities of the position, but I’m having trouble fitting in with the 50+ employees, especially coming from organizations that were much smaller.

In addition to getting used to a new office environment, I’m having to contend with a much more compartmentalized set-up where certain tasks are handled by certain staff and keeping track of people’s availability to conduct business is cumbersome. I’m used to handling requests and inquiries from start to finish, whether it involves taking down and processing credit card payments or registering a member for an event. All in all, I’m feeling like it’s just not a good fit for me so I’m back to the search.

In my dream world, I would love to try and make more money off my Etsy listings and see how to grow Pockets McGee’s Workshop as a business. I don’t even know where to get started with something like that, but it’s worth looking into. But what I really need to get started on is creating more art and getting out all this excess energy and anxiety out in a creative endeavor. If only time and energy and motivation all lined up to make that happen.

WIP: Feminist Solidarity

After a lull in the Workshop due to the depression I previously mentioned, and the lack of space I’ve always complained about, I finally got back in the saddle and pulled out my x-acto knife today.

defend all women wip crop

I’m still enamored with the solidarity fist, but decided to change up the symbolism from trans and lesbian to just women – ALL women. I made a tiny error in the word “solidarity”, which of course seems huge to me, so I doubt I’ll mount and frame this one. I think I take a second stab at it with a new blade and better light.

You can still find a few of the trans solidarity fists on my Etsy!

28 Days til Eddie Izzard!

Definitely a splurge purchase getting tickets to his “Force Majeure” tour in DC, but something super exciting to get me through the month of April. He’s been a favorite comedian of mine for years and it’s a dream come true to get to see him live. Something I’ve come to learn that’s important for me is to have these types of fun adventures on the schedule so I always have things to look forward to. Just like the classes I took at the Workhouse Arts Center, seeing Eddie Izzard from the balcony of the Warner Theatre will be a wonderful experience that I look back on and cherish.

Celebrating 100 Posts!

I may not always have something new or interesting to share, but somehow i have managed to crank out 100 posts since this here blog was created a few¬† years ago! May not be much to some folks, but it’s a nice milestone to reach for me. And I could use something to celebrate right about now, no matter how small.

Lately, I find myself doing less and less of my usual creative arts and instead have thrown myself into learning HTML and CSS. With a combination of fantastic SkillShare classes and the tutorials available at Codecademy, I’ve stuffed my brain to the gills with all manner of code. I’ve created mock webpages and a resume site. tinkering with a line here or there to create something new. So in a way, I suppose it is still an artistic endeavor, just more of a non-traditional one. I plan to take some classes at the local community college to get a certificate in web design – I just might find myself doing this as a career!

I had my two glass-working classes at the Workhouse Arts Center yesterday and they were both a blast. I learned not to fear the flame and how to be patient working with glasses of varying melting temperatures. I have a handful of glass leaves to show for my efforts (and a few minor burns!). I doubt I’ll be doing much more with those skills, but it was still enjoyable to learn them. As finances will allow, I plan to take more workshops at the Center, possibly stained glass and ceramics.

Despite the coding endeavors and glass lessons, life has been a bit gray and bleak for me. I try to keep my head up and treat myself with compassion in all that I do. But it’s difficult to contend with half a lifetime’s worth of negativity and erroneous messages; they form the tape of self-doubt that plays on loop when I’m feeling weak and vulnerable. I spend time cuddling with the cat or taking a long hot bath, finding ways to give myself small breaks and distractions. I have to believe that giving myself more opportunities to learn and grow (like the web design classes and WAC workshops) will help solidify my self-confidence. We shall see.


Workhouse Arts Center

As March begins winding down, I have a very exciting opportunity coming up. On the 30th, I’m going to head down to a great little gem in Lorton, VA called the Workhouse Arts Center.

Workhouse Arts Center

I highly recommend reading more about the history of the location, but the short version is that it used to be a prison and workhouse of the District of Columbia. The buildings have been restored and they are now studios that you can visit and tour. You get to interact directly with the artisans and get a feel for their process, not just their product

As part of the educational nature of the place, they offer a whole host of classes and workshops and I was lucky enough to snag a seat at the flameworking and borosilicate classes. These are skills I’ve always wanted to learn and I’m thrilled at the chance to learn them in such a unique environment.

My partner and I have made several visits and checked out several of the studios. She bought a beautiful ceramic chalice and spice container, which are wonderfully made and reasonably priced. As the weather improves, I know we will be visiting the place frequently! If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking it out.