“My worth is not determined by this pelican,” I said to my friend. From the piece of paper in front of me, the pelican gave me a defiant look. It refused to yield to my brushstrokes. It looked like shit. It was mocking me. “Who am I kidding? My worth is totally determined by this pelican.”
I was breaking the rules a little, painting in my new studio at Sabine Street instead of the Chrysalis. I’m trying to get my Escapist studio ready for my little party next week, honoring the collectors who commissioned my European watercolors, so I figured I’d move my mess to my other place and invite a friend to paint with me. It didn’t start out that way, but it ended up being fun. Maybe it was the company or venting about our creative challenges (my friend is preparing a solo show too), or maybe just painting in a different space, but I ended up relaxing and enjoying myself. Even the pelican eventually stopped being an asshole and started looking presentable.
My self-worth restored, I went to eat tacos, then went to the First Saturday Arts Market where my friend Robert Kuhn performed and I had a good time. Overall, life is looking a lot better right now. I even danced at market and I ate half of Mitch Cohen’s Greek salad and it was good. I guess, perhaps, what I needed was to break out of my cocoon.
Someone once told me that painting a painting means casting a spell and I agree. I mostly try to cast good spells, and put good energy into the world, but considering the whirlwind of emotions I’m experiencing as I’m getting ready for this show, I need to test them and make sure. This is why, so far, my favorite part of getting ready for The Platform is hiding my paintings in Lily’s room. See, I don’t just hide them in there, I make a little gallery for her, making sure the newest creations are visible. In the morning she tells me how she feels about them. A photographer, a world traveler, and an overall sensitive person, I trust Lily to evaluate these paintings’ full emotional impact. Also, she’s honest because she’s a Sagittarius and because we have that kind of transparent relationship. In fact, when she told me to paint over something, I did.
But today she said the most wonderful thing: She said last night she slept with her head at the foot of the bed, so she could be closer to one of yesterday’s paintings. That made me so happy! And I needed that today, because today, once again, has been hard.
Today I’m better. The loneliness has seeped into my system and isn’t easy to shake, but as the secret stash in my sister’s room keeps growing, I’m starting to recover my spirit. Especially since today I really like what I painted. Still, I’ve so much more to do! I really want 40 paintings in the show, and I want to love them all!
But I’m also trying to relax and to enjoy the process. Today, for example, I took some time off from making stuff for my show, to paint a picture of @chloethesustinterrier, a cute little dog I follow on Instagram. Which reminds me I should probably wash my own monster. And that’s not something she enjoys!
This was sad. The heavy rain pelting on my roof this morning, the puddles, the panic about streets getting flooded, the little dog that wouldn’t go out, the memories of the hurricane too fresh in my mind. I felt alone and isolated. I did make it to John and Ryan’s 4th of July party, but by then the sadness had already sunk in, and not many people came anyway because of the weather.
I tried to paint but didn’t really like anything I produced. Doubts started flooding me. They like to float on top of the sadness. What if really I can’t paint at all? What if I don’t deserve my lovely wooden panels or the privilege of hiding art in my sister’s room?
I know tomorrow will be better. I know a lot of this is about the rain. I also know the doubts are normal. They’re an integral part of making art, especially pushing yourself past some limits. I know all this. Still, it was not a good day, and as it’s mercifully drawing to a close I am left wondering if maybe, when all is said and done, after my solo show, after the mentorship, perhaps it’s time to move somewhere else, to a different city, one that doesn’t flood.
I had such a wonderful day! I went to Yoga for Creatives, which takes place biweekly at Sabine Street, my new studio building, which during my absence has started to fill up with artists and art and to become quite cool!
Then I had tacos because tacos are good.
And then, Ryan texted me to tell me my panels had arrived. They were waiting for me and they were absolutely a dream come true. Y’all, I’ve been wanting to paint on some substantial wood panels for years and years now! And to have so many is quite the luxury!
I’m not saying this will occur without a struggle: I had a very hard time with an abstract piece today. Abstract painting always gives me such trouble, but I couldn’t resist. I did, however, after hours and hours, make something I like. I also made two small figurative pieces I’m very happy with.
And the best? My sister Lily is letting me store and hide my new paintings in her room. It makes me happy to prepare a secret little gallery in there, but also, I feel lucky that she is so loving and generous. I feel like us sisters share a secret – one of many. And that makes preparing for my show just delightful.
It’s been a somewhat complicated day. I had some bureaucratic matters to attend to, paperwork, etc, and I was feeling tense. But then I bought two big wood panels and I worked on stuff for my show (I’m only sharing a teaser here). I also went to Whole Foods with my sister Lily and we sat outside and ate good things. Then we got back to the gallery where John was watering the plants and he and I got into a splash competition with the water hoses. I got thoroughly soaked and I could not stop laughing. We just love behaving like children! We have so much fun!
And tomorrow we get to do it all again. 🙂
And maybe tomorrow the panels and canvases I ordered online will arrive. I so cannot wait! I’ve so much painting to do!
Please save the date! My Escapist solo show is rapidly approaching. It will take place on Friday July 27th, 6-8 at 1218 Heights Boulevard and will be called The Platform. As in train platform but also career platform. Think travel, departures, adventures, but also those underrated yet nevertheless magical in-between moments separating the highlights of a trip. The waiting, the anticipation, the quick coffee you enjoy before boarding an early morning train. But also think of The Platform in a different sense: getting ready to launch, a foundation for new an exciting things, a different kind of departure.
In a way, I have been building The Platform for years now, and if you’re reading this you are a part of it and I’m very thankful!
I thought it might be fun to show today’s painting in conjunction with the one I did five years ago, when I first started blogging. They go together, don’t they? I feel like I’ve come a long way! And still, this is only the beginning! Please help me celebrate on July 27th!
Houston is clouded over with a thin mist of something one might find ethereal and magical, or just plain annoying: Sahara dust! Yes, dust from Africa has actually migrated here and makes our city look foggy. The good news: its presence in the Gulf helps keep hurricane formations at bay. So you could say the Sahara dust is protecting us.
Also, there’s something quite romantic about it. Did you know, for example, that sometimes in the winter Sahara dust migrates all the way to Paris and makes the snow look slightly pink?
Today was such an amazing day! My Escapist sister AVM’s show ended up being a huge party! It was great to have so many people in the gallery. Some were familiar faces, people I was excited to see again, some new. The atmosphere was intoxicating and just like AVM intended, very New Orleans! I think I ate about a hundred crab cakes (her husband Mark Hawkins is a chef, and he cooked for the show) and practically got drunk on bread pudding with a heavy dose of bourbon in the sauce. I also drank ice tea that was so very sweet, and overall felt transported to the happiness and magic that is New Orleans.
And it occurred to me that this will be a very fun summer. I don’t know what I’ll do to make my own show and party special, but I think that we are very lucky to have four of these events to enjoy.
I wish my painting of the woman at the beach matched my experience today, but I suppose you can’t have it all. I really can’t wait for all my canvases and panels to arrive!
Today I met with my mentor, John Ross Palmer, to talk about my upcoming solo show. It took very little brainstorming to come up with a title: The Platform. It’s a nod to my love of trains and train stations. Though the show is inspired by travel in a broader sense, the idea of the platform appeals to me in both an aesthetic and a philosophical sense. When I think of train platforms I think of waiting, which to someone as impatient as I am is a troublesome concept. I do not like to wait. But there’s more to it than that. Waiting is not always done in airports or train stations or traffic. Sometimes people get into the habit of waiting: for the workday to end, for the next happy hour or weekend, the next promotion, the next house, the next vacation, the next sale. A lot of life is squandered waiting. The Platform is an invitation to stay present for all of the journey, not just the landmarks highlighted in glossy tourist magazines.
Also, today I made a decision: I will not build panels or stretch canvases or do anything of the sort. My Escapist sister, AVM Hawkins, whose fabulous show, Love Life, is already hanging (come see it tomorrow 6-8 at 1218 Heights Boulevard) stretched all of her own canvases. Which is so freakin’ awesome! Inspired by her, I decided to buy wood and build my own panels. John helped me mount one of my paintings today, creating supports for it in the back, and you know what? No! Just no! No no no no no! I’m not cut out for that and that’s ok. I went online and ordered an assortment of 40 ready-made canvases and panels. They will be delivered directly to the studio so I don’t have to schlep them all over town in my car.
More power to my sister for stretching her own canvases, but we are all different and we have different skills and different needs. Apparently one of my skills is giving myself the freedom to pay people to do things I do not want to do. I’m good for the economy and proud of it! And I can’t wait for my panels and canvases to arrive. I’ve never ever had so many all at once. It’ll be a feast! No waiting, just painting!
Though some creatures, I must say, know very well how to wait and still be happy. 🙂