After an arduous and bizarre Summer, my “real life” hiatus has finally concluded, just in time for Autumn’s arrival. I return to the Carousel upon a gust of changed wind; you see, I have chosen to >>SHIFT<<.
Perhaps keen readers may have noticed (from previous posts) that I am a student of science. I love plants and lichens especially but I’m bowled-over by most of the disciplines within the broad spectrum of my field. To furnish a label, I say that I study Natural History, for I can learn about much of the world and it’s processes within this umbellate structure. Also, Natural History museums are one of my favorite places to be because they present concepts and objects that I love, often in an aesthetically pleasing way and sometimes through multi-sensory, interactive media. Although my passion for science has always been married to my necessity and fondness for aesthetics, science and nature have enabled my return to art. Now I have begun to lean toward art for art’s sake.
Let me back this train up (dreamy, blurred transition sequence with harp scales denoting flashback):
When I was a wee lass of 16, thrashing about in the throes of hormones and mental illness, my primary love in life was painting; it was my one and only reason to get out of bed in the morning and for attending school daily. Painting made life more tolerable because I could concentrate my turbulence into expression and also focus on the perception of the physical world outside of me. I saw layers of paint slathered everywhere I looked, instructing me in the ways of light, shadow and color, allowing me to see what was actually in front of me instead of the meagre projection of what I expected. It was a form of escape and it was to be my Escape Plan.
However, a near constant succession of emotional storms culminated in something akin to a meteorite collision, which struck me down into a pile of crumbs. After that, I was unable to paint because I had nothing inside me to express. I sat staring at empty canvases, mouth agape as if paralyzed at the beginning of a scream, which ran out of steam and rusted in place. The main problem was that I was rendered unfeeling and impotent by the too-strong anti-psychotic medication prescribed to me by a diagnosis-happy charlatan who bragged about being an allopathic physician and shamed me for being queer. Bless his coronary. True, I was no longer crazy enough to be dangerous to myself or anyone else because all I could think about was eating and sleeping…but all I could do was eat and sleep and as such, I lost my true love to the Nothing. Is that any kind of life?
After years of quivering in the shadows of traumatic aftershock and in fear of criticism for my lack of skills and a suspicion about my level of talent, I forced myself to pick a new medium; a new muse naturally installed itself thereafter. Watercolor paintings and drawings of non-human entities delivered me into new territory, only marginally associated with the battleground.
Biological illustration is one of my favorite types of art and I have been practicing little by little, though it has been exquisitely painful, for there is sensitive scar tissue around the phantom wounds. Above, you see two products of this effort–I watercolor painted these animal friends, which were extracted from a large interpretive poster I made about ocotillo’s (Fouquieria splendens) pollinating partners.
After struggling through many a misstep and accepting that I am merely an imperfect beginner, I decided to finally-at-last heal the heartbreak and gift myself that which I lack–a solid foundation in technical artistic training. Through a serendipitous meeting of a professional illustrator named Zelda Devon, I now have a weekly art class with an outstanding and encouraging teacher to help me mend and make new my identity as an artist. Yeah, because I said it: I’m an artist and nobody can change that (not even me). So there.
Here are a few pieces of art that I’ve foraged from the internet–I find them lovely and exciting:
This piece by Langdon Graves pleases me immensely with the muted palette I so often gravitate towards, treated with a flash of hot color that draws the eye. The subject’s dismemberment is made only slightly disturbing with her bunny hands, though I find it more sweet and imaginative than morbid.
Carne Griffiths’ work is nudging me toward a return to human portraiture with his ethereal, fractured work. I also love it when people incorporate materials other than the precious, highfalutin stuff one acquires at the art store, such as Griffiths’ tea and booze.
Here are some pretty graphic design things by Tatiana Plakhova–check out the website because there you will find a whole universe of gorgeous, sort of mind-blowing images.
Art Forms in Nature by Ernst Haeckel was given to me for my birthday by my darling friend Danielle. Haeckel is so absolutely outstanding! I want to be like him when I grow up.
Tiffany Bozic’s new book Drawn by Instinct features the very kind of artistic expression I hope to one day be capable of; she melds the meticulous detail of a scientist with realistic portrayals of creatures–some are posed within strange, compelling compositions–and gives them the breath of emotional movement. Essentially: I want this book. I would accept it as a gift, should anyone be so inclined to offer!