Owl-Eyed Athena

I finished my portrait of Penny Nickels.

It took a long time.  I had a mostly finished portrait for a while, but I just wasn’t happy with it.  I couldn’t get the phrase Owl-Eyed Athena out of my head when I was working on it.  Since so much of Penny’s work is about mythology, I thought of her as a warrior/genius with big, creepy, owly eyes. 

I’m confused about this portrait.  I hate it because I’m shaking with self doubt all day every day lately.  I feel like a fraud artistically.  I also love this.  Honestly I think this is the most beautiful portrait I’ve ever made. 

Whatever.  It is what it is.  Now I need to make peace with my life and art and move on.

Submersed in the culture.

The best way to learn a foreign language is to be submersed in the culture.  You need to order your breakfast, ask where the toilets are, and pay for movie tickets in the native tongue.  Medicine is the same thing.  You can’t dip a toe.  You have to dive in.

closeup

If you’ve never been to nursing school, it’s nothing like college.  This is hard.  You study (yes, even the really smart people who never have to study have to study) like a maniac, then get up at 5 in the morning for rounds.  You take care of actual live human beings and try really hard not to fuck up and hurt them.  You work until you want to cry some days.  You run every time there is a bedpan to empty or a bed to change because you have to prove yourself.  You have to want to succeed and you have to prove it to your instructors and the hospital nursing staff.  You clean up puke without gagging, you do procedures that hurt the patient and you don’t cry.  You suck it up and keep going.  Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning.  Then I remember that drama isn’t going to help me, so I get out my books. 

This piece is called “Waiting Room.”  It is hand embroidery with cotton and linen floss on a scrub smock from the Army hospital where I was born.  This shirt used to be a deep burgundy, but it has seen countless surgeries, lives and death.  This shirt has seen blood and vomit and tears.  It’s been washed too many times to count.  Now I see the blood and the scrubbing and I watch to see how it will change my colors. 

I’m just plain grateful to be a part of medicine.

Watercolor Eye Embroidery by Corrine B

wip: eye embroidery, originally uploaded by Corrine B..

I started a new Flickr Pool for artists who would like to be considered for writeup on my blog.
Please don’t be shy. Feel free to join the pool. Feel free to add me as a Facebook friend. I’m not a snob. Really.

One of the first contributions is this eye from artist Corrine B, a WIP titled Leadbelly. It’s based on a watercolor sketch from when her son was shot in the eye with a bb gun. See the post here.  I love the dreamy, washy look of this piece. There is a lot of emotion. She really has the look of tears and watercolor come through in an amazing way. 

Believe me, achieving a painterly look with embroidery isn’t easy. Go check out her Flickr Stream here.

By the way…I still hate my current WIP and I’m going to abandon it for now. I don’t feel like I’m losing or giving up. I feel like I’m free to walk away from situations I can’t win. It feels good.

Another One

Stormin' Norman

I hate this part.  I hate looking at what I’ve made and feeling like a failure.  I hate feeling like I’ve made a mess that I should hide from everyone.  I hate looking at that brown clump on the right side and wondering if David is right, that it looks wrong, that it’s too much brown, that it won’t look right, that it won’t look like a face.

When I was in grade school, I was the type of kid who tried so very hard to get things right, that I’d tear up my paper for the slightest error.   I watch my 7-year-old daughter struggle with pencil and paper the way I did at her age.  I could never make the pretty cursive that pretty girls made, so I didn’t want to try at all.   The leap from child to artist means that I have to live with uncertainty and imperfection–hoping for something more meaningful in the end.

My hand makes imperfect letters and imperfect stitches.  But I know my handwriting from anyone else’s and I love it–just like I love the exact color of my eyes–because it’s mine.  My artwork is marked with my hands, too.  It’s as personal to me as my fingerprints.  My heavy, clumsy hands have been all over it and it’s mine.   It means so much to me, it’s so beautiful, because it’s mine.  A thousand stitchers with a thousand embroidery kits couldn’t make what I made because it’s mine.  It comes from my very personal hands. 

It’s an Alexandra Walters.  I will work on it doggedly.  I will fuss and worry.  I will stare and regret and worry more.  When it is done, it will be fine.  It will be mine and it will be beautiful.

Handsome Devils

Kalashnikov is about 50% done.  I’m pondering my next “ancestor.” 

I appreciate you, dear blog readers.  You are welcome to use my knitting and crochet patterns.  You can copy any garment I sew.  You can use the spinning techniques and the recipes.  These are all crafts, and I love sharing them.  I get a special kind of thrill from seeing my hat pattern on the head of a lovely little girl I’ll never meet in person.  Crafting is sharing.

I don’t appreciate art theives.  Please don’t use my artwork, especially to make money.  My embroidery and embroidered quilts are off limits.  Art is something personal.  It came out of my soul and the labor was painful and emotional.  It’s my intellectual property.  Please don’t copy it.  You are welcome to post any of my content as long as you link back to me and give me full credit.  Don’t steal anyone else’s art, either.

I feel so much better now that we’ve cleared this up.

Beefranck on Sylvia Plath

, originally uploaded by beefranck.

If you love embroidery, you probably know Beefranck. She shares a blog (http://www.mrxstitch.com/) with some of fiber art’s most influential people.

Here is what she had to say about this piece:

“I’ve had this idea floating around in my head for awhile. It seems fitting that I finished it this week, which marks a year since I was laid off.

This is my problem with unemployment. If I’m not busy enough, I have time to think – and that never ends well.”

As much as I enjoy a snarky cross stitched quote, I usually just read it and move on. What I really love about Bridget’s stitching is that it holds you. Her quotes are pensive, her backgrounds are interesting, and I find them very emotional despite their geometric appearance.

You can just imagine her frustration as she stitches every bit of this background.

See her Flickr stream here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beefranck/.