I have not been getting much art done this month–by which I mean “practically any.” I am trying not to be too hard on myself about that, since I did just move into a new place, on my own, plus the emotional upheaval, plus I started a new job. All good excuses, but nobody ever got into the art history books based on the quality of their excuses, and excuses don’t pay the bills.

Did get a couple of sketches done, did get this four-foot tall chicken painting about halfway done, but still, they’re not finished and…y’know…real yet.

Still, with some relief, I did manage to get the next Digger cover done, which isn’t a bad little painting in its own right, of the character Boneclaw Mother.

Digger Seven Cover

It doesn’t assuage the guilt of the lack of art this month. I did get my portfolio and resume ready to go for the gallery interview, which should be sometime this week, but still…art guilt.

I think artists–creative types in general, probably–need some form of confession. Obviously, if you’re gonna have guilt, you gotta have a ritual mechanism to expiate it, right? So we need art confessionals, where we can slouch behind the little screen and say “Forgive me, Art, for I have sinned. It has been three weeks and four days since my last painting…”

Then we could say a coupla Hail Mary’s and go back to the studio with a lighter heart.

So I’ve been working in the framing department at work, which is kinda cool–the paperwork sucks, but I’m learning a lot about framing that I didn’t know (last time I cut a mat was by hand in college.) These are useful skills to have, not that I have the set up–or the space for the set-up!–but still, good to have.

Today I learned to cut glass, which isn’t hard, but mildly nerve wracking, even wearing gloves and with steel-toed boots on. Still, if the fate of the universe ever depends on me cutting glass, we should be set from here on out.

I wonder how long you gotta work there before the shatter of breaking glass, even when you’re expecting it, doesn’t make you flinch…

Went and saw “Pan’s Labyrinth” last night with James.

Wow. That was…uh…brutal.

Some very neat bits, some very cool bits, but overall, needed more fantasy and less torture. And…err…yeah. Good movie, but…brutal. This is not one for the kids.

Some neat visuals, though.

My cel phone died at work today–apparently dead to the world. I was suddenly isolated from the rest of the cosmos. I couldn’t call Cingular to tell them my phone didn’t work, because my phone didn’t work! I couldn’t call James to ask him to call Cingular, since we’re on the same plan, because my phone didn’t work!

I’ve been trying so hard to be independant, and man, shit keeps breaking right and left. Car. Computer. Car again. Computer again. Of course the phone would go. Every time something breaks, I wind up having to call someone–usually James–to fix it, and although I work very hard to stay positive and try not to believe that The Universe Is Trying To Bitch Slap Me, it’s starting to strain even my inherent optimism.

So I call James on the phone from work, and he says to come over after work, he’ll see if he can fix it, and if not, all the paperwork for our cel plan is there. Great, sez I. I hang up.

The perky goth chick who works the register–and who makes me feel older than Methusalah–says “Hang on,” takes my cel phone, pries it open with black nails, yanks the battery out and does something arcane that looks a lot like slapping it against her palm a few times and blowing on it. After this peculiar CPR, she pops it back in and hands it to me. The phone promptly comes on. Holy crap. Saved by the perky goth chick!

I call James back to inform him that I am saved, and he invites me to dinner anyway. So that worked out.

Well, for everybody but Ben. Even though I got back at the reasonable hour of 10:30 pm, Ben did what my buddy Kathy described as his “You were out with that boy again, weren’t you?” routine, which is why I’m covered in tabby hairs, my chin itches and smells faintly of fish breath, and there are several claw holes in my shirt.

Also, a sixteen pound cat that drapes himself over your shoulder can and will reach down, and in the course of kneading, snap your bra. I don’t know quite how to feel about that.

One of the hardest things about a seperation, I think, is sleeping alone.

When you’ve been together for years, you just plain get used to having somebody else in the bed. You’ve worked out all the negotiations of sleep–whose arm goes where, which knee goes on top, whose feet stick out, what part you poke to keep the other person from snoring. And then it’s not there any more, and you’re left feeling vaguely as if you’d spent years negotiating an elaborate and complicated peace treaty with a nation which suddenly decided to close borders and become an isolationist state.

Ben is definitely saving me. Having another living being around does something to the human brain. We’re stronger in the company of other people, as much out of pride, I suspect, as anything more noble. It even works, to a certain extent, with a cat.

It would be nice to say that he sits on my pillow and purrs, but frankly, Ben is not that kind of cat. (He is, for example, the only cat I’ve owned who belches regularly, generally when I’m petting him.) Once I’ve gone to bed, usually with a book, Ben comes, plops down between my feet, and begins to groom himself.

There are cats who groom themselves with quiet grace, tongues flicking neatly over dainty paws, paws slipping over sleek fur.

Ben is not that kind of cat, either. Ben grooming himself is a wet, smacking, slurping affair not unlike fish being processed, and he takes his time. I can generally get a couple of chapters read before he is satisfied that his belly fur is sufficiently clean (or at least soggy.) Then it’s on to the shoulder, or the back leg, or in times of special celebration, the genitals.

When he’s finished grooming for the evening, the slurp-smack-smack-slurp noise stops at last. Then he flops back across my ankle, heaves an enormous sigh–hygiene is exhausting–and goes to sleep.

I can’t say it’s a graceful affair, but there’s also never any question as to whether I’m alone in the bed, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

Well, I had a lovely Valentine’s Day.
Ben didn’t approve of the hour at which I came home, and registered his disapproval by unrolling most of the toilet paper, but that was the only casualty. (I felt like a bit of a cad, though–I fed him and expected him to faceplant into the food, but instead he followed me around, crying, until I sat down and cuddled him. After suitable and ferocious snuggling, then he faceplanted in the food.)

I put up a suet feeder t’other day, and evidentally the birds finally found it–so far today we’ve had a Carolina wren, a yellow-rumped warbler, and a Carolina chickadee checkin’ it out. The wren was scruffy, but not obviously defective, but doubtless that’ll come in time.

I had a dream last night about a man who came into a small town–one of those little tourist traps on the Oregon Coast, I think–with an animal. He was telling us that it was unknown to science, that we’d make millions from this animal because it was so new and weird and extraordinary.  Then he whipped the cover off the little plastic cage.

“Oh!” I said, “It’s a needle-nosed shrew! And what a great specimen, too!”

He was crushed, while I explained that the needle-nosed shrew was an obscure but already documented mammal found on the coast, with four large fangs that protruded like tusks when it closed its mouth, that feeds on the blood of mammals and seabirds much like a vampire bat–nicking a little hole with the fangs, then sticks its pointy little snout into the hole and slurping. “Also known as the vampire shrew!”

I woke up, thinking “Does that really exist?” but it didn’t. Still, it doesn’t seem like something I made up. Must’ve been in a book or something.

Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Me Into, Art…

So James went out to a gallery opening awhile back, picked up a business card, and handed it to me, saying “Dude! You should contact them–they’re pretty new, they might really like your art!”

“Okay,” sez I, and last night, more or less on a whim, sent ’em an e-mail saying “Hey, are you taking art submissions?”

And they replied this morning telling me to call and set up an appointment for the gallery owner to take a look at my art.

This is a good thing! This has possibilities! If I can wow them with my brilliance, (or at least nudge them with my oddity) I may be able to get a show–in a real gallery, not a coffee shop*–and how cool would that be?

Unfortunately, it’s also brought me slam up against a great baffling wall of my own ignorance, because while I know a good bit about the internet side of things, I do not know much about the process of getting into galleries. What the heck do I bring? Is it like a portfolio review–I should bring in a dozen prints in a binder, say? (Preferably with the descriptions underneath, since I know they’re a major selling point.)

Which brings me smack up against the other wall of my ignorance–oh crap, what do I put in a portfolio for a gallery?

I’m thinking more fine art-ish, granted the venue. Unfortunately, itcan’t be Gearworld, because if I tried to force out a Gearworld show, my muse would dry up like a salamander in a sand dune. I know my limits there. So I’m left with things that are weird and whimsical but still…err…non-commercial enough not to put the hackles up on a fine art establishment, if ya know what I mean. (If Nurk does well, my cute work will finally have legitimacy, but I don’t think this particular gallery is the time or place for ragingly cute stuff.)

I’m thinkin’ the Watermelon Shoes and some of the Weird Fruit might be a good choice.

Pity it’s not a few months from now, when I’ve discovered my love of giant abstract chickens…

*It’s a fabulous coffee shop, mind you, but it’s still not quite the same thing.

Spent much of Friday unloading canvases, and my post in theframe shop has a view of the Big Canvases (You know, the 48 x 72’s and up.)

It’s making me itch. A sort of artistic pavlovian response is in force. Show me a big canvas, and I start to salivate and get urges to paint something huge and abstract.

This is not a good urge to start having when one is living in 500 sq feet. Particularly not rental square feet, where people frown if I get all Jackson Pollocky on the carpet. Actually, I think that’s part of the reason–something about living in small spaces makes me want to work huge. I used to work on 24 x 48 masonite back in our tiny 420 sq ft place in St. Paul, even if it meant propping the board up on the couch and kneeling on the floor in front of it. Whether it’s basic perversity, or something more complicated–the desire to have a big inner landscape to counteract the small outer one, say–I couldn’t tell you.

Still, I think working big may be good for abstraction. There’s a kind of dignity leant by sheer mass. Elephants would be absurd if they were the size of goats.

Well, it worked for Lichtenstein, anyway.

Don’t be ridiculous, my practical self says, rolling its eyes. You know you can’t do abstract art worth a damn, and even if you could, your fan base is built of people who like funky representationalism. You’d never finish it, and even if you did, it wouldn’t sell, and you’d be left with a monster canvas of dubious quality, and where are you going to put it?

Oh, get bent, sez I.

I wasn’t using that corner of the living room for anything, anyway. Except walking, and meh.