September 20, 2012

Pages and Paint

Friday at Squam was not so great.

Breakfast was fine, bacon, sausage and ice cream, of course, then off to Sap House for Pages and Paint with Sarah Ahearn Bellemare which was a mixed media class and it was this class that ultimately made me give up on mixed media painting.

The first thing we did was go to the dock where it was warm in the sun, as opposed to cold in the cabin (even with a fire) and Sarah showed us her sketchbooks which were all full of little bits of things that inspired her. I really liked looking at her sketchbooks because they were a lot like some of mine, although I don’t really put so much “stuff” in mine, as I do planning paintings.

Sarah is the one with the sunglasses.

Then we had all this free time to do…I don’t even know what we were supposed to do… Belinda and I just shot the shit with this other girl named Heather who I think was from Kentucky, in the cabin, mostly about the rampant racism in Kentucky and Indiana where each of them was from.

 So everyone gets back to Sap House for our class and Sarah shows us all of her supplies and she shows us that she has 4 jars of Golden heavy body acrylics: red, yellow, blue and white. That’s right, she expected us to mix our own colours. I just don’t have time for that crap, personally, so I was glad that I’d brought my own paint, especially with the exercise she made us do later…So she’s telling us about mixing paint and how the primary colours will make every colour you would need (which is a filthy lie, as Bel pointed out; go ahead and try to make magenta or neon yellow with primary colours!) and she asked the class what colour she should mix…and someone yelled out “PINK!” and I’m like, “are you fucking serious?” (but I didn’t say that out loud) because HELLO, YOU MIX FUCKING RED AND WHITE – *EVERYONE* knows that! You learn that in kindergarten! Even Sarah was like “uh, okay…!” when that colour was requested and that’s when I knew this class was not for me.

Then we had lunch, which I have no idea what it was. Let me get this out of the way so I can stop saying “I forget” what we ate, here’s what I remember (and what Bel and my mom remembers too) as far as meals at Squam:

Breakfast was the same every day: Scrambled eggs, french toast, bacon, sausage, homefries, waffles, cereal, real maple syrup (from VT, which tastes different from CDN maple syrup, my mom says), cinnamon buns (which were amazing), muffins, yogurt, soft boiled eggs, oatmeal and I think that’s all.

Other meals: chicken breasts, salmon fillets, gourmet macaroni and cheese (twice, two different kinds, both absolutely delicious!), rice and beans (ew), salsa (ew), veggie burritos (ew), cheese pizza (twice, pretty good!), spaghetti (I didn’t have this but my mom said it was good), various soups (the vegetable soup I had was good but I think they tricked me into eating zucchini), all the salad you can eat, roast beef (phenomenal), chicken paninis, cold meats (for sandwiches), asparagus, carrots…I can’t even think of the other stuff. I know there was more because I ate a LOT and I’m picky as hell so I know there was more than this but I just can’t remember.

One night we had a catered dinner at a different dining hall and that meal was grilled chicken breast, macaroni and cheese and I don’t know what else because that’s all I ate. For dessert they gave us apple crumble with ice cream, which I didn’t eat because I think ice cream on apple crumble is gross and it’s not like you can eat around it, it’s all melted into it and it makes it mushy and cold and just blech. I understand that other people like it though so I’m glad it made them happy!

Another day we had catered lunch in our cabin (and we had appetizers in our cabin at one point but I forget what they were because I don’t think I had any). That consisted of all these gross corn and bean salads and corn chowder (which Belinda said was good, I’m semi-allergic to corn so I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole) so I just ate cookies and brownies instead. Then we had a group picture of all the Squammies.

Anyway…back to Friday….so we had lunch, that was pretty uneventful except for the fact that my mom was doing a class called “Story Scarf” where you made like, a quilted (sewn?) scarf with history and she was pretty excited about it. I’ll post pics of her scarf in this entry, DON’T YOU WORRY!

After lunch Bel and I went back to Sap House and Sarah showed the class how to do image transfers with clear contact paper and laser photocopies, which I already knew how to do and so did Belinda so that was nothing new, but I guess that was the “take away” from the class. And I guess…mixing pink…

So after she showed us that technique, she gave us each 3 small (4×4 inch maybe?) gesso boards. Now, when I read the materials list when I signed up, I saw gesso boards on the list and thought like…GESSO BOARDS. The kind I buy are 12×12 inches so I was thinking they’d be about the same size, especially since we were only supposed to get 2 of them with a kit fee of $12. So that was a disappointment, but whatever, I can try working small, no big deal. So she gives us these gesso boards (think a thin piece of wood sanded down and painted white, for lack of a lengthy description) and for the first one she says we’re going to play a game. And I’m thinking, “oh lord” because I hate shit like that. I didn’t even know what it was going to be but just the fact that she called it a “game” made me hate it immediately. In fact, she even said that when she’d taught this class before at Squam, during the game, someone yelled out “I HATE YOU!” and believe me, I understand the urge.

The game consisted of her giving us each a prompt, such as “paint with your eyes closed” (that was my first prompt) or “mix 3 colours that you love and use them in your painting” and then she played music and gave us 2 MINUTES to do whatever was on the card. Then when the 2 minutes were up, we passed the prompt to the left and we received the person on the right’s prompt and then we’d have 2 minutes to do that. We did this for 30 goddamn minutes and it was absolute torture. How the FUCK are you expected to  mix 3 colours, let alone ones you “love”, from primary colours, that you have to go get on your palette from the supplies table as well, in TWO MINUTES? Know what I did for that prompt? I took the colours already on my palette and added white to them all. BAM! New colours. Fuck loving them. One of the prompts wanted me to use rub-on letters on my piece but how was I supposed to do that on wet paint, especially when using “vintage” letters that didn’t really work? I managed to get a “F U C K” on my piece but it took me about 4 minutes of trial and error to do so.

What I created during this game was an utter piece of garbage that was a complete waste of time and art supplies. Because there were collage elements in it (horrible ones!), it’s not even like I could paint over it. I’d have to wait for it to dry and then sand them shit out of it and I just don’t care for a $2 piece of gesso board. As far as I was concerned, it should have been added to the wood pile for incineration but Belinda said she’d recycle it so I gave it to her.

When Sarah was going around the room and asking us what we wanted to accomplish in the class, my answer was that I have a tendency to see my art supplies as “precious” and I need to get over that…well, that exercise was like art immersion therapy in that respect and I really didn’t appreciate it. It was fucking stressful and I wanted to cry when it was all over.

When the torture finally ended, Sarah went around the room again so we could show what we made and I didn’t want to show mine because it was a piece of garbage. She asked what I thought of the game and I said, “you really don’t want to know” and she said, “no, I really do” so I said, “are you sure?” and she said “yes” so I told her pretty much exactly what I wrote here and told the class that all I could get out of the rub-on letters was “FUCK”, to which they all laughed, but I said that that word pretty much encompassed how I felt about Sarah’s game. She thanked me for my honesty and then she told us that we would then be able to do whatever we wanted with our 2 other gesso boards.

Well I sat there and stared at mine for a while. Then I tweeted for a bit (as some of you know!). I just wasn’t feeling it. I mean, first of all, I don’t, I can’t, use photographs of other people in my work because I think that’s so hokey and fake because it’s not like I know these people and in a way I feel it’s sort of exploitative of dead people I don’t even know. So when I told Sarah this, she suggested I use some of her clip art instead, which was a fucking joke because it was all really stupid stuff. I told her I just wasn’t feeling it and that I was okay sitting there and talking to people on Twitter. She told me that she wanted me to do something creative instead and I argued that Twitter WAS creative, it’s writing for fuck sakes! It’s a challenge expressing how ridiculous it is that I paid this woman $12 to learn how to mix pink in 140 characters! So she asked me if there was anywhere else I would prefer to be and I said, “no, would you prefer I be somewhere else?” and she said “no, but I want you to be doing something artful” or something like that and she was all angry-faced, so I was like, “FINE” and I made the dumbest piece of art I think I’ve ever created out of her SCRAPS.

Because see, not only were the supplies she brought HER scraps of bullshit, but we were the second class so everything had already been picked through or cut up the day before and that pissed me off. In the materials list, we were promised an abundance of all these materials when in reality the pickings were pretty slim and completely uninspiring. I get inspired by materials and this scrap pile just wasn’t doing it for me so like I said, I made the biggest piece of shit I have ever created. I did 5 image transfers. Well, first I painted my gesso board red and light turquoise and then I put a clip art hand holding a poker hand of cards in the middle and then the suits of cards in the corners and called it a day. It was hideous and stupid. Oh and that’s another thing, I hate that method of image transferring because then you’ve got PLASTIC in your piece and that just gives me the willies something fierce. It’s like eating salad in the winter. *shudder*

I didn’t do anything with my other gesso board, I just put it in my box of art supplies and brought it home. Maybe Wes or Madison will do something with it one day. *shrug*

I gave my piece of crap masterpiece to Belinda to recycle and then Sarah went around the room and asked everyone how they felt about what they created and their pieces were passed around. When she came to me I was just like, “no”, so she went on to the next person.

Earlier in the day I had given her my copy of her book, Painted Pages: Fueling creativity With Sketchbooks & Mixed Media to sign even though I confessed that I was only on page 38 because I just haven’t had time to read it yet (but I’m working on it!) and this is what she wrote: “For Sunny: wonderful to meet you at Squam! Keep painting, keep creating + keep on making your glitter girls! I hope my book will inspire. xox Sarah

Now here’s the thing: I *hated* this class. But I didn’t hate Sarah. I think she’s a good teacher. I think she’s talented like crazy. (I really do love her work, which is why I have her book. I just don’t want to replicate it!) I completely respected Sarah as a teacher (or at least I tried to), it’s just that her class was not for me.

The next day, we actually ran into each other on the way to dinner and we had a little chat and she introduced me to her daughter and there was just a mutual respect there. No hard feelings on either side whatsoever.

That evening, before dinner, there were hors d’oeuvres (fuck yeah, I spelled that right!) served on our cabin’s porch and when I was outside with my mom, we ran into Elizabeth, the “creatress” of Squam, the lady in charge, and she asked me how my day was so I was honest with her about Pages and Paint and she explained that that class was a beginner class and if she’d have known my experience level, she never would have put me in that class. I told her that it was my own fault because that was my first choice, in fact I got both of my first choices, and that Spirit Sessions with Thea completely made up for it because that class and meeting her totally made my Squam experience.  I did mention that maybe putting like, experience levels on class descriptions might be a good idea. My mom told Elizabeth that she loved her class, Story Scarves, with Maya Donenfeld, so that was a plus and made Elizabeth happy.

Here’s my mom with her story scarf:

That material on the bottom that sort of looks like tie-dye? My brother and I made that out of Crayola Fabric Crayons (which I cannot find ANYWHERE!) over 20 years ago. There’s a better picture of my mom wearing the scarf on Maya’s blog, which you can see here. And speaking of Maya, at the art fair (which will be in another post) my mom got her to sign my copy of the book, Creative Pilgrimage: An Exploration of Artful Gatherings & Discovery of Innovative Art Techniques by Jenny Doh, in which she’s featured. She wrote, “Sunny – May creativity always be at your side! Love, Maya“.

After the appetizers, we went to the dining hall and had a delicious dinner of I don’t even know what and then I have absolutely no idea what we did until bedtime. There were no events or anything so I think we probably just sat around the fire in our cabin and talked to people. Maybe that was the night we stayed up late talking to Judy, a super nice retired blind person’s aid lady who needed a serious dose of creativity to nourish herself and replenish from the psychic vampires in her life. She goes to both the spring and fall sessions of Squam and her husband has no idea what she does there. Like, she said that a friend had stopped by while she was at Squam and her husband said something like, “Judy’s out quilting or something,” and it’s like…Squam is so much more than that! And I can’t even imagine having a husband who is so detached from my life as to think something like that, let alone say it out loud. I felt really bad for her. She seemed really lonely and unfulfilled. :o( I’m glad she has the ability to go to Squam though as she obviously needs and deserves that kind of environment.

I can’t remember all I’ve written about Squam so far so forgive me if I’ve already said this: One night my mom was talking to Jeanie, one of the 2 rich, old, grumpy drunk ladies (who were kind of awesome) and Jeanie mentioned that she probably wouldn’t come to Squam again (or at least I think this is what my mom said she said) because she was tired of hearing everyone’s story, that she couldn’t carry all of them around with her. And it’s true, everyone at Squam has a story, every single one of us is on a journey or a quest of some sort and it was for that exact reason I didn’t tell a single soul about my past 14 months. The only people I told about my agoraphobia and mental health issues was Thea because I had to and Elizabeth knew but I’m not sure how. Maybe because she was roommates with Thea. I just didn’t want my story to like, trump anyone else’s if that makes sense. Plus I’m sort of sick of telling it. It’s over. I have one more doctor’s appointment on the 25th and then I’m done. I’m not even going to have my “3rd nipple” removed because I’m so sick of doctors and I just don’t care.

Yesterday I added the event “Overcame Massive Ventral Hernia” to my Facebook timeline and I put the date as yesterday because as of yesterday I was done with it. I feel fine, aside from some lingering nighttime/morning pain. But my mom commented that at this time last year, I was using a walker to get to the bathroom, I had a vac dressing and had to carry around a suction machine with me everywhere I went. I had a puke bowl near me at all times because I couldn’t keep any food down. I got down to 100 lbs. My hair started falling out. That was a year ago! And now? I’m fucking THRIVING! I’m a healthy 125 lbs. I haven’t thrown up in a couple of months. I haven’t had a pancreatic attack since July 1st. I’m getting on with my life. I’ve bounced back. I’m a goddamn, motherfucking MIRACLE! And I’m doing my best to celebrate that!

And that is LITERALLY all I have to say about  that, unless someone asks.

So the big thing about Pages and Paint that I realized is that I think I’m done painting, at least for now. The well is completely dry. I am completely uninspired. I am really sick of painting my girls, but while I say that, I’ve come to realize that my girls are now how I draw girls, it’s just natural to me, so that’s a forever thing, but I’ve put my canvases away and today I’m going to clear off my desk of all paint and put it all in my Squam bucket/container to be used at a later date, but my brushes will still probably stay on my desk. I’ll probably paint again at some point but for right now I think I’m going to concentrate on writing and photography. I mean, those just seem much more natural to me. I blog every day, I post pictures pretty much every day. It just makes sense to do my best to hone those two skills as they’ve been the most useful and consistent throughout most of my life.  I used to write my own bedtime stories (with the help of my mom) before I could write because the ones on my bookshelf were inadequate. I was a born writer. Even if all I do is blog. (Which is probably all I *will* do, but who knows?)

I now know that an art class is not for me. I just can’t do it and it makes me angry to be told what to do in any capacity when it comes to art. However, I’m taking that photography class in October, thanks to Charlie, who, despite our constant arguments on all things political, supports me in everything I do, no questions asked and I am forever grateful for his friendship for that reason and many more. After that photography class, I think I’d like to take a writing class. I can’t take one until the spring semester though because I can’t ask Blake to take me to too many things after work and I can’t have too many late  nights or I won’t be able to get up for work the next morning. The photography class goes until 9:30pm and is an hour away and I have to get up at 4am the next day which is going to suck, but I think it’s going to be worth it. I have no idea what kind of writing class I want to take. There aren’t too many (any?) offered at the local college and I’m not sure where else to look. I don’t even know what I want in a writing class to be perfectly honest. I think maybe I just want the “push” of having to do an assignment and the experience of having to read my bullshit in front of strangers because I think that would probably be good for me. Back in my pre-married life, I was actually an excellent public speaker and I was really good at presentations, so I know I have it in me.

Like I said a couple of days ago though, I think with writing I just have to be more selective in how I describe things. How I write now is just kinda…I sorta puke everything onto the keyboard as it comes out of my head, but I think maybe I should teach myself (or re-learn) to go slower, to actually craft my sentences better. It’s just that the only thing I really write is blog posts and I see that kind of writing differently than say, fiction. My attempts at fiction have all been better described, better crafted. Not everything was “awesome”.

I think if I find a way to do Squam next year with Blake, I’m definitely going to try one of the writing classes.

And with that, I’m going to go start working on my Saturday @ Squam post because it’ll be less rambly and probably a better read than this piece of garbage. Stay put!

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