In My Blanket Fort, Coloring Furiously

Well, it’s Monday. Time for Monday’s post. Not sure what I’m going to write here, because even I am sick of reading me write about being sick. Not sure what else there is to say on that front, except that the cold seems to like it here, and I am impressed with the sheer volume of mucus my body can produce. I do not want to know where it is all coming from, but at least that’s progress?

Cherry and licorice cough drops have become a food group for me, and my favorite foods at the moment are those that do not have corners. On the plus side, I sound almost human after I’ve had ice cream, and I am staying well hydrated. Ice skulls are lifesavers (I do have a roll of actual Lifesavers, but have not yet opened them.)  By which I mean small novelty ice cubes in skull shaped molds I brought home around Halloween. Perfect size to pop in my mouth and cool things down without being unwieldly. Plus, they’re skulls. That has to count for something.

The way things are going, I’ll take that. It’s easy to get discouraged. Last week was going to be the week I made up for the week before’s loss of writing time, and then look what happened. Look at it. Not only did I not get things done, but it feels like things I did get done, got un-done. I would like to retreat to my blanket fort and color furiously. Yes, I used an adverb. Want to make something of it?

Right now, I’m grumpy. I’m tired of being sick, tired of being tired, tired of not Getting Things Done. Tired of not having brain enough to get a lot of reading , much less writing, done, but one thing I’ve been able to keep focus on for the last couple of days is art. In my office, on the floor, with paper and pencils and paint and assorted ephemera, it’s a different brain space than trying to make English work in a brain that only wants to take a nap (but knows that it can’t, because getting horizontal seems to be my body’s version of putting in a request for a long coughing fit that leaves me even more exhausted.)

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This spread took me a couple of days to create, no plan in mind but to use stuff I could get without having to look for it. So, liquid acrylic paints, gesso, an almost-dried-out paint dabber, fortune cookie fortunes, and gel medium.

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The page with the blue background was the page I gave some form of thought to, mainly to finally use the fortunes I’d been saving. Get those down on the page, arrange in pleasing manner, then paint around them with the blue paint. The arrangement of the fortunes suggested boxes, and primary colors seemed to fit, so yellow boxes came next, then the dark red boxes, and I may do some doodling with silver Sharpie or white gel pen, but I’d need to pick up a new one of those, as the old one now pines for the fjords, despite my best efforts.

I’d always planned on using the fortunes “someday.” These particular paints are free samples of some of the good stuff, from the art store, again, saved for “someday.” The day I’m good enough. The day I somehow intuitively know how to paint like Elaine Duillo by sheer osmosis. The day life calms down. The day, well, there’s always something, isn’t there? That day (don’t ask me when, they all blend) I decided, enough. It’s that day. Put the fortunes on the page. Paint around them. What’s next? What’s after that? Well, that, apparently. Who knew?

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The facing page was somewhat of a cheat; random smushing and/or swiping of stuff, mainly to clean my brushes, and, in the case of the black dots, to see if the paint dabber was still worth saving. It kind of is. Not what it used to be, but not too far gone, either. I can deal with that. I have no idea how my phone camera got rotated, but as I took the picture in the middle of a coughing fit, that may have something to do with how that turned out. I’m going to call it good enough, and/or a new perspective.

Are either of these pages done? Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell. What I do know is that playing with arty things like this calms me down and lets the story part of my brain free-float and work things out, away from the hypercritical gremlins that like to look over my shoulder when I’m pounding keys. (Gremlins aren’t quite as vigilant when writing longhand, thankfully, but they come back when it’s time to transcribe.) Sometimes, I have music on in the background, or a movie or TV episode on the DVD player. Sometimes, it’s quiet, with only the voices in my head.

Sometimes, I have a plan for these pages, and sometimes, I don’t. Sometimes, the best pages come from when I think I’m only cleaning my brush or playing “what marks does this make?” or “what color is this, really?” Some mindless noodling with color and line and shape, and before I know it…art. It can be the same with writing. Was once, before I let the rules drill in too deeply, and it’s a place I am learning to find again. There are going to be some messy pages along the way, some that get torn out and we will never mention again. Others, though, others come together in such a way that it feels more like discovery than creation. I’ll take that, too.

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