Truth: It’s still very hard to art.
Hanging on: More than, or at least as much as, the shock of losing our democracy to a demagogue—a kleptarch, a petty little tin pot dictator, a sexual predator (for whom members of my own family voted despite bloody well knowing that there are multiple victims of sexual predation in our family)—it has been the lack of consequences for openly criminal, immoral, and incompetent behavior that has cast a significant, bleak state of mind in me. I don’t have the stomach for hatred, and constant fear burns everything but calories, but here we are, seething and crispy. Power doesn’t care. I’ve covered that ground previously.
Finishing: Writing has been especially hard, though on the occasions that I’ve had to write for work situations, while it’s been excruciating (like squeezing stones out of blood), it’s also been incredibly good for me in a general sense—clarifying, satisfying, soothing, which final quality I would never normally attribute to writing. Writing doesn’t usually soothe me. But I guess now it would, simply by contrast to the way I am when I’m not writing.
Even so, or because so, I’ve pulled together my Southern Gothic collection, though I’m still thrashing over a title. I will begin dutifully sending it out press-ward when it’s back from a couple of key readers. I know the odds of finding a publisher, but this is the task, and at least it’s something clear and specific to do—specificity is my friend right now.
I have to say, though, that finishing this collection is meaningful to the extent that I can hardly manage the feels. It’s emotionally heavy, so I set it down and go around without thinking about it, cooking meals, eating meals, giving the cat his allergy pills. Eventually, though, there it is again, huge and shiny, I have to stop and pick it back up and turn it over, looking for cracks. But no, it’s done. Unreal and wonderful tidings flood the heart, and then I have to set it down again.
Fixing: Painting has felt better-ish lately. More manageable and real. I’ve been returning to the Henry erasures and then also working on a series of what I’m calling visual erasures. I started with the color plates in Henry’s book.
More recently, I’ve worked with a book of b&w plates my sister had stuck back in her house full of cool things. I LOVE symbolist painting anyhow, but this took my love all the way home. I’m looking for more of these types of prints/plates and though, after combing library sales and used bookstores, I haven’t yet found any, I’m hopeful something will turn up. Take a look:
The erasure isn’t perfect because I didn’t have the color of gold I needed to make the tail pop where the legs fold so gracefully. I can fix that in the future. For now, this one lives with my sister. If I lay may hands on another copy, I’m having another go, too.
In the meantime, I’m tinkering with a self-indulgent little project out of an old Dick and Jane reader:Dick looked so forlorn. I didn’t think the story about forgetting his gloves on the first cold day adequately explained the desolate expression of this illustration. Someone, sitting behind a drafting board in a long ago studio, was soulfully unhappy. And it showed. Interesting. So there you have it, no more, “Dick felt the cold.” But now, “Dick felt the cold apathy of stars wheeling without one thought of him to echo warmth in return.” Fixed. I see you, long ago Illustrator. Maybe things were pretty bleak then, too. Hang in there, Dick.