It’s really cold for painting outside. But as I walk from store to store along the icy streets, shilling my window painting services, I remind myself: today, January 5, boasts the lowest average temperatures of the year. Tomorrow, the average tiptoes up a degree. We have reached bottom, at 31 degrees F, and now begin the slow ascent into light and warmth. Also, my Christmas gift from J. was a pair of handwarmers made from his comfy old flannel shirt cut into squares, sewn up and filled with rice. Pop them in the microwave for twenty seconds, and I’m good to go for at least half an hour.
And in the long, dark nights, the kitchen table is spread with watercolors, Prismacolors, and Spectracolors, paper rough and smooth and thick and thin, vials of ink and water, rags and paper napkins, four kinds of erasers (including the kind my watercolor instructor’s grandson calls “poop erasers”– the delightful, knobby, kneaded ones). I spent eight hours rehabbing my Rapidograph pens, which I had inadvisably left full of ink EIGHT YEARS AGO. Penance done: five work again, one is away for repair, and the last is in Pen Limbo, awaiting its fate. (I threaten it with replacement by a less persnickety and less expensive Copic Multiliner when it seems to radiate spiteful stubbornness.) The only way to avoid such extensive maintenance in future is by using the pens, then wiping them clean with rubbing alcohol and cheesecloth every night… a shameless trick to instill discipline. Save the pens!
So I pound the pavement by day, and paint the paper by night.
To what do we owe this current bout of dedication? Well, I decided to give art an extra push of late. And it seems to be allowing me to do so.
How to make it last? It’s fizzled so many times before, water on, water off. So… let’s try going gently, slowly, without pressure. Balanced with other activites. And at least half the time I’m making art, it must be without care for results, without fear of the recycling bin. As a meditation. Hence the coloring book. Nobody (except my dear Aunt Carol) is gonna frame coloring book pages, but they count. They do!
Art-school questions can’t be looming in my head every moment: What does this MEAN? What is the artist’s responsibility to society? What message is she conveying? Though they are not unimportant, they may scare my little draw-er into hiding. I promise to think about them. And then sketch a couple of snakes eyeballing each other, coiled into question marks.
So in 2016, my fervent hope is that this blog will feature not only writing, but new art as well. Feel free to unsubscribe if you are only in it for the vicarious epic hikes– I won’t take it personally! (And conversely, but equally without pressure: if you see anything you like, feel free to leave me a comment or send me a message. I would love to make you up some greeting cards, a print, or even send you an A.K. original!)
P.S. I really hope the comics store and the sexy toy store hire me. Those empty windows may not know it, but they are simply begging for adornment. The ultimate would be doing next winter’s holiday windows for the adult store… can you imagine? “Santa’s got something in his sack for everyone!” –or maybe a languorously melting snow-woman.
O shopowners of Missoula, o committees of contests and exhibitions: kindly give a gal a chance!