While I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art I saw this couple who kept working on photos of themselves. I was able to snap this photo without disturbing them. I'm not usually so covert, but I didn't want to disrupt their playful energy.
I think this will be the last of the work done in my left-handed series. I have enough use of my right arm to return to using it creatively. The best part of this exercise in working with my left hand, my non-dominant hand is doing regular work. Having a steady creative flow has been rewarding in of itself. I've been pleasantly surprised in that I have several pieces I actually like as well. I also don't think my left hand will be an idle bystander any longer.
I think the painting endeavor will continue. I committed to a larger than normal canvas today. A benefit of my NYC trip and all the art museum time. I realized one of my frustrations with painting is that I may not be working in large enough dimensions. There is a physicality to my art, which is why I'm so attracted to metal work. Add the extension of a paint brush to my arm and I simply need ample space for things to flow. A small epiphany for me.
Speaking of metal work...I have my next metal piece worked out. I just have to wait until my arm is strong enough to start building. A couple of months at least. I'll credit the creative flow from my left handed work for allowing the composition to come together over the last few days.
I did this a couple of days ago as a quick break between study sessions. I feel certain I will not pass this licensing exam. I will just say the $400+ of study materials I purchased were worthless. They were useful for about 10% of the problems. Kind of pissed about the time spent focusing on the wrong direction. Lot's of problems I could have worked if I had prepared for that direction. Other than additional study time, the stress of another exam, I am most annoyed at the $500 it will cost for a retake. I will also say that eight hours of exam intensity had my shoulder a throbbing mess by day's end.
...anyway this piece is called "Chaos" because that is what it felt like studying. There were 1,000 different topics in a 1,000 different directions all swimming in my head. I'm still a little lost working with the black paper, but I am okay with this. I think the Left-Handed work will continue for another week and may have a transition to Two-Handed work for a little time too. It is unfortunate with so much time off that my shoulder will not be ready for any significant metal work.
I got to officially ditch my sling today which was great news. My doctor is restricting my return to work for another month...not so great news from a financial standpoint. I can manage, but it will wipe out a lot of savings efforts of the last several months. I was working on this piece and things started to take a turn for the bad and I felt like I needed to file this under "Scary Fail" for the Left-Handed Series. Did I lose control? Is this more telling of my overall state of mind right now? Is this just one that should be crumpled and trashed? Maybe I'm just channeling the Halloween spirit that is hovering. Anyway...
I opted to start another piece and to just let the energy flow. You may agree that the stress of my week is rearing its ugly head. It's not a happy piece. My licensing exam is at the end of the week and so comes the moment of truth. Am I ready or am I in serious trouble? I won't know the answer to that question until Friday. Aarrgh!
My Left-Arm production has slowed as I've grown more intent on studying for my licensing exam at the end of this week. I'll be glad to have that behind me since it has been a looming dark cloud for much of the year. I don't really know what to expect and really hope I pass it on the first go round. My job may be in jeopardy if I don't pass. No Pressure!
I will come out of my sling this Tuesday, but don't know if that marks the official end of the Left-Handed Series. I still will not be able to lift my right arm very high, which limits work on my easel. I've been surprised that I've come away with some pieces I actually like. I also have been happy with the overall experience of doing regular work for the first time in a very long time.
I spent a lot of time in Museums while I was in New York City... Metropolitan Museum of Art...Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Chinese in America. Saturday was the only day that I spent exploring an area. I could not have picked a better day. The sun was out (which meant I carried my jacket most of the day) and the streets were full of people...local and tourists.
I arrived in the city at around lunchtime each day since my mornings were spent with JuWanda and the kids. I came armed with my Jennifer 8. Lee list of Cheap Chinatown Meals in hand and set off for the Lunch Box Buffet. I made a point to get things I've never eaten or couldn't recognize as something familiar . I'll admit that the boiled fish head was my favorite thing. For some stupid reason I didn't get a picture inside or outside. For $4.25 you get rice and four dishes and grab a seat where you can find it, which will likely mean sharing a table with a stranger. I think that just adds to the charm. Lucky for me I was able to use my right hand to eat, which eliminated the struggle of using chopsticks with my left hand. I can do it, but it is a slow process.
Now happily stuffed, I made my way to MoCA, which recently opened in their new location. This was a beautiful space and a wonderful interactive experience. There were a lot of intimate spaces where you felt in close contact with the stories that lead you through the museum. I highly recommend this destination!
From MoCA it was time to have a little snack and made my way to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. What I really wanted to do there was try everyone of their interesting flavors, like black sesame and lychee. I went for the ginger ice cream thinking I would return later in the day.
I walked around a bit and enjoyed the afternoon sun as it danced around on the face of the buildings. This was another frustrating photography experience where I didn't get the images I wanted. I did a little shopping but not much. Though my arm in a sling acted much like a force field where people kindly gave me a wide berth, it also kept me from going in some of the small shops too. I also felt a spending frenzy creeping up and was trying to control the urges by staying out of the dozens of places where my Amex card would fly out of my wallet.
I relaxed for a bit at a nearby park and watched kids and adults alike enjoy the beautiful day. My favorite scene was watching a grandfather playing with his grand daughter who was only about 18 months old. The sheer delight in his face was one of the best parts of the day.
More food...I made my way to Prosperity Dumplings where you can get 5 dumplings for a $1 and I LOVE fried pork dumplings. Love them! I made my way back to the park and ate until I couldn't stand it. More ice cream was out of the question at this point. The sun was going down and I walked around a bit more and came across Aji Ichiban, a sweets and snack store. They sell a lot of the things you find in the regular Chinatown markets, but the bonus here is that you can sample everything. What little space I had for more food was filled here with sampling half the store. Yes, they are community dishes which can be a bit scary, but I figure that's why I have an immune system. My favorite was the shrimp covered peanuts and the Thai fish wafer, which made for great snacks on my flight home.
As I let go of the idea of doing any photography from a left-handed perspective, I attempted to do what would be my more typical photographic work. I recognize that I'm out of practice, which includes the courage to be audacious, but I grew frustrated with my high end point and shoot. Even with the "controls" that I have on my camera, I got irritated as I waited for my camera to do what I wanted it to do. I know how to trick a point and shoot to create depth of field, but this also became a battle with the auto focus and slow response time.
Most of my photography is people oriented and done at a conversation distance. That's what I mean about being audacious. You have to be willing to approach someone and ask to take their picture. You have to be willing to enter a conversation with a complete stranger in order to get a relaxed photograph. This is not a bad photograph, but it could be so much better. I had to stand at a distance and zoom in to get a more shallow depth of field, which made him more like a display in a zoo. I don't like that when I'm going for a more intimate photo. I would rather have a more intimate interaction with him.
...anyway, I recognize it's time for me to suck it up and buy a real DSLR if I intend to truly revive my photography.
A few little thumbnail sketches I did on Sunday after my time at the Met. Another stop that I had not been able to do in previous trips. I got to see the things that I most wanted, but definitely just scratched the surface of this amazing museum. I generally like this, but do find such a small format (3x5) a little challenging and limiting. I guess I like to flail my arms a bit with the pastel work.
Friday was my first full day in New York City. I got up and ate breakfast with JuWanda and adjusted to the chaos of two toddlers first thing in the morning. The kids were great fun and I miss their noise today.
I took the subway into the city to go to the Museum of Modern Art. It is always exciting for me to actually see so much of the art work I "know", and I've not bee able to make this stop on previous NYC trips. It starts to be a bit like a drug for me. seeing all this work that has clearly shaped my own art. I don't really emulate any particular artist, but I can see the roots of how I can be doing the work that I do because of what came before me.
I attempted to utilize my camera as part of my Left-Handed Series, and found it completely frustrating. I cannot let go in the way that I am able to with the pastels. My photography is not abstract...never has been. I couldn't get a single in focus shot all day and abandoned the idea by mid-day on Saturday.
These are the only things I have and I am still debating what my thoughts are about them. (The rest of the Left-Handed Photography just sucks.) This lovely pregnant woman was wearing a fitted grid dress which was quite interesting with her shape. I tried to let go of the focus/steady issue and see what happened. Though these may hold some interest, I think the in focus view of her was much better, much more interesting. The top image might be better rotated 90 degrees.
I did take some pictures with my Holga camera that day and will see what has happened once the film is developed. I also may post some photos from my trip, but they will not be part of the Left-Handed Series.
This is one of those days that I wanted to do something with my left-handed series, but didn't have any real thought in mind. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn't. I don't think it worked today...at least not for me. I temper my own criticism since I often have people who respond strongly to pieces I don't really like.
I'm getting ready for a little getaway to New York and look forward to a lot of art museum time in addition to hanging with an old friend. JuWanda and I have known each other since college. We played basketball together and have managed to stay in contact through the years. She's the kind of friend that offered to come stay with me after my surgery if I needed help. No doubt, Alton, her husband didn't hear that since it would mean he was alone with two little ones under the age of 3. Regardless she is family. Robert Frost defined home as the place that when you go there they have to take you in. JuWanda and I are home to one another.
I was "working" on something off and on today...more of an exercise activity. I went in to do some more work on it and this came out instead. Going with the flow.
Sending thoughts to Sumatra that was hit with landslides to add to the devastation from the earthquakes. In so many ways I want to be there, to help, to do all I can. I am trying to find a way to make that kind of "work" life possible for me. I feel like I am using my talents and intelligence to no good end just doing the day to day and collecting my paycheck. There has to be more purpose for me than this. I'm investigating work with the Red Cross, both American and International as a possibility among other things.
There was no Day 21...ashame I didn't mark my three week point with some work, but it just wasn't in me. This one is Day 22. I think it is overworked, but like it more now than when I first finished it. It may be a little of the stress from my icky news earlier in the week trying to find its way out. I also think it may be related to the gray paper. That underlying tone is affecting me in some way. This is Day 23...today. It is an interesting exercise working with different shaped paper. This is a relatively small square pad I bought today, which was a deliberate attempt to switch things up for me. Things are going very well with my shoulder recovery. I continue to be way ahead of schedule with my range of motion and the daily exercises are going well. Some of the intense fatigue I was experiencing last week seems to have lifted.
Regardless of all that is going on in my egocentric shoulder focused life, the people in the Philippines, Vietnam and Samoa have been slammed by storms this past week. The death toll in Indonesia is rising from the earthquake there. A lot of suffering in the world. So many loved ones lost. So many others having to start from nothing. My problems are small...very small.