The Aging Artist

29 05 2017

Weather.: Oh it’s been a rollercoaster. Cooler spring than expected, with more rain than anticipated. May is heading for the door and June looks to be mild. 

So. Glances at the date and winces.  

I’d make excuses or give reasons for my lack of blog activity, but the truth is I just haven’t had the energy or coherency to write lately. The political garbage fire kind of sucked me in and I have been spending way too much time refreshing my Twitter feed rather than looking out the window or thinking about creating. The righteous anger I felt at the start of this year has turned into a low burning seething fire in my belly. I’ve been productive in the studio, but my new work hours have somewhat curtailed the time I’ve spent there.

Wildly random update: The husbeast and I took a financial planning class which has actually helped us get back on track with our economic situation.  Which was good because my little beat up Punk Mobile of a car decided that it was time to self destruct– Rack and pinion broke along with the steering column and struts. In other words: $$$$ of repairs. There was a period of deciding whether it was worth it to put the money into the car, but ultimately we realized that we can’t be a one car  family. (We tried for a month and it was getting very unfeasible.)  So, made an adult decision to hold off on a new car until we could pay mostly cash for it, and got the Punk Mobile fixed.

Also, made another adult decision to get our health back in order and went to see a nutritionist who gave us much more clear and practical ways to eat better and get in healthy shape.

Add in some relatives passing away and having bad things happen…it’s been a rather busy and distracted period of time.

Now. The title is something I’ve been wanting to discuss, but been mulling over how to write it up.  I’m not old, not by any reasonable definition. 50 years old is solid middle aged. But sometimes “aging” is less to do with a number and more to do with the deterioration and decline of certain faculties and body functions.

I have, over the past few years, had an acceleration in vision deterioration, the onset of arthritis in several of my joints and of course, the weight problems I’m  working on as we  speak.

I wear increasingly strong bi-focals to see, and as of recent, I have to wear them all the time because I can’t see shit with them off.  They used to be just for reading. Now I can’t function without them.

The arthritis is hard, mostly because it’s setting into my hands, predominately in my thumb joints. The thumbs are starting to float towards my palm, making it almost impossible for me to flatten my hand out on a level surface. My grip is getting weaker, though I’m doing what I can with exercises and braces to counter it.

The weight issue is fixable, but with age comes more effort necessary to achieve your goals.

It’s obvious how it affects my day to day, but the frustrating part is how it’s affecting my art.

Being a mosaic artist, a lot is depending on my ability to cut tile, stone and glass. I use clippers, glass cutters and even saws to get pieces to the shape I need for whatever the piece requires. With my thumb joints deteriorating, using the clippers for extended periods of time is getting difficult. And trying to hold the tiles as I clip them is increasingly difficult as my thumb-to-index finger grip is getting weaker and has less dexterity. I’ve compensated where I can by using tiles that are smaller and need less customizing, but it’s definitely starting to limit the work I can do.

The way I’ve come to terms with this is accepting that I may have to alter my technique and re-define what kinds of art I want to make. I’m not one that takes these kind of limitations well, but practicality will always win out over my fragile little feelings.

Yes, I’ve spoken to my doctor about this, but the answers are usually to offer exercises to stave off the deterioration a bit longer, but no, there’s no reversing it.

The vision problem will just be relegated to better glasses, hopefully not ending in a point where I just have to accept that I can’t do smaller detailed work anymore.

There is some guilt flagellation going on, because I know that some of this bodily degradation rests solely on my sedentary shoulders. Had I done a better job of staying healthier, I might have not been dealing with these issues  for a few more years. But this is what it is. We adapt to our environment, our new relationships with our surroundings, because we have to.  I will have to adapt to my new reality, where my body may not be working the way it did, but I will find a way to work with the new limitations. Self-inflected wounds aside, I need to stop beating myself up over past lapses and make sure they don’t continue in the future.

I’m 50, not dead. And if watching others have blooming careers in their 60s, 70s and older has taught me anything, you can have the life you want, but you may have to accept that there are different parameters to work within.

So no whining. No lamenting. Just accepting the circumstances, doing what I can to adapt and still work on slowing the deterioration, and making the best of my new reality.

An aging artist is still an artist.  Limitations are merely things to work around.  I won’t be defined or limited by things as simple as sore joints and bad eyesight. I still have a destination, I just need to adjust the path.



The Journey Continues! (after a few glitches & pitstops)

14 06 2015

Weather:  Weirdly wet and cool June so far. Steady in the low 70s & overcast or rain alternating.

On the personal front, had my throat surgery this week. Polyp on my vocal cord is gone, but apparently replaced with a mild case of Bronchitis. Because let’s face it: Nothing can go smoothly in recovery for me apparently. Alas. So while I sit here, on seven days of restricted voice usage, I’m hacking and coughing like a 2 pack-a-day smoker. The irony is not missed on me by the way….

But there’s an upside, as there always is. By this time next week, gods willing and the river don’t rise, I should FINALLY have a clean bill of health.

Which means it’s time to kick off all the sad “ashes and sackcloth of Woe is Me” and get back to work. I’m finding the one thing that has been lacking lately has been creative drive. I’ve been to the studio, but cranking out work has been a little joyless lately. Functional but not passionate. And that kinda sucks. Hard to be motivated to work on things when it’s starting to feel paint by numbers. I’m taking the tact of stepping back and getting some smaller things worked on first. Easily accomplished goals. I need to make room in the brain meat for bigger things.

I’m beginning to understand that I still haven’t quite found my voice as an artist yet. My path, if you will. Maybe my interests are too eclectic to have a”style” and maybe that’s just the way I work.  Still…the health related disruptions have been problematic less in the “taking away time” realm and more in the “distracting my brain from art” way. The fraud police have shown up with their threatened “You’re a Hack” sign and I’m hard pressed to argue with them about it.

Not having been trained in art — I was a science & communications major in college– trained my brain differently.  I tend to see the world in patterns and logic. Which can work on artistic level to a certain extent, but being married to someone who has design in his background and a fantastic grip on color theory, makes me think I’m going about things the wrong way.  I think I’m trying to emulate artists who see the world much more differently than I do.  Abstract only works in the geometric for me, not in the impressionistic sense. I like my intersecting circles and squares and sharp colors. I’m not particularly blessed with talent to do realism or portraiture, though I have no doubt with more training I might be able to make a credible go at it.

Maybe that’s the hitch, right there. I want to make things. Now.
Create things.
Leak my weirdly acrobatic brain-fevered visions onto some sort of substrate and present it to the world.
Yet, I keep getting tangled in my own shoelaces.

Reading a lot of motivational artistic philosophies and inspirational pieces can sometimes amount to feeling like you’re in the middle of a circle of well intentioned people shouting cross-purpose advice at you through megaphones. Individually it’s good, but it can be contradictory in places, leading to the “two steps forward, one step back” feeling of “Is this what you meant? No? How about this?”

As a mosaic artist, I know there are a LOT of incredibly talented artists out there, all making some incredibly pieces, in various sizes, in all sorts of media. There’s a rather elastic definition of art versus craft in this field. Depending on who you talk to, everyone has their own criteria for what counts as respectable art and merely amusing craft. As per expectations, you can get two different definitions from two different people on the same day. So, do you try to create your work with a eye towards how it will be defined and therefore, pigeonholed? Or do you just get on with making the best work you can and flesh out the ideas in your head with the media and tools you have on hand? I think the answer is kind of self-evident there.

Sometimes, my biggest stumbling block comes in the weirdest aspects of creating– I question whether I’m using the “right” supplies or the “right” technique. I’m still learning -a lot, to be sure- but even things I know I have gotten worked out… still they get a second guess, then a rather severe judgment on my part. Mosaic supplies aren’t cheap and to get the look that a lot of other artists have managed, I would have to finance a lot more options. So, do we make art with what we’ve got and compromise on the vision, or do we sacrifice for the supplies and possibly curtail other projects that can’t be made now either? Silly how economics can kneecap you, isn’t it?  (Of course the flip side to that problem is the “Oh wow, they’re having a sale! Let me stock up!– which is how you end up with piles of colored tiles or similarly colored marble you will not use and your studio becomes a “full-up closet with nothing to wear” situation)

Anyway. First world artist problems here.

My husbeast Brian is often fond of saying that our biggest problem (on so many fronts!) is that we can’t seem to get out of our own way. My creative problems seem to be falling very much under this heading.

I have some ideas. I’m going to do my damndest to get them made. So I think I’m going to take my inner art critic and garrote her in her sleep tonight.
Art isn’t hard.
Really, it isn’t.
Make what you love, make it to the best of your ability, and let it loose on the world. Sure it will be judged and compared, but that’s going to happen because: PEOPLE. You can either get hung up on the comparisons and judgments and get locked into stagnancy (which seems to happen to me too much) or you can just shrug and get on with the next piece. Like any creation, sometimes it finds it’s audience, sometimes it doesn’t.

Either way, it’s not your job to cater. It’s to create.

Time to get back to that. Can’t find an audience if you don’t provide something for them.

SO…..Back into the studio with me. Let’s hope once this stupid mucus stops trying to kill me, it can take the self-doubt with it when it goes.

Promised a more coherent post last time…yeah….well maybe next time. Hope is ever buoyant.


Recovery slogs on, with a few bumps in the road….

21 05 2015

Weather: Spring has arrived,  but by the Midwest Definition: If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change. We’ve been from the 40s to the 80s and back again, sometimes in the same day. Hoping June will be more stable.

So the title of this post is a little on the nose. Since I had my brain hemorrhage in December of last year, little repercussions have been rearing their ugly heads.

Two months out, I had my final angiogram….and had a massive allergic reaction to the dye.
Three months out, my hair started falling out in clumps. It’s started growing back in, thank goodness.

Now, I’ve developed a chronic hoarseness in my voice, which has been diagnosed by my ENT doctor (Ear, Nose & Throat) as a polyp on my vocal cord, which I am having surgically removed in June. After which I won’t be allowed to speak for a week. At ALL. (I’m going to have to tape my mouth shut. )

Other than the above things, I haven’t had any brain related hiccups. Maybe some mood swings, but not much else. All in all, I’m taking the ripples in the pool in stride. I just hope by Summer, I’ll have shaken off any more of these little quakes. Tired of having my activities curtailed, even slightly, by health foo.

Husbeast and I walked to Lion’s Beach the other night. WALKED. TO THE BEACH. (Happiest words I’ve ever spoken) Had our first beach therapy evening, watching the sun lowering over the lake. Sat on a bench, his arm around me. Was the most peaceful I’ve felt in a while. We stopped for ice cream  on the way home. I’m hoping for a lot more evenings like that.

I finished my huge sun mosaic piece that I’ve been working on since I returned to the studio after the brain foo. It’s not perfect, but it’s close to what I saw in my head, so I’m happy with it. I have three other pieces I need to start working on. Starting to see a trend towards geometrics and I’m playing with changing up my tessera cuts for different effects. Also will be working on my first 3D piece. Scary but exciting.

In general I’m in a good headspace about most things, though I’d be lying if I said I’m not going to be relieved once my surgery is done. Just want to get back to focusing on the art and the house and the garden again.

For a short trip into derailment, my thinky thoughts recently have been coming to the realization that I’m really too exhausted to be outraged anymore. It’s all I seem to see everywhere. Not that the topics being raised aren’t eyebrow raising or worthy of a good old fashioned shade throwing, but I just see some people spending all their energy and time trying to find things to be upset about. I know there’s bad in the world, and awful people. I also know that the media and politicians are out of a job if they can’t keep people scared or angry. I guess I’m just flummoxed as to why everyone keeps dancing to their music?

If you see something that bothers you, either do something to make it better, or step away from it. Yelling online and bashing people with the guilt trowel because they don’t get as upset as you DOESN’T FIX ANYTHING. Yes, yes…..You’re raising awareness. Just like the other 50 angry people posting the same clickbait link with no suggestions  or solutions attached.  Sigh. Tired, as I said.

I’m starting to see no difference in people yelling from the left or the right. Each have their boogeymen. Each have valid points. Neither seem all that interested in compromising or working together to fix it. (I’m mostly talking about the frothy extreme edges, not the mostly moderates that seem only bemused by the noise and are actually trying to do things.)

And I’m not just talking politics — NerdRage is at an all time high and fandoms seem to only be civil for one season before turning into toxic wastelands of death threats and shipper wars. I used to be amused by it, now I’m just annoyed. Everyone seems to have forgotten how to enjoy things. Valid criticism is one thing. Crazy entitlement issues are another. And don’t get me started on Tumblr. No seriously…There be monsters. Scary Scary ANGRY monsters. I’ll end this here, because otherwise I’ll accidentally mention something that will draw the nutjobs and I’d rather not have to dust off my ban hammer.

::gets the train back on track::

I’m trying to be patient, waiting for all the health detritus to shake out. But I don’t want that waiting to turn to “laying on the couch, binge-watching Netflix and letting the rest of my health go to hell”. It’s easy to do, and so is making excuses for not doing things that require a little effort and a little sacrifice. Money situations are not fixed by sitting around navel-gazing. Art doesn’t get made if it stays in your head or only on paper. Novels don’t get written just by talking about them.

And Heidi doesn’t get better by sitting around, hoping that her body will magically become well.

Everything in life takes effort. Everything. And as Kevin Smith has pointed out today, happiness is being productive. It’s not a destination, it’s a journey.  If you’re not careful, you’ll end up wistful and chasing the ephemeral idea of happiness, and miss when it actually comes your way.

Sort of disjointed writing today, but I’m having a kind of disjointed week. More coherent thoughts next time.

Another day, another weatherpocalypse…

26 10 2010

Weather: Oh it’s just verging on 2012 here: Thunderstorms this morning, tornado watches all over the place and now, hurricane level winds. They’re calling it the Great Lakes Cyclone. High: this morning-70º; This afternoon- 58º

OMG! Could it be? A post two days in a row?? [/sarcasm]

Yes, I’ve made it my goal to post something here every day. I’ve also realized I need to get this blog linked into my website. Eventually I will have more content up there. Preferably book related content.

I’m toying with doing some podcasts.  Maybe writing related, maybe discussions with other writers. (I mean, 90% of my friends are writers. We tend to attract each other in our mutual pursuit of publishing gold….or madness. It’s kind of a crapshoot. )  Of course this means getting proper equipment and taking the time to plan it out, script it, maybe do some sound work as well.

A second thought I had for podcasts, was offering some of my writing up as audio versions. Still ironing out the possibilities.

So, as mentioned in the weather section above, we’re having some rather stormy, blustery conditions here in the Chicagoland/NW Indiana area. Woke to thunderstorms and Tornado watches. Kind of an occupational hazard here. We might not be Tornado Alley, but we do get our share of turbulent weather. My commute in was a bit hairy, but its the drive home from the train station I’m actually worried about. Branch debris is pretty much a given, and Gretchen, our stalwart VW Jetta, is a little low to the ground. Ah well, we shall see what the carnage looks like when I get home. Who knows, maybe there will be photos.

Also have made an iron clad decision to start working out again. With serious conviction. Several family members have come down with health issues, which has brought the spotlight back on the fact that I am out of shape and putting my own health at risk. Since I’m one of those lucky Americans without insurance, I really cannot afford, literally, to have a major health problem. (Being overweight is already taking it’s toll on me.) It’s not food issues for me, it’s lack of movement.
Besides, if I ever intend to do justice to a Kambriel gown or a proper corset, I need to remove a few of these extra rolls. Curves are good;  more than two, no so much.


Anyway. That’s it for today. More blathering tomorrow. And possibly  photos.



How did it get to be Monday again?

16 02 2009

Weather: High: 35 degrees with the flaming ball of evil in the sky. (Sunny for you non-vampires)

Have a bit of a headache today.  Came on suddenly. Sharp pain to the side of the head. Always worries me when it comes on like this.

Need to get my health in order. Signed up for dental and vision insurance today. Health insurance is still cost prohibitive. I can’t take a $300 a month hit for it. Not with Brian’s income a big ? these days.


Have taken anti-migraine meds and put my damn glasses back on. Sigh. Getting older sucks. Eyestrain induced migraines suck. GAH!

Managed to get some lunch in me so hopefully this will stave off any further attacks. Sigh.

Writing continues apace. Doing some tweaking over lunch, but rewrites are in the works as well. I hate rewrites. Sight.

Bri had to take Gretchen in for a checkup this morning. Turns out the wheel bearing on the driver’s side was shot and needed replacing. And the bulb in one of th headlights had gone out.  Luckily for us, this was all covered under the warranty. So it came in around $100, which we can handle. Sigh.

And taxes have been dropped off with our CPA, my sister’s friend Cathy. So hopefully we won’t get screwed on those this year too. Sigh.

I’m ending a lot of these paragraphs with a sigh. Sigh.

Anyway. Heroes tonight and more writing. And possibly more data entry should I get a wild hare.

I’ve posted this before, but I love this song SO MUCH!
Lips Like Morphine — Kill Hannah love my Chicago boys!

Have a good evening all.

The ennui has me in it’s grasp and it ain’t letting go…

5 02 2009

Weather: High: 26 degrees and partly sunny. A warm up on the horizon, which is good, but with rain which is BAD!
Can’t seem to shake this gloomy doomy feeling. Being sick is only part of it. Just has that Sword of Damocles feel about it.

Before I forget– The Desolation Row vid showed up on MySPace.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
I love it. Some will hate it because it’s a punked up Dylan cover. Some will just hate it because it’s MCR. ::shrugs::  Again, I love it. Even my husband thought it was cool. And he’s not partial to the punk stuff.

Anyway. Came into work today. And still not even close to 75% of well. The cough is driving me wonky.

Lost last night was of the ZOMG SO GOOD! I’m convinced that if we fans try to hard to figure out the master plot, we too will start bleeding from the nose and pass out.  I SEE WOT UR DOIN, WRITERS!!  I mean the twist at the end? (Highlight the following if you want to read it–SPOILERS!) With Rousseau and Jin?? NICE GOING! And with Ben being behind the lawyer coming after Aaron? And the possibility of Miles being born on the island? ZOMG BRAIN IMPLOSION!!! (End of spoilers)

I managed to get another 700 words written over lunch today.  Muse is winning the fight with the Plague. This is a good thing.

Still can’t shake this feeling that something is hovering over our heads, waiting to fall. And it’s vaguely not a good thing. Hate when I get this.

I’m pounding back my second bottle of green tea today. If I’m gonna get more fluids in me, might as well get some antioxidents while I do it.

Haven’t taken any meds today, but I still feel okay. Bri is slowly wading up out of the same crap. Hopefully we’ll both be done with this soon. Being sick puts a lot of stuff on hold. And Bri is starting the Master Gardener classes next week. SO Thursdays will be early leave days for me. We only have the one car and he needs to be out in Crown Point by six. So we’re taking an early train home and he’ll drop me off so he can then book on out to his class. The down side is this is gonna eat into my PTO because my company takes PTO down to the 15 minute marker. Sigh. So I’m gonna end up losing as much as 2 full days of PTO because of this. I’ll survive.

Probably will watch Supernatural tonight. CSI has been good, but I miss my Winchester boys.  Caught up on the last two eps thanks to i-Tunes yesterday.
Need to wrap this up and get moving. Few loose ends to tie up before I leave. Looking forward to the warmer temps the next few days. WOO!

Wednesday is FIRED. Full Stop.

4 02 2009

Weather: High: 18 degrees and partly sunny.

SO. Stayed home sick today. Sinus issues and my cough has become ridiculous.

Add in that people in general are pissing me off today, on a number of levels, and sick and frustrated have merged to make me furious.

I seem to have lost my veneer to pretend everything is fine. Probably because I’ve reached the end of my rope where it comes to expectations from others are overstepping their bounds to the point where it’s impacting what I need to do.I am always open to helping others, but this drop what you’re doing and work on my shit attitude is getting on my last fucking nerve. Work is the worst perpetrator of this.


Brian, who is also sick, just had to listen to me rant for a good half hour. Suffice it to say I’m bristling with  a lot of anger. I know part of it is simply frustration at being sick for two weeks now with no cessation in my coughing.

I think that I need to just stay offline and off the phone today. I’m not fit for human interaction. Maybe it’s just as well. I can get some writing done. Brian seems to have the usual effect of calming me down. I can’t seem to stay angry around him. Probably a good thing, seeing as he’s grumpy too right now.

So, I’ll keep this short.

BTW–we got NO SNOW from the storm. Kinda disappointed. And the forecast is for the temps to reach up into the 40s with a spike up to 52 on Saturday. So things are gonna be sloppy for the next few days. Mom got about 8 inches of snow out by her, which just goes to show how narrow the band of Lake Effect was falling.

Waiting for my DVD to get here so I can indulge in my my eyeliner wearing emo rock boys. Think I will pop some of the movies we have from Netflix in today and get them out the door.

Maybe it’s a good thing I took the day off today. It has the feel of a pending thermonuclear meltdown on deck. Not an upset/depression trigger this time. A resentment/anger fueled one.

Time will tell.