A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Creative Surge

Still painting, but not much singing this week. The voices have been pretty quiet. I’ve been bringing my art supplies up from downstairs. Downstairs is a wreck due to repeated flooding from a slow drain outside. There’s mildew on the walls and some stuff is just ruined, but I wisely put most of my supplies in plastic storage containers. So now they are in my living room along with a chunk of my art books. Thanks to my mother I have many good quality art books. I’m not sure why it has taken me three years since I graduated from art school to return to painting and to my books, but there it is.

Earlier this week I talked with my parents and told them of my money making ideas. They were very supportive and said they would be willing to back me up financially so that I could get arts and craft supplies to start my own small business. They seemed particularly interested in me learning to do tie dyes and batik. I found a very good supply store online called Dharma Trading Company and spent several hours deciding exactly what I would get and how much. I ordered a starter kit for tie dyeing and for batik, a wide palette of colors to dye with, some plain white cotton clothing and three DVDs of instruction. I’ll spend the next month learning the basics. I’m going to start practicing on bandanas (I got twelve of them) and then move on to tee shirts, dresses, baby clothes, pillow cases, scarves, pants, whatever I can think of. There are several stores in town and nearby that I think I might be able to get interested in my work. One store has expanded to include a room that is just for kids’ stuff. I’m going to tie dye and do batik on a variety of children’s clothes from baby clothes to dresses and tee shirts and see if there’s a market for them at that store.

I’m excited to learn the various techniques. I have to figure out what my design/color style is going to be. I’m not a big fan of gaudy tie-dyes, but I should still know how to do them. My style will probably have more subtle colors and a wide variety of design patterns. Batik will be a challenge too and with that I can really get creative and, hopefully, sophisticated. I will get my supplies in a few days. I have one book on tie dyeing. The author suggested starting to collect these items: large and small marbles, stones, paper clips, various types of cord--thick and thin, corks, buttons, rubber bands, clothes pins. Anything that will leave an imprint. Wonderful. So I’ve collected everything but the stones so far. The technique reminds me of photography (photograms) and painting rolled into one.

In the meantime I’ve been crocheting small granny squares, five rounds, five colors. Very pretty. Once assembled they will turn into a skirt. Several years ago I picked up a book at a book sale that dates from about 1975. It’s called -- The Woman’s Day Book of Granny Squares and Other Carry-Along Crochet -- and it has some great projects in it. It’s dated yet I think it could be in fashion again. There’s a consignment store in town, newly opened, and I’m going to try to sell my crocheted items there.

And I’ve been painting portraits. A few days ago I asked Pam to send me a picture of Joe. Today I discovered three pictures of him in my email and spent most of the day painting two watercolor portraits of him. I’m still a beginner when it comes to watercolor, but I figure the more practice I get, the more I’ll learn. I think I’m fairly good at getting a likeness. Getting the right skin tone/color is hard to do and I find myself being a bit conservative. The next portrait I’m going to get more adventuresome. I think it’s important to vary my technique and not get stuck painting only in one way, with only the same palette of colors each time. I will also paint landscapes, still lives and city-town views. Landscapes emphasize organic shapes whereas paintings of objects and buildings emphasize sharper edges and more angular shadows. I need practice with ALL of it.

Painting portraits to give to others really motivates me to paint, so if you would like me to paint a portrait of you or your loved one, email me some good, large, color photographs and include your address. It would be a great pleasure for me. I’d also like to paint portraits of pets if you have any.

I discovered a way to include photographs. I haven’t been able to post them almost since I began this blog, so this is exciting for me. Unfortunately my digital camera is not working properly. I was in the midst of taking photographs of some of my artwork when the view screen went nearly white with faint lines across it. Still I’ll post the photographs I did manage to get so that you can get some idea of what my most recent watercolor portraits look like. I also have a few craft pictures to show. I hope you enjoy them.

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