I come back to this space again, after a very long time. In the global dystopian atmosphere of this last year, seems strange to me to post here about happy and serene things. But anyway, here we go, these are the drawings I did in 2019 to document the streets of my city, the places I walk by everyday. These drawings are a diary, a compulsion, a daily habit, a way to alleviate anxiety and to keep my hands busy, a place to hide in, a safe space.
…In different notebooks.
My birthday was almost three weeks ago, but these days seems very difficult to do things just for fun, so I kept postponing taking photos of all my gifts this year. But I really wanted to have a post about my birthday haul, because I enjoy looking back at these sort of things and I always like reading about other people’s gifts, too. So, finally I post about my gifts, even if most of the photos are blurry phone pictures.
For one year already, I have a closet for my art and embroidery supplies and other such things where I had only one shelf. The rest of the closet was one huge pile of stuff, of boxes built on top of each other. I was ok with it for a while, but lately it was driving me crazy. When I needed something in a box below, I had to take out the whole pile of things and then put everything back. So, one of my birthday gifts this year was shelves for my closet. I don’t have a before photo, but this is how my closet looks like now (even with the shelves it looks kind of cluttered, but now I know where everything is and I have easy access to all my things.)
And here it is my friend Maria installing the shelves for me.
She also gave me a nice, vegan and organic hand cream (that I didn’t take a photo of) and this great black Dala horse for my collection!
And tiny succulents. 🙂
The fluorescent nail polish is from Oana, who also gave me this bunny watch that I am wearing these days.
Rodica made me this beautiful pencil wrap, were I keep my Policromos pencils. Souris likes it, too.
I also got a lot of clothes this year (from Rodica and Alina).
Oti gave me this nice notebook, with drawings of flowers inside.
I kept watching online this Edwardian bangle for a few year now. It is hallmarked for 1911 and it’s really beautiful. I bought it with birthday money from my mother. I think it belonged to the same person as my other bangle from the same period (I bought it from the same seller).
And finally, my uncle bought me these very expensive watercolors. I already started using them a bit, but I hope to find time in the second half if November to really paint with them. The colors are so beautiful and vibrant. The pocket brush was included and I was relieved to see the hairs are synthetic.
I was got chocolates from my friend at work, but those are long gone before taking a photo of them :).
I had such a good summer, full of fun, work, good thoughts, serendipity, hopefulness, crafting, walking, just being, worrying much less.
Here there are some of the things I’ve done this summer:
- We found by mere coincidence a very nice trainer for our anxious dog Souris and he is so much better now. Before the training we couldn’t convince him to walk outside our neighborhood, he had aggressiveness issues and he would have panic attacks for different reasons. This past month and a half he took long walks in different parts of the city, interacted with humans and dogs and he really enjoyed it! His aggressiveness decreased, although he will always be suspicious towards humans. But his life is so much richer now and training him and meeting with other humans and dogs in training became a great hobby for us too. We look forward for every occasion to go walking and training with Souris. These photos were taken in the exact spot from where we rescued him four years ago, a former socialist chemical plant, now a ruin. Our trainer suggested this spot for different agility exercises and we liked the coincidence of going back there almost on his gotcha day.
- I took two job related exams and I was quite successful with both of them. I enrolled a master degree in textile arts (as my second specialization, I graduated painting a long time ago). But having this second degree in textile arts could be useful in my teaching and hopefully it will be interesting for me. So, I’m back to school as a student in October 🙂
- We reorganized one of our rooms that we use as a workshop and I have the pinhole photo to prove it :). It looks messy in the photo, but it is actually quite organized now. We have now a really large table for the computers, sewing machines, etc and large cupboards for our stuff. Also, we have reorganized the book shelves and now we know were to look for specific books (literature, philosophy, art, teaching related books, etc).
- Together with my friends, we published a text in an art magazine and we prepare now another text and art work for a different art magazine.
- We have filmed a video in which we used the gardens that people organize around socialist apartment buildings as metaphors for how people negotiate/appropriate/share/fence off/etc. the public sphere. We have finally bought our first DSLR for this project and it is very nice to have a good camera (even if I’ll continue using my film cameras, too).
- We have rescued 3 little kittens and with the help of the greatest cafe that also fosters cats, they are all in their forever homes now. These two brother and sister went to the same home.
- I have embroidered, wove and drew just for the pleasure of doing colorful things. (The case in which I keep my pencils, markers and fancy journal is a vintage beaded purse, a thrift store find my friend gave me).
- I cooked creatively and that always relaxes me.
- I took care of my health, drank more water and walked a lot.
For this fall, I plan to enjoy school and being with the kids, work on some projects, go to the forest to see mushrooms and colorful leaves at least once, read, write in my diary, send out snail mail to my pen pal, add some new pieces to my mineral collection, take many photos, relax and just be.
I have found this box yesterday at the flea market, for quite cheap. It’s a small size case, with some of the original tools still inside: a metal bottle for turpentine, a dipper and a metal charcoal holder. The palette is not there, unfortunately. There are also some pastel sticks and 2 old brushes with bamboo handles marked Japan. Also some newer pencils. Obviously, this box was used in a really long time span or had different owners using it. It was made by Sennelier Paris, an old and famous art store. Their logo is different now and I couldn’t find any listing of their previous logos, so I could have a definite answer regarding the age of my box. But, I think the box and the original accessories are from the thirties or forties, from the feel of them.
I don’t plan painting en plein air again (something that I was very fond of when I was 15), but it’s a very nice box to store some of my drawing and painting supplies in, while trying to imagine who were the ones using it before me.
Linking up with Vintage Bliss Tuesdays.
I wanted to be a painter and I believed I’ll be a great one. I was thinking when I was 15 that I’ll never have children because women cannot be artists and mothers at the same time. But of course that at that point these thoughts didn’t feel like they really concern me, these were plans for a life so far away that it didn’t seem like my life.
Later, in my early twenties, as an art student, thinking about the troubled relation between being a woman and wanting to be an artist was still very present. Even if the girls in my Art University were at least equal in number to the guys (in my generation, there were actually more women than men graduating), still there was always this lingering feeling that our becoming artists is for a limited number of years, that it will always be in conflict with our femininity.
At the time when I was a student, in the late nineties, higher education was still tuition free, but it was quite tough to get in, especially for fields considered to be High Art, like painting what I studied. (Textile arts and pedagogy, as more “feminine” domains, were slightly easier to access, even if, of course, it also required a lot of work.) So, I was among all these girls working hard and learning stuff to access art education and also having a feeling that I’m intrinsically meant to not fully succeed. We didn’t know about any woman painter to really admire. My professor, a man in his sixties, was a big fan of Jackson Pollock and of all the neo-expressionists like Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer. I wasn’t really aware at a conscious level of their influence on me, but of course that looking at these male geniuses as models made me feel even more inadequate. We had no idea what feminism is and we thought that art should be about an universal humanity (that is always male and white). If our paintings were labeled as “feminine” (meaning that they dealt with some minor topics from daily life, that they were more narrative, that they were modest and invoked some subtle or banal feelings) it was a very demeaning and shameful label.
I have studied there all the required five years trying to paint as a man and being more and more unhappy. Having a very gloomy feeling that what I do is not art, that art should be something different, that it should speak sincerely about your own life and conditions, but having no idea what to do with this feeling.
In my last year, I knew I had no intention to paint anymore after I graduate. Even the smell of oil paints would make me sick.
I was right, after graduation I happily didn’t paint anymore. Together with my then colleagues, soon best friends and currently the persons I consider my family, we started an artist group. We learned together about art and we did become artists, working in different mediums such as text, photography, textiles, performance, etc. and speaking about our lives and about our realities.
Even if painting stopped being this terrain of sadness and inadequacy after I graduated and put the memories of my university years behind me, still I didn’t touch a paintbrush for years.
But then, last year, I went and bought a canvas and some paints. It coincided with a time when I have started pursuing more constantly my crafting hobbies as a way to alleviate stress. Also, it had to do with me watching the kids at school play with colors and experimenting and having fun. Actually painting as a fun, non-pretentious thing to do used to be so much of who I am. I have decided to paint from time to time as a craft, without any expectations. Just to play with colors without waiting for the “inspiration”, for something that should be beyond your (female) individuality, beyond your daily life, beyond technique, for some wave of almost mystical fervor that should be so universal (meaning male).
I paint now when the rhythm of my days allows it. I don’t enter some closed workshop room or some “inspired” state of mind. I paint in our living room, while my friends read or write or sew, while we talk and laugh. I watch for the dogs not to tip over my water cup or not to step into my palette. I only paint to give my canvases away as gifts to family and friends, I don’t want to keep any of them. I don’t care about the end result, I hope of course to have something I like at the end, but I can always cover the parts I don’t like and start over. I don’t care about outside judgment because these will never be part of my career. And I finally love it again as I used to love it at 15 (minus the worrying for being a woman) and it does feel good to take back something that I have lost, transforming sadness and disappointment into pleasure again.