Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Dear Fellow Starvelings,

I know it’s been a long time since last I wrote, but I’m determined to hang around this time. There’s a lot I’ve learned – both what to do and what not to do.  And there’s an awful lot to write about.

The main thing about this summer is that I got to spend more time than usual with my mom. She turned 97 last month, she still lives at home, and is as feisty and independent an individual as you are ever likely to meet. She sees the portents of mortality, and she’s facing them courageously. Then again, she’s always been courageous. Shy people who stand up for themselves are the bravest people I know, and she’s at the top of that list.

I did some gardening. Mom has always been a wonderful gardener but can’t do it any more. She can, however, give very precise instructions! I did some tidying and got rid of some tins ‘way over their sell-by date to give her more counter space (she’s one of those Great Depression kids who doesn’t want to throw anything away “just in case”).

We went over old pictures, letters, newspaper articles. She told me a lot of stories I’d never heard before about her young days. This time I wrote it down, as much as I could. Every time I visit she wants me to take stuff back with me that she doesn’t want any more. Usually I say no, but this time I said yes, at least to many of these items. I realize that she wants me to have them as remembrances, She doesn’t want them scattered to the four winds or sold at a garage sale. So now I have Mom’s wedding ring. I wear it all the time and find that when I touch it I feel a sort of communion with her. I don’t regret accepting this gift one little bit. It keeps a part of her with me always.

We also sang together. Mom loves to sing. Her favorite song, she told me, is “The Rose.” So I had the bright idea of setting up the DVD player that had been gathering dust in the corner, made a call to Ken, and in a few days Mom got a little package in the mail – a DVD of a Bette Midler concert including The Rose! And by gosh, Mom just loves Bette Midler, as it turns out. We played the concert twice and had so much fun. I love it when my mother laughs.

I’ve done a few pictures for her and plan to do some more.  I talk to her on the phone three days a week. (advice to starvelings: get one of those bundled phone/cable/pc deals where you can use your land phone to call anywhere in the US and have any number of these calls just folded into your monthly bill at no extra charge).

Anyway, it’s time to jump back in the saddle. I’ll have some interesting reports in the coming months so stay on board. Now that really WAS a mixed metaphor, wasn’t it?

No wonder I call my Facebook Art Page: Judith Keefer Tingley – Mixed Metaphors.

I took my show down last week. It was a wonderful month full of nice people saying nice things about my work (and even buying it!!). I feel like I’ve taken a big first step.

On the other hand, I’m also feeling something similar to postpartum malaise.

I know I need to start working again, and I even have plans for a Scarlet Letter piece and a Cain & Abel piece (settling the score, as it were). But these projects are large & complicated and seem intimidating right now.

What to do? Well, I’ve decided to give myself a little boost by beginning with an abstraction & then finding patterns in it. Like when I was a kid and found patterns in the wallpaper. I’m working with the first abstraction now, using color pencils to discover my own creation within the lines. It’s fun and surprising and I find that I’m actually constructing a coherent picture out of it all, just going with my gut..

I don’t know if it’s art, but it’s getting me energized.  I’ll post the finished product when it feels finished, and you can judge for yourselves.

Art or not, it is serving a useful purpose – it’s getting me going again!

And yes, it is high praise indeed when I come right out and recommend a company. Too many small companies are just subsidiaries of large corporations, and I’m not a big fan of large corporations.  In fact, this situation can get downright depressing at times.

But I am not here to bury small business. I am here, just as I said, to praise it!

Lucky and astute is the person who already patronizes American Science & Surplus, either through the company’s mail order catalogue or at one of its retail locations (in Chicago & Milwaukee). These fortunate customers have access to so many interesting and useful things, things you just don’t see anywhere else (well not at these prices, anyway).

AS&S (I vow that I am not in any way associated with this fine company except as a thrilled customer) is pretty much what it sounds like — surplus items, many of a scientific nature. But such surplus! You should check out their website (where you can also order a catalogue) and see for yourself how varied and rich and CHEAP is their selection, how clever is their commentary, how lovingly they put the whole thing together.

This is the only catalogue I read cover to cover. Yes, even the science section because EVERY section in this catalogue is likely to have something of use to me as an artist, and to open up my imagination in a way that those cookie-cutter magazines and their associated ads mentioned in my previous post can never ever do.

What have I received and put to use from AS&S? Hemostats! Silver paper! Wooden objects such as unpainted dice & round wheely type things! Doll heads! Doll legs! Twine! Cord! Ribbon! Fabric! Tweezers! Scissors! Wire! Chinese Rifflers! Rubber mats for cutting on! Lots of things to cut WITH! Paints! Beautiful glass bottles and jars to store paint and other things in! Cheap brushes for when I don’t need the fancy kind! And, really, so much more!

Let me just say that with AS&S, the possibilities really are endless. It’s icing on the cake that they’re so nice, and friendly, and funny.

I’m always telling people to patronize independent businesses, and AS&S has been chugging along like the Little Engine That Could since 1937 or thereabouts. They are unique and wonderful and you should be inspired by them and their offerings — so inspired you might order something today!

Okay, that’s enough exclamation marks for one post. (And one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to swear off exclamation marks … ah, well, so it goes …)

Anyway, here’s their website – have fun – (I personally have my eye on 2 pantographs for $4.95, you can’t beat that) –

For any artist of any sort, the most inspiring words I’ve ever read are from Neil Gaiman’s commencement address at the University of the Arts in Pennsylvania.

Read this, take it to heart, and  you’re halfway there.  See you later, when I’ll be talking in my own voice about surviving as a working-poor artist. But first:

“Remember, whatever discipline you’re in, whether you’re a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a singer, a designer — whatever you do, you have one thing that’s unique: You have the ability to make art. And for me, and for so many of the people I’ve known, that’s been a lifesaver, the ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times, and it gets you through … the other ones. Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong — in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.”

– Neil Gaiman, in his commencement address to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he was bestowed with an honorary doctorate in fine arts (watch the full speech below)