Recently, I saw The Hours (2002).  I was captivated.  I’m not going to bore you with a review here, though.  I have faith that at least a handful of capable critics out there have given the film the credit it deserves.  As I watched the special features included on the DVD, I was reminded of my intention to someday seriously research the psychology behind the creative female mind.  I'm sure you have taken similar note of the fascinating work of artists and writers who have experienced mental illness.  I am particularly interested in the effects of society pertaining to gender in the arts. 

The five women who I intend to research include Virginia Woolf, Diane Arbus, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and Francesca Woodman.  I realize that there has already been quite an extensive amount of research and writing that has been made available to us in numerous books.  Although these five gifts to contemporary art and literature committed suicide in morbidly poetic ways, I do not wish to further romanticize the tragedies.

I am most interested in finding the links between these women, and the similarities of their collective circumstance.  I have also asked myself if perhaps it could be possible that one influenced another.  For instance, I believe that it is entirely possible and quite likely that Woolf influenced Plath, to some extent.  I can’t say that I know anything for certain at this point, and my feelings are entirely hypothetical.  Formal research begins with intention, and will be carried out by desire and dedication.

I am at a point in my life where I feel the need to actually do the things I have always wanted to do.  I wonder if I am at my mid-life point, and if I am in crisis.  I feel time is moving faster with each passing day, and I don’t want to have any regrets when I make my own exit from this world.  I am interested in this project for both professional and personal reasons. 

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
-Walked into a river. 
Diane Arbus (1923-1971) 
-Slit her wrists in the bath.
Anne Sexton (1928-1974)
 -Enclosed herself in her car in the garage with the engine running.     
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
-Stuck her head into her oven.
Francesca Woodman (1958-1981)
-Jumped out of her apartment window.   


Drawing inspiration for this semester.

I feel like I've been pursuing my BFA forever, but in truth, I've been back at UTEP for about 8 years.  Okay, I know that is double the time it should take to complete a bachelor's degree, but I did take a year off in there somewhere, changed majors a few times, and switched between full-time and part-time schedules often.  This will be my second-to-the-last semester of Drawing class.  I've been working in several different mediums, trying to figure out what I like to do best...for a grade.  I definitely work differently when I know the outcome will be critiqued and graded.

A new series or two is in my brain somewhere, I feel it.  (I am trying harder to have more faith in myself.)  I could also continue my wood panel series.  I'm going to start photographing my work professionally, now that I know how to do it correctly.  I was required to take a $675 class on it, after all.  It's time to use those skills.

I'll be documenting progress on my drawings here.  I am lucky to have a professor who has a contemporary and progressive idea of what defines a drawing.  We are allowed to do pretty much anything we want to do.  Drawing has come a long way since the days of graphite, conte, charcoal, or pastel on paper.  Artists are currently working with a wide array of non-traditional materials, including fabric, thread, paper mache, collage, and other ephemera.  A drawing can also lean towards 3-D, with sculptural elements being used in ways which can be compared to the work of the legendary Robert Raschenburg.

My favorite book on contemporary drawing is Vitamin D: New Perspectives on Drawing, by Emma Dexter.  It's an absolutely gorgeous hardcover book, a book any artist or art appreciator would love to own.

With a new semester at hand, and a few other personal projects in-progress (like quilting and dressmaking), I know I will have to keep up an anti-stress regimen consisting of yoga, eating right, and getting enough sleep.  I have a trove of ways to beat creative burn-out, too.  Taking a drive with my cameras is one of my favorite ways to clear my mind while keeping creative vibes in my soul.  If I am stuck at home, (it happens often, being a single mother) I tend to either browse around the net, or have a look through my growing collection of art books.

I believe most artists shop around for inspiration, especially when deadlines are approaching and we're feeling burnt-out or need extra motivation.  I am still feeling the aftershock of last semester's workload.  I was actually able to complete 31.5 (should've been 32, I'm not perfect) drawings.  I thought I might go out-of-my-mind for awhile there, to be honest.  Nevertheless, here I am, still alive, and ready-ish to begin all over again with a clean slate.

My aesthetic has developed into something best described as feminine, melancholic, and ethereal, with a psychological derivative.  A few artists I've been interested in include Marlene DumasChloe Piene, Peregrine Honig, Seonna Hong, and Holly Farrell.  What a dream-to be as successful as these amazingly talented women someday.  If I tell myself it could happen, it just might.  You never know...

The Cover Up, Marlene Dumas

Cleo, Chloe Piene

Induced Birth, Peregrine Honig

Unlisteners, Seonna Hong

Tammy 2010, Holly Ferrell


Photo-walk down to my grandparent's apple orchard.

I shot these a few weeks ago over the holidays.  It's been nice to be able to get out of the city for awhile, and have a comfortable place to stay.  Now that my mom is living in Hondo, NM, (in the same house where she grew-up), we get to enjoy time out in the fresh air.  The renovations my mom has made to the old house my grandfather (Grampo!) built have made a big difference in the quality of rest and relaxation that is needed on our visits.  I have dreams about this little town often.  It is where I had many great adventures with my cousins.  Most of my best memories are from when I was about Bee's age.  I'm a little sad that she is not getting the same wonderful experience that I did, though.  There aren't any cousins her age that live in Hondo now, which was the case when I had my time.  Also, the land has changed quite a bit since then.  The apple trees are dead and dying down in the orchard, so it's not as lush.  Paths have shifted, and irrigation no longer flows through the same canals.  Still, it's blissfully quiet there.  If I close my eyes, I can almost hear the voices and sounds from the past.    

This mild winter suits us.  Must be due to ozone depletion, though.
That's been in the back of my mind as we leave the house with sweaters, not coats.
Very distant view of the sheep and the horse on the neighbor's property.

Hondo Valley, where my mom grew up, and where I spent many weekends and holidays.
The river is just beyond those trees.
Walking all the way there was considered a great adventure when I was a kid. 

Dried-up sunflower patch.
My uncle's horses.  The one on the right passed away this weekend.  He was old and sickly, poor thing.
Bee with her brand-new baby doll.

The view as we walked out of the orchard.  The path has shifted over the years.
Some rural decay laying against the old barn in lovely colors and textures.  I like it, whatever it is, or was.
This is not the best picture of the old barn, but I had never really explored the back of it.  This is a window of sorts that ventilated the chicken coop.
This is probably my favorite shot from the roll, BESIDES the ones of Bee, of course!  I like when all spaces are present-shallow, mid., and deep.  I wish I had stopped down a little more, though.
I thought I'd try to finish out the roll in this little room near the garage, but found nothing of interest in it.
There was a mirror, though, for a random self-portrait using my Pentax.
I look a little weird, but I was in the country, where everyone looks a little weird.  Kidding!
My mom says no one cares how we look there.  Funny, mom!  


A Perfect Saturday

These days I could use some extra motivation to keep me shooting.  Working on my BFA drains my creative energy.  I can get pretty depressed when I'm not actively working on my photography.  While I love to draw and paint, photography is what makes me the happiest!  I joined a few Flickr groups that are sure to keep me motivated.  The Saturdays of 2011 is one, administrated by Jessica Hibbard, and Twelve is the other, administrated by Amanda Gillian.  Please do check them both out. It's nice to have projects, and even nicer to make friends and share the experience.    

She wasn't in the mood for Mama Paparazzi today.

Not bad for the chilly wind blowing in her face.  I insisted, it was magic-hour light.
She still looks pissed-off at me, though-ha.

Shot from the car while we waited for the train to go by-qualifies for cropping, so I did.

Metered towards the street here.  Overblown sky, but I still like it.  Glad I caught the girl walking by.  (Cropped)

A weird gas station in the middle of 5-Points, the heart of El Paso, which is now ghetto.  I've never seen it before.

I didn't have too much time to shoot this, I pulled over with Bee in the car just for a few quick snaps. 

My favorite mural in town.  She's the guardian of 5-Points.  Nobody vandalizes this lovely lady.   

The House of Pizza.  YUM.

She's through posing and refused to look at the camera.  Oh, well.

I'm not a vegetarian Nazi-we eat CHEESE when it's done well.  Like here with mushrooms and extra sauce.


A brief photo-taking adventure.

I like that my Olympus PEN E-PL1 has the option to shoot using a 6x6 frame.  I really want to use my digital camera the same way that I would use any film camera, so I hardly ever crop my digital shots, and change the format back and forth from 3:2 to 6:6.  I have more of a tendency feel the need to alter color, contrast and saturation with digital shots, though, whereas with film, I very rarely find that necessary.  It really depends on the quality of the scanned CD I receive from processing.  I only altered contrast slightly using Photoshop on these shots.

Plus the ONE shot I had left on my Pentax K-1000.  Kodak Portra 400vc.  Sometimes I forget how much more I prefer film over digital.  It's fun to shoot with my Olympus PEN E-PL1, that's why.