from crayon box to powering my soul… color defines me

A fine WordPress.com site


Leave a comment

More In The Studio

My latest studio exercise from the class I’m taking through  http://www.coursera.org is to learn and paint in the style of Jackson Pollock, humorously nicknamed “Jack the Dripper”. His No. 1A created from oil and enamel on canvas in 1948 is shown (at left below). My exploration resulted with this interpretation of his process (at right below):

Jackson Pollock No. 1A, 1948, oil and enamel on canvas

Jackson Pollock Exercise by Carla Bange, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pollock started out inspired by American Indian sand paintings, which can be seen in his impressive The She-Wolf (see it here: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78719 ). Once he relocated to New York, he focused on his “poured paintings” which are much more recognizable as his work. I learned that he used enamels, like house paint, which probably helped his action paintings which he created by moving around all sides of a huge canvas spread across his barn floor. My efforts, using thinned down acrylic paints, resulted more in drips and drops than flowing strings of paint. I really enjoy watching Ed Harris, the actor. So when he did such an amazing job portraying the artist in Pollock, the movie released in 2000, I was already familiar with the sweeping gestural movements of Pollock’s brushes. I was, however, unaware that he embedded trinkets in his work, such as nails, coins, buttons, and even cigarette buttes in his work Full Fathom Five (see it here: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/79070).

Next up was Mark Rothko. Art History 101 and 102 courses were my favorite classes in college. We were required to attend an art show, a play, a musical, and to write critiques. I’m not sure any of us truly knew what we were doing critiquing famous works but I imagine reading our papers was very enlightening, as well as entertaining, to the instructors. Standing in the Sheldon Art Museum on the University of Nebraska – Lincoln campus looking at a Mark Rothko original for the first time stayed with me over 40 years later! At the time, I felt the need to equate the work to something familiar and recognizable. Was it a landscape or a sunset, a field or the sea? Now I understand that abstract art is less about a relating it to something concrete and known and more about relating it to an emotion and feeling.

I used similar colors in the studio exercise I made with acrylic paints on a 24 x 36 inch canvas. When I stood back I realized that I had neglected to try to round the corners of my shaded rectangles which float on a red background. Rothko didn’t let others watch him work, so it is uncertain how many coats of paint he applied or what techniques he used for his smudged edges.

I did try my hand at using oil paints in the Rothko style, but on a much smaller scale. I found the streaking nature of thinned oil paint to be disappointing to work with. The upside is that I can say I tried it!

Look for more from the class as I continue to explore in upcoming blogs…

The Impressions We Make

Leave a comment

Since facebook has started bringing back memories of what we posted 3, 4, even 5 years ago, I am sure that I’m not the only one who has been tickled to see something we posted but had already forgotten. A few years ago I met my friend Rosie. I was gifting my mixed media paintings to the local area Starbucks Coffee shops, like these prints on canvas now availalbe in my Etsy shop:

Rosie saw one in our neighborhood Starbucks, asked about it and they handed her my business card. Rosie called me and asked if I would be willing to show her how to create her own mixed media art.  I was so excited to meet her and create with her. She made this gorgeous, colorful collaged Christmas tree. It came back to me on facebook as a memory from 2012.

My friend Rosie’s first mixed media collage – not quite dry yet so some areas of glue still appear white

A friend sent me a photo of the mini album I created for her when Margo was surprised by her now husband’s proposal. Remember this? she asked in the text. I laughed! Yes, I remember creating it, but more importantly, I was so warmed to know she still had it around and would share the pic with me.

20161113_124002

Margo’s Marriage Proposal Captured in a Heart-Shaped Mini Album

Another canvas I created came back to me recently in a totally unexpected way. I participate in an annual breast cancer fundraiser. At this year’s Think Pink Crafting Extravaganza, formerly known as Survivor Crop, and my 12th of 15 years participating in this wonderful event, breast cancer survivor Kendra spoke to us about her experiences; her journey with chemo and then radiation treatments was harrowing.

She spoke of how difficult it is for people to talk to someone when they are sick. People look away, pretend they don’t see you, fail to acknowledge your existence, mostly because they don’t know what to say or how to act around cancer patients. Friends fail to call, you’re sick, in pain, scared, and lonely, so lonely. Other people come into your life, like the wife of one of her husband’s co-workers. Sandy listened to Kendra and was a resourceful and caring sounding board. Sandy is one of the Think Pink Crafting Extravaganza organizers.

After talking to us as a group, Kendra visited with many of us as we crafted all day in our fundraising efforts. When she made her way to our table, she stopped to sit down by me. I had just finished a mixed media canvas using Simple Stories new Hope Collection of patterned papers and matching stickers. I call it Breezy:

Kendra talked about my Breezy painting and how it reminded her of the collage she has been gifted with.She told me how she had it hanging in her bedroom and when she was too sick to get out of bed she would look at it. She said it was fascinating because each time she looked at it she would find something new; there were layers and layers of messages and images in the painting. She said she loved it and how much it had helped her.

I asked Kendra who the artist was, but she didn’t recall. I asked her what the collage was of and she told me it was 3 women; it was breast cancer survivor art. You know how they say you can just sense where something is heading, the goosebumps appear on your arms and it becomes really quiet all around you as you focus in on just one person or one thing? Well, that’s what happened to me. I then asked where she’d gotten the painting and she told me that Sandy had given it to her.

For several years, I would make mixed media collages for the Silent Auctions at this breast cancer fundraiser. I recall creating one with 3 women on it and wondered if Sandy had bid on it and won it at one of the auctions? It was so rewarding to know that a collage I had created and donated to a previous year’s silent auction had been bid on and won by my friend, Sandy, and then out of the thoughtfulness of her heart, Sandy had gifted it to the lovely breast cancer survivor sitting next to me,telling me her story, Kendra.

I told Kendra that I thought I might be the artist and asked her if she would send me a photo of the canvas, and I’d also love a photo of her with the painting and she agreed.  I was close to tears, but it really didn’t hit me until the drive home that night. We raised almost $20,000 that day and the tears poured down my face driving home. It means the world to me to know that my art can have this kind of an impact on a total stranger.

My hope has always been that my colorful, whimsical and, sometimes. quirky view of the world through my art will touch emotions in others. Unbeknownst to be, I certainly had. I couldn’t be more proud, so I’m off to paint more! Happy Thanksgiving 2016 everyone!

kendra

Kendra and the 3 Girls Survivor Collage

This gallery contains 3 photos


Leave a comment

The Spark is ReIgnited!

This past year had been a bit of a challenge for me, as it has for many of us. I see, for example, the last time I wrote on my blog was 2015 just after my brother passed away from complications of Type 1 Diabetes. Since then, I’ve focused on taking care of myself, because, really, who else is going to do that for me, better than I will? I had a knee replacement and have been doing water aerobics and swimming laps several times a week. What a joy it is to be back in the water (must be the Aquarian in me?)!

Along with improved health, I’ve lit a fire under my creative side and have been happily creating new mixed media projects, many of which you can see in my Etsy online shop: CarlasCraft.etsy.com but, of course, I plan to share some with you right now – I hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I enjoyed making them!


Leave a comment

The Never-ending Challenge of Family, Part 1

252StefanJuly64

As it is Memorial Day, and we stop to thank our veterans and those who have selflessly served us and given for us, I can’t help thinking of my younger brother who passed away about a month ago.

This post will be a bit off from my usual subjects of art or food, but don’t let that stop you from reading! I think many of us will admit to having grown up in a dysfunctional family. I know I will! I still remember my Abnormal Psychology class where the first discussion was to try to define normal. Okay, so we learned there is no “normal” and applying that to my childhood there wasn’t much “functional” in our family life.

My younger brother was diagnosed with juvenile-onset (Type I) diabetes when he was 10. I remember that it was at the holidays because they let him come home for Christmas morning with the promise that he not eat anything while there. Well the story goes that, during his hospital stay, the doctor and our mom were talking outside my brother’s hospital room and my brother overheard their conversation. The doctor supposedly told mom that my brother would most likely not live past 30; now remember, this was the early 70’s. The story my brother tells is that he decided to enjoy his life while he was here and he used this to substantiate not taking care of himself, not eating right (he would drink a Big Gulp of Pepsi – no, not diet – most mornings), not exercising, drinking and doing drugs… a cautionary tale, for certain, when one has access to syringes for insulin use, they can also easily double for drug use.

This past decade showed the results of his lack of care, and lack of accountability for his health and his situation. He was on dialysis, then he was blessed with a kidney transplant, then if his MediCal had been in effect he could have had a double transplant and received a new pancreas (wow! what a difference that would’ve made).  Then he had one leg amputated below the knee and about 6 months later the other leg, too. He was wheelchair bound and unwilling to help himself in any recognizable way. Due to neuropathy, his hands became useless curled-in claws; he was for awhile able to use a spoon to feed himself, but mostly needed round-the-clock care.

Throughout this time, he was to put it as politely as possible: a curmudgeon. No one, and I mean, no one wanted to be around him. He was a victim and he made sure everyone was as miserable as he was. In many respects, he because the junior version of our father. He was also in a lot of pain as he had wounds that were not healing and spent the majority of these past couple of years in the hospital. The care facility had, with this last trip to the hospital, informed us that he was no longer welcome there and could not return.

Growing up, I found myself being a die-hard optimist. Whenever I would get into a pity party, I would think about how lucky I was; I wasn’t, for example, in a wheelchair, blind, deaf or suffering from any other inability to care for myself and others. There were times I wanted to shake my brother and yell at him Cher’s famous movie line, “Snap out of it!” I still recall the Christmas Eve dinner out at a local Chinese buffet with mom and my brother when I repeated the infamous Dr. Phil line to him, “And how’s that working for you?” Surprisingly, that stopped his whining in it’s tracks (at least for the remainder of the meal)…. on an aside, he later starting attending NA, which help him build friendships and gave his life some purpose.

He was the type of person who had always been bailed out by someone and never took responsibility for his own life or actions. I had loaned him money, given him advice, and even gotten a lawyer acquaintance to take on a case to defend him when I later learned he was guilty and had lied to me! My parents, too, had gotten him out of every conceivable situation he could get himself into, giving him money or letting him move back in with them for the last several years.

And he was cantankerous, obnoxious, and had reverted back to a child in many ways; throwing temper trantrums from his wheelchair like he was a 4-year-old. In the end, he managed to push everyone away from him. My sister, who lives in Omaha, was the one to tell me he was back in the hospital and not doing well. I was his only living relative in the San Diego area. So, guilt, I guess, made me and my son drive to the hospital to see him the night they decided to take him off life support.

I’d spoken to the nurse caring for him and she knew we were on our way. His heart was not going to keep him going much longer and they were discussing a move to hospice. It was a Sunday night and hospital visiting hours were ending at 8:00 p.m. however she said we could come and stay as long as we wanted. When we arrived one of the nurses asked when I had last seen my brother. This took me back and with a lump in my throat I said that it had been about 2 years. The breathing apparatus was horrible, keeping his jaw propped wide open so that he could breathe. I know that he recognized my voice, although I still wonder if the fact that as I age I sound more like our mother and maybe he mistook me for her. I know that he recognized my son’s crazy afro curls. But, he could not speak.

He could express pain, which he was in a lot of with wounds on his leg stumps which weren’t healing. He was being given morphine, which we knew gave him hallucinations, making him think people were going to throw him out of where he was living or that he was being kept against his will, etc. But at this point, I don’t know how much he knew about what was going on with him. We talked to him and went with him as they changed floors for the continuous care making him as comfortable as possible.

Seeing my brother this way broke my heart. It’s hard to be angry with someone you love when they are this helpless. Also, the fact that he could not talk back, made him easier to be around (wry smile here while wiping tears off my face). I had so many emotions coursing through me all I did on the drive home was cry. I took the next day off and stayed in bed grieving. Tuesday night after work I wanted to see him again. They had decided he would not make the transition to hospice and were keeping him in the hospital.

I kept thinking I would not want to die alone and knew that none of his friends had gone to see him. I have to admit the shock when seeing him. He was wearing a green hospital gown that I can only describe as “fresh” green. It wasn’t a pale, washed-out hospital gown but a cheery color against the stark white sheets and pillowcase. He was asleep, unconscious, unresponsive, and heavily medicated. As I sat on the hospital bed with him, his breathing would stop for what seemed like long periods of time and my eyes would widen wondering if he was gone, but then he’d gasp and start breathing again.

He did not respond to my voice, as far as I could recognize, or my touch. I started to tell him stories of our childhood growing up in Prairie Lane, an Omaha neighborhood. Remember when we used to play Red Rover using the sidewalk in the middle of the front lawn as the dividing line in any yard game? Remember, back before childproof lids, we would mix baking soda and vinegar in empty pill bottles, put them in the middle of the street and then run like mad to get away before they exploded everywhere? Remember when you took my bike and wrecked it, losing your 2 front teeth? Remember when you shot a bottle rocket off from a soda bottle you held in your outstretched hand and it boomeranged back at you, burning you in the stomach? Remember the animals we had, what a menagerie! Remember when I realized what was actually in that foil-wrapped package in the freezer labelled “Snake Food”… well, you said, what did I think you were doing with the mice? Ewwww.

By this time, tears were streaming down my face and I no longer tried to stop them, just let them fall. My brother seemed so child-like laying in the hospital bed and peaceful. All my anger and resentment towards him evaporated; forgiven.

I don’t know whether it was for him or for me, but I sang lullabies to him, the ones mom used to sing to us at bedtime, starting with his favorite: Puff the Magic Dragon. Then, I Gave My Love a Cherry, 14 Angels Guard My Sleep, All the Pretty Little Ponies, and yes, Twinkle Twinkle. I have no idea if he heard, sensed, or even knew I was there, but that was the last time I saw my younger brother alive. His heart stopped the next morning. The hospital never called me as the written directions they had were to let mom know. My sister then sent me a text.

Rest in peace, little bro.


Leave a comment

The Blue Circle Goes Round and Round

I’m an impatient person. I admit it. When things work quickly and then they don’t, I get frustrated. When the slow down continues, I get annoyed. At the office where I work, they refurbish laptops for employee use. In the last year, I was on my fourth refurb. The little blue circle going round and round on my screen spends far too much time there. I just want it to go away!

The IT tech doubled the memory on my latest laptop. I saw no improvement. Yes, I have multiple files, emails, documents and programs open simultaneously and I start trying to close things I’m not currently working on or not trying to remember to get back to working on with the hopes that the processing time will improve. But it takes too much time, everything freezes and eventually, I lose all patience and Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Rebooting takes forever, too, probably because of the protective programs employers are forced to use to mitigate the possible risks of viruses and information loss. I also think the SmartCard required to open encrypted or signed emails and documents doesn’t work well, either, and I know it adds to the slowdown.

To be honest, I’d be willing to pay for a new laptop myself if that would resolve the processing time. I recently spent a couple of hours showing a new recruiter how to maneuver in our systems and networks to help her do her job and she witnessed how slow my laptop runs. It was January 2nd, so we thought that maybe the IT team was doing maintenance or upgrades since most of our employees had taken the day off, but being temp employees, she and I were one of the few rattling around downstairs. Regardless, I wanted to scream by the time I logged off and re-booted the laptop.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that I care. If I didn’t care or if I could find a way not to care, then it probably wouldn’t bother me so much. Some people might think: ” Who cares what I do? I’m getting paid, right? If they pay me to wait for the computer, I wait for the computer.” Well, that’s not me. I think about all the things I could be doing if the computer would work with me and not against me. And worrying about it only compounds my angst.

So, what would help? Give me something to punch or kick or poke repeatedly at with my finger. The IT guys? My boss? Well, no, I was thinking something more productive… do they still sell these punching bag things where you put your foot on their cardboard feet and it rebounds after you punch it? I want one of those in the office. Forget stress management techniques… give me a a Bozo punching bag – yee haw!


4 Comments

With Gratitude

I’ve done training in the corporate world for years… harassment prevention, drug-free workplace, violence prevention, supervision training, conflict resolution, et.al. and I love it! I’ve taught Human Resources at SDSU College of Extended Studies Certification program, specifically Performance Management courses. But, when it comes to my creative work, I’ve invited co-workers to meet a couple of times and taught them what I’ve learned about creating mixed media canvases. Any donations they made towards supplies were added to my Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation fundraising efforts. As previously mentioned, I started dabbling with paint and texture about 2 years ago when I took my first ever online art workshop with Christy Tomlinson from ScarletLime.com.

Most recently, I have officially been unemployed from my “day job” for 4 weeks now and I am surprised at how busy I have been… looking for a job truly is a full-time job. The last time I was unemployed was in 1999 and that change motivated me to leave Louisiana and return to San Diego, which turned out to be the best decision for my career and for my son. Within a few weeks, I found an amazing job in my field working as H.R. Director for a small-sized electronics manufacturing company, I bought a home locally, and sold my home in Shreveport. I always felt the change was meant to be. So, with this current situation I keep reminding myself that I will look back on this one day and say it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Meanwhile, I have a bit more time to focus on my art. Yesterday I taught my first “paid” gig centering around my canvas art. I have started a series of girl art canvas board classes that I teach at EverAfter Scrapbooks in Vista, CA.  These girls were inspired by my love of J. Ruth Gendler’s “The Book of Qualities” and the courage it took Ruth to get the book to it’s original printing by creating Turquoise Mountain Publications when other companies were not interested in publishing her work. Ruth lived in Omaha, Nebraska, where I grew up, and now lives and teaches art in Berkeley, CA. Read her Artist’s Statement to be inspired, too!

The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler

The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler presents over 70 qualities — including Pleasure, Anger, Terror, Beauty, and Change — as everyday characters who live among us. Both personal and impersonal, the Qualities convey a variety of human emotions in a simple and entertaining manner; readers are inspired to reflect on their own qualities and communicate their feelings with new clarity.

The Book of Qualities Original Cover, Turquoise Mountain Publications printing 1984

The Book of Qualities Original Cover, Turquoise Mountain Publications printing 1984

I, for one, am grateful that Ruth Gendler persevered to get the book’s original printing published. This book has been a favorite gift of mine for friends and I read a portion of “Joy” from the book at my son’s dedication, 22 years ago! The book has been set to life on stage and I remember years ago purchasing a calendar with 12 months of Qualities, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I found two additional books by Ruth and have ordered them at my local bookstore. I also learned that the Book of Qualities has been translated into German: Das Buch der Lebensgeister: 76 Qualitäten, die in uns wirken – sehr gut!

I do so love the underdog-type story that turns out even better in the end. Along similar lines, Mannheim Steamroller had difficulty getting a recording company to promote their music, thus creating American Gramophone and the rest of their story, including their Fresh Aire series, one of my favorites Classical Gas by Mason Williams, and amazing holiday music we all love to hear, is more Omaha history! Their website talks of new Christmas music.

Back to yesterday’s class, I thoroughly enjoyed working with my class participants and the new store owners, Sandy and Kyle Christie. Some of these people I know from our fundraising efforts at Survivor Crop and a couple were new acquaintances; all of whom were a delight to have in class. I was so enchanted with how everyone encouraged and complimented each others’ efforts… it was quite empowering! We took photos, of course, and delighted at how unique each completed canvas turned out.

I was tickled that we ended right on time, everyone completing their projects. I was also thrilled that many of the class members signed up for December’s Joy Girl canvas. The class will be at EverAfter Scrapbooks on Sunday December 8, 2013, from Noon to 4 p.m. Call the store to register… I would love to see you there! Here’s Joy Girl:

December Joy Girl Canvas Board Class

December Joy Girl Canvas Board Sample
Quote reads: “Joy is a girl who loves the scent of cinnamon and evergreen”


Leave a comment

Suzette, the Survivor Dress Form

This past weekend, the third weekend of every October, I participated in the annual 24-hour Survivor Crop event in Vista, CA, a community in San Diego’s North County. Survivor Crop is a fundraiser organized  by Camille and Jon Akin (owners of EverAfter Scrapbooks) to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. There were 100 participants this year, fewer than years prior most likely due to the economic climate. But, we raised $76,200, more than any other year, this being the 12th year of Survivor Crop, and my 10th year participating.  Cropping is cutting and editing photos to focus on the most important part of the picture. We scrapbook, make cards, and do a variety of crafts… sewing, painting, my friend Yvonne was even crocheting an amazing purple cowl scarf for me!

“We survive 24 hours so others can survive.” While we have fun creating our island theme, decorations, costumes, etc. we are also very serious about our fundraising and the cause. Our island has two survivors as participants. My mother was diagnosed with ductal breast cancer at age 80, seven years ago. She, too, is a survivor. All of us participate for someone specific or simply for everyone. We want to find a cure for breast cancer.

We also have Survivor Crop sponsors who provide meals, make-and-take projects, contest prizes, participation thank-you gifts, chair massages, and much more! Prima Marketing provided each “island” with a dress form and paper, stickers and flowers to decorate our “survivor.” Of course, being the creative soul that I am – with a strong desire to stand out – I suggested we paint our dress form black for contrast. We created a paper bustier, complete with rhinestone belt, flowers on the hip and shoulder, and a tulle skirt. She seems oh so French, so we named her Suzette. Suzette, the Survivor. A pink ribbon on top, a ribbon and a string of jewels along the bustline, and a butterfly finish her with panache.  Here, meet Suzette:

Suzette, the Survivor

Each “island” created their own beautiful dress forms. See them here:

Duct tape continues to be a big hit with many, for example in the gold bustier above. The few men hanging around our event were asked to judge and they selected the green butterfly dress form as the winner. We also alter the t-shirts we receive at the event and have our own little Project Runway show. There are contests for page layouts and altered bras. I create an altered bra every year. Last year my “Ultimate i-pad(ded)” bra won 2nd place. I covered a black bra with i-pad icons and a large pink flower in the cleavage. We tend to be a bit irreverent with our creations, altering ideas and materials, but it’s all in good fun and for a good cause. This year the creations included:

Scrabble - the Winner

Scrabble – the Winner

My last attempt this year… if you would like to help, pick a breast cancer non-profit organization and make a donation this month – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Think Pink!