Category Archives: Art

Writer’s Dirge

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To create a thing,
to hold it,
to read it,
to see it,
and never to know it.
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The dread word stands in my way.
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“Impossible.”
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Only if I could forget it, forget myself, forget every pen-stroke, key-stroke, moment of inspiration and frustration; only then could I know this thing as itself.
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I have the misfortune to be inside, looking out; never outside, looking in.
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Perhaps readers envy the intimate knowledge writers have of their own work. When I was younger, I might even have been guilty of such misunderstanding.
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Now I know better.
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I am too close to the canvas to ever see the picture. No amount of earthly time can give me the distance I need because the picture itself is indelibly engraved in me.
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Never  will I walk up to a shelf, see a title or a cover that interests, lift this story up, and judge it as the thing it is.
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Knowing a thing too well can mean not being able to know it at all.
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The implications are overwhelming, ironic, and inescapable. I cannot know my own work save in brief glimpses through the eyes of others.
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That is how it is, and how it must be, and I must accept it and continue.
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The joys of writing and the chance of giving something precious (as many books have been to me) to someone else, are far greater than this little shard of horror. But there will always, I think, be a part of me that is sad that I cannot split myself in two and read, as only a person other than me can, my own work.
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It is not that I think my work great, or that I worry it is bad. I have spoken of that already. It is my simple desire to know it.
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I want to write a book, and read it too. But I have discovered a sad truth of writers.
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The stories we can never read, are our own.
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New Blood

And as promised, I will now post some pictures of my more recent masks. These range from around 7 years old, to a few weeks. Most of my work lately has been in clay, but I am contemplating some more mixed-media creations, especially a new shell-mask a friend has commissioned me to make for her house.

Bandit1

I wanted something with horns. The picture is a little tilted. I may try to correct that when I have time.

I wanted something with horns. The picture is a little tilted. I may try to correct that when I have time.

My newest shell mask. The starfish is a metal broach.

My newest shell mask. The starfish is a metal broach.

One of my favorite of my newest masks. I may have to keep her. Clay, glass and copper leaf.

One of my favorite of my newest masks. I may have to keep her. Clay, glass and copper leaf.

I had square glass beads.

I had square glass beads.

The second shell mask I ever made, intended to be more masculine than the first one.

The second shell mask I ever made, intended to be more masculine than the first one.

this one is wearable, and I once scared some trick-or-treaters with it. The one who didn't run got the most candy.

this one is wearable, and I once scared some trick-or-treaters with it. The one who didn’t run got the most candy.

Papier mâché, grass, persimmon caps, moss and glass.

Papier mâché, grass, persimmon caps, moss and glass.

One of my mother's favorites, though I have never quite been satisfied with it.

One of my mother’s favorites, though I have never quite been satisfied with it.

This one is a memorial to a tree of mine that had to be cut down.

This one is a memorial to a tree of mine that had to be cut down.

An early mask, though obviously not one of the original set.

An early mask, though obviously not one of the original set.

My parents brought me home a horseshoe crab shell. It makes a fragile but impressive mask.

My parents brought me home a horseshoe crab shell. It makes a fragile but impressive mask.

Lattice clay work, nail-polish and Siberian Iris leaves.

Lattice clay work, nail-polish and Siberian Iris leaves.

This present for a friend was a long time in coming. Sometimes it takes me a while to find a mask that I think will really please someone.

This present for a friend was a long time in coming. Sometimes it takes me a while to find a mask that I think will really please someone.

Ah, blue oni. I made this one out of clay, all for the fangs.

Ah, blue oni. I made this one out of clay, all for the fangs.

One of my more creepy creations, made from papier mâché, lily leaves, gold paper and a lion pendant.

One of my more creepy creations, made from papier mâché, lily leaves, gold paper and a lion pendant.

Created to celebrate the wedding of a friend.

Created to celebrate the wedding of a friend.


The Old Guard

Well, I know it took longer than I expected, but I am back now!

Two days ago, I experienced the craziest day of my life. For one thing, I went into surgery to remove what remained of my cancer. That would have been a big day by itself.

However, I woke up after my surgery to learn that I had become an aunt. I won’t go into great detail, but my sister-in-law had to have an emergency c-section. She and baby are fine, though the latter will be in intensive care for a while.  Wonderful, bizarre, crazy day.

And now, I promised you all masks when I returned to this blog. I will keep my promise with two whole posts. Here I will give you the rest (some are in my first mask post) of the original set of fourteen I made in college. In the next post, I will display my more recent creations.

Enjoy!

The first mask I ever made. It was so fun, I couldn't stop.

The first mask I ever made. It was so fun, I couldn’t stop.

The second mask I ever made, and the most time-consuming.

The second mask I ever made, and the most time-consuming.

I was never quite satisfied with this one, but it is interesting.

I was never quite satisfied with this one, but it is interesting.

My father's favorite of the original set.

My father’s favorite of the original set.

A detail shot of my father's favorite.

A detail shot of my father’s favorite.

Pine bark and needles. My poor sister-in-law got poison ivy while helping me collect the bark.

Pine bark and needles. My poor sister-in-law got poison ivy while helping me collect the bark.

This one was made by taking an impression of cherry-tree bark.

This one was made by taking an impression of cherry-tree bark.

A detail shot of the cherry tree mask.

A detail shot of the cherry tree mask.

The Muri Kai

The Muri Kai

The skull-mask above comes with a story. I made it as a release for anger, and as a statement. Shortly before creating the Muri Kai, I learned that cosmetics companies had been (and presumably still are) going into impoverished places all over the world and convincing people to buy their products. Forget having enough money for shoes, you need lipstick!

This one is made from pinecones, grass, pollen, lily-leaves and maple-tree whirlygigs.

This one is made from pine cones, grass, pollen, lily-leaves and maple-tree whirlygigs.

My brother's favorite, made from terracotta.

My brother’s favorite, made from terracotta.

My favorite of the bunch.

My favorite of the bunch.

A detail shot of my favorite catching the light.

A detail shot of my favorite catching the light.

Last but not least, the bur oak mask, made from an impression of oak bark and newly fallen leaves.

Last but not least, the bur oak mask, made from an impression of oak bark and newly fallen leaves.

And there you have the old guard. Tomorrow, I hope, I will post pictures of my more recent creations.

Glad to be back! I look forward to catching up on your blogs!


He is Risen!

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Some beauty in celebration of the day of liberation.

Glory to the Lamb of God!

Blessings upon us all.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

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Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

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Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

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Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare


Decade

I am not good at record-keeping. That statement will make family and friends laugh because it is a huge understatement. Because of this, I am not sure what year the following image was taken. I know I was in college, and it was before my senior year, which means I was between 20 and 23. I will make a wild guess and say 21.

Image by Jubilare

Image by Jubilare

I loathe pictures of myself. For every one that looks like me, there are fifty in which I look like someone else or like a marshmallow with hair. No one in my immediate family is photogenic, though my father is better than the rest of us. The only reason this picture exists is because a professor required it. I was taking a basic photography class, and in his wisdom our prof required us to have at least one self-portrait per roll of film.

Yes. Film. That camera in my hands? That’s my baby. I haven’t used it in too long, something I intend to remedy, but it gives me a feeling of control I have never felt from using a digital camera. The image was taken with silver film, developed and printed by me.

So, why am I posting this? I turned 31 in February, marking around a decade since this picture was taken. This got me to thinking about the passage of time and what that means, and made me want to take another picture of myself now. And so I did. This time I used my father’s digital Nikon. I dressed, as closely as I could, in the same way. Here is the image in black and white, for comparison, and in color as it was originally.

Image by Jubilare

Image by Jubilare

Image by Jubilare

Image by Jubilare

The shirt in the first picture has gone through a metamorphosis. It is now part of a quilted prayer-rug a good friend made for me.

The moonstone necklace around my neck now has a crack from side to side. Why? It was run over by a car on a gravel road in the Smoky Mountains.

The coat. Ah, the coat. That is my magic coat. It belonged to my father, and he gave it to me when I was in high-school. It is never too warm, but always warm enough, even when I was in Salzburg, Austria, on a snowy New Years Eve and someone poured vodka all over me. All that has changed about it, since the first picture, is that my cat, Geoffrey, managed to bite all the way through one sleeve. It’s thick leather, too, which makes me wonder about the strength of Geoffrey’s jaw.

The ring on my finger in the first image, though identical to the one in the other two, is not the same ring. The one I currently have is, if I am counting right, number 3. The first one was lost whilst gardening, and has never been found. The second one split, my active hands being tough on silver. The third, though scratched, is in good shape.

And then, of course, there is me. The creases between my eyes are deeper, but I had that long before I turned 21. The eyebrows drawn together in thought is an expression everyone who has met me will recognize. We even have pictures of baby-me with that expression.

I had glasses at 21, too, but I must have been experimenting with contacts when I took the first image. Contacts and I don’t get along. The rings, evident in all the pictures, have left a good callous on my hand. I worry, with the surgery ahead of me, that I will no longer be allowed to wear the ring on my right.

There is silver in my hair now! Just a few strands, so far. I like them.

I am a happier person now, than I was then. Depression has been my shadow for a long, long time, but it used to jerk me around a lot more. Time has softened that cycle, at least for now. I’ve grown and changed in thoughts, in faith, in experience. I still have respect for that 21-year-old who was me. She had come a long way from the 11-year-old me. Though I have changed a lot, she and I still have the same foundation, and pretty much the same orientation in the world. The biggest difference is what I have learned about myself and about the world that she did not know.

Most of all, I am struck by the complete strangeness and unpredictability of life. I mean, shirt-to-prayer-rug? Necklace run over by a car? And finding myself fighting cancer is far from the strangest thing that has happened between then and now.

My strongest feeling as I look at these images and think about the time in between?

It’s not nostalgia, or regret, or triumph. It’s simply awe. Awe that I have been alive for ten years since that time, and that so much has happened and not happened.


Ay, madam, it is common.

I am not alone in this.

I have heard other writers express the same feelings time and again. Many writers battle these extremes.

Sometimes we feel our work is good, even great. Then we are either overcome with fear that it is trash, or we “know” it is trash.

I am at the low ebb of this, and have been for a few weeks. It is disheartening even though I know, in my mind, that it is a cycle. My heart knows nothing of the kind. I am never satisfied with my work, but this is something darker than dissatisfaction.

My muse is active enough. The little monster is happily chewing away at my surroundings and then latching onto me with its sharp little teeth until I write out the results of its feasting. I can only hope those results aren’t shit.

But how does one know? There are great writers, both from the past and the present. There is also a lot of mediocrity, and this has increased as the dissemination of information has proliferated. Yikes, that was verbose. I had a point in there somewhere… oh, yes. Some of those mediocre writers, at least, must have believed that their work was great.

If they could not fairly evaluate their own work, how can I?

Oh mother, I owe you so much for raising me on good literature, but it is a double-edged sword. I know greatness. I have stared at pages, retracing words again and again in wonder.  In order to even put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, I had to tell myself that it was enough to write, that I did not have to compare myself to Wodehouse, Solzhenitsyn, Austen or Shakespeare.

That sufficed when I wrote only for myself and for those who were curious to look over my shoulder. The creation of something to be let loose on the world requires more, doesn’t it?  The last thing I want to do is unleash more mediocrity.

There is pride tangled up in this as well. I don’t want to be mediocre.

Then again, perhaps the greats were in doubt, as well. Does anyone really know, truthfully, whether their creations are worth reading? The helplessness is depressing. Do I have to spit out what I can and trust humanity to sort out the rest?

…Yes. Perhaps I do. The only other option is to bury it.

In reply to that option, I will quote Tycho, from Penny Arcade. He is talking about reactions to offensive materials, but the same principle applies, I think, to mediocrity:

The answer is always more art; the corollary to that is the answer is never less art.  If you start to think that less art is the answer, start over.  That’s not the side you want to be on.  The problem isn’t that people create or enjoy offensive work.  The problem is that so many people believe that culture is something other people create, the sole domain of some anonymized other, so they never put their hat in the ring.  That even with a computer in your pocket connected to an instantaneous global network, no-one can hear you.  When you believe that, really believe it, the devil dances in hell.

A visualization of my muse. Watch your fingers.

A visualization of my muse. Watch your fingers.


Ottawa around Parliament

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Round two of my pictures from Canada posts! This is going to focus on Ottawa, in the area around Parliament. Other sights of Ottawa will appear in the next post.

My first impression of Canada’s capitol city is that it is very beautiful. It has an open feel to it which I like.  I was constantly distracted by interesting architecture, only some of which I am able to share here.

The above photograph is my best shot of the locks of the Rideau Canal, next to the Bytown Museum. None of my pictures of that old building pleased me, therefore I give you a link to their website. I enjoyed the museum, but the best part was the interaction between my party and a staff member taking surveys.  I won’t bore you with the story (it was funnier in person) but my friend and I met up with an Australian couple we know (and later with another friend from the U.K. who lives in Canada), which caused some surprise and confusion throughout the rest of our trip.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012
I took this one for you, Mom. Be amused!

As one might expect, there are some royals around Parliament. Here is Queen Victoria in the most ornate statue arrangement I saw. There is a lion and a lady with garlands at her feet.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012
And this one’s for you too, Mom! ;)

The current monarch, Elizabeth II, has a more subtle (and awesome) representation. Does Queen E. II ride? I am fairly ignorant of the doings of current royalty.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

There are many statues of Canadian leaders as well. Here, we have Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of the Fathers of Canadian Confederation, and a victim of assassination.  Gulls do not care about such things.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

The young lady below, however, is on the case. She is primly trying to inform McGee that he has something on his head.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Sadly, I have no idea what this delightfully round building behind Parliament (and facing McGee) is, but I love the colorful stonework, and am a sucker for anything that smacks of Gothic Architecture.  Pardon me while I drool over the arched windows and small flying buttresses.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Being Canada, there were members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police around, though few in formal attire. I felt a little bad for these gentlemen, as they were constantly stopped by tourists asking to have a picture taken with them. …and yes, I was one of those people. I am duly ashamed.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Parliament! The sky makes a gorgeous background, no? Again, Gothic arches and decorative stonework (though no flying buttresses).

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

I honestly did not notice the street performer until after I took this shot, but what a perfect touch! Luck of the camera, I guess. I was trying to capture the metalwork on the roof of this bit of the Parliament buildings. It is light and lacy, a strange contrast to the heavy stone structures.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And here is a poor shot of a gorgeous door. I need to sit down with my camera’s manual and figure out the settings. I know I am not using it to its full potential.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Now I will delve into the stonework on the Parliament buildings. Here, over the main entrance, we have the national animal of Canada, the beaver. Below him, on the posts of the door, are the lion and the unicorn. If it hadn’t been for another carving I will show, this would have been my favorite.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

This guy speaks for himself.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Almost every niche and nook had some interesting carvings. Being the plant-lover that I am, I was thrilled by the variety of flora depicted.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Weird, but great.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And this. This is the piece that transfixed me! I literally obsessed about getting the perfect shot of it. Just ask my bemused friend. This snail, so beautifully textured, was near the main entrance. I am so glad my friend was with me, because she allowed me to drop briefly out of the line for our tour in order to take this picture. Thank you, my friend, for putting up with me!

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

I took few good pictures inside. Again, I need to figure out the settings on my camera. I cut off the bottom of this picture because there are people in it. I like to avoid posting pictures of random strangers without their permission. This will give you an idea, though, of the beautiful architecture inside. There is also much stained glass.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Halberd window. Need I say more?

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Last and smallest but not least to me. Some stonecrop amid the stones. I took this at the tail end of the changing of the guard ceremony. It takes a ridiculously long time and a lot of formalities to change the guard before the Canadian Parliament; too long to hold my deficient attention, I fear. The tartans were great, though.


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