Suzi Blu now has a Patreon, which is a website that allows patrons to support artists by pledging a certain amount either each month or per 'thing' (Suzi's is per month; Amanda Palmer's Patreon is per thing and I am also supporting AFP - I'll have to write another blog post about that). Instead of having sporadic classes, Suzi decided to start a Patreon, where people can choose which level of support. Her lowest is just $1.00. See her blog post here where she explains it all. You can also see more on her YouTube Channel.
Every month Suzi is doing an episode of the Suzi Blu Gypsy Boho A-Go-Go Show. But, like Amanda Palmer, she is putting some of her content out on the web for free. The beginning of August, us Patreon supporters had access to the Show, including a link to download, but now it's up on her blog and her YouTube channel. She will continue to put out content that helps us grow both artistically and personally. But Patreon supporters get access to her Patreon page, to post content and have discussions back and forth. Suzi is also posting instructional videos, only to Patreon supporters at certain levels.
I knew I wanted to support Suzi at the $25.00 Gypsy Warrior level. Not just for the content available at that level, but to help support Suzi. While we've never met in person, we've been friends for several years, since I first began taking her classes. I think 2009 was my first Suzi class, The Goddess and the Poet. I haven't always been able to afford Suzi's classes. Not that they were that expensive, but our finances have been tight since forever, but especially since crashing in 2011. However, I put it into perspective, asking myself: What do I buy for $25.00 a month? That's a little more than a bottle of vodka. And while I do enjoy having a drink here and there, it's getting to the point where it disrupts my sleep. And I would rather have a whole month of Suzi content than a bottle of alcohol. So I have given up hard liquor for Suzi.
The August Boho Show theme was VOICE. I'm not going to go into detail about what was said in the video - follow one of the links above and watch it for yourself. Part of the text below was for a blog post on the private Gypsy Warrior blog (only accessible to Gypsy Warrior patrons or higher, via a password which changes every month). Suzi asked me to be her first guest on her live radio chat. She sent some questions ahead of time, so I was interviewed and we had a discussion. Other Gypsy Warriors were tuned in via a web page and were typing in questions or comments during the show, so I also attempted to answer questions about inspiration and ideas for artwork (previous blog post). But this one is about the Art Journaling piece I made for VOICE.
Suzi's August theme of Voice really hit home for me. Especially the discussion about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I have diagnosed my Dad. He was similar to the members of Suzi's family: always cutting remarks disguised as jokes, which I was then too sensitive for not seeing as funny. I had an introverted personality, and this barrage of criticism did not do my self esteem any good. I was the youngest, the 5th child, and another girl, after three daughters born in the 50s and a son who warranted a block party. I didn't hear until I was in my 30s that I was actually a surprise baby.
My siblings all left home as soon as they could. By the time I was in grade school, all of my sisters had left home. When I was 12 my friends thought I was an only child. I was left to deal with Dad's criticism all by myself. My mother was one of those wives who let her husband rule the house. She made excuses for him: "Oh, I hope you don't let what your Dad says upset you!" They were from that post-WWII generation. I was not allowed to speak if Dad was speaking. I was not allowed to interrupt. I learned that nothing I had to say could possibly be important. I learned to silence myself. The house could have been on fire, but if I said it, then it couldn't possibly be true.
I don't want to dwell on this too much. I've written about these issue a lot on my blog, while going over My Life Story. But realizing that Dad had a personality disorder has put things in a different perspective, especially given children's tendency to blame themselves for getting upset over how they are treated.
And this isn't just a personal issue. How girls are treated vs. how boys are treated is a societal problem. Even today, teachers of both sexes still call on boys more than girls. Girls are labeled talkative and bossy while boys are labeled leaders for the same behavior. See this blog post which has links to a study where it was found that girls are more often interrupted than boys. Everyone, from our parents to our teachers to society in general are all engineered to silence girls and give boys permission to speak. Man, Patriarchy. Here is another post quoting a Carolyn Hax advice column about parents disappointed (or not) with girls.
So, all these things have been kicking around inside my head. When I began my Art Journaling piece for Voice, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I began with a face while I thought about it. I didn't want to rehash themes I have already written so extensively about during the 'Putting Away' project. I gave myself a few days to think about it.
I considered a lot of images: a childhood photo of myself; a drawing of me as a girl - full body? Face only? No, not a second face - I don't want two competing faces in a piece, unless it's supposed to be two people. Older Me/Younger Me would be interesting, but not for this piece. How to represent not only me as a girl, but the concept of feeling silenced and struggling to be heard, to speak, to express, to use my Voice? I let these things sit in my mind while I went about my daily life, which is why I always have paper and something to write with close by.
And one morning, after my shower, something occurred to me. I remembered this piece that I made for my Childhood Big Journal, of one of my sisters taking me trick or treating:
I get up before Steve, because I move so slowly in the mornings. All of my note-taking materials were in the bedroom, where Steve was still asleep - my journal, my J. pieces, my pencils. So I grabbed a Cat Calendar page (Page-A-Day) and opened my box of colored pencils and markers and grabbed a pink marker and did a quick sketch. Of me as a girl, but just my shoes.
I really love this sketch. Often when I make a sketch to 'make a note' these turn out to be my best work. I captured something - that essence of a shy girl afraid to speak, fidgeting, uncomfortable, shifting back and forth on her feet.
So I drew it beside the face.
I've written a lot about the Butterfly issue, the Chrysalis. I'm not sure if I ever wrote a blog post about how caterpillars become butterflies (I looked and couldn't find one). When the caterpillar wraps itself up into its cocoon, it completely breaks down into a puddle of goo. The caterpillar doesn't just grow wings - it dissolves and the DNA reorders itself into a butterfly. Check out this article for some detailed scientific information. The Butterfly has shown up in my work a lot.
Then I thought about a caterpillar. Someone on Facebook posted a photo of a bright green-yellow caterpillar. And I thought about Girl Me/Adult Me...Caterpillar/Butterfly. So, a caterpillar would be apt here, no?
I don't like to cover up my graphite faces too much, because I really like the expressions I get when I play with graphite and an eraser, and covering them up with paint loses that. But I did put a bit of watercolor over the face (since I can do pencil over it). And I added some bright magenta, giving that feeling of a hot flush when suddenly the room's attention is on me and I must speak. I still get that.
By the way, I did this layer of watercolor first thing in the morning, after my shower. Then the watercolor had time to dry completely all day. If I have time, I try to get a few tasks done in the morning, even if I'm sitting naked at my art table drying off! We don't have kids, but both of us work full-time, and we take our lunches so there is always a lot of prep, packing, dishes, etc. If I didn't sleep well and am planning an extra-early bedtime, I still ask myself: What little thing could I do? Even just sorting my colored pencils, pulling out the colors I know I will need, photographing something for a blog post.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to be in the 'right' mindset to make art - this will trip you up and keep you stuck. Even after making art for so many years, I still fight this impulse.
Often getting to my art table or sitting down with my journal will get me into the art-making mode. Starting with a little sketch or even a doodle. Professional artists write all the time about getting to their studio (or desk in the case of a writer) and doing the work. They don't wait for "perfect" inspiration-filled creative moods, they go in every day and do their work.
I think she's finished. I worked on the face a bit with colored pencil, graphite and eraser.I journaled a bit before deciding on the words to add. And I painted over the magenta to tone it down a bit, and that's about all she needed.
I carry my ideas around with me all the time. I am always looking, noticing, writing down, making notes. Thinking, mulling, turning things over in my mind. Gathering. I am always gathering. Then looking at what I have and deciding which pieces to put together.
Inspiration is a Process.
I decided that my first Voice face drawing turned out a little too serious. So I am working on a second one. I hoped to have it done over the Labor Day weekend, but it's not done yet, so I will post it in another blog post when finished.