Nothing says Christmas like black and blue.

28 Dec

These turned out so cute, but they were such a tedious pain in the butt to make that I put off finishing them until the very last minute. In a world full of stocking patterns with the word “easy” in the title, I chose the one that would involve crocheting a bajillion tiny, tri-colored circles then sewing them together. I didn’t buy any new yarn for them. I just used yarn I already had. I wasn’t sure about the colors at first, and my daughter assured me black was a bad choice for a Christmas stocking, but I really like the final result.

Now I’m on to preparing for my next project, thanks to my cousin mailing me an old school supplies box full of embroidery floss from my hoarder great-aunt’s collection. I haven’t done any embroidery or cross-stitching since I was in my mid-twenties, so I don’t have any supplies. I’ve been on ebay all day going over frame and fabric possibilities. I’m really excited about the idea I have. What I’m not as excited about is trying to cross-stitch with two toddlers trying to get their grubby little hands on my fabric, floss, and needles.

Beggars can’t be choosers, or artists.

19 Dec

I started this last night, and I finished this morning not because I felt it was done, but rather because I developed a large blister on my finger from trying to blend my ancient oil pastels.

This is Pablo trying to scare me with a Dia de los Muertos mask.

As far as I can tell, the hoarder great-aunt whose house I got all of this stuff from went through her art supplies phase around the sixties and seventies.

This is a price tag on a charcoal pad in my stash. To the best of my knowledge, the Akron existed only in Southern California during the sixties and seventies. I believe the chain went under around '81.

Along with the items that have Akron price tags on them, there are also several things that have May Co. price tags on them. I am pretty sure May Co. did not carry art supplies during my lifetime, or if they did, it was when I was too young to remember. I am 41, so that was a long, long time ago. My inherited oil pastels are so old that they are crumbling to bits in my hands while I am trying to use them.

I put watercolor pencils in my Amazon shopping cart. I put ink pencils in there too, and last night I also added a set of oil pastels. I have over sixty items in my Amazon cart. It’s taken me years to build up such a ridiculous list, and it’s taking me even longer to buy any of the stuff. So far mostly all I’ve bought are Buddhist thought ebooks that I am hoping will teach me to be more patient with my Amazon shopping cart.

I put the watercolor pencils on the Christmas list my husband demanded, but I told him they were my second choice. My first choice is an oil painting of a thumbsucking squirrel. He has asked me if I really want the squirrel painting more times than I can count, like he can’t believe I would actually have him spend money on such a thing. Last night he suggested I could paint the squirrel myself, but my great-aunt never hoarded oil paints and even if she had, I doubt they’d still be in usable condition at this point. Plus there’s that little matter of not knowing how to paint with oils. Or at all.

Just in case I feel like giving acrylic paint a try, my husband dug his high school art box out of storage for me yesterday.

This is what it looks like when the doves cry.

2 Dec

I was going to unravel this botched turban, partly because it turned out badly, and partly because of my fear of looking like Prince. Then I decided to embrace my inner eighties Prince, and I added Jeri Curls to it. It looks more like Little Richard now.

Nuestra Senora de la Chancla – Take Two

1 Dec

Like a crappy relationship, I clung to the idea of improving my painting when really I should have just thrown it out. What can I say? I have never been good at letting go. Over the last two days I’ve been adding layers and changing details, and in the end what I ended up with was a slightly better version of the original crap that still needs to be thrown out. Again, just like a bad relationship.

I have a lot more experience with shitty relationships than I do shitty painting, but thanks to all of that therapy I at least know to give up painting and not to drag it out for a year-and-a-half after I realize it’s a sociopath.

Take special note of the fact that I do not have an easel, so I stuck this to my kitchen wall with leopard Duck Tape during the “improvements.”

As if a raspberry beret wasn’t bad enough…

30 Nov

After three tries, I finally got this turban right. I kept screwing it up because I was using the wrong yarn, but I felt like I needed to do a test run before I invested in the mohair the vintage seventies pattern I used to make this called for. Because it was the wrong yarn, I made adjustments to the pattern without trying it out first.

On the first attempt, I used the right hook, but I added six extra rows. I also used purple yarn. Not only did I develop a terrible paranoia that I was going to end up looking like a cross between Norma Desmond and Grape Ape, or worse, Prince, but it came out all lumpy and lopsided.

For my second attempt, I followed the pattern, but I used a smaller hook. When it came out impossibly tiny, I tried to convince Pablo it was Jambi’s turban so he would wear it, but no dice. I think before I unravel it I’ll try once more, but this time I’ll tell him, “Mekka lekka hi, mekka hiney ho!” to see if that might persuade him.

On the third and last try, I used the right hook and followed the pattern, and it came out perfectly. Why did I not just follow the instructions the first time around? Because I’m a moron, I guess. At least my magnolia flower came out right on the first attempt. I copied the stitches for a single petal from some pattern on Ravelry, and then I winged the rest, after Googling pictures of magnolias.

Nuestra Senora de la Chancla

30 Nov

I am a little sad that I wasted $5 on watercolor paint. I could have used it for beer. I could have used it for tacos. I could have used it for toilet paper, and still it would have turned out better than my first attempt at painting with watercolors since seventh grade did.

I started off with this perfectly decent sketch. I copied it from a picture I took of myself wrapped in a sheet and cradling a flip-flop to my cheek. While I was taking the picture the boys were laughing like it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen and Pablo kept pointing excitedly and yelling, “Jesus! Jesus!”

I am not sure if the finished product is the funniest thing, or the saddest. When I finally gave up on it I too said, “Jesus,” but it was more of a disgusted mutter than an excited proclamation. On top of my sloppiness, you can see every brush stroke. Plus I messed up the mouth so I had to cover the mistakes by adding dark lips, which hardly screams Madonna. (Well, it screams Madonna, but the wrong Madonna.) Lux was having a weird day yesterday where he barely napped and devoted his waking time to throwing himself on me and screaming, and it really shows in the hands. I only wish I could blame the rest of it on the baby, but it was all me.

Last night Beto told me I should submit this to that bad art website, then this morning he gave me one of those compliments that are complimenting one specific positive aspect of something while conveniently ignoring everything else about it that I am so careful to always give my loved ones when they do something that sucks. He told me, “I really like the color of the veil.” I’ll give it that much; I did choose good colors, but then I did terrible things to them.

Suffice it to say, I will not be taking up watercolors anytime soon. Or religion.

Oh well, it’s the thought that counts, right? It’s a funny idea, anyway. I think I might draw it again and do it in oil pastels instead. Maybe I’ll frame it and give it to my older kids for Christmas, jajaja.

Space Oddity

23 Nov

I call this one “Visitor from the Pigpen Nebula.” When I was finishing it Pablo sat in my lap and said, “Thank you a drawing a Pabs.” After which he said, “It’s dirty. Needs a bath.”

I wanted to draw Pablo as an alien, partly because he’s obsessed with the moon and the stars, and partly because it does sometimes seem like he’s from another planet. Especially when I’m trying to figure out what his motivations are and how to outsmart him.

My husband hates this drawing because I didn’t make Pablo “cute.” I was trying to figure out how to use oil pastels though, not trying to capture Pablo’s cuteness. Pabs does a fine job of that on his own without any outside assistance.

I am not sure how I feel about oil pastels. I guess I might like them more if I had any that were fewer than three decades old. I did this using two kinds–the ancient, crumbling ones from my hoarder great-aunt’s house, and some five dollar Crayola brand ones that are obviously not the best quality and were most likely intended for children. I am not feeling motivated to invest in a better set because there are too many other things I need to buy first.

Where does it end? What am I thinking???

23 Nov

The fact that I can’t even figure out where to begin writing a stupid blog post about my dilemma is a bad sign, but here it goes…

Right at this moment I have several browser windows open. One is for etsy, one is for some novel writing software, and one is for some mohair yarn. The etsy window I have open at all times because I am addicted to browsing the handpicked items. It’s much easier than handpicking items myself. I keep ongoing favorites/wish lists on etsy, ebay, and Amazon even though I can’t ever afford to buy anything.

About ten years ago I purchased a human skeleton, minus the head and hands, and I also bought a bunch of animal skulls and a jar of cat bones that was also minus the skull. My plan was to create mobiles in which I strung the skeletons back together and replaced the missing skulls with the skulls of other animals. I got glass beads, copper wire, and driftwood to complete the projects, but then all hell broke loose. My kids and my (now ex) husband flipped the fuck out when I took the rotting, stinking human skeleton out of the box and started trying to figure out how to lay it out. They demanded I put it in the garage, and after that I gave up and sold it on ebay so I could buy my kids a Playstation with the money. Shortly after that I got divorced, and though I managed to hold on to the cat bones and the smaller skulls I managed to lose all of the rest of it while I was moving out. The skulls and bones have been sitting uselessly in my china cabinet ever since.

Yesterday while I was browsing the etsy handpicked items I came across a coral-themed collection. Instantly I was inspired to finish my cat bone mobile, only using coral in place of glass beads. I am slow, so sometimes inspiration takes ten years to strike, I suppose.

While I was perusing the coral beads I came across a large coral flower someone made from repurposed cast-off cashmere sweaters, and I decided I absolutely must add it to a vintage mohair turban pattern that I bought off ebay and haven’t yet used. So now that’s on the favorites list too. After devoting a chunk of my morning to trying to figure out what yarn to substitute for the long-since-discontinued kind the pattern calls for, I finally found one, so now I’ve bookmarked that site too.

During the month of October I was sorely disappointed by the lack of decent horror movies on television, so I dusted off my old collection of cheesy horror novels. During my childhood I became obsessed with bad horror novels, particularly the ones with the cut-out covers that revealed an even more ghastly and unspeakable version of the cover when you opened the book. I’ve always wanted to try writing horror fiction, and I also want to try writing in the third person. While I was re-reading my crappy old books I set my mind on thinking of a bad horror novel plot that I hadn’t already seen before. Even though it was tough, I thought of one. This morning while I was looking at beads, bones, and yarn, the beginning and the ending of the book suddenly popped into my head, so now I’m scrambling for novel writing software so I can lay it all out and then forget about it for five years until I finish the other books I’m working on. I think it might work better as a screenplay, but I don’t have time to research screenplay writing and I have no idea how to market them, either. At least in novel form I can finish it and get it out there for sale in the world as soon as I am ready, with no impediments.

The book I currently have on Amazon is not anything I worked on for any significant amount of time. One day I got the idea to write down all of the embarrassing things that happened to me during my school years, and a week later it was 50,000 words long. A month after that, it was more than twice that length and for sale online. But writing does not usually come that quickly for me. When I was six months pregnant with Pablo an agent was interested in a manuscript I was working on, and while I was sitting at the computer trying to finish the proposal for him the apartment upstairs from me exploded. I mean it literally exploded, with firemen and the Red Cross putting us up in a hotel and everything. Pablo is three now, and only now am I nearing completion on that book. I’d say I’m about 80-90% finished with it, and my husband is about to start working on the cover.

On top of that book, I have a manuscript about our Mexican adventure that I’d say is about 40% complete. I’ve been working on it for three years, but I got badly stalled when I realized I didn’t know what direction to take with it because I couldn’t figure out at what point to end it. Now that we are leaving Mexico, the ending is obvious, so I’ve been adding notes and working on it here and there but realistically it won’t be finished until 2015.

I wrote this book for my daughter’s 18th birthday, but I didn’t finish it and send it to her until she turned twenty a few months ago.

This is a joke cover that I can’t really use because I don’t have the rights to the photo, but once I started showing this birthday present/joke to my friends and my daughter showed it to her friends I was encouraged to put it for sale on Amazon too. I’d say I’m about 90% done with it, and when this one will be available is mostly dependent on when the babies will let me get around to it.

On top of all of this, in college when I was in my mid-twenties I wrote a children’s book that my writing professor assured me would never see the light of day. He said you simply could not write a children’s book about trying to kill animals, that it could not be done, but last year, at age 40, I decided that it could. I updated it, storyboarded it, and now I am experimenting with different mediums while I try to decide how to illustrate it. Oil pastels are definitely out, but last weekend I bought watercolor paint and india ink pens and I think that might work. First though, I have to do a test run by painting a portrait of Riley as a sad clown that will most likely anger him.

So this is the reason I never have any completed projects to post on this blog. I am in the middle of a thousand different things, some of which were started in the nineties. I have projects going that outlasted both of my long-ago marriages and that were around before half of my children existed. I feel like I’ve been working on some of these things forever, and I guess really I have. Originally my grueling single mom workaholic schedule was the thing that was holding things up, but now instead I have limited money for supplies, inspiration that is sporadic at best, and two toddlers who are always working against me. I will get everything done, eventually. I think as long as it’s all finished before I am 50 I’ll be okay, provided I don’t start anything else more substantial than small crochet projects and portraits in the meantime.

I also have what I think is a fascinating outline for a nonfiction book about the scandals of my hometown, which involve hippie violence, Satanists, and Hare Krishnas, but I am thinking about giving up on that project because it turns out I suck at investigative journalism. I couldn’t get anyone to talk to me, on or off the record, and I am so overwhelmed by the rest of the projects that I don’t know if it’s even worth bothering with that one. Veronica is desperate for me to do this one, and she has even volunteered her babysitting services to make sure it happens, but I think I’m too timid to press for information from reluctant informants.

My fear is that having all of these things going at once makes me seem like a crazy person, but really I am way too lazy to have a manic episode. I think the thing that is driving my project frenzy, more than anything else, is Pablo’s autism diagnosis. I always had this idea in the back of my head that I was going to rejoin the workforce at some point, and now that the autism is ruling my existence I’m realizing it’s probably never going to happen. I didn’t make a ton of money off of the book I have on Amazon, but I made enough to buy a major piece of equipment I needed for managing the autism, and also to buy Riley some expensive-assed Vans he wanted. I figure if I can get as many projects as possible out into the cyber world with price tags on them, even if none of them individually makes a lot of money, put together I might end up with something that resembles an income.

Pablo might be in diapers until he’s five. Until he’s eight. Until he’s twenty. I might never be able to put him in daycare. We just don’t know. I am hoping for the best, and I see no reason not to because he’s very high-functioning at this point, but anything can change at any time and I need to try to stay one step ahead of it all. So even though my starving artist stuff is moving slowly, at least it’s steadily moving. I think I need to pick a project, finish it, and then start a new one instead of waiting around for time and inspiration the way I have been, but it’s hard to focus when one of my babies won’t stop attacking the other one and he doesn’t even understand emotions or consequences so there’s not really any way to get him to stop.

I am hoping once we move back to the US and get him into services it’ll all become more manageable. Only a few more months left before we’re back on el otro lado.

If I had an ugly daughter, I’d write poetry for her instead.

14 Nov

My Internet was out of commission for a few days last week, so I took the opportunity to do an oil pastel portrait of my daughter. I actually promised it to her months ago, but I didn’t get around to doing it until now. I always said I couldn’t find time or opportunity to do anything with oil pastels because of the boys, but now that I did manage it with the boys yet without my laptop, I think it’s apparent what the real time-sucker around here is.

My daughter is a shaman and she reads auras and stuff, so I tried to make it look like she had a pink aura. She’s all excited because it turns out her aura actually is this same shade of pink. She thinks I must have known this on an intuitive level, but really I think I chose the color because I spent her whole childhood trying to dress her in pink even though she refused it. And also because it’s so pretty with her pink-toned complexion, and because I titled this “Veronica Is Love” so I wanted her to look like she was radiating the powerful love vibes. I assume those are pink, anyway. What do I know though? I am not the voodoo reiki shaman in the family.

In the interest of preserving our asses…

22 Oct

After a lengthy hiatus, the eczema on my hands cleared up, I finally got a camera, and I began crocheting again. I figured it was time, since winter is coming and here in our cement house that is free from central heat and insulation we will soon be freezing our collective asses off.

I recently bought a couple of skeins of Red Heart Soft yarn at Walmart that I intended to use to make the boys some winter hats, but then I greedily used the blue yarn I bought for Lux’s hat on a turban for myself. I had been dying to try out the seventies turban patterns I ordered off of ebay for months now, and it seemed like a good time to do it.

After I finished the turban, I liked it, but it seemed like it was lacking something. That something, I decided, was a psychic eye. Once I added a third eye to my turban, I realized it was also missing matching fingerless gloves. The eyes on the gloves are meant to be worn on the palms of the hands, Pan’s Labyrinth style. Originally I intended to keep this set for myself, but I think I’ll give it to my daughter instead since she’s a shaman and she seems like the psychic eye type.

Last winter I bought a few skeins of Red Heart Light & Lofty yarn with the intention of making myself a scarf. As is my way, I did not get around to making the scarf until this week. Originally I planned to make an “extreme” scarf that was ridiculously wide and long. I started it with a chain of thirty stitches, which made it over two feet wide. By the time it was a foot or two long, I was almost out of yarn. I don’t like the yarn enough to invest in any more of it, so I unraveled the whole thing and started over again, this time making it only half as wide and nearly eight feet long. The finished product looks like I have a dead, blue and green sheepdog wrapped around my neck, which may have something to do with Pablo’s reluctance to model it for me. To get this shot, I had to tie the scarf around him, thus immobilizing his arms.

This morning I picked out yarn and patterns for a winter scarf and hat for my husband, but it’ll probably be a couple of weeks before I have the money to order the yarn. I can’t just grab whatever crap they have at Walmart for his stuff, because he spends his winters in an office where people see him. As opposed to the rest of our family, who will spend our winter in isolation under a pile of San Marcos blankets with only Dora la Exploradora to keep us company.

Although I am eager to get started on my husband’s things, I need the crochet break that poverty has thrust upon me. Yesterday on my right index finger I noticed the first itchy little dot of my eczema making its triumphant return. It happens every time I crochet, basically. How crappy is that?