Thursday, December 15, 2005

little by little



This is what I do when I can't take anymore niggling and chafing from my life the way it is. When I can't change the people (I never can change the people) who are taking nips out of my serenity, I go straight at the nearest non-human annoyance and relieve myself of that. Sharing a storage room with my mate means having his greasy tools rubbing up against my finer, cleaner art materials. Enough being waaaaaayyyy beyond enough, I spent a few days emptying out the other smaller storage room, tearing out the rotting shelving attached to the walls, patching the leaky damp concrete, painting it all and moving my collection of canvasses and collage materials inside where they are finally safe from the disastrous effects of overcrowding. *sigh* T'aint grand, but definitely a relief.

More than that...I almost feel competent and in control again. *bigger sigh* I know it's only an illusion...but a delightful one for today.

Stephanie Hansen
Worth Works Studio
www.worthworks.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

These charming mache friends of mine are known as "For Dear Life". Can you relate?

As I said I would, I spent some time snuggled on the couch today reading the latest edition of Metropolitan Home. The commentary accompanying the articles aren't usually of interest to me other than to garner facts about the objects in photos, but I was fascinated by one couple's very human accounting of the foibled creation of their dream home.

Two men, one a sculptural curator at Christie's, spent years gathering rare and beautiful European antiques to fill their dream home. Part way through the construction of their new home, the Brooklyn warehouse where they were storing their cherished finds burnt to the ground after an explosion in a nearby building. I generally weep not for the rich folks, but these two very personable and sincere sounding fellas deserved at least a wince. When the one man admitted, "I wanted to fall to my knees and sob in the ashes," I thought, "Oh, friend...I understand all too well."

It wasn't for money or status symbols that he wept, but for the sudden, tragic fate of his cherished vision of "my home". This...this I understand. As I hang on for dear life this season, I remember Decembers past full of family birthdays and celebrations and hall decking and present giving. There's an echo in the too empty halls I deck, empty of all but stepchildren mourning their own cherished vision of "my family" that met its own fate years ago.

In the interests of dreaming, of cherishing, and of home I shall now wrap myself in the warmest, softest blanket I can find and let my mind roam around looking for a few ideas on how to take the December chill off...if you know what I mean.

stephanie hansen
www.worthworks.com

Monday, September 20, 2004

I never cease to wonder at the power of small changes to effect big changes, in mindset, mood, and manner of living. Last night, for instance, I resituated the monitor so the shelf it sat on could swing freely and I could then swivel the computer screen a few inches closer to my face at a diagonal. Yes, yes...it's a comfort issue; I can now sit typing with my feet up on the desk (in total ergonomic rebellion) and can work at the computer without wearing my glasses needed for distance. These are very small things, yes, but they make big joy in me because such changes allow me to do as I wish, not as I'm told. I am beginning to truly let go of the notion that some day, some way, I will be able to force myself to take delight in behaving correctly. In all the years I've been 'correct', I've never got that rush the responsibility junkies seem to get from it. My parents may have taken pride in my obedience, but not I, never I.

If you, like me, struggle with depression or manic depression to begin with, you must know the devastation that is wrought by simple obedience. Yes...obeying, heeding, adhering, following suit, following orders, conforming, deferring, getting in line, doing what we're told, doing what we ought, behaving 'maturely'...precursors to the utterly devastating emotional tragedy that befalls us: falling deep into the well of I'm-tired-of-giving-a-sh*t. I have been deep in that well, on and off, for most of this year and much of last. Perhaps you noticed that my voice had a bit of an echo to it? I was probably calling out to you from the well then. The times you heard my voice strong, jovial, unashamed was when I had finished doing what I should, revelling instead in doing what I dared. Soon after I return to concilliatory ways for the sake of peace throughout the land known as "home", I fall silent, and soon after the silence I fall, sullen, into the well. Having caught a wisp o' some ancient magic of well-being (found only after we, finally, surrender to the experience and sanity of others), you should hear much more of me on a regular basis...without the echo.

To enjoy the collage paintings that accompany this post, visit the journal page on at Worth Works Studio.

Steph

Sunday, August 29, 2004

guess who got what?

(OOPS! CAN'T UPLOAD PHOTOS ON THIS BLOGGER! IF YOU WANNA SEE WHAT I'M JABBERING ON ABOUT, I SUGGEST YOU GO TO http://www.worthworks.com/artist%27s%20online%20journal.htm TO SEE MY FANCY-DANCY ONLINE JOURNAL ON MY WEBSITE, http://www.worthworks.com)

I just turned the joint upside down looking for a particular book of georgeous calligraphed poetry that I wanted to scan and share with you. For a non-fan of poetry such as myself to have been taken with a book of poetry says much for its style. I bought it about six years ago and have taken it out many times over the years just to sit with it and be inspired. Dying to see it? Well, sorry…you’ll have to wait till I remember where I was perusing it last.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share something else of value to me. The picture in the frame above is actually an advertisement for peanut butter. I clipped it out of a magazine at least seven years ago, put it in the silver frame you see now, and hung it on one of my kitchen cupboard doors. After a lifetime of bouts with anorexia, I was just beginning to make friends…extremely CLOSE friends…with food. I was also learning that the chucking out of conventional rules for good living was a necessary rebellion. It’s funny what knick-knacks, what ‘touch points’, remain intimate items over the years. The picture currently hangs behind me in the computer room next to the china cabinet where I store books and video tapes, spare change and necklaces, receipts for the tax man, instead of china.

If you’re getting the idea that I’m going to drive you all crazy by dragging you into my home one doo-dad and doo-hickey at a time…you’re right! STEPH-ie got a SCAN-ner STEPH-ie got a SCAN-ner STEPH-ie got a SCAN-ner… ;^P
Ciao my loves…
Steph

Thursday, August 26, 2004

so far

So far I've read five National Geographics out of the seven huge cardboard boxes of them I now own. I love these things. They're full of the past, present and the future. Science, art, literature, people. And pikas! Do you know about the pikas? The pikas are a small guinea pig-sized mammal that lives on rock formations called nunatuks in the Yukon. I first read about them and included information about them in a project I put together in grade four or five when we studied the Northern Territories. Reading about them again in a Geographic last night brought back it all back to me: the fact that I received a poor grade for the project and the reason I was given for the C.

Some things never change. My research philosophy when I was ten years old reflects my art philosophy today: there's no point in copying others. I was determined to unearth facts about the area and its residents that the other students didn't have in their reports. I included my research under "interesting facts". Because my facts were considered "obscure", they were somehow deemed "uninteresting". I was supposed to state the obvious and was penalized for not doing so. Twenty-five years ago I was fascinated by the notion of such a small mammal surviving under harsh conditions as well as the uniqueness of the pika's being the only mammal for a great many miles around. Twenty-five years later, I'm even more impressed by the uniqueness of the little critters. If there was any chance that teacher was still on the books, I'd write a letter. ;^)

Some people don't see any good coming out of all this looking back that I'm wont to do. Yes, life was hard for me as a kid, but I'm not looking back at the circumstances, I'm looking back at the kid. I'm looking back for that feeling in that time when my interest in life itself was literally exploding in my skull. I couldn't wait to find out what else was in the world. I had the idea that there were so many different cultures and ideas that if I didn't rush I'd never learn about even half of them if I only lived to be a hundred. I wasn't wrong.

Knowledge was a game that entertained me for endless hours. One of my favourite games was "what if". I'd ask myself, "What if the stone-crusher from Bhutan were magically transported from his mountain to my living room? Would he know what everything was for? Has he ever seen glass windows? Would he think carpets were a strange invention? Would he think they were impractical? Frivolous?" I used to lie in my bed and try to imagine what it would be like for someone from so far, far away culture to lie in my place. I wondered what it would feel like to be someone else experiencing my life. What would they think about? What would they like and dislike? Most of all, I wondered what they'd miss most about a lifestyle that most people thought was 'poor' and 'uncivilized'. In the end, I almost always decided that if I was them I'd rather go back home.

Even today, whenever I watch movies or read books, I crawl into bed and night and lie there imagining the different characters being suddenly transported into my life and wonder. I wonder what would impress them and what would depress them. I wonder, too, what advice they would want to give me when they got to know my circumstances. I wonder if living with me for a while would help them come to some understanding about their own circumstances. Human beings do, after all, hold up large, wonderful mirrors for each other. Many years ago, when I was disabled and feeling my most helpless, I watched a documentary wherein women from the southeast corner of nowhere-near-anything-else-in-the-world made something essential from dirt, dried grass, and cowshit. That very instant I realized I couldn't possibly be helpless because my hands still worked and I had more to work with than dirt, grass, and cowshit. Knowledge, for me, is not simply a game of entertainment, but of survival.

In a society of children who largely care for nothing but clothes and msn, I'm an alien. To my stepchildren, I'm definitely from another planet. While they crave the familiar, I continue to crave visions of that which I've not seen before, especially in art. Every few months I have to rearrange either the furniture or the accessories lest I begin to come unglued at the sameness of it all. I cling to certain things, I assure you: teddy bears, cats, books and favourite shirts, but I periodically rearrange everything except the cat. He refuses to comply. I'm thinking of changing his name to Non-Compliant. Sounds French, don't you think?

Steph



Sunday, August 22, 2004

DEFINITION OF EXCRUCIATING

Excruciating has a new definition: "living with an angry, spiteful, hard-done-by child on summer holidays while attempting to deal with carve-your-guts-out-depression." I don't expect many arguments about that one. I decided to walk down to the grocery store to pick up a few vegetables for the turkey soup I was cooking for dinner and, once out the door, found myself rushing pell-mell away from the house containing the unhappy brat and her familial hostages. I knew right away I was going far, far beyond the grocery store. I was out...and I wasn't going to waste my escape.

Hurrying past the A&P, I headed for the street festival downtown. It was the closest I could come to running away from the circus. Before I actually hit the festival, I stopped in at the art-in-the-yard sale at the art school on the corner. Being the last few hours of the last day of the affair, there was not much left art-wise worth money nor mention. What I did find were rows and rows of books! A new addition to the sale. No decent fiction, mostly romance and violence, but...oh...oh friends, BUT...there was a large collection of National Geographics in pristine condition, ordered by date in complete sets of the last few years, and on sale for 5 cents a copy. I bought every last one for a grand total of $13.20. Talk about your impulse buys!

When I was a child my parents had a subscription to National Geographic. I read every last copy that came to the door over a six or seven year period. Mild brain damage, unfortunately, has erased a good deal of information gained, but much remains, and certainly I have not lost my interest in the magazine. I stopped reading them when my parents stopped renewing the subscription, but I can't figure out why I didn't start again when I became an adult and could afford my own. Until today! Woo hoo! And what a healing experience it was...the process of expressing, discussing, and acting on my interest. When I blurted out my long-ago love affair with them, the saleswoman was curious to hear more of the story. We stood there for an hour sharing stories of what we called "our former lives", she being much older than I and currently a (oh, what joyful karma does spring itself upon me now and then!) a large used book store on the Mountain in the next city.

Though heartened, I still verged on breaking out in hives at the thought of going home to the bitter hard-done-by girl who was, by the way, "dying of boredom [sic]". She couldn't understand what I meant when I told asked her, "How can you possibly be bored when art, literature, and science is ready to fill up all your time???" She does not draw, read, write, build, deconstruct or explore anything...and I do mean anything. She paints her toes, watches hockey, argues with friends on Messenger about 'who said what', and is constantly "dying of boredom". Anyway...back to me...Me moved on down the road to see what there was to see. I saw the library. :^)

The library was holding its annual major book sale. Just inside the door each customer is handed a plastic bag and told to fill it. On the way out, the customer coughs up $2 per bag o' books. Two dollars! That's it! I think it was much more earlier on, but again, these were the final wee hours of the festival weekend and none of the library volunteers wanted to have to put the leftover books away. So...what did I get there?
For myself:
The Confident Writer, a Norton handbook
Writing from the Inside
Favorite Recipes from the United nations
Editors on Editing, What writers need to know about what editors do
You Mean I Don't Have to Feel This Way? New help for depression, anxiety, and addiction
The Second Son of Heaven, A novel of nineteenth-century China
Seven Days in May (fiction)

For my partner:
Scott's Last Expedition, Captain Scott's Own Story
The Fraser ( a 1950 edition from the Rivers of America series)
Wild Waters, Canoeing Canada's Wilderness Rivers
Noranda (1956 edition of a book chronicling the history of the Noranda mining company and its effects on Canada)

You may not find all that thrilling, but hey...for two measley bucks, what heaven!

And yes, I have rambled on a bit, but in case you haven't noticed, I'm in the habit of belching out a sitting-heavy-in-my-guts slice of life and then running off for several days. There's not much more to the story anyway. I dithered for a bit, had a few more conversations with former strangers, bought a nice bowl turned from sumac for $10, and went off to get the vegetables for the soup. Oh...but first I had a little fun misreading signs. I saw a gaudy stand, painted rash reds and purples and covered in bawdy flashing lights with only a P and a couple of O's and an R and N visible through the other bawdy constructions surrounding this seemingly out-of-place temporary booth. Intrigued, desperate for entertainment, I made a beeline for it only to be heartbroken to see that it in fact read POPCORN STAND, not PORNOGRAPHY STAND. lol I veered back in the direction of the groceries and came home with some very unentertaining cauliflower, yams, and carrots.

Upon reaching home after the hot four hour jaunt that was only supposed to take a half hour...tops...I delighted my partner with his unexpected bounty of old-edition history books and declared to my youngest stepdaughter - brat-du-jour - that I didn't have the energy or the interest in rooting around for my bathing suit and was therefore going to go skinny-dipping to cool off before coming back in to make dinner and she was welcome to either get over her small-minded stick-in-the-mud self and join me or to go right ahead and sequester herself upstairs well-hidden from my naked self. She ran upstairs. I swam, enjoying the last days of a too-short summer, and then made the most delicious turkey soup anyone has EVER made. Ever!

Love to you all...I won't give up if you don't give up.
Steph

www.worthworks.com
nobearshere@hotmail.com
stephanie@worthworks.com




Tuesday, August 17, 2004

FUBARing

The nice thing about screwing up a painting...really FUBARing it...is realizing that since no one else could possibly want something so hideous, it is truly yours. I love that milli-moment after I see the hopelessness of trying to 'fix' a work of art. That milli-moment after, I am free to be the only one to love it. I can have my way with it. Turn it sideways and write rude words across its stretched out form. I can say things I'm not allowed to say. I can tell the truther. You don't know what "the truther" is? It's what you left out when you told the truth. This what-you-didn't-add doesn't make what you said a lie, just...sort of...uncourageous. What I leave out is the gibberish that is in my head that no one else would understand. What I leave out is what would make heads turn and mouths drop and eyes furrow and questions about the possible need for psychiatry to be enquired about. What I leave out isn't crazy. What I leave out is what most people think is crazy to admit. I leave out what really, REALLY doesn't make me look good. I leave out words that make me look like I'm too stupid to know what the proper words are. But the truth is, I love how words make me feel. Sometimes the meaning is mismatched, but the feeling is precise and perfect and irreplacable. Sometimes, the right words simply won't do.

Yesterday, I FUBARed a piece. All afternoon and all night I have been making it what only I will love. I 'wrote' all over it. I said things like SHE HAD AN IRIDESCENT PURPLE MIND and A SCUMBLED SMILE and UNACCEPTABLE EYES and HIDING A MISSISSIPPI MUD SPIRIT. The words that broke my heart to admit: WAITING FOR PERMISSION TO DISOBEY. As an artist...and, let's face it, a woman...I die now and then and then again while waiting for permission to disobey. Nothing important happens until I give up hope of pre-approved absolution and just disobey something to the point of obliterating Supposed-To.

My beautifully ugly painting tells a horrible truth about a chick who died of playing jester to the clown, who thought pleasure was the absence of pain, discovering, in the end, only absence. Nope...not going to be hanging in anyone's hallway soon. I'll post a photograph of it when it's finished...whenever that might be. Perhaps tomorrow? Like a mother, only an artist can love an ugly creation.

steph
www.worthworks.com
stephanie@worthworks.com

nobearshere@hotmail.com



Monday, August 02, 2004

homecoming

A good friend moved back to town yesterday after a few years absence. I won't kiss her ass here by calling her "wiser", but she is older and she has 'been there, done that'. Well...most of it. What matters is that she likes me. she believes I'm good and talented. Why that matters is simply that the people who like you most are the people who can be trusted most. If I ask her opinion on something I know she's not going to answer with her own best interests in mind. This friend is similar to my partner in that they are of the rare breed who grant me express permission to think of myself. "What matters, Steph, is whether or not *you* think you should do it." "What matters, Steph, is what *you're* going to get out of it."

I was taught to sit only after everyone else has chosen their seats. The point was to avoid taking something someone else wanted. I was taught not to eat the last piece of any until I had determined no one else wanted it. In the household, I was the only one to whom these rules applied. The most important rule of all was to never take a good opportunity for myself if doing so might inconvenience or deprive anyone else in any way. To do so earned me the judgement of just this side of evil. When I was lucky, I had a 'leftover life'. When I was not so lucky, I was punished for wanting something more than nothing.

The last five years have been a dramatic departure from the first thirty. For one thing, I have too much. I have more than I want, but in some ways I still haven't found what I've always been missing. Only, now, it's me who is telling me what I can't have and shouldn't want. Years of training have precluded the need for a jailer. The house is big, the food excessive, and the playthings are everywhere, but my willingness to explore my opportunities has been amputated.This is why I need people like Robyn and Dorian to tell me what I already know to be rational: doing what is good and healthy for myself will not hurt anyone. Years of training, however, still win out in the end. In the end, my guts assure me I should want and do differently than what I want and do. There is an unflagging assumption of wrongness.

The art I make - even the making of the art - is a rebellion against this, a dare, a hope, a path to freedom from this nonsense. My art is a way of siting down first, speaking up first, eating the last piece of pie, and shouting, "I'll take it! Hope you don't mind," without worrying if in fact someone does mind.

Just thinking.

Steph

Thursday, July 29, 2004

long weeks after

All hard times are like handgrenades.  The circumstances thrown at me never hurt until later.  Only later can the extent of the damage be seen.  It's not even that life is so rough; I'm just one of the sensitive ones.  I notice everything.  I care.  Even if it doesn't leave me bleeding, still, I care.  Which is a good thing. 

It's a good thing to be aware.  Without awareness, a state of 'care-ness', there wouldn't be any poets or painters.  Poets and painters play a neverending game of "I Spy".  And what do I spy with my little eye?  I spy with my little eye the challenges we face, intellectually and spiritually.  I spy with my little eye the anger, within and without.  I spy with my little eye the wants we want to want, the negativity we cherish, the deadly excess we love excessively. 
 
And other people.  I spy other people who care enough to play "I Spy" out loud, whether the world wants to hear it or not.  I love those people.  I adore them.  People with mouths that are bigger than their egos are thrilling to know. 
 
I struggle to keep my own mouth shut for the time being because my ego has swelled under the strain of recent events.  It is currently bigger than my mouth and the anger has floated up to the esophogeal area.  My swelling ego, in this case, is not driven by a sense of being right, but by an intense sense that I have a right to spread the anger around...liberally.  Not all, "How dare you?!" is self-righteousness.  Sometimes, like now, it is heartfelt reaction to galling stupidity and insensitivity that has caused harm to someone we love...someone I love.
 
Sometimes ego swells in a desperate attempt to become larger than reality, large enough to dispel our powerlessness in certain instances.  It never works, of course.  And as soon as I admit defeat in that endeavour, I go back to work.  I go back to work and I write it out, and I paint it out.  That is how I accept the anger and the pain and the powerlessness.  That is how I accept what I can't do...and what I can.  What I can do today is play "I Spy", hopefully with a bit of loving detachment, just enough to save me from having to give up the game in despair.
 
Good wishes, friends...
namaste
Stephanie
www.worthworks.com
nobearshere@hotmail.com

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

LONG WEEK

Been a very long week, friends. I won't get too much into the details, but my stepdaughter was in intensive care after a nasty seizure with complications. She's going to be alright but you can be assured her ordeal has obliterated my focus regarding my artwork or the upkeep of my website.

I wrote in the introduction to this blog that how much I get out of this blog depends on how chickenshit I am. Well...looking at the lukewarm words stored here so far I can see that I should be pecking corn off the ground. All the things I start to talk about are met with two questions: [1] who cares?, and [2] will it be bad for business to admit that?

There you go...just in case you were wondering why there's nothing of particular note going into this blog. I suppose my only options now are to turn it into a complete piece of interesting fiction, turn it off completely, or start telling the truth come what may.

Come what may, I cannot wish away my ongoing struggle with willingness and the fear of finding out I cannot fulfill my desire to create worthwhile works of art, either visually or verbally. Come what may, I begin from a standing point of mild manic depression that cannot or will not allow any sort of constancy to be the baseline of my life...other than the constant merri-go-round of caring too much and then not enough, anger, euphoria, brief calm contentment, not being able to stop working until the wee hours of the morning for a while and then the herculean effort required to begin work again after coming to a full stop for days or weeks.

If consistency is the key to success I fear that I'm locked out. The best of intentions are powerless here, as are the suggested plans and lists of priorities and tricks and tips and all that might be found in books on the matter of how to get things moving and keep them moving. The life energy in me has its own rythm that cares nothing for the rythms of society. My internal rythm regards the term "work ethics" as a stupid illusion. Perhaps I simply have no pride. My own efforts and the results of those efforts fill me with surprise and often with pleasure, but not pride.

Currently, the house is a mess and there is a long list of things that all have to be done first. Which, of course, means there's a good chance I will offer up some profanity and refuse to begin, preferring instead to take a bite to eat and go to work in the studio where I can't see the distressing disorder I'm responsible for ordering. Perhaps. Perhaps not. I will get out of my chair now and bring my coffee cup into the kitchen and see what happens next.

Stephanie
Worth Works Studio
stephanie@worthworks.com

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

TRIED

Hello darlings...
I have dutifully taken and editted the photos I said I would and have spent the last twenty minutes fooling with the Hello program that is supposed to upload them. I've had enough. You'll have to trust me for now that they're cool, alright? I don't have much time left before dinner to get some work done and I'd rather spend it in the studio than here. Don't mean to be harsh, but see ya!

Steph

BEGINNING

I'm finding it very difficult to begin today. After a long, dark and dreary day yesterday the sun is bright and warm today. I'm pulled in the direction of a dozen seemingly equal priorities: the garden is a disaster, the house is a huge mess, the laundry is all over the joint waiting to be smoothed and folded and put away, and my flabby muscles are begging to be exercised, and I promised to take/edit/submit pictures of my current work here, and I have two movies due back tomorrow I haven't watched yet, and I have work in the studio waiting to be continued, and...there are too many 'ands'.

Oh...look at that...I just made clear my main priority of the moment: to tame my monkey-mind...to still my thoughts...to become present. I am going to meditate for an hour and then I will go downstairs and fulfill my promise to photograph my current work.

Stephanie
www.worthworks.com

Sunday, July 04, 2004

COULDN'T DO IT JUSTICE

I didn't tell you about yesterday right away because I just didn't think I could do it justice. The whole day was one big anomaly. I rose early, refreshed, Saturday morning and drank a pot of coffee and devoured a crossword and had a hot shower and dressed for the garage sale hunt before my mate was out of bed. That would be BIG anomaly number one.

On my walkaround, I smiled and waved at a little old lady walking her little bitty poodle. Just as she smiled back at me, a motorcyle rode past and the dog went nuts. Defying several natural laws, the wisp of a dog flung the grown woman to the ground and dragged her at top speed, flat on her back with one leg up in the air, arms outstretched clinging to the leash, yelling "Bad dog! Bad dog! Bad dog! Bad dog!!!!!" Man...I couldn't make that up if I tried. I was right there and the whole thing is still like a dream to me. The woman was not harmed, but boy was she pissed. And me? I will NEVER underestimate the strength of a miniature poodle EVER again. Wow. Still not sure it really happened!

Then...the big thing. I wandered into a flower shop I'd been meaning to check out for some time now. I met a lady there who was the art teacher of my dear friend, Gwen, whom I bought this house from. The teacher/shopowner was interested to hear about the papier mache work I do. By the time I left she insisted I call the local art school about putting on a papier mache workshop there. Talk about 'out of left field'! I was just looking for some garage sale junk to fool around with and fix up. She was a really delightful woman to talk with. She looked around my website after I left and sent me a little more encouragement via email. Turns out she and I share a bit of history: she too attended my beloved Clarksdale PS. The anomalies are a-piling up now.

Later...my partner and I went scooting around looking for a particular wire mesh for me to use in my papier mache sculpture. On the way out to the farm co-op in the country, I saw a bird drop like a stone from several hundred feet landing fast, hard, and dead on the side of the road. I beg your pardon...but when's the last time you saw a bird soaring gracefully across the sky who then just died in mid-air? This is definitely my first. First the scrap of a poodle dragging a grown woman across a lawn at the speed of sound, then the untimely death of a sparrow. It wasn't a bad day, but by this point I was definitely beginning to freak out. I think I bent my karma.

And today? I enjoyed a fair bit of progress in the painting of a papier mache moon and a couple of mache bowls. I'll try and remember to photograph these pieces - halfway done as they are - tomorrow to post here so y'all can see what I get up to in between postings. Beyond the painting progress, a sudden downpour you wouldn't believe if you saw it with your very own flooded my studio. The rain shot under the studio door at top speed, soaking all fifty towels in the house in two minutes (thankfully I had just washed two loads of towels and they were sitting in the studio waiting for me to fold them). Alas, they were no match for the determined flow. No lasting damage. Just a big mess.

And now? It's quarter to one in the morning and I think it's time to let this day end. I'll have to remember to pray that the old lady manages to get the grass stains out of her clothes. Wow. Apparently he's done this before, by the way. When she finally got up and I made sure she was okay she huffed and puffed and swore and said, "He HATES motorcylces!!! Bad dog! You made me fall down AGAIN!" No. Really. I can't make this up. I'm not that good.

Stephanie Hansen
Worth Works Studio
nobearshere@hotmail.com

Friday, July 02, 2004

KRALL-ING ALONG

Right now I'm sipping a cherry/peach protein soy smoothie, listening to the latest Diana Krall cd, and peeking through the glass at a full bright moon while the cat sits at my feet licking his ass. Hey...if you're gonna take it in you gotta take it all. It's creeping along toward one a.m. and I'm loathe to let go of the day because we never, ever want the easy ones to pass too quick, especially if they're bringing up the rear on a steady string of tough ones.

Christ that moon is gorgeous. I'm grateful for anything that leads me to look up. Diana is singing, "Temptation...I can't resist..." Everything about that woman is just wickedly smoothe.
And I? Not I. "Three-assed monkey", remember? And lo though the day was grand, I'm still swingin'.

I was woken this morning by my partner's climbing out of bed and I lay there waiting until enough time had passed for him to have made the coffee before I carried my cat and my groggy carcass down the stairs. My mate was at the computer thereby subverting my usual check-the-emails-over-coffee routine so I grabbed my coffee, pencil, New York Times crossword and shuffled off to the living room to shrug off the 'webbies' that gathered in my head overnight. I have the sort of brain that gets itself into enormous piles of shit unless pointedly, purposely occupied.

Webbies gone, patience practiced, coffee guzzled, I was ready to work. Unexpectedly, the 'new direction' I was looking for turned out to be 'back where I started'. Which is good. Most of the work in my first show almost two years ago comprised of what you could call dot-i-ture...as in portraiture and 'worditure'. I stopped doing it because I thought it looked amateurish and was determined to force myself to make my art 'grow up'. I was wondering whether maturity might be overrated when I ran into a woman - an artist and collector herself - who had bought one of my first pieces. She told me she redesigned and redecorated her entire condo, top to bottom, tossing out expensive antique oriental rugs in favour of new, high-tech, and hip...and the only thing she kept from before was the mirror she bought from me. Well...that's all I needed.

I was especially delighted to go to work today. All art is a delight to create when the work is done in full faith and trust in one's instincts. All I needed was to hear - again - that someone else 'gets it'. My partner was recently suggesting, gently, that I need to move away from the production of the papier mache moons I'm fond of and into a more eclectic direction, particularly the wire form papier mache 'mobiles' (which are really 'air sculptures', you could say). Well...all hepped up on the return-to-dotiture, I decided to stay with my moons and explore my interest there. I'm near half-way done a piece that reflects the style of the piece "Show of Faith" and am delighted with the way it's going. If I remember, I will expound on moon motives for you.

Anyway darlings...it's after one and I'm off to bed. Keep coming back.

Stephanie
Worth Works Studio
nobearshere@hotmail.com

Thursday, July 01, 2004

NOT THE BUDDHA

My buddhist inclinations get slammed every time my creativity needs a shot in the arm. The root of all suffering being based on grasping and attachment - it's the endless wanting that kills us - I doom myself to another round of life every time my artistic inspiration gets a little stale or scattered. Pain and a small stretch of discomfort create wonderful creative sparks, but I'd have to be nuts to choose that motivation over the temporarily pleasurable "grasping and attachment".

So the deal for today is decorating. I've already done a bit of writing about it on Soul Food Cafe under the title Interior Declaration. But there's more to come. Being a visual artist, the outter vision needs to change once in a while in order to keep a healthy evolution of inner vision happening. Never underestimate the power of a simple change of venue. That, not relaxation, is the point of taking a vacation. Seeing as it's summer - vacation time - I'm gonna get me one-a those! Right here at home.

I'm going to start by perusing a couple of magazines for ideas (that I will customize, of course, not copy), and then slide around eBay for cool kitschy crap. It's been too long since I've opted for the fun over the functional, for the interesting over the "in". I enjoy the homes of other people, but I can't bear to live in any home except my obviously own. I didn't lose my decorating nerve, by the way, I just happened to gain a husband and some stepchildren along the way. And now that we know we fit, it's time to work on making a home conducive to creativity.

Stephanie
www.worthworks.com
nobearshere@hotmail.com

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

TO BED, FRED

I'm off to bed with this thought in my head: Wishes are horses and beggars do ride. Hope it helps.

Stephanie
www.worthworks.com
nobearshere@hotmail.com

PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO COMMENT

Oh man...people are starting to take me gently by the elbow and, quietly, compassionately, telling me, "You look tired." Oh good. Well, I should be tired. I may not be going far these days, but no one could get very far with her heels dug in. Hard on the shoes, and wears out the soul to boot.

I love my job as an artist, and I love myself as a woman, and I love my life, in general...but I know it only by process of elimination today: if any of these factors were in danger of being eliminated, I would immediately comprehend the depth of their importance to me and clutch them wildly, madly passionate...grateful.

Nothing is wrong; I'm just an artist just going into the bend of a new learning curve in her career. Being self-taught, I haven't had the benefit of making the basic dumb-arse mistakes in school surrounded by others doing the same dumb-arse things. I mess up out here in the real world with everyone watching. I could hide my new work away until I'm at the top of my game, but that means I won't be seen for years.

Welcome to the truth about artists: no grace is required. We are not ballerinas. Personally, I go through life with the grace of a three-assed monkey. That doesn't mean I don't know what I'm doing, it just means that I'm determined to show all my sides, not just the smooth one. But I have my moments...

My partner has been working at home a great deal this year...in his workshop...in his workshop which is connected to my studio. Where he can see. Everything. Needless to say, I can no longer dance like a fool while I work to music I would never admit to him that I listen to. I can no longer eat leftover fried chicken, cold, held in one hand while I paint merrily away with the other. Just don't look right, you know? Not professional. Not serious. Like I'm not trying.

And then...there are the questions. He asks questions. Questions like, "Are you just going to leave it like that?" (Are you laughing? You're laughing now, aren't you? Well...it's not funny right when he asks it!) Or he walks in and looks at my work questioningly, then walks away without saying anything. Oh wow. WOW. "I love him," I say to myself, "I love him and I don't want to shoot him, I don't, I don't, I don't." Over and over, I tell myself this.

Under these circumstances, it's tough to stumble in new directions, because "stumbling" is exactly what it looks like...stumbling and staggering and bumbling. But I'll tell you something else most people don't know about artists: if we're not making 'bad' art, we have no hope of ever making 'good' art, and quite frankly, we're probably too chickenshit to be making any art at all.

I'm gonna make me some art now.

Stephanie Hansen
www.worthworks.com
stephanie@worthworks.com
nobearshere@hotmail.com

Monday, June 28, 2004

AND AGAIN...

Trolling the websearch engines earlier tonight to see where the recently updated Worth Works website would pop up and how often, I came across a link to what I thought was the long-ago-deleted weblog, For Crying Out Loud. Oh boy. Apparently defunct, but not deleted. I'd apologize to my loyal readers for the kaffufle, but I'm sure they're long, LONG gone. Seven months? Whoa.

Well...to the newcomers: welcome to my life as an artist. I have all the answers to my problems - most of us do - but I often forget where I put the key to my wisdom and willingness. Fortunately, I was born with a skeleton key. That all-purpose opener-of-doors-to-self is known as writing. To write it down...or up or out or off...is a balm that serves to calm the nerves of a highly creative can't-turn-off-her-head visual artist who falls prey to unbearable sudden sorrow when her inner vision goes temporarily black.

A woman recently asked me, "Wow...don't you get dizzy and overwhelmed with all those creative ideas and visions spinning around in your head all the time?" I told her, "God no! It freaks me out when they stop!" They haven't come to a full stop just yet, but at this moment it could go either way. I have been wanting to indulge in a long-present desire to form papier mache sculptures but have lost access to what I was once certain they should look like. So tonight I will dream about the returning of the dream...and refuse to despair if I have to try again tomorrow, or in the dark of tomorrow's tomorrow.

Steph
www.worthworks.com
stephanie@worthworks.com

I'll upload a picture of me with my newly sunset-red-henna-hair shortly. Posted by Hello