NEWSLETTER June 20, 2016
Hello everyone. Happy summer solstice and welcome to my very first newsletter! So far I only have a few people who signed up for an email version of my newsletter, so for now I’m posting this on my website as well.
So what’s news for LINDALAY that's worthy enough to be put in a letter? Well, I’m going to be a part of another crafty art show/event in Glendale soon at a place called, Cure and the Cause, with a bunch of cool and creative L.A. people. I don’t have the info for that just yet but I will soon. I am also, currently, having a CRAZY sale at my online shop, where you can buy original fine art that looks like this monster below. Check it out here!
Here is something that I’m currently working on: Portraits.
Not too long ago I was asked to paint a portrait of Bernie Sanders at an event. I painted it within a day and was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed representational painting. I’ve been helping teenagers paint portraits for the past five years, at my day job, and through this act I am pretty sure I’ve improved. I have a hard time with committing to subjects though (I overthink things) and I want to paint more portraits so I am asking Kenny (husband) to tell me who to paint. I’m going to keep them all the same size, 24x24 inches, and eventually I’ll have a show with them. I’m calling the project, Whoever Kenny Wants Me To Paint. I’ve started my next one, which is Biggie Smalls.
Speaking of portraits, I’ve still got my original Wrestler series to complete. I have a total of fifteen that are in progress. Last summer I managed to create the “canvases” for these guys, made out of masonite and wood, and I’m pleased with the results. Here and there I’ve worked on them, mostly adding a texture medium, because for some reason I have the desire to create texture. They need a lot more work though. The closest thing I have to an art studio is my classroom, and I’ve been putting the kids first, which is you know, what I’m supposed to do, so these guys have not had as much attention as they need but I keep plugging along.
I really like pro-wrestlers as a subject because they’re so flamboyant and tacky. Many adult men seem to almost turn into children when they recognize their favorites (This is my second series of wrestlers. I had a show with them a few years ago.) that I’ve depicted. I also see these wrestlers as a symbol of America. They remind me of terrible snack food packaging. Most of the time it seems people in this field of entertainment are so unhealthy and imbalanced and I feel like that’s a metaphor for life all around us, but then it might just be a metaphor for my life lived in Hollywood.
In addition to all of that I’ve also been working on a series of crocheted and felted Octopus Mother sculptures/art dolls. This one you see above is in progress, and it’s my third. The other two are in loving homes. I’m allowing this process to evolve, and I love the addition of wool-felting techniques that I learned because of a student I had who introduced me to the art form. I just love crochet and fabric in art, and I think I’ve been finding my way toward understanding my attraction to the medium, as an artist. I love the time and effort given to make something cozy, and to me octopus mothers seem like the coziest mothers, which makes no real sense, aside from my learning that they care for their eggs for many, many months and then they die from all of the work. That’s not really coziness, I guess, but it’s an instinctive devotion so… maybe it’s all the “limbs” that I like, or the lack of human-ness. Perhaps I'm subconsciously exploring some sort of existential/maternal thing within myself.
Above Octopus Mama 1 (Blue) Octopus Mama 2 (Grey)
Another project I’ve recently completed and is available for sale at lindalay.com is my Goblin Witch. This is one of three little posable beasts I call "art dolls," that I made after being inspired by a method one of my students used in her sculptures. It’s just one example of how much my experience as a teacher has helped me evolve as an artist. Click here to purchase!
I also have this personal project that I’ve been working on where I take clothes that no longer fit, or are worn out enough to throw out, and I create “yarn” to crochet this rug (see below). It’s an exploration in material, but I’m also interested in becoming less wasteful. I’m much happier when I have a personal connection to my belongings. It means more to me when something useful is also something connected to my effort. I love creative things and fashion and as a maker of “things” and as a teacher of young people who often have access to a lot of things, I think a lot about value and waste. So far this is ongoing, as I can only continue when I discard some fabric. I used to work on this while on the bus, on my way to work, but it’s grown too big and cumbersome. I'll continue to post photos as it progresses. I want it to be pretty large.
And then there’s Mister Nibbles...
Mr. Nibbles is a puppet I made about a year or so ago. It’s from a story I wrote and I was inspired by my writing group to turn this character into a web series about a woman who owns a Wiccan shop and her mystical cat that’s turning into a “caticorn.” At this point the narrative is told from his perspective. I have a blog for him on my blog section where I've posted a Youtube video where Mr. Nibbles “comes out” to his online friends and I have a poem that I had him read during a poetry reading at my school, and people laughed. I want to record that one soon and post it as another entry.
Speaking of magic shops, my most successful “seller” at my lindalay.com shop, so far, has been my chakra balancing Blib Blob necklaces. I’m almost entirely sold out so I found some beautiful new glass beads and I’ve started a brand new batch. The photo above is showing them in progress, sitting on my beloved moss garden. As silly as it might sound, I truly do believe in adding a lot of love and good juju to my handmade art and crafts and the process, for me, is meditative. Each piece is cared for so that energy transfers to the wearer/owner. Click here to purchase one from the “first batch.”
Another personal project (like the rug) I’m proud of is this really great tablet holder I made. There are a ton of Youtube tutorials on how to make them, and I didn’t follow the directions perfectly (because you don’t need to). I used cardboard, a hot glue gun, elastic, velcro and some old cat pajamas for the fabric. It was so easy and it has improved the way I use my tablet drawing app. In addition to that, I can feel safe when I carry the tablet around. I really hated the options for holder/protectors/carriers at the stores, and they were all overpriced, so I made my own and I’m pleased. The only thing I need to do is create a loop or pocket to hold my nifty new drawing stylus. I have this Craft Vlog/Blog and I’m thinking of adding this to the list, but I might not since there are SO MANY examples of how to make these things online. I have to prioritize. Still, if you are interested in making one out of recycled materials, simply google or check Youtube for "DIY tablet cover."
By the way I cannot believe how cool my Autodesk drawing app on my tablet is. For like, four dollars I’m able to do things I used to do with my very first drawing program, Fractal Design, that cost about three hundred dollars in the nineties and now I can draw directly onto the screen. And don’t even get me started on how much more the computer and the drawing tablet cost back then. I just got my stylus for under ten bucks! Technology is nuts! In any case, I’m using it for my WHAT I DID LAST MONTH drawing series.
So, I suppose I’m in the middle of a lot of things.
If you don’t know this about me yet, most of my time during the week is spent as an educator at a for-profit school. Putting together this newsletter is helping me see how teaching is making it hard to focus on one thing at a time. I mean, I have a hard enough time focusing as it is, just being who I am- As frustrating at it is to not be able to devote all of my time to bringing to life all of my own ideas, this year I've been able to understand how much I’ve been learning through the act of teaching. Not only through the daily lessons and experiences of working with teens in a one-to-one setting, but through the drudgery of everyday work. Things like paperwork and prioritizing, although I have been thinking lately that I should be a bit more whimsical with my priorities. In any case, I’ve been practicing certain “life skills” in a way that I hadn’t ever before. Most certainly, this experience has been a test for me, to be able to live authentically and "under the radar" in the mundane world. This June is my fifth year working as an art/creative writing teacher.
As distracting and exhausting as it is, it’s also rewarding, on a personal level, in regard to my human need to feel as though I’m contributing to people and the world in my own little way. For instance, here is a letter written to me by one of my students as a Valentine's Day project that another teacher organized:
I mean, come on! How rewarding is that? Now if only this kind of appreciation would translate to guaranteed health care at work and no longer having to live paycheck to paycheck in a one-bedroom apartment without a personal studio space and having the time to devote to my art and writing without being so distracted...
I know that I’m going to need to have a break from teaching at some point, or find a way to teach in a way where I’m part of an organization that perceives me as more than a semi-valuable but surely replaceable cog in the profit system when I’m financially able to take that break (if that day ever comes), but I’ve been figuring a lot out, and it's been super-important. My students and my fellow teachers/work peers have given me so very much, in regard to helping me feel as though I’m part of a community and doing important work with my art and creative writing degrees.
Speaking of taking a break, I’m going to be cat-sitting for my friend who lives right on the beach, in a couple of days. During that time I’m planning on making my novel, The Unmet Man, a thing that lives on my website. I took years to work on it. It was my graduate writing project. For a long, long time it was my most important project. I started it in 2003. It’s fictionalized biographical stuff and in my head it just isn’t supposed to live as a traditional book. I was so personally linked to it that it's taken years and years for me to sort out the formal aspects of art and writing from the therapeutic aspect of the process. I've hated and loved it, over and over again and I think I’m at a place where I can finally trust my gut and make it the project I’ve always envisioned it to be, and it will be available for free, on lindalay.com and theunmetman.com. We’ll see what happens. It might just end up being that first novel that needed to get done but wasn't really good enough to become anything. Either way, I’m really looking forward to spending time with the ocean and the lovely old cat you see sitting on one of my crocheted blankets, in the photo above.
The last thing that is news is that you can still purchase my rhyming e-book called THE BOOGIE BOOK at Amazon.com for only 2.99! It’s beautifully written and illustrated and helps kids, young and old, to not fear the unknown. You can even purchase your own hand-crocheted fingerpuppet to create an exciting story time experience by clicking HERE!
Thank you very much for reading my newsletter!
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My name is Linda Lay and I'm an artist, a writer and a teacher.