Category Archives: Art

Dead Tree Project Nest

I added a dozen more limbs to my dead tree project.

I thought about making a fake bird nest to perch inside it. I didn’t want to buy an artificial one.

Today, I made a quick getaway at work to walk down to the creek. I’m lucky to be so close to such a place of serenity.

On the Appleby bridge above Scull creek, I found a perfectly-preserved nest in the road. That it hadn’t been damaged by traffic was a surprise. I took it inside with me and brought it home.

As I painted tiles this afternoon, I painted the nest a vivid blue, which is rapidly becoming my favorite decorative color. I gave silent thanks to the birds that spent countless hours carefully constructing it. Their loss will become a part of my art project. It fits perfectly with the theme of bringing something dead back to life.

It’s odd that yesterday afternoon I was thinking about what to make a bird’s nest from. And voila, magic, one appeared in a place that it had no reason to be. (“Voila” is actually two words in French, meaning to ‘look there.’ I’m glad I did.)

I am still amazed that things just appear in my life when I’m not looking. There’s hope for me yet.

Don’t be confused by the door in the background. That’s how my pixie/fairy gets into the apartment. It’s not a full-size door.

Love, X

Dead Tree Remix Day

Dead Tree Remix Day

I don’t know if my dead tree project will ever be finished. I continue to add new painted limbs and branches to it. It’s currently standing in my extra room. I rescued the dead base of the tree from the woodpile near where I found the baby shower box a couple of weeks ago. The little branches I’ve added are from some of my favorite spots along the trail and near the hospital, so it’s a well-traveled creation. I love the idea of it in part because it’s something made from discarded and desiccated remains. That I can add an infinite number of pieces to it, all rendered in luminescent color makes me happy.

The day contains the same elements of any other day. It can be a repeat of the familiar. It can also be an anomalous remix, both familiar and strangely new. Like freshly-sliced jalapeños on vanilla bean ice cream.

For fans of both Merle Haggard and Survivor, I ask you to search for “Survivor and Merle Haggard – Eye of the Haggard.” It’s an example of juxtaposing two things that should not work together but somehow do. Musically, it’s a masterful bit of wild production and melody.

In other news, I don’t like to watch baseball. Albert Pujols joined Babe Ruth as a 600 HR hitter and a pitcher. I love it when anything interesting happens in baseball. It joins bowling and golf as two sports that are like watching my hair dry. Yes, all 11 of them.

I’m looking at the new day with the eye of a tiger and the pancreas of a hyena. (That joke might be a little too esoteric.)

Before I leave for work, I will turn off the light in the room with the dead tree project. The colors will fade to the eye until the sun washes through the window and illuminates it.

It will have its day in the sun.

I hope each of you does too.

My cat will jump up to the windowsill multiple times during the day. I added extra-wide sills to all my windows so that both he and the few plants I have can enjoy the second-floor view and light.

It’s what Mondays are made for, though most of us begrudgingly wake up groggy-eyed and unready for the presumptive start of the workweek. If you’re going to spend 20% of your work-life experiencing Mondays, you might as well find a new perspective to enjoy them.

Take the pieces that don’t work and refresh them. Remix and enjoy.

Love, X
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Art? And Walking…

“Someone” started an art project on the north fence. 🙂 I fixed as much of the fence as I could, using 200+ hex fence screws, by hand, without power tools. Those are painted floor tiles, backed with buffering felt pads to allow for slight movement and expansion. I’m not done yet. Is anything really ever done? It’s been amusing to watch the passersby and neighbors take a double-take as they walk past or drive up. I have 100+ feet to use if I want. Is it art? I don’t know. But it is colorful and a much-needed dose of it for this pale place. Now that it’s spring, I’m adding color everywhere. Including a super-secret project I’ve been doing incrementally. The super-secret project requires a little bit of stealth, as it’s not an authorized art display. But it sticks out like a blazing pair of pants if you look in the right direction.

Last week, I made an effort to wear my FitBit more consistently. I fell short of 160,000 steps Monday-Friday. It’s somewhere around 72 miles. I might have overshot my competition a bit. 🙂 My previous closest rival wouldn’t join my workweek hustles this week. The whole point for me is to challenge myself. But it does work much better if someone is nipping at my heels through the week.

Art?

It’s hard learning new tricks. I do everything in the most circuitous way. Using rendering engines is something that I love doing but lack the skill. Sometimes, I get the intended mood exactly right.

The one on the left is me imagined as an old man, half-awake, looking back at my life, listening for someone’s approach. The one on the right is me fighting to express the color that floods me.

Not for everyone; nothing is, though.

Visiting Crystal Bridges reminded me to keep asking, “What is art?”

Love, X

Reimagined Art

I went to Crystal Bridges yesterday. It’s always a beautiful place, one I’ve been absent from for quite a while. It was my birthday. Today, I am 20,090 days old, which still seems a better metric to me. 20K+ opportunities for me to do something that resonates.

Despite the multitude of art, it struck me again that while there is much to see, a great deal of the art isn’t art at all to me. Art is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve seen much better in the nooks and crannies around Fayetteville, created in lemon moments by people who will never be appreciated for their creativity.

The painting that had the biggest visual impact for me was Daylight at Russell’s Corners, by George Copeland Ault. As serene as the picture is, I imagined it as a metaphor, with a restless creature at my back, one representing my mistakes and my past. It can stalk all it wishes to.

Love, X

Fire

I had this beautiful wood panel made for my counselor. It is one of the pictures that always finds its way around the internet. And when the doubts come into my head on little spider feet or I feel like someone is making me feel extra or too much, I look at the picture. And remember. No matter what idiocy befalls me… Or more accurately, what idiocy I find myself doing, it’s always me doing it.
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Of Life (And Literal Limbs)

Over the last few days, I painted another 6″ X 24″ tile. I drilled holes in six places to make it easier to secure safely in my surprise location. I glued dozens of multi-colored glow-in-the-dark rocks to the front. On the back, I wrote a truth of mine in marker. The truth is very personal. Anyone who wants to know it will have to climb a considerable height to do so.

This makes me happy.

After work today, I climbed a tall tree before I lost my nerve. It’s the first tall one I’ve climbed since my surgery. It was tricky getting up there with a two-foot-long tile strung around my neck as I ascended. As far as I could tell, no one noticed me as I rose the vertical surface of the tree, carefully finding my foothold. After twenty feet, my reluctance vanished, and I forgot all about the possibility of falling. I’m just as likely to get killed by a rogue intestine or a plane falling out of the sky as I am climbing a tree. Besides, I laughed at the idea of my precarious fall being covered on the local news or the What’s Up, Fayetteville group. “Arts & Crafts Take Local Man’s Life” would work nicely. “Idiot Falls While Doing Performance Art” also serves its purpose.

As the limbs thinned out, I stood, watching the area below me. It was beautiful. I took the tile, ran steel wire through the open holes, and secured it from one primarily perpendicular limb. Not wanting to leave the view behind, I sat near the trunk and just felt the wind around me.

It was a stolen moment!

After a few minutes, I climbed down in one quick descent and stood back on the ground. I looked up at the pretty colored rocks and the brightly painted long tile. Yes, that would do nicely.

Where did I place the beautifully decorated tile? That’s the question, isn’t it? Take a moment and stare up into the slowly appearing upper branches of the trees around you. “Look up, not down” is not only a symbolic reminder to find yourself and answers looking directly into the world, but now also a practical guide to ever finding my hidden-in-plain-sight tilework.

Beauty is anywhere you find it, y’all. Even if you never find my tilework, look around and find the people and things that light you up. Give them attention and appreciation. From time to time, look up to behold the wonders that we forget to see. If you can do so, look at yourself in the mirror and remember that no matter who you are, someone loves you. Merry Xmas!

Love, X

Once More Unto The Brooch

“You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.” — Robin WIlliams

As for my smaller lighter brooch I made and wore today, it was wildly successful. Sure, I had a couple of eyerolls and a bit of derision. 98% was effusively humorous. One person asked me to make one for her husband, who struggles to avoid losing lighters. I imagined him on the construction site with a lighter-brooch on his shirt, while his coworkers chortled at him. The woman at the gas station thought it was both practical and creative. The booth clerk at the flea market said, “Art is in the eye of the beholder. That’s fairly creative, X.”

Though I make these things to be creative and for self-amusement, I also accidentally discover human behavior lessons by doing so.

You’ll hear me say with regularity, “Anything can be made into a brooch if you’re audacious enough.” The fact that I have one made out of a pregnancy test should be proof enough of that.

“Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.” -Oscar Wilde

Rare is the person who directly expresses displeasure. Not so much about the specific idea or implementation; rather, the IDEA of such a thing. Those people are to be avoided. It belies a lack of enthusiasm for creativity and the autonomy of others to be ridiculous. People who can’t engage in random acts of ridiculousness aren’t part of my tribe, to put it mildly.

People who directly say, “It’s not that clever or not appealing” either do so because they are honest, which is truly a great thing, or they can’t help but to express negativity, which is its opposite. I’m carefree about people’s reactions but I do notice when someone isn’t engaging in a spirit of enthusiasm or encouragement. Life is bland enough without encouraging more of the same.

To everyone who thought it was clever, thank you. To those who didn’t, I can’t hit all home runs. But out of the hundreds of people I ran across today, my cigarette lighter brooch was the most singular thing I saw anyone wearing today. And that’s a home run each and every time – in part because it gives people the opportunity to be amused, annoyed, or to interact. I can’t be certain that NO ONE has ever made a working cigarette lighter brooch. But I am certain that the idea came to me from the mist of my own mind – and that no one I know has ever seen one. Until today. That makes me happy.

The best line I came up with today was a play on words: “Can I send you a Bic pic?”

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” – Albert Einstein

Love, X
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PS The next picture is added for varityletter…

From An Old Soul, With Love

Among the things I once did a LONG time ago was to find and gift used vintage holiday cards. Not only is the artwork a surprise and delight, but it brings me nostalgia for times I never knew.

This Xmas card is postmarked on Dec. 21, 1909.

Now, years later, I love using my genealogy ability to find either the receiver or sender and look back at their life. If I wanted, I could find one of the descendants of William Early. William, to whom the postcard was sent. I could unravel the entire biography for the sender, Bessie McGivern of Galesburg, Illinois. She aged into a beautiful woman. I found several pictures of her.

I don’t know the sender’s and receiver’s connection.

But I love that I COULD find out if I wanted – to crack open a spider’s web of connections throughout history, time, and geography.

So, when I see used vintage cards, I don’t see relics or dusty, useless reminders.

When I give them, I’m giving something of myself; the admiration of life shared. You might not know it by looking at me, but I feel a kinship to some of the old ways. Of writing, of postcards, of delayed communication. If you get one from me, I’m also reminding you that life is fleeting and that one day our lives will be footnotes, memories, and details.

I see art.

I see life.

I see footprints of those who preceded us, much in the same way we’ll precede those who follow.

Time. Love. Connection.

Love, X
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P.S. *You’ll note that back then, “Xmas” was completely acceptable, before disinformation spread to lessen its beauty.