I almost never type on a computer. Well one, I’m horrible at it. And two, I usually need the connection of a thought to my hand, my hand to a pencil, and the pencil to paper. For some reason that process really helps especially because I can write faster than I can type. But here I am on the last day of 2019, listening to the clicking of my fingers to the keys, on a computer. My hopes for 2020 were grand. Way beyond what I am actually capable of. But isn’t that what we all do? And then we feel shitty because we didn’t accomplish any of the enormous requirements that we told ourselves to do. All so we can be better, right? We need better bodies, better health, better personalities, better professions, better relationships, a better newer you. (!!!) When really what we want is more control. More focus. More time to be who we really want to be. Who the hell gets that? What a luxury that would be.
I mean, what am I? It’s a question we rarely get to answer because we are all just trying to survive. When we are in survival mode there is no I. A tiny step above survival mode can get you what we call “a hobby”. This hobby is something that usually feeds a different part of us. Our souls. The part that we really aren’t allowed to explore because we all spend most of our time working for other people. My hobby is drawing and painting. It is an absolute luxury. For 2020 I wanted to make more time for that, for a number of reasons. I need to nourish my soul more and I need to eventually stop breaking my back (my real physical back) for someone else’s benefit. Really what I need is my hobby to provide me a small earning so I can work less hauling around buckets of water for a living. Ok! Goal set!
So...all I want to paint right now is dead things. This presents a number of problems that don’t necessarily align with my new lofty 2020 goals. Yes, I am aware that 2020 hasn’t even started. And yes, I am aware that I am already having doubts about my intentions and what the new year can bring, but can you blame me? I’m starting off the year painting dead plants. And why does everything suddenly become so symbolic on New Years??? Really? I don’t want to give in to that crap. Every day is every day, regardless of what “day” it is. Back to the original point: nobody wants to buy a watercolor card of a dead leaf. That means that I am not achieving my goal and getting nowhere closer to relieving myself from a days work of hauling buckets of water for someone else and breaking my back.
Recently a co-worker asked me when my valentines day card will be coming out. I said, “Soon! I'm really excited about it!”. But that was a lie. I am actually dreading the idea of a valentines day card. It’s a made up celebration we are forced to engage in. It’s not that I don’t believe in love. In fact, that’s all I believe in. I just don’t want it shoved down my throat, or anybody else for that matter. My expression, when it comes out, will be genuine and pure and not forced. Once again, not in line with my 2020 goals. It’s like I almost don’t want to succeed.
We can’t live and thrive without love and support. Something has to love us. Our goldfish, our family, our friends, our plants or our co-workers. In today's world we even need strangers to love us. To “like” things we do. I feel like we as a society are in constant search for being accepted and loved. Where did our nourishment go wrong? Why do we need to constantly prove ourselves worthy? When can we stop? Because frankly, I’m tired. And I love so many things. So many people. So much of my life is based on passion and monetarily it’s gotten me nowhere. Has it satisfied my soul? Do I feel confident and look forward to a new year of new accomplishments? I’m skeptical. Weary at best. Maybe I'm just scared I can't do it. So for now I give you this. This is a dead leaf. I love you.
18 years ago I got into my car, with all that I owned (which was not much) and drove across our country to enroll in a school called Oregon College of Art and Craft. I had applied to many schools the year prior but Oregon, Portland specifically, was a unique place. Unlike any other college/place I had visited, it was clear to me Portland embraced a counter culture of progressive, innovative and artistic people. OCAC was a refuge for those who craved a more meaningful, respectful and intimate relationship to themselves and the world around them.
I expected to go for 2 years to learn furniture design. I went for 4 years and learned furniture design, woodworking, metalsmithing, jewelry design, bookmaking, installation art, painting and drawing, ceramics and most of all I learned how to make valuable decisions as to what I would like to contribute to this world.
Thoughtful design, interpretation and creation is powerful. The world can be a very intimate space with close and meaningful relationships - from our morning coffee mug to our favorite chair. The design and craft of art is all encompassing. It affects every aspect of life. Aesthetics are a functional basic need in our existence.
The announcement about the closing of OCAC is disturbing. Sad yes, disturbing even more so. Where are Portland's values? WHAT are Portland's values? With high-rises and cookie cutter condos now surrounding us, I wonder, where did that cultural city I moved to go? Did we forget that design is the basis of structure in society? That is the least we could recognize, if anything.
Alumni and students all have something in common. We discovered a voice there. We discovered a truth and harmony in making something that was worthy. We discovered ourselves and found ourselves in other people. We discovered connection, community and confidence that we were right for the world and belonged. We had something to say and we were valuable there.
Please help keep Oregon College of Art and Craft alive. It is a special place of a world with intention that is lacking in our present day living. #saveOCAC #savecraft #savePortlandart #savePortlandcraft
Depression is such a huge topic. Such an epic battle that I want to give it respect but at the same time want to disrespect the fuck out of it.
It's here, Winter. Every year I take the necessary steps for battle. Sign up for yoga. Eat smart. Take meds. Walk. Vitamin D. Make art. Take baths, drink tea, etc, etc. But this depression, MY depression creeps in no matter what. No matter how much armor I wear, it has enough armor to battle back. Depression makes me doubt my existence. Am I worth being here? The answer, because of this illness, is NO. I am not worth anything. Try as I might, on a daily basis, I truly, deeply cannot convince myself otherwise.
It's a battle I know is worth fighting. I appreciate life. The smallest leaf to the biggest leap - I believe it's all worth it. I fight to respect my existence and adore everything else that exists. I still have to find my place in all of it.
Sometimes the chemicals in my brain make it difficult to love. Love life, love people, love myself. It's as if my true self gets hijacked by evil, and there is nothing to discourage this being. It is simply bigger and stronger than I am.
So this painting, this portrait, is about the burden and mystery of depression. Depression is not necessarily seen but felt very deeply on intense levels. Depression is "unseen" in so many ways.
Shamed, hidden, mysterious, unsolvable and dismissable.
I have never thought that my paintings could stand on their own. I have always felt like they needed something to make them better or more unique than they are. Painting and drawing has never been a major in my life. Let me re-phrase. They have always been a consistent friend but technically I have never studied painting or drawing in depth. I never felt like I was good enough.
But today, for some reason today, I am looking at this painting and feeling like, "Why can't THIS just be enough?". It's as if I've been covering up my previous attempts at painting by turning them into a sculpture, or furniture, or a greeting card. Let me note that this painting is not a significant painting. My life was not significantly altered by making it. It's pretty damn simple. But it's the simplicity that is making me want to leave it alone and not "doctor" it to be something more than what it is.
Sometimes, this is how I paint. Sometimes, this is what it looks like. And this time, it is naked.
With love, Cristina
I've been casting objects in shadow boxes. Which is not a new idea. It's actually a 15 year old for idea for me, that I never got around to. So, it's a new technique of using resin for me and man, I have to tell you there is a pretty big learning curve here. My first attempt, after following the directions on the label, almost started a fire. No shit. The thing started sizzling and smoking it got so hot. (Decrease catalyst!) My second attempt the resin cracked because of the heat. (Decrease catalyst again!) My third never cured. (Increase catalyst!) And fourth and fifth and so on and so on until I've used the whole gallon of very expensive resin. Enter Anger. Enter Fear. Enter Sadness. Process and materials in art are part of the allure to me. I love figuring it out, for awhile.
So, I switch gears for a bit. I relax my resin anxiety by making my own wooden boxes. I go to the Portland Tool Library and get me a compound miter saw. Big girl. Easy. I'll just throw together a few mitered boxes! NO. Not easy, even for a retired woodworker! Is my wood warped? Is the blade warped? Did I wiggle too much during the cut? Did I forget to measure the kerf of the blade? Is 45º not really true? Enter Anger. Enter Fear. Enter Sadness.
Some days, we are just supposed to do something else. 🍷
These are the four shadow boxes that worked. (!!!)
Years ago during an employee review I was told that some of my co-workers wanted me to "loosen up". I'm still not quite sure what that entails. As a shy and quiet person I am often shocked at how these qualities are misinterpreted as inferior, cold, bitchy and careless. I am a pretty easy going person that has a high work ethic. Also a funny person, even charming I'd say. But I am never a relaxed person, whether it shows or not. And this is what I believe my dear co-workers were referring to.
I didn't pay attention to my critique at work. However, I did notice how and where in my life I hold back. It turns out I hold back almost everywhere. So this month is all about letting go, letting things happen as they will, enjoying the process and the dreaded words "loosening up". It has made some magical things occur and I have definitely found new ways to process emotions. Cheers to shitty corporate employee reviews!
Process. There are so many times in the design and creation of Art that inspire me. When wood gets laser cut it needs a protective layer of sticky paper in order for the wood not to get burnt. When the product is finished, you have to peel off the layer of paper on each one. I love this point in the process because not only does it reveal the natural wood underneath but also leaves behind a skeleton of fragile paper. Which I hoard. Don't be surprised if they show up in another piece of artwork!
Today I keep thinking about how to make my life better. Not that it's bad, but it can always be better. This year I want to focus on the things I can change, instead of trying to change things that are out of my control. I do have control over my state of mind. Always, I have this power. And there are always going to be forces that test that power - pulling me away from my centered, authentic self. But I have tools to fight back with. I have art. I have music. I have a small dog.
And then there is nature. Mysteriously elusive whether it's in front of my eyes, behind a microscope, living, decaying, kept or wild. It is everywhere trying to teach me, if I listen. For 2018 I would like to listen and honor the nature of these things. I have the tools to make my state of mind a happy and peaceful place. So listen. Make more art. Make more music. Float in more waters. Keep my mind moving towards things that MOVE me. Be moved.
Also, I just really want a hot tub.
Below: New wood and resin earrings - made by listening and honoring what was inside.
I know it may look like I am selling bottles of wine with my artwork on them. But I'm not, I was just having fun with photoshop. However, I would love to do something like that. Also, visit my work through November at Mt. Tabor Fine Wines!
I feel like I'm in between. There was a tavern in my home town called the In Between and I remember specifically never wanting to go there. Why would anyone want to be "in between"? It sounds like a horrible place to be. But it is a very familiar feeling now. And now, if I were in my home town it sounds like just the place for me. Do you know Neil Diamond? I do. I mean, do you know him well enough to know this song? It has some of my very favorite lyrics.
"I am"... I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair
"I am"... I cried
"I am"... said I
And I am lost and I can't
Even say why
Welcome. Here is where we can hang out casually. I can show you new work, talk about my process, blah, blah, blah. You can can say nice things!