I’m working on a piece that I think of as my “little green men.” Joy calls it my “little molting men.” They are, or rather he is, molting; it consists of many virtually-identical figures, each with a skin of plastic, and each skin in some degree or another of being shed.

Detail of work in progress (tentative title "Shedding")

I started work on it probably two months ago, with many hours of painting the papers, cutting out figures and then again cutting parts of them out of plastic, gluing the plastic on, outlining each figure . . . All a lot of fun. I worked on it only in short bursts over the last month while I was occupied with Spanish class and a little stumped about what to do next with this shedding person. For a long time, I’d planned on putting the figures in a spiral form, which kept me occupied with interesting technical problems; I had thought I wanted a Fibonacci spiral, which required a compass, so I’d bought one, leading to a fun afternoon of me and the munchkin drawing with the compass, but not much else, as the compass wasn’t really up to the task. What do you want for seventeen pesos. Besides, after looking at all the Fibonacci spirals I was drawing, I decided I wanted a spiral more biological and less mathematical, shaped like a snail’s shell. That didn’t work any better, though (the figures are too big–the piece would have to be something like 5’x5′ to hold them), and I didn’t have any other satisfactory ideas. So I fretted, and to make it worse, I fretted far from the piece, avoiding it as if it were the cause of all the trouble. This seldom works, and it didn’t work this time. To overcome a bout of creative sterility, I usually need to have the piece before my eyes and the materials in my hands.  That’s why I’ve been doing art during this sabbatical; it was time to stop thinking about art and actually make it.

Finally, today, done with Spanish and free of parental responsibilities all morning, I sat down with the figures and within five minutes knew how they should go, which was not a spiral at all but an undulating path. Then I realized they needed to walk on something and I knew what form the ground should take too.

I love this part. I love it when the piece is starting to match the vision (with lots of surprises along the way, but pleasant ones) and I can just sit there contemplating the piece in progress as I cut paper into slivers and glue to my heart’s content. It occurred to me at one point to wonder whether rubber cement fumes can be fatal, but I thought, Well, I’ll die happy.

My friend Karen brought me the rubber cement (3 jars!) when she visited last month. I hadn’t thought to ask for any, but she’d read on here about how I couldn’t find it in San Miguel, and I’m so grateful for her thoughtfulness. I don’t see how I’d have made this piece without it. Now I’m in the home stretch and having so much fun it’s hard to stop and sleep, but I’m tired.

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