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Vortex (Coming Together or Coming Apart?), 5×7
Vortex, 5″ x 7″
(c) 2021 Amy Zucker Morgenstern

We have been talking about creating a room like this almost since we bought this house, in 2011. We live in a row house and the garage runs all the way from the front to the back. Joy dreamed it up, imagining turning the back section of that unnecessarily deep garage into a small space for laundry and art. During our sabbatical time in 2016, we said we’d get right on the project when we got back. But these kinds of things take a lot of work, and other priorities intruded. This year, Joy found a contractor, drew the plans, stood in a lot of lines at City Hall to get the permits, and shepherded the whole process, and now we have a dedicated space that we have modestly dubbed “the art room,” as “studio” seems a bit highfalutin.

I don’t have a “before” picture, but here is how things looked very early on:

Out of sight to the left, between the black file cabinet and the ladder leaning against the back wall, is the wall to our office. That is now the doorway into the art room. Let me escort you:

The wall straight ahead is a nice big blank space for us to fill with art as we create it. You can see the treadmill, formerly in the office, to the left of the stairs. And of course there are books, because, well, that’s us. And we displaced quite a few feet of bookshelves by cutting this doorway between the office and the new room.
A project for me for when the weather gets warmer: refinish this table we got at a yard sale, or at least the top so it’s a smooth working surface. My dearest wish in creating this room was to have work space that didn’t have to be cleared off daily–that we can just return to the next day. That empty shelf is also for works-in-progress. (See the manual pencil sharpener attached to the wall just to the right of the door? I installed that. My big contribution to the construction.)

Second-dearest wish: to make all of our art supplies easily available, organized, and labeled. If you recognize the font, solidarity, fellow nerds! If you’re not sure where it’s from, but it gives you a vague sense of disquiet, I recommend these reruns, Number Six.
We are tolerant of each other’s tendency to go a little overboard when ordering things from Ikea, and here’s a great example of the benefits of that tolerance. This item wasn’t in the plan, but when Joy ordered the drawer systems, she tossed it in too, and it’s a great addition.

An art room needs a sink, and this is our laundry room too. We held onto these cabinets for six years after getting new ones for the kitchen, with the ultimate plan of using them here. I’m really glad we did. They would have just gone into the landfill, and now they are storage for lots of the stuff that got booted from the garage, like our three fondue sets (please don’t judge–we didn’t pay for any of them) and grocery overflow. The glass door goes to the back yard, and it and the long transom window above it allow in lots of light. There’s even a built-in ironing board across from the washer and dryer, another original fixture from the kitchen that has been waiting for its moment.

Thank you for coming on my tour! The office, freed of the treadmill, is now home to a trundle bed that opens up to king size, so that for the first time, we have a place for people to stay besides the living room. Now if we could only have guests come visit . . . ! Let’s hope 2021 brings them, and it begins in six hours.

The room is pretty much finished, the art supplies are sorted though still awaiting their shelves, and I sat down to make something from those boxes of “collage materials,” a.k.a. “interesting bits of paper that we don’t want to throw away, so let’s call them art supplies.” It’s not a lie, but it’s just this side of hoarding. Unless, of course, you actually make collages out of them.

I’m grateful to my colleague Barbara for posting her beautiful collages and connecting me to a collage artists’ group online, and to my friend Jess, who also posts her collages frequently. They all inspire me.

“Sometimes I find it hard to relax on my day off,” 6″x9″

In progress: painting of a window in Alcatraz prison. Acrylic on canvas, 9×12″

Acrylic on canvas, 9×12″ (c) 2020

Earlier in this third week of devastation throughout the state, a member of UUCPA emailed us the news that a fire was burning near Yosemite, just a few miles east of Bass Lake. Bass Lake is the site of Skylake Yosemite camp, where the congregation holds a “getaway weekend” each summer. This year’s was cancelled due to COVID-19. Now the camp itself, not to mention Yosemite and its nearby communities, are approached by a wildfire that has grown very quickly.

The man who sent the email included a photo from Caltopo, to which I guess he must subscribe. I hope they won’t object to my showing it here:

I shared it on Facebook, with a few words about all the loss and sorrow we are holding. Then, a while later, I checked my Facebook page, saw this image in tiny, thumbnail format, and had three thoughts in quick succession: “What is that?” / “It’s beautiful” / “Ohhh. The Creek Fire map.”

I knew right then that I needed to draw it, to spend time with, if not make sense of, the swirl of feelings it evoked. The above are three very small drawings, each 2 x 1.5 or 2 x 1.75 inches, in colored pencil, done earlier today.

Day 49 of #100days of making art

Both sides are decorated. And the tongue does indeed say “Can we not do the running thing?” in Gallifreyan, thanks to my talented and generous daughter, who wrote it out for me to copy.

As with Klingon, devoted fans took scraps of an on-screen language and developed them. With Doctor Who, someone created a cipher Gallifreyan alphabet; i.e., it corresponds letter to letter with ours.

I’m taking suggestions about what the other tongue might say. Maybe just “Allons-y”, to balance out the spirit of first one?

Day 19, #100days of art.

Zentangle-style side

I needed to take a break from knitting, which I’ve been doing so incessantly that it’s causing a repetitive-motion injury,* so I brought these out to work on yesterday for our weekly Craft-and-Check-In time. It’s about time I finished them so I can wear them. Not that I go out an awful lot nowadays, but if hand-decorated maroon high-tops can’t inspire me to get out of the house, what could? I’ll feel like the Doctor. Maybe I’ll put a little Gallifreyan on the tongues as tribute. It’s another beautiful art form. I bet my daughter would be happy to write an appropriate sentiment for me, such as “Can we not do the running thing?” (Update: she has agreed!)

As it is, it has turned out that I’m doing Zentangle kinds of patterns on the inside surface and alebrijes kinds of patterns on the outside surface, privileging Oaxaca by giving it more visibility.

Alebrijes-style side

Day 15 of #100days of making art.

*Also, I’m waiting on a yarn delivery.

I’ve been working on this piece for a few days, since it is small (13×17 cm) but at 10-20 minutes a day, this is what I can do. The final version is in ink marker.

I rather like it just in pencil (below) but I didn’t think the pencil on kraft paper had enough contrast. Funny how the color is completely gone from the photo I took of the pencil version.

My friend J. gave me the beautiful little sketchbook I’m currently using, so I often think of her as I draw in it, and that was the case all during this drawing, which I began on her birthday.

I’ve been doing these off and on for a couple of years, knowing that the spaces at the intersections were important, but not examining why. (“Why” can take me rapidly into left-brained thinking, and part of art for me is getting out of it.) So I think I will explore the why not by thinking, but by drawing. On the next one of these nets, the lines will go right through the intersections, and I’ll see what difference that makes.

Day 6 of #100days of making art

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