musings

out of the zone.

this semester has made me very anxious so far. most of my hesitance lies in my arts 118 class, where we have to speak in each class and give a presentation during the semester. for someone with an anxiety disorder, this is a huge obstacle. you might think it would be easy to just say, “okay, self. just shut up and do it.” but it’s not that simple when you have a legitimate issue with anxiety. there have been many times when i’ve had something to say during this class, but as soon as i start to plan it out in my head, my heart starts to pound, my breathing speeds up, and i start to shake. the beginnings of a panic attack. it sucks big time, because i know that what i say will contribute a good point to the conversation. it’s a reflex. it’s not easy to just push myself through it. but sometimes i have to. of course it almost always turns out okay in the end, but getting to the end is difficult.

anyway, i only wrote all that to explain how i’m trying to step outside of my comfort zone in other areas this semester. last night, i dragged my friend chelsea to the semester’s first meeting of the visual arts club. i was iffy about it at first. but once everyone started tossing around ideas about what activities to plan, things starting to sound more appealing. we’re going to have tutorials and fundraisers and some community outreach projects. i think it’s going to be fun, and hopefully i’ll get to make some new friends.

the club has a student run gallery, and they’re asking for submissions for the first show of the year. the student gallery consists of the walls on the first floor of the cato/simons center, which make contains the studio arts, theatre, and music departments. after seeing previous works that have been featured there, i don’t honestly expect to be chosen, but i want to submit something anyway. you never know until you try, right? or as my papaw says, “can’t never could do nothin’.”  heh heh. even if my works is not chosen to be hung on the walls, it could still be featured on the visual arts club’s website.

so here are the ones that i’m considering submitting for consideration. it would be awesome if you would vote for your favorite, or the one that you think would be most likely to be considered, that would be so great. the titles are tentative. i’ve never been great at coming up with titles. you’re welcome to suggest alternatives. i’m still a newbie at this, remember…

1.

Natural Selection, 2011 dimensions: 16x20

 

2.

Obstruction, 2011 dim: 8x16

 

3.

West Fall, 2011 dim: 12x16

 

any suggestions? thanks.  🙂

Advertisements

to be or not to be…offended by art?

this semester, i’m taking a required course called “issues and images in contemporary art.” i knew as soon as i saw the title that it would be a class filled with heated discussion and conflicting viewpoints and opinions. and it is. as i said on facebook and twitter during the break of my first class, i’m not sure if the people in my class are way smarter or way more pretentious than i am.

why can’t i just appreciate art for its aesthetics and not have to read so deeply into it? i don’t like ripping apart a piece of art until i can’t appreciate its beauty anymore. i like the feeling i get when i first see a work for the first time. i like to appreciate that part the most.

anyway, the interesting thing is a question one of the professors (there are two for this class) posed to us. we were looking at some paintings by john currin, which were a complete turnaround from his previous work. DON’T click on the link if you are easily offended. this brings me to the point of the post. the professor asked us how many of us were offended by the images he showed us. no one raised a hand. then he posed this question to us: how many of us are saying we’re not offended because we want so badly to *not* be offended? how many of us aren’t offended because we’re artists, and we’re not *supposed* to be shocked or offended by images we see? we see some pretty gruesome things on an everyday basis, right? we’re offended by things in the news and things we see on the street. but when it comes to art, anything goes, right?

that was the most interesting thing i’ve heard in a while. i had to ask myself how i actually felt. when i looked deeper, i found that i actually was not offended at all. unless something downright mean is said about me or my husband (or some close friends or family), i don’t get offended easily. it’s true. i think a lot of things i see are ridiculous (such as the amount of butt cheeks i’ve seen on campus this week under the shorty shorts girls are wearing lately), but i’m not offended by them.

john currin, the artist we were viewing at the time, changed his style completely. his recent works were inspired by danish pornography. yes, they are pornographic images. but they’re painted in an almost renaissance style. to me, the contrast is amusing. renaissance painters painted nudes all the time. but they were presented in a much more intimate way. currin’s paintings are full-on, like i said, pornographic. when we came back from our break, we studied an interesting contrast among three paintings to get an initial reaction.

***note: i debated whether to post the images of the following paintings because of their natures. it was a hard decision to make, since some people may actually be offended by the images, and a lot of my family members read my blog… i’m going to post the first two, but not the last, since currin’s works are actually modeled on pornography. as long as you don’t mind renaissance or impressionist nudes, then you’re fine to proceed from here.***

the first painting we viewed, pictured below, was italian painter titian’s venus of urbino (1538). it’s a painting i’ve seen many times in art history and other classes.  something that i like to point out is that the venus of urbino was actually based on the painter giorgione’s sleeping venus. it was completed by titian after giorgione’s death. mark twain actually wrote about this painting after seeing it in the uffizi gallery in florence. he was highly offended, not by the subject matter or the fact that it was a nude, but by the placement of the hand (is the hand placed there for modesty or for some other reason?). but most of us will look at this painting and think, “this is a renaissance painting. it looks real, and it looks beautiful.”

the second painting presented to us was edouard manet’s olympia (1863). not a surprise, as it is usually studied, compared, and contrasted with titian’s venus. it’s a bit more confrontational, as the woman (a prostitute) sits up and looks directly at the viewer. her posture is comfortable, confident, and open, whereas the venus or urbino’s posture is more coy and demure. note, however, that both have their legs crossed, and that the vital parts are not visible. the shocking thing about olympia, when it was first painted, was that there are several items in the painting that clearly identify the subject as a prostitute. notice the difference in hand placement and the tension there. olympia’s hand seems fiercely protective. the venus of urbino’s hand seems more delicate and demure in its protection. there are lots of symbolic items here. google or wiki them if you want to. it’s very interesting.

on to the next:  john currin, contemporary artist (born in colorado, raised in connecticut). his painting anniversary nude (2008) was the third we saw in this part of the lecture. it was kind of like, “oh. okay. well, that’s different.” it’s not that i was offended, but yeah, i was a little shocked. the obviousness and provocative nature of the painting is divergent…yet still similar to the first two. think about it: society today is largely about sex. “sex sells.” and it’s true. sex is present in some form everywhere we look. the openness, the extreme provocative nature of the subject…it’s like she’s just putting it out there for all to see. there’s no sense of modesty or decorum whatsoever. is this bad? is it the objectification of women? or is it empowering?

are you shocked?

are you offended?

if you aren’t, is it because you don’t think you’re supposed to be shocked in this day and age?

i still can’t decide. even if i’m not good at reading a work of art the way some people can, i love the way art makes me think and ponder.

what do you think?

***ETA: the previous link for anniversary nude did not show the full painting. the new link will.***

i cain’t rite good like they had did.

Little Women has got to be one of the greatest stories ever written. It makes me cry like a baby every single time. The prose and dialogue are just so…pleasing. The characterizations are amazing, and the people seem to leap from the pages. The eloquence of it even shines through in the dialogue of the movies based on the novel. The relationships between the characters are so well-developed; the characters are wonderfully flawed (though Jo says she is “hopelessly flawed”), and there’s nothing glamorous about them. It’s beautiful.

I only wish I knew how to write like that. The fact is that most people don’t have nearly the vocabulary everyday people had one hundred years ago. With all of the advances made during that time, I feel that there just aren’t many writers anymore who are able to write prose with the type of rhetoric that was common during Louisa May Alcott’s or Jane Austen’s time. It just seems to me that language was grander then.

Of course, I know that the language varied between the classes and from region to region. But there are simple words that some people don’t even understand these days. I believe I once wrote on this very blog that I had a friend who didn’t know the meaning of the word “swoon.”

I’m sorry if it makes me sound like a judgmental snob, but when someone can’t use proper grammar or can’t be bothered to even try to pronounce a word or name correctly, it makes me wince and consider them ignorant. The worst is when someone knows grammar rules and is purposely obtuse just because they don’t feel like it’s important. It is. If you don’t think so, read letters written by not only writers like Jane Austen, but by regular people of the same era. Simple correspondence written so beautifully. Do love letters still exist, by the way? I would…ahem…swoon if someone wrote a love letter like this simple line Mozart wrote to his wife:

Adieu – Dearest, most beloved little wife – Take care of your health – and don’t think of walking into town. Do write and tell me how you like our new quarters – Adieu. I kiss you millions of times. 

It’s not even a particularly romantic line, yet the language is so pretty.

I wish people would acknowledge the beauty of language and actually make an attempt to use it properly. It’s not that difficult.

The difference between “good” and “well,” for example. Good describes a noun. Well describes an action. This ice cream is so good! He plays the piano very well. It’s really not that difficult.

On the other hand, I realize that it might not be considered “cool” to sound intelligent. I don’t understand it at all. My sister and I were having a discussion about this very thing a few weeks ago. Even in our adult lives, both of us have been made fun of for this. Maybe it’s done in a teasing way, but it still stings somewhat.

This post took a turn somewhere… I only meant to write about the beauty of Little Women. Haha… I’m sorry that it turned into a sort of diatribe. If you don’t understand what I mean, pick up a copy of this novel (or most novels of the era or earlier). Flip it open to any page (you could even just google an excerpt). I guarantee you that any excerpt you pick will resound with greatness and vivid language. This sentence, for example:

The first of December was a wintry day indeed to them, for a bitter wind blew, snow fell fast, and the year seemed getting ready for its death.

I rest my case with a final snippet from this wonderful book that has been treasured by generations. I love the irony of the final sentence, spoken by Amy. It makes me giggle.

“I don’t believe any of you suffer as I do,” cried Amy; “for you don’t have to go to school with impertinent girls, who plague you if you don’t know your lessons, and laugh at your dresses, and label your father if he isn’t rich, and insult you when your nose isn’t nice.”

“If you mean libel, I’d say so, and not talk about labels, as if papa was a pickle-bottle,” advised Jo, laughing.

“I know what I mean, and you needn’t be statirical about it. It’s proper to use good words, and improve your vocabilary,” returned Amy, with dignity.

monday, monday.

poor monday. he really gets beaten up. he sort of has a reputation for being a bad guy, but if you look deeply, you’ll find that he’s a big softie at heart. i have a proposal. let’s make monday feel better about himself by doing some affirmations:

monday, you’re the beginning of the work week, which means the end of weekend fun. but we humanoids are grateful to have the jobs we have that keep food on the table and roofs over our heads. it’s not your fault that a lot of jobs happen to take place monday through friday. you don’t just bring the end of the weekend; you bring the start of what we can hope is a promising new week. we tend start new things on mondays, like exercise or diets or classes, which lead to better days. it seems as though people are never very happy to see you come, and always glad to see you go. but how about monday evenings? they bring a certain sense of relief, and for that, dear monday, we thank you.

let's help raise monday's self esteem.

strength.

i have really been tested in both school and my personal life over the last few weeks. i tend to get a little freaked out by stress and anxiety. i’ve been trying to adopt a new calm demeanor. i’m trying to make “oh well” and “c’est la vie” my new mantras. haha. i’ve also had things put into perspective lately, and i’m hoping this feeling is going to last.

school was going great up until a couple of weeks ago. all of a sudden, things are getting much more stressful. how apt that we just learned about stress management a couple of weeks ago in learning strategies. at the time, everything was good with school and stuff, but suddenly i find myself really needing those stress-relief tactics. i started to have a panic attack this morning after i missed a quiz due to really bad traffic (again with the traffic!). my chest was tight, and my back was tense. but i did deep breathing and told myself that what’s done is done, and that in the grand scheme of things, this matters not. of course, my grade matters. but it’s so much less important than a lot of other things.

over the past week, i’ve been reminding myself constantly of my two favorite scriptures. i memorized joshua 1:9 during vacation bible school when i was in fifth grade, and it has stuck with me all these years:

have i not commanded you? be strong and courageous. do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

that verse has gotten me through some really rough times in my life. i’ve written it on a sheet of paper and hung it up in our past homes when willy was in the navy. reading that verse gave me so much strength and comfort. i think i need to make another poster to remind myself more often.

another favorite verse of mine is one that many people are familiar with. philippians 4:13:

i can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

so i’m putting this into use yet again:

which i happen to have in a large frame at the base of the stairs in our house. 🙂

i’m throwing off insecurity, anxiety, and fear. i’m keeping my chin up, holding my head high, knowing i am a strong, good person, and that i can do everything i set my mind to. (and if i don’t reach every goal i make for myself, who cares?)  🙂

i’d like to make a point.

i’ve had some debates with some intelligent & educated people over the past week or so about nuclear power. some of them have recited: “the dangers of nuclear power far outweigh the benefits.”  this seems to be a broad statement that most anti-nuclear power people use. i’ve also heard “i’ve researched and read books.” okay, so maybe you have. but i’ll bet your research and book-reading has consisted of you typing into google “why nuclear power is bad” or buying books about the same subject. sooo… if that’s all you’ve read or researched, of COURSE you are resistant to the idea.

a few facts for your consideration:

*Since air pollution from coal burning is estimated to be causing 10,000 deaths per year, there would have to be 25 melt-downs each year for nuclear power to be as dangerous as coal burning.

*nuclear power vs. wind energy:
Nuclear accounts for about nine percent of America’s energy, according to the Energy Information Administration, and has yet to cause a single fatality here. Wind, on the other hand, provides the United States with only 0.7 percent of its energy, and has been responsible for 35 deaths in the United States alone. So if we’re trying to weigh the costs and benefits of each, it seems wind fares far worse than nuclear. Yet no one seems to be discussing plans to halt production of all new wind farms until Americans’ safety can be guaranteed.
*a chart from world-nuclear.org (a great source for information):


those are just a few quick facts that i looked up. i didn’t look up “good things about nuclear power.”  i didn’t look up “why nuclear power is good.”  i didn’t even look up “nuclear power safety.”  i simply typed into google:
1. how many deaths in coal mining industry in 2010
2. how many deaths in nuclear power industry in 2010
yes, there have been accidents. yes, there have been deaths. but compared to other industries, the amount of fatalities/injuries have been insanely lower. are these people forgetting about all those times coal miners get trapped and die? are they forgetting about multiple huge oil spills?
i will concede that wind and solar power are great. however, there’s no way that those alone can support the amount of energy our country uses on a daily basis. we need a happy medium. a combination of clean energies.
anyway, these are my opinions combined with fact. i don’t know all that much about nuclear stuff, but my hubster was a reactor operator in the navy. i ask him questions constantly, especially in light of recent events in japan (i won’t even go into the media alarmist crap there, with their false reports almost daily lately). it’s a topic i’m very interested in. he wrote a paper for a class last year that was extremely convincing. all based on fact, not opinion. i think if people knew the science of it and understood exactly how much radiation you get on a daily basis from things you might not even begin to consider, then you might start to rethink your stance.
or at least do some un-biased research.
thanks for listening.

days 6 and 7…

i suck. i forgot to do my 11 in 2011 post yesterday, and i very nearly forgot today! so here’s a double post for you. the topic for day six was “best organization tricks.” i used to be immaculately organized and neat. i used to clean all the time. for some reason, that is no longer the case. i mean, i really do like organizing. i love separating things and putting them in their own little places. it’s the staying organized part that’s difficult. so i suppose the best tip i can think of for organizing would be to keep up with it before it gets out of hand! hee hee…

here’s some really cute inspiration for organizing:

a really cool way to organize your shoes and keep them from getting damaged.

a sneaky tactic: keeping things monochromatic can make them appear more organized than they really are. 😉

hanging a shoe organizer inside your pantry gives you a lot more storage!

this is one of my favorite tips, because i rip millions of magazine pages out and save tons of photos on my computer that inspire me. filing them all in inspiration binders is a great way to keep them easily accessible and nice and tidy. and much easier to rifle through when you’re looking for a specific idea!

(all images via we heart it)

day 7: favorite memory of 2010

this was a really hard one. i have a ton of amazing memories to choose from. but one in particular makes me really proud. in may, a group of my writer friends and i decided that we would meet in athens, georgia, to see a bobby long concert. i’d never met these friends face to face. we met online through our mutual interests in writing, and we often work together for motivation, encouragement, and advice. here’s the thing: i struggle with generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. it was a lot of fun to plan the trip and talk about meeting, but when it came down to a couple of days before i left, i got really nervous. i often lean on my husband for support (almost literally) in social situations. he has a really dynamic personality, never meets a stranger, and it’s easy for me to hide behind him. driving to the hotel athens (a four and a half hour trip) and meeting my friends for the first time face to face was incredibly nerve-wracking. it’s always the anticipation of something that makes me most nervous. once they all got there, though, everything was fine. they’re all such great, lovely gals, and i love them to pieces! we had a really great time. i’m so proud of myself for doing that on my own and not backing out because i was nervous. i’ve made some wonderful friends.   ❤