Still, I've decided that I'm out of competitive, and that's been a good decision all around.
I am painting, spinning, and even dyeing again. There have been some fun things in the past few months, and the bees are still doing quite well. There are mites, but I think I'll just treat them this fall and it might help with next year. I've been getting through a huge volunteer work load for the Longmont Studio Tour, and a lot of it has been for the marketing side of things, rather than just the art. But I've been painting again, backing things, and trying to figure out matting and framing as well. And, of course, John and I just had our 30th Anniversary and it was a good, quiet one, with the annual Boulder County Fair ferris wheel.
I spin and knit for my own satisfaction, and it's one of those few things that I've kept that way. I don't sell what I make, on the most part, unless a friend really wants something; but even then I have to really want to make it.
One Wednesday morning, when I went to meet up with them to spin, the host had all her dyeing equipment out and available for all of us to use. And I had this black -streaked tailings from the Brown Sheep Yarn company. I dyed it with "cantaloupe", fire reds, and warm yellows, trying to stick with fire colors on top of the "char" of the black streaks. She had all the acid bathes and a steamer and all that, so that I could just paint the wool, have her steam it, and then bring it home to let it cool and set.
I soaked it in a detergent and then let it dry and this is what turned out. It's fluffy goodness, and I've been spinning it with a drop spindle, simply for the lovely process of it. It's been a really tasty spin, and I'm really happy with what turned out. It's definitely sock yarn, and I have to figure out if I want to really do socks or if I want to do something more like what Jet requested of the yarn I'd made from a different roving he'd dyed when he was a kid.
Especially when it's snowing out... or raining... or freezing, and he's riding his bike to school. So we came up with these arm warmers. He really likes the cabling, so I figured I'd just make up a pattern... I should probably write these up too, for Ravelry. They're so simple, though there are seven strands for luck, and it's fun to weave them back and forth. They're pretty much exactly what he wanted, which was the whole point of the exercise to begin with, so the pattern might be a bonus that might be useful in the long run.
Still, it's something that borders again on the art for pay problem that I've been having all along, and one of the things I've been stumbling on and with respect to playing competitive...
It's weird. I'm having to learn old lessons over and over again, and hopefully I can overcome the old ways I've always done things so that I can keep going; but sometimes it's harder than others. One of the lessons is: "Comparison is the thief of all joy."
When I compare myself against all the comp players that I know, against the video game players who are so very very much better than I am, against the artists who have been doing things commercially for decades, or against what someone else thinks art or play or creation should be, I've gotten very sad.
"I shall strive for excellence, but I shall not compete."
It was a saying on some motivational poster that struck me pretty hard as to what it was I'd been trying to do in competitive gaming, but which had never quite gelled the way I wanted it to. I want to get better at the games I play, a lot; but whenever I compare against others, it just gets weird in my head...
When I start a game, I'm going to be bad at it. It's just the way it is. The problem is that there's a part of my head that keeps trying to define me by my abilities and my play. That once I'm "bad", I'm just going to stay bad, rather than if I'm bad I can learn and get more experience and get better. It's counter to everything I've done or tried or lived, in some ways, that inner voice; but it's something I've fought my whole life, too. There were actually a few jobs where I finally just decided that I wasn't good enough for the job and I left, even when my boss and my co-workers were like, "What?!? You're good at being an engineer, good at the work we're having you do... why...."
Though, even when I am bad... the people that want to play with me, want to do so no matter how good or bad I am. They just like being with me, and the game itself is just for fun anyway. A lot of people who are very good at tf2 have told me, quite frankly, that I'm not as bad as I think or say that I am, that I'm a lot better than I give myself credit for; but the stats I've had in the last several scrims I've been in have been utterly awful. But I've also been complimented by a high open player on my ability to actually kill him in a one-on-one game, I'd surprised him by being better than he expected. So that's interesting data to have as well.
Prices are the easy way to comparison between artists, and putting numbers on what's an emotional reaction is so hard. There are so many paintings that I have that I really love that people don't like enough to buy; but there are many paintings that I've kind of looked askance at that people have paid hundreds of dollars to own. This is one of those that I kind of love, because the sky and mountains turned out so unexpectedly cool; and the calf just surprised the heck out of me. It's kind of funny how much of painting is about just following whatever it is that happens.
And I'm coming up on the Longmont Studio Tour at the end of September, and I'm having to get a whole lot of paintings together, backed, matted, and framed in order to show them at Mimi's. And I have no idea if anyone is going to like them or not. I liked them when I painted them, and in art, that really has to be what it's about, in some ways.
Art's so odd, in that it's all about the artist's choices, what they choose to include, to do, to want to have in their painting, and the choices can be about what would be commercial or not, or it can simply be about what they love or don't love about what happens in the medium. An engineer's job should be about what works or not, but sometimes it's an art as well, choosing what works better for you... but it's rarely so pure as it is with art.
And that's always been the hardest question for me to answer, "What is it that you want?"
And I'm having to exercise that choice every single moment with my paintings, and it's an interesting lesson in how that can work.
And maybe I don't have to worry about how it's going to be received... I just have to do the best that I can with what I have and paint what it is that I really truly feel is mine. The rest will be as it will be, and that should be good enough.
I have taken the business steps of getting a Square account and getting a means of reading credit cards so that I can sell stuff when it's time. I've made the glue for the backings. I've bought $600 worth of frames for all the paintings I want to show. The area that we're going to be doing it all in is large enough that it should work out all right. All with the help of John, of course. *laughs quietly*
In my volunteer work, I've been writing press releases, making thumb drives, driving banners around, going to all kinds of meetings, and doing a good job of saying "No" to people when they're asking for things that I really don't want to do. I've already put in well more than the twelve hours they asked for at the beginning, and I think that there won't be much more. I might do a demonstration of my painting techniques, somewhere or somehow, but I don't have to anymore, given my hours.
So that's to the good. John and I had a fun time celebrating our anniversary by going out to eat at a very nice restaurant, and then going to ride the ferris wheel at the Boulder County Fair. A father and son were in the seat opposite us and were kind enough to take our picture, and we took theirs. I love the blur of the world behind us as we zoom through it all together. Appropriate for an anniversary picture, as time seems to go so fast, now.
Speaking of which... Jet now has his license and is driving. He's back in school again and doing cheerfully enough. He has homework and groups and the band group that he plays Rainbow Six with seems to like me well enough, and it's been nice. So, in some ways, I've been getting my life back, bit by bit... and while I do play games still, it hasn't been with the commitment or intensity of when I was in comp. Now it really is just for fun.