Patti Edmon Altered Attic: May 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Altered Image

A glance at the cover of any women's magazine reveals how obsessed we are with our bodies, more specifically, the size and shape of our bodies. Each month a bounty of new pointers to guide us in the war to conquer the bulge, shave the fat, eat without starving, exercise without breaking a sweat.
The magazines don't matter much to me, note that I referred to the covers. In my case, medication that has delivered much needed health benefits also packed on an 40 extra pounds in less than two years. Prednisone has eased this roller coaster ride of life with an auto-immune disorder. It has reduced inflammation and provided energy to meet deadlines, extra fuel for major holidays, travel and busy times, like my stints as a ballet mom. But after three years, I can no longer ignore the fact that the side effects outnumber the benefits. So, I think I am finally brave enough to start tapering off, hope my adrenal glands haven't atrophied and will jump start, begin producing appropriate amounts of cortisol. 
The upside to weaning off is the possibility that I'll eventually fit back into 98% of my clothes; the potential pitfalls are increased joint pain and arthritis flares, an even denser brain fog, deadening fatigue, mood swings and/or depression. Yay. 
Why do I post this exciting news? Perhaps to affirm my commitment. I'm working diligently to keep my spirits buoyed and maintain daily creativity - my salvation during this illness. And to share; surely I'm not the only one slogging through quicksand just to reach the morning coffee pot, or with an alternate 'fat' wardrobe thanks to medication, hormones or other occasions when one swells up in order to feel better.  
There are moments when I forget and look in the mirror expecting to see the younger-looking, thin and healthy me. My friends and loved ones still appreciate my redeeming qualities, personality, spirit. The collage I just finished (photo at right) speaks to the burden of image that can be a self-imposed prison. As I type this, I realize I'm the one who hasn't accepted this version of me.
Test results from a recent visit to the internist - after gaining 5 pounds in a week - revealed that my heart is fine; their recommendation was to pursue diet and exercise. Ha. Anyone who has plumped up on prednisone knows that no trendy diet, even a good common sense approach, won't budge an ounce. I immediately canceled my follow-up appointment. Diet and exercise didn't get me here - though I've started improving my already healthy lifestyle - and I was disappointed, I'd hoped for something a teense more helpful. Like understanding. The kind of help I won't find in this month's magazine article.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wholey Paper and Altered Art

The greatest thing since sliced bread isn't sliced, in this case it's holes. Wholey Paper is available at Random Arts, in Saluda, NC, where I attended the deMeng assemblage workshop. It's  my new favorite coolest altering tool. Yes, it is paper, but I say tool because it stands up to nearly every finish imaginable, from crackle paint to layers of washes; it can be grunged, painted, sprayed, torn, stamped, embellished, used as a stencil, well, you get the idea. On day one of the workshop I found it was just the solution for the book I started; I needed to disguise the holes in the foam board we layered to create a cavernous niche. One of  many challenges. I stained, stamped and ripped Wholey Paper and  layered along with Mica - also way cool. My book project is far from finished - I haven't touched the left side - or the cover -  but I can't wait to get started. I did stock up on Wholey Paper while in Saluda so I'll have plenty to play with.  

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Michael deMeng Assemblage Workshop

After two of the most intense, fun days of workshop, fingers still tacky with Dap and matt medium, evidence of Michael deMeng's signature colors spotting my hands (and, oops, a little on my clothes:), I must say his Assemblage workshop is a most amazing learning experience. I noticed as I worked well outside my 'box' (excuse the pun) how far I was stretching artistically, which isn't always possible in the comfort of one's own studio. Of course, that's what workshops are for; this, however, is my first one. Straight to the top. Studio to deMeng - ha. The Secrets of Rusty Things indeed, and verdigris and copper and burnt paper, and when I  return home I will approach each new project from a radically altered point of view, in terms of technique, perspective and, well, joy.
A warm, witty and very funny man, Michael is the best kind of teacher - so outwardly comfortable in his own skin that if he does have an ego, he doesn't unpack it along with his favorite paints, tubes of goo, power tools and metal stuff. Rather than using formal, technical terms, he has his own vocabulary and, in the way thingy is so descriptive, we were able to spend all our time immersed in process rather than trying to decipher what exactly it was he was trying to convey.
For any of you who have yet to take his workshop, especially in my new favorite place - Saluda, North Carolina - big enough to sell Dap at the hardware store and small enough so that the diner is part of the same building - avail yourself of any and every opportunity. Pictures to come.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Altered Art Switch Plates

It's amazing how many household objects are ideal for altered art; if it can be embellished then it's fair game. I've been working on a series of light switch plates - some for consignment and a few custom pieces (yes, yay!) and it's quite habit forming. Vintage, retro, funky, fairy, pick a theme! The Roundup plate is for Jeff Rogers, a commercial and fine art photographer, who also happens to be one of my best buds. Working small also has the advantage of requiring smaller windows of time - I can satisfy the daily need to create whether I have twenty minutes or two hours.  

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Take this Perfectionist - Please

Our inner perfectionist helps us get to the point where our work is good and we are ready to let it go - but it's necessary to keep the perfectionist from stopping us in the end, because it doesn't know when to stop.
How amazing is that? Words of wisdom via email this morning from my most-excellent friend, Tani. Her advice was in response to the array of feelings I described having after putting my art into the hands of the universe (i.e., for sale). My creative process  suddenly lurched out of gear and landed in a quagmire. I was questioning color choices, details, decisions that had once felt automatic, almost like the work had been simply flowing through me rather than a result of conscious effort. 
Having suffered writer's block in the past, I was familiar with the signs, as well as the remedy: the need to focus on the process rather than the outcome. To play and make altered art and honor the insatiable longing to create. Daily. And to cherish kindred spirits like Tani, a fellow artist and writer (and perfectionist), who also has psoriatic arthritis, the auto-immune disorder that restructured my life. She is another silver lining in the cloud of chronic illness - a wonderful, close friend, a steadying presence on this altered path. 


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