This is Part I of a two-part blog about my Art Walk project.
Woot! Woot! My ceramic tile project got me an invitation to set up a table at Chamblin’s Uptown for the February 6 Art Walk.
For those not familiar with Jacksonville, we have the Art Walk event downtown on the first Wednesday evening of each month. At Art Walk, artists, musicians and performers of all kinds do their thing in a multitude of venues — the library, Hemming Plaza, the Museum of Contemporary Art, galleries, bars, clubs, and in my case Chamblin’s Uptown, a cool used book store with a great coffee shop.
Wait. I thought I was a writer. I am a writer. How did I become an artist exhibitor at Art Walk?
It all started with the job I had for the holidays working at the Christmas ornament kiosk. I had such a good time writing on the ornaments and embellishing them with Sharpies, I began to think about what it would be like to draw with Sharpie on ceramic tile. My sister-in-law Felicia had some surplus tiles in her garage and was happy to let me plunder what I wanted. I took a little of the Christmas money I made, bought myself a couple of sets of Sharpies in an array of colors, and prepared to create.
But what would I draw? Tile was a new terrain, a wide open space much unlike the tiny, prescribed spaces where I wrote on ornaments.
My first impulse was to write words. That’s what I did at the kiosk, only I wrote more interesting words on my tiles. The first one I did on a 2.5 x 3″ tile fragment read, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
Then I made a couple more on larger tiles.
And sans quotes, one of my all-time favorites:
I learned quickly that lettering in Sharpie on tile is tedious. It’s very difficult to keep the lines of text straight in all that vast expanse without any reference points. Unlike the fridge magnet-sized tile pictured here, on a larger tile you have to make the letters thick and bold enough to be seen, by going over and filling them in. Each Sharpie stroke is visible and does not blend well. I go over and over and over the letters, increasing the chances I will make a mistake.
Not that mistakes are fatal — you can erase and start over with alcohol and a Q-tip — but they always annoy.
Origin of the Bliss Girl
I began to wonder what else I could put on tile besides words, little flowers, and abstract designs.
Then I remembered my Bliss Girl. She was born in my journals about 10 years ago. I drew her to remind me I’m as much spiritual as material, to visualize unflappable equanimity through my inner knowing that all is well.
I can’t say it was an entirely successful exercise in that Charlie — and anyone close to me — knows I’m far from unflappable. That said, focusing on and drawing the Bliss Girl image got me through some very dark times.
It seemed her minimalist lines would work well with the Sharpie’s flow, and I was right. She was a joy to draw. Just her hair, eyes and lips to color. Eyes and lips are small fill spaces where the pen strokes are not so obvious. Perfect. Hair is the one feature that is improved by the visibility of the pen strokes because they add texture.
After drawing the prototype Bliss Girl, I took a brightly colored Sharpie and wrote: Follow your bliss, girl!
One More Thing…
I surveyed my work. Something was still missing. So much black and white in the drawing. Eyes, lips, and hair near the top of the figure brought in some color, but an anchor was needed. I picked up a pink Sharpie, drew a little whimsical heart and colored it in.
Yep, that’s a heart where her vagina is supposed to be. I’m not even going to attempt to explain it. In the words of Mike Myers’ Saturday Night Live character Linda Richman, “Discuss amongst yourselves.”
Stay tuned for Part II…
- A Room of Her Own
- Art Walk, Cheeky Quotes, and Bliss Girls Part II