Monday, June 19, 2006

ms. klein hears the mermaids singing

I have decided that maybe what I need to do instead of write right now is to paint a giant picture of a mermaid.

There’s a big blank wall in my bedroom that needs a large thing to occupy it. I tend toward the many-small-things school of decorating, but I’d been thinking about getting all Trading Spaces by creating my own art for said wall. TS usually encourages Modernist work—say what you will about “my five-year-old daughter could have painted that” art morons, but it’s easier for the average homeowner to emulate Jackson Pollock than George Seurat.

But I’m kind of a Grandma Moses—good with tiny little people, not so good with perspective. I figure that I will challenge myself this time by painting one giant fish-person rather than a bunch of little people-people. Because artists have to grow, you know?

Two things this weekend have motivated me to (possibly) take this past the idea stage. On Saturday, I attended AK’s friend’s housewarming party, in which she (AK’s friend) invited everyone to create art for her new walls, as well as anything else they wanted to assemble from her arsenal of paint, canvases, stamps, yarn and spare computer parts. The hostess and many of the guests were clearly hardcore crafters. AK, Christine and I were taking a beer-on-the-couch break, and had been sitting there chatting for quite a while when all of a sudden this girl named JP popped up from behind the other end of the couch with a wooden sign in her hand. She’d been crouching there the whole time with her wood-burning kit. The sign would eventually say “Danger,” but for now it said “Dan.”

While I painted a small, respectable picture of a strawberry, as soon as I branched out into 3-D territory, the sucking began. I always think I should be good at crafts because 1) I like to draw and paint and don’t suck too much at it; 2) I’m sort of a girly girl; and 3) I’m a dyke. Shouldn’t that mean I’m able to make a candelabra out of spare bicycle parts?

But no, apparently all I’m able to make is a really ugly vase out of an ice tea bottle, raffle tickets and pink glittery nail polish.

So it’s back to the drawing board, literally, which is a place I’m quite happy to be, especially because I just finished reading Alison Bechdel’s beautiful, eloquent, detailed graphic memoir, Fun Home. The book looks at her gay father’s suicide through a number of different literary, historical and personal lenses, from the Icarus myth to Joyce’s Ulysses to Alison’s own coming-out story.

She briefly covers her bout with OCD, and there’s a bit of an OCD quality to the memoir as she goes over and over the same narrative in hopes of finding the perfect frame for a picture that’s too terrible and too incomprehensible to look at. She even repeats key frames on the page, such as the one where she’s lying on the floor of her college dorm, listening to her mother tell her that her father slept with men. The lead-up and the frames that follow are different in each chapter, a sort of tragicomic book Run Lola Run where the ending is always despairingly the same.

One fun part of reading Fun Home was that AK read it too. Whereas it took me a week, she read it in a morning at my apartment. I wasn’t surprised. I can go to the bathroom and when I get out, she’s often read half my bookshelf. Usually I’m like, “Oh, how was Nick Hornby/Banana Yoshimoto/etc.?” There’s a lot on that shelf I haven’t read. But it was fun to read the same book and then be able to talk about it, although briefly, as her cell phone battery was dying, which forced a People Magazine review mode. Bottom line: good stuff. No, wait, People is punnier than that. Bottom line: Take Fun home with you today!


Jamie Asaye FitzGerald said...

I think a mermaid would be really kewl. If you want, you can borrow my mermaid book for reference.

I was like a 6-year-old at the beach the other day when I demanded of Lee-Roy, "sketch me as a mermaid!" I'll have to put his sketch on MR.

Cheryl said...

I totally want to borrow the book. And I bet you're at least 1/4 mermaid already. Probably everyone from Hawaii is. :-)

erin said...

Mmmmm. You're making me want to get all TS and paint something for the wall of our new house! Time to get crafty! Oh, and I saw Fun Home and wondered if it would be good stuff. Now I know.

Cheryl said...

Erin, I thought of you at the party--especially when I saw the yarn table. You would have made something awesome.