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Argh! Headache! I sound like a broken-headed broken record.

Tile Project Problems

I had a bit of a set-back in the tiles project today, because 3 of the tiles were damaged by sticking together & transfering paper and/or paint from one to another when I foolishly put them in an envelope together to transport them to the art room, thinking that they were dry after spraying them.

I brainstormed with Julia & Sarah (the new art room intern) about how to fix the problems, and it was all just seeming more and more complex. I was feeling very discouraged & overwhelmed, especially since one tile actually deteriorated further, with the collaged paper tearing slightly, when I tried to fix the existing problem. At one point I just put my head into my hands and cried quietly for a little while.

At the same time, I was laying out all the tiles at once, as they are now almost finished, to see what they all look like together, and I realized that they are way too busy. Almost every single one is somehow visually complex, so that there is never any rest for the eye when you see them all at once. I was wishing that I'd created more simple tiles—just solid-ish colors (like the slightly textured watercolor and oil pastel ones) or simple geometric shapes—to give the viewer/manipulater room to form their own patterns.

So I was thinking that I'd like to buy more of these tiles from the shop where I got them on Etsy, because I've really enjoyed the flexibility and interactive nature of this project & would like to do more of it, and also because I wanted some more tiles so I could create some simpler ones to mix in with this more complex first batch.

And then I realized, "I could just scratch these damaged designs & paint or collage them afresh in some simple way, so that I solved both problems at once!" This would mean, of course, that I would discard the thought and work that I'd put into the tiles—and I really did like them, back before they got damaged—but I just felt like throwing up my hands when faced with all these problems at once, and solving them all in one fell swoop sounded very seductive.

The other people in the art room (especially Sarah, Julia, and Katy—the art teacher) seemed distressed at the possibility of my painting over the previously-completed work, so I decided to just set the whole project aside for the rest of the day and work on other projects—as I have two others in progress—and return to it when I'm feeling calmer.

Now that I'm calmer, I still think I want to just decorate those tiles anew, start fresh, and create some visual space to interact with the other, more visually complicated tiles. But I won't be back in the art room until Friday, so I can think about it until then. I have the tiles here at home, but I'm not going to look at them for now.

Other Current Projects

Instead, I'm working on a Mother's Day card for my mom. Since she seemed to appreciate the techniques I used in my self-portrait and the "Giving Tree" collage, I'm going to make her a card using those same techniqjues, this time a picture of her house. I think she'll like it. In any case, it sounds like a fun project, so I'll enjoy it even if she doesn't. I'll make sure to take a good photo of it before I send it off.

My third project-in-progress is something I can only work on in the art room, because it is huge and unwieldy: a sort of sculptural thing using molding paste on a round canvas about 11 inches in diameter.

Katy had insisted that molding paste on canvas would not crack, despite my reservations (because the canvas is flexible while the dried molding paste is not) ... and of course the dried molding paste cracked immediately. (Yes, I am smart.) Katy was very apologetic and immediately resolved to buy some "flexible molding paste" (a kind specifically made for using on canvas and other flexible materials), but I assured her that I don't mind the cracks. This is a purely fun project for me and I have no expectations or plans and am completely arting by the seat of my pants, just doing whatever appeals to me each time I work on it, so there are no "mistakes" or "problems" or any of that yucky stuff. I take it as it comes, as it is completely experimental for me. I've never used molding paste like this before, and so I'm just playing around for a lark.

First, I made all kinds of swirls with the molding paste, forming an irregular, not-remotely-symmetrical-or-tidy sort of curling, swirling mountain in the center of the canvas, with a sort of plain radiating out from that, and then another sort of swirling pattern around the outer edge of the canvas. I see it as a sort of fortress surrounded by a moat, which is in turn surrounded by an outer fortifying wall. (Katy's initial prompt for this project was to do something about "what protects you" or some such.)

Second, yesterday, I started painting it with varying shades of blue and green acrylic paint. I've never painted on molding paste before, so I had no idea what it would look like when it was dry. I just painted however I felt like.

When I saw the first coat of paint today, I decided that it was darker than I would like, so I used some lighter colors today, including some really watered-down acrylics that looked pretty neat. I'll see how that turned out when I get to the art room on Friday.

Katy and Julia are urging me to experiment with even more 3D stuff, like small beads to form additional patterns. I've brought in some beads I've gathered over the years & never used in any project, and I'll lay them down on the canvas, seeing how they look interacting with all the nooks and crannies and grooves of the molding paste, and see if I like it. Like I said, I have no real plan. I may even end up putting on more layers of molding paste to form addiitonal peaks and valleys at some point. Katy wants these round canvases finished by sometime in June so that she can do an exhibit of them together, so I'm in no riush.

It's only Mom's card that is on a timetable.

More About the Tile Project

The display case built for the tile project is shipping tomorrow, so I will soon have it to play with. I'm planning to decoupage the inside in some simple way, so that there is a simple, pale-colored background (probably some kind of painted—and therefore muted—book pages from Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace Is Every Step, since I bought a spare copy just for cutting up for art). I'm not sure when my father-in-law will have time to help me build a frame to mount it tilted on the wall, but I'm in no rush. Like I said, there's no timetable.

I did, however, decide to go ahead and buy more of the tiles from the Etsy shop where I got these, because I really did enjoy working with them & would like to do more, trying some addiitonal techniques for giving the viewer/manipulater an opportunity to use the tiles together to form more geometric shapes, landscapes, and such. If it all turns out well, who knows? I may end up with two display cases, with the tiles differently distributed.

I got the idea that I would like to have some sort of very thin, elastic webbing that extends along the bottom when you open the door to the display case, so that tiles won't end up on the floor if they come tumbling out. I like the idea, so I'll have to brainstorm about how to do it without it looking ugly. I'll go talk to the folks at Stone Mountain & Daughter, and they might have some advice.

I'm looking forward to receiving the display case so that I can show people what I've been talking about, because everyone seems very confused when I describe how the final piece will work. I guess I don't describe it very well, or it's just the sort of thing you need to see and physically interact with in order to understand. In my head, it's so clear that it's frustrating when no one else really understands my intentions. Soon, however, I'll be able to show them. Also, once I haver the display case and can put the tiles in, I'll get a better of idea about what angle it needs to tile away from the wall and any other practical issues that need to be addressed. Since it's such a complicated project, it's difficult to predict what problems might arise. I mean, in addition to the current problems.

Headaches

I'm having great difficulty obtaining more Tylenol #3, and so I'm now stuck with Tylenol #4 only, which makes me unhappy. I've been trying to wrangle the pharmacy and my doctors to figure out how to work this out, but the communication between all of us has been poor thus far. I'm hoping I can work things out by talking to the neurologist tomorrow morning, as he is the person best suited to understand why I need the pills and make it happen. If worse comes to worst, however, I can ask my primarcy care doc for a prescription when I see her tomorrow afternoon for my pre-surgery appointment + EKG. (I also plan to ask her to give me a lab order to test my renal function so that I can have relatively current data to discuss with the new nephrologist when I meet with him on May 7.)

This time next month, both cataract surgeries will be finished & I will be seeing very differently than I am now, and I sincerely hope that this habit of closing my left eye will disappear.

In the meantime, today I started physical therapy for the pinched nerve in the back of my neck, but I'm not sure how effective it will be. Thus far, the only thing the physical therapist has done is massage my shoulder and neck & tell me to work on my posture. Yes, I know I have severe posture problems, but it's not something I can easily work on. I asked him for advice on how to do so, since just telling me to sit up straight and tuck my chin isn't all that useful in daily practical application, but he wasn't very useful in that regard. Well, I'll work on it. Oh, and the other thing he recommended was that I continue to apply heat to my neck for 15-20 minutes each evening & then have Shannon massage my shoulder and neck for a bit. That has seemed to help the muscle tension these past couple evenings, though I'm not sure that it directly affects the headaches. I'm sure it helps indirectly.

Today's Tylenol + Codeine Usage
1 Tylenol #4 tablet at 10:30 pm
1 Tylenol #4 tablet at 12:50 am (just now, right before bed)

In addition, some of my other health problems have been acting up. I've been having nausea frequently again, though that may be partly due to the fact that I'm stressed over how busy & complicated May is going to be for me.

My plantar fasciitis has also been acting up, so my feet have been hurting more and more over the past couple weeks, but I've been refusing to let up on my walking, because I've been enjoying it despite the hurt. And my knees have started giving me trouble again just the past couple days, possibly because I'm walking differently when my feet are hurting. I really need to give my feet and knees a rest & either bike or take the bus for a few days, though it irks me to admit it.


Okay. Time to get ready for bed. I haven't been sleeping tremendously well these past few nights, but at least I haven't been having nightmares or waking up with headaches. You have to appreciate the small kindnesses the universe offers.

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