Brain Skitters

My brain skitters around like drops of water on a hot griddle when I’m experimenting in the studio.

Try this… Okay, that worked. Nope. Modify… Hmmm. What if I try that? … Oooops… Now what? …Oh, maybe that… Chug-a-chug-a-chug-a cool down and clean up… Write some of this stuff down before I forget it…

No wonder I’m exhausted at the end of a productive art day.

Sometimes I frighten myself with the way my brain disengages from my active thoughts. Split brain, if you will. I don’t know if this happens to everyone. Probably. It happened this morning, as I was journaling. Writing is much slower than thinking and I was writing about a workshop I’m preparing, when my brain flashed to the the open sketchbook on my desk with a drawing that might help to instruct the workshop.

I’m preparing some printmaking workshops, but next up is molding paper sculptures for my next exhibit. So part of my brainpower kept the words I wanted to write lined up ready to jump into my hand, pen and then paper. But held enough in reserve to plot the logical steps from the sketch to modeling clay to making a mold to casting the paper sculpture.

I have actually really frightened myself by stepping back from a piece of artwork and thinking, “Wow, I don’t even remember doing that.” I actually videotaped myself drawing, “Universal Witness”. Still, somehow as strange as it sounds, it felt like channeling… See, scary stuff…Sometimes when I draw I succumb to the process and have a semi conscious thought to relinquish control to my right brain intuition, or the Universe, or whatever the power of the piece comes from.

Like many artists when I pull out of that altered state I am absolutely drained. So much of my being and absolute energy went into the piece that I have little left for myself.
So while Diana Hume takes the credit, I’m not completely sure that I haven’t been the tool, not unlike the pencil or paintbrush in my hand. The more I succumb to an unconscious direction the better it often is. Though it’s not a switch I can turn off and on. It requires investing some time in the technical skills, and also sitting back and discussing between right and left brain what the impact of the piece is and where it might be made stronger and more appealing to the left brainers.

Universal Witness copyright 2010 Diana Hume

"Universal Witness"; Diana Hume, 2010, 22" x 28", Graphite on Paper

Whatever it is, it’s an awesome journey!!

Letter to my unborn grandchild

Dear Baby,

Well, it’s April now. Your birth month. You’re nearly ready to make your grand entrance.

So, sweet grandchild, let me tell you what will happen when you get here. Prepare to be snuggled and cuddled and cooed to, and love, love, loved.

I gotta tell you, you are most welcome. You will have a big brother who’ll always be there for you. OK, so you’ll fight a little, but he’ll be your biggest supporter and your go-to-guy. Then, there’s mom and dad. How they’ve wanted you. I’ve watched you grow so big inside your mommy she can hardly walk. Your mom and dad have been working so hard to make sure you will have the very best life. And you’re not even here yet. Just wait til you see how they love and care for you in May, then more in June. Imagine this: it will be more and more every day for the rest of their lives! Really. I know it’s hard to believe, since they already love you unimaginably .

There’s more! Grandmas and grandpas and great-grandparents, and aunts, and uncles, and cousins and great-aunts and great-uncles. And that’s just your family. Then there’s friends. Oh my gosh. You are surrounded by oodles ‘n oodles of people who already care for you.

There are so many people I wish you could have known, baby. Maybe you met them on your way here? What beautiful people there have been in your mom and dad’s lives. You wont get to meet them, but their inspiration is still felt by the people around you, so in a round-about way you will know them.

What will you be like? Who will you be? Borrow a little from mommy and a little from daddy. But most of all, I know, you will be you. I can say with some certainty you will be independent. I’m pretty sure you will be considerate and loving, intelligent and thoughtful, creative and articulate. I know these things because that’s what you live with.

Most of all, you will be you. My little unborn baby grandchild, your entire life is still ahead of you. A blank canvas for you to paint your life on. You are not limited to being mini-Tracy or mini-Dean. Amazing as they are, and as much as you will learn from them. You will be you, and I can’t wait to get to know the person you will become.

Love and hugs and kisses
Grandma Di

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

-Dr. Suess
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
I’m sorry to say so
But, sadly it’s true
That bang-ups and hang-ups
Can happen to you.
On and on you will hike, And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
And remember that Life’s a great balancing act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
Will you succeed?
Yes you will indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

April 4
So sweet baby, today is the day! I’ll meet you within hours. Your mama and you are working together at this very moment. Soon. Love you.

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010

I slept in an extra hour this morning. It’s a holiday. I got up to coffee that was automatically brewed minutes before I woke. I wrapped a cozy comforter around me and wrote this note on a fresh page of my notebook with my favourite pen, on my handy dandy lap desk.

Later this morning I will lay a wreath at the cenotaph.

I thought about it yesterday when I went for my run in the heavy fog. I thought about all the brand name items I put on to make my run comfortable. Special socks and special shoes, layers of under and outer wear, shells to put on or take off as the temperature dictates. I strapped on my heart rate monitor with GPS, and I put on my headphones attached to my iPod. But first, I checked the weather conditions on the iPod, then checked my email and my Facebook pages. Only then was I ready to head out into the foggy morning.

The soldiers who bought this life for me had none of that. Probably not even the iPod. My brother-in-law tells me his father got to  visit Italy. Only I bet he would have preferred not to. His visit was part of the Italian campaign of WWII. He marched day after day, week after week, not knowing what each day would bring. Not knowing when it would end. Or how it would end.

Total Allied and Axis soldiers who died in the Mediterranean theatre was close to 1 million. 1 Million! And that was only in the Mediterranean.

As I ran in the fog yesterday the sound of my shoes on the pavement echoed in my ears. I’ve run down that road hundreds of times. I know it well. It leads into a quiet little park where the odd time I’ve seen fox or deer. I tried to imagine being thousands of miles from home, lonely, cold, wet and exhausted. But frightened. Not knowing what the thick fog might hide. I could scarely see 100 meters. What would it be like fearing what might  be hiding in it? What would it be like to be in dense forest where every tree might hide someone ready to kill me? What would it be like if the last days of my life were filled with that kind of discomfort  and fear?

And I can’t. I can’t imagine it. All I can do is be grateful. Grateful, because they paid the price. I am free to not know the horrors they kept at bay. Grateful to sleep in a nice warm bed and wake up to freshly brewed coffee. And freedom.

Thank you.


So, Thursday was a write off. Or was it? As usual, I multi-task to the extreme.  A trait that was valued in my career as a lab-tech, but frowned on by organization gurus.  Guess what I’m not.

I jump from task to task. Scanning photo albums for a photo book, hyper varnishing a set of reprints out in the garage,  and mucking about with plaster in the kitchen.  Probably not the best combination.

But I have an excuse. I am not a patient person. Once I get a notion in my head I either have to run with it immediately, or give up on the idea forever.

What I’m really looking forward to is the plaster. I bought a new 50 pound bag of industrial plaster  Wednesday when I made my bi-weekly foray into the city. I needed to replace one stored in my over humid basement.  My recent purchase of a dehumidifier brought the humidity down from a dripping 75 to a much more normal 48. But I’d lost a number of supplies to warping and moisture first. Lesson learned.

So even though plaster casting wasn’t supposed to be on the agenda, I was anxious to see if my recent episodes of plaster not setting was indeed because the plaster had absorbed too much moisture.

Brilliant idea number 1, make a mold of several varieties of leaves. I want to cast them in paper for my Seriously Whimsical project. I love the irony of using paper to reconstruct trees. I know. I know, it’s rag paper, but the thought persists.

I wander around my yard plucking leaf specimens that have not yet started to turn yellow.  See, my impatience is justified again. Soon it will be too late to get non-crispy leaves.  Then I roll out some Play Doh smooth enough to leave a leaf impression. Best use of a rolling pin I ever came up with. I must be hungry because the Play Doh smells like cookie dough.  Then I place the impressions into plastic  containers that can hold the liquid plaster.

Brilliant idea number 2. Cast pea-stones so I can eventually cast paper as stone walls. Would that make great castles or what? I pour a layer of pea-stones in the bottom of another plastic  container.

Now I’m ready for plaster. Immediately I can tell the difference from the old plaster. This feels silky. I’m confident it will work.  I mix an ice cream pail to perfect consistency and pour it into the waiting containers. One of my best batches. The plaster heats up as the chemical reaction begins.

I return to my other tasks of varnishing and scanning, going back to the plaster once the plaster cools a little. I tip the containers over and push the plaster out. Yuck! The heat of the plaster softened the Play Doh to the consistency of chewing gum on hot pavement. The impression of the leaves, tentative at best, will be gone even if I could ever remove the Play Doh from the plaster. Awwwww.

Next I work at removing the stones from the plaster. Funny how it looks like conglomerate. Oh ya, I forgot to coat the stones with any kind of release. But I don’t think it would have made any difference. The small stones have allowed too much liquid plaster to flow between them. I pry out about a third of the stones before giving up.  Time to toss it all out and clean up my mess.

Thank you Carolyn Roberts  for  the Carl Jung wisdom , “Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.”  My Facebook friends agree if Carl Jung says mistakes are ok, then we’ll go ahead and make more.

Let’s see. Maybe next try I could use very soft clay to take the impression of the leaves? Ya, that’ll work. Next.

On a whim I run hot water over the pea stones I pulled out of the plaster. Presto. The stones release immediately.  Something to store in the “good things to know” part of my brain. Was it just the water, or does the water have to be hot?  Maybe I can dip the conglomerate into a bucket of water and all the stones will release?  Maybe I can make a mold of the conglomerate, and then mold that before making my final mold.

Oh I have more investigations to make, but later, because now I have to go for my run.

Work and Play

I’ve reached the point in my Seriously Whimsical art project where I’ve become impatient to get started. I can’t shove less exciting tasks out of the way fast enough. I mean, really. You have to go out and buy groceries, clean the house, work in the office and tie up the loose ends from the last project. Ugh.

What I do get while I wait though, is the fun of  to plotting and scheming and planning! My mind races with things to try and ways to do them:

  • Use a cake decorator to draw with paper pulp ◊ then I should borrow books on cake decorating ◊ maybe even watch “Ultimate Cake Off”!
  • Pour plaster onto tree branches to pick up texture, then carve the plaster.
  • What would be a good system for pressure treating and desiccating the pulp in  latex without destroying the mold? Oven? Buy a desiccator?
  • Hey! beads and glitter!

Then I start thinking about possible alternatives if one method doesn’t work! I so want to get started before I get overwhelmed with the possibilities and they become a spiderweb of what ifs.

Everything I see and think becomes fodder for my whimsical gristmill. Excessive rain caused mushrooms to sprout all over the tree stump in my son’s back yard.

stump with shelf mushrooms

Cool!! Any idea how many varieties of mushrooms you can find in Google? Wow! Artists wood-burn onto ” shelf mushrooms”, which these may be!! More possibilities! Fun! Or shelves .

While my grandchildren run and jump around me in the back yard I pull out my travel sketchbook and draw the stump with mushrooms for future reference. “You’re a good drawer, Grandma!” “Thanks Georgie, you’re a good climber”

“Do you want to play Play-Doh, Grandma?”  “Do I?!” Ya!

What a gold mine of possibilities. Textures and tools. And impermanence. Just playing and fooling around. No pressure. What fun!! The ideas are endless.

“Let’s go to the park, Grandma.” Oh Ya!

"Green man & Moon" - by Knotty Inks. The Green Man is related to nature deities in many cultures, and is a symbol of rebirth.

Maple leaves. Perfect for the Green Man I want to make.  What a great place for the kids to climb in and play and use their imagination.  Oh ya, and Grandma too. Climbing structures, boulders, a gazebo, a creeklet, tree bark, pea stones.

“I’m the farmer and you’re the dog, grandma.” “Huh!”


“You’re fun, Grandma.” You too, Georgie and Joe. What a great day!

P. S. Ooooh. I love Google. I’ve since discovered that Drain Cleaner is a desiccant, maybe I can make my own desiccator. Now, for pressure treating….

About Sharing and Goals

Last Fall my life changed! Again!  It shouldn’t have, but it did. I took a class* that opened a door to a world of possibilities. They were always there, but I hadn’t even noticed the room I was in had doors. Voilà! The world is suddenly more than the little box I’d always imagined it to be.

The life lesson was this: You need to define your goals.

What? Really? Imagine not realizing that in order to move toward a goal you actually need to know what the goal is!

Over the course of the class I tentatively put 7 goals/affirmations out to the Universe. I treated them as if they were already positively true, and by doing so my world has changed.

The 7th affirmation I wrote was this: “I can’t wait to share my art.”



The fact of the matter is, that was always true. I’ve always wanted to share my art. What’s harder to accept is that there are people who want to share it with me.

Yesterday, my friend Cheryl, phoned to let me know she’d been contacted by an art gallery who would like to exhibit our artwork for 6 weeks in the spring. WooHoo! I’m thrilled!

Without all the steps in between, this seems like magic:

“Dear Universe: I’d like to have X.

Dear Diana: OK”

The fact is, Cheryl and I worked very hard to get enough artwork done to begin submitting proposals. We also worked very hard to put proposal packages together to submit to galleries. But we had a goal.

Knowing what my goal was enabled me to take steps toward it. If it seems pretty simple, that’s because it is.

And now Dear Universe: Thank you for listening, but listen, I have another favour…”

Artemis Moon

Artemis Moon

P.S. It seems this post left unanswered questions so I’m adding this post script. I know, I know. Normally the things I write make complete sense!

“Phenomenal Reality” is a body of artwork by my friend and fellow artist, Cheryl Andrist, and me. Briefly these works are based on our  musings about natural phenomena and the mythologies connected to them.

Cheryl’s work concentrates on the sun in it’s many aspects. Mine has a more literal connection to myths. I know, you’re all surprized.

I promise to blog about the show in more detail later. In the meantime, some of my artwork from the show is posted in the sidebar ————>  (I think. I’m a bit of a novice at this blogging stuff)

Our first exhibition will be at the  Allie Griffin Art Gallery in Weyburn for 6 weeks  in April/May 2011.


*Blast Off with Alyson Stanfield