The artist’s life

My mom and I used to talk a lot about our lives as artists. She started painting in 2002, I left for college in 2003. We talked about things we were working on, giving feedback, talking about process. How to price things, how to make time for both the business part and the making art part. How to make a living while also having time for family. We had similar goals: we didn’t care about being famous, just to make enough money so we could live and keep making art. We didn’t like Art World. Family came first but also family and art were not separate. It was about living our lives– our lives which were the best art of all.

There isn’t another artist or writer I connect to in the same way. No one I can really have those conversations with. I miss my best art friend, my best inspiration, my favorite conversationalist. 

We were part of each other’s art too. I made comics about her and she painted me. I started posing for paintings very early on in my mom’s career, and found I was good at it. Modeling was meditative for me. I modeled for her, for her artist friends, even for some life drawings groups. But it was my mom who painted me the most, and for her that I most enjoyed the process of sitting and being painted. We’d talk, but not too much. We’d come up with poses together, get inspired in museums or from life. I felt myself being seen by her, being documented. It was a powerful thing happening between us, active and energetic. There was understanding in a non-verbal way: how my arm should be, the story of that dress or those pajamas, breathing and holding still. 

I don’t model anymore since she died. It’s too hard, it feels off. It isn’t for me what it was before. 

There’s a void. Well of course there is but I mean a specific hole having to do with art. There are a lot of artists here but no one for me to talk to about how we make this life, how deeply the things I make and draw and write are connected to the family I want to create and the love I feel. It all comes out of that love. That’s how I know I can be a happy artist. That’s how I know I can do this. Because my mom taught me. 

cat love

cat love

Sometimes, when Galactus is sitting on the table or other high place, and I bend over with my head towards her, she she rubs her little soft head into mine and purrs. Life with these two cats is so sweet. They follow me from room to room, setting themselves up to sleep, play, or just lie in sun patches wherever I am cooking/drawing/writing/cleaning. We all three just do our things. Podcasts they enjoy are: Dear Sugar, The Mystery Show, Call Your Girlfriend, and of course Gilmore Guys.

it’s okay to be a bridezilla

bridezilla 1

bridezilla 2

A couple notes:
1. Thanks Lizzie!
2. Some of the colors are weird/sorry for the pencil marks on this one. I’m using a new scanner program and am still getting used to it. Also I don’t have photoshop yet– this is something I’m working on getting which will improve my image quality quite a bit. Everything I do is hand drawn, I don’t do anything digitally with my artwork. Continuing to hand draw my comics is very important to me, but I do admit that there are photoshop touch ups that help a LOT.

sadie sadie married lady (or, “Once upon a blue moon”)

Things I love about being married so far:
1. Greg’s honeymoon beard (RIP, since he had to shave it for work yesterday.)
2. The mysterious way it all feels “different” now.
3. Saying “my husband.”
4. Looking at all the wedding pics people are posting on facebook and instagram and glowing at how beautiful I feel and recalling how perfect and wonderful that day was.

It was a perfect wedding. I loved every second, every magical ounce of it. To have so many people in one place who love me, who love Greg and me together, was such a big feeling of love that I almost floated off the ground. On the dance floor I jumped so lightly that I forgot gravity completely until my knees reminded me the next morning.

Some favorite moments: the whole ceremony. Walking down the aisle (through the field more accurately) and knowing this was really happening, this wedding, this life. Holding onto my dad and sister as we walked together. Feeling my mom with us. My sister reading the e.e. Cummings poem I always knew she’d read at my wedding. Our vows, which we wrote ourselves, my eyes filling with tears the whole time. Standing under the chuppah that Greg made, my mom’s Tallis draped over it. Our amazing bridal party standing around us, reading the group poem they didn’t even get to practice ahead of time. The song my friend Diana wrote for us, about us, me looking into Greg’s eyes as she sang. Dancing out through the grass, and then down the road a bit, away for just a few moments alone. The speeches (our dads, Greg’s brother and my sister). I knew my dad ‘s speech would make me cry, and it did. My sister’s unplanned, not written down speech that came out so on point from her wild heart. Greg’s brother and dad so lovingly honoring us, and welcoming me into their family. Our first dance, the father daughter dance, the secret surprise choreographed dance by my sister, dad and me. And all the dancing, so much dancing, all night long. I only peed once, and barely ate two bites. It was the best.

I’m so happy.

Here are some photos taken by my family and friends:

We were married at Cricket Creek Farm, in Williamstown, MA, and I can’t recommend it highly enough– what a beautiful place. Flowers were done by Karen Trubitt of True Love Farm in Shaftsbury, VT (with the loving help of our amazing flower team). Food was pizza from Hot Tomatoes in Williamstown and Ramuntos in Bennington, salads by Wild Oats Market, cider donuts by The Apple Barn, ice cream by Ben & Jerry’s. Home-crafted beer by Brooks St. Brewery, with additional alcohol by Spirited. Professional photography by Steven Trubitt and additional photos by LeahB (will post those when I have them, the above pics are from people’s phones, which I pulled from facebook, etc.). This was truly a group effort, with so much help from our families, bridal party, other friends. Every flower, every chair, every light string, tablecloth, and clothespin was placed with love by the people we love, and we couldn’t have done it without them.

And Greg, my darling husband, I could not have done this without you. Thanks for asking me to marry you :)

somebody’s getting married

I haven’t posted much lately, and that’s because I’m very busy getting ready to get married! There’s so much to do leading up to a wedding. Lots of things I didn’t realize until now. I’ve never planned a giant party before! There are stressful moments, but there are also really beautiful, loving moments. My sister is here, visiting from southern Chile, and getting to spend time with her each day is such a gift. She keeps me in the moment, enjoying every drop of summer with swimming and biking and everyday adventures. My dad, who I’m lucky enough to live only 20 minutes from, is an active part of the planning process, and is so supportive and hilarious in all of his jokes (haha). Greg’s parents are here too and they could not be sweeter or more helpful. We have the best families.

And there are the moments between me and Greg: breaking in our new shoes around the apartment, finalizing the seating chart, making playlists for the reception, feeling overwhelmed one minute and then breaking into huge smiles and exclaiming how excited we are to marry each other. Seeing the chuppah for the first time, the one Greg has been working on for months, and it’s so beautiful I want to cry.

Today I went to a movie by myself. It was A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence, and I loved it. I also loved the time sitting in a dark theater, eating popcorn, watching a story unfold on a screen. Taking the time to do something for myself is important. Self-care. In 2011 I took myself on a four day trip to Montreal, and while there I made a promise: that I would always do things like that, even once I got married and started a family. I’m still me inside this marriage, inside the family I plan to create.

20150719_163311I cannot wait to marry Greg in less than two weeks. This is a crazy, fast-moving, emotional, beautiful, fun, fantastic summer.

good grief

Every day is a new day living in the world after my mom died. I am 795 days into this life. My grief is just as big as the first moment, but it changes shape. Time doesn’t make it better, but it makes it different.

Some days I float and roll through my new life, feeling okay, feeling happy, and then it will hit me that the central human in my life is not here. She’s not part of this, she’s not here to tell me her thoughts, or to laugh, or to just exist. I still don’t know how to reconcile that. I almost don’t believe it. How can the world exist if she is not noticing it, painting it, coloring it with her opinions and cooking smells? I dream that she comes back, that it was all a trick, or that she is a zombie. I get really upset about dumb little things, because while I may be actually upset about those things, behind it is my sadness and anger about my mom being dead. UGH I’m so hungry and my clothes don’t fit right and my mom is dead. That person is chewing so loudly it’s driving me nuts and my mom is dead. I got on the wrong bus and my mom is dead. 

I hate when people tell me that my mom is “with me.” She’s not with me. She’s dead, and her spirit is off doing other things. She exists in my genetic code, for sure, and I wear her clothes. I’m trying so hard to let her be dead, to let her be Ghost Viola or whatever and fly around painting the sky and exploring other dimensions and to not wish her here so hard. I don’t know how to feel her with me in this new form. I want her in an Earthly way, nothing else will do. I’m stubborn, a quality I inherited from her (and my dad, too, we’re a stubborn bunch).

I wish people said I looked like her. My sister really is the one who resembles our mom as a young woman, it’s striking and everyone notices. Sometimes people say I have her laugh. Mostly they say I look like my dad. But I’ve always felt a similarity in our expressions, me and my mom, smiling, or talking with our hands, our style, the way we listen to people by looking right in their eyes. I’ll catch myself teasing Greg (my fiance) in the same way my mom would tease my dad– a fake angry comment, a smirk, an open-mouthed laugh accompanied by a little dance.

She won’t be at my wedding. This fact gets bigger as the date gets closer. I wonder what my wedding would be like if she was here to plan it with me, how it would differ from the real thing. Would I have picked the same dress? Would her ideas have been better? What would we have argued about?

What would I be like if my mom hadn’t died? This grief is my defining feature, her death the defining moment of my life so far– the line dividing everything into Before and After.

This is where I’m at today.