Flying Pigs

Flying Pig (Jennifer Akkermans)

Here’s something I did just the other day (see the video). I wish I could manage to be this productive every day.  Or, more days than currently.  It’s been an uphill battle lately.  (I’m at 15 rejections, and my recent health problems have set me back a bit.) Maybe that’s why it’s a flying pig- everything I want to do seems so incredibly daunting right now.  That’s natural, I guess.  Fly, little pig!  Onward and upward!

Anyway, it’s not the most perfect thing I’ve ever made, and if I were to do it again, I’d definitely make some changes, but it did the trick of helping me learn about constructing these kinds of things.  It was a good idea to start simple and build on it, although my ideas are way more complicated than I think I’ll ever have the skill to make.  I’ve been doing a lot of sketching and drawing, trying to capture all the crazy ideas, some of which I hope come to fruition.  This is the time to be thinking ideas, before I know what my technical skill can and probably can’t make- before I design projects to fit my mechanics.  (I’m thinking large, and eventually my little skill saw just might not cut it… pun intended!  Best $35 I’ve ever spent!)

Filmed in my messy studio… of course.

Anyway, building things….. making a mess…. playing again!

Spinning my wheels. (Excuses, excuses.)

A while ago, I had finally thought I had found some traction, only to start spinning my wheels again.  I had spent a busy three days or so working harder than I had in months on building some three dimensional specimen displays, only to lose my motivation just before the last coat of paint.  Not only are they waiting for that, but also for their lighting systems, plexiglass covers, specimens and actual information for the panels.  Now, they’re sitting on a shelf in the built in entertainment unit in my studio.

Then, I did nothing for a little while.  Started a new job, got a vehicle (and all the responsibility that goes along with it), and then injured my achilles heel, which was quite the unpleasant experience, although it’s still going on.  I was unable to put any weight on it for 3 or 4 days, and although I was off work, there was no way I was going to be able to use that time productively, as I couldn’t even get to the studio, never mind do anything there.  So, I watched way too much tv.  I guess I’m allowed sometimes.  Now, because of the foot (and other reasons), I’m working half days for a while, so I’ve been trying to put my time to good use.  I still don’t have a lot of mobility (or stamina) with the leg, but it’s better than it was, so… no excuse, you know?

So I’ve been working a little bit.  A little bit on the IMR, and a little bit on some other things.  As I bought a skill saw when I was making the panels (to cut out the large holes), I’ve been playing with that.  Realizing that it’s all the sudden so much easier to cut tiny pieces of wood, I’m making automata parts, not really knowing what I’m doing with it, or what the intention is.  I’m cutting things, glueing them together, making parts for…. something.  An experiment, if only for my own entertainment (and learning).

I’m also working a bit of the IMR stuff, namely electronics.  Trying to make the Morphoids breathe.  I can come up with a not-too-complicated machine able to create the motion I want, but then, when I try to actually install it in the Morphoid (“We can rebuild him.  Better.  Stronger.  Faster.”), the motor’s not strong enough, the tension on the material (which is important to keep the form) stops the motion from happening.  Hmm.  Trying not to think about it, in order to come up with a better solution.  Percolation time.  Man, sometimes I really wish I could remember my dreams.  That’s where the solutions are.

Lastly, I’ve been melting Phentex.  Drawing with it.  Making jigs out of MDF and nails (that was a twilight zone idea).  It’s gross stuff, doesn’t break.  Melted, it looks like you drew with a giant crayon in the air.  The experiments I’ve been doing are no where near reliable enough to use for anything yet.  Reminds me of the first versions of the polyester.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I’m in an experimental phase right now, playing with some materials, techniques, and ideas.  The only thing I feel I have to finish sooner or later is the mechanics for the Morphoids, but that’s going to take some engineering.  The other things I see as being a diversion right now, to get me back into the swing of it, but their potential may be farther down the road, after the IMR, if at all.  There will be an after-the-IMR, and maybe sooner than you think- I’m getting to the point where I’ve got a couple of things left to do, but then it’s time to move on to something else.

(Why is it that we’re so encouraged to come up with a cohesive body of work, and then, two years in, I’m told I’ve gotta be careful it doesn’t turn into the only thing people think I do?  Read this:  Artist’s consistency Versus Kicking Ass)

Pictures later!


I’ve given myself permission to take a bit of a break.  A break from working, anyway.  I need some time to let some things that are in my brain percolate, and possibly manifest into something.  They are both directly related to my practice, and not directly, but I feel like I need to take a step back and re-evalate what I want to spend my energy on at this point in time.  Strategize.  Listen to my gut, as your gut always knows what you should do.

It’s not a crisis, but a quiet introspection.  A gathering and arranging of thoughts and ideas, a re-ordering.  I may come out of it with something tangible, and I may not, but that’s okay.  It will clear things up in my head, and hopefully, I’ll have a renewed sense of direction.  Direction is related to purpose, and both are formed by reconnecting with your core.

Vague, I know.  Percolation time is always vague.  Percolation is not actively thinking about something, but letting sit in your subconscious (not forgetting about it, just not thinking about it), and allowing it time.  My subconscious mulls it over, like a rock in a river, and things usually come out much more resolved than when they go in.  I let it happen by the natural process, instead of interfering and complicating things.

I’ve always liked that term for this, percolation.  You smell the coffee, anticipate it’s deliciousness, and slow down.  It’s a time out.  It also gets better if you just leave it alone, and timing is everything.

Anyway, see you on the other side.

Spinning my Wheels…

You may have noticed that I’m having a tough time getting rolling lately.  I’ve been spinning my wheels.  Twyla Tharp would call it a rut (not a groove, which is how things had been going for about the last… two years).  Even though I have a lot of ideas of things to work on, everything seems daunting, and my energy is low, never mind trying to find studio time.  (Work is probably a big part of that lately, although I do like my job.)  I’ve got things laying in pieces all over my studio, and piles of things on counters that I haven’t touched in a couple of months.  I’ve been carrying around my sketchbook in my bag, without having hardly cracked it open in weeks.  I have lists of things I want to do, applications to write, and lists of things to research and books to check out of the library.  Lists of things I’d like to make and materials to order. And all I do is none of it.

What’s going on?  I’ve tried taking a break, since before we went on vacation last month.  That’s getting me nowhere, as there seems to be no end in sight.  My motivation hasn’t returned at all.  I’ve been making a point to hang out with a few good friends, but that hasn’t helped much.  I make a point of spending time in the studio, but it seems I just move things around.  Or stare things down.  Flip through my sketchbooks,  zone out or stare at the wall.  I know sometimes I need percolation time, but this isn’t percolation time, it’s literally nothing.

My usual tactics for restoring my motivation aren’t working.  I try working in my journals- same problem.  I flip through the books on my shelves, particularly The Journals of Dan Eldon, anything Danny Gregory, Lynda Barry, Julia Cameron, and… nothing.  Usually I can flip through whatever grabs my attention, and off I go.  There’s a spark.  Right now, the tinder is waterlogged.  Usually even something like “Paper Cutouts” can cause a spark.

Anyway, this is getting old fast.  Normally, I pride myself on my self discipline, but that has been an incredible challenge lately, although it can’t be unique to me.  Do any of you have any ideas?  I could sure use some suggestions.

(The photo is my studio when we moved in, in August of 2009.  Looks a little different now, I’d say!)