Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for October, 2011


Monday, October 31st, 2011

Riding my bike around the neighborhood, I’ve been paying attention to the Halloween decorations. It’s impressive what one can accomplish with a bit of polyfill and some well placed lighting.

I’ve been clearing a few cobwebs of my own these days. Every year around this time, I find a few more things I need to let go. Sometimes it’s clearing out a closet, and sometimes it’s letting go of ideas that entangle me.

One of the best ways to do that comes from writing, and I’ve been surprised that writing here has clarified so many things for me. For example, I’m realizing that my words here are entwined with the painting. It’s why l love painting and writing these notes to you. They belong together.

And I realize that not everyone appreciates that, but I really feel like my real work is emerging from this series and I’m letting go of a few cobwebs around that. Like the idea that abstract work isn’t “real” art. Or that people aren’t interested in my stories. Or that my work is validated by how many people read these words every morning.

The truth is, I’m doing good work. I know that. And those pesky cobwebs holding ideas that get in the way of that truth need to be swept away.


Friday, October 28th, 2011

The emails I get from you guys make me ridiculously happy.

Carrie wrote me this week, with perhaps the best compliment of all 2011.

“Jolie, in a world of Rice Krispies, you are a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.”

I’m saving this quote forever. Thanks, Carrie.


Monday, October 24th, 2011

Lately I’ve heard nothing but doom and gloom. Everyone around me seems to be sick, poor and grumpy.

And yesterday was one of those days. You know, the kind where the cat wakes you up hours before the alarm goes off and you can’t get back to sleep, then you realize the bike basket you ordered is never going to fit the new bike, and things are hectic all day long, and you get a headache, and then you realize that headache might be because it’s 6pm and you’ve eaten nothing all day but some cinnamon raisin toast and a soy latte. So you decide to go for sushi by yourself and the waitress messes up the order and leaves you waiting for nearly an hour when all you want is a measly avocado roll.

But then again, yesterday was one of those days. You know, the kind where you wake before the sun and watch the light slowly fill the sky, then jump on your beautiful new bike and zip down the hill in the sunshine, and fill so much of your day with things that you love to do– like knit, and teach art and paint– that you forget to eat. And then you get to spend an hour reading a book in peace while waiting for someone else to make food for you. And the avocado roll is amazing.

The reality is honestly somewhere between those two days. But I like the second version better. The line may be blurry, but my glass is always half full.


Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Part of the joy of knitting is getting to play with string. It’s pretty and soft and swirly. But sometimes, for no apparent reason, string gets tangled.

There are three types of tangles in my world.

  1. The tangle you see coming and you’re able to prevent with a quick flick of the wrist.
  2. The tangle that delays your project for a few minutes, but makes you feel smart when you restore order to the yarn.
  3. The tangle that takes hours to untangle and makes you cry or stamp your foot in frustration at least once.

When faced with a tangle like number three, I have to decide– is it worth the untangle? See, if it’s a $60 skein of silk, then maybe I’m willing to spend hours. But if it’s $3 acrylic fun fur, I doubt I’d invest more than a few minutes.

It’s a bit like relationships. Sometimes a relationship that needs to be untangled. Maybe words are twisted, or webs have been woven and you have to decide if it’s worth untangling, so that you can knit things back together.



Friday, October 21st, 2011

I know it’s not even Halloween, but Christmas decorations are everywhere. I want to be annoyed, but I really love fairy lights.

And if I call them fairy lights, I can hang them in my studio all year, right?


Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Everyday at 11:15am and 5:30pm an alarm goes off on my cell phone. It’s my reminder to sit up straight and take a deep breath.

Today as I was thinking about what I wanted to paint, my alarm went off and I was thinking about my spine. So I decided to sit up straight and paint what I was thinking.


Saturday, October 15th, 2011

I’ve spent years attempting to sort myself out– to put different parts of me in the appropriate boxes. Brunette, Artist, slightly nerdy, car-free, former Southerner, Wife, knitter, vegetarian.

Over the past year or so, I’ve realized that those boxes are pretty fuzzy.

So I’ve been working to think more of the whole. Each of those pieces is integral to who I am, but they aren’t distinct. They blend together.


Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Nearly 20 paintings in to this project, I’m starting to form a routine.  I walk in to my studio, don my apron,  and open my laptop. I turn on music– usually I start with Jonatha, but have also been known to play Pink if it’s been one of those days.

Then I pick up one of the canvases hanging on the wall behind the easel. Most of them have a few layers of paint already on them. I always start with primer, then at least one layer of color, just to get rid of the pressure of a blank canvas.

I’ll squeeze out my paints on to the palette and add a new layer of paint while I wait to figure out what my painting wants to be each day.

A big part of making a good painting is knowing when to quit.


Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Ever have one of those days?

You know, where you decide that the biggest painting you’ve ever created is nearly ready, and you want to show it to your people, so you get pretty excited…but then you spend all the time you planned to be painting chipping giant hunks of ice from your refrigerator because it stopped working…? One of of those days? Maybe it’s just me.

But I’m still excited, so that’s why I’m still awake at this hour. Because I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. I wanted you to see this painting today– even if it meant I had to stay up a little later than I planned.

And here it is. It’s always good to end a day on a high note.


Monday, October 10th, 2011

As this series takes shape, I’m starting to notice a pattern emerge.

Paintings seem to have layers, or they’re about color. Some relate to big ideas I’m mulling over, and some tell a story of time and change. Others are just repetitive shapes– patterns in themselves.

Some days when I’m uncertain which painting needs attention, or what to show you here, it helps to look at the pattern. An teacher of mine used to ask, “What is the ‘about-ness’ of the work?” It’s a good question, and I plan to keep asking it.

This one is about the pattern itself. Some days are up and some aren’t. All of them work together for something good.