Sunday, September 4, 2011

Not What I Expected

What I like about homework files is you can steal from your own stuff. This summer I thought I’d be doing just that: picking favorite parts of old projects and turning them into portfolio pieces. I meant to sneak in beach trips and poolside reads, too. Let’s just say the summer didn’t turn out as I expected.

In last semester’s design class, our final assignment was to redesign a storefront using a fifties theme. Admittedly, my choice wouldn’t be hard to improve upon. Every time I realize someone gets paid to create a sign like this one, I whimper to myself a little:

The assignment didn’t go as expected. Before I began my digital renovations, my father passed away. The teacher gave me the option to skip the project, but somehow within the gust of funeral details and travel pains, homework seemed comforting.

My building makeover turned out okay, but again – not what I expected. Nothing I’d show off in a design portfolio. I planned to use the piece later as inspiration for another retro style illustration. Summer was coming and everything would be better, right?

From the first hum of air conditioning units being fired up to the drying of grasses by the riverbed, it was a weary summer. There were heartaches and legal hassles, along with family issues and life-sucking paperwork. Terms like ‘fiduciary’ and ‘codicils’ stabbed my brain behind the eyeballs. I tried to fend them off by remembering childhood friends and rummaging through old photos.

I discovered that no matter how old you are, when you’ve lost both parents you can feel like an orphan. In my dreams, everything is harder than it should be: I go to the store to buy dish soap and realize when my feet hit the cold floor that I’ve forgotten my shoes; I try to find my way home but I travel the wrong way down a one-way street, and all the exits on the monstrous freeways are out of reach.

Last week I stole a few moments to work on that illustration. Grief and paperwork can step outside for a smoke once in a while - the bastards don’t have to breathe down my neck every second, do they?

A project can be a breath of fresh air, a leisurely stroll. Say, for instance, in a newly renovated, retro style neighborhood. It’s even better if you have no expectations.


Angela said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your father and your summer. While I liked the first design you made, I really loved the second. It has a retro and modern feel at the same time ... I think the shape of the rooftops, especially the one on the right has a modern if not futuristic feel to it.
I will picture you as the relaxed lady out for a breath of fresh air with her dog. Strolling down the street, knowing exactly where she's going...and remembering her shoes!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Both parents--I'm really sorry. The shock of that must take a long time to wear off. A constant gap.

I do dig retro. How fun to design a store front to that theme.

Lily Cate said...

Aww Adrienne, so sorry about loosing your dad.
I'm about the age my dad was when he became a grown-up orphan. It makes me thankful for the people I still have in my life, and makes me miss some I never really knew, like my grandparents, who were gone by the time I was 7.

But your homework is beautiful! That retro street would make me smile :)

Kim Kasch said...

It's so hard to lose loved ones :( so sorry.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Love the reinvention! From the original storefront to the first sassy makeover you gave it to its newest retro look.

Your awful dreams will morph too. Meanwhile, I'll send you good thoughts.

Anne Spollen said...

Oh, so sorry to hear, Adrienne. It's tough no matter how old you are or the parent.

And your designs are, as always, great. I love your art : )

Bish Denham said...

Oh Adrienne, I know that orphaned feeling well. And yet...there are moments when I feel in my face or hand moments the way I remember one or the other parent looking. And I know they are still with me. Your parents are with you as well. I hope the rest of your year settles down and behaves itself.

I really, really like the retro look of the store front. Good job!

Ara Burklund said...

So sorry to hear about your dad, Adrienne. What a rotten way to spend the summer! Glad you're able to take comfort in some of the little things, like your homework assignments. Your work is gorgeous, by the way! Absolutely love it!!! Calling it rough, I think you're underestimating your talent. : )

Adrienne said...

Thanks everyone for the nice comments. Not just this past summer, but the last few years have been a strange, strange season - like a bad TV movie. Still I have lots to be grateful for. :)

ICQB said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad. I hope you get the chance to relax and unwind from everything sometimes - like working on your project, which is absolutely wonderful, by the way.

Mary Witzl said...

I'm sorry to hear about your father dying. My mother has been dead for 30 years now, and my father died almost 20 years ago. It is never easy to lose your parents, and I still have those dreams about losing my way.

I love your last design for the bright colors and sassy style, but even more, for the contrast between the woman's ridiculously long legs and the dog's stumpy little ones.

Kelly Polark said...

Hugs to you, Adrienne.
What a difficult summer. I'm so sorry you lost your father.

sruble said...

Adrienne, so sorry to hear about your father and the rough couple of years! Sending lots of hugs your way, and good thoughts for a calmer fall.

p.s. I love the new art you are doing. It's fun to see your new style develop.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Sorry to hear about the passing away of your dad.It's hard to part from a loved one. keep up your sprightly art:)

Rena said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your father. My thoughts are with you.

I love the redesign of the sign. Sometimes I see printed things and just wonder what they were thinking.