Eaton Hamilton

the problem with being trans is cis people. The problem with being queer is straight people. The problem with being disabled is abled people. The problem with being Black is white people. In other words, prejudice.

Tag: painting

What an effing week…

Painting by: Eaton Hamilton, 2022; “Slouching” oil stick and fingerpainting on stretched canvas

This is me, I swear, though I am the next thing to bald (with many crop circles from alopecia):

It’s my new oil stick and fingerpainted work, on stretched canvas, one of a series of non-binary folks dressed mostly in black against colourful backgrounds. Inquire for price and size.

As far as work goes, wowsers. I’m sure it’s that I have not a second free and a list that could circle the globe of urgent TO DOs that I would suddenly, suddenly, enter a writing time warp and have to do nothing else. No, actually, it’s just as much deadlines. Now or never on those. Short work. Three full-length stories in various stages of drafts. Three short pieces out of nowhere. I need to get back to the memoir in the worst way (I ache for it and it’s owed), but, first, these necessities. What an incredibly fertile time, though, per most Septembers, and a mix of stressy and fun at the same time. Need to accomplish finishing one essay as well. Then freedom of sorts, back to painting and writing half and half each day (with loads of time off to accommodate dog and disability).

How is September for you? How you holding up? When I was parenting, I used to call Sept “Hell month.” Kids were freaked by getting up and out, new classrooms and teachers, new clothes, new pencils, and came home wrecked by having to keep up appearances all day, trying to get along, trying to fit in, trying not to mis-step. And homework! No need for anything except volunteer homework in primary–if you want to do it, please do. If you don’t care to, please don’t.

Today, I am dull

painting: Eaton Hamilton, oil stick on oil paper

…but hopefully my work still is not! Not much from my pen or oil stick this week with a new pupper and a concussion. Today I feel pretty ill.

Nonetheless, I wish you a safe and cheering week.

Still Mulling Over Trauma

painting by Eaton Hamilton 12×16″ oil stick and fingerpainting on canvas on board

Peculiar week where nothing went as planned. Had a freaky meltdown using zoom. Always knew I couldn’t manage it but had no insight as to why (obviously, autism, but when it was first around I imagined it would be a wet dream, and it was the opposite, and I had to stop. I still wanted the contact, and the reading or workshop or whatever I was on there for, but I couldn’t handle it so quit zoom altogether). I’ve talked about it a little and it’s actually quite common. We’re not good with phones as a population, and we’re not great with zoom either.

As for painting, yum, going great, but oils are so *wet.* Using a lot of RF oil sticks this week because I ran out of a lot of colours, and those of course require whacks of driers resulting in an instant headache. My Corsi-Rosenthal filter is helping with this a lot, thank goodness. I’m using only oil sticks and fingerpaints, and anyone who knows this media knows they’re as good for fine detail work as, I dunno, socks? Still, I’m learning to control them, in part by painting bigger (covering old work I never finished). The two brands I really love, RF and private ones I have made, are sooooo sexy and buttery, but the driers for the former exhaust me. The sexiness reminds me of Kroma tube paints (Granville Island, Vancouver); it’s like lubing up a canvas, I swear.

Writing, well… I seem to keep running away from the difficulty of it. I know I have many, many pragmatic and urgent things to do and ordinarily that would keep me head down, writing, right? (The way the urgency of having to clean behind your fridge with a toothbrush only arises on a writing deadline.) I am procrastinating, and it’s the thing I despise most about myself. It gives me days and weeks and months of agony for utterly no reason at all.

Have a good one, wherever you are. Mask up, keep your kids safe(r) in their schools. Promote ventilation to every business you use.

Trauma Keeps On Giving

painting by Eaton Hamilton, 16″x 20″, oil sticks on canvas, “The Impasse” 2022

I doubt anyone writing a childhood memoir is not writing, at least peripherally, about some kind of trauma. We have to, after all, have an issue at the center of our self-inquiries. Of course that may be an illness, an unusual death, or any number of other topics, but childhood memoirs are often quite focused on troubling events from the past, and, sometimes, how those reach out to affect your current life.

Certainly mine is such. I can’t even, people advise, tell the complete story, for it is, they say, too awful to read. This infuriates me. Reading it is, to living through it, as a puddle to an ocean. However, nevertheless, I’m constricting it. Jury’s still out on my third attempt to land at a workable first draft. I’ve just edited and printed the first 100 or so pages, so I’ll see how they read, whether I’m getting anywhere at all or just making things worse.

Probably I won’t read it. Probably I’ll just use my headstrong energy to go ahead and make more mistakes I’ll need to repair.

Read this by Beth Macy, from Lit Hub.

Hard to be enthusiastic at the mo…

painting by Eaton Hamilton 2022

Hard to be enthusiastic these days. No matter how hard I push to keep up, I seem to fall farther and farther behind. I haven’t snapped back from June surgery the way I should have yet. I’m dragging myself from event to event, and because I haven’t felt this much fatigue in a good while, I’m going to go out on a limb and call this a flare. In any case, nothing personally catastrophic is happening in my life so I’m going with that! Very concerned about the general conditions in the world (is this the beginning of dystopia? Is Cdn healthcare going to be gone in six months, once mpx hits hospitals hard? Is war going to ever stop? Where are the vaccines? Anne Heche! Etc etc. I find myself thinking about the kiddos from Uvalde, both the victims and the survivors, a fair deal). What are we doing to ourselves? What are we doing to our world/our globe?

As for writing, it’s going well. I finally had my book printed the other day (I thought I’d changed the font size but I had not, so it’s all printed in 18 pt, what a waste of paper) so that in case the web goes down permanently, I have a copy of sorts (of sorts). I made a chart of what’s happening in each chunk so I can keep track. I’m beginning to “read” it though I’ve never been good at reading my own work. I work on it as I go instead. Not very far into it yet.

Meantime, the enormous project of getting some artwork on paper ready for my new website has concluded! Hurrah! Now to build the site!

Not at all looking forward to this week. It has some challenging pieces to it.

Hope your week is looking fabulous. Have a good one!

Hello from Sunday!

Eaton Hamilton: After Modi, acrylic

What do I have to say for myself this week? I last saw humans Tues when the family (daughter and kiddos) dropped by to give me berries and peas from the market. Otherwise, I have been head down, working hard, and sometimes fighting sickness. (Was quite ill at points, unknown cause.)

Every boiling day I’ve been managing to get a snippet of gardening down. Can’t ignore watering during heat waves, alas, and that’s my least favourite thing to have to keep up with every day. Otherwise, it’s time for the Shirley poppies to go. I’ve been waiting for them to go to seed first. Now the seed’s collected and away their brittle brown corpses can go, down the hillside. I’ve lost the young man who did an astonishing good job cutting my grass (to a job!), so I’m trying to at least weed-eat the dandelions before they seed, though the battery isn’t properly charging so this is tedious. Otherwise working on the already seeded weeds. How did I let them get this bad? A question I ask every summer.

Since I don’t go to the nurseries (covid, inaccessibility), I don’t have my usual filler annuals. It is already looking very brown out there and once it’s clean, I imagine that will be far worse. I’m trying to be chill about it.

I’m controlling the heat in here by keeping curtains drawn most of the day and then, when they’re open placing fan in front of open door facing house, with bowl of ice, to cool the place in the evening. The heat spell is said to be about to break. I’ll be glad.

Have barely painted, and I just don’t know what to say about the mess I’m making of this memoir, so I won’t say anything. Working hard when I can on getting images of paintings sorted, named, measured and web-res’d to go up on my new painting site.

Hope your weeks as summer ends are good ones, with satisfying connections and summer play. Tonight I’m taking the girls to see (swim in possibly) phosphorescence (masked in my Flo Mask, of course)!

These days, while I’m moving…

pastel by Eaton Hamilton

…and have a lot of medical appts to wade through, it never happens that I can clear my schedule for a week. It seems baggy and luxurious, like an emotional space I can fit into for once.

Moving has never really been as bad as now, since if you don’t find a place before you to have leave, there’s literally nowhere to go. Not for the wealthy, I know, but for we serfs.

So, I had a week where I could cancel a couple last things and just feel the space around me. I motored through a partial draft of my memoir having no idea if I was hitting the right direction or losing it even more entirely than I had in the draft where that was allowed. I’d laugh except the daunting task of reading this one-third book has not happened yet. I dread finding out it doesn’t work, again.

What are you writing this week? Are you getting through in a project that’s been giving you pain? Any successes to report?

Have a good week if you can with all the worry.

Diversity in authors and subject matter

painting by: Eaton Hamilton 2020; woman in wheelchair

I knew diverse representation in publishing was bad, but I didn’t understand quite how bad it really was until authors divulged their advances on twitter’s #whatpublishingpaidme thread a couple years back. Even to me, who absolutely expected evidence of racism, homphobia, transphobia and ableism, it was a shock how publishing advances often had nothing to do with prior publishing success and a whole lot more to do with whether or not the author was white, able-bodied, straight and cis, and, often (still), male.

The red carpet rolls out for those folks, and not so much for the rest of us. I do maintain that most agents and publishers give lip service to wanting diverse books and authors, but in actuality they really only want to want them. They used to tell us that our stories were overloaded by the addition of queer characters and they’d suggest the protagonists be straight so as not to distract from the storyline, but now they say there’s just not an audience. What they really mean by that is that they’re not willing to give a good advance to work they’re not personally interested in, nor go to the trouble and expense of finding the book’s enthusiastic market.

I’m sick of it. It’s lasted all my literary career. All of it, over 35 years of it. You don’t know my books because of this discrimination, and that is true for thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of other artists as well.

If you build it, to quote WP Kinsella, they will come.

Here’s The Guardian discussing diversity in publishing lately:
Changing the narrative on disability: is representation in books getting better? by Lucy Webster

and here they are, recently, discussing senstivity readers:

Stop moaning about sensitivity readers – if there was diversity in publishing we wouldn’t need them, by Juno Dawson

Roe, Roe, Roe Your Boat Safely Down the Stream?

painting by: Eaton Hamilton 2022, acrylic on acrylic paper

People will know me as half American in my heart, since I was once a permanent resident there, and that’s where I went to university and learned about literature. Watching the Supreme Court steal rights from half the population in the leaked draft decision overturning Roe, and reading their appalling and ludicrous basis for the decision (citing a dude who burned witches at the stake? saying we owe the country an increase in adoptable babies?) has been soul-crushing, and while I am worried and anxious about climate change, about the war and its deathly abuses, about violence against women and children, about justice, about transphobia and homophobia, about ableism, about racism, about the young people and children of today who need to be able to find homes, I am freaked the eff out about what’s happening. Yes, I can trace the white bread crumbs back to the seventies and see the GOP’s long-game, and I know the GOP is where grown-up bullies go to toy with new victims, but even so the sadism of this surprises me.

I grew up during the times of back alley abortions, which thankfully had mostly vanished by the time I was a late teen. Still, even then, abortion was only legal if the health of the mother was threatened, which wasn’t good enough. Three doctors (white men) had to agree and then the matter went before a hospital board.

And nor do I think Canada’s position on abortion, modernized since then so that we have no law at all, is by any means secure. It only allowed the right-wing to take over hospital boards, who rule access, and remove it where they can. Even while abortion remains legal, access continually dwindles and the threat of violence against people seeking procedures remains heightened.

We live in perilous times. But I always stop to remember that if you are Indigenous or Black or Latinx or Asian you have always lived in perilous times. Maternal deaths from childbirth in Black communities are high. In Canada, on the regular and in current times, Indigenous babies are ripped from parental arms for no reason beyond racism.

That supply of adoptable babies, again.

So, yes, I have been writing, and, yes, I have been painting, and, yes, I have been spring cleaning, but more I’ve been staving off depression because I cannot bear what’s happening.

I hope you’re doing a fair sight better than I am.

This week

drawing by: Eaton Hamilton

My kid had a birthday and took her children snowboarding for their first time–lucky ducks. They both loved it, and staying overnight at a hotel, too. The older child, 7, has fallen for independent reading in the worst way, doing exactly what both her mom and I did as kids, walking around with her book clutched in her hands, not willing to exit the story long enough to eat or interact.

I find that thrilling, I think because reading’s always been such a joy for me as well. “She reads a book a night,” her mom said, so I asked how she manages to keep up with the demand. “The library.”

Me, I’ve finished prepping the garden beds for spring thanks to a lovely sunny day yesterday, which thrills me except I’m so stiff I can no longer walk. So good to dig my hands into the loam. I swear I’m hungry for this by March, but the earth is usually too damned cold. Not this year where I live and love.

Next for power washing and a dump run and the outside will be in tip top shape. I moved my canvases from inside to the storage shed, where they’re set up with a dehumidifier. Glad that’s done. Next step is moving inside, where I will declutter, de-spider-web, and give the place a good going over. That should take some weeks.

Spring cleaning. Or should I say accounting avoidance?

I just got buzzed by a hummer telling me it’s time to change the nectar in the feeders–quite rightly. They know. So the new nectar is cooling in the measuring cup on the stove.

I have to create a grant application in the next couple weeks. I was trying to come up with a name for the new project and I realized I’d thought up a great title for a book a couple weeks ago and noted it down. I was wondering what the scope of the project should be–its defining scaffolding, if you will–and I went in search of that book title. There it was, not just the title, but as soon as I read the title again, the book itself announced itself, its range, tip to toe, where it begins and where it ends.

Also relieving.

I got a cheque for royalties for my old memoir, too. Good to know it’s still selling!

How are things down your way, here on the spring equinox, when days and nights are the same lengths? At least at this time of year we have the beautiful resurgence of spring. The first cherry blossoms here where I live are popping! They are perhaps my all-time favourite and most cheering sight.

I hope you see them where you are and I hope they give you hope and forebearance.

What would you like to learn about writing?

painting by: Eaton Hamilton 2021

I was wondering what to write today, and I wondered if there are followers here who’d like me to speak about some aspects of being an author? I have the best advice for writing blocks! I was plagued by them for decades until I figured out that having multiple pieces in-progress at once works well to overcome them. You run into a block on one piece, you just move to another. If you have, say, five going along, waiting for your attention, just the fact that they need you seems to be an impetus to get moving on them.

Try it. Work this way for a month or so and then tell me what you think. Do you have questions about it?

What else would you like to talk about, here?

This week, the author Sonya Huber posted a great essay on LitHub, “The Three Words That Almost Ruined Me As a Writer: ‘Show, Don’t Tell’” You know those words if you’ve been around writing instructors–including me–at any time. I think they’re valuable but, as Sonya points out, they’ve become way too prescriptive. She also notes that part of that instruction is “don’t tell” which as we know is what every victim of violence has heard again and again, to her harm.

January holds twelve months

painting by Eaton Hamilton 2022

Anyone else feeling the pinch of the longest month of the year? God, it drags. Never sure I’m ready, though, for how life escalates after February until, by April, it feels like a race. Not sure it’s possible to get back the feeling of endless summers I had when I was a kid (“Mo-oo-om, what’s there to do?”).

But I appreciate all the garden changes–the buds, the bulbs shooting up, the snowdrops, the crocuses blooming. The idea of clean-up. Getting compost on the beds after being indoors all winter.

I’m not able to work efficiently at this time because of health issues keeping work at bay, but I’m able to work steadily, a little at a time, without taking any days off–what would I do with them? I’m in lockdown–and bits accrue, they do. Up to about 35,000 words in the memoir-in-progress now, looking to March as a possibility for finishing the first draft, leaving me a few months for hopefully making my way through two more drafts.

All very pie-in-the-sky hopes at the moment. But, dream big.

Dream with me, won’t you? Pick a dream and let’s dream it with me in Feb and March. I’ll dream that I’m somehow able to stay in my house another year and with that dream get a dependable car.

A new year, a whole new world?

painting: Eaton Hamilton, 2020

Happy new year, everyone! It’s been a rocky holiday season for me, busy as I was having a PET scan in the omicron soup of Victoria, BC, and waiting waiting waiting for results. Meantime, with family just up the road, I stayed in lockdown. Been painting. Been working on my memoir. Been watching TV. Been switching out hummingbird feeders during out sub-zero weather and snow dumps. One feeder belched nectar and the hummers stuck to the perches and had to tear feathers, and, I presume, skin off to get free, even as it was -12C. After I realized what had happened, I was able to improve this for the future by bringing feeders in and running water over the perches. But it’s been a struggle, made partly so by the birds’ extreme aggression. At the start, I’d guess I had 20-30 birds here; by the end, I was only seeing maybe five. There were new fledglings, too, and surprisingly, they seemed to manage better than the adults because they weren’t scared of unknown feeders and fed well. Now that it’s warmer, I haven’t seen the littles again.

Best wishes as we move a bit further into January and more inane, ineffective mitigation policies from what is supposedly Public Health. Happy creating! It helps, being creative. It takes the edge of fury off about all the unnecessary suffering.

It’s been a great writing week; how about you?

painting by: Eaton Hamilton 2021; middle-aged Gertrude Stein

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but halfway through my memoir writing time, I decided to punt the book and start over. Something had been niggling at me for months, and that something was suggesting it wasn’t working. It finally barrelled to the front of my brain and I began over. I frequently do this with books, which is why I’ve written 3x more than I’ve tried to have published. I already have 10K words done. This week could be a washout, though, due to other challenges.

I hope your holidays were good ones. I don’t really celebrate Christmas, but this year is snowy and desperately cold and I’m certainly watching the weather, at least and hoping the power doesn’t go out. The wind just came up, one of the forecast gusts, I guess. Most of my time seems to be used bringing in hummingbird feeders to blow-dry them into thaw before setting them back out. The hummers–must be 20-30, all squabbling–are desperate.

As always you can follow daily paintings on IG at hamiltonart1000 and also join my Patreon for weekly chats on writing and painting (Hamilton Art)!

The holidays

painting: Eaton Hamilton 2018

We are swiftly approaching the shortest day of the year, but, today, everything where I live feels springlike and I feel that awkward-in-December urge to get out and start spring cleanup. Summer roses near the warmth of the house are still blooming. The hummingbirds asked for a change of nectar (they come hover in front of my face when they need my services), which I provided. They are feeling gay and glorious and I think their instincts may be turning them toward nest-building. We’ll see. I hope they hold off. I hope I do.

I had one of those burning bush moments last night, an epiphany about the structure of my work-in-progress. These work epiphanies are double-sided: fabulous because hello, solution; difficult because it means a ton of work ahead, right? I got out of bed to go retrieve my computer and set things up on Scrivener so I’d have a scaffolding to follow in the morning if the idea held water.

It held water.

This week

Painting: Eaton Hamilton 2021 (appeared at Guernica)

This week BC had catastrophic rains following just on the heels of another catastrophic fire season and heat dome. Things are in a bad way, with thousands upon thousands of animals dead, a state of emergency declared, and many roadways and highways washed out amidst flooding and washouts. Wishing everyone the very best with this new challenge. I’m sorry for your losses and your sorrows. Help victims here:

Times Colonist info

This week, too, of course, was the XX acquittal in the US. I can’t say the murderer’s name, but you know who I mean. I ached for the families in the courtroom as the verdicts were delivered and just as much for what this means for the safety of social justice workers and racial minorities protesting on US streets. As always, you can donate to the ACLU, who work to keep you safe.

The good news is that we now have vaccines for 5-11 year olds in Canada. This is a relief. Despite my own vax status (x2), I have medical problems that mean I need to avoid the people I most want in my life, but when they’re flu and covid vaxxed, I’ll be able to resume our relationships.

On the creative side of things, I continue to show visual art daily on Instagram at hamiltonart1000! I hope you’ll visit and drop me a line; if you fall in love with a painting, do inquire about its availability! You can also support me on Patreon at Hamilton Art.

In the writing world, it’s award-season and I’d like to congratulate all the long-listed and short-listed authors, and the winners (!), and urge readers to remember those who weren’t on the lists–their books are still terrific! Me, I’m working on difficult essays and those remain difficult to find forms to fit them. Still, I work on them every day. I’m working, in particular, on an essay about homelessness and another about autism.

I hope you are doing okay. I find it harder to be doing okay the longer the pandemic lasts. Many gov’ts, including BCs, seem to have decided not to battle hard against covid any longer, declaring it as a preventable illness (say what now?) and endemic. Good luck to you navigating through your week. I wish you all the best.

Why do you write?

painting by Eaton Hamilton 2021

Someone on FB asked why we write. I had a dream where the horses from my childhood were starving. The food I found ran out but there was still a filly to feed, and I found her a plastic pen. I was worried that the plastic would shatter in her throat.

She’s how I would talk about writing. She was starving and the pen could save her–but it also came with splinters.

I’ve Been Off…

Geez, sometimes life is just too hard. I’ve been away from social media for the most part dealing with a couple of personal crises, and while I might be here bodily again, my brain is still offline, unable to fully function. I can’t do anything with it that needs the slightest bit of concentration. Well, no, that’s not true. I can drive or cook, and I can watch TV, but anything that contains a true challenge–working–is out of the question. While I’m waiting for the brain’s capacities to come back online, I’m trying to dab my brush at some small paintings.

What do you do when you’re in this state?

New Painting.

‘Tops. Yes They Call it Tops’–painting by Jane Eaton Hamilton 20″x24″ mixed-media on stretched canvas
We are all full of sorrow, grief and fear. I wish you all the strength to bear what comes our way/your way with grace.
I’m not having any luck painting at night because writing is just a wily beast and it claws all the time from any day. Keeping up with errands and housework, too, is proving a chore.
 
The weekends are for art. Today I rearranged my home studio because it’s in a small bedroom and I’m really at the stage I need one of the big studio spaces available in Vancouver, so I can go large. In this studio I can’t paint against the wall, have a ladder to get to the high parts, have multiple works going at once, or even store extant pieces. So it’s all a hellish jumble without adequate storage systems. I reworked the layout of the rickety old tables I have to give me some mostly empty table space for flat work and hope that will help to make it manageable.
 
Meantime, this painting is what I’ve been working on.

Part of the studio jumble is dozens of old paintings where my reach exceeded my grasp. Things I couldn’t figure out and abandoned as under paintings or just flubbed. What a delight to repurpose them! I’ve had several “go-fix-this” days in the last couple months, and with a few exceptions I’ve been successful. There’s still more to do to this one, but it will have to wait as for some reason, tomorrow’s Monday.

Meantime, two major rewrites this week on old/newish short stories, which was hella hard but gratifying. This week fun things like submitting and accounting, along with trying to finish first draft of a new story.

To purchase a print (mug, shower curtain, set of cards) please see Fine Art America under my name or Hamilton Art. To inquire about purchasing originals, please contact me at hamiltonjaneeaton at gmail dot com.

Torso

Covid-19 has stolen my voice. I went silent in March and am still mostly silent. I live alone so not seeing people makes this more severe. I’m struggling to write. Maybe I don’t believe there’s a reason any longer, though one could certainly argue that there’s never been a more vital time to lift your voice. I am trying every day to lift mine.

I find solace in making art. I’ve been doing a month-long art journal for the first time since I was in art school, when I would sometimes keep one for a particular class. It’s been instructive. This torso reminds me that creating torsos was an original love of mine and probably what I would have worked on if I had expanded into sculpture.

 

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