Excerpt: Today’s Quandary.

Making a hundred and twenty five books doesn’t scare me so much – especially since I would have had help – it’s the loss of the handmade that freaked me out. That’s really important to me. All of the pages wouldn’t have been original like they are now.

The edition of eight, has allowed me to make an embroidered page and two extra original watercolor pages, so I think it would have sucked to have digitally printed those, or offset printed them.

Listen to me – happy about not receiving a $12K grant. That’s funny.

Bringing you back up to date now, I’m talking about the project I just started, Carol Es une Monographie de Lignes. I’m so excited! I want to tell the world. I want to keep it a secret. I want the days to run longer.

I work better under deadlines. I think most artists do. So I needed to figure out how to give myself one, and I often find ways to give myself deadlines by “tricking” myself in these ways.

Asking Bill how much time he needs to rip off the soft covers of 35 books I make through Lulu.com and rebind them in letterpressed, hardcovers so that I can release them by January 1st will give me the deadline I need to finish the drawings.

Leaving blank pages in the front of the book when it’s done gives me room to make original drawings in colored pencil and ink. The rest of the book is in black and white so I’ve been keenly focused – while having lots of fun – making these black drawings. I am in love with these Micron, Sukura Pigma Brush pens.

Half of the Houses books aren’t even bound yet! It’s supposed to be “released’ in less than a week and there it lay, untouched, while I’m excitedly swishing my brush pen around without a care in the world.

Bad Carol, bad.

Yesterday I finished the last of the drawings for the first of the five chapters. It took me some time figuring out the chapters. Thinking and figuring. Scribbling and writing. I enjoy this sort of crap.

Ideas came down in lists. I love lists.






There was a line that connected the top and bottom words, but I don’t remember why.

Across from the word “Cult” was the word,“Preliminaries.” That was for no particular reason, other than just running out of room in my notebook.

Then the list continued with




Beneath Diagnoses were all my diagnoses: MS, Lupus, OCD, Bipolar depression, Colitis, PTSD, *DDNOS

More lists followed: (Sigh)

The Others

Birthood         Family

Childhood      Relationships












*What is DDNOS? You must be asking.

When I first heard this, my Bullshit Meter went off. It means, Dissociative Disorder (not otherwise specified).

Dissociative Disorder, I understand. I had to read more about the “nos” part, and it just means that there’s not enough criteria to fit any particular “subtypes.” There are quite a few subtypes.

Depersonalization disorder, dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, and dissociative identity disorder… Oy Vhey!

So I’m not quite Sybil, but it’s not like I have amnesia either. I know a little about my early childhood trauma. Just not all of it. That’s why I disassociate and everything becomes unreal, surreal, unfamiliar, drug-like, or somniferous. Snuffleupagus.

Anyway, finally, five chapters came together that I settled on:

  1. Birth, Childhood, Family
  2. Invention and Preliminaries
  3. Influences
  4. Diagnoses
  5. Escape and Ideology

Chapter One, Birth, Childhood, Family, has been where most of my focus has been, although something is not quite right. I have to figure it out.

I guess I am a little worried about what the viewer/reader is going to think about my childhood and family. …Oh, I can’t believe I just wrote that.

  1. Never allow outer voices to pass the threshold of the studio door.
  2. What was your intention in the first place?

Two counts: FAIL! And FAIL! Now I have to rethink this “monograph in lines.” Perhaps I need to go over my Elements List.

Yes, go ahead. Make fun. I’m a giant dorkface. I keep this Elements List on the back of one of the cabinet doors in my studio where no one can see it.

It’s very private and personal for me, and it’s only for me, so I just don’t have it out in the open. The list changes every six months to a year. I go over it. I reassess it. I change what I want on it. It’s part of my process, and it helps me stay in line, so shut up.

You could say it’s like my 10 Commandments. Everything I create: painting or drawing specifically, must align with the list, Like Dexter’s Code.

When I first thought about a visual monograph, I imagined a lot of abstracted scribbles. I knew that some would be slightly narrative, but for the most part they would be ambiguous and loosely meaningful, and kinda existential.

It helps me to write before I draw. I have been doing this for a while now. Ellie got me into the habit of doing this, which is why I’m dedicating the book to her.

Her exercises have helped me to develop the ability to translate my words, my feelings, and my concepts into tangible images, and it’s almost starting to feel natural.

The only time things get cloudy is when I start tripping out – allowing myself to get caught up in self-doubt. Now that’s a killer! I’m serious. It will kill all that you really are.

It’s just like letting those voices in over the threshold.

© Carol Es, Today’s Quandary., 2013.