Unearthing creative possibilities: Trish Roque's website, personal blog, & portfolio

Archive for the ‘Finding Balance’ Category

Lessons from my dog: growing old with grace

I don’t often write about my pets, though my site is full of their pictures. But lately, I’ve felt compelled to write about Siwa, who will be 12 years old in February (update: she is actually older than I thought considering I gave her birthday as the date I adopted her ~ she was 2 months old at the time so her actual birth month is December). She is a very special dog, one who has been with me through a number of life’s pages. Heck, she was with me through every significant relationship I’ve had with the exception of the first. She has been my constant companion since my early 20s, making the trek with me from New Mexico, where she was born and bred.

Siwa in Tahoe 12/2008

She has been an avid hiker, like me, since she was a pup. When I arrived in the Bay Area, she was diagnosed with severe arthritis in her elbows. She was four at the time. It didn’t seem to stop her. She would chase cows, squirrels, cats. We ran through the trails of Redwood Park in the Oakland hills. She would always be along exploring the parks of the East Bay with me, just as we had done through the trails of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico.

Two weekends ago marked a significant time in both our lives: I started giving her a separate walk on the trails because she is no longer able to keep up on our regular hikes with Sammy, our 4-1/2 year old Border Collie. It takes her about an hour to walk less than a mile.

We spent the New Year’s weekend playing in the snow up in Tahoe. Siwa had to stay behind for the snowshoeing trip, which made me really sad. But after she and I took a walk down the snow-filled road, she looked at me with her big brown eyes as if to say, “It’s ok. I’ve had my fun. I know my limits and I’m good with it.”

It’s really hard to see her slowing down so quickly in the last six months. But every step she takes, she does so with her tail wagging. She moves at her own pace, confident that she will get to where she needs to go in her own time. She is secure in herself, sometimes to the point of being aloof. (She is more like cat than dog in that way.) She is incredibly patient, though she does not hesitate to warn other dogs when they have crossed the line. She will defend herself but she rarely starts the fight. (That would be Sammy!) She is very forgiving, and is quite content to just enjoy her life.

*Sigh* I want to grow old gracefully like her. *Sigh*

Tired Siwa

This photo was taken after we hiked a good 3-4 hours in the mountains above Kangaroo Lake in Northen California this past summer. We crossed the Pacific Crest Trail at one point. She plopped on her bed upon our return to the campsite. Jon, Sammy, and I decided to take a dip at the lake, to which Siwa said, "I'm not moving from this spot!" Not bad for an old gal!


Media Diary Conclusions: Making Art

A number of my entries in my media diary center on the theme of making art. (In fact, a number of my entries are the art pieces themselves.) Art and the process of making art (digitally or traditionally) are themes that consistently appear in my life, regardless of whether I’m forced to write in a media diary or not.

What sparked this theme this time have been the images I’ve made for my digital art class. They are images that I’ve worked hard to render the final results for. It has undoubtedly made me ask some questions about the process of making art with a computer and the difference I feel from making art in the traditional, non-digital methods.

These questions have led me to some predictable and some surprising thoughts that I’ve found to ring true for me: (your own experiences may be different…)

  1. Figure drawing nude backMaking art with a computer is a results-driven process. It is about the final image. This contrasts with what originally drew me to make art initially. Drawing, printmaking, and sculpture are not necessarily about the results (though getting a good image is always a nice bonus) – but about the process itself. Drawing is more about seeing and observing than about getting an exact representation on paper. Sculpture is about playing with mud. And printmaking – well, I just love the smell of ink, the feel of good 100% rag paper, and turning that press.
  2. What I see on the computer is NOT always what I get, as in: “Wow that looked sooo good on the monitor but what the heck happened to the mid-range???” It’s a frustrating struggle to reconcile what I see on the monitor with the final 2-dimensional tangible result on paper. I experienced that frustration with my final print project.
  3. The marks made with a computer are usually a reflection of the results I am after and a good indication of how well I know the application. The marks made with drawing, painting, and sculpture are usually a reflection of my current state of mind. A confident line is markedly different from a hesitant one.
  4. Making art with a computer is usually a solitary process. Contrary to popular stereotypes, there are a number of traditional media that lend themselves to working among peers. Printmaking is a wonderful example. Many printmakers who don’t own their own press will usually join a print studio, where working in a group is common. Camaraderie is what I miss the most. Drawing from life is another example. Most artists will draw with groups and though most of the time is spent concentrating on drawing, those breaks can lead to some pretty interesting conversations. When was the last time you made digital art in a group? (Lab time in class does not count!)
  5. It’s much easier to carry a sketch book than a computer regardless of how light the laptop is. Because after all, what happens when the battery dies and there are no electric outlets in the middle of the campground?
  6. Computers make me swear. A LOT!
  7. I really miss making art the traditional way.

Sculpture, freelance design, & grad school (oh my!)

It’s time for that monthly update to let you all know why I only post once a month (if I’m lucky).

Reason Number One:

I took a sculpture class this summer. Yes, on top of every other commitment I’ve made, I decided it was high time to use my hands instead of my computer. First thing I made was an elephant. Of course.

This was followed by the monk’s head, which evolved from the difficulty I was having in making decent eyes and eyeballs. I thought, why not solve that problem by closing them lids!

Elephant sculpture Monk's head

Elephant Sculpture

Reason Number Two:

In addition to working almost full-time at the University, I continue to remain busy as a contractor for Masterpiece Manager. I’ve been working on a wonderful project with an awesome client. Once that site is done, I shall plug that site continuously as it is truly a beautiful site. I also have another pending project that I hope to complete soon.

Reason Number Three:

I was busy applying to Cal State University East Bay’s Multimedia Program, to which I was accepted! So if I thought I was busy now. . . I am so excited to learn more and actually make websites come alive with audio, video, and cool things like interactivity. And I hope to expand my repertoire beyond websites. I’m so looking forward to it!

Reason Number Four:





(I just really wanted to put their pictures up.)

Jon and I are off to a long camping trip this week, then off to beautiful Lake Faucherie for my birthday!


Liberating thoughts

Robert Fritz writes in his book, Creating:

It doesn’t matter what you think of yourself, and what you think of yourself will have no impact on your creative process.

He continues:

A focus on self-esteem can actually hold people back from being effective at creating what they want…

…Is it useful to discover what you think of yourself? Perhaps. Do you need to work on your opinion of yourself? NO. Will you hold yourself back if you do not entirely like yourself? NO. Is it wise to pursue self-esteem training or self-enhancement techniques? NO. In fact those practices may even work against you because they can drive your focus more and more inward. This makes it harder for you to create what you want to create. Since you are not your creations, what real difference does your self-opinion make in the creative process? NONE, SINCE YOU ARE SEPARATE FROM YOUR CREATIONS.”

On separation:

You are separate from the raw materials of your life, which includes your circumstances, your expereiences, your feelings, your opinions, your desires, your past, and your present. Your life is like a work in progress, but it will be hard to move with the same ease in your life that painters have, as they move toward and away from their canvases with their brushes loaded with paint, if you can only stand close to yourself. Most people stand so close to themselves that they often confuse who they are with what they have done, are doing, or might do in the future.

That’s me. Guilty as charged.

I’ve spent most of my time in the Bay Area fighting the urge to define my life based on my job (or lack thereof at times), or my career (or lack thereof at times), or my possessions (or lack thereof at times).

I have forgotten more often than I care to admit that I am not my job. I am not my career, nor my salary (or lack thereof at times). I ask myself often why it is that I have lost my sense of self here in California, and yet when I lived in New Mexico with very little money and possesions, I felt more sure of myself.

And yet, Robert Fritz says in his book: “It doesn’t matter.”

Oddly enough, not only do I have to agree, but I feel strangely liberated.


Oakland Zoo apprenticeship update

A Mixed Bag

The apprenticeship has been an interesting mix of fulfillment and challenges. On the one hand, I’ve really enjoyed working with and being in close proximity to the animals. On the other hand, zookeeping is physically demanding. I’m constantly on my feet, cleaning, feeding, herding, moving hay and straw, and in general, going non-stop all day long. I come home with little energy to do much else.

This particular apprenticeship program is suited for those who are looking to gain first-hand experience of zookeeping, and ultimately, a career change. These first few weeks have made me realize that I do not wish to become a zookeeper. (I really do enjoy making websites!)

If anything, I’ve gained an appreciation for what zoos and their keepers do for the animals. It’s not easy making a living as a zookeeper in the Bay Area, and certainly, most who work at the zoo do not do this for the money. These keepers are following their calling – their path in life. I’m all for that!

Finding balance has been difficult

Since starting my apprenticeship almost 4 weeks ago, juggling responsibilities for my various activities has been challenging. I work at a “regular job” 4 days a week. My freelance work continues to grow and I find it necessary to spend evenings and weekends focusing on these projects. And, up until recently I was putting in 16 hours per week at the zoo.

I’m not superwoman nor do I want to be. I was forced to look at my responsibilities and prioritize, especially because I was no longer enjoying much of anything. In essence, I was juggling 3 jobs. I had to look very closely at my goals and found that having a balanced life was very important.

I have since made arrangements to cut my apprenticeship time to 8 hours per week, with an increase in the overall duration of time that I am at the zoo. Life feels more sane!