"We Three"

"We Three"

Saturday, January 31, 2009

One tricky pony...

Sure am tired of this #$&*$@ horse. Have been around the block and back again, deciding on colors, strokes, blah, blah, blah. Now have deepened values, given it a kind of glowy thing. I went online and looked at a bunch of landscapes to get this far with it. And I like it, sort of. I thought it needed more value contrast, lights to darks, and it does pop now that I have darkened both the background and the foreground. Not necessary to paint in every blade of grass or every leaf on the trees. In fact, I like it best when most of these details are muted and fuzzy and just insinuated. The horse, well that's another matter. The horse should look like what it is. I think I got that down pat. Great learning experience, this oeuvre.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday thoughts, redux...

Every year, I do a spending chart in my Lotus 123 program (never learned Excel, never will). I chart what I expect to receive, which I usually know right to the penny, then what I expect to spend. At the end of the month, there is always money left over, and, by carrying that forward, by December I should have about $5,000. This was the same last year, and the year before. Has it ever happened? Not that I remember, and I definitely would remember having $5,000 in my bank account. Whatever could the problem be? So, I am making it a priority this year to keep track of what I spend, when I spend it. I allow $125 a month for groceries. I am, after all, one little person, how much could I need? Haven't the foggiest if that is what I actually need to spend. And I give myself a $60 allowance for gas. That's probably very generous, now, but not too long ago, I'm sure I spent more. And there is the big $450 I allow for "miscellaneous". This is to cover trips to WalMart for cryptogram puzzle books, Tshirts, DVDs, stuff like that. And Costco, for books and printer cartridges. Not to mention entertainment, movies, dinners out, etc. Well, we are about to find out where all that $$$ has been going. Of course, now that I am watching what I spend, it is likely I will spend less, because I don't want to embarrass myself by not keeping my original spending plan. Whatever, it's a good thing, right? And the new month has not even begun, and I spent more than half my grocery allowance. Probably it was those yogurt almonds that threw the plan off. Oh, well.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Equine splendor...

Gee. I hope I am done with this image. All those subtle colors and feathery hair flying and white on white on white, I am practically snowblind here. I think it came out swell, though and, if I can resist the temptation to keep pottering at it, will grace my wall soon. Challenging, to say the least. But I also feel ever so much more certain of my abilities after tussling with this image. Whatever comes next, it will much darker in value than this was. Cannot wait to see what that may turn out to be.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Moving forward, or not...

Some of my first drawings were of horses, really complicated drawings done from illustrations in My Friend Flicka, or Thunderhead, the sequel. So, I thought I would try one again, and here it is. Can you tell that the reference photo is kind of washed out in color, so that the hues are all kind of mushed together, and I cannot tell whether it should be warm or cool or whatever? And I am sure you can see that I am equivocating in that regard. I think in the end, I will tend toward warm, and put in more oranges and yellows. Or not. Fun to be drawing a horse, again, 55 years later.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The evolution of Sweet Thing...

Well, I decided that she looked a little too smooth, sort of like an illustration you would see in a child's primer, easy to recognize, but not exactly exciting. And I am not sure she is done, but she is more what I had in mind. I want my paintings to reflect my process, my brushstrokes, my color sense, and, yes, my drawing ability. Not that it is such a big thing, being able to draw - it is an inborn talent that I only discovered in the last few years, after not knowing a thing about it for 61 years. That's a long rime for a talent to be hidden. But, there is was, along with the shame of not being able to tell left from right, or getting lost if I go out a different door at Macy's. It's just part of what went into the recipe that became, well, me. I like Sweet Thing much better now, her personality is kind of shining out of the canvas. I brought home some art books to study, (Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent) and some of their ideas wound up in this painting. Ever the student, that's moi.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And then I did THIS...

I named her Buttercup, now that she is all warmed up. Poor thing was all cold, blue and purple. Even the red part was cool, alizerin crimson is on the blue side. Nothing was working in this painting, except I liked the composition, and it was rife with possibilities and I didn't want to paint over it. So, this happened today. This is the beauty of oils. You can just keep changing and changing and changing them. It is also the curse, because nothing is ever really done, never, ever. Give me a couple of brushes, some pigments, and enough time, and I could paint until my last breath. And how would I know what doesn't work if I didn't try things, anyway? Funny thing, art. It appears to be delightfully malleable.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sweet Thing got a makeover...

Usually, I don't like to finish things too tightly, but Sweet Thing was looking a little flat when I took another look at her this morning, so I could barely wait to get at her again this afternoon, when I had finished with my morning errands, did a meeting, took back my library books, got new ones, got myself a pizza for dinner, important things like that. And she is more three dimensional than she was, highlighted, lowlighted, sculpted, actually. Well, I suppose it is good to know how to do that. And now I do. That jawline got big, then it got small again, it was pink, it was yellow, it was all over the place. I am satisfied with it now, as I look at it reproduced her on the page. Not what I thought I was doing when I started, but SURPRISE! Isn't that what it is all about, anyway? Like, do we really ever know what is going to happen next? Even when the brush is in my hand, I still don't have a clue, and that's a good thing. Makes life ever so much more interesting.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This may be the last cow,,,

Here is Sweet Thing. I diddled her up this afternoon, and she is pretty much done, for a few days, anyway, till all the very thick paint I dabbed here and there is dry, and I can go back in to touch her up. I am feeling complete with cows for a while, and thinking I will work on some horses, next. I used to draw horses when I was a teenybopper. Well, didn't we all have a phase like that, where Black Beauty and Flicka beckoned? And I was fortunate to have a boyfriend that had horses, and I rode all over our rural county on a strawberry roan who couldn't get out of second gear, ever. It was an exciting moment when I urged him into a gallop, much less a lope. Well, onward, another opus coming, I am sure. Had a great time with this one, that's for sure. And honed my ability a lot, too. Confidence just oozes out of me. I am ready for anything. Right.

A bit crushed here...

Verrrrry excited to go to see Wicked in the Big City with Little Kiddo (her treat, my Christmas present) on Feb. 22. Sorry to say, it is same day as Oscars, and I have a long string of years piled up behind me of watching them, since back in the 50's, actually. Our show is a matinee, and probably I could scoot home in time to catch some of them, but it will not be the same. Sigh. However, so happy that Richard Jenkins has been nominated for The Visitor. He made a real impression on me in The Witches of Eastwick, where he played the long suffering husband of that prudish woman who got all hot and bothered about Darrell and his playmates, and beat her to death with a fireplace poker before hanging himself. Actors like Richard give stellar performances all the time. They are just small parts, in inconsequential movies that escape the Academy's notice. And I don't think it hurt that this was a year bereft of a lot of really scintillating cinema, at least in my humble opinion. Whatever, I am always comforted when excellence is recognized, even when that actor involved is pocked and bland in visage as oatmeal. Gives little old lumpy, dumpy me hope.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

They just keep coming, those cows...

Gee, I like this gal. Every painting teaches me something new. I learned here that I like warm colors a lot more than cool ones. And I can paint grass, trees, and weeds without pickiness, just kind of insinuate them onto the canvas. And the animal is pretty loose, too, just value on value, yet she is really, well, real, isn't she. Now, that's really amazing. The final test is whether or not I like the result, and, so far, I think I do. I noticed a couple of holidays I will have to cover up, but, all in all, it's pretty finished. Guess this is progress, because I am 99% sure of that this time. Don't want to do too much else here. It all seems to be working. That's progress. I think.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The impertinence of it all..

If you have been alive and reasonably awake in the past few years, you may have noticed that Jane Austen is enjoying a major comeback. I suppose it may have begun with Emma Thompson's spirited (and Oscar winning) script for Sense and Sensibility, followed by Gwyneth Paltrow's suitably charming meddling rendition of Emma. The A&E mini-series starring Colin Firth as the haughty Mr. Darcy certainly fanned the fires, and droolingly handsome as he was, I fell just as hard for Matthew McFayden's Darcy, bumping so fiercely as he does up against Keira Knightly's passionate Elizabeth Bennet. Anne Hathaway simpered in Becoming Jane, and some enterprising young woman wrote Mr. Darcy's Story. Having read Pride and Prejudice for the very first time last summer, I happily picked up this tome, and have now read it, twice. And I own The Jane Austen Book Club, now one of my top 20 favorite movies. So how thrilled was I to happen on this mini-series on Ovation TV, a new discovery of mine in the panoply of stations my provider, um, provides, called Lost in Austen, about the Austenphile Amanda Pricein modern London who changes places with Elizabeth and proceeds to "cock up" the whole story, resulting in Jane being married to Mr. Collins, Bingley becoming a drunk, and Darcy in love with Amanda. I know Amanda's affection for Austen, for the mannerly life, where passions are suitably restrained and even the most vile of insults are grammatically correct and lined in velvet language. Our world has become so brash, so in-your-face. Civility has evaporated, probably in the steam of our cinema and the blistering of our popular music. Let's face it, Rock 'n Roll was spunky compared to Hard Rock, which was downright raw, and Rap and HipHop, well, they are barely sentient. We are devolving into knuckle-dragging numbness. No wonder we are fascinated with the innocence of these people, in their high collars and top hats or empire gowns, for whom the touch of a hand or glimpse of the loved one asleep is electric. The drama is all in the intrigue, who will wind up with who, who will make the advantageous match and transcend her humble position. Take me back to the time when a furtive glance could make one drip with desire.

Friday, January 16, 2009

And the cows go on...

Gee, this was fun. Loosey goosey painting playing with just a little non-local colors here and there, see what happens if I do this. Do you suppose Matisse did that? Or Van Gogh? Well, Van Gogh probably saw things the way he painted them. Poor guy was so manic when he painted, he often couldn't stop to even pick the paint up with the brush. Some of his floral works look like he squeezed the paint right out of the tube onto the canvas. I haven't gotten there, yet. Still, somehting to think about, yes? Can't wait to see what will happen next in the cow opus. I am as surprised as anyone when the painting is done. Hell, I never know what is going to happen next, anyway. Why would I not be surprised?

Winter in my little corner of the world...

I took this picture on my way to dinner at the Chinese restaurant up the street. This field is right in town, or city, I guess. It used to be a town, and the little clubhouse across the street from this field was in the middle of the country when I was a girl. My grandparents used to take me there when they went square dancing. Remember square dancing? You're probably old like me. Anyway, the mustard is just beginning to show its stuff. Later is will blanket most of the west county and be breathtaking. I just love that yellow things bloom in the winter, the darkest season. Daffodils cannot be far behind.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I never saw a purple cow...

New day, new painting. Now, this cow is probably beige. She is in shadow, so it is hard to tell, and the reference photo picked up all the colors you now see, really. This is just a bare beginning, about an hour of dab, dab, splash, splash. You can see what I like doing best, modeling this magnificent beast. I think it will wind up pretty loose, and pretty wild in the end. Time for a new idea, I think. Don't know where this one came from, it just emerged from the canvas, from the very first stroke of the brush. Wonderful when that happens. Pickle was kind of miffed, and kept hitting me in the calf with her big puffy ball. Not one to give up easily, my Pickle. I love her, but I love painting more. I see real possibilities in this one. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another one for the opus...

Here is completed Peanut Gallery. As usual, I will stroke my chin hair for a few days, deciding what needs to be fine tuned or punched up of just fixed, but I think the final idea is on the canvas. And I am anxious to start my next one, a lovely white cow all backlit and full of non-local colors, you know, colors you would not expect to see there. Like Matisse, with his green-faced woman in the hat. I am pickier than Matisse, for sure. No squeezing paint right out of the tube onto the canvas. Yet. That may come, later. I think I am proud of this little rendering. It wasn't all that easy, and I had to paint over eyes several times to get them looking right. And the temptation was there to make these guys really cutesy-poo. I think I resisted it pretty much. I hope. They are really cute, of course, in a real cow-way. They are Brown Swiss babies, and that is just about the most delightfully pretty cow breed there is. Even the adults are pretty amazingly cute. Very happy with the result, actually. That little old artist, ME!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Welcome to Spring...

Semester, that is, though the weather thinks it is, too. Honestly, it is about 80 degrees out there. The kids were all in tees and flipflops. Listed under things-that-are-dumb-to-do-on-the-first-day-of-classes are attempting to park in the parking garage anytime after 7 AM, and buying your textbook at the bookstore, even if the line outside is tiny or even non-existent, because the line inside is hella-long, even though there are 11 cashiers cachinging away. I parked across the street, which still seems to be insider information and had many available slots, then braved crossing Mendocino Ave it's plethora of drivers who hate that crosswalk flasher, and inched past the smarmy bible guys (thy're green this year, eco-friendly drivel?) So, after the happy quarter hour stuck in a parade of other hopefuls in the garage and another half hour in the bookstore, I went to the library coffee shop for my first chai baba chai of the semester. New person, it was lukewarm. I did get to peruse the year in review in People magazine while sipping away. Teacher was late to class, and, once again we got the syllabus read to us. College or no college, they are taking no chances that anyone is going to misunderstand the requirements of being an adult. They were all there in black and white, some even in boldface. I am home now after a quick trip to the Central Library, where I was graciously treated by the librarian, who accepted my replacement book for the one Pickle gnoshed on the other night. Now have nothing to do except slap away at my Peanut Gallery painting, still fine-tuning that sucker. Retirement rocks!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The peanut gallery...

Another cow picture, new little ones, and aren't they cute. Challenging, these little faces, but not necessary that they be perfect, just important that the viewer see them as little cows and I think it is successful in that regard. And I don't want them to be too cutesy-poo. Coy is not attractive in my book. Coy is about cheap greeting cards with butterflies and daisies. There is more to work on here, but the idea ia there. Very satisfying to get this far in an hour and a half, yes?

Good idea, in principle...

I decided to quit buying books and actually go take them out of the library. This is especially attractive now that I have learned how to reserve them online. How slick is that! And I save $$$! Could it get any better?! So I went online, and got immediately bumped off. The next day, I was downtown, so I meandered over to the main branch and selected my mystery novels in the old fashioned way, and found that my card had expired. No problemo, they updated their records, and I was all set to go. I reserved three books by this author I came upon recently, who writes terse mysteries about a lawyer in New Jersey (wonder if he knows Stephanie Plum, who lives there, too). They have been coming in, one at a time, and I picked up two of them a couple of days ago. One is new, and due back in 7 days, so I read it first. Last night, I was getting ready to crawl into bed, so I threw the book and the remote onto the bed, and sojourned out to the office to shut everything down, and kind of decided to check the e-mail on last time, and when I got back into the bedroom, Pickle had embossed the book with her teethmarks. It was still readable, if somewhat unpalatable for anyone who does not adore Pickle. Sigh. This morning, I checked the local book vendors, and they didn't have this one in stock, so off I went to Amazon.com, to order it with 2 day delivery, $28.00. Ouch. I could have bought 5 paperbacks for that amount (at Costco). Mea culpa, mea culpa. Dog does what dog does. Though this is the first time she has done this one. Atleast it was the new one, that is still available in hard cover. Sigh.

Monday, January 05, 2009

What I did while I was doing nothing...

I think that since I don't work for any one else, I am not doing anything. Here is what I did today: took Boo to vet, went to post office to send back book I got by mistake, came home and made the bed, checked and answered my e-mail, wrote a course description for a friend who is conducting a drawing class, wrote in my blog, went to the library to pick up the books I requested online, made some applesauce, made lunch, did two loads of laundry, loaded and ran the dishwasher. I think there were a few other things, too, I just can't remember them at the moment. Oh, I took out the garbage, as it is that day again, then went out and brought the cans back in once they had been emptied. And I talked to a couple of friends on the phone, finished a mystery novel and began another, the one that is new and is due in a week. I have to run now, I want to clean the bird's cage before I put her to bed, so I can crawl in with the Boo and the Pickle. It is so wearing, not working.

Boo and Pickle go to the dog doctor...

I was being a good little dog mommy and paying Boo's license fee for the year when I noticed this sentence "Be sure to attach rabies certificate". Did I have one of those. Indeed I did, and I even found it. It was three years old. Oops. So, I made an appointment for 9:20 AM this morning, which meant I had to set the alarm, something that doesn't happen very often at all in the little yellow house, no, not any more. Both dogs were suitably alarmed when it went off. Now, Pickle has never ever been left all alone, without Boo, so she had to go with us. I couldn't find the brace, so had to take them on separate leads, with Pickle on the short one, of course. Boo got the extendable one, which allowed him to climb into the car first, thus showing Pickle how it is done. Right. She wanted to go anywhere except into the car. Finally, I picked her up and dumped her in. On the driver's seat, where she dug herself in and refused to budge. I had to pry her off to scoop her into the passenger seat, with Boo, where she hunkered down and didn't move a muscle till we arrived. Then I pried her off again. She remembered the vet's office, and pranced right in. Then they took Boo away. She cried and fretted and worried. Okay, I am at fault, as usual. I need to take her with me more often, so she gets used to the car, and being away from Boo, who I am sure could use a break from the little brat. She climbs up onto the bed, and it is a queen-size, not small, yet she will sit right on top of poor Boo. And she still does that thing she does, sit on the bed steps to keep him from getting up. Life in the little yellow house just naturally revolves around the Pickle.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The cows keep coming home...

Another cow picture, this one I am not sure of, it is kind of strange in that there are two distinct breeds of younguns here, a beefmaster and a black baldy. They lived together by the road beside the river in this diverse herd that had all kinds happily co-mingled. I was struck by the red one, so very vivid, and stopped on day to shoot a rather blurry photo of him as he gazed at his little partner. One is big, the other is dainty. One is red, one is black, yet they just seemed to love one another. Don't know if the composition works, or if it is any good, but there is a truckload of paint on this canvas, trying to get it to where I like it. Dab, dab, smear smear. Happy hours spent in communion with the Universe, where there is no mind. How could it get any better than that? And there is something in the world that was not there when I got up this morning. There is something so satisfying in that idea.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Stick a fork in her, she's done!

Ah, splendor in the grass. She's no Mona Lisa, but she's all mine. The cow series is officially launched. Another one coming up this very day. Once I lay a palette, I feel an obligation to keep slapping away until it is all used up. Probably a vestige of my very Scottish mother's upbringing. Maybe if I get some plastic wrap, I can keep the paint from drying up into little nurdles? You think? Not sure I like this one, and that is often the case with these oeuvres. I have to look at them for a long time before I get to appreciate them. For now, she gets to live on the kitchen table, where I can look at her several times a day and consult the jury about her current state of being, and whether she needs more picking at. Okay, with that dangling participle, I am through ruminating and equivocating. For now.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Here we go again...

Another year, come and gone. Another, beginning. A moment of reflection, please, my own personal that was the year that was, so to speak. It was a pip, 2008. I had a straight A semester in the spring, courtesy of having fulfilled my math requirement the semester before, four semesters in three, too. That always spins my beany. Then little kiddo, my daughter, graduated from law school, magna cum laude, to the tune of Star Wars, how inspiring it was. Pickle came to live with Boo and I. Pickle changed everything. It became The Year of the Pickle on June 4. And to this day, she dominates my attention. And Boo's. In September, I sold my first painting, to a complete stranger. How sweet it was! Soooooo validating. I became a professional artist. And later, I was commissioned for two paintings, so I have now outsold Van Gogh, who only sold one painting in his lifetime. And, on the 26th of December, I celebrated 19 years of sobriety. That's XIX in Roman numerals, and looks terribly important on the chips I have accumulated to surround me for this next year. So, onward into the New Year, which will find me back in school, though only for 2 classes, gearing up to graduate with my AA in May. That's something, I think. And I am ready, if I choose, to go on for a BA in art. Maybe. We'll see. This year, I would like to study with an artist or two, one on one, and work on my style and technique. Sounds like a plan, for sure. Stepping into this year withsobriety, hope and faith, glorious good health (and I get Medicare this year, that's a blessing, for sure), two adorable dogs, a happy little yellow house, an income that just arrives every month without an ounce of effort, how could it get any better? Well, the lottery would be nice. And maybe a nice man to do things with? You never know. It could happen.