Monday, February 28, 2011
Busy little pastel blooming on the kitchen counter at the moment. It seemed like a good idea when I began. Remembering motto from Finding Nemo - just keep swimming, just keep swimming. It will all come together any time now. Hungover this morning from the Oscars. No, did not drink anything alcoholic. But Highly Sensitive Persons like I cannot draw outside the lines very often. I need my routine: bed at 7 PM with a couple of warm dogs, a good book, a magazine or two, reruns of Bones or CSI, a new program or two (Castle tonight, yum), and lights out by 11. Last night I was all jazzed up by Colin Firth's well-deserved accolades and that marvelous movie that was feted, The King's Speech, now among my all time favorites. When I get too excited, I need a long time to decompress. So the lights did not go out until well after midnight, which had me dozing till nearly 10 this AM, and now, I am all muzzy and, yes, hungover. It could be worse. That's another favorite motto, from Young Frankenstein. It could be raining. Oh, wait, it is supposed to rain today. Don't think I will even get dressed today. Just poke around in current bedtime gear of sweats and thermal T. Yes, that's the ticket for this gray Monday in the little yellow house. And muck around with the nasturtiums.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I journeyed down to Rohnert Park yesterday, that non-city that is really just a bedroom for the rest of the county and the City to the south, to see a friend who was sitting the last day of an art exhibit at the library there. Not an easy place to find, their library. I finally got out of the car and walked into the Credit Union to ask directions. The information person was just as perplexed as I, but a friendly patron heard me and I was happy to realize I was just across the thoroughfare (RP does not have normal streets as they are all engineered for beaucoup commuters) from it. Found my friend and teacher, oohed over her pieces, talked a while with another artist who does very nice watercolors, sort of in between prissy and all-over-the-place, like mine. And I realized I liked my stuff more than I liked anything in the show, even James's Pepperwood pastels, which I had the privilege of watching him create last summer. They are very contrived, and he never, never goes non-local with his colors, so they are also kind of bland. You can see, I eschew blandness all over the place. It is all about the colors, watching them slide up next to each other and pop right off the paper. This is one of my very first watercolors, done in the Senior Center class while I was not paying attention to anything but my brush and the pigments. I guess it isn't necessary to be well-mannered or usual, after all. It is just necessary to follow my own internal guidance. I may test-drive that theory and put this or one like it up for grabs at Art for Life this year, sort of run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it. If not, I will get to keep it. No losing in that equation.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Somehow I have gotten all off track. Well, I was sick. Then Boo was sick. Then I was sick again. I didn't go to the gym. I missed some of my meetings, and even one of my community watercolor classes. Everything got all mixed up for me, and I began to feel crumby about myself again. Old tapes played, the shame-on-you, you're-a-big-phony, what's-the-use tapes. Funny how they are never far away. I got all ashamed that I couldn't seem to figure out how to thread the sewing machine. I know. These are not earth-moving problems. And, at the same time, they are MY problems. Happy to report that fear-of-sewing-machine is conquered, and several tasks thereof have been mastered. Also, got my butt and muffin-top to the gym today. Edie, 80-something gal, had missed me. SHE is still there. Felt so good I bought myself a lemon cream pie, which I ate for dinner and dessert. Not ALL of it, just two slices. And I pulled out this image of a Cezanne knockoff a la Seurat that I did in my very first art class, design and composition Art 3. It was a defining moment when the teacher, dear ditz that she was, acknowledged that I had some talent going on, after all. Felt really good, and I need to remember that today. Wounded and limping, but rising up again. Sometimes the best view is from beneath the problem.
I hated that motto when I was a kid. Mom was talking about cleaning my room, of course, which, I guess, I never considered worth doing in the first place. Anyway, I noticed I had given my little nude the collarbones from hell, totally messed up there, so I worked on her again. She is rather sweet and innocent, I think. Ah, youth, that time before all the slings and arrows of time cut you to shreds. It is only 9 AM, and here I am, up, fed, online. Don't know what is wrong with me today. I might even get to the gym! Can barely wait to see if that happens.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Gee, class was a hoot today. I sat, tongue between my teeth, laboring away at this rather complicated Van Gogh homage, and listened to the LOLs around me. I was taking up too much room, scoot over. Did you get a new coat? I got one, but it is too good to wear in this weather (?). Did soandso have her operation yet? My partner in crime, Alan, was also very engaged with his oeuvre. We barely said a word to one another. This was all just fine with me. I am still muzzy from this little head cold, and just happy to be among the living at all. Don't know if this is any good or not, but it sure was a whole big bunch of fun to do. Perhaps it is done. Perhaps not. Busy, busy. And Van Gogh is great for watercolor. What I miss in this medium is the ability to bring my objects over my background. With Van Gogh, you just outline everything! Works swell.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I get ideas in the night. This was not the one I had, but one has to start somewhere. I actually wanted to do red poppies, but have no photos to work from, so TADA! Here are the pink ones that bloomed bravely by the steps of the post office in Jenner-by-the-Sea, where the house on the edge of the world was. I picked at this little rendering, then said the-hell-with-it and made it all loosey-goosey. What can I say, I'm sick here! Got another really annoying cold going on. Just don't have the patience to do much more than scribble, anyway. Now have pastels on my nose.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Yes, we needed it. But rain poses a whole series of PROBLEMS when one has a dog or two. My little guys are free-ranging, going in and out the doggie door into the backyard whenever spirit moves them. Then they mosey on back in, with feet all wet and muddy. This would not be a problem if they would come in when I called them. Yeah. That'll happen. I solved this particular problem by closing the door behind them, and letting them stew on the back steps till I am ready and equipped to deal with them. I keep a bunch of old towels handy to wipe them down, and yesterday, I put a pie pan of warm water by the door, too, to wash off their little footsies. How smart am I! And it all would have worked, if I had only one dog. Dealing with two squirmy poopies is another thing altogether. Once they are reintroduced to the interior of the house, I decided to take the dog steps away from the bed, because I am tired of washing the top quilt every few days. Then I felt sorry that they were being deprived of their memory-foam heaven, so I bought this big fluffy dog doughnut at Costco, and for the longest time, nobody laid down on it. So I threw Boo onto it. He got the idea, and Pickle, smart-heart that she is, followed suit. Until this morning, they have never gotten onto it together, but look! Rare and heart-swelling moment! I am thinking that I could do my own reality show, the Poopie Wrestler, what with all the gyrations we go through here on rainy days, give Dog the Bounty Hunter and all those Bridezillas a run for their money.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Okay, the blotch on the seventh tree was a mistake, but I like this painting anyway, because the colors are so vibrant and not usual or stagnant. I do that because, try as I may, I cannot get a nice even wash. So I mess it all up, varigate, and pray a lot. Hell, it's just a little community class, free, nobody's grading me. Fun for old folks.
I find watercolors to be really picky and prissy, for the most part. But I do work hard to make them my own. Today I did four different pages, two of them kind of just off the cuff, one, this one, in fact, I labored over a little, and one I just did because I like Wolf Kahn and it felt like an homage to that great guy. It is all okay. Nothing is to be ashamed of today. Perhaps I could be a little more patient, but I like the DOING, and want to keep at it. When I do a complicated piece like this one, I work from the bottom up, because then I will wait for it to dry before going on. And it helps to do more than one piece at a time, so I can alternate and avoid big runny messes. Hopefully. Love this class, and the teacher, and the other students, too, all old farts like me, just having a ball slopping paint around on paper.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Thought I would try something entirely different. I mean, what use were those two semesters of figure drawing if I didn't do a figure once in a while. Cannot tell if she is okay or not, certainly not from the photograph. In the reference photo, she had on a sweater. I just made her up from the neck down, trusting my memory of the gals I drew lo those long-ago days in Kevin's class. He would lurk around the outside, and point out all my faults. Didn't give me many strokes until the final review. Well, he always wanted me to challenge myself. How delighted he would be here. My gal has gone from having hair to the moon, to being more restrained, and since I don't have a flesh colored pastel, she looks a little jaundiced in some places. More to do. Good to keep busy and out of trouble while the rain falls.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Sundays are my least favorite day. There's no mail to look forward to. Television sinks to its most inane (no Bones reruns). Once upon a time, in life number one, they were hellish because of crushing hangovers that I couldn't complain about and had to muscle through doing all kinds of chores to show how sane and happy I was. Earlier, Sunday meant an hour cringing in a pew at St. Sebastian's, hoping my German grandmother would not notice when I rested my butt against the seat to take the weight off my knees on the tortuous, unpadded kneelers. So, today, I slept in till noon. Felt just fine, actually. The dogs and I had a leisurely brunch of pancakes with apricot (sugar-free) spread, walnuts, cinnamon and Cool Whip, with a cup of steaming Sumatra on the side. Then I headed out to the sensibly timed meeting at 2PM, then to Costco for tapioca pudding, among other things. Have been thinking. Most people are not beautiful. I looked for them while plying the aisles, and found two possible candidates, both young women, both blond, neither one particularly happy, and you would think beauty would be a cause for continuous joy, wouldn't it? Oh, well, I bought the dogs another bed, this time a huge fleecy cushion that I can throw down beside the bed so they have somewhere to go when they get kicked off of it in the night for fidgeting. Everyone needs a nice fleecy place to lay down, I think. Yes, I'm rambling here. It's that kind of day. It's 5:30. Think that is too early to curl up in bed with a mystery novel and International French Vanilla Coffee? Yeah, probably.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
A perfect example of what one can do with absolutely no planning and very little attention. Aaaaarrrrggggh! Those shadows have to go, n'est-ce pas? I looked in my handy-dandy instruction book for ideas. Still haven't got the hang of this paper. It hardly takes any pigment before becoming annoying dust. Probably there is a compromise between this and previous paper. Quitting for today, while I am still ahead. I hope.
One of the valuable lessons I have learned so far about this nit-picky medium is to choose a direction, warm or cool, and continue aiming in that direction. So my underpainting tells me that it will be a warm background with a cool foreground. Messing warm over cool, or vice versa, makes mud. Yuck. Trying to keep the hues prismatic, as can be done with pastels, and as I want to portray. Otherwise, I'd be painting this. Silly me. Each layer brings everything into the light. I love that. This is keeping me from obsessing about Boo, who just follows me from room to room, happy little guy that he is. How sweet it is.
What a week! Boo is better. He got there all by himself. Four vets laid hands on him, he had xrays and bloodwork and a consultation with a radiologist. Still don't have a clue what was going on. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have been carrying my camera around with me all the time, hoping to catch an episode of franken-dog to show to the vet. And now, he's not doing it any more. Sigh. I said nuts, and started a new pastel. If you were wondering where pastels come from, here is a photo of the beginning of something. It started last night, when I dug out a pad of actual pastel paper and did a portrait of my olive oil bottle. Then today, I shopped for really pretty tomatoes and a pepper, and stuck them in the picture along with a kind of crippled garlic clove. I'm thinking that's enough stuff for this one little composition. This paper smears things around more than the previous, toothier paper. Must fix often, to prevent that. Not unhappy about it, though. I will be able to get an edge if I want one, and still remain my loosey-goosey self. I think the bottle is doing a tower of Pisa thing, though. Must get out ruler.
Friday, February 11, 2011
I am kind of timid about putting details in the background of my paintings. So I put this homely little figure in this environment. Had to get out my ruler to do it. I could have been even more detailed, but the pastels haven't allowed me to get very tight. I have decided that is because of the paper I am using, Fabiano watercolor paper, which is what the artist I am emulating uses in his work, which is very loose. So, surprise! My work remains loose even when I try to get some details in. Next experiment is with some new textures of paper. Certainly, one can always loosen it up later. In fact, that is my usual MO. Not unhappy with this rendering, actually. In terms of what I was aiming for, it is very successful. She looks a little like Carrie Bradshaw, doesn't she. I have gone in a couple of times to make her more attractive, without endowing her with that terminal prettiness we see on the boob tube all the time. No long flowing locks, either. I think she is interesting looking. Interesting will keep me looking at her a lot more than prettiness. Just keep plugging along. Something good will always emerge.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
I remembered what my teacher said about value contrast and went back into this little rendering with an eye to lights and darks. Frankly, there are folks working in this medium who do really detailed work, and I marvel at that, because it is so very messy and I can so easily get the painterly look I so love, why would one want to get all nitpicky? But then I worry that my vision is not fine enough for the FINE ARTS crowd. And then I look at artists like Matisse and Cezanne and see that their work was definitely on the fuzzy side. Richard Diebenkorn! Wayne Thiebaud! In the end, I am just happy that the fruit now resembles oranges more than it did peaches. I like it now. Most of what I do is accidental anyway. When I try to get all deliberate, I get murky, ugly stuff. Right brain. Staying in the moment. Hell, I love surprises.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
After our trip to the vet yesterday, I decided that it would be okay to leave the house for a moment or two, that Boo was not going to keel over, probably. So I grabbed my bag full of library books and my reusable Trader Joe's bags and hopped into my newly cleaned puddlejumper, which I notice some lousy bird had pooped on, and headed out. Now, I had not read any of the aforesaid library books, since I got all tangled up in Stieg Larsson's trilogy, but hey, no one said I had to read everything I bring home, right? I picked out a couple of books by favorite authors and I think I have read both these books before, which is never an impediment as I have the memory of a gnat. Then I got all kinds of special stuff at TJ's, like more 0% Greek yogurt, yum, and stopped off at Whole Foods because I saw these little oranges there the other day, and I wanted to immortalize them, they are so perky and sweet. Twelve of them cost me $4.38! No wonder my friends call that place Whole Paycheck! So I started this last night. Now working extra hard to keep the oranges from looking like peaches. It is kind of sylized at the moment, and I think I may leave it that way. In fact, it may be done. Kind of interesting what happens with pastels. At the moment, they are all over my pajamas, which I have yet to get out of at 11:40 AM. I am kind of frazzled from interrupted sleep the last couple of nights. Taking the day off, again. There, that's a plan.
Monday, February 07, 2011
We saw another vet today, not our regular guy who was booked solid, but a great gal they referred us to, and Boo's ailment is still a mystery. So far, no new episodes, and we have stopped the pain meds which made him kind of loopy and not very hungry, either. Now I know that he has a significant heart murmur and arthritic hips. None of this slows him down all that much. Even in damped down mode yesterday, he managed to cavort around, jump up on the bed and couch, and down again. He appears to be just his old self today, and so far, no episodes of distress. I also know that nothing that is happening is life threatening, and no damage is being done that can be discerned. All this has made me appreciate dear Boo even more than usual. I knew when I was on my way to pick him up, back in October, 1998, that he was temporary. I savor his dear presence every single day, with doggy massages and special one-on-one moments. Now, every day with Boo in it is a gift.
Sunday, February 06, 2011
We are back from the vet. Yes, the very expensive emergency vet. They were very thorough, and it is now clear that this is not a acute problem, like a blocked intestine. More likely it is an arthritic joint problem, but xrays and tests will have to be done. Tomorrow. Meanwhile, we have a little pain pill to give him, so he will not erupt in screaming pain any more. That's good. Nothing worse than watching this innocent little guy suffer. Let's be honest. Boo is no spring chicken anymore. And that's going to mean little things will go haywire, just like me, actually. Nothing major, hopefully. I expect him to live another 5 or 6 years, in fine health. Please.
Boo is sick. I think. Actually, at the moment, he doesn't look any different from this picture, when he was well. Whatever is happening comes in episodes, with hacking and discomfort. No pain that I can discern. And, of course, this started Saturday night, when his vet was closed up tight till Monday morning. He had another episode in the night, and again this morning, at 6 frigging o'clock. I got up, dressed, deoed, combed, brushed, flushed, and was all ready to haul him to the (very expensive) emergency vet, when he laid down and went back to sleep. Smart little guy. He showed his usual enthusiasm over my French toast, and got his usual tiny tidbit. Pickle was outside barking, and he showed little interest, but then, he is no ball of fire these days and often eschews joining the Pickle in her backyard patrol duties. So, not planning on any activities that take me far away today. It's all okay. I have a great book and plans for another pastel painting and still have fear of sewing machine to conquer. It would be nice if whatever is wrong with the Boo were to resolve itself, or at least wait till tomorrow morning. And I thought when the kids were grown up enough to tell me where it hurts that this kind of distress was behind me. Aaaaaarrrggh.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
While I do believe that she who dies with a clean house has lived a wasted life, there are limits. So I swept up a whole bunch of dog hair, did a couple loads of laundry and changed the bed. Nothing better than a nice clean bed, unless someone else did the changing. Then I found my carwashing bucket and headed out to the driveway to give Jolie her first bath of the new year. And I noticed those little scrapes on the right back bumper had multiplied and there were now some on the left back bumper, too. Not my fault! I didn't do those. Some anonymous person with similar deficiencies in backing up did these new ones. So I headed out to the auto supply store for some touchup paint. Hey, I know about this stuff!. Strange thing happens when I enter Kragan's Auto Supply. My IQ drops about 50%. Must be all that free-floating testosterone. Happy to report I found the paint, read the manual hanging there, and selected the right color for my little puddlejumper. Hard to go wrong, since it's black. Well, you'd think so, but all these cars are painted by men, who have not yet grasped the concept of standardization. How many shades of black can there be, anyway! Ran into one of most macho male friends in line to pay for my little tube, and could not bluff my way out of my presence there, which occasioned painful memory of backing into a friend's car last year, causing the current need for touch-up. Sigh. Because I was such a good girl (I even deadheaded the hydrangea and trimmed all the privet that has grown to scary heights since last summer), I continued on to Safeway, where I got myself a nice steak for dindin. And it was scrumptious. Now headed for my lavender scented bed for the next installment of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Ah, life is good with a belly full of black angus and a rip-roaring mystery novel.
Friday, February 04, 2011
Sometimes, I really envy Pickle. She knows just who she is, every moment of every day. Here she is, at my feet, as usual. She has usurped that place from Boo, who is old and crotchety a lot of the time, and refuses to get down from the bed after all the trouble it took to get up there. She was watching itty bitty things flying around in the bits of light in the room just before bedtime, while I noodled away at something on the computer. She feels no need to say "excuse me, I know I am not being particularly intelligent here", as I would. Truth be told, there are times I feel kind of superior to the world at large, like on really good hair days or when my outfit feels singularly together. And there are days when I feel all fluffy and stuffed into my skinny jeans anyway, grateful I don't have to see my bottom, and sorry that others do. Neither of these persons is ME. Honestly, will the real me please stand up? Real happiness lies in forgetting about me at all, focusing on the wonder that is the world around me, all there is to know and appreciate. I understand why folks like Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan are so miserable. One would expect that celebrity, wealth, and beauty would be more than enough to feel good about oneself. And when it isn't, how disappointing that must be! At some point, they may be fortunate enough to wake up and find true happiness, where it has been hiding all their lives. Deep inside. Or, perhaps, just lying at their feet.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
I have been thinking a lot lately. Usually this just gets me into trouble, but this time, I am coming from the thinker's position, witnessing what is all about me. A word kept coming up in my presence: rich. Now, in terms of my bank account and income, not so much. But in terms of my environment, my possessions, and the ambiance of my dwelling, I am rich beyond words. I have five rooms in the little yellow house. All of them are MY ROOM. I can be in any one of them at any moment. Today's featured room is the kitchen. Abundance of counter space. Working appliances. Potholders hand crocheted by my mother. The platter behind my dear red cannisters is a gift from my friend in Mexico, and the round box under my photo of plums held my Christmas gift from another friend. On my refrigerator is the "Save the Date" card from my daughter and her fiance, who are marrying in July. My microwave is beeping at me that my hot water is, well, hot. The cow butter dish I found at the thrift store while scoping out extra large clothing to wear while painting. It is probably my favorite thing in this marvelous room. It is full of love. And the refrigerator holds all my favorite foods: tortillas, avacadoes, pico de gallo salsa, tapioca pudding, Greek yogurt, Cool Whip (lite), broccoli slaw, baby greens, carrots, Jello cups (sugar-free), eggs, skim milk, five kinds of (lite) salad dressing, sparkling cider, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and a great big square glass jar of my darling Sumatra coffee beans. Rich beyond words when that sucker is full, as it is today.