Thursday, March 31, 2011
On Monday, this week that is, there was snow on Mt. St. Helena. Yesterday, it was 90 degrees. We went from tower heater to ceiling fan, from 4 quilts and a thermal blanket to a sheet, in just 48 hours. Interesting, to say the least. Then our Catholic cathedral got a new bishop, who flatly stated that if you condone homosexuality, birth control or pro-choice, don't ever darken HIS doorway. Gee, let's all take a giant step back into the Middle Ages. Well, whenever the Catholic Church treats women with the same respect as men, I'll be happy to join up. Since that will never happen, I think I am safe here. Never putting myself at the mercy of a bunch of old fat men in dresses who live in uber-luxury again. And as if this were not absurd enough, PBS aired a program last night on Did God Create Evil. Big duh. God, in Her infinite wisdom, gave us free will. And then some dildo got the good idea to kill, steal, maim, and generally get all Bruce Willis on the world at large. There is no evil, really, just profound ego sickness. How sad the whole thing is. Sometimes, I see a glimmer of relief on the horizon, like maybe our pitiful race will wake up and smell the Global Warming. Whatever, I am headed out in my Partial Zero Emission automobile to stay sober and get some Cool Whip.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
This was my second ever pastel in my whole entire life. It sucked. Perhaps it still does, but I like it a whole lot better after just a little session on the drawing board. Gee, I just love it when that happens. Wish I could do my life the same way, just put a layer over what stinks underneath, make it all crisp and new. Okay, the composition is not so hot, but it still has a freshness it lacked in the beginning. I was still afraid of the medium when I started this rather complicated thing. Now I know it will do whatever I ask it to do, which is more than I can say of everyone else in my universe. There should be at least one thing in everyone's life that one can feel in control of. And if at first it sucks the big one, one knows it can be remedied with a tiny bit of perseverance, and some elbow grease.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
I didn't exactly rise and shine, but I did get up in time to make yummy pancakes with cherries on top, then get to my meditation meeting, and have a non-fat latte with a dear friend afterward. A quick trip to Trader Joe's for essentials like homemade corn tortillas and toasted unsalted slivered almonds, then home in time for lunch of beans that I made recently when I just couldn't get warm. My mother made these beans a lot when I was growing up, a vestige of her Great Depression upbringing, and I just love them. Onions, bacon (turkey now that I am being circumspect about things like fat) and beans, nothing else. Well, water, and a sprinkling of fresh ground pepper. Simple. Really good. Anyhoo, I perused the pictures I took over at a friend's house recently of her new chicks in their brooder. My grandparents had a chicken ranch, and I loved it when the chicks came. One hen house was dedicated to them, under two or three gigantic brooders. Total cacophony in there. Those chicks were uniformly yellow. My friend mail-orders hers from Chicken Magazine (and yes, there is a periodical for EVERYONE out there), and gets a variety of breeds. Sweetness. Noisy sweetness. Still in first draft mode, but close, I think to being done. Happy with it so far.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Well, there was good news. Sunshine, which has been in very limited supply lately, is scheduled to return in a couple of days. Very excited about that myself. Meanwhile, back at the little yellow house, there are chores to finish, like the laundry currently residing in the dryer, where it has been for three days. And I am actually thinking of starting an oil painting, because I want to see how finished I can work a figure, just because my homepage shows me An Artist a Day, and they wax eloquent over those folks who produce air-brushed images. Gee, what really is good art, anyway. Beats me, that's for sure. This painting was done long before academia, very fast image as it was a gift to my darling daughter and needed to be done before Christmas. I remember that the entire image was on the canvas before I put the brush down for the first time. Furious work. Little more needed to be done after that. It will always remain up in the top ten favorite works of this tender little artist. It hangs in her bathroom. Oh, well. Onward. I also will be boiling down some notes and information from a friend into a book for children. We are working together to write his story, my words and pictures, as he has this huge heart poured out on paper, but not many skills to relate it to a reader, and I have no story, but a whole lot of words and training in the craft. It is an ideal partnership, and we are dedicated to having FUN, and not slinging any barbs at one another. Kindness and patience, I can do that. So, busy, busy. And who cares if it is going to rain, all day long.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Like a good student, I headed out into our frigid, rainy weather this morning. Honestly, what happened to Spring? We have been pelted with storm front after storm front. Thank HP, we get a little respite in between, otherwise we'd all be up to our heinies in water. As it is, there is snow on our little Mayacamas, an unusual scene in even the darkest of winters here. I chose a warm subject for this morning's class, Van Gogh's flinty sunflowers. Got creative with brushstrokes, and, as usual, all over the place with color. Not a wasted morning. I learned how to blow paint around with a straw! And splatter and sprinkle with salt, too.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
This morning, I gave a drawing lesson to an old friend. We drew an apple. Gee, it was great to sit down with my cache of implements and noodle away at a drawing for a while. Then I met with a sponsee, sent her off sober and fortified with as much program as one can pack into an hour. Another friend came over, and, after a nourishing and comforting lunch of soup and melted cheese sandwiches, I gave another drawing lesson. I am working out the kinks and thinking I would love to teach folks to draw, and make a little $$$ on the side. Very little, actually, but anything is helpful, right? There is something I didn't know about myself; I am a natural teacher. I taught some of the tricks, like make a cross as a hangar to make the drawing around, outline in straight lines, changing angles wherever the apple does, erase back once the final shape is determined, remember to weight the line on the shadow side, include the reflected light wherever you see it, spatula the shadow under the object, make the darkest shadow directly beneath it, etc. Great to remember all this stuff. I had sooooo much fun, and forgot all my troubles, like the fact that my little credit union that has served me for 25 years is being swallowed by a big credit union, and I will have to notify 6 different entities who either put $$$ in or take $$ out, and make sure they all have the information before June, and don't try to make the change before that. Aaaaagggggh! Why me? Add to that the debit card thing. Life without a debit card is shopping limbo. I should know. I lose mine at least once a year. Ah, well. As they say, trust God and tie up your camel. I will take my steps. Hopefully, they will take theirs. Think I will draw a lemon next.
Monday, March 21, 2011
I traveled to my hometown the other day and made a stop at the local Pacific Market, sort of a mid-point between Safeway and Whole Foods, to pick up a bottle of Bailey's for my dad, who was celebrating his 91st birthday (and God, I am so glad I don't drink any more, $24.99!), and the first thing I saw on the way in were all these amazing apples. I bought these three, and finally threw them onto the counte and rendered this little pastel, all loose and hopefully worthy of their splendid presence. It is done. I signed it, over the booboo I made in that area of the painting. Oh, well. That is my trademark, always a flaw (or two, or more) in everything I do. More about Dad. He was reading the insert from a drug his doctor prescribed, absolutely appalled at the side effects, and asked me to look it over. It stated it was for moderate to severe Altzheimer's. It occurred to me that if Dad was able to read it and make a decision based on the information, he certainly didn't need it, as he certainly didn't have Altzheimer's! Well, he said, my dementia. I told him, hell, you're 91, you're allowed some little brain farts. He decided not to take it. Since he is on 8 other medications, that sounded like a good idea to me.
Friday, March 18, 2011
When I started this oeuvre, I was just disgusted with myself, and back in that place that says "you stink!", what ever made you think you were an artist, quit while you're still sane, blah, blah, blah. Haven't been in that situation for a while. Forgot that I really can do whatever it is that is in front of me, don't need to worry about the outcome, just keep messing around, it will become, almost on its own volition, the art. And, of course, it did. No mind. Cultivating that place where it is just me and HP, doing stuff together. LOVE the pastels for their layering, the way they just make color pop right off the paper. This paper, by the way, was blue to begin with. First time I've worked on colored paper. Its really fine. Meanwhile, I got to listen to faves on the Arts channel, Strauss's Don Juan, some of Madama Butterfly and Mendelsohn's violin concerto, some unfamiliar but really enlightening music. All while I was up to my elbows in pastels, standing at my kitchen counter, in my pajamas. Time to clean up, I guess.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
And my homepage cheerily informs me that it will be raining for at least the next four days. Goody. Meanwhile, on the kitchen counter, my new masterpiece is in the making. No, not done. But a good start for this really dismal day. When in doubt, create something. Anything. And I had these happy little flowers from TJs just sitting there. God does such a good job with the flowers, n'est-ce pas? Spraying it with fixative so I can work over the mess without smearing it any more than I have already. I hated it for the first half of the job, then just settled down, got over myself, and now, I see something wondrous could come up, after all. Ah, the artistic life. My homepage has also been giving me an artist a day, and lately, they have been photo-representational, reality squared. The only distinction between them has been the subject matter, like an oddly posed person, none of them overly attractive, or worthy of immortalizing, like this redeems them in some way. And who beside the immediate family would want them on their walls? I do notice most of these artists are men, classically trained, at that. Makes me wonder if I am supposed to do that kind of work. I may try it. I am pretty sure I CAN do it. Just don't know if I want to. I like messes like this one better. I will continue pondering, certainly. You will be the first to know what I decide. Taking a huge risk putting anything of my own creation up here for God and everyone to see. Oh, well. It is what it is. Distinctly mine.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
In defiance of the time change, I have been sleeping really, really late. Actually, it is a rare occurence that allows me to do that. Once awake, I rarely fall back to sleep. Perhaps it is because it is cold and rainy, and the dogs are not anxious to brave the elements either, so they don't wake me up jumping around on the bed. Whatever it is, it is blessed. I need a whole big bunch of sleep to make up for the years and years and years of deprivation. So, today, I had to hustle to make my noon women's meeting, where I met up with dear friends from decades of recovery, and a big passel of younguns from the treatment center. Everyone got the same dose of sobriety, and off I went to TJs for Greek yogurt and bananas, staples in the current eating plan. Saw a bumper sticker - Hokey Pokey Anonymous - A place to learn what its all about. Loved it. Some yahoo in the ubiquitous Honda Civic made a quick uturn from my right hand lane directly in front of me, and I didn't hit her. That was good. I made a stir fry of tofu, green beans, carrots and mushrooms with a splash of Thai curry sauce for lunch. It wasn't as bad as it seemed as I described it, and I felt really righteous after eating it. Now I am contemplating a pastel of the new TJ bouquet, or just a liedown with my funny and sweet and sexy totally without redeeming qualities novel. I am leaning toward the book. Ah, retirement. It doesn't suck.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Time for my annual diatribe about the powers that be taking away my hour. Bastards don't even pay interest. They keep it for six freaking months! I got my revenge by sleeping in this morning, until there was only a half hour of the new, truncated morning left. Felt really swell. Then I took a picture of my newest little watercolor, a nit-picky little composition I did without any thought at all, and it looks it. Sigh. Just wanted to see if I could do it, and I could, sort of. I saw in the NY Times (I get it online, don't want to be left out, after all), an exhibition at a local NY gallery of installations that looked like wrinkled bed sheets painted gray and fixed to boards and hung on the walls. Got to guess some guy did that. No woman would hang her dirty laundry up for the world to see. And the call it "fine art". I call it sanctimonious. And gullible on the part of the public who ooh and ahh over it. Emperor's New Clothes lives! Hope I never get pretentious enough to do anything like that. Hell, I live in shit-kicking, tree-hugging California. Never happen.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
I have signed up to get an artist-a-day on my homepage, so I can gauge where I am on the artist wannabe scale. And, so far, I am nowhere, because I don't do design or abstract or installations or fabrics or just plain what-is-that-anyway stuff. My favorite so far was a pitch black swamp, complete with reeds and a pond, three-dimensional and stuck into a corner. I wondered if that artist had ever seen mold. That is what it reminded me of, and I just have to lift the shower curtain a little to see that (actually, I took the bleach spray bottle to it soon after I saw the display. For some reason, I like color, and flowers, and a certain elan that these artist seem to lack. Now, I am all in favor of social commentary. I just don't think that is a proper use of art. Whole schools of art came out of that kind of dissatisfaction. Surrealism, for one. Dada, for another. Both lack any semblance of beauty, or order, for that matter. Give me Jackson Pollack any day. His stuff at least embraces passion, all that splashing around. Of course, he was drunk, too. There seems to be this vein of darkness running through the art world. I suppose it is as Eckhart Tolle says, ego stuff. When I am in the zone, there is no me, just the medium and the support and the work. I like the world of no me. I'm going to hang out there as much as possible.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
If at first you don't succeed, just paint over it. I decided I really didn't like this painting. Too busy. To prosaic. Kind of nothing, actually. I only did it because someone said I should, and I didn't have any other good ideas at the moment. It was also really COLD. So I warmed it up all over the place, and loosened it up and made it a warm and, if still prosaic, textured painting. Now I wouldn't be ashamed to hang it on a wall somewhere. What can I say. It's raining, and it's gray everywhere, but in the little yellow house, golden things happen on the kitchen counter.
One of the reasons I sojourn to a neighboring city to do my watercolor class is the quality of the students there. Here at our senior center, there are all these fussy folks who make fussy little pictures and never say anything about mine, which made me feel they didn't like them or something. And that made me feel like I was doing it wrong. But no one ever said I was wrong, of course. Until today. There are a couple of sweet ladies who sit at the end of my table. Well, actually, one of them is sweet. The other one doesn't have anything good to say. About anything, or anyone. I took my last two pastels, and she kind of sniffed and said"wait till you start to cough". Now, I have had no trouble with dust. I fix my work regularly, and often use a palette knife to push the loose stuff into the paper, since I love the prismatic look I get when I do that. Again, I thought I must be doing it wrong. And then I realized, maybe SHE was doing it wrong. Yeah, that's the ticket. And here's today's watercolor masterpiece. Kind of overworked this one, but it was fun and challenging and a happy two hours, ignoring that pill at the end of the table.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
It's kind of a pissy day here in the neighborhood. I slept late, something I no longer apologize for as I lived with a horrific sleep deficit for YEARS. So I spend every blessed moment HP gives me snoozing. The dogs have learned to do their stuff quietly, if they get up at all. After my great and regenerating slumber, I slooooowly got ready for my day, and every time I walked by the counter where the apples and the pastels sat, I put another layer on the paper, so that when I headed out for my noon women's meeting, my fingernails were kind of yellow, and I had to scrub off before settling down into my recovery. I love this simple little thing. All three apples have their own personality to project, and they have been really smooth, then really rough, and now, somewhere in the middle of it all, and probably done-diddy-done-done. Ah, what small wonders there are in this big, complicated world.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
I quickly snapped this view of the Pickle as she reposed on the big dog doughnut the other night. They always crack me up when they lay on their backs like this, totally un-self-aware as they are, dear little guys. I would like to be that unconcerned about the world. True, I am better than I have ever been, but I have my moments. The other night, at a concert, a friend introduced me to a member of the orchestra, and this fellow asked me what I do. Now, most people I know do not ask that. They, like me, are intent on recovery and just not worried about the status or lack thereof in their occupation. What one does for a living is secondary to who one is, and what one does for others. So I kind of stumbled for a moment before answering that I was an artist, sort of, kind of, well, newborn artist. Because saying I am a retired bookkeeper is really boring, and though I may not have a place of employment to travel to daily, I am very much employed and engaged right here in the little yellow house. Learn and grow. And practice, practice, practice.
Friday, March 04, 2011
Okay, for a little while I forgot who I am. Then I started this pastel, and I remembered! I am messy! I am all-over-the-place! I am let's-do-this-and-see-what-happens! No use pretending. It is a kind of dismal day. Sky is all puckered up. It is cold, again. But here in the little yellow house there are sunflowers, and a newly brushed Pickle, and guts. Yes, that's right, guts. It took some to even begin this, then to keep going when it looked unredeemable, and keep squiggling away. I am running out of yellow pastel, but it was worth it. And it even warmed me up!
Thursday, March 03, 2011
I have a good excuse for this rather prosaic little ditty I executed in watercolor class this AM; I had only been out of bed for 40 minutes before I arrived, just on time. I did this from a reference photo for an oil i painted for my daughter many moons ago. I find it interesting that it looks better in the photo than on the block. Perhaps it smiled for the camera? Anyway, not much forethought means kind of mediocre composition and not terribly interesting piece, except to yours truly. Everything interests me one way or another. I saw how much I love 300 lb paper. It takes all kinds of abuse so stalwartly. And I felt a lot less worried about stuff running together than I ever have been before. The medium no longer has the upper hand in the equation. Gosh, I just love being in charge!
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Here is the cowwoman at 14 years of age, about to toddle across the stage in her first heels for her 8th grade graduation. My mother didn't give me a corsage like everyone else, but a little wreath for my ponytail. Already, I am embarrassed. I remember little of these days, mostly because I was so worried all the time. Am I okay here? I was so different from all the other kids, miles taller, kind of awkward and athletically challenged, like I tripped over my own feet just walking. It would have been so different if I were the person I am today, much more self-assured. Well, on most days. Just recently I had a turtle day, just pulled into the shell, never got out of the PJs, shuffled around the house in fluffy socks, piddled at the pastel-du-jour, and hid from the big bad world. Costco lured me out of that funk, and here I am, all dressed and blown-dry and made-up, and it is only 11 AM! Progress, not perfection. Sigh.