Tonight is my 100th post. What that means for me is that I have stuck with doing something for myself, not something I’m accustomed to doing. It has only been ninety days since I began my blog, the other ten posts were of photos, and I actually haven’t posted one hundred pieces of art as I had hoped to when I reached this point. Life has a way of deciding for you what will work out. In this small span of time so much has happened that I didn’t take into consideration when I started out. There are people in my life who have had the joy of birth, the sorrow of death, loss of a job, and as for myself, illness, twice, that I hadn’t counted on, new friends, reconnecting with family, and in particular discovering who in my life really care enough to support me and my dreams. I have changed, I am finding my artistic voice, I am growing confident in my work, and I am producing more art than I have in my entire life. I always said that I never figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still haven’t, there are far too many ways to fulfill my desire to create and I don’t want to limit myself to one. I know I don’t have to. So, I will continue on this journey and hope that it continues to be as satisfying as it has been thus far. I mentioned several posts ago that I realized that some projects will take more than a day, so that meant that at the end of this year I might not necessarily have three hundred sixty-five pieces of work. The project of using up everything in my studio over the course of this year has evolved, and as I stated before, it is my project and I make the rules. It is true that I don’t have an individual piece of art for every day because some things do take longer, but now I think I want to add that challenge to myself, to complete three hundred sixty five pieces by April 13th of next year. That’s a lot of work, but I feel confident enough to try.
For tonight I was inspired by a lovely day with friends in La Jolla. We had lunch within sight of the Pacific, it was an overcast day with an unusual sprinkling of a few rain drops. For some reason it left me feeling nostalgic. I have application on our home computer called Poladroid. It is a program that lets you change digital photos into what looks like an old Polaroid. I love it. As I was looking through my photos for inspiration tonight, I came across a photo I had added the Poladroid to. I stayed true to my promise of an attempt to paint in acrylics, and using my day as inspiration, and the idea of the old Polaroid in my head, a beach scene. I still have a hard time with acrylics from a blending standpoint. I know there are additives that can help, I may look into that. However, I am happy with my painting.
I spent the afternoon helping a friend with a very special art project, I failed to ask her permission to use the art, and I don’t feel comfortable using it without her permission. So tonight as I sit in the garden I decided to do another pastel on newspaper since I enjoyed the results last night. I have some Black-eyed Susan growing in the garden and honestly barely glanced at them, just sort of used the idea of them for inspiration. I grabbed a piece of today’s paper, grabbed my chalk and went to work. Not a masterpiece, just a very enjoyable exercise sitting outside on a beautiful night.
I am itching to get back to oil painting, unfortunately I couldn’t get an appointment with my doctor until the end of the month, and until I know for sure that my lungs are clear, I must behave. I’ve been doing a lot of watercolor since I started this blog, and while I do enjoy it, I get bored using the same materials. I’m thinking it is time to pull out the acrylics. I’ve primarily used acrylics for painting on wood, not as much on canvas. I find them so difficult to maneuver. I think again, it is a matter of practice. Tomorrow is the day. I actually have an orphaned painting in mind, and looking forward to the challenge. Wish me luck!
Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I’m kind of crazy when it comes to recycling. My poor family has been lectured more times than I care to say because I have found something in the trash can that should have been in the recycling. They live in fear of the recycling police. In my defense I feel like it is one small thing that I can contribute to the world. Then there were also Myra and Emma. Who were they? I’m sure everyone has a story about someone from their childhood that made a lasting impression on them. These ladies lived down the street from us. I believe they were sisters, and one of them unfortunately had something wrong with her face. Rumor had it that she was bitten by a squirrel, (nice children, weren’t we?) I really don’t know what the issue was. Anyway, when these ladies saw a kid pick up trash they rewarded that child with candy. Needless to say our street was clean, although there were some kids known to plant trash in order to be seen picking it up. It must have made quite an impression on me, I can’t stand litter. At one point in my life I owned a home on an alley, my little piece was the cleanest alley you would ever find. Even today I cannot eat in one of those restaurants with the peanut shells on the floor. It drives me insane, I want to grab a broom and sweep it all up. There were also The Box Car Children. If you never read about them, they were in search of their grandfather, but couldn’t find him, so they made a home in an abandoned box car. Their entire home was filled with stuff they found at the dump. It made the dump sound very glamorous, (there was no discussion about sanitation or odor) so that explains my obsession with thrift stores and antique stores. (I was obviously an impressionable child) I also believe it is responsible for all of the various scraps, junk, crap and other materials I have, all with the idea of my turning them into something else. Some of that may actually come to fruition since I am on this journey to use all the supplies in my studio.
For tonight I wanted to give the chalk pastels a shot again. As you may remember, I am not fond of pastel paper, so I grabbed some Bristol. Horrible, wouldn’t blend at all! Then I remembered, several weeks ago I was watching a design show where an artist had been hired to do pen and ink drawings on pieces of newspaper. I loved the results. I grabbed a piece of this mornings paper from the recycling and began drawing. I love it. The chalk works beautifully with the surface of the paper, and I love the combination of the bright chalk sketch against the regimented font of the paper, and I’m recycling! I want to try this again.
I have no masterpiece to post tonight, but maybe then again, I do. I spent my day working on Emily’s House, the paper doll house for my special little friend. I have to admit I got very carried away with this project and I’m only halfway done. I woke at 4:30 this morning, (Thanks neighbor for leaving your lights on in the garden all night! I thought it was daylight and got up too early) then I came downstairs, saw the clock and cursed, tried to go back to sleep on the couch, but it was hopeless. The universe, and two of my cats, had decided that I needed to be more productive. Last night I had left some of the pieces of Emily’s paper doll house sitting out, so I went to work. That’s right, four-thirty in the morning and I’m making a paper doll house. I didn’t mind in the least. With each wall I make I am that much closer to giving it to Emily, and the thought of that brings a smile to my face. I worked on it pretty much all day. At one point this afternoon the thought occurred to me that I should be working on my art, but I realized I already was. I’m going to post a few photos, including my rather impressive fridge that has a door that really opens, but I can’t reveal too much yet, I will post the entire house when its done. To say I’m getting a little crazy is an understatement. My mother commented once when I was a kid that there was something wrong with me, I was always cutting paper. I still cut a lot of paper, I’m still a little different, and I still make enormous messes (I mention that last part because as I write, Dan is picking up tiny scraps of paper off the couch) but I have never lost the love of creating, no matter how big or small the project, it’s the process that brings me joy.
Do you ever read those stories (usually in the National Enquirer, my Mom’s bible) about the people who see Jesus in a knot hole on a tree or Mary in a grilled cheese? I had a similar experience this morning, although you might not consider mine a religious one. For those who read my blog and know me personally, they know that my wonderful husband begins each and every day making me a beautiful cappuccino. The man has a gift for making them, foam so thick you could almost bounce a quarter off of it, and just the perfect amount of cinnamon sprinkled on the top. I look forward to them every morning, but particularly on Sunday when we sit and drink coffee and read the papers together. This morning after I finished my coffee, I put my cup on the table and continued to read my paper. When I put the paper down what should appear before my eyes but a Van Gogh in my cup. A wondrous cinnamon and foam sky swirling above a lone tree on a hill. I know it’s no Mary on a potato chip, and some of you may consider it stretching the imagination, but I was very inspired by it. I believe it is a sign from the great artist studio in the sky that I need to use this cappuccino residue as the inspiration for a painting. (Well, either that or all the paint fumes have gone to my head) Did I call the Enquirer in order to make an appearance with my cup? No, I washed my one shot at fame with the breakfast dishes, although I did take a photograph to share with the unbelieving public. And since we all know that for the moment I am staying away from oils, (which might be a good idea based on this post) I did paint a quick watercolor study of my discovery. I will document my visionary find by posting the photo I took, and my quick sketch.
I also wanted something else, searching beyond my dirty dishes I simply flipped open a magazine and decided to paint whatever my finger landed on. I figured I had a shot at something half way decent since I was flipping through Romantic Homes.
Two works tonight. My quick study, watercolor of course, and a glass pitcher of roses, also watercolor. (Not at all thrilled with the results of my roses, but in all honesty I was rushing it, and watching television at the same time) I failed to mention that our dishwasher broke a few days ago, could it be that it was fated? (I don’t think Dan would agree with that) Or is it maybe a sign that I need to look before I rinse?
Our usual Saturday here in Temecula is a visit to our wonderful local Farmer’s market. It is one of my favorite things to do, especially because I love cooking so much, I look forward to it all week. We often talk as we stroll along about what we might want to cook for that night’s dinner, and Dan buys me flowers. There are food stalls in addition to the beautiful fresh produce, a French creperie, Italian sausage that is made locally, African food, Middle Eastern food, and so much more. The colors and aromas of the market are rich with vibrancy and flavor. There are the same vendors week after week, who come to know us and greet us with smiles. Our city is small, but a city none the less, however the market gives it the kind of small town intimacy that is missing in so much of the world today. Last year I took my camera along for the day and snapped some photos of the beautiful displays. I may do that again next week, but this time I think I’d like to take some pictures of the shoppers and vendors. An interesting mix of people, definitely some colorful characters. One of my favorite paintings is Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. It’s funny how often that painting comes to mind when I’m in an area where people are gathered. I have an orphaned painting up in my studio that I will have to dig out. A photograph I took at a Starbucks of a woman sitting on a stool with her back to me. Again, a “Hopper” moment. Something about how lost in thought she seemed and the position of her body appealed to me. I need to finish that piece. I think I’d also like to attempt a scene, a painting with more than a singular figure in it. It would definitely be a challenge for me, but these days I am feeling a little fearless and inspired in my work.
Tonight a few of last year’s photos, and a pen and ink of an item from the Farmer’s market, an onion.
I had a really productive day today. I started my morning in our beautiful garden taking photographs. I should say I tried to start my day that way. One of our cats, Mia, loves to come outside with us. We have three, all indoor cats. By mutual consent Mia has agreed to wear a leash and collar. (OK, maybe not so mutual, but I follow her upstairs by demand to turn the faucet on in the tub so she can drink, there isn’t anything mutual about that decision either!) Mia loves a good cat massage, particularly on her face. She followed me around the garden mewing until I gave in. I spent a good twenty minutes petting her until she decided she had enough. After Mia’s session was over, (no tip) I finished photographing the garden, and then I began finishing up last night’s portrait of my Mom. I really wasn’t happy with it last night, much happier this evening!
I wasn’t sure (as usual) what I wanted to do today. I was uploading the photos out of my camera and decided to use one of my photos for inspiration. Before I began working I looked at my daughter’s Facebook page. Jessica had posted some photographs from a trip to Venice Beach with her husband John, and their dog Otis. There was one in particular that I really liked, so that became my project. I have been really dying to get back to my paintbrush, but until I get an OK from the doc that my lungs are clear, watercolor will have to suffice. The painting of John and Otis didn’t take long, and I felt terrific doing it. I even commented to Dan how relaxed I feel in my work these days. Despite my evil nemesis, Perspective, and the unusually quiet “you’re not good enough” voice in my head, and my stubborn refusal to read direction of any kind, I feel like I am making leaps and bounds in my artistic confidence. So much so that when I finished John and Otis I decided to jump right into another painting. (I do want to catch up on those lost sick days) I looked through the photos from the garden and picked one of my Echinacea. I love the color, and wanted the challenge of painting the prickly tops. Success! By the time I was finished and looked at the clock it was after six. I need more days like today.
If you are someone who regularly reads my rants and random thoughts I am going to ask you to be patient with me this month. As I explained in last night’s blog, July is the month that I lost my Mother, on July twenty-second to be exact, it will be six years this year and I keep wondering when it will get easier. I promise not to make this an entire month of mourning, I hadn’t planned on writing about it tonight, it is after all a holiday and I should be celebrating. The reason I chose to bring it up again is because of tonight’s project. I was having a very frustrating day artistically. I promised to post on this blog warts and all. Unfortunately earlier today I couldn’t draw a wart if I tried. I was off my game, nothing was speaking to me. I went on a hunt for inspiration and came across a photo of my Mom. It is one of my favorites. It is from my sister’s wedding, which means Mom is forty-five in the photo. I think she looks beautiful. I decided to make her portrait my project tonight. A pencil portrait. I will be revisiting it in the morning, it isn’t entirely finished, but I am for tonight. I can see more than a few areas I want to work on. I was drawing in the garden, the last hour and a half after the sun had gone down. To say lighting became an issue is an understatement. I didn’t come in because it was much too beautiful sitting out there.
As I was sitting there drawing my Mom’s portrait a thought passed through my head. It was that I was bringing her back to life. I don’t know what prompted the thought, but I do know as soon as I had it was struck by another thought, that I couldn’t bring her back. I felt such a rush of sadness that it brought tears to my eyes. I continued to sketch, but by then the tears were rolling down my face. I was in danger of getting the drawing wet. Dan, ever thoughtful, jumped up and grabbed some tissue for me. My Mom complained to me once that the four of us girls were always doing special things for our Dad, but not for her. I don’t believe that was entirely true, but I do know she raised us to treat him like a king. We were like four little handmaidens. I can only hope that somehow she knows I’m doing something for her today. I guess in a way I am bringing her back to life by putting her portrait on my blog, a final gift for both of us, because it really is a gift to have the ability to see my Mother’s face drawn by my own hand. By the way, her name was Mary.
No complaints tonight, we won’t even begin to mention my nemesis.
Today is a day to remember people who I love. Six years ago my Mother went in for a surgery that she never came home from. No, today isn’t the anniversary of her death, but rather the anniversary of the last day that I saw my Mom before three weeks of pain and heartbreak began. I will always be grateful that I made it to the hospital in Illinois in time to say, “I love you”, just before she went into surgery. I miss her terribly, and talk to her daily. I always saw her as somewhat of a wounded soul, someone I wanted to take care of. I think she was a fountain of untapped talent, there was a little Martha Stewart there long before Martha ever wrote a book or cooked a meal. I think part of what drives me now is that I don’t think she ever realized how special and talented she was. I am her daughter, and I owe it to her to stop wasting the talent she gave me.
Today is also the 5th anniversary of my father in-laws passing. Sadly, a year after I lost my Mother, my husband lost his Father. A Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. A fine decent man, a true hero in a day where that word is often overused. A man who didn’t speak unless it meant something, and with little time for nonsense. My kids still remember when Poppy called it “UN-American” when Jessica didn’t like whipped cream, or Brian didn’t like cheese. Don, we all miss you.
For tonight I really felt like painting with oils, but I’m still wheezing just a little, so no oils for me just yet. Instead I played with pastels. Another in the long list of things that I just do without really knowing what I’m doing. But you know what? I’m starting to be ok with that. I started drawing, didn’t like where it was going, but kept going. I was using pastel paper, and to be honest don’t care for the texture of it. Eventually I grabbed some colored pencils and worked the two mediums together. I do want to experiment with pastels a little more, but I think I may use Bristol next time. The rough surface of the pastel paper makes blending a little difficult.
I also spent a little time on my doll house project, which is coming along nicely. I have gotten very ambitious with it so it may take a week to complete!
Perspective. Just the sound of the word makes me freeze in horror. No, I am not admitting defeat. If you read last night’s post (and twenty other posts about it) you know that my evil nemesis had thwarted my plans to do a painting with perspective. Yesterday I had this grand plan to do a complete series of gates, windows, and doors. Then last night happened. I’m truly not giving up, just giving myself a break from the aggravation and frustration that I experienced last night. What you might find at the very least mildly amusing, is that I actually spent a good part of my afternoon beginning the panels for a paper doll house for a very special little friend of mine. Several weeks ago I did a pastel chalk of Emily. I turned that portrait into a paper doll, complete with wardrobe. Emily the paper doll needs a home, a friend, maybe some pets, probably some furniture for her paper house…..getting carried away here. There is no better thing in this world than the smile on a child’s face, I wish I could do it for every kid. I said I needed to do some catch up on my project, Emily’s house will be part of that. It might not be “fine art”, but quite frankly it’s so much fun I can’t wait to get back to it. I love design. As a child I didn’t really enjoy playing with Barbie dolls, I did however really enjoy designing their house. I have three sisters, and we never really had one of those factory made Barbie houses. We had random furniture, some Barbie, some generic doll stuff. My doll’s house was fabulous! I used a checker board for my flooring, (still love a checked floor) my mother’s jewelry box as an armoire, and her good Waterford crystal bowl as my pool, complete with color tinted water, that was accomplished by taking apart markers and dragging the inside material (not even sure what it is. Felt?) across the water to dye it to my color of choice. When my daughter was young and I worked at a grocery store I brought home empty cardboard cartons, which I then turned into individual Barbie rooms. Wrapping paper wallpaper, carpet sample flooring, artwork cut from magazines, and real fabric curtains. Eventually two stories high along a wall in her playroom. Barbie had quite the pad! I did stop playing long enough this afternoon to do something else for the project, a pen and ink drawing of a Day-lily. The ink sketch is what I will be posting a photo of tonight. Emily’s house is still under construction and will have its own special reveal, hopefully some day later this week. As I said, mildly amusing, the girl who can’t do math, and hates perspective, is creating an architectural doll abode. I guess even when you really don’t enjoy the process, (at least the perspective part) in the end it’s who and what the project is all about that makes all the difference. I guess you might say it puts things in “perspective” ( I know, insert cringe here).