Hello, I’m Brian’s Mother

As I said the other evening, I am always honest in my blog writing. Full disclosure here. The very funny remark I attributed to my son last night about glitter being the herpes of craft supplies, should actually be attributed to the very funny Jim Gaffigan. When I told my son tonight that I had quoted him in my blog he was horrified. First because he said if I had told him I was going to quote him he would have told me the line was from Mr. Gaffigan, but I think even more so because I am exposing his secret to the world. Yes, he has a mother. When Brian was a little boy he was very attached to me. So much so in fact that Dan thought Brian didn’t like him. How quickly things change. By the time he was nine Brian was distancing himself from me. How I missed those cuddles with my little boy. It was in those years that the head bob began. This was Brian’s way of allowing me to kiss him. I’m not exactly sure when he passed me in height, but as soon as he did he began the practice of bowing down just enough for me to kiss the top of his head. I had spent years doing an annual art project with Jessica’s class. Brian stopped me by the fourth grade. Things have improved in the last few years. My little boy is now a man. He still doesn’t seem to want his friends to know I exist, but he has grown a little more affectionate with me. About a year or so ago I did him a favor. I don’t even remember what. What I do remember is that when he came over to hug me in thanks, I freaked. It had been so long since he came near me I wasn’t sure what was going on, I could say so much more, but I know without a doubt that he won’t be happy with the little bit of him that I have exposed here. All in love my son

I spent my day making fairies once again, so another ghost of projects past. I took an old flatware box and gutted it. Turned it into a box for pretty writing materials for a friend. She loved it. Hopefully tomorrow I can get back to some art that is just for me.

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Acrylic paint projects (17)

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Do You Really “Like” Me?

My husband writes a blog, its nothing like mine, he wouldn’t consider himself an artist, but I think he is wonderfully creative in many ways. One of which is that he is a good writer. We had a conversation the other day about our respective blogs. I write every day, he writes when the mood strikes. We are both very curious about something. When we write about something serious, something that we feel is important in our little part of the world, we get maybe one, maybe two “likes”. When we write something that we feel isn’t up to par, our “likes” go through the roof. ??????  We are puzzled. If it happened to one of us then we might reason that what we feel is our better writing is crap, and in this apparently alternate universe we reside in, our not so good stuff is stellar. However, it is happening to both of us, and our blogs couldn’t be more different, in content, in writing style, and quite frankly, mine has more pretty pictures than his. (He occasionally posts a photo.) I wrote a post the other evening about hearing my couch call to me. It is one of the highest amount of “likes” I’ve received. I was a little delirious with pain at the time, and I think my writing reflected that. Now my brain hurts. Do I write better when in pain? Will you “like” me if I stub my toe before I blog?  I know it can’t have been the artwork from that night. It wasn’t my best, and actually since this started out as a blog about my art as well as my life, I’d be horrified if you thought that was my best. I believe that I have produced some really nice pieces in the last few months with not a lot of feedback. My son said something last week (in his superior “I’m younger and smarter than you” best), he said that he thinks people who write blogs are self-serving. (He has his moments as a compassionate and understanding human being, this was obviously not one of them.) I think he’s just pissed that I started one first. (Just like the tattoo story…another time.) I explained to him that I started this blog because of the 365 project. I was hoping it would change my life, and it has. I also knew that I never do anything for myself, and would continue to ignore myself, and to feed my “not good enough self” that lives in the recesses of my brain unless I made it impossible to quit. The blog was born. As I explained the other night, I’d feel too guilty if I didn’t follow through. (Thank you Sr. Rose Vincent, Sr. Therese Angela, Sr. Aloysius, and all the other nuns who participated in my “guilt” education, and of course an honorable mention to my parents.) I wasn’t looking for accolades when I started this, I was looking for pressure. I succeeded beyond my wildest imagination.  I feel like I’m back in high school and I want people to like me, gross. When I was in high school I never cared if anyone liked me. So I find myself at odds with myself. I have to admit it, I want you to like the art, it means a lot to me, and I hope you enjoy my ramblings, as for me personally….

For tonight another piece of pen and ink for my upcoming endeavor.

P.S. The couch says “Hello”.9 30

Thank You

Before I begin my post tonight I think I need to clear something up. I think there was an awful lot of misinterpretation of my blog last night. It was after midnight when I wrote that piece. I was tired,and yes suffering from a little melancholia, but I had just finished a wonderful meal, shared with good friends, in my beautiful garden with my amazing husband. I am concerned and worried because my husband lost his job, or as he puts it, “his job lost him”, but I am not a lost sheep. When I spoke of not hearing the voice inside me I was speaking of my own voice. I was kidding when I spoke of my monkey-esque brain getting in the way of prayer, thus the use of the word monkey-esque. When I spoke of being impatient and my prayers not being answered it was in a humorous moment with Dan. I do find myself searching and wondering, but it is not because I find something lacking in my soul. I’m human, I’m worried, and despite the postings of a wife who is concerned for her husband, I have not lost faith. While I truly appreciate the thoughts and prayers sent my way, those of you who know me know that I am rather fond of finding humor in my life, particularly when talking about myself. My faith life is and always has been a private and personal relationship. I can be a bit of a loner, and it suits me to be that way in my spiritual life as well. Yes, we are going through hard times, but that is out in the world, at home I have no empty space to fill. I am a very loved woman, and in that luckier than most.

I decided tonight to post something I wrote several months ago with the intention of sending it to my local paper. Shame on me, I didn’t send it, but maybe this is better, this platform that reaches far beyond my local community. If you want to know where I live my spirituality then you need to read this.

                                                                                                                                                  MY FRIEND
I am an immigrant. No, not the kind that seems to be of great concern to everyone, the other kind, a pasty white Canadian with parents straight off the boat from Ireland. No one seems to care if I am legal (I am), but that really isn’t the point. For those of you who live in the Temecula area we suffered a significant loss recently. Most of you aren’t aware of it, particularly those who don’t attend our marvelous Saturday Farmer’s Market in Old Town. There amongst the fruits, vegetables, and restaurant fare was a man selling flowers. He wasn’t the only flower vendor, there are two or three others, but he was a gentle man with a lovely smile, and he was an immigrant. He was the immigrant you are all so concerned about, the Mexican kind. My husband and I attend the market weekly. There are many vendors there that recognize us on sight, and with those vendors we exchange pleasant greetings. The flower vendor was different. Week after week we would buy flowers from him and exchange a smile and a “Thank you”. His English was poor, our Spanish is nonexistent. The language barrier didn’t matter, or that we didn’t know his name, and he didn’t know ours, that gentle smile on that weathered face said everything. We became friends. Eventually he began to give me an extra bouquet, something he chose to add to whatever my husband was buying for me. In return I began to bring him a little something I baked, and the gift of a watercolor painting I had done of one of his sunflowers. He disappeared for a while and there was a great deal of concern for him from the people who attend the market every week. I knew this because when we asked about him, his niece told us that her uncle was recovering from surgery, and that it meant so much to her that so many people cared for him. A few months ago he returned. He looked older and a little feeble, but the smile was still there. I know that there is so much anger and even some hatred for immigrants in this country, but there are also those of us who understand who and what they are. My dad came here with a pregnant wife and two daughters because he wanted a better life. I don’t condone illegal immigration, but I wish everyone in this world could have the opportunity that we all have. I don’t know if the flower vendor was legal, I do know that by looking at his rough hands that he probably worked hard all of his life. Maybe we can all set aside a little of our hostility and stop and really look at one another. Many of you couldn’t or wouldn’t do the kind of work that would give a man hands like that. There has to be a better solution than anger. There needs to be compassion and understanding. Two weeks ago when we attended the Farmer’s Market we saw a picture of him surrounded with flowers. The flower vendor has passed away. For those of us who saw him weekly we will miss that smile. I will miss my friend.

For those of you that were lovely enough to offer the gift of your faith, your church, I thank you, but I have found mine in the face of humanity.

Tonight I am working on the last of the three portraits that I’m doing, but instead of posting the work in progress, I am posting the sunflower I painted for my friend, it’s brilliance could never match his smile. God bless you my friend.May 2011 199

Up To My Old Tricks

When I began this blog I wrote about how shy I was as a child. There is still a lot of that inside me. I think it is why I enjoy solitude so much, and that more often than not my paintings, and photography reflect that. People who know me now are often surprised when I claim to be shy. I work really hard at being friendly. When you are a shy child, and particularly one who is the brunt of all the grade school jokes, you learn compassion. Dan knows that if we go to a party I will find the loner in the corner and stay there for the night. I cannot stand to see anyone lonely, or to sense that someone else is struggling, I need to help them. When I was in high school I was forced to take a speech class. I dreaded it. Speaking in front of a single person can be difficult enough, put me in front of a crowd and I’m terrified. At the end of the semester we were required to stand on the stage in the school auditorium and make a speech. The subject matter could be anything we wanted, the only restriction was the amount of time. For weeks leading up to it my stomach was in knots. I didn’t know how I was going to get through it. I came up with a plan. The first thing to do was to pick a subject for my speech that I was familiar with. I chose Wicca. It was an interesting choice, considering that I was at an all girl Catholic high school run by Benedictine nuns. I  had an interest in witchcraft, nothing to speak of, I think for the most part it had to do with my childhood fascination with Bewitched, and my all-time favorite movie, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Fortunately, the speech teacher was a lay teacher, a man, and he didn’t seem all that upset with my choice. I knew we would be required to look up as we spoke and not check our notes too often. That part was easy, I knew my subject well. I talked off the top of my head for the entire speech. The hardest part was facing the crowd, well a crowd of about twenty-four. On the few previous occasion when I spoke in class, my classmates had to critique me. Every single time they pointed out that as I stood there choking out words the podium was shaking. The night before the speech I was really nervous, and of course like most kids, trying to figure out what disease I could possibly come up with on a moments notice so that I wouldn’t have to go to school the next day. Nothing worked and the moment was at hand. Then a brainstorm. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was thirteen. Blind as a bat. All I had to do was to take off my glasses, from the auditorium stage I couldn’t see my audience. I big blob of color. I was still nervous, and I did shake a little. The speech went well. My teacher said it was good, just a little unorganized. Not bad since I didn’t really write one.

That brings me to today’s painting. I have mentioned before that I love Impressionism. Strangely enough since I have the perfection issue. The thought occurred to me that all I need to do is to take my glasses off. Trust me, the world at large is one giant Impressionistic scene when my glasses are off, and as long as I’m going down this road I am doing my own waterlilies. A photo taken in Giverny in 2009. I have to admit I’m struggling as I look at it. I do believe I may be revisiting this one. Image Do you think it’s possible that there would have been no Impressionism if eye care were better in Monet’s day?

Here We Go Again

I started my day with the intention of finishing my table, but I sidelined the project because of an invitation from a very handsome man for a lunch date. (My husband of course!) He asked me to lunch and for a visit to the San Diego Museum of Art to see a new exhibition he knew I wanted to see. The works of Giambattista Piranesi, architect, designer, art dealer, and print maker, among many other things. The work was beautiful, more than 300 original prints from the 18th century. The detail and perspective of each sketch was incredibly precise. As always I left the museum inspired. I contemplated doing a pen and ink sketch, but by the time we came home, both a sore ankle and the wine from lunch had taken their toll.

We sat out in our beautiful garden for a while, where I again looked for inspiration. My thoughts came back once again to the idea of some altered art. At the museum Dan and I had discussed different work that appeals to me, and how none of it is “perfect”. I simply love the pieces for what they are and the feelings they invoke. Later in the car we again discussed my post of the other day where I called myself “uptight”. He said I’m not so much uptight as timid. I decided to attempt a piece of something out of my comfort zone for this evening.

Several years ago I had used two scrap wood pieces to mount some candle wall sconces on. When I did them I didn’t see that they resembled the shape of a house. The sconces hang alone now, and the wood was sitting in my studio. I’m still working on the project as I write this, and until this moment wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it. I printed a photo of an angel that I took in a cemetery in Richmond, Virginia a few years ago on water slide decal paper. The paper has to sit for at least thirty minutes to dry and then you have to sit it in water for about sixty seconds, the image slides off and can be applied to your surface. The wood had a hole in it, I decided to use my wood burner to create a halo/crown behind her head. Then I got stuck. I played around with small pieces I had in my studio, searching for just the right piece. I eventually realized that because she is a gravestone angel, the image represents the passing of time to me. I searched on the internet and found a quote by William Blake. It states, “To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.” I am waiting for the quote to dry on another piece of the decal paper, but wasn’t sure where to go from there. As I wrote this a thought occurred to me, when my mother died I wrote a verse about it, and used a small box I had to create a small piece of art that sits on my vanity. Part of that verse refers to my no longer having a home, that my dad is still there but that without her it isn’t home anymore. This will all make sense I think once the piece is done, which is obviously not going to happen tonight due to decal drying time. So I will again tonight post an unfinished piece, and a photo of the piece about my mother. Tomorrow I believe I can achieve what is in my head tonight.


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Long day yesterday. We spent the day doing our taxes which I can tell you doesn’t inspire much in the way of creativity. We didn’t finish until after six last night. I threw together a quick dinner, which for me means spaghetti carbonara, and then hoped to relax for the evening. As I ate dinner, I repeatedly told my husband that I needed to do something for this project. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I honestly feel so compelled to follow through on this that I couldn’t let it go. I looked around in my studio to see what I had at hand that would be quick. Feeling the “night before homework is due” pressure, figuring out what I could “hand in”. I didn’t want to do another watercolor, I didn’t want to do another small artist card just to get something done. I decided I was going to draw something. As an artist my biggest downfall is perspective. With never having had art lessons I don’t have many of the fundamental skills. Actually it contributes to another huge issue for me, the need for things to look like they are meant to look. As if I am a Kinkos copy machine. When I paint or draw I criticize myself horribly for it. I know, ridiculous right? I like other people’s work that isn’t “perfect”, so why do I expect that of myself? At this point I think I don’t have a chip on my shoulder but a rather large boulder. So after that long therapeutic rant, I will finish my story. I grabbed a couple of photos that were taped up in the studio, figuring I would draw one of them. I sat in my family room trying to draw but it just wasn’t coming. By this time it is after eight. I flipped through a few magazines, tried another drawing and again nothing. I told my husband that I was going to draw him. I have little to no experience in figure drawing so I thought I would at least try. The thing is when you want someone to model for you it is probably a good idea to tell them not to move. I didn’t, he did, and the drawing was finished before it got anywhere. Again I looked around for something, anything to fulfill my commitment. Behind me on a shelf was a photograph of my grandmother, Florence. I love faces, to look at, to study, and to draw. Florence became my project. I drew for roughly an hour, thought I was done, but then this morning I got up and looked at her, and decided she deserved better. Another hour or two this morning and I think she is done. I may revisit after my eyes uncross, but I’m happy with the results for now. Somehow I managed to reach both my deadlines yesterday, amazing! Art and taxes!Nana 1 (2)