Sunday, April 30, 2006

Never Paint a Pirate

This was my art weekend at Anna's. Oh, my! We 'did' artichokes on Saturday. First we used charcoal, to warm up, and then we did a pencil rendering. It is always amazing to me how something that you really think you know, like an artichoke or an apple or a coffee mug, changes when you really look at it, study it, pay attention to it in great detail
Anna had us look at the little thorns on the top of each leaf with a magna-fying glass and it was a revelation to see all the colors, from yellow to sienna, purple amd pink.

Today we started doing self portraits. Man, you should have heard all of us whine! The rooms echoed with the moaning and groaning. The various ways each of us found to prolong beginning was amazing. Rena in particular was almost frantic to do something, anything, other than pick up a pencil and start sketching. She is such a beautiful lady, too. Yet each of us, from the beautiful to the average, yeah, even the mousey (!), we all resisted in one way or another. It is hard to draw your own face. For me, a big part of the problem is what I see in the mirror is not me. It's not how I feel, how I 'see' myself inside my own head. I look in the mirror and it's Grandma looking back at me. When did I turn into my own(beloved) grandmother? I will catch a reflection of myself in a shop window and I am always surprised. So to pick up a pencil and look at a photo, or into the mirrors that Anna had cut for each of us, was hard. Really, really hard. I did a sketch and then started in on a canvas. I painted for a couple of hours and then, poof!, it was time to clean up and pack up and go home. I have made a start. It feels like a good beginning but there is so much to do, so many more layers of paint that need to be applied, so much more seeing to do. I'm not really sure, even now, that I want to see myself clearly enough to paint my own face. I don't know what I'm so reluctant to see, or maybe I'm afraid, but if so, of what? This is an odd experience. I know that many, many artists paint themselves over and over---Frida Kahlo, for example. I can't see myself doing that.

I guess I just can't really see myself.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Saturday at the Beach with Nonie

The data base for the volunteer roster was corrupted, I discovered to my horror,last Monday. I spent all last week working on getting a clean, correct copy made. It took about 40 hours to get the data re-entered and to check all the names, address and phone numbers. I sure hope I got it put together properly. I was just about permanently blind from squinting at the computer screen and trying to read all the phone numbers and email address by the time I finished up the last bit very early on Saturday morning. Since getting this error fixed (so I can schedule all the volunteers and keep the records straight) was paramount, everything else was ignored all last week. I didn't even make one entry into my journal! I have played hooky from all my other 'jobs' this weekend and I feel like a new, restored, woman tonight. Nonie and I spent most of yesterday exploring the shopping at Mill Creek, walking around Edmonds or on the beach. We didn't get home last night until after nine. It was a beautiful day, full of the promise of summer, and we enjoyed every minute of it. I took a lot of photos last night. It was a beautiful evening.

There was a very interesting art installation at Mill Creek. Lining all the walkways were what looked to be hundreds of pairs of shoes. Turns out there were actually 1200 pairs and the purpose was to point out the unnecessary deaths due to tobacco use. It was quite a statement and had strong visual impact. Very moving.

Today I bought a basket, really a sculptural piece, made by Joyeanna Chaudiere, a local artist who shows at Gallery North. It's gorgeous and playful. The piece is entitled "Not Quite Round Rainbow" and I've hung it in the back entry hall, where the ceiling is high enough to give it the space it needs. (The only place in this bungalow where there is enough height to show it off!) I love it---it's fun and fresh, and reminds me of a jellyfish.

I have just about finished my "dog tag" for Bee Shay's exhibit for next year's ArtFest. I have been struggling to get the patina just right and it has taken me all weekend----doing a bit here and letting it dry and a bit there and letting it dry----to get it the way I want it to look. I have just sealed it and I think it's done. Finally. I need only get a good jpeg of it for Bee and email it off to her, and that promise is kept.

There was a very interesting article in Seattle magazine about small town getaways. Edison was one of the places featured and a gentleman by the name of John DeGloria, the owner of Slough Foods (!), described Edison as "centrally isolated". I howled when I read that. It certainly is! Another great descriptor for my journal.

Connie came home about nine o'clock tonight. He'd had a good weekend and had gotten a lot done at 7 1/2 Ranch. A friend of his came by to shoot and Ralph got to try out Connie's token system for the clay pigeons. No token, not targets. This seems to me to be a very clever way to get the guest shooters to buy their own clay pigeons while keeping everyone happy and not having to try and make an honor system work. It's $2 for a token, which is what it costs to supply the 27 targets needed for a line of trap. From the photos Connie had taken it looks like the grass is coming in and it's greening up nicely. He seems very relaxed and happy. A good weekend for us both!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The art journal group I belong to has a green page challenge on for this week. I sat down yesterday and worked on my first page for that group. It was a total experiment and I tried journaling along the lines of Teesha Moore's description of her process. That was a first for me and while I am not thrilled with the result, the act of making the page was great fun. I used Caran D'Ache (with and without water), rubber stamps, a variety of ink colors, various and sundry papers and some photographs from my Japan trip. I even used the image of the Tanuki, the tanuki that was outside the ryokan in Shigaraki. I pasted and colored, cut out leaf shapes and used various pens for details and for the journaling. In other words, I spent quite a bit of time playing with my art supplies, and I had a really good time doing it.

More and more work on the Excel generated volunteer sheets. More people to sign up. More changes to times and numbers of volunteers needed (as some people can't seem to understand that I have already mailed the volunteer forms and now will have to make many phone calls advising folks of a new time to arrive). It all makes me grumpy. Very grumpy. I am near to feckless whining....Thursday night is Art Walk and I have to canvas the downtown area, drumming up any new volunteers I can. Several of the other directors have agreed to be there. Sure hope they show up! I am living for June 20th when this will all be behind me. Two months and counting.

Beautiful spring day. The Olympics were spectacular, rising out of the blue of Puget Sound, still covered in snow. Susan P. and I had lunch at that great little Mexican restaurant that's north on Hwy 99---I think it's called Casa Corona. Great food and such nice people. I must get Connie up there sometime. The other Bowling Jocks were all off in various directions today. Maybe we'll connect again next week.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rant on Whining/Easter Sunday

It is a beautiful afternoon. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the spring flowers are in full bloom and life is good. Nonie and I had a nice Easter breakfast at Chantrelle and then returned here to work on our several and various weekend projects. She is madly sorting photos, moving old photo files from floppy disks to CDs, making labels and squinting at the keyboard of her laptop. I have been working on making the scheduling sheets for each area for each day for the EAF on Excel (which Nonie kindly showed me how to do) and squinting at my laptop. It takes a lot of time but you can achieve exactly the form you need/want, so I guess it's a good investment of time. Besides, I can keep all these forms and then just pull them up for next year, saving myself redoing this tedious process and making what changes to next year's schedule as is deemed appropriate. I am not really thrilled with all this organizational effort on such a beautiful day, so in between making the forms for "Info Booth" and "Festival Store" I made a rubber stamp to use in my journal.

Years ago on NPR I heard a very reasonable and well-spoken man say something about how tired he was of "feckless whining". The phrase has stuck with me all these years as being the perfect anti-whining remark. Since, like most people, I do tend to wander into the realm of self-pity and downright whining in my journal on occasion, I decided that I needed a rubber stamp that I could use to print over these boring and, mostly, self-serving rants. Today I carved the stamp. I think it needed to be a stamp that looked bold and reactionary, and I am happy with the result. I can now go back through my journal and clearly mark those passages where I have written boring, whiney things that do not need to ever be revisited. (Sometimes the act of writing them down is the perfect way to expunge them from your system forever.) I am rather looking forward to going back through the pages, gleeflully stamping atop my more whiney entries --self editing. As Eunice has always said, "God hates whiners." Me, too.

I spoke with Anna Rhodes today and she kindly gave permission for me to link this blog with her website, An Artists' Retreat. I am already counting the days until my return to The Hawthorne in July. Anna is a wonderful teacher and think I should make her contact info available to anyone who would like to see what she offers. The classes at her house (for one weekend a month for the last three months) have been awesome. I love the new painting I did and the last session was on art books--very timely in terms of my current interests and readings! I have my cover started for a special, one-of-a-kind photo album for my pottery trip to Japan photos. I must be done with it before I see Anna on the 29th! I have all the paper purchased for the pages, endpapers and rice paper photo protection sheets, so it's only the cover canvas that's holding up getting this to the bindery. I’m using the design of the paper parasol I photographed outside the studio/showroom of Hozan in Shigaraki. I am smitten by that photo; the colors and the lines of the ribs always please me.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Fun with Photos

I found a nice surprise waiting in my email inbox when I returned from the EAF board meeting---Bee, a wonderful lady I met at ArtFest, wrote and told me she'd put my name forward to join a photo art journal group. I checked out the three upcoming books and the themes for each and decided that I should join immediately. I think this will be great fun. If my experience with the ATC book from ArtFest is any indication, they well be amazing books. The first book's theme is "Enter Here". Besides the photo pertaining in some way to the theme, each participant is to include "a quotation, a poem, an extract from a book or your own writing, connected to and inspired by the theme." My head is already reeling with ideas for the first submission. It must be off by April 30th. I have no firm idea yet of what I'll send. Something to think about while I weed the garden tomorrow.

Finally varnished my latest portrait. It looks pretty good. I really enjoyed the physical act of painting it---building up the layers of color was like dancing. I felt free and very easy in my skin. I guess I was really 'in the groove' that day. It did take some further days of glazing to get it to where I was satisfied, but I did the majority of the painting the first day in class at Anna's. I love oil paints! Having now copied two of Xenia Hausner's portraits, I think I am (almost) ready to strike off on my own and try my hand at something original. I could go back to the portrait of Emma I started last fall and got stuck on, or I might try the beach scene I did the little oil study for. Either of those might be fun. Or maybe something new? So many ideas.

I find myself thinking that I just don't have time for this, but the truth is, I have to maketime to paint. I am never going to have the time if I don't just make painting a priority. Inertia is so hard to overcome. The fact that my easel is set up and I have all these lovely brushes I bought with my birday check, trays of beautiful Gamblin oils just waiting to be used and even blank canvas should be irrestible. It is just so hard to get started. There is always something else that "has" to be done, something else I be doing. Now it's time to just paint---paint each day for a little while, or a long while if I can manage. No more excuses. No more inertia. It's time to paint.

I don't want to be an art wannabe. I want to be making art.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Blogger is Born

So, there I was, reading these blogs and thinking, "Gee....I could do that. I could. I should. Maybe I will." Since keeping a journal has become so much a part of my life, it seems a natural progression to start keeping a blog---just a new form of journaling and one that I can share with family and friends. This feels like jumping off a cliff, but I have been doing a lot of things lately that feel that way. I'm (almost) getting used to that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

There are so many people I met at ArtFest 2006 who keep blogs. It was an eye opening experience to start reading what others have been doing, what they are exploring in their art, how they write and what they write about. I'm not sure that this will be of any interest to anyone, including myself, but it seems like a good time to try it on for size. Reading the production blog for the 1000 Journals film project and getting a real feeling for the immediacy of blogging was a big push. After meeting Andrea Kreuzhage (the producer and blogger) and Ralph Kaechele (DP), reading the production blog became even more fascinating. (I shall not revisit the horror I felt being filmed. I'm just glad it's behind me!)

Here I am, making my first entry and wondering if I'll like it, if I will keep at it, where it might go and what this journey will be like.