Monday, February 12, 2007

Leaving Town

I am leaving for a ten day trip to California to visit my girls. I can't wait! I haven't seen Annie, Chris and Alex since September and it's been since Thanksgiving since I clapped eyes on Jen. Way too long! I will first stop in SF and spend the weekend with Jen. We will have dinner with Sean on Friday (ages and ages and ages since I've seen Sean) and Jen says we are dining at The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant. Jen and I are staying at a fancy hotel for the weekend---a girls' treat weekend if ever there was one! George H is to be in town on business that weekend, so we hope to connect and, perhaps, watch a bicycle race with George. Jen says it will pass directly in front of the hotel on Sunday, so it won't exactly be difficult to find a viewing spot. What else we will get up to, or into, remains to be seen. I wouldn't be too surprised if spa treats were covered somewhere. Jen (and me, too, to be honest) loves her spa days!

From SF I will head south on Monday morning, way too early, for Annie, Chris and Alex. Sigh. I miss Alex. I miss Annie and Chris, too, a lot. But my baby granddaughter needs me. She is way behind in Gramma hugs and Gramma kisses and Gramma reading stories and Gramma getting snacks and even Gramma pats. Yes, way behind. I must make up for lost time, and try and get some of these very important Gramma things banked while I'm there, to last Alex until our next visit. (Perhaps Annie and Alex will come in August again???? Wouldn't that be lovely???) Grandma Betty is coming during the time I'll be there, so Alex is getting a double whammy of grandmothers. Poor kid.

To be able to take this break I have had to get organized and get my many art projects started and finished! I have sent off my 50 4" x 6" mail art fatbook pages to Carol Parks for the ArtFest book. I have sent off my 30 ArtFest 2007 ATCs for that fatbook, to Bee in Nantucket. I have sent Catherine my "New Beginnings" photojournal pages that are due 1 March. And I have designed and begun to put together another ATC for ArtFest with a hand carved fish stamp. I like that card a lot and am quite happy with what I came up with over the weekend. It, like most of my projects, got complicated and time consuming, but the end product is close to what I had envisioned for trades at ArtFest. (Only 40 odd days until ArtFest! Can't wait!). I still am waiting on getting the soldering iron and supplies I need to make the charms I wanted to make to trade, but perhaps they will not get done for this ArtFest. I have already paid for the supplies, but the lady I bought them from doesn't seem to be answering her emails. Since she has been in business for a good long time and has a good reputation, I expect she is traveling, teaching or has a crisis that precludes her dealing with business at the moment. I am trying to be patient. It's not easy. I am not good at patient. But, as I said, I'm trying. I shall take the components for the new ATC to California with me and try to work on them there. We'll see how much I get done. (I did this last year with my Wingin' It cards and did nothing, absolutely nada, while down there!)

I attended the first meeting of the 50 Year Committee for the EAF the other night. We are very lucky to have a lot of very dedicated people involved in this committee and some new volunteers who not only have great and useful skills, but are truly enthusiastic and energized. I think great things will be happening for the Festival and I'm excited. Alyson H volunteered to take over Sponsorship on top of doing the Marketing and Communications directorship she is already handling. She has, virtually, agreed to do two full time jobs! And I know she'll do them brilliantly. We are so lucky to have her aboard.

I spent a lovely, quiet weekend at Grant Creek with Nonie. We both had projects to work on and we got a lot done and yet had plenty of time to sit and watch movies and relax. The weather was beautiful on Saturday---sunny and bright. You can smell that spring is about to burst forth, but not quite yet. The trees are showing swelling on their leaf nodes and the bulbs are coming up in force now. I expect that when I get up there again in early March that the miniature daffodils will be blooming and the primroses will be showing off their spring finery. I heard my first tree frog on Friday night. Soon the chorus will be in full voice! It's always a wrench to pack up on Sunday afternoon and head south.

The Northwest Flower and Garden show starts on Wednesday. What a great Valentine's Day gift that will be. Susan P and I are taking Julie and we plan to have a great time. I can't wait to see what B&D Lilies are offering this year and want to stop by Elandian Gardens, too. But, the very best thing about the whole show is that first lungful of SPRING you get when you walk through the double doors into the show garden space. It's full of the scent of good, healthy soil, spring bulbs, flowering trees and, mostly, green growing things. It's a smell I love and one I can hardly wait to inhale. I'll be gulping it down to my toes!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Remembering Rita

The week I spent in Rita Natarova's workshop at the Gage Academy was exhausting, amazing and expanding. Rita turns out to be a natural teacher besides being a gifted painter. She's funny and charming and sweet and oh-my-God, young. Her approach to painting to to look at the shapes and the colors, the values and paint what you see. There are no noses to be painted in Rita's workshops! A dark splotch here, mid-value skin tone there, the fleck of highlight right there. And if you do as she says, voila! A nose! It was amazing to watch her demonstrations and to see her process in action. She uses a mirror to look from the model to the painting to catch errors. Rita uses a plumb line to make sure of her angles. She uses her fingers way too much for someone who is using lead paint, but she uses her fingers to great advantage. The entire week was a profound experience for me. The most wonderful thing was that I can see where she helped me see things more clearly, to really see skin tones and to notice details I'd never noticed before. I can't honestly say that my painting improved much but my eye did and what goes on in my head when I'm painting has expanded so much. I expect that the more I try to "see" as Rita encouraged all her students to "see", the more improvement in my painting I'll see!

Besides the simple fact that taking a workshop like that is exhausting we had the added drama of snow in Seattle! I couldn't get the Miata out of the garage the last three days and I spent one night in Anna's guest house because of the snow. Connie had to ferry me back and forth to Capital Hill the rest of the time expect for the very last night when Susan P came to fetch me home. Susan and I celebrated my surviving the class by having a couple of martinis with dinner at Claire's! Me, drinking martinis. Truly a rare event!

Susan P and I had a very quick but very fun mini vacation to Vancouver, BC. We went to have dinner at Tojo's Restaurant. Susan and I attended a demonstration that Tojo did at Whistler during Cornucopia 2004, I think it was. He prepared sable fish with wood mushrooms steamed in pine and that dish as haunted me ever since. It was, and still is, the best fish I have ever had. Susan and I kept saying that someday we were going to go up to Vancouver just to have dinner at Tojo's. Well, we finally did! And it was worth the drive. We splurged and had the omakase dinner. "Omakase" means something like "I'm in your hands." We sat at the sushi bar and Tojo fed us. For well over an hour. A tidbit of this. A smattering of sashimi here, some seared sea scollops there...and smoked sable fish with wood mushrooms! It was as wonderful and aromatic as I remembered. We also sampled some delicious shochu, barley shochul, not the kind made with sweet potato which is not my favorite. I hadn't had shochu since I was in Shigaraki when it was the drink of choice of we Oogoya Studio potters! It was yummy but made me miss Bayard, Roger, Phoebe, Maria, Karen and especially Katie something awful. All in all, the dinner was not as expensive as we'd been warned it might be (average is $150 Canadian per person, before drinks) but it was still pricey. And worth every penny. Tojo's new restaurant is beautiful and comfortable, big enough but not too big and not too loud, either. I can't recommend Tojo's enough. If you have a chance to eat there, don't hesitate! Put yourself in Tojo's hands. You won't be disappointed.

Nonie and I did a one day quick trip to Port Townsend. She may have placed some of her shell canvasses in the Port Townsend art walk! That would be fantastic and quite a coup for her. I sure hope it works out. We actually went over for the Wynwood Studio gemstone sale. I got a beautiful string of aquamarine beads. I took two of the beads and had earrings made but the rest I have reserved for the ojime and bead necklace I hope to have Kathy Parker at Wynwood make for me. I had hoped to talk to Kathy about commissioning her to do the necklace when we were there, but she'd had a family medical emergency and wasn't at work that day. Guess it'll have to wait until ArtFest week. I'll email ahead and try and set up an appointment with Kathy on the Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning before ArtFest starts.

Speaking of ArtFest, I think I have amassed all the tools I need for my various classes, except for some acrylic paint. That I'll pick up at Joann's the next time I'm there as I have finally decided on my colorway. All the rest, including quite a few odd ones I ordered directly from Opie and Linda O'Brien, have been purchased and bagged, ready to be loaded for ArtFest. Less than two months now, not that I'm counting the days!

I'm going to see Jen and Annie the middle of the month. I'm making a trip much like last year when I spent a long weekend with Jen and then flew down to Annie, Chris and Alex. I can't wait. I will get to have dinner with Sean while I'm in San Francisco. I haven't seen him for so long. It'll be wonderful to catch up. I miss him. And George will be in town, too, so I think Jen and I will be dining with George at some point. Or watching a bicycle race. Or something. I'm looking forward to seeing George, too. I haven't seen him since Alex's birthday weekend.

The January board meeting for the EAF was last night. We have slammed into high gear. Only five months to go! Ye Gods...where does the time go?