Wednesday, December 31, 2008

. . . anticipated the ending

of this year with much relief and some trepidation. In many ways, 2008 was a banner year. . . great events, an interesting time in which to be alive: characters in the news that kept us engaged; breathtaking hubris, stupidity, greed, cruelty; an opportunity to become different and better, individually and as a collective whole. As for the trepidation, well, I think we all suspect that perhaps the worst is yet to come, from an economic standpoint at least. I have trouble with this: try to think of bad times as opportunities, as signposts to something better ahead. It's going to take all the creativity we have to thrive in the next year, I think.

This collage is a companion piece to one I posted a couple of days ago. On Flickr, Harold Hollingsworth (a really cool artist) commented using the word "brutal." Loved that comment. The white spot at the bottom left is actually thick texture paint, but the texture didn't show up in this photo. Yesterday I did play around with the printing plates, with little or no success actually. And it felt like all my creativity leaked out in that process so even the collages I created seemed off, I didn't like them as well as some I had made before.

I really like making these small collages. To me they are more free-flowing and spontaneous than my paintings. I am hoping to apply everything I learn during this time of collaging and experimenting so that when I turn to painting again, I will have developed skills to improve my art, whether from color mixing or color combinations to methods of applying paints and textures.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

. . . ran out of

. . .collages to post to cover up my artistic inactivity. I guess I will just have to make some more. After reading Nita Leland's The Creative Artist, the older version, I decided to check out my bookshelf to see what other sources of inspiration I had forgotten about. I came across Color on Paper and Fabric by Ruth Issett. Now I'm ready to try a few more things with my painted tissue paper, primarily what Issett calls glass plate printing. I don't have all of the supplies that she uses in her examples, but I can adapt the experiments to what I do have on hand. Just like when I cook, a recipe is nothing more than a suggestion. I find that if I try something new, ideas pop up and "what if I" do this or that leads to some interesting, if not always successful, results.

Monday, December 29, 2008

. . . celebrated a birthday

My daughter Stephanie was born 34 years ago yesterday. I remember it vividly. . . my firstborn. . . but I refrained this year from retelling the story, as I have been known to do, much to the eye-rolling chagrin of my kids. They used to love to hear about the day they were born, but somewhere along the line that all changed. Maybe they just heard it too often. Yesterday I made chocolate birthday cupcakes and Betsy decorated them with sprinkles and we sang "happy birthday to you" after supper.

Stephanie and Andy recently told us that we could expect our third grandchild in early July. Betsy will be 4 1/2 and Joe will be a little over 2 when the new baby arrives, so they will be very busy. Betsy wants to name the baby Schmitty if it's a boy and Nina if it's a girl (apparently they are cartoon characters); Joe just says "baby" (and Betsy has taught him to say "shake your booty", too.) It was a wonderful Christmas present.

I didn't do much more than think about art yesterday, primarily on how to go about selling some of it on etsy, and trying to think of other ways to market it, as well as alternative ways to go about earning some money without having to work in a law office. And that's assuming there are any jobs in law firms to be found around here. Have you ever just written down your dream jobs, with no regard to financial compensation? Near the top of my list would be book reviewer. Imagine getting paid to read. . . I do it now for free. Also near the top would be writing about something I knew about or something interesting I could learn about. . . not fiction, more reporting, facts, only facts. . . and where I could talk to people about what interests them. I am practical, pragmatic and a creative problem solver. I'm trying to figure out how to parlay those characteristics into cold hard cash.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

. . . spray painted tissue

Somewhere on a blog yesterday, I came across a reference to Nita Leland's books. I found her Creative Artist in my bookshelf and spent a hour or so just looking through it at the photographs of all different kinds of art and reading some of her hints to jump-start creativity.

From that book, I got the idea of spray painting some of the tissue paper I have in great supply. Leland suggest spray painting with a metallic paint, but I couldn't find any in my supply so instead I used blue, orange and yellow. That was great. But scrounging through my stuff, I also found some old old old netting spray in white, black and gold, which I applied over the top of the blue, orange and yellow. Very cool paper. On another sheet I used some texture paint to stencil numbers and letters on tissue paper, as well as a sample of all ten different sizes of sequin waste, and every other texture I could put my hands on. The I found an old tube of bathroom caulk that hadn't dried up and used it to draw and write various shapes on another sheet of tissue paper. Then I ran out of room so I had to wait until everything dried.

The bright lime green paper I made last week has been sitting there tempting me and I could not resist making this simple three-color collage using a bit of it. The black is a piece of the black gesso paper I made, and the white is tissue paper covered with the texture paint. I couldn't resist spraying on the netting spray since I had just rediscovered it hiding way in the back of my shelf.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

. . . dug through trash

searching for a missing gift card. It was nasty, and unsuccessful, but necessary because yesterday was trash day and with the detritus of Christmas gifts and food preparation piling up, I could not delay.

It was springlike here yesterday; the temperature was maybe in the 60s. I woke up earlier this morning to hear the house moaning. . . that really doesn't happen very often, but the wind was blowing just like a summer storm. It is still dark here, with periodic thunder and lightning. We will have ice and snow before it's all over.

My plan is to spend some time downstairs today just mindlessly gluing, tearing, painting and creating. You will have to bear with me and share in what I make, be it good or bad.

Friday, December 26, 2008

. . . were totally exhausted

so I will leave you today with this thought: "Next to a circus, there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out of town any quicker than the Christmas spirit." Kin Hubbard.

Kind of sad, pretty much true.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

. . . assisted Santa Claus

and everything is ready for the kids. Betsy and Joe tracked Santa's journey on the NORAD website last night and left cookies for him and breadcrumbs for the reindeer. They assured me that Santa would definitely stop by my house, too. I saw the merry old man putting gifts under the tree. I had to let him in the back door, because there was a fire in the fireplace. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

. . . sent Christmas greetings

to all the "faithful friends who are near to us" that I've made in the past almost-eleven months that I've had this blog, and to all the other people who read my wandering and wondering thoughts from time to time. Christmas eve was always the big event in my family, and Christmas day was the day to play with your toys. I can only wish to everyone the capacity to experience not only the holidays, but everyday, like we did as children, with anticipation and happiness. . . instead of dread and fear, like so many of us are feeling this year. So "have yourselves a merry little Christmas" and go play with your toys.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

. . . shopped, bought, wrapped

and I'm done with Christmas gifts. I guess I do my best work under pressure (not really). More like one of Peter's Principles: work expands to fit the time available. And since there was no more time available, I got it done. I can't wait until everything calms down a bit and I can get back to the studio.

Monday, December 22, 2008

. . . procrastinated, waited, delayed

just as long as I could. It's crunch time and today's the day. . . I need to finish up the Christmas shopping. We are told that tomorrow will be a nasty day, with a "wintery mix" of weather coming in. My car doesn't care for that kind of weather, and to be perfectly honest, I'm terrified of driving in it. So I'm off to the mall for god's sake, just briefly and very early before the madness begins, then to Target, the grocery store, and the hardware store. I'm tired just thinking about it. But what doesn't get done today just won't get done. I feel like such a scrooge.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

. . .prepared some gifts

I have been a bit distracted lately with personal and holiday matters, and my posts have probably reflected that. So today I will post the last two collages that I have scanned. . . but not the last of my collages. More of them to come. The collage above has changed since I scanned it. I added a bit more of the orange color and took out some of the big white blob. It looks better now.


I had some black mats made to fit these collages, and I will give four of them as Christmas presents. The matted collages will fit in standard-sized frames, to be chosen by the recipients.

Although my goal has been to post a blog every day for one year, there is certainly something to be said for only blogging when you actually have something of interest to impart.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

. . . experimented with gesso

by making marks with it on tissue paper, then letting it dry. I then tore out the tissue paper marks and applied them to collages. Lots of ideas are cropping up as I play around with painting tissue paper. Yesterday, I applied bright red, lime green, some navy blue, and some dark red paint to sheets of tissue; then I pressed four 12 x 12 stretched canvases into each. These are starting points for paintings. I figure even if I never sell a collage, the ideas and creativity generated by these weeks of experimentation will be applied to my painting at some point.

Friday, December 19, 2008

. . .debated the difference

. . . in my mind, at least. I'll explain: In a comment to one of my posts last week, Bob Cornelis( brought up the subject of an artist's "body of work." I had mentioned that I thought my collages were starting to all look alike. He pointed out the distinction. This collage is another in a series, all using basically the same colors, tied together by the white markings and the rusty orange elements. What is my "body of work" . . . everything I've ever painted or created? Or is it a style that I develop? I'm so much in the learning and experimental stages that I don't know if I even have a style, let alone a body of work. Or if I'll ever settle on one thing and perfect it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

. . .kept practicing collages

This collage is the first of a series . . . I'm being stingy with posting only one at a time, because I'm sure there will be a day or two between now and the end of the year where I make no art, and I'll then have something new to post even on those days. The white marking in Gragg shorthand, if I recall, spells out the word "relaxing". . . more or less. That little tidbit was an accident, but applicable.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

. . . regret the green

. . . that little strip down the middle of the corrugated cardboard piece in this collage. But it's stuck on there pretty well and not coming off, so we'll go with it. I have altered this a bit since I scanned it, and the one from yesterday, too. . . nothing is ever done in my studio as long as it's there.

So at 4:30 a.m. I'm in the studio, making more papers. . . so much fun. A sheet of tissue painted with gray gesso; a sheet of tissue splattered with black, white and gray flung paint; copy paper printed with sequin waste, both positive and negative; copy paper printed with plastic needlepoint surfaces; copy paper printed with the blobs left over from all the other printing. It will all be dry when I go down to make more collages later in the day. I also want to print up a tissue sheet with black, white and gray gesso using a purchased stamp I've had around for a long time. . . the stamp reminds me of concrete textures, cracks in the sidewalk, ancient stone walls.

I'm having a lot of fun staying inside off the slick roads and totally denying that I'm in some deep trouble regarding Christmas. . . not prepared at all and not really too interested. I have a week. . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

. . .were color-challenged

because even when I consciously try to make tone-on-tone art, I end up throwing in color. I just can't help myself. In this collage, I incorporated some of the papers I painted this weekend. Lots of yummy texture. And the circle of circles is a purchase paper.

On the internet I bought a bunch of one-yard lengths of sequin waste or punchinella. I had been intrigued with this stuff for a while and couldn't find it locally. . . of course I like that it has circles in it, and my order had different sized circles in each length. I plan to use it as a stencil of sorts, but I can also see using some of it in a collage, just as it is.

Since few of my relatives actually read this blog, I can divulge that Christmas presents this year will probably be art of some sort. . . either photographs or small canvases or collages. I have on hand various mats and even some frames for the works on paper. Now the trick will be to match the art to the recipient.

Monday, December 15, 2008

. . . fiddled around with

this collage a lot. . . I kept adding paper when I should have stopped. When the collage dried, I sanded off a lot of it, especially on the bottom portion. I rather like the effect. The top part was from some paper I painted last spring that I thought was a total loss; but I looked at it again and decided it was just the ticket yesterday. This collage is based on the same picture of a wall that I used as inspiration for the last painting I posted here.

It has really been fun and inspiring to work on these collages and on painting more paper. Yesterday I painted a couple of pieces of tissue paper with the goopy texture paint from Home Depot. I also painted more tissue paper with black gesso. Before the black tissue paper dried, I pressed a similar sized piece of canvas over the top of the tissue paper and pulled it off. It made an amazing print, I guess you would call it. I put that same piece of dried black gesso canvas over the top of the goopy white texture painted piece of tissue and the canvas became even more amazing. If you try this, be careful, because the tissue paper is very delicate while it's wet, and it may become attached to the canvas when you try to pull the canvas off. But, heck, that's a look, too, right? I also mixed some of the white texture paint with globs of burnt sienna and ochre heavy bodied paint. . . just loosely stirred it up a bit and slopped on the tissue paper. It has streaks of all the paint colors. I may have worked it a bit too much, but there are still some really good usuable pieces of that paper too.

Just for the record, it's 6 degrees this morning, with a bit of snow on the ground. The paper said the temperature dropped 30 degrees in an hour yesterday. . . from a high of 60 degrees. I didn't go out.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

. . . anticipated a change

in the weather, for one thing. It's 7:30 a.m. and the temperature is 60 degrees. By tomorrow I believe the temperature is supposed to be in the single digits. That probably accounts for the wild wind that has been blowing since early yesterday morning, and the dark and gloomy clouds that seem so ominous.

Perhaps there are other changes coming, too. Yesterday I made this collage. . . but aren't they all starting to look alike? I think it's because I'm using the same papers in every collage. So also yesterday I created some different papers. I hope you will be seeing those in future collages. I am also going back to review a DVD by that inspired me last March. I have a ton of purchased papers, too, but I feel compelled to use only those that I make myself. Otherwise I feel like I'm using someone else's creativity.

Potentially there are other changes afoot. . . well, there will have to be or else I will join the ranks of all the other folks who are the victims of the economic recession or whatever the hell you want to call the current financial mess we seem to be bogged down in. I will again be a statistic. . . nothing unique or unusual. . . just another babyboomer coming to grips with altered realities. My mind is busy conjuring up ideas to overcome the fear. . . but there seem to be obstacles at every juncture. I will have to use my creativity to solve this problem, because that's what I do. . . whatever it takes. It seems highly unlikely that even if my art were selling, it would generate enough income to really help out much. One of the biggest obstacles is my own mindset. . . I'm feeling like I'm too old to start something new. How ridiculous. . . with luck, given my set of genes, I'll be around another 25 or 30 years. So (pep talk to myself) get on with it. . .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

. . . made no art

yesterday. . . didn't even get down to the basement except to put away Christmas decoration boxes and hid Christmas presents. Yesterday morning I was absolutely bent on fixing my kitchen sink drain and garbage disposal. It has been screwed up since Thanksgiving and it needs to be fixed. The last time I called a plumber for this problem, he came out, pushed the little red button under the disposal unit and charged me $65. (I have fixed innumberable garbage disposals in my many houses. . . I just forgot about the rest button that time.) Well, I tried all the usual stuff, with the little crank thing and the reset button, but nothing. To the internet: if you hear the motor when you turn on the disposal, then something is stuck in the rotors. That's my problem. As well as a slow drain. First the plunger and unclogging the drain. That went okay. But what a nasty dirty stinky job. . . no wonder plumbers charge what they do. I could barely control my gag reflex. Per the internet: if the little wrench thing doesn't work, or you don't have one, get a wooden broomstick and stick it in the disposal and force the rotors to turn. Okay, although I had the wrench, it wasn't doing the trick, so I tried the broomstick. Still, motor sounds for a while, then stops, still no churning of the rotors. Suffice it to say that this went on all morning. I gave up. Temporarily.

Just as I was headed down to the studio, Stef called and asked if I could pick up Betsy. She was apparently sick, had thrown up at her "school" and had to go home. Within the hour. It takes almost that long to get to where she goes to school. When I got there, she met me at the door, bouncing around in glee. She got in the car and asked if we could go to Wendy's for chicken nuggets. Obviously the child wasn't too sick if she could stomach that food. I asked her about throwing up. She told me somebody's dad had brought in "barfy" barbeque for lunch, and she didn't like it so she threw up. But she was feeling fine. Then to the bookstore, where we picked up a few Berenstain Bears books, then to the grocery store for supplies, then to my house where we made cookies, then read all the books. A great afternoon.

Betsy has become a little "potty-mouth". . . not bad language, just a lot of information about her bodily functions and why and how and where things go into her body and come out again. The subject of poop came up time and time again. Like, "Did you know that I pooped on Joey's head?" (Wild laughter ensued.) I don't know how her mother and father deal with this, but I tended to either ignore it, take it seriously and pretend to be grossed out, or discuss with her scientifically the process of eating, processing and elimination of her food. Thank goodness she's only four. . . I could make up a lot of stuff and not be questioned too closely on the accuracy of the information.

Well, this post has been kind of disgusting. . . repairing garbage disposals and the gastrointestinal system of my granddaughter. Back down to the studio today. . .

Friday, December 12, 2008

. . . collaged a wall

This collage is what I had in mind when I wanted to make something more structured, with a limited color pallette. Still nothing on the negative space experiments. . . didn't even attempt one yesterday. I really like how this collage turned out. It was inspired by a picture of a concrete painted wall. . . the corrugated cardboard and crunchy white gesso paper texture is supposed to be the cement in the wall. I like to use corrugated cardboard. . . ripped, torn, cut, painted, used as a stamp. . . it's automatic texture. I can see painting this, too. My next collage, I think, will be similar, but based upon a small home-made matboard squeegee I use to spread paint. It has become a little piece of art in and of itself. And I like the way these scans have turned out, much more detailed than my photographs. I'm thinking maybe I should put these collages on etsy. What do you think?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

. . . totally screwed up

this little collage. Although you would never suspect it, this one actually started out to be an exercise in both more structure and use of negative space. You will notice that the right side of this thing started out with a number of small squares or rectangles of various colors. That was my attempt at more structure. The red triangle that comes in from the left side was supposed to be the only thing on that side of the collage. . . the rest was supposed to be negative space. Well we can see that didn't work out. Then I continued to screw up by stamping those squares on the collage. . . Oh, well, at least it is colorful.

I don't know why I have a compulsion to fill up every available piece of blank canvas I work on. I admire artists that can skillfully use the concept of negative space in their art. Is that something you have to consciously practice? Is it something you learn taking classes? When I try it, the piece just turns out to look unfinished. Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. The structured part that was such a failure in this collage doesn't bother me too much, yet. I figure I can still get it right. I also want to try to limit my color pallette. It's all about playing around and experimenting and learning, right? And I learned that stamping white squares in a totally unrelated manner is not a good thing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

. . . ate something bad

because my digestive system absolutely crashed yesterday afternoon for several hours. I was fine until after lunch, and actually created this little collage in the morning after doing most of my chores. I detest being sick . . . now I just feel weak and tired but I hope to get into the studio again today. The more structured collage just didn't happen yesterday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

. . . tore, glued, painted

another small and relatively quick little collage. I had to scan this one because my camera batteries were dead and I don't have any replacements right now. But this picture does show in pretty good detail some of the papers I created by painting tissue paper.

The dark blue background is opaque. Thee white blobs are tissue paper painted with watered-down white gesso, on which I left some of the tissue unpainted and when applied, the unpainted parts become translucent. The two red circular blobs on the right side of the page, top and bottom, are crunchy textured bits from a used paper towel that was varnished. The red on the left side of the page is transparent painted tissue paper. . . you can see the difference in this red where it was applied over the blue, on top of itself, and over the white. Then I added a few more pieces of paper and just felt compelled to stencil a checkerboard and add my usual circles with paint.

These last three collages, I feel, are kind of wild and woolly. . . undisciplined maybe. . . I want to try something perhaps a little more structured today.

Monday, December 8, 2008

. . . experienced a moment

of panic this morning when I started to post. I couldn't access the internet. What was I going to do without it??? Shut down, restart. . . ah, now it's on. I am such a technical wizard. The babies were at it again with the electronics. While Betsy and I were visiting an alternate universe peopled with pixies and fairies on the Disney website last night, Joe was maniacally hitting the "X" button on the printer and causing pages of blank paper to spew forth and land on the floor, to his great delight. Joe leaned over and pushed some brightly lit button on the computer and suddenly we were plunged into the great darkness known as the real world before the internet, before computers. Squeals of anguish from Betsy about the fate of her fairy, and squeals of glee from Joey for causing the disruption.

Betsy started basketball yesterday. . . in her pink basketball shoes and her American Girl pink lipgloss. Her father said that her road to a Title IX scholarship began yesterday. Uncle Matt advised her to shoot the ball whenever she touched it, that when she walked into the gym door, she was in range. Uncle Tim called from WV to see how practice went. Papa, the former basketball coach, said nothing. Just smiled.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

. . . tried a collage

So I'll bet that everyone has been wondering what in the world I was planning to do with (a) my used paper towels that I ironed and varnished; (b) my Citra-Solv papers; and (c) the tissue papers that I used to clean my paint brushes. Well, here's one collage in which I used all of the above. . . as well as some of the papers I painted and stamped. And I also used a few pieces of my huge stash of old books and ephemera. And some magazine pictures. This collage is 10 x 11" with 1 1/2" margins. The base is Arches water color paper.

Collages are a bit more "instant gratification" since you really don't need to wait for paint to dry before adding some else, another color or whatever. And the small size is good, too. . . I don't think I could ever create a large size collage without it looking even more like a huge jumbled mess.

I do have a painting sitting on my table. . . despite the fact that I said I didn't want to make any more paintings. I had a small piece of canvas on hand, and I had purchased some stucco paint on clearance at JoAnn's. . . I think it's discontinued Deco stuff. . . and I just wanted to try it. The painting sucks, but it will be a challenge to try to retrieve something from it.

Today is Christmas decorating day. . . all the stuff is in the basement in another nook off the studio area. Maybe I will have a chance to take a swipe at the painting on the way up and down the stairs.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

. . . had a fight

with my mom on the phone just a few minutes ago. I feel like a fool. . . why would I fight with my 81-year-old mother? I don't do it often, but about once or twice a year all the pent-up frustration comes spewing out and I make an idiot of myself. I yelled at her on the phone, for crying out loud. How stupid of me.

Adjectives to describe my mom (at least this morning): unhappy. . . suspicious. . . passive-aggressive. . . guilt-inducing. . . entitled. . . My sisters (who read this blog) and my sisters-in-law (who don't) can probably add a few more. We are all subject to her dysfunctions at one time or another. The only person who does not suffer her wrath is my daughter, Stef. . . we call Stef the daughter my mother never had (although she has three.)

If my mother wasn't my mother, I don't think I could be friends with her. And the sorry thing is I can't be friends with her now. . . she doesn't want that kind of relationship with any of us. She wants to be revered. She compares us to the children of her friends and we always come up short. I personally would like to know what makes that woman tick, what forces shaped her into the person she is today. I understand some of them and I really try to see things from her perspective usually. But I don't think children ever have a complete picture of their parents.

Anyway, I've let off some steam. Of course, nothing is resolved and I feel really awful about the whole incident and I'm sure she's sitting at home stewing about it, too, but she doesn't want to talk about it any more, so once again, we sweep everything under the rug and pretend everything is fine and dandy, only of course we know it isn't. Aren't I too old to have this problem? I sound like I did in high school.

Friday, December 5, 2008

. . .took a break

Yesterday I struggled with a painting. I wrestled with it. I painted and then I wiped all the paint off. Not once, not even twice. Many times. Then I got to the point where I liked about half of it and wanted to leave it alone, but had nowhere to go with the other half. Part of the problem was that I was again being too impatient, wasn't waiting for the paint to dry. So I created smears and shades of brownish-gray and mud. I completed soaked the canvas to the point that all the tape around the edges came unstuck. I will go back down today and try to make something of this painting. . .

The other day someone at the art supply store asked me if my painting was beginning to feel like a job. I honestly could answer no. At least not like any job I've ever had. No one is telling me what to paint (and that's why I couldn't ever do commissions); no one is telling me when to paint, or how, or what to use, or making me keep track of my time. It's all up to me, which is a responsibility as well as an advantage. There is no one else to blame for less than stellar performance.

So I have been thinking that some of my latest works are not what I want them to be. I am hurrying through stuff, which sometimes means I'm bored with the work. I can't blame it on lack of inspiration. . . seriously, there is inspiration everywhere if you only look. And I do have all those photographs that I took and that were the inspiration for many previous paintings. I guess my ADHD tendencies are kicking in. I want to experiment. So I think, since paintings are apparently not selling that well right now anyway, I will take a little break from painting and do a bit of experimental work. . . maybe with collages. . . using the various pieces of paper I have on hand and that I created last earlier this year. . . just messing around. Maybe I'll get so frustrated with that endeavor that I'll relish coming back to painting.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

. . . kept layering paint

to make something out of this canvas. I thought at first it was possibly the ugliest painting I had ever created, but it's growing on me. I finally quit working it over just to be done with it. I took multiple pictures of it, but I couldn't seem to get the color right. The top is more brass yellow than green, and the darkish shapes in the center section are actually more red than brown or black. This proves that I'm not too proud to post even abject failures on this blog. But as I said, it's growing on me.

Last night I took a look at the paintings I had recently completed. Some I thought were good; many I thought were just so-so. But after I have seen them so many times, in person and on the computer, and worked on them over and over again, even the good ones start to look bad. I think I should have done this here, or used a different color here, or omitted this part, or "what was I thinking?"

I try to learn something from every painting I do. . . even if it's just not to do anything like that again. So I guess bad paintings are not a complete waste of time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

. . . didn't feel Christmas-y

although in 21 days I will need to have gifts ready for everyone and the house decorated. It just makes me tired to think about putting up the tree and slogging around looking for presents that really no one needs. My siblings and I have decided that even though we drew names, we aren't buying anything for each other this year. My son wants either (a) a king-size mattress and box springs or (b) a computer. And souls in hell want ice water. The babies already have every toy known to man and still prefer to play with my oven or my plastic storage containers and lids.

I made an effort yesterday, though. . . I downloaded a few Christmas songs to the Ipod. I love Kenny Loggins's "Please Celebrate Me Home" but I don't know why it's considered a Christmas song. And Dan Fogelberg's "Another Auld Lang Syne" almost makes me cry sometimes. Almost. And Pachelbel's Canon in D is beautiful.

I read in Douglas Hofstadter's "Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid" about the "strange loops" exhibited in each man's work. Escher's "Ascending and Descending" contains an example, as do canons and fugues, and various obscure mathematic/logic theories. The Escher is understandable, I can see what Hofstradter is talking about. Canons and fugues are understandable, I can hear what he means. Even some of the logic is seeping through the fog: the Epimenides paradox is another example of a "strange loop". . . for instance, the statement "I am lying" or "This sentence is false." But the mathematics is just outside my range of comprehension. . . Godel remains incomprehensible. Actually a lot of the book is pretty incomprehensible, and I'm only on something like Chapter 2.

Just consider this blog posting another strange loop. . .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

. . . cruised other blogs

My blog-friend, Martha Marshall ( has an extensive, interesting and diverse blogroll on her site. She has gone to all the trouble of linking them to her blog, so I try to hit a few of them every day. One of my favorites is Bob Cornelis ( because he creates absolutely amazing monoprints that I thoroughly enjoy. If you haven't discovered this site, I encourage you to take a look.

But not only does Bob show us his art, he also writes about serious art matters. . . he quotes everyone from Albert Camus to Miles Davis, including a whole bunch of people I've never even heard of. His topics and the comments are deep and cogent and way over my head. Because if you've read this blog, you know I don't quote anyone but people in my family and I discuss such weighty topics as texture paint and spray foam and sometimes just daily living.

Which brings me to some questions: Do I reveal too much of how I create my paintings? Do I give the impression that I don't take my art seriously? Is it important to know that I use texture paint or spray foam or leftover packaging material in my paintings? Do I do this because I think others will find it interesting, or do I do it because I have nothing philosophically intelligent to say about art? Is all this a result of not going to art school? I mean, is this the kind of thing art students discuss or learn? The answer to all of these things is probably yes.

To the 20 or so people that regularly read this blog, please know that I do not take myself very seriously. . . I tend to see humor in almost everything, including myself and my art career, such as it is. I have been spectacularly fortunate to be able to create art, and then even more fortunate to have someone out there willing to sell it for me. How can I take myself seriously when it's all serendipity? Even gloomy Mr. Camus would have to see the humor in that.

Monday, December 1, 2008

. . . revealed some bits

of the painting that I actually completed yesterday. I plan to make a pair of these and would prefer to show them together, so right now, these are just previews of the first to be completed. I know, it makes a lot more sense to paint two at the same time. But in this case, I was using some new material and if it hadn't worked out, I would have had two unusable canvases instead of just one.

The new product I was using was the texture paint made by Behr. This time I used it straight out of the can, without altering it. The texture paint is not as thick as Venetian plaster and dries much faster. Another thing I tried, which I have tried before, was spraying some expanding foam into the wet texture paint, then spreading out the foam with a cardboard squeegee while it's still wet. (The foam I recommend is "Great Stuff". . . it's very sticky, doesn't clean up with water, so if you try it, don't get any on yourself, or be sure to have some sort of paint remover stuff on hand. I tried some foam that was water-based, but it didn't stick to the canvas and flaked off. "Great Stuff" will flake off, too, if abused, but not as much as other foams.) After the foam had expanded and the paint had dried (the amount of expansion is decreased when you spread it around while it's wet), I went back over it with a trowel and lightly scraped off whatever bits of foam would come off easily. It really leaves a wonderful textured surface. Then I drizzled on some paints and rolled over it with a brayer or spread it around with another squeegee. I just kept layering and daubing until I liked it. No paintbrushes were harmed in creating this painting.

I plan to get started on the companion piece today. . . let's hope they look somewhat alike.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

. . . felt the pressure

of creating more and more art to display on this blog. Of course, that was one of the original purposes for creating a blog. . . an impetus to get into the studio and produce. But sometimes daily living, special events, or simply ennui interfere with making art. This week it has been a combination of all three. So forgive me if you've already seen this piece. I did exactly one thing to the painting currently on my table yesterday. I dry-brushed a bit of transparent burnt sienna to a few of the high points of the texture. I liked it well enough, but I had something else I needed to do and didn't want to hurry the process so I left the rest of it for later. And later did not come.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

. . . watched it snow

which is always fun, especially if you don't have to go out in it. It's not sticking to the ground yet, and it is supposed to turn into rain sometime today. In KC, the big deal is the KU-MU football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Used to be called the "Border War", with alleged references to incidents that occurred during the Civil War. . . the name has been changed for official purposes to something that is supposed to be more politically correct. Anyway, MU will probably win, because it usually does. The other big thing is my sister's birthday is today. And it is also her anniversary. Happy birthday, Hildimouse.

Started a painting yesterday, but I am stuck at the moment. I really like what's happening to it so far, but it needs some kind of focus. In my efforts to find less expensive materials to use in my art, but materials that still meet some standards of durability, I have found a cheaper equivalent to the Venetian plaster at Home Depot. It's Behr's texture paint, which is pretty thick. I will mix it with some marble dust I have on hand, and continue to experiment with other additives like joint compound, gesso, white glue, gel medium, etc. I also have some sand that I picked up somewhere and I may add some of that to the mix. Call me crazy, but I also want to experiment with adding some clear gelatin to the mix, just to see what happens. It might just turn out to be an ugly mess, but at least I'll know. I know that if you let gelatin dry long enough, it becomes very hard. . . kind of like horses' hooves.

I don't remember anything about the picture above. . . it just seemed pretty colorful for such a bleak morning.

Friday, November 28, 2008

. . . gave a party

and everyone came. But it's over now, the dishes are all washed, pots and pans put away in the cupboards, and the leftovers are in the refrigerator waiting for me to eat. . . often I don't eat on Thanksgiving, (a) because I'm sick of cooking the food and (b) I'm too busy running around keeping everything going. The leftovers are always my favorite. The Brussel sprouts were delicious and the leeks were awesome, at least to me. Dressing with oysters disappeared. Had plenty of gravy (thanks, Vickie). We had about 26 people, including Marcos, my nephew Sean's friend from Brazil; and Matt, my niece Kelsey's friend.

I cannot image the circumstances under which I would spend a cold November night in the parking lot of a big box store waiting for it to open at 5:00 a.m. I don't want or need anything at any price that much. But the news this morning showed the Target parking lot full at 5:30; people camped out all night at Best Buy, where there were food sellers, a bonfire (which the fire department had to put out) and football games. Apparently one store handed out a limited number of flyers to the first so many people in line that allowed those people to purchase something or other at a deep discount. The folks at the head of the line sold those flyers for $30 or $40 to the people at the end of the line. You just have to admire the entrepreneurial spirit of bored, cold bargain hunters.

Back to art making today. . . isn't this tangle of pipes and hoses a cool picture? Took it last summer at a recycling place. . . in a covert operation unauthorized by the very suspicious manager.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

. . . counted my blessings

and had to stop at 37,068. Starting with my family, the one I was born into and the one I have created. I certainly love my mother, and would lay down my life for my children and grandchildren, but perhaps strangely I am most grateful to have my brothers and sisters. . . especially my sisters. They are the best.

I am deeply grateful for friends, home, warmth, food, good books, great music, crawling into a freshly-made bed with clean crisp sheets, warm afghans for cuddling up in on cold winter nights, a comfortable chair, a glass of wine, chocolate, Jonathan apples, blueberry muffins, clean underwear, the ability to read and write, random bits of inspiration, the miracle of nature. And, at least for a little while longer, the freedom to pretty much do as I please.

I hope you all enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

. . . woke at 3:00

and could not go back to sleep. I lay there thinking about all the stuff I still had to do to get ready for Thanksgiving.

Yesterday I did my shopping. . . I made my list and of course left it at home. I managed to remember to buy almost everything I needed and what I didn't get, I'll probably manage to do without. . . but even with all the stuff I needed to do, I still couldn't help but finish up a couple of paintings I was working on, the two shown above. Once again, I tried working with a limited color pallette and using black and white. I pretty much liked them. This morning I photographed them. . . I need to tell you that they all actually look much better in person.

Then, just for shits and giggles, I collaged the two in Picasa and look what happened, above. This turned out so much better than the individual paintings, I think. . . but now what do I do with it? I'm intrigued. . . and will examine the collage to see how to make my paintings more interesting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

. . . prepared to cook

Yeah, it's a big deal to me. . . I only do it rarely. So today, after I make my list, I will head to the grocery store and pick up the ingredients for the dressing and the vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner. I make two or three kinds of dressing. . . one must have oysters in it and one must not. I also plan this year to make creamed leeks (yummy) and brussel sprouts (not so much), but my mom will bring ordinary vegetables like beans and corn. And someone usually brings asparagus, too.

The above is a "collage" from Picasa of four of my quick paintings. Each is approximately ten inches square. I used up a pretty big piece of canvas to make these. I'm trying various limited color pallettes and using squeegees to apply the paint. The very textured backgrounds make the paints go on in interesting ways. On these, I used a couple of different texturizing methods on top of the paint. . . plastic needlepoint grid and some tiny cookie cutters.

Monday, November 24, 2008

. . . thought about depression

(A pair of paintings)

not the emotion, but rather The Depression. . . the event that people used to say could never happen again. Am I just listening to the news too much, or is there a possibility. . . even a probability. . . that things are headed that way again? I am amused in some ways by how television shows and advertisers are taking advantage of difficult economic times. . . telling you how to get along on less, or how to save money by buying their products. Flipping through a shelter magazine at the bookstore the other day, I saw a feature article about how to get the high end decorating look on the cheap. The high end room featured items costing in the tens of thousands of dollars. The "cheap" room was still pretty expensive, with an end table costing in excess of $1,000. I wonder what my decorating would be considered. . . ?

Inspired by being tagged the other day, I have made my list of items I don't want to have to give up, assuming that all other requirements for staying alive have been met. . . my list of things that will probably make the cost-saving cuts. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Caffeine: coffee in the a.m., Diet Coke in the p.m. Not Starbucks, either. Just plain old Folgers made by my ancient coffeemaker. I think I have been to Starbucks twice in my life, and both times ordered black coffee.

2. Books, magazines and the newspaper: Half-Price Books or the library, instead of Barnes and Noble. Magazines I think will take care of themselves. . . more and more are going out of business.

3. High-speed internet connection: It's what keeps this hermit connected to the world.

4. Dr. Perricone skin care products: Three of them, a cleanser, an anti-wrinkle cream and a moisturizer. This stuff is sheer magic and I will do without food for them. These products are a bit pricey but I have saved a ton of money by not having to buy products that only make your skin look like it's healthy. I know, this is nothing but vanity. . . and maybe I'm too old for vanity, but too bad. . .

5. My hormone pills. And I will keep takings those a favor to anyone that has to be around me for any length of time. I know, there are risks, but my doctor and I have decided that the benefits outweigh those risks for me. After all, why would I want to live for another 40 years but be miserable and nasty?

6. Art supplies. But the definition of "art supplies" may change . . . creatively using things that are more economical.

There is my list, just off the top of my head this morning. What are your "can't live without" luxuries?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

. . .posted the second

of two quick and spontaneous small paintings I did the other day. The companion piece was in yesterday's post. Love the black and white, with touches of colors that were just there on my table. . . I think it's a good start in my effort to loosen up a bit in painting.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

. . . were blog-tagged

Yeah, first time ever, I'm tagged by my blogfriend Martha ( I'm supposed to tell you all five unusual things about myself.

1. I am boring, and there really aren't that many unusual things about me at all.

2. When I was a little kid, I had rheumatic fever. My earliest memories were of my arms and legs hurting while I was trying to play. Luckily my heart was not affected. Every month from the time I was four years old until I was 18, I had to have a penicillin shot in my butt. Maybe that's why I'm ridiculously healthy now.

3. Some bean-counter guy told me that every Spider Solitaire game on the computer was winnable. I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to prove or disprove that assertion. So far, the results are inconclusive, and research will continue.

4. I drank my coffee this morning from a mug that I've had since 1986. I still use a washcloth from a set my mother bought for me when I went to college in 1968. It's now a rag, but I still use it.

5. Although I don't enjoy cooking or really anything connected with cooking, I innumerable sets of dishes, actually several generations of dishes. I have my husband's grandmother's Johnson Brothers set of English Castles that she got as grocery store incentives; I have my mother-in-law's set of Johnson Brothers red and white transferware; I have a set of Denby stoneware that I registered for when I got married; I have tons of white ironstone that I used for everyday dishes when the kids were little; and I have multiple miscellaneous sets of plates in all different colors and patterns that I have purchased along the way. Seriously, I don't have room for all of them. I need Martha Stewart's kitchen. Along with the plates, I have chargers and placemats and napkins and tableclothes, etc. And I keep getting more. But mostly my husband and I eat take-out from styrofoam containers.

See, I told you I am boring. Now I'm supposed to tag five other unsuspecting bloggers and tell you about them:

1. Gina


3. Elis

4. Catherine

5. Paula

Tag, you're it, pass it on.

Friday, November 21, 2008

. . . prepped for Thanksgiving

Well, maybe not prepped yet, but I'm definitely thinking about what I need to get to put on the traditional dinner. Today is turkey-buying day. Usually I just fix one large turkey, on Thanksgiving day itself. But this year I am buying two 15-pounders and fixing them on Wednesday, so I can carve them up ahead of time and save some mess on the day itself. Susan, my sister-in-law, has traditionally been the turkey carver, so I guess she's out of a job this year, but I don't think she'll mind. Vickie, my other sister-in-law, is the traditional gravy maker and it's my fault that we usually run out, because she makes good gravy. My daughter and her family are off to Ohio for the coming week, but that means they will be here for Christmas. I will surely miss her, Andy and the kids. I asked her if she misses her family when they are in Ohio; she said, sure, but when they are at Andy's parents' house, she doesn't have to lift a finger. . . someone else cooks, everyone else looks after the kids. . . she can relax and enjoy. But I know she gets in some work, too. The other missing family will be my sister's in Detroit. They will stay home this year. . . their girls will be home from their freshman years at two different colleges.

We had a wonderful time with Betsy last night, celebrating her birthday. Betsy was wired up, and Joe was not to be outdone. We went to an arcade-type eating place. . . their dad and their Uncle Matt had a good time, too, with the basketball shoot and the rifle range. Betsy and I rode one of those old-fashioned tilt-a-whirls that used to scare me at the Osage County Fair when I was her age. She wasn't a bit scared. Joe and I spent some time fake-driving the race car arcade games. He just enjoyed pretending to be driving.

New art posted above. . . working on some more.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

. . . kept Betsy little

Could time just stop now? Today Betsy is four years old. She really doesn't need to get any older, as far as I'm concerned. Four is perfect . . . Happy birthday, sweetheart. (Look at those eyes. . .)

I shopped for Betsy's birthday present yesterday: fuzzy pink robe and PJs is what she requested. Got that. But brief rant here: What's with little girls' clothing? Why would anyone want a four year old to look anything like one of the current teen or preteen sex symbols currently in vogue? What's with all the trashy-looking stuff out there? And this is at Nordstrom. Don't they have enough time to look dumb when they get older? Why would you put a skull & crossbones T-shirt on a little one? What happened to the pretty little velvet dresses with white lace collars, black patent T-strap shoes? Princess-style coats with velvet collars and cuffs? Satin hairbows? Not every day, but for special occasions, like Christmas? Not those slinky nasty-looking copies of the crap older kids are wearing. And don't get me started on little boys' clothes. . . I'm still in the navy blue suit with short pants and knee socks stage there. (Ooooh, I really sound like a grandma, don't I?) Oh, well, fashion is fleeting herd-mentality; style is enduring individuality. And Betsy has a while to learn that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

. . . edited July photographs

Although I did some painting yesterday, I'm far behind and I have nothing new to post today. So instead, I returned to my photo outing of July 5 of this year and re-examined some of my pictures. It's a lot of fun to edit these again, increasing the saturation, turning them around, recropping them, until something looks good. So many of my pictures have multiple points of interest and reviewing them gives me a whole new set of inspiration shots. The photo above is of the side of a dumpster.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

. . . completed second edition

of this painting yesterday. I had started it last week, and by yesterday I felt good enough to finish it. It is another stab at a painting I had done earlier, but this is a smaller version. The first painting had technical issues involving paint flaking off the edges of the substrate. I experimented further and I think I have solved that particular problem. The inspiration for this is one of my photos of industrial-area building walls.

Monday, November 17, 2008

. . . live another day

Yeah, okay, this is really getting boring. . . anyway, quick trip to Minute Clinic, quick diagnosis of sinus infection, a couple of antibiotic pills later, and I feel almost 100%. . . and ready to paint.

Sunday, November 16, 2008