Monday, June 30, 2008

. . . looked forward happily

to a brand new week. There was a time when I dreaded Monday mornings . . . probably most people do. I would worry about the week ahead and what work I need to do. I would regret that the weekend was over and that my time was no longer my own. I would climb into the car and make the 40-minute trip to work. That drive always made me feel like Superman going into the phone booth . . . I would begin the process of assuming my disguise, turning from Mom and/or Mary into HBIC (head bitch in charge.)

Now Monday mornings fill me with hope. . . a whole week stretches out before me, waiting to be filled with whatever I want to do with it. I make outrageous plans and promises to myself, and it usually doesn't matter much to anyone else whether I accomplish anything at all. Having spent all those years hurrying, harried and hating my life, this is a luxury I never anticipated. When I was young, my dad would say, "Time is money." I totally did not understand that concept at the time. But I do now. You can sell your time, your soul, your life. Sometimes you have to, maybe most of the time you have to. But for the time being, I am saving my time, my soul, my life.
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Sunday, June 29, 2008

. . . edited with Photoshop

My blogfriend, Martha Marshall, tries out variations on her art using Photoshop and I have been intrigued by this . . . seems like it would save a lot of time and paint . . . so I scanned in part of the 12 x 12 canvas and played with it in Photoshop. The above is one of the variations I came up with. What fun. But I have a long way to go in order to learn all the cool tricks that are available. This was just one of the color schemes I was able to create. I need to figure out how to better create shapes . . . I'm doing this without the benefit of any instructions or manual. Seems like there are plenty of on-line sites on which to learn this, and I will, because this is just too much fun. I'm thinking if I combine this technique with Golden's new line of inkjet printer-friendly mediums, I will be able to print on a variety of surfaces. So then I can have an original painting, as well as the digitally-enhanced prints. What a deal.
Today's Kansas City Star featured a couple of noteworthy articles:
(1) Four area art collectors that mainly purchase art from local artists. I think I need to hook up with those people . . . now I just have to figure out how to do that.
(2) I think I have mentioned the only design blog that I read regularly is Mrs. Blandings. The house & home section featured an interview with Pat Shackleford, who is the doppelganger of Mrs. Blandings. She is so cute . . . and I always enjoy her blog, as well as her writing in Spaces, a Kansas City-based lifestyle magazine.
(3) Also in the H&H section, an article about the resurgence in popularity of porches. I have previously posted a picture of the house I grew up in. That Victorian house has a front porch that curves around two sides of the house. We kids used that porch for everything . . . from playing "mother may I" to climbing the posts to get to the roof to sleeping out there on hot summer nights. My current house has what I call a back porch, which is an extension of the deck that is covered. I love it out there; I can barely stand to be inside on even the hottest days. I would rather be on the porch. And my neighbors Janet just had her father screen in her new back porch, and she has decorated it with outdoor rattan furniture with red cushions and accents. Very pretty and useful. She was one of the reasons I am revamping my shade garden . . . I wanted her to have something prettier to look at from her porch.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

. . . actually painted something

but it's been so long since I've been in the studio that, like this photo, I'm pretty rusty. I won't show what I started . . . but if it gets better, I might show it when I've completed it. I'm working on the newly rediscovered 12 x 12 stretched canvases that I found when tearing apart the studio getting ready for the show last week. I scraped on some lovely bronze color on the right side, then smeared some red and orange colors on the left side, plopped a spot of Payne's gray in the middle . . . blech . . . spritzed it with water, smooshed it, patted it, took it all off. Ended up with a lovely ivory. Started all over again. . . and again, and again.

As I've said before, I like to work on flat canvas or paper. The wood stretcher bars and braced supports on stretched canvases that I have worked on, both large and small, really give me trouble. It seems that when I sand or scrub or even rub in paint, the wood supports leave a distinct mark on the canvas. I think I'll just stick to flat canvas, but first I probably should use all those 12 x 12's that I found. I am going to search my photos today for inspiration for a whole series. Wish me luck.
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Friday, June 27, 2008

. . . beat the heat

So yesterday morning when I got up, the thermostat in the house read 80 degrees. The temperature outside was about 70 degrees. I didn't need to be too bright to figure out the air conditioning system was whacked . . . of course it was, it was going to be hot. After all, the air conditioner works fine when it's not hot.

This is a fairly new air conditioner, not quite two years old. The previous system had quit in August 2006 and it was so unbearable in the house that we had to check into a motel for a couple of days until they could install the current system. We opted at that time to get the latest energy-saving model of a nationally-known and well-respected company, which of course was more expensive.

So I called the installer who was good enough to make room for us on his schedule. It was fixed in a couple of hours and the cool air almost immediately brought relief from the heat and humidity outside. And here's the thing: IT WAS COVERED UNDER WARRANTY. That never happens to me. Something we own that has a warranty usually breaks right after the warranty expires. It is so unusual that I have opted to write about it today.

So I'm thinking I'm off the hook, won't have to spend the big bucks today, right? Oh, no, not at all. I was warned that the furnace is old (13 years?) and we need to have the service and maintenance contract renewed for the next year on the entire HVAC system. "It will save you in the long run." How many times have I heard that. . . add that to the list of the all-time biggest lies. And the nice repairman walks out of my house with $250 anyway.

As I stew about all this, I'm thinking: I'm happy that the system was covered under the warranty, I'm happy that I had $250 to renew the maintenance contract, I'm happy that I don't have to be all sweaty and nasty in the heat, I'm really trying to be positive here, can you tell? But here's the thing: Why is it that something that cost about $7500 two years ago can break and you're happy it's under warranty? It shouldn't break at all, and not within two years. Crazy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

. . . pondered economic realities

Every day I talk to more people who are really struggling to make ends meet. . . people who are accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle but who are suddenly faced with the reality that they can't pay the mortgage this month, or who have to decide whether to pay the utility bills or the credit card payments. People who have tapped out their hard-earned savings accounts; people who are borrowing from their retirement accounts for living expenses. This economy has really trickled down to all levels except for the very rich, who according to the newspapers and television continued to amass wealth in record amounts.

My daughter wondered how her father and I had weathered the economic difficulties in the 1970s. (Thankfully both daughter and son are doing well.) As I thought more about this, I realized we had been so poor as married students that we weren't really aware there was a nationwide economic downturn. Our finances had never upturned so we just carried on. After my husband graduated from college in 1975, we moved to the armpit of America, somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, in a town of about 200 people, and we bought our first house for $2,500. Yeah, really. I took a new job, because my old job paid about $350 per month, and the new one raised me to $400. When we moved again, we bought a house for $25,000, and we were lucky enough to get a mortgage interest rate at 12% assumable through a county bond issue. This was at a time when interest rates were about 18%. We had cars, food and a roof over our heads and we were always broke.

This economic downturn has me wondering about my target art audience. . . about how ordinary folks can be expected to buy art now. I have read where certain works of art are setting record prices at auction houses. I have read about stolen art purchased in certain markets with drug money that is held as collateral for underground loans to terrorists for the purchase of arms and ammo. But for most people, art is a luxury. And these are not luxurious times.

The bleak picture above is a digital collage using my own photograph of a tree in winter superimposed on one of my black-and-white monoprints. Maybe this is the art to be making right now?
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

. . . tried something different

There is a group on flickr called "Texture for Layers." The kind people who post to this group allow you to use their photos as layers in photoshop to enhance your creations. In the previous collages I created on the computer, I used my own photographs. However, I thought I would experiment with the stuff available in this flickr group for a change. The above picture contains my own photo with a texture layer provided by the group. I believe I will go looking for texture layers in my own photography.

The digital prints and collages I showed last Thursday generated some interest. A lot of people asked what the abstract images really were. Sometimes I couldn't remember, but when I told them, for instance, that a picture was a close-up of part of a trash bin or a piece of machinery, some just shook their heads and said, "I don't see it." Others expressed admiration that I managed to see a something of interest in such mundane objects.

Yesterday I met with a lady to price a new floor for the combined kitchen-eating area-family room. The carpet in that room is completely trashed, no hope of rescuing it. There are the remnants of many family meals, as well as oily residue from my husband's shoes; snow and mud and food spills from the kitchen to the barbeque grill and back into the house. It's probably a seething mess of germs and it has to go. For my own sanity, I want something that will be easy to clean up and won't show wear and tear. I think a hardwood floor (or one of the new faux wood fakes) will be the answer, with a dirt colored area rug under the eating area. If I could, I would just do concrete, but I suppose that is unacceptable (although I have seen wonderful etched and painted concrete floors that are beautiful.) Price must be a huge consideration, too. It's all very confusing, with installation, price per square foot versus price per square yard, stain treatment, real wood, fake wood, laminate. I will probably get tired of comparing these apples to oranges and just pull the trigger.

And yesterday I found out that some hospital somewhere wants to maybe buy some of my paintings. That would be sweet. Updates as they become available.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

. . . showed Mike's pictures

, originally uploaded by finsmal.

Here is another one of my favorite photographers on flickr. His pictures have been the source of much inspiration to me and he has always been willing to share and very supportive of my attempts to capture his photos in paint. Mike and others like him have helped me to see ordinary things in a different way and appreciate the random beauty of artful decay.

I did spend time in the studio yesterday but it was such a mess I could not have painted. . . there was no surface that wasn't covered with stuff. I did clean off the painting table and I did sand down the big canvas from which the paint had all peeled. And I did find a bunch of 12x12 stretched canvases.

When I came up from the studio, there was a very sick looking baby fox at my back door. At first I thought it was the neighbor's cat. But it certainly wasn't either Georgia or Chester. When I went to investigate, it slowly walked off the back porch, around the house and into my garden. I don't think the poor little thing has very long to live, and I don't know why it was at my door. It didn't look like it had been in a fight, but it did look diseased (no hair, matted eyes, other creepy stuff I won't related because it's gross).

And I worked a bit more on the shade garden. I played with making a brick path through part of it. It was fun. . . like putting together a puzzle. Now if I could just make those bricks curve a bit.

Monday, June 23, 2008

. . .featured Bruce Grant

san francisco september #6..., originally uploaded by bruce grant.

Again, I am featuring here a photograph, one of many, that I have marked as a favorite on my flickr site. Bruce Grant has a wonderful eye for the kinds of pictures I like, and I have "faved" many of his pictures. Every once in a while he posts a photomontage of his favorites. I know of twice that one of my pictures has been featured in his photomontages. I feel like I have accomplished something when one of my photos gets "faved" by Bruce.

It's the start of a new week, and I hope I can get to the basement/studio and get some art done. It's still a disaster area because of my preparations for the show last week, so the first order of business is reorganizing and cleaning up.

Yesterday I worked some more on the shade garden, setting the first layer of the stone border/retaining wall. I will rearrange and adjust the rocks until I'm pleased. There is a real talent to choosing and placing stones and I don't have it. Maybe someday I'll post a picture of the shade garden, but right now it looks like a tornado struck it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

. . . had nothing new

so today I am showcasing one of my very favorite flickr photos. Robby Garbett is one of my all time favorite people posting on flickr. And this picture depicts what's going on with my art these days. If you haven't already checked out Robby's pictures on flickr, I think you can get there by clicking on the link here.

So yesterday I did move some plants around in the shade garden, in preparation for hauling in dirt to level out the ground in phase I. I think we will go rock hunting today. I have learned to pick up rocks from the top back towards me. . . that way, the snakes have an opportunity to escape before I see them. (Chills running up my spine at the thought.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

. . . started the process

of rehabbing the shade garden yesterday. The sun garden is pretty and pretty much done. I don't think I can cram another plant into it. So I'm turning my outdoor attentions to the shade garden. I started gardening in the shade, and I really prefer it . . . it's generally cooler, for one thing. The shade garden is a long narrow kidney-shaped space that encompasses three stands of "trash trees". . . locust and hedge. They are messy, but the homes association has very strict regulations about cutting trees; it's just not allowed. Which is really okay with me. Anyway, a few years ago I made an attempt to garden in this area. I placed a border around it, one brick deep. The area slopes both from the left to the right and from the front to the back. The bricks did nothing to keep the soil in the garden during our spring torrential downpours. So now my plan is to terrace the area in three or four levels from left to right. Each terrace will be evened out, with small stone retaining walls running from front to back. So the first thing I needed to do was to pull up the bricks. I did that yesterday on the first third of the garden. I felt kind of bad about abandoning the bricks, but my son bought me a gardening magazine with an example of a brick path that I am going to copy, so now I have a use for the old bricks. We will have to haul in some soil to even out this first level of the terrace, but first I need to find the stones and build the first retaining wall and borders of the garden. Hard dirty nasty work. And today I will have to transplant a bunch of the hostas that occupy the ground that will be amended with the new soil. I know it's probably not the ideal time to transplant, but hostas are pretty tough, and it's still cool here; later this week it's supposed to get hot, really hot. And from past experience, I know that after about July 1, we can expect no rain until September. So I must hurry. . . I would at least like to have the first part of the shade garden done before I wuss out in the heat and quit till fall. And I still have to unpack all my art stuff and reorganize the studio. . . it's a huge mess. But later today, I will also get to visit with little Joe, poor baby, who is getting his first molars and is such a little trouper despite his discomfort. I'm thinking my next painting will be some variation of the picture above. At least it's a start.

Friday, June 20, 2008

. . . made great contacts

at the showing last night. The people who "get it" really do get it. I am encouraged and motivated to keep going forward. And it wasn't as horrible as I anticipated it would be . . . but then it never is, is it? It wasn't horrible at all, in fact. It was nice. . . I met an image consultant, but didn't schedule an appointment. I really don't need to project any kind of image in my basement. There was a jewelry lady, who offered me a sales job because I pointed out a necklace to another woman that would go with her outfit. There was a purse person, but since I already have a purse, I didn't get another (really, I will use a purse until it falls apart, the bigger the better.) I met a lady who probably knows half the population of the metropolitan area. . . and when my husband showed up unexpectedly, I introduce him to her. Together they know the entire population.
My family showed up, everyone from Betsy, Joe and Andy, to my lovely and beautiful daughter Stephanie, and my sister and her buddies from Topeka. Since it was Thursday, the weather was dreadful, as has been the custom for the last month or so. My sister said the tornado sirens were going off when they left Topeka, so traveling east they beat the storm to Overland Park. She has wonderful and fun friends, and I think they all enjoyed themselves.
Now I can start doing all the tasks I had put off until after the show . . . work on rehabbing the shade garden. . . start some new paintings. . . get the deck painted. . . oh, the list goes on. I think the show was just an excuse to put off some of these things. Now I'll have to think of a new excuse.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

. . . were getting nervous

Well, today is the day. . . the "Girls Night Out." And I will be putting my art out there for all to see. I'd rather walk naked across the 50-yard line at a Chief's football game. And it is truly a no-win situation for me. . . if someone tells me it's good, I'll think, "Oh, she's just saying that to be nice." And to be real, no one is going to tell me it's bad, but should that occur, I will be devastated. My neighbor is usually pretty honest with me. . . she nevers tells me something is bad, just that she might like something better.
I wish I had more self-confidence. I often think of a young lady with whom I worked occasionally back in my other life. She would cheerfully assert things that I knew were erroneous, but she would say them with such a sense of confidence that it would cause me to run to the statutes or other legal references to confirm what I knew was correct. This didn't just happen once, but almost every time I talked to her, and it didn't just happen with me but with everyone else in my firm that she worked with. She was almost a legend in our office. I admired her more than anything else. Nothing seemed to dampen her self-confidence. I was always afraid of making mistakes. She seemed to make them with impunity and just went about her business.
There must be some middle ground. . . between me and the young lady of legend.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

. . . ranted about language

Nit-picking Pet Peeves: "The possibilities are endless." Overused, and mostly inaccurate. Can you think of even one thing wherein the possibilities are truly endless? The numbers after the decimal point in pi are endless, but that's not considered a possibility, is it? I'm certainly no math genius, but I'll bet there is a formula for calculating the possibilities of almost everything. And usually I end up thinking of only a few possibilities, which then makes me realize how incredibly stupid and creatively challenged I really am.

Voila', or even worse, the horrible blogsite usage of wha la and its cute or ignorant variations . . . if I never ever hear or see that again, except maybe in France, it will be too soon. I bet the French won't even use it any more.

Using the word ""less" in place of the word "fewer" which is becoming more prevalent especially in spoken English, on TV and radio. There was an ad that ran on TV almost every hour for a while. It was for a weight loss system. I counted more than five grammar or usage errors in that 30 second ad, including "less calories" and "less pounds." It irritate me to the point where I emailed the company pointing out the errors, the first and only time I have ever compelled to do something like that. I couldn't think of a grammar rule that applied, so I looked it up . . . the explanation was too convoluted to make sense, something about using "fewer" when referring to measurable quantities. Apparently ad copywriters have no innate sense of which word to use. I beg them to please learn . . .

Of course, I was taught in the literal "old-school" way to use the proper words, how to construct a sentence, how to punctuate and spell. I don't believe that is stressed as much in education any more. I took an interesting class not long ago in the history of language and some elementary linguistics. My instructor held to the theory that all the usage rules that we grew up with were arbitrary rules mandated by a bunch of old guys in the 17th and 18th centuries, and who were they to be the deciders, anyway? That's all well and good, but when you go for a job interview, maybe the employer didn't take the same class and thinks you are unfit for employment if you don't adhere to the "old school" language rules. I really try not to be a stickler and never correct people. But, oh yes, I notice it, I do.

In that language history class, one of the books we read was by Bill Bryson, who could make anything enjoyable and funny. I don't remember whether it was in his book or some other one in that class, but I do remember that studies show that immigrants in the first generation will probably stick mostly to their own language; the second generation is bilingual, able to communicate in both the parents' language and the new language; and by the third generation, the native language is all but lost, taken over by the new language. Also: children have an easy time learning languages, but after the age of about 12, it becomes difficult. These facts hits home: both my parents were from Germany. At home we spoke German, and as little kids we were fairly fluent. But as school time approached, my mom and dad understood it was important that we speak English. They encourage us to hang around with the teenage neighbors to hone our English skills. None of us now know how to speak German; we used to be able to eavesdrop on telephone conversations in German and understand at least some of it, but I can't any more. My sister is always coming up with German words from our childhood that I have completely forgotten.

Many people fear that the new technology will destroy the language, citing text messaging and its shortcuts as the culprits. Personally, I like the WTF's and BFE's better than their correctly spelled-out counterparts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

. . . lusted for supplies

I knew that my friends at the art supply store would have solutions for my various display problems. They provided me with these sleeves for my digital collages. . .

and mats for more of them. . . these are in frames that I already had. Proof positive that my theory of throwing a mat around anything will make it look better . . .

I don't really like to mat and frame anything; I think that should be left to the new owner of the work to decide. But I think it is nice to provide some ideas for potential purchasers. . . These are cheap frames, but good mats. I wish I could afford killer frames, too, but (a) I would probably want to keep the finished products and (b) the new owner would probably hate it and change it anyway. That's assuming there will be new owners. Well, there will be at least two, because I'm giving two away in drawings for prizes.

As for the "lust" part. . . well, always a good verb to catch someone's eye. But I try not to go to the art supply store too often. It's temptation to lose control . . . and yesterday I saw Golden's new products for inkjet printing. Check their website for information if you haven't already. . . it's been out since about March, I guess, but it was new to me. I can't wait to get some and test it out. I may have to invest in a new printer, though, because either it will be wildly successful and I'll want a new big one, or it will be a total flop and I'll screw up the printer that I already have.

This post, by the way, has been interrupted by a half hour of guarding my garden from the crazy deer, who has already demolished about half the garden phlox and daylilies. Armed with a rake and the neighbor's cat, as well as copious amounts of Liquid Fence and these pods that contain some kind of (unsuccessful) deer deterent, I stood out in the middle of the garden and watched that thing and he watched me. Oh, yes, despite the neighborhood's belief that it's a doe, nope, it's not, I was up close and personal enough to determine that fact. It's a young buck. It comes to eat the mulberries in the DMZ between our property and the golf course. Then it has dessert in my garden. And if you know about gardens, you know that you only have one chance with daylilies and if all the blossoms are eaten, you are SOL for the season. As to the garden phlox, they are pretty when they bloom, but if they don't bloom because the deer ate the buds, they are pretty worthless. So there I am, in my pajamas, playing like Farmer McGregor, only with a deer. The bunnies have been scared away by the fox and the coyote, as well as the cat.

Monday, June 16, 2008

. . . shopped with Betsy

and Stephanie, my daughter. We went to Nell Hill's ( in Briarcliff Village, a lovely shopping area just north of downtown Kansas City. What a wonderful place to look for home furnishings and accessories. I had instructions to come home with a lamp for the family room . . . the one we had was possessed by spirits and chose to flicker on and off at its own whim. Stephanie need dishes, chairs, ideas, etc. Betsy just wanted to go with us. Betsy was the decided star. . . what a little personality for a three-year-old. Very well behaved, but nerve-wracking for her mother in a store filled with fiddly little things sitting everywhere just waiting to be touched, examined, broken. Betsy scored a pretty pillow for her bed in what was deemed "Betsy colors" by the staff: purple, lavender, pink, lime, yellow. Don't all little girls just love purple? When Stef was about Betsy's age, my mother-in-law gave her one of her old cardigan sweaters. It was royal purple with sequins all over the front of it. Stef couldn't get enough of that sweater. At her request, Betsy's mom and dad painted her room purple. Well, actually a lovely lavendar. With pink polka-dot petticoat curtains. I did buy a lamp and we now have consistent light. Then we went to Urban Arts & Crafts ( and Stef picked up some knitting supplies, while Betsy again charmed the staff and purchased a "Betsy" ring (see above for colors), stickers, clay, with one of her "monies" she carried in her little pink purse. Then for lunch at a pastry shop, where I had one pecan roll (absolute delicious) and Betsy had a mango drink named "Naked", which she thought was outrageously funny. Then home for a nap, then the family gathered for Father's Day supper, prepared by the father.
Thusday evening is the women's expo show. I still haven't solved some of my technical difficulties related to my display, but I'm pretty sure everything will work out . . . I have put off doing any new paintings to get ready for this event. I want to get back to painting and experimenting soon if for no other reason than to have some new art to show on this blog. Bear with me. I hope you enjoy the photographs in the mean time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

. . . celebrated all dads

This is my dad, with my son Matt. It must have been taken in 1982. He thought Matt hung the moon. Matt was the eldest grandson. My dad died in 1986. He was 42 when I was born; 52 when my youngest sibling was born. He worked a lot -- there were six kids to support. He read us stories before we had a TV, and he intervened on our behalf with Mom, who did not want us to ever have a TV. He was a peace-loving veteran of WWII, one of the greatest generation. He made sure we had what we needed, but not always what we wanted. When asked what he wanted for a gift-giving occasion, he always said "Peace and quiet." Boring, we thought at the time. Then came the time when we fully understood that request. In the picture you can see the nasty old recliner that was his perch in the family room. He didn't ask for much, gave us a lot, and I would like to think he would be proud of his kids, his grandkids, and his greatgrandkids.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

. . . had serious doubts

At the moment I can't understand what may have led me to believe I could be any kind of an artist. Where's the innovation? I'm just a regular person, not an inspired creative genius. I like to play with texture and color, but is that art? I don't know.

So while I ponder these weighty issues, I will leave you with more pictures of the West Bottoms. These pictures were taken with my first digital camera. . . now the inventor of those was a genius. . . quite a while ago. I remember the day, because I talked my son into accompanying me to the area and he drove around while I shot pictures quite randomly. Quality time with Matt . . . priceless.

Friday, June 13, 2008

. . . dodged a bullet

. . . or, more accurately, a tornado. Just as we were sitting down to watch the NBA playoff game, the weather guy comes on with alerts, watches, warnings. I have in the past been pretty blase' about these things . . . not concerned enough, even when the sirens sound, to go to the basement. However, with the all the devastation and destruction in the general vicinity this week, I've become a bit more respectful (read scared) of the power of those storms. So we're sitting there looking at the multicolored line of tornadoes on the map. Here's the conversation:
Me: Gee it's getting pretty dark.
S: Yeah. Why's this guy on? I want to watch the game.
M: Wow, the tv says it's in Eudora. That's pretty close.
S: It's going north of us.
M: But Eudora. . . that's just five exits down the highway.
S: It's going north.
M: Now it's in DeSoto. . . that's just two miles away.
S: But north.
M: (Opening the door) Uh-oh, the sirens are going off.
S: Yeah.
M: Maybe we should bring the cat in.
S: Hell, no, it's not our cat, and look at her, anyway. She's sleeping. Animals know when something it going to happen, and she's not too concerned.
M: Look, it's getting all green, and now yellow.
S: Yeah, that means there's hail in the clouds.
M: I thought it meant a tornado.
S: Nope. You can start to worry when there's no wind, when it gets quiet.
M: There's not much wind.
S: Mary, look at the leaves on the trees. They're moving. There's wind.
M: Man, it's really raining in buckets. Listen, there's another siren. I'm going to the basement.
S: What's that you're taking with you?
M: My purse, my book, the cellphone, my secret cash stash, a diet Coke . . .
S: Okay, I'm going to take a shower.
M: What, are you nuts?
S: No, but I'm starting to wonder about you.
M: Just wait a while. And why don't you come on down here?
S: (Calling from the front door) Want to see a wall cloud?
M: Well, yeah, okay. Wow.
S: Where is it?
M: To the north of us.
S: Told you.
Weather guy on TV: "Well, that cloud is circulating, but not rotating."
M: What's the difference between circulating and rotating?
S: Beats me.
Weather guy on TV: "With the ground saturated, if it keeps raining, we have a good chance of flooding."
S: No shit. Master of the obvious. I'll tell you something: any farmer worth his salt could do that guy's job. I remember my dad getting me out of bed at 3:00 am and making me come to watch these storms. There would be lightening and then he'd say: "Look, there's the tornado," and I would say, "Uh-huh, can I go back to bed?"
M: Yeah, well, my mom would wake us up if it thundered a lot and make us go to the basement where there were rollaway beds and cots and we would sit down there and pray the rosary, while my dad went around the neighborhood and gathered up all the little old widows and made them come to our basement, too. It was kind of fun, in a scary way.
S: Are you going back to the basement?
M: No, it looks like it's all going north of us.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

. . . printed some pictures

to get ready for the show next week. Both these pictures were taken with my first digital camera that inexplicably broke. They were downloaded to the old computer, too, and since the old computer was really old, the two computers won't communicate with each other. Fortunately I had loaded the pictures onto Flickr, so I was able to download them back onto the new computer. I have always liked the above picture. . . it was taken in the West Bottoms area of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, an area full of warehouses and industrial sites built in the late 19th century. It's a very interesting area. . . every time I've been there, it has been practically deserted, although I believe many of the buildings are still partially in use. And I have heard that since the Crossroads District, where many artists and creative types used to hang out, has now become mainstream, the West Bottoms is the new artists' destination. There are studios there now, and a new gallery is in the initial stages of development.

I took this picture in the West Bottoms also, although it doesn't really have anything to do with the area itself. It is a close-up crop of a piece of machinery, obviously. Ah, the rust. . . the curves and circles and geometric shapes . . . it just doesn't get much better than that, for me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

. . . read, painted, read

. . . alternating between the two, putting off what I should do. Which is getting ready for the women's expo coming up in about ten days. I need to decide what I'm taking with me. Then I need to decide how to display the paintings that are not stretched or framed, and how to explain why they are not, and how to tell people that stretching the painting is no big deal, and fairly inexpensive if they go where I go to have it done. I need to decide on prices of what I know I'll be taking with me. That's really hard for me to do. I have to figure out whether I'll include any of my photographs and digital and nondigital collages, and if so, I will need to have the digitals printed, or print them myself, and then get mats for them. I need to dream up some clever names. And the list goes on. . .

I have learned not to go into these types of things with big expectations of sales. I think most people need to think about their purchase of art. . . it's not a spur of the moment impulse sale for most people. I think just getting out in the public, getting some exposure, and handing out cards, is about all I can reasonably expect to achieve. But the networking potential is invaluable.

I felt positively compelled to paint this little ten by ten red/orange, just to see if I could. . . you may recognize it as somewhat similar to my photo that I posted after the big red painting more or less slid off the canvas. I now have three paintings of the same size, all of rusted out or decayed surfaces. . . a blue, a yellow, and a red. I would hang them as a group. Maybe someone else will find them interesting and buy them as a group.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

. . . painted small again

To say that I was bummed about spending most of my art time last week on a failed painting would be to severely understate my mood. I needed to paint something and it needed to work or I would be questioning my chosen path and tempted to chuck it all and just vegetate. (It doesn't take much for me to be tempted to do that, does it?)

This is a little ten by ten painting. On Sunday afternoon I applied the texture layer, put the fan on it, and by noon on Monday, I was fairly confident that the layer was dry. I tried not to hurry, not to rush things, because I think that was my problem last week. I applied a layer of paint, then cleaned the kitchen; back down for another layer, then vacuumed; painted some more, then made the bed. This way, I ended up with a painting and a clean house. Cool.

I need to gradually work my way back to painting the bigger canvases. I have one more ten by ten to do, maybe today; then perhaps I will do a 20 x 20 and see how it goes; then onward and upward.

Monday, June 9, 2008

. . . advertised real estate

A few years ago, my siblings and I purchased this house at an estate auction. We all had passed this place everyday for years on our way to school. It's a block or two from my mom's house. When we were kids, it was shrouded in mystery, as well as evergreen trees that hid the house from view. Of course we were intrigued. I personally never saw anyone that lived there, although I have since found out that two sisters and one of their husbands shared the home that had been in their family for years. They were old when I was a kid.

The auction price was reasonable, actually unheard of to me, who was used to big city prices. Oh, it needed a ton of work. But it was a gem in the rough. So work commenced, with my brothers and their wives doing most of the work. The above is an example of the woodwork, which has all been lovingly restored.

Try to look past the construction stuff sitting on the floor of the living room. The tops of all the windows on the first floor are leaded glass in intricate designs. There are colums between the hall entrance and the living room, and between the living room and dining room. There are pocket doors, french doors, bay windows, hardwood floors, and completely new infrastructure; there is a living room, dining room, family room, den, completely gutted and restored modern kitchen with custom cabinetry that echoes the period of the house. There is a front stairway and a back stairway. There is a wonderful peaked-roof attic (not finished) and a completely redone basement. There is a huge front porch and a circle drive on the side entrance of the house. The siding is almost all new, the cement siding that lasts forever and doesn't need to be painted but about every ten years or so. It sits on a huge corner lot on what used to be the "society street" in town. And it's almost done now, and we must sell it. I really thought one of my brothers would buy it. . . but that doesn't seem to be in the cards. And what a crappy time to be selling real estate. Oh, well. . . I would buy it but that would require us to move back to my home town. We are not prepared to do that.

But here is my favorite part of the whole thing. The old carriage house. Look at those sliding doors. And there's an upper level. Yeah, it's a wreck. But can't you just imagine the possibilities? What a great studio this would make. The brothers want to tear it down. They say it's too far gone to rescue. I remember that my mom and dad had a carriage house much like this on their property until I was about ten. We were not supposed to go in it, but of course, we found that to be impossible.

Wish us luck with the sale. Someone will get a wonderful house. I hope it is a family with little kids that will live there for the rest of their lives. and I hope the kids remember the carriage house.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

. . . drove six hours

so there's nothing art related, or even interesting, to report today. I drove to the airport, drove to my daughter's house, drove to my mom's house, and then drove home. When I got home, I fixed myself a big strawberry daquiri . . . well, I opened a premixed pouch of the stuff and used my spoon to more or less eat it. . . ah, that did the trick. Two pieces of chicken and spinach pizza later, I was good to go.

So again I'm showing off some of my favorite photographs. Isn't there such a lot of art waiting for me to paint it? They are doctored pictures of my brothers' old white truck. Maybe I'll do a series of these, since the old blue church bus series has temporarily been retired.

Please go visit Martha Marshall's site, if you haven't already, and vote in her unscientific poll about whether she should keep coloring her hair . . . see her site on my sidebar. I would do a link here, but I forgot how to do that . . . how technologically challenged is that? Have a good Sunday; I see yardwork in my future, so I'm hoping for rain, and soon.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

. . . substituted a photo

for the painting I was trying to do, and which was so cursed with bad luck (or something.) I'm still going to try to paint it, but not on that big canvas. In fact, that big canvas may be retired, perhaps temporarily or maybe permanently. . . just because it has proven to be so troublesome. But I still love this picture.

A trip to the airport today is all that is on my schedule today. . . the Kansas City International airport so conveniently and centrally located way up north. If it were any further north, it would be on the Nebraska-Iowa border. My mom is coming back from my twin nieces' graduation in a Detroit suburb whose name I can never remember. . . but their high school is the same one from where Madonna graduated. They tell me her yearbooks are not in the library. The girls are off to different colleges and my sister is planning a long and solitary vacation for August 25, the day school starts. She thinks she won't miss them . . . much.

As I was sitting on the porch still picking away at the flaking paint on my canvas, a mama and brand new baby deer showed up on the lawn. Very cute. . . very insistent little spotted baby trying to nurse. Then later the wacky doe from last night showed up while I was in the garden trimming rose buds. Georgia, my foster-cat, was curious but very catlike in her feigned indifference to the doe. The deer stared at Georgia and started stomping her front leg. Georgia gazed steadily at the deer for a few seconds, then nonchalantly turned around and when back up on the deck. I'm a bit afraid of the doe. . . there has to be something wrong with her to be so weird. Steve was trying to entice her to come to him, using some leaves; she ignored him completely. I tried to avoid the crazy thing, but she followed me around. I could have petted her if I had wanted to. I just wanted to make sure she didn't eat any of my garden.

Friday, June 6, 2008

. . . encountered disaster, deer

Curiosity got the better of me yesterday, and I stripped off a piece of blue tape to see what the piece I had been working on looked like . . . and as I stripped it off, small pieces of paint came off with the tape. At first I thought it would be a simple little touch up, but as I pulled on the bits that were left hanging, great sheets of paint started coming off the surface.

It was at first disconcerting, then kind of fascinating, in a decidedly awful way. . . it was kind of like peeling off skin after a bad sunburn. . . it's creepy but you can't stop. I don't know how smart it is to show this on an art blog. I decided I would. I'm just glad I discovered it before I went any further with the painting. Of course I would never try to sell anything like this.

I don't know what happened, but I suspect moisture had something to do with these results; either moisture from not letting the plaster coat dry sufficiently, or moisture in the air here since it appears that Kansas has moved to the tropics and it's humid beyond relief. Or maybe a combination of the two. I have never ever had this happen before. It's really weird because it seems like all of the acrylic layers bonded together and then just pulled off. The first layer I put on this painting was a bright yellow; then some red layers, letting some of the yellow show through. All paints I used were artist grade. . . the most popular artist paints, I think. It all came off, back down to the plaster layer, with a few spots of some yellow. I had just read on WetCanvas about a guy who purposely makes "skins" of acrylic paint to use in his paintings and collages, and it sounded interesting. I have a lifetime supply of red skins now. . . and then this "disaster" brings to mind the whole issue of longevity in art, etc., topics for another day.

Yesterday evening we had visitors, including this very weird-acting little deer. That's Steve, my husband (the Future Farmer of America alum who wanted to be a vet when he was a kid) with his buddy, 4-year-old Stella, our neighbor. The deer is obviously not frightened of them. Off to the right of this picture is another's neighbor's yard. Those neighbors have a Rhodesian ridgeback dog that's about 3/4 the size of the deer in this picture. I hear Nala bark at me when she's in the house and I'm in the garden. But Nala didn't even notice this little thing as it ran right past her. Then the deer seemed almost to be taunting Nala, or wanting to play with her. Finally a golf course tractor came by and that scared the deer who ran a short distance. That emboldened Nala, who ran after her.

This picture was shot immediately before the deer charged at Nala, who was on the opposite side of the trampoline. Nala took off like a shot, but then came right back at the deer, who finally bounded out of the area. Janet, Nala's owner, and I took a lot of pictures of the whole episode, and the little kids were just amazed and delighted. So much for the excitement at my house. . . oh, except for the monsoon that struck about 10:00 p.m.

UPDATE ON PAINTING: It's doomed, jinxed, cursed. I put the painting on the back porch to work on getting the last little bits off; propped it up against the railing; went out to weed the garden; heard a golf ball come whizzing through the trees; sure enough, the ball hit the painting, knocked it over. Never before has a golf ball been hit onto the deck. Of course, another way to look at it is that it could have saved me. . . had I been sitting in my usual spot, the ball would have hit me. Oh, and this was just before a fox ran right past me in the yard. . . a fox with not one hair on its tail. This is definitely the Twilight Zone.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

. . . made some progress

on this painting. Not exactly where I wanted to go with it. . . and probably not where it will end up. Today is not going to be a painting day. . . I have planned for this, so I won't feel guilty about it. It's my husband's half-day off, and unless it rains, we will be doing yard work. If it does rain, we'll just hang out. I can't paint when he's home. He has such little time off that I don't want to spend it isolated in the studio.
I had a hard time getting a picture of this painting . . . it's dark in the house because it's cloudy and any light results in glare, like in the upper right corner. But this allows you to see some of the texture that might not show up in a photograph otherwise.
After doing the small paintings, I'm not getting used to doing this big stuff again. And really, this painting isn't that big. It's another painting of some old and decaying wall or piece of machinery, loosely based on one of my photographs. I think I'll just let it percolate today.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

. . . fell in love

with this painting, even though it's not nearly done. And it's not always a good thing to fall in love with a work in progress. . . just like in life, it can cloud your judgment. But I really like this one so far. I would almost hang it up just the way it is, because I love the color and texture already. I'm back in the "artist mode" again; my fingernails are a lovely shade of yellow-red.

Here's a close-up shot that really doesn't show much, but I will throw it in here anyway. Do you have any idea how much paint and how many layers it takes to get to this??? I guess I forgot, because I haven't really done any large-sized paintings for a while. Or maybe I hadn't tried for this saturation level. Anyway, lots and lots of paint and layers. . . of course you know this if you are an artist.

In the meantime, here's another old painting from the days of yore. It is painted on a piece of wood, probably one of the very first I ever painted. The colors were inspired by an old board game box.

When I look back on this blog in the future, I want to remember that last night Obama was declared the Democratic "presumptive candidate" for the presidency. When I heard that on the news I got chills. . . it is a historic moment, perhaps long overdue. Either candidate selected by the Democrats would have been a first. I look forward to the day this election is over. Six more months.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

. . . dodged the lightning

while the storms raged, and I mean raged, I was in the basement finishing up this small painting, another, and perhaps the last, in the Blue Church Bus series. I love how it looks all crusty and textured. That old bus was a gold mine for inspiration. I don't know if I can resist not painting any more of it. Probably not. The ones I have painted are small . . . perhaps studies for some big one.

Here's the big canvas that I am reconstructing. . . there are multiple layers of gesso on it, all of which took time to dry. Then there is another layer of Venetian plaster, which is mostly dry this morning. This picture doesn't really show the texture I put in both the gesso and the plaster. I plan to work on this some more today. . . but honestly, I don't have anything specific in mind yet. I'll probably just let it tell me what it wants to be. I'll start by doing some underlayers of colors.

As I was shooting the above pictures I came across some really old pieces that have never seen the light of day. . . this is a small piece, painted on a piece of wood, probably three or four years old, when I was still pretty unsure of myself. I was channeling my inner Karen Jacobs. . . but she's the best, and I found I was just copying her style. Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but a bad imitation is an insult.

This is another piece that has languished in the pile of old stuff. It's actually a piece cut from a larger flat canvas. . . I hated the big piece, but thought there were salvageable smaller pieces in it. Since I paint flat on unstretched canvas, I am experimenting with ways to display these flat pieces for the show coming up. This one involves a 2" deep piece of styrofoam and carpet tape. It kind of works, is easy to flatten again for real stretching and framing, and very lightweight. So I did accomplish a few things in the studio yesterday, as the lightning, rain, hail, and wind darkened midday until it looked like it was 9:00 p.m. I was blissfully ignorant of the whole mess until I came up for air and saw that some of the tall plants in the garden had been flattened. The weather people tell us that the entire week will likely be stormy. That's okay, I have work to do inside.

Monday, June 2, 2008

. . . don't run circles

around and around, avoiding making art. Today is the day . . . and everyday from now on for a couple of hours, at least. I'm going to the basement/studio and I'm going to paint. I'm going to organize stuff for the womens' expo coming up in three weeks; I'm going to finish my little painting and start on the big one; I'm going to clean up the mess down there a bit; and I'm going to go through all my papers and get ready to make some physical (as opposed to digital) collages. I finally got Photoshop Elements 6 to work on the computer. . . seems pretty user friendly, but I also will undertake to learn that program.

I read a discussion on Flickr yesterday about preferences to the old-school type of collages (cut paper paste) and the digital collages. I would have been in the first, old-school camp until recently. Now I find that the digital collages also have their place. If nothing else, you can print them off, cut them up, paste them into the other kind of collages. I want to explore my options regarding my photograph, integrating it more into my art.

Okay, you've read this. . . now I have to follow through. I will keep you informed.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

. . . read all day

I have to show some collages that I made at the end of 2007, because I haven't created anything new for a while. There is a big canvas more or less ready to go, the one I deconstructed and finally got into shape for something new; there is also a little one waiting for me to paint. But I haven't been down to the studio for over a week, except to look for an evening purse for a neighbor who was going to a benefit . . . and in the mess, I couldn't even find it.

I have been completely absorbed in a book that deals mainly with anthropology, specifically social customs of African tribes; somehow along with this, which is interesting to me by itself, I'm learning that scientists really know very little about human consciousness, what it is, why it is, how it works. . . and the scientific paradigm and how scientists basically try to fit unexplained phenomenon into that paradigm, and if it doesn't fit, then it's not relevant or real. It's complicated and I can't even begin to describe what I'm learning. It will take some time to digest it and process it until it's something I'm comfortable with.

These two collages are 18 x 24 on heavy paper, with layers and layers of papers, medium, paint, etc. These are the first pictures that I took with my new camera that I got for Christmas. The top picture has some glare and the bottom is kind of fuzzy. But I am surely enjoying that camera now that I have figure out a little more about it.