Friday, October 31, 2008

. . . mixed it up

. . . using different colors in this painting. I think I showed it on this blog before, but not hanging up. I took this picture just before I sent it out into the big wide world. It's an abstracted version of an old building wall.

Yesterday I worked a bit on another woven piece that I had already started. . . I just don't know what to think any more. It seems the less I like a piece, the more marketable it is. What does that say about my taste? Or abilities? Not that I don't like that piece I showed you yesterday. It's just that I never intended for that piece to anything but experimental, and it turns out to get rave reviews. The piece that I felt was most boring was deemed to be most "sellable" and the piece I thought was most interesting was judged to be "attractive to only the most sophisticated buyers." Whatever.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

. . . predicted the future

and this is it??? I showed this to my art rep on a whim yesterday, saving it to the very last. I had told him I had some very experimental work. He love it. . . he promptly wanted four more of them. Remember, this was the wacky factor at play in my studio last week. The woven canvas scraps, the used crunchy painted masking tape, the homemade and purchased stamps, bits and pieces of paper from the trash, stencils, some of my own photographs, wallpaper border scraps, spray paint, wooden skewers, twine and string. . . there is even a winning McDonald's Monopoly ticket off a large diet Coke for a free breakfast muffin. . .

Remember, I called it. . . said it was going to be the next big thing. . . said it sarcastically, sardonically, facetiously, jokingly. . . but I am absolutely gob-smacked. I just hope that I can retrieve the sense of nonsense I felt when I created it. . . I just let go, no thought to what I was doing. I hope I don't start to overthink these.

And, here's the thing. . . he didn't even see the truly wacky one I've been working on, the prototype with slashes, burns, sewed-up rips, wire, mesh, etc. And, he arranged a show for me toward the end of February. And I got another check. And Blue Valley North High School wants me to come back and display my art for its art students in mid-November. A truly amazing day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

. . . rescued an orphan

painting, that is. This is actually the painting that put me in a funk a few days ago. It was going nowhere and it really was boring me. With not much to lose, I mixed up a concoction of fiber paste and various red and orange paints and spread it over the top of what I had already painted. A few splashes of black here, a few of gray there. . . call it done. I actually like it now.

My art rep called me last night. He is coming to town today and will pick up the six paintings I have ready for him. He tells me what I suspected. . . the economic downturn has effected the sale of art in a major (bad) way. He had urged me to paint bigger pictures. . . now he has requested that I paint smaller and in multiples. . . which I will do happily. It not only costs the purchaser less, it costs me less, too, both in time and supplies. I'm looking forward to it. I told him I had some highly experimental stuff that I might or might not even show him (the woven stuff) and he said basically the same thing I did. . . the wackier, the better. But I think I will spend some time honing the technique before I send the wacky ones out into the world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

. . .found internet love

La case aux f├ętiches, Acrylique et technique mixte / toile, 130x88cm, 2003.

Yesterday as I was working on a small prototype of a partially woven canvas, I searched the internet for wisdom. . . was it absolutely necessary that a canvas be flat? Were wrinkles and creases and rips and tears against the rules?

I found an association of French artists that more or less answered my questions. Here is the website: Totally amazing to me.

My one year of high school French some 40 years ago is not sufficient to translate these pages but really, who needs words when you can look at these paintings? I especially enjoy Rillon's work, like the painting above. Enjoy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

. . . just couldn't think

about a title for today's post, let alone a topic. So here's an old picture from March, 2008.

On Saturday I took Betsy to get a Halloween costume. She wanted to be a princess. When we got to the store, in the costume section, she first found a lovely pink ensemble that was perfect. Three steps down the display, she found one she like even better, pink with gold mesh; around the corner and down the other side, she found yet another princess costume, white faux velvet with a hoop skirt. Then we found a beautiful purple and blue Ariel (Littlest Mermaid) costume that completely invalidated all the other costumes that had come before. Except for the cheerleader costume that she wanted to buy for next year. After much discussion and "are you sure? are you postively sure?" we got the Ariel costume and went to her house to try it on. It itched, it was scratchy, she cried, "I wanted to be a princess." She put her X-large red KU T-shirt on under the scratchy costume. . . no, no, no, it still was itchy. She was inconsolable. Then her mom came home, they compromised on various options and Betsy went to her party as Ariel with her face made up to somewhat resemble a cat.

Then Joey and I had some on-on-one time. We went for a ride in the car. . . first he kicked off his shoes. Then he spilled all of a sack of cheese fishes in his carseat. Then he stretched out his foot and with his prehensile toes managed to push the button to lower the window on his side of the car. He was ecstatic. . . "win-down". . . perfect use of his words, the window and down and the wind was rushing in. As he started to throw stuff out the window, however, I pushed my button to make the window go back up. He saw what was happening and managed to put his foot on the window as it was rising. . . something bad happened then and now the window won't go up or down. It's stuck and man, is it ever "win-down."

Had a dream about art . . . using a couple of pieces of old canvas. . . including some of the woven canvas intersperse with string and twine and wire and paper. Will try to remember the dream and recreate the piece of my dreams, so to speak.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

. . . hit the wall

No new art today; just this edited picture of some piece of machinery.

I uploaded a few paintings to my flickr account last night. I had been under the impression that my art was improving with almost every piece I did. I was inspired by my photographs and trying new techniques and materials, as well as putting some different design elements into them.

When I looked at the results in flickr, I'm disappointed. . . and I can't decide whether the paintings are crap or whether the photos of the paintings are crap, or both. I know it's been a problem getting good photographs of some of the larger pieces I've done, but . . .

I think I'm just tapped out right now. . . as I said a week or so ago, I'm "mailing it in". . . playing it safe. It has something to do with the economics of the times. . . I don't want to waste paint or supplies because they're too expensive. It has something to do with worrying about my future, about whether I'll have to go back to work in a real job. That prospect looms large, assuming that anyone wants to hire a 58-year-old woman who hasn't done much of anything in the business world for six years, and pay me enough to make it worthwhile to get in the car and drive to said job. Thanks to the current economic mess, my husband's guaranteed pay has been cut by 50%, but at least he has a job, unlike many of his fellow workers in the automobile industry. The stress is really hitting him hard. . . he's sick all the time with various ailments that he knows are stress-related but nevertheless have symptoms that are quite real.

So I guess I can sit around feeling sorry for myself and bitching, or I can do something to help out. I'm floudering right now. . . waiting for the Universe tell me what to do. . . does that really work?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

. . . colored inside lines

This painting is loosely based on a picture of a wall of an old building, about 40 x 40". It's very orderly, isn't it? Almost boring, especially after those others that I have shown lately, with the crunchy textures and different colors. I think I wanted to paint something that was a sure thing. . . no risk of having to pitch the canvas when I was done with it. . . no reason to tear it up into strips and make a woven piece. This one is pretty safe, I think; no stress. I've noticed that I have been using blue a lot lately, all different shades, from navy to bright purplish to greenish blue. It's fun to see what shade I can come up with using difference washes. The left side of the painting is a combination of pyrole orange and quinacadrone burnt orange, poured directly onto the canvas and mixed as it was applied. I love the resulting mix of the two paints. The dark brown strip was created using some kind of "antiquing" acrylic from the hardware store I found in the faux finishing department. I thought I would try it out. The background is pretty textured. . . I used the joint compound, but at the advice of the painting guy at the hardware store, I mixed the joint compound with gesso and some white glue. He told me that joint compound was made to go on rigid supports, so I needed to add something to it to make it stick to the canvas better. It works very well, dries a lot quicker than Venetian plaster, and doesn't flake off. It's a lot less expensive than Venetian plaster, too, even with the additives.

Friday, October 24, 2008

. . . daubed and dabbed

Here are some shots of the progress, if that's what you want to call it, on the two woven scrap canvases I've created out of an old dreadful painting. With two surfaces to work on, I decided to go cool and calm with one. . . the one above, with grays and blues and greens, and . . .

kind of hot and spicy with the other, this one with the yellows, reds and greens. The top photo was cropped because there was a horrible glare no matter from what angle I tried to shoot it. So the top one is actually about twice as big as it appears here. The bottom one has a bit of a glare on the right side, too, but you get the idea. No, these are not done. . . again, they may never be done. . . but I have to move them to make room for painting more "regular" paintings. These are fun and a great way to try things out before I commit them to the more marketable work.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

. . . displayed clean babies

Since I have no new art ready to share, I will instead show you two others pieces of work. . . well, actually three. . . That's Stephanie (one of two of my masterpieces) with Betsy just out of the bath at our house on Sunday night. Betsy is getting so big. . . she'll be four next month. Her legs are so long. . . she's like a willow branch.

And here is Joe (not Sixpack nor the Plumber), all fresh and clean. The little ones always take their baths at Nana's house on Sunday nights after supper. Nana has accumulated various bath toys and bubble-creating concoctions for their pleasure. Joe (in stark contrast to Betsy at the same age) loves to turn on the jets in the tub, creating even more "bubbas." Joe has the most sensitive skin. . . see the redness around his mouth and cheeks? We put on some of Nana's magic lotion.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

. . . started another purge

This time, it's of my closet. I am blessed with an obscenely large walk-in closet. . . it actually has two rooms, five poles on which to hang clothing, a wall of shelves and a built-in dresser for storage. It is also the laundry room, where the washer and dryer live. When we moved here a few years ago, I was accustomed to having the laundry area in the basement; having it upstairs off the master bath is a wonderful idea.

Considering that, probably six out of seven days a week, I wear paint-splattered old clothes that I have retrieved from my son's stash of clothing he outgrew in high school, to my way of thinking these days, it is a crime that every single space in that closet is filled to bursting with stuff. So it's time. . . time to get rid of things, to find things back, to give things away. I found a quote yesterday that describes me perfectly. It is in the book "The Art Thief" by Noah Charney. "(She) was of the hybrid sort of obsessive-compulsive who need a correct place for everything, but never actually keep anything in that place." I am a whiz at categorizing and sorting things out, but maintenance after that is my problem.

I started slowly yesterday. . . just one rod's worth of clothing. . . blouses, T-shirts, hoodies, etc. My organizational piles: winter, summer, transitional, give away, toss. Winter stuff got put back on the rod, organized by color, black at the right end of the pole, then gray, navy, blue, red, pink, yellow, and white at the left end. See, obsessive-compulsive. I left the rest of the stuff, the summer, transitional, etc., on the floor in piles. I will spend time today doing another rod. I found things I have never worn, things that still had the tag on them. Stupid. Every time I do this, I pledge that I will buy not one more article of clothing. But you know, sometimes there's a sale and the thing is just so insanely inexpensive that you would idiotic not to buy it. . .

I do foresee a problem, though. The back room of the closet has all of my old professional work clothes. They are nice and were expensive: suits, dresses, dress slacks, blazers, jackets, coats. When I was working I dressed very well. . . until the end, when I didn't give a shit and that should have been a clue that things were getting out of hand. I feel like I should keep them because what if I have to go back to work? In an office? And what if I have to be professional again? Of course if that should happen the stuff will be sadly dated and out of style, but still. . . it has happened too many times, and I feel like I would be tempting fate. Like the minute I got rid of the stuff, I would be fated to be required to get a job. I have given my daughter as much of the stuff as she wants (Stef, if you read this, you're welcome to more if you want it), thinking if I need it, she'll give it back. But it's been six years. . .

As to art, the above is a picture of the painting I finished last night. For some reason it is one of my favorites. I used the sand medium on the black portion; the left upper corner is the fiber paste medium. There is a lot of texture, but it is more subtle than the texture of the spray foam. The art rep says paintings with bright happy colors sell the best; but sometimes I don't want to paint bright happy colors. Maybe the blue will be bright enough, though who in their right minds is buying art these days anyway?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

. . . wove more canvases

but this time I tore up an old canvas that was already finished and positively dreadful. I made two separate pieces out of the one larger canvas. The piece above was lightly covered with gesso and then spritzed with water and wiped down.

This canvas was not spritzed with water; I pressed various shapes into the gesso and let both dry. I have three pieces of work-in-progress going at one time, not counting the layers of tissue paper that receive the excess paint off my brushes. These woven canvases are perfect for experimentation. They are probably not something I would be comfortable selling. . . too experimental to have any assurance of longevity.

I am always on the look-out for things with interesting textures: at the hardware store, on the ground, in the trash, in packing material. Perhaps it's time to do a complete inventory of my massive stash of pure stuff; look what I found on my shelf. I have no recollection of purchasing these small sheets of aluminum. It must have been at an estate sale because of the $2 price tag on the box. This must have been a salesman's sample kit. But look at the textures. . .amazing. And they've been sitting there in my studio for quite a while because I just don't go to estate sales any more. I should have one.

When I see there are sales on art supplies or if I have a coupon, I buy different mediums to experiment with. On the big canvas I worked on yesterday (not shown here), I used a sand texture medium. I think it was Windsor-Newton. Very gooey, didn't cover a lot of territory, and I had my doubts. It dried clear but not white. . . there was a marked difference in color between the gessoed canvas and the area covered with the medium. It left an interesting texture, but I'm wondering why I couldn't put sand in gloss or matte medium or even gesso and get the same effect. The other medium I tried on the woven pieces was Liquitex fiber paste. It is supposed to give the surface a watercolor paper-like texture. More experimentation is required. . .

I usually don't get too excited about Halloween, but with grandbabies getting familiar with the customs, I try a little harder. Joey loves "pump-pumps" and Betsy, much to her parents' chagrin, rejected the little doctor costume in favorite of being a princess this year. I love gag (and in this case I used the term appropriately) novelties so I snapped up a small plastic skull, thinking I would check with Stephanie before I passed it on to the Betsy in case it was too gross. The skull is filled with a gooey substance and when you squeeze it, the eyeball parts bubble out and you can see inside the skull, which is filled with bloody little worms. When I tried it in the store, it startled me so much that I dropped it and let out a small innocuous curse, causing the woman standing next to me to laugh like crazy. Well, I need not have worried about Betsy. . . she loves that crazy thing, loves going around scaring people with it. Joey, however, has his doubts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

. . . were politically blue

. . . in a state that is so traditionally red that there should be another color designation for it. . . somewhere beyond red. As I am reminded at times, by people who don't live here, I live in a place where the state school board decided that evolution wasn't science. A few years ago, we could not buy liquor by-the-drink; we had to join "private clubs" and bring our own bottles if we wanted to enjoy a cocktail with our dinner. Our attorney general at the time even made airlines quit serving alcoholic beverages in the air space over Kansas. Not long ago, we had an attorney general whose main goal was single-handedly overturn Roe v. Wade; his crazy antics got him ousted two years ago by the district attorney for the county I live in, who switched from the GOP to the Dems in order to run against the crazy AG. Tit-for-tat, the crazy element of the GOP in this county appointed the defeated former AG as the district attorney. After a year, the new AG quit in a sex scandal. The the nutty DA was defeated in the primary this year, and hopefully he will now go away. Fun and games in the reddest of states. . .

And I live in what could probably be considered the reddest district of the reddest of all states. This district is only 20 minutes away from Lawrence, home of the University of Kansas and probably the most liberal area in the entire state; and it is probably another 20 minutes from Wyandotte County, home of Kansas City, Kansas, a primarily blue-color and minority bastion that can usually be counted on to vote anti- anything Johnson County votes for. And I live another 20 minutes from the Kansas-Missouri state line. Missouri used to be strongly blue, but it isn't any more. Except for this weekend, when 75,000 people showed up to see Sen. Obama at the Liberty Memorial.

My district's state representative used to be Kay O'Connor, who was famous for saying that she didn't believe it was necessary for women to have the right to vote. She reminded me of Dana Carvey's tight-assed Church Lady on SNL, and she even look a bit like Dana Carvey dressed in his Church Lady get-up. She finally resigned her post, and her replacement, while being not as offensive generally and keeping a low profile, is of the same political philosophy as Kay.

And yet, our two-term governor, Kathleen Sebelius, is a Democrat; so is my US representative, Dennis Moore. In Kansas, most political races are decided in the Republican primaries, and it is almost always a balancing act between the traditional Republicans and the right-wing extremists of that party. When the traditional Republicans fall asleep at the wheel, the right-wingers come in and take over for a couple of years or a term or two until they make themselves look so foolish that everyone else gets up in arms and pays attention to that particular race and the righ-wingers get voted out.

Every political map you see on TV has this red stripe right down the middle of the country, from North Dakota through Texas, and we are smack dab in the middle of the middle. I know that McCain will win in Kansas. He doesn't bother to even campaign here, it's a lock. That means all Kansas electoral votes will go to McCain. I don't even need to vote, it won't matter a bit. My vote will be wasted. BUT I am very blue in this sea of red and I will vote. In fact, everyone I know will vote. It's going to be big, isn't it? But most of all, it just needs to be over. Done. Ended. Somebody needs to be in charge. But I understand that there are lawsuits ready to be filed the minute the election is over. It is a possibility that we won't know who the President is until January. . . just what this country needs, right?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

. . . kept wackiness going

I would have to say that these latest two paintings are close to the most innovative I've done, ergo the wacky-factor at work down in the studio. Maybe it's because I turned on the heat in the house and the furnace down there is emitting some sort of magic wacky fumes.

Most of the bottom of this painting (inspired by an old wall, tweaked by photoediting) is encrusted with the foam spray that I then spread out before it expanded completely so it wouldn't look too much like foam spray. The texture is crunchy, crispy, very tactile. . . you want to touch it. On the upper portion of the painting, I used a color of blue that I had never used before. . . bright purplish-blue. I was almost afraid to use it. . . what if it was all wrong and screwed up the whole painting. But I do like how it adds a certain punch to the whole thing.

I wish you all could see this in person; it's really much better than the photo shows. This painting currently hangs in my dining room in the "iffy" painting spot. I'm still waiting to see how much I really like it. I hope it eventually moves to the "sure thing" pile, because this one took quite a while to finish. In fact, my back still aches from standing there messing with it. Maybe I'll rest today. . .but I have another canvas ready to go and a couple of ideas floating around in my head. They are not quite as wacky. . . but I have a lot of those ideas floating around in there, too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

. . . indulged the wacky-factor

Oh, this will be BIG. . . I just know it. Here is progress on the first woven canvas I have created. It includes a bit of everything. . . painted crusty blue tape, handmade stamps, stencils, random marks, my own pictures that I've edited to black-and-white; long pointy sticks, strings tied in knots, wallpaper bits, pages from an antique etiquette book, spray paint. And it's not necessarily done yet. . . I can keep adding stuff. Now all I need to do is figure out how to hold the whole thing together. Glue it to some sort of heavy sold substrate (wood?); I could then even use wax/encaustic paint on it? Stretch the whole thing on a frame and staple the individual strips to the back of the frame?

Yesterday I googled weaving strips of painters' canvas. And guess what? Other folks have done this before. Can you believe it? I'm not the first?? I'm not a creative genius, but rather a tight-fisted slowly-going-broke "unrepentant scrounger" willing to use trash to make art? (I hope everyone recognizes sarcasm here. . .) But again, I will say, this will be BIG. . . because of the wacky-factor. Yessiree, the wackier a piece of art, the more people will love it. . . I guarantee it. But just wait for the next woven canvas piece. . . it will be even wackier.

Friday, October 17, 2008

. . .really had nothing

of artistic merit to blog about today. But I came across this picture of a dining table set for a charity event here in Kansas City. Look at it up close. There are raw GREEN BEANS standing upright on each plate in small glass domes. Who woulda thought?

Which brings me straight to Thanksgiving, which I have hosted at my house for the last ten years or so. I love having it at my house. Everyone brings a dish and I make the turkey, stuffing, and exotic vegetables that only a few eat, like leeks in cream sauce (last year. . . delicious but you couldn't have paid some of the folks to even try it.) There are usually 20-25 people, depending upon whether my sister and her family comes from Detroit, or whether Stef and Andy go to Columbus for Thanksgiving or for Christmas.

My Aunt Maria and Uncle Albert are amazed that I can pull this off every year. That's because many years ago, when I was first married, we always went to their house for Thanksgiving. One year TaMia (that's what we call her) asked if I would bring the cranberries. I did not know how to fix cranberries, but I thought I could maybe figure it out. In all honesty, I forgot all about it until we got in the car to go to their house. I made Steve stop at a grocery store and bought a bag of raw cranberries, thinking I could cook them (with some assistance and direction) at my aunt's house. Needless to say, the cranberries never got cooked, and Uncle Albert, some thirty years later, still tells everyone that I brought raw cranberries to Thanksgiving dinner, and every year it gets a little more embellished and extravagant. Uncle Albert has many of these kinds of stories about me, all of which get repeated when the occasion arises (and sometimes when it doesn't.)

Out of necessity, the dinner must be a buffet, because I don't have enough seating for everyone to sit at a table. The guys usually fill up their plates and head back to the TV and football. The youngsters usually stay at the table in the family room, and the senior members of the family get the dining room. Everyone else kind of just finds a place to perch. I have tried to set the dining room table elegantly like the one above, but it has always failed miserably, when people would end up with two dinner plates, two sets of flatware, no water and three wine glasses. I can't even image what Uncle Albert would say if I sat raw green beans in glass domes on top of his dinner plate.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

. . . showed studio status

These pictures are just a glimpse into my basement/studio. The one above is a painting I finished yesterday, an altered, abstracted view of a fence or wall filled with different peeling posters. It's hard to get a good shot down there; it's either too dark or there's a glare. That's why the angle is weird in this picture. This painting works in any direction you would care to hang it, but I like it best looking at it as I stand in front of it by the blue oblong shape, where the shadow appears.

Here's a shot of the woven pieces of canvas. I did cover the red with gesso but I don't know where I'm going with this yet. A dry-brush technique leaves paint along the edges where the strips overlap, and I like that effect. Stay tuned . . .

This shot is of the latest tissue paper/brush cleaning random "art" I've created with the paint left over from the latest painting. I spread some of the spray foam excess on this piece with a paint spreader and you may be able to see it one the left top side. . . it just made kind of a ridge. I like that.

And finally, this is a picture of a smaller squeegee that I have used in the past to spread paint on canvases. I have been keeping this thing around because I love the color combinations and I think it can be the inspiration of future art.

Okay, that's it for today. . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

. . .used up scraps

of canvas left over from previous paintings. My workspace maxes out at 48" and most of my canvas has been at least 54" so I have bits and pieces of unused canvas laying around, rolled up, waiting for some creative use. I have used some of the canvas to test out techniques I wanted to try on my other paintings; I have also used them as scrap, to clean my brushes, hoping to come up with random inspiration.

The picture above shows my work table; the painting at the top of the picture is one I'm currently working on. . . this is the first layer. . . and the piece at the bottom is my solution to using some of the then but long pieces of canvas. I tore the canvas up into various widths and wove them into a grid.

The blue and black pieces were from previously painted scraps. I have just been applying whatever paint I had on a brush after painting on the top piece. I really liked the blue and the gray and even some of the bronze yellow, but I don't like the red in it and I will probably gesso over some or all of this today to get serious about it.

I'm kind of excited about this. . . it's something I can do while I wait for layers to dry; it uses up scraps of canvas that are usually too small for anything else; I can tear up some of my old painted canvases that I really hate, that didn't work out for whatever reason, and use them again; it's pretty creative and adds an interesting texture. There are other thoughts bouncing around in my head that aren't solidified yet: cutting slits in canvas and weaving small pieces of canvas and other stuff (rope, twine, painting tape, plastic, etc.) through the slits before painting it; using huge X stitches as design elements; cutting holes in canvas, backing it somehow, and stitching up the holes very loosely, letting some of the backing show through. This satisfies my desire for experimentation without costing really any money and maybe I will come up with something new and different (at least for me) and I can still be working on the art that sells.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

. . . posted unconnected thoughts

the above is a shot of my latest painting, showing some of the various textures in it. the spray foam really does add crunchiness to the painting, doesn't it? When I tried to use it yesterday morning, the sprayer was clogged. I wrenched off the little tube that is attached to the sprayer to clean it out and when I did, the stuff sprayed out all over the place. I jumped back out of the way and didn't get any on my clothing, and I wiped all of it up that I could find. Later, outside in the wind, I felt something solid hit my face as my hair whipped all around. Sure enough, a big hunk of that spray foam had solidified in my hair and I had to cut it out. Kind of like getting gum stuck in your hair.

Random Thought #2: Yesterday morning I check one of our brokerage accounts. The balance as of the end of the quarter, September 30, had been down, but it wasn't all that worrisome. When I check yesterday, 12 days later, it had dropped $10,000. And that's not just imaginery money based on the "value" of stock at any certain time. That was real money, out of our pockets, that we had continued to put into that account. Any deposits we had made for months just disappeared. I felt like I was at the river boats, gambling, only this was for real. Do we stay in the account and take the chance that the market will recover sufficiently to make up the loss; or do we cash it in and stash it somewhere to ride out the "crises"? Can we afford to lose it all if we leave it where it is? If I were 38 or even 48, there would have been no question . . . I would have let it ride. But 58 is too close for comfort; we don't have a lot of time left to wait for recovery before we're going to need that money. I liquidated it, as of the close of business yesterday. I have been afraid to look to see what we got, given that the market had a record up day yesterday. At least I don't think I'm going to have to worry about a capital gains tax on that income.

Random Thought #3: Saturday I went to an art showing that my rep was putting on at a local frame shop. I walked in toward the end of one of his presentations. There were just a few people present. I noticed that he had included my paintings; they were at the bottom of a huge pile of canvases. I also noticed that one of them had been pulled out and was laying on the counter. When he saw me, the rep (jokingly) introduced me as "the best artist in Olathe, Kansas." I demurred, saying that perhaps I was the best artist on my cul de sac (and the only artist on my cul de sac.) After the presentation, I learned that one couple had narrowed down their search for art to one of my paintings and another one, very different in style than mine. They spent some time with the framer, trying out different frames for the two pieces. They ultimately wanted to talk it over and told the rep and the store owner they would return before closing. I don't know what they decided, but it was interesting to talk to an actual potential owner of one of my pieces of art and it was a bit weird, too. They looked to me to be some sort of expert with deep meanings embedded in my paintings. I'm not and my paintings just are what they are, and there is no need to go looking for philosophical stuff in my canvases.

Monday, October 13, 2008

. . . shared old pictures

Here is another older picture I took with the old camera and put on the old computer. I had all these older pictures stored on flickr, so I can go back and play with them and then put them on this new computer.
I remember taking the pictures in this series; I had gone "home" to Osage City, Kansas and my brother Steve took me to this wonderful metal scrap yard right off the highway going to Burlingame, Kansas. Not a soul was around and we wandered freely all over the huge place. It had not been there when I was growing up so I didn't know about it. But Steve is an unrepentent scrounger just like I am, and he is one of the few people with whom I can go running around taking pictures of weird stuff and he won't get bored.
The above is the side of an old car that very evidently had been burned up. I did saturate the colors a bit for this photo. I think it's another example of how random and even destructive forces can result in pretty cool art.
As a side note, and just another thing to worrry about: My paper this morning reported that a guy right here in the KC metropolitan area has created a company that will provide liability insurance coverage for bloggers. He thinks there is a real market for this type of insurance. Apparently there have been in excess of 200 lawsuits filed this year as a result of what bloggers have posted, up from just 4 a few years ago. So be careful out there. . .

Sunday, October 12, 2008

. . . found metal patchwork

I need to go on another outing to shoot new pictures. But instead, I looked back through my flickr entries and found this one. Isn't it great? I don't know when I took this picture, but flickr says it was uploaded on November 6, 2006, almost two years ago. I do remember that this picture was taken in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, on the north side of the 12th Street Viaduct, somewhere down by where they have all the Halloween haunted houses. I also remember that I talked my son into going with me on this particular outing; he drove until I told him to stop, I would jump out and wander around, he would wait patiently for me to come back. He was supposed to be my bodyguard, but we found that no such thing was needed. Even in the middle of the afternoon, the place was basically deserted.
Almost each individual square of this old rusted metal fence could be inspiration for one of my paintings. I don't know the significance of the graffiti; it's not as "artistic" or as funny as some other graffiti I've seen around. I think the lines and gestural strokes add something to the fence.
Many years ago, after I had started a new job working in a huge law firm, I walked into the room where all the corporate minute books were stored. There on the wall was a photograph of the side of an old bridge out in the country, with the graffiti "I (heart) MB," which in this case was supposed to be for "minute books." I noticed that one of my co-workers had taken the photograph and she sold it to me, because how could I pass up something like that with my initials? That photo stayed with me through numerous office moves, because at the big firm, if someone quit or got fired, there would be a massive shift in office space, jockeying for bigger and better, and it was taken very seriously. I really never even wanted to move, but I usually didn't have a choice. And I eventually ended up with a window office on the 27th floor with a view of the downtown airport and Kansas City, Kansas, until the whole big firm went belly up and I landed at the smaller firm, where I chose my office and stayed put for many years. Now the "I (heart) MB" photo resides at my son's house, because as Matt Buek, he too needs reminding that someone hearts him.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

. . . mailed it in

That's how I feel about the painting above. . . and probably the last two or three paintings that I've done. Not inspired; merely going through the motions, mailing it in. I am trying to figure out if I like this painting or if I hate it.

Last fall I had my dining room painted Benjamin Moore's wenge, the dark dark brown, which I thought would look sophisticated, or at least as sophisticated as I can get. I still really like the color and the room. I am having a hard time putting holes in the walls for art, though; I want what I put up there to be perfect so that I don't have to move it around and see prior nail holes.

During this past summer, I tried to paint over a large piece of framed art that I didn't like any more. All the paint peeled off, so I stripped it down and gessoed over it all again. For some reason I don't remember, that framed and prepared but unpainted canvas is sitting on the buffet in the dining room. I have discovered that while I'm contemplating an iffy painting, I can tack it to this one and let it percolate a bit. So that what's I''m doing with this piece of "mail art."

I think that the brown paint makes a great background for art of almost any kind. I found two matching Belgian cabinets at an estate sale, very dark oak, and have them hanging on either side of the bay window here. The upper parts are open with doors below. In the openinings I have put antique white ironstone tureens. The huge wooden bowl in the center of the table is a gift from my mother-in-law; I believe it was her mother's bowl. It is hand-carved from one piece of wood. It actually has a little three-legged stand that allows it to sit on the floor, but right now I'm using it on the table.

I can turn from my computer 180 degrees and take a look at the painting hanging on the wall. Sometimes I think, "what a waste of canvas and paint"; sometimes I think, "well, someone might like it" and sometimes I think "that looks so good up there, I think I'll keep it."

Friday, October 10, 2008

. . . took a test

Cruising around on various blogs yesterday, I came across this test: I couldn't resist; I took the test. It was interesting and thought provoking. FYI, my political compass puts me in the company of Gandhi and the polar opposite of George W. Bush. Nothing new there.

I tried to go back and find the one question I wanted to reference in this post, but I would have to take the six-page test all over again to get to that question, so I will paraphrase the question. In the test, you are ask to strongly disagree, disagree, agree, or strongly agree with various statements. The one in question went something like this: Nonrepresentational abstract art should not be considered art at all.

Well, of course I strongly disagreed with that statement. But I am wondering how that question relates to one's political beliefs. Did my answer make me a wild-eyed liberal palling around with terrorists? Is GWB's favorite art velvet Elvises or dogs playing poker or Thomas Kincaid?

Speaking of nonrepresentational art, I finished a painting yesterday. I tried to take a picture of it this morning to post, but it was either bad art or a bad photography session. I couldn't in good conscience put it on the blog. I will tell you, however, that the color and composition is similar to the photograph above.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

. . . caught a bug

probably from little Joey, the viral Petri dish that he is. Not conducive to producing art.

So these are more of those random tissue paper brush-cleaning works that I have created purely by accident. I did add the white lines on this one to outline the shape of a roofline that appeared in the painting above.

I like to use the mats as viewfinders to locate the most interesting parts of these random bits, and these certainly go to proving my theory that you can throw a mat around just about anything and it looks better. I have no idea what I am going to do with these pieces, but for the most part, I like them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

. . . played with Joey

today and made no art. Being a grandmother makes me want to go back and try again to be a mom. I think I could do so much better knowing what I know now. When I'm with the babies, I try to be fully in the moment, and sometimes it take a conscious effort to remember to enjoy them right now. When my kids were little, I was too worried about cleaning up after them and disciplining them, and I didn't join in the little day-to-day discoveries they made that were totally new to them but mundane to me. Many times I wished my kids would grow up so they could talk to me, understand what I was trying to tell them, be more reasonable, be more responsible, etc.

Joe wants to drive the Barbie Jeep and there is laundry to do. He drives the Barbie Jeep in the chilly drizzle, while I run behind it, hanging on to the back of it because he doesn't realize he has to steer it. Joe wants to chase the neighbor's cat; I'm out of breath and my knee hurts; we chase the neighbor's cat. Joe is intrigued by opening and shutting things, but his favorite thing of all is to watch the microwave go round and round and ding when it's done. He has discovered the doorbell and wants to ring it continuously. He knows where the snacks are kept, and he will empty the cupboard until he finds the Teddy Grahams or the cheese fishes. When he gets tired of eating them one by one, he dumps the entire contents of the bag wherever he happens to be standing. He likes to play in the potty, so we must keep the door to the bathroom closed at all times. He has learned to unhook the tray from the highchair and when he is done eating, he will tip the entire mess onto the floor, doing it so quickly there is no time to avoid the spills. He has learned "NO" and "MINE" although he doesn't have to make use of those words very often when he's with me. We discovered various methods of playing "horsey" yesterday, all of which hurt this old grandmother's muscles after just a few minutes. But I laughed with him and at him and he cuddled with me at naptime and everything was perfect. Joe and his family are headed to Florida today for a week's vacation. I'm so glad I had a chance to be with him yesterday and to see Betsy when they came by to take Joey home.

After he went home, I did go into the studio and play around with some of the tissue papers I had created cleaning my brushes from other painting projects. That's what the above picture is. I think I could crop it even further, taking some off the top (eveything from the "sun" upward) and a little off the bottom, and it would be even better. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

. . . were electronically hi-jacked

First, I cannot get a good shot of this painting. . . if I use a flash, it glares; if I don't use a flash, there is insufficient light to make sense of the picture. . . and no photo-editing seems to help. So once again I'm posting a lousy shot of my art. Sorry. I really wish you could seem the details in the center of the painting. There is not a big hunk of white there. It is very cloudy and dark out today so anothe rphoto will just have to wait till the sun shines.

Second, my blog was hijacked yesterday. I had comments on yesterday's post that are obviously spam. And I had three times as many hits as normal. As much as I would like to attribute that fact to my amazing art and sparkling written repartee, I know better. The suspect hits were from all over the world. I changed the settings on the blog so that I can now pre-screen the comments so I don't have to read about whether or not I want to buy stock. I don't know how to delete these comments from my blog. But they did show up in my email. I was careful not to open them and deleted them from my email list as well as from the recycle bin.

To the bloggers that know more than I do: is this something I should worry about? Is there anything else I need to do?

Monday, October 6, 2008

. . . toured the studio

. . . just random things, some created randomly, that I thought might interest other people as much as they interest me. The photo above shows a piece of the Citra-Solv paper I made last week. I just found it yesterday going back through the stack of pages that I had sprayed and smooshed together. This is one of my favorites.

And the picture above as well as the two below are a couple of layers of tissue paper that I have been keeping next to my canvases. Before I throw my brushes into the water to be cleaning, I run them over these pieces of tissue.

When I put a finish on my paintings, I will also run the roller or the brushes across these pieces of tissues. That's why these are so shiny.

Even after I've put the finish layer on the tissue, I continue to paint additional layers over the paper. I think the results are pretty interesting.

I don't remember how I acquired the piece(s) above. It is a bank of miniature vending machines, maybe from an old toy. The pieces are actually individual vending machines, about 4" tall, held together with rusty old bolts on the back. I'm pretty sure I had intended to use one or all of them in some sort of assemblage, but I think that phase of my art life is over and done with. This is just one of many many pieces of junky stuff I still have in my studio that probably needs to find a new home somewhere.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

. . .loved this painting

I really do. . . and I don't particularly care if anyone else does or not. I love the background color, the texture, and the lines. After Catharine made a comment yesterday on this blog, I began to think that yes, perhaps subconsciously I was trying to impose order on chaos by painting all the stripes lately. I am just not a very deep thinker. . . but she's right. Things have been chaotic around here lately, from the national level to the personal level. I have been a total hermit, hiding out, painting, reading, watching television, looking around the internet a bit more than usual. Externally I've been quiet, calm. . . internally I've been in an uproar. Perhaps that comes through in my paintings?

In my post yesterday I mentioned the spray foam texture; the picture above is a close-up of some of the texture. The lines in the painting are not black. . . they are navy blue. And they are painted on rather lightly, then sanded, to that some of the background color shows through.

Here's another close-up of the texture. The background color started with several layers of a combination of quin burnt orange and transparent burnt umber. Then I spray painted an orange-red, very lightly in some places and more heavily in others. Then I gave the whole thing washes of transparent burnt umber, finally rubbing it in to highlight the texture of the foam and the texture of the plaster I used, and leaving some dark spots to age the thing.

I plan to keep painting at a brisk pace until about October 11, when the art rep comes back to town. I will give him my latest pieces then, if he wants them, and see how the sales are going. If stagnant, I will stop for a while. I feel my annual autumnal nesting instincts kicking in; I want to pay some attention to my home's interiors. I am already thinking about my Thanksgiving family gathering (one of two times a year that I actually cook anything.) And I must clean out my closet. I can't find anything I need.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

. . . found new texture

at Home Depot, a really good art supply store. I went there to pick up another gallon of the Venetian plaster. But I spotted this stuff . . . $12 for 67 pounds of it. The Venetian plaster is $30+ per gallon. And it's basically the same stuff, except the Venetian plaster has marble dust in it. You can shine up the VP by rubbing it really well. I don't use it for the shine, so I purchased this instead. It spreads the same, dries a bit quicker, and is a bit less bright white, but I like it.

Cruising the HD aisles looking for something cheap and cool, I found this plastic grid. After I put the plaster on my latest canvas, I pressed this grid into it for one texture. Then I overlaid the grid on a sheet of the Citra-Solv paper I made the other day. The leftover plaster imprinted this pattern on the paper.

This is another texture-making object I found. It's metal and I did the same thing with it. Both of these grids cost about $1-$2 dollars and I can use them over and over again. Another grid pattern I picked up at Michael's is the plastic squares on which one is to do needlepoint. Those grids come in various sizes and I picked up three. They are also inexpensive and can be used again and again. All of these things can be used as stencils, painted and pressed onto your substrate, or pressed into the canvas without being painted.

This texture was created using "Great Stuff" below . . .

which is a spray foam that expands while it dries for use in insulating your house or filling holes. It's kind of like styrofoam when it is dry. In the portion of a painting shown above, I sprayed it on the canvas, then took a rubber spatula and spread it out. It comes out of the can in a thin line that almost immediately begins to expand and bubble. It is very very sticky, so avoid getting it on your hands. It is also flammable while it is being applied, so be careful. And you don't want it to be too thick on your substrate because it might pop off when it's dry. I found that any place where the foam came off was difficult to paint over, but the foam itself took paint very well. But truthfully, not much of it came off. I plan to experiment further with this stuff. If you click and enlarge the picture of the painting, you will also see the texture created by using the joint compound and another texture created by pressing the screen material pulled off the back of the brown plastic grid.

I don't have any idea what the longevity of the joint compound and the foam might be, or how archival they are. I'm not too worried about it, though. The foam could be a potential problem because it is definitely three-dimensional on the canvas and the canvas will have to be handled carefully so as not to knock any of the foam elements off the surface. I don't believe that either the plaster or the foam will just fall off the piece of art anytime soon, though. And at the price I sell my art, it would be asking a lot to make sure it survives five hundred or more years.

Friday, October 3, 2008

. . . watched the debate

and she didn't step on her . . . wait, she doesn't have one of those. She did okay, if ya like that sorta thing, all you Joe Sixpacks and Hockey Moms, you betcha, god bless ya, darn it. Just remember, Joe Sixpack is sitting in the White House right now, just counting the days until he can go home. And you know where that got us, right? Say it ain't so, Joe. . .

Another striped painting I finished recently. It was inspired by the box of an old game that I have, but I changed the colors. . . just wanted to experiment with some of the combinations I've been thinking about.

Sharing my scattered thoughts: The other day I found out that mathematicians had "discovered" a new prime number. Wow. Everybody but me probably knows that a prime number is divisible by only two other numbers: 1 and the number itself, such as 3, 7, 11. These mathematicians ran a large network of computers, tapping into them when they were not being used for other purposes, to calculate this number. The newspaper didn't actually publish the number, because it has something like 13 million digits (I'm really not sure, but that number sticks in my mind.) I'm not sure what practical application this new prime number may have. Maybe it's just doing something for the sake of doing it. I spent some time trying to wrap my mind around "discovering a new number." Numbers are infinite. . . as long as one can count, there are numbers. There is not a last number. Yeah, I know, the object was to arrive at a new prime number, "prime" being the operative word here. But still something weird to think about.

Then I thought, "What if someone discovered a new color?" Now that would be an accomplishment. I guess you would have to change the light spectrum, and maybe the composition of the brain and eye. (Can you tell I don't know what the hell I'm talking about?) Or what if someone found a new note in music? Well, let me announce that my sister has discovered it. We were talking about our piano lessons when we were kids (after my recent blog about them.) She said the only thing she remember was "Every Good Boy Does Well." Now someone just needs to compose a Symphony in the key of W.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

. . . painted rather graphically

This is one of the newest pieces I've painted. The art rep was enthusiastic about the striped pieces he took on Saturday and asked if I could paint more. I like to paint them. There is organization to them that appeals to my Virgo nature. Yet I have also learned that the lines don't need to be perfect; it's better if some of the paint bleeds over onto other colors. After all, I'm not making a sign or painting a crosswalk on the street. I have also allowed myself some experimentation in the nonstriped areas. For instance, I have tried layering my venetian plaster mixture in different colors on top of each other. Something that is not visible in the picture above is that there are objects and marks scratched into the paint. These also give me a chance to experiment with color combinations. . . not so much the painting shown here, but combinations I see in my mind that I am anxious to try out. I think black will be the one unifying color in most of these paintings. These pieces are directly inspired by the encaustic pieces done by Graceann Warn ( and I have tried very hard to be inspired by her paintings, not imitative, but let's face it, stripes are stripes.

Little Joey was not feeling very good the night before last so he came to spend the day with me. He was a bit bleary-eyed in the early morning, but we went outside to play and he learned to drive Betsy's Barbie Jeep, although he hasn't learned to steer it yet, so I ran behind him holding on to the back of it. It's a good thing he couldn't sustain long periods of pressure on the foot pedal, because I could not withstand long periods of running, even at that slow pace. Then we went into the backyard and threw hedgeballs into the DMZ between our yard and the golf course and looked for bugs. After that we went to PetSmart to look at dogs, cats, birds, and fish. We came home with two Betas and the set up, including food and shelter. Unfortunately either we chose an ailing Beta or the trip home was just too much trauma; one of them very clearly was on its last gills. After a lunch, a long nap in a "big boy" bed, and more Barbie Jeep, I took Joe and the fish back to their house, ran back to PetSmart and got Betsy a new Beta to replace the terminally ill one. And I got myself a couple of them, too. I found that I really enjoyed watching them. So now I have studio pets.

Tonight is the VP debate, eagerly anticipated on all sides for the potential for monumental screw-ups. I do not like to listen to Sarah Palin talk. . . she bugs me, because she drops all the "g" endings to her gerunds and she says "ya" instead of "you" as in "I'll be gettin' back to ya on that." Very folksy, and I must say that many people in Kansas speak that way, too, at least when they're sitting on their back porches visiting with neighbors. Not acceptable when you're trying to convince the world that you know what you're talking about. Actually I feel a bit sorry for Ms. Palin. The only way you can talk with any degree of expertise on many of the subjects she will be asked about is to know the topic completely, every side, see every possibility and every pitfall. And the only way to gain that expertise is to live with it day after day until it becomes part of you. And she's only had a month or so to cram all this esoteric information into her head. And despite the fact that she may be smart, there's no way she has any expertise. I can identify with her and I can empathize with her. That doesn't mean I agree with her, because I don't, not on any political issue.