The above picture is the first piece of art I've created in a while. . . and it felt good. It's 40 x 40" and based on one of my photographs. I have previously posted a 12 x 12" painting similar to this one, and I was requested to enlarge on that small one. I would say this painting has more random texture and markings than the other.
The above is just a small portion of the lower left corner of the painting.
At one point, when I was feeling like the biggest loser for having to resort to painting furniture, Martha Marshall (http://artistsjournal.wordpress.com/) tried to reassure me that I would probably learn a lot from painting furniture. Frog Tape is one of the things that I learned about. If you use painters' tape, I recommend this stuff. . . it absolutely does not bleed. One of the few products that actually delivers on its promises. A house painter tipped me off about it. It really worked on the furniture so I tried it on the canvas: perfect.
Sometime this week I will move my paint cans, select brushes, sanding equipment, etc. to the store. Zip has moved the painted furniture into it, and he called to tell me it really pops in the store. I'll take pictures, now that I have new batteries.
I have always considered myself to be fairly well-read, although mostly self-educated. Out of curiosity I googled "best novels of 20th Century." With chagrin, I found out that no matter what list I chose, I had only read between 35%-40% of what various organizations considered to be the top 100 or top 150 books. Some of the books I had to read in school, both college and high school; some of the books I had read on my own, deciding myself they were worthy of my attention. Some of the books I had read were just bad; some of the books I had bought but found totally incomprehensible. And some were undoubtedly deserving of inclusion of the list.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee The Color Purple by Alice Walker Ulysses by James Joyce Beloved by Toni Morrison The Lord of the Flies by William Golding 1984 by George Orwell The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Charlotte's Web by E.B. White A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce Catch-22 by Joseph Heller Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Animal Farm by George Orwell The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne Their Eyes are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell Native Son by Richard Wright One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway On the Road by Jack Kerouac The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway The Call of the Wild by Jack London To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf Portrait of a Lady by Henry James Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin The World According to Garp by John Irving All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren A Room with a View by E.M. Forster The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand Finnegans Wake by James Joyce The Jungle by Upton Sinclair Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess The Awakening by Kate Chopin My Antonia by Willa Cather Howards End by E.M. Forster In Cold Blood by Truman Capote Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie Jazz by Toni Morrison Sophie's Choice by William Styron Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner A Passage to India by E.M. Forster Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald Orlando by Virginia Woolf Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut A Separate Peace by John Knowles Light in August by William Faulkner The Wings of the Dove by Henry James Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias by Gertrude Stein The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys White Noise by Don DeLillo O Pioneers! by Willa Cather Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad The Bostonians by Henry James An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis Kim by Rudyard Kipling The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald Rabbit, Run by John Updike Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster Main Street by Sinclair Lewis Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
The ones I have read are italicized. . . only 39 out of 100. I was forced to read Ulysses in a class I took not too long ago, and although I recognize the brilliance and creativity of James Joyce, I can't think of anything that would make me read another one of his books. Too many puns, too many tricks, too many references to things I don't know about. I always like Fitzgerald, hated D. H. Lawrence. I went through streaks: read everything by Ayn Rand as a very young reader; everything by Vonnegut and Salinger. Never got into Rushdie, still haven't read anything written by him, or Updike, or Henry James, Henry Miller, Wharton or Forster. I don't know. . . maybe life is too short to spend time reading stuff because someone decided it was good even though I don't like it. I'm trying to decide whether to start on a self-improvement regimen and read all the books on this list.
I would like to add three books that have had the biggest impact on me and that do not appear on this list: (1) The Dollmaker, by Harriette Arnow; (2) The Women's Room, by Marilyn French; and (3) The Power of One, by Bryce Courtney. The Dollmaker made me cry; The Women's Room pissed me off and The Power of One was just plain wonderful. Do you have any favorites not included on the list?
What an historic day was yesterday? Both the 45th anniversary of MLK's "I have a dream" speech, one of the most powerful speeches ever, and the day that Obama accepts the nomination for President of the United States.
I will vote for Barack Obama. I agree with the Dems on most everything. I disagree with the GOP on most everything. I am a lifelong Democrat and never ever voted for a Republican in a national election. I have voted for Republicans in local and state elections, either because I knew them personally, or because, as was often the case in Kansas, there were no Dems running against the Republican candidate.
Early on, I was more for Sen. Clinton, mainly because I think it's about time a woman had a chance to run this country. But I wasn't opposed at all to Obama, and I was going to be happy no matter who won the nomination. Hillary Clinton gave a wonderful, powerful speech in favor of Obama; so did Bill Clinton, who seems to still be The Man to the Dems. And I really liked Al Gore's speech, too.
The whole convention reminded me of a pep rally. . . preaching to the choir. I want to believe that there is hope for this country. I want to believe that we can repair the US reputation globally; I want to believe that there is such a thing as capitalism tempered with responsibility; I want to believe that it is possible to revive the economy so that the gap between the rich and the rest of us shrinks instead of widens; I want to believe that the deaths of young people in a "war on terror" can end; I want to believe that the United States can negotiate instead of attack; I want to believe that we can come up with a solution to end our dependence on foreign oil without ruining the environment; I want to believe that government has no place in dictating reproductive rights of its citizens; I want to believe that this country can provide an education to every child that wants one; I want to believe that we can support the poorest of our citizens, most often women and children. And the list goes on.
I am fighting cynicism. I want to believe that regular people actually have a say in how the government is run. I want to believe that my vote might actually count. I want to believe that the people we elect to public office, on any level, no matter Democrat, Republican or Independent, actually want to represent to the best of their ability the interests of their constituency as opposed to their interest in getting re-elected. I want to believe that power doesn't corrupt.
I really was going to take pictures and post art and/or furniture today, but my camera ran out of batteries. . . I know I have some around here somewhere. . . I try to keep a lot of them on hand because that camera positively eats them. . . but I can't find them. . . I know they'll turn up when I quit looking for them. So instead I will post another junkyard find.
Today is the day that my garage, basement and house will be emptied of all painted furniture. If there's something I don't have done, I will go to the store to finish it. Mainly I have to put some doors and handles back on some things, probably touch-up a few spots that get bumped in the move, just generally clean some other things up. I went to the store yesterday to check it out. . . walls are up where they're supposed to be and they've been painted with the coolest greenish-blue color, with a splash of lime green on one wall. Zip has accumulated an interesting mix of furniture in a lot of different styles. If my house didn't already have enough stuff in it, I would be looking for a place to put an oatmeal chair and ottoman; a faux-bamboo game table; two modern Eames type leather and metal chairs; a tiny little stool that has been weathered and aged to perfection; a couple of crusty old urns, one of which has a darling bird nest in it; a beautiful oval mirror; a kick-ass dining room table with 10 or 12 chairs. I think there will be a blog for the store, so I will post a link to it whenever it gets up and running. If you're in the area, it would be fun for you to come and check out the store when it's open.
I also finished my 40a x 40 piece. And I am anxious to start on the next. It's funny how just a little positive reinforcement (like sales, for instance) can get you going again. I was supposed to show my art in the store, too, but at the moment I really don't have any pieces available. . .
and only for color. . . these are all of my favorite colors in one picture. The yellow ochre streaked with white and stained with brown; the reds and rusts; the aged blues; the soft greens. And of acourse, black. And not a circle (or at least not too many of them) to be found. I love the different lengths and widths and sizes of the lines in this photo, too.
I have the first layers of paint down on my 40 x 40 canvas. I think it will turn out to be an enlargement of a smaller one I have painted before. Is that allowed? So far it does incorporate many of the colors shown in the picture above. It looks pretty good now. . . I'm almost afraid to continue because I don't want to screw it up. But it just needs more. . . layers, layers, layers.
my brushes and other equipment, for a long long time.
I believe the pot of water in which my brushes were standing was the petri dish for many one-celled organisms that had colonized.
But what unexpected inspiration came out of the sludge. And now I have a bunch of clean brushes, too.
The picture above is a bit of a different matter. . . it's the hardened layers of gunk that I scraped off one of my trowels and another spreading tool.
Man, inspiration just hits you upside the head sometimes. . . especially if you're in the mood. And I am, I guess. . . yes, I did paint yesterday, and it wasn't furniture, either (don't tell anyone, but I'm pretty much done with the latest load I have on hand and the store is almost ready to be occupied.) I got started on a 40" x 40" and thank goodness it's going very very well. Pictures to come, I hope, of both furniture and painting.
This picture is my idea of a perfect place to take photos. Unfortunately, the guy that ran the business was very suspicious of me. He thought I might be from "the city" and might be there to check for violations of something or other. Either I took this shot on the way over to ask his permission, or it is one of the shots he finally let me take. I'm going back there, soon, I hope; I will give him one of the pictures, matted and framed, of an item in his recycling center, to help assuage this fears that I am a spy from "the city" and maybe he'll let me explore some more.
And now for a bit of shameless self-promotion: I received a call this weekend from my "agent", the art guy that peddles my paintings. He had picked up 32 paintings last weekend; by Saturday he had sold 15 of them. He was giddy. . . he said he had never done that before, sold 15 paintings of one artist in a week. I told him to keep up the good work. . . I need a new floor. He needs more paintings. I still can't believe I am actually getting paid to do something I love and would do anyway.
Those of you who have read this blog probably know that my favorite photographs are of macros of old grungy rusted or falling-apart pieces of machinery. That is not to say that I don't take pictures of flowers, plants, and other things occuring in nature. I just don't like them as well as the rusty bits. But the shot above is water flowing over rocks in a stream near a walking trail. I didn't really do much editing to this picture, just cropped it a bit. I think it looks cool, as in "dip your toes in this water on a hot day."
But I couldn't resist showing you this picture, too. It's really not too remarkable. . . just the side of railroad car. But what really impressed me with this shot is that the train was moving when I took this picture. Seriously moving fast, like a train normally does. I had no idea that my little Canon could do this, and I am deeply impressed with it.
Driving around running errands yesterday, I had one of those days where absolutely everything I looked at had an artistic possibility. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me.
It all started when I happened to be stopped behind a truck at a red light. All of a sudden, I notice that the truck, while pristine and clean everywhere else, had two rows of rust running vertically down its back doors, and at random places, the rust turned into, yes, dots, spots, circles of rust. Very graphic. And the door handle at the bottom had some interesting oval and semi-circular rusty shapes, too, much like the picture above, but not yellow.
Later, because of highway construction, I had to take back roads to where I was headed. As I'm driving along these fairly familiar roads, I notice. . . power lines. . . lots of them. . . everywhere. And they formed very interesting angles: different sized wires extended to the ground, wires crossed in the air, all very geometric and interesting. And not a circle to be found. And not only did the angles of the lines inspire me, the crossbeams and equipment attached to the wires were interesting, too. As construction creeps further out to the suburbs around here, I suspect we will experience the demise of overhead power lines. Already they are buried in the new subdivisions. I will remember to take my camera and will plan a wire snapping outing. I'll bet I could use those photos not only for inspiration in painting, but also as backgrounds for photocollages featuring what would appear random scratchings.
Days like that don't happen to me all the time, but it makes me remember that there is art everywhere around me, and I just have to be open to the possibilities.
Cavities? My husband finally gave in and went to the dentist earlier this week. His tooth had been painful for a while, but he hates going to the dentist . . . probably with good cause. Yesterday he had to have two root canals done. . . the last time he had a root canal performed, infection spread to his plastic knee replacement and he had to have emergency surgery to remove the fake knee, went for six weeks without a knee, and then had another surgery to implant the new device (which also later failed and he had to have it replaced, too.) The easiest procedures for most of us turn out to be disastrous for him. I have had many root canals and usually just went back to work with no problem. His cataract surgery made him puff up like a blowfish. . . his trip to the emergency room for what he thought was the flu ended up in a three-day hospital stay for heart problems. I'm just waiting for this root canal to turn deadly. He could have a pimple on his butt and it would turn into some major exotic skin condition from the jungles of Africa or something weird like that.
I have been wanting a different mirror for the entrance hall for a long time. Finally, along with new canvas, using some of my new-found painting money, I purchased the one I had my eye on. . . guess what? Yep, it's round. . .
My kids continue to surprise me, even into their adult lives. . . the other night I watched the Olympic women's discus throwers. The woman from the US won that particular heat with a throw of 212+ feet. I called my daughter to see if she was watching. . . I wanted to see what she had to say about the appearance of some of those women, who were barely distinguishable from men, particularly the Chinese and Ukrainian women.
Back in high school, for some reason I completely forget, my daughter was on the track team. She threw the discus and the shot put and did pretty well. She held the school record for a time and she went to the state track meet a couple of times, too. She was also a volleyball player from about the fifth grade, and a basketball player from maybe around fourth grade, through high school, and went to the state tournaments several times. I had no influence on her decisions to play anything. . . those opportunities had not been available to me when I was a kid and I had no frame of reference. So, basically, if she wanted to play, it was fine with me. It kept her busy and happy most of the time and out of mischief.
So I'm talking to her about the Olympic women discus throwers, and out of nowhere, in complete seriousness, she basically says "I coulda been a contender" . . . that had she continued to train and throw, she could have qualified for the Olympics at some point. She said she threw the discus 200 feet in practice one time. It floored me. . . but knowing Stef, she probably could have been a contender. She always worked so hard at accomplishing anything she wanted to do. And she still does.
I will also say, just for the record, that Stef and the Ukrainian and Chinese women discuss throwers bear no resemblence to each other. Stef is gorgeous: tall, slim, blonde and beautiful. To see her, you would never think she had dreams of competing in the Olympics in the discus. I see her all the time and I had absolutely no idea. . .
off everyone but myself with this blog. Those poor people over at Seth Apter's blog, http://thealteredpage.blogspot.com/, if they indeed click on my link, are most likely terrifically disappointed with Seth's inclusion of me in this new Pulse survey. If you haven't checked it out, please do and enjoy the responses he received from a vast array of artists.
Art is coming to this blog again, I promise. . . I'm motivated to create big canvases, but still have a commitment to the furniture painting gig, too. After watching a guy prep and paint the bathroom cabinets in my daughter's house, I'm beginning to think perhaps I make it all harder than it should be. But then, wasting time and effort is something at which I excel.
I just noticed that yesterday I posted my 200th blog piece . . . every day since February 1, 2008. My goal is every day for a year. Only 165 more days. . . that many more pictures. . . the one above is of course a tree trunk, on my mother-in-law's farm. Lots of circles in this one. It's fun to look back through all my pictures and it's easy to find ones with circles, dots, etc.
Yesterday I painted an old cabinet that I think used to house an old radio. It had lived several lives. . . one in it's original state, another after having been sloppily "antiqued" a lovely puke green, probably in the '70s when that technique was so popular. As I work on these pieces, I make up a history for them. . . I imagine who owned them and what they used them for. . . my imaginings get quite complex, actually, where I invent whole families and relationships. There were lots of chunks of old finish to sand off, and I have to replace the back. I think it will make a dynamite drinks cabinet, a place to store bottles and glassware. I painted it a darkish gray and will decorate it further with an easy diamond pattern on the front, sides and top in a slightly lighter shade, maybe silver. It will be elegant. I hope.
And speaking of gray, today I have been invited to my daughter's house to break the tie on which of two different gray tiles to put in their bathroom, as well as what paint colors to use on their walls. I don't know which one of them likes what tile or what color. They have carpet and a whirlpool tub, in which the little ones like to take their baths. The carpet was there when they moved in. Carpet in a bathroom, to me, is always a mistake. Any tile they put in will be an improvement and should make their clean-up a lot simpler.
And I am also looking forward to a trip to the art supply store. I will pick up a large roll of canvas and see what other goodies are there that inspire me. I used to get excited at the prospect of clothes shopping, but now it's shopping for art supplies (and always always books.)
Here's another one of my photographs that features circles: hints of circles, semi-circles, big and little circles, dots, holes, screws, springs, flanges, etc. I quit counting the number of them at 20. This one could be a jumping-off point of inspiration for a new painting. Well, actually all of the photos could be that. . .
Not much of interest occurred this weekend except that with my new-found "riches" I will be able to justify going to the art supply store and purchasing new canvas. I had decided that any new art supplies would have to be paid for from any proceeds of the sale of my art. Since there had been a long dry spell, I was using up what I had on hand; hence the small paintings. It will be a challenge to go back to painting big.
(1) Joey, my grandson, at 17 months, had his first haircut this weekend. His beautiful white-blonde curls at the nape of his neck are gone, at least temporarily. My daughter thought his hair was looking too "Jeff Foxworthy" for her comfort. I don't quite know what that means, except she said she could put it in a ponytail. Suddenly he looks more like a little boy than a baby. He says more words every time I see him, understands everything you say to him, and has developed quite a little squeal when his needs are not met immediately, mostly food-related.
(2) Betsy, overly tired, spent much of her time at my house yesterday sequestered in "her" upstairs bedroom in time-out, after behaving badly, I guess. . . I missed it, but I suspect it had something to do with whining. I admire her mom. . . when my patience is worn thing, I get mad. She dealt with Betsy so lovingly and she understands what to expect from a 3 1/2 year old who didn't get much of a nap. Unfortunately, my husband was just as cranky as Betsy, and we couldn't get him to go to time-out so we just had to deal with him.
(3) We inadvertently left one of the garage doors open all night. . . we could have been murdered in our sleep or robbed. Fortunately the only thing that did happen was a racoon sniffed out the garbage in the open dumpster and spread stuff all over the garage, the front yard, and under my car. Apparently the olives were not to its taste, because they were discarded all over the place. There are little racoon footprints all over the blue dresser that I recently painted. They will clean up and I will remember to shut that door.
another day. I spent most of yesterday waiting for a phone call that didn't come until almost 5:00 p.m. But well worth the wait. I received a nice check and a request for thirty more large scale paintings, 40 x 40 or 50 x 50. I need to get inspired and busy.
The above is yet another junkyard photo collage. . . note all the different kinds of circles and round bits. There are more than 15 different circles or hints of circles in this picture. It's one of my favorites.
The painting above is the beginning. . . just the beginning. So far, this is a vast improvement over the "mud" I created on this canvas before. Obviously there are layers and textures. I'm not sure how it will end up, but it's loosely based on a photograph I took of a rusty bolt on a piece of machinery. Right now it looks like the sun or a planet or something. I don't know what it is about my penchant for painting and photographing round things, but as Paula (http://selftaughtartist.blogspot.com/) pointed out, I do it a lot.
Weird dreams filled my night. I dreamed that I had just given birth to Matt but I was so distracted that I kept losing both Stephanie and Matt. The actual birth hardly registered. . . it was one of those "squat in the field, give birth, and go back to work" deals. Stephanie at age five ran away and was wandering the halls of the hospital alone while my sister searched for her. Matt, at just a few hours old, stood up in his crib and fell out. All this time I was berating myself for not buying Matt an outfit in which to bring him home from the hospital. I finally found my husband, who was learning how to give Matt a bath from the nurse, a bit I had skipped because I already knew how to give a kid a bath. Steve was all decked out in his suit and tie, and Matt, all soapy and wet, kept wriggling away from him, too. The nursing staff did not hesitate to show its disapproval of the chaos surrounding my family.
I have no idea what event could have triggered this dream. I guess I could infer that I had a fear of losing my kids, but they are already as grown as they will ever be and have flown the coop. . . but they come back every week for Sunday supper and we all get along just fine. There's no doubt that I was a distracted mother during their early years. . . just too many roles to play, couldn't do any of them very well. But that was a long time ago. . . oh, well, just a short glimpse into my subconscious mind, where my circle fetish also resides.
I wish I could juggle objects, like balls or knives or plates, but all I can juggle is tasks and priorities. I knew someone who learned to juggle by reading a book about it. I can't imagine that. I must be one of those people who can learn best by doing. . . which is why I was determined to go back and try to do something with the small canvas I started yesterday. So I applied some plaster to the canvas, and while I was waiting for it to dry, I started on one of the small pieces of furniture I just received. It took a long time for both to dry, I guess because of the rain and humidity. In fact, last night I checked on the canvas and it was still too squishy to paint on it without a good chance of screwing it up.
Between painting canvas and furniture, I read House Beautiful magazine. I'm always looking for pictures of elegant and/or fun painted furniture so I can use the colors on the stuff I have, trying to make junk look good. What a great issue. . . the fall colors. . . the new neutrals. . . wonderful ideas. I was in the process of painting my piece an eye-popping apple green, and coincidentally, shades of green were featured in an article, including Mario Buatta's choice of that very color in one of his designs. This piece I'm doing is a little weird. . . it is small and looks like a little dresser, but the doors on the front are fake, and instead the top lifts up. Also there is no bottom. I guess it could be a hamper or a cover-up for a trashcan, or maybe a toybox for a kids' room. My next experiment is with metallic silver paint, aged to look crazed and darkened. It's just paint, right? I can always repaint it if it doesn't work. Words to live by.
And, just when I had given up on ever hearing back from him, my NY guy called and said he was in town, would meet with me on Saturday to get more of my art, and also said he had A CHECK FOR ME.Unbelievably good timing on his part. . . I had been wondering (a) what the hell I was going to do with all those canvases I have and (b) what the hell I was thinking to try to make any more. Of course, the check could be miniscule . . . maybe I shouldn't go a shopping spree just yet. Nevertheless, as Leo Sayer sings, he "makes me feel like dancin'. . . "
something other than furniture, and ended up with. . . mud. Even though I had a new delivery of furniture to start on, I couldn't bring myself to work on those items; I'm kind of burned out on the furniture painting, so I thought I would take a day or two off. I had great intentions when I went to the basement to work. I had an extra 12 x 12 stretched canvas, small enough to get back in the swing of things. I had some inspiration, a piece of matboard that I had used as a spreader several times on other pieces, which ended up with some exceptional color combos. I spread on the first layer but didn't (couldn't) wait for it to dry, so added some blue, squirted on some red. . .I should have just left it alone for a while and let it dry, but I had to keep messing with it, and now I have a 12 x 12 canvas that despite my best efforts is just a muckle-dun background for continued applications of paint layers.
I have concluded that I need to do something artful more often than I have been to keep in practice. . . it's been weeks since I painted anything other than furniture. I have basically taken the summer off from painting anything art-related, but I am determined to get back in the swing of things. I was at Nordstroms the other day, buying a gift certificate for a friend. I just went to the counter nearest the entry, which was the men's suit department. I don't hang out there, and I didn't want to go any further into the store, because I knew I would find something that I thought I couldn't live without, but I actually could, and I didn't want to be tempted. Besides having a mirror that I lusted after, there was a series of five collages above the suit racks. The salesman, being ever helpful, told me to back up my car to the door and he would help me load them up. I wish. I have noticed the art in Nordstroms before, but these small pieces have inspired me to try actual real live collage again.
Then a special treat . . . my sister dropped her son off at the airport and came by to visit on her way back to Topeka. We went to Johnny's, a bar and grill not too far away, and had drinks and appetizers. We sat outside under the umbrella and talked and laughed and discussed family issues and business issues and husband issues. . . fun and relaxing. She also brought me a big box of packaging material that she saves for me because she knows I can use it for texture or whatever in my art. My sister's name is Hildegard. She has owned her own ad agency for many years. One of her clients is Chuck-e-Cheese. Betsy is terrified of the huge mouse at CEC, but she calls her great-aunt Hildymouse.
We discussed briefly the question I posed in my blog yesterday about payment for my painted furniture pieces. . . mainly we discussed our husbands' reactions to the question. My husband, when I asked him what he thought about it, said basically that I wasn't going to get rich off painting furniture but if I could help out the guy getting started in his business, make some money, any money, and enjoy myself, it didn't really matter what I got paid. She said her husband's reaction would have been, "You didn't make that clear before you painted anything? You should have done this and that . . . blah blah blah." Do not, however, get the impression that my husband is laid-back compared to hers. I would say they are both Type As, but in different ways. I probably should have made some arrangements for payment before I ever started painting furniture, but I'm really a trusting soul, and I am extremely laid-back.
Here is a cute little table that I painted white, then distressed around the edges. Sorry for the blurry picture.
Another small table, painted the softest pale green and aged on the rim.
Yet another small table. . . probably the artsy-est thing I painted. It has a chocolate-brown base with a khaki glaze, then daubed with actual artist paints to give it a mottled look.
And the last table, a really nice piece that is black lacquer. This would actually work in many homes, mine included. In fact, it has been spending time in my computer room.
So I thought I was done with furniture painting for a while. . . wrong. I received another delivery of stuff yesterday: an armoire, a repro drysink with a copper lining, a pine cabinet, two rocking chairs, a record cabinet . . . and a few more things. Some will be fun to paint . . . the record cabinet is definitely a POS and I can only improve it, no way to screw it up. But I have been going balls to the wall on this stuff for a few weeks now, and I want a break to do something different. . . like maybe some art? And I think there is a photo journey coming up in the near future, like maybe tomorrow?
Here's a dilemma, and I need someone to think like the owner of this furniture place: He wants me to decide how I will be paid for the furniture pieces that he buys (at deep discounts from the end of estate sales) and that I repair and paint, like the pieces I've shown you today. It would not be reasonable to charge him on an hourly basis, because I had a huge learning curve. I would like to figure out some sort of percentage of the sale price, which would provide me with an incentive to keep the cost down . . . it's that percentage that is my problem. What would be a reasonable amount?
For instance, if he paid $20 for something, and he sells it for $200, would it be reasonable for him to get back his $20 and then we split the difference 50/50? The problem is that I won't know for sure what he paid for any piece, and although I trust him, I don't want to be a dope, either. Maybe just 50/50 on the sale price? My thinking is that had I not repaired and painted the piece, he would not have been able to sell it for much more than he paid for it. Of course, I have to assume that the piece will sell, and I will have to wait to be paid until it does sell. That's another incentive for me to do good work, but then there's the time-value of money, too. Anyone out there in cyberspace know anything about this kind of calculation? Suggestions are not only welcomed, I'm begging for them.
Done at last. . . and here are some of the results. The small pale yellow dresser above was white and gold, with the horrible formica-like finish on it. This was. . . there's no other way to say it. . . a bitch to do. Having too much time on priming, sanding, painting, and sanding and resanding, I didn't opt to buy any new handles for the doors and drawers. I just painted the ones that came off it in a slightly darker yellow and touched them up with black. . . it's just done and I'm glad. I could see this little dresser in a child's room, perhaps.
I have no idea how old this piece could be. Its finish was awful, with lots of black stains deep in the wood, but at least I could sand most of it off without too much effort. It is a Broyhill piece, probably the cleanest overall piece that I had to do. It's nice and solid. I bought the door knobs at Target to replace the nasty old ones, and the color was inspired by a piece I saw in the magazine or catalog. Even displayed in my garage, I like this piece. . . in fact, it may be my favorite of all of them. Wouldn't it be great in a kitchen as an island (put some wheels on it to move it around) or storage unit? I can think of a lot of place one could use this piece.
This little oak chest was in pretty bad shape, too. . . well, actually everything I painted was in pretty bad shape, or it wouldn't have to be painted. One of the supports under one of the big drawers was completely broken, and my husband helped me repair it. This chest was very bright red, and a little jarring, so I used some very diluted black paint and kind of aged the edges to tone it down a bit. The handles are simple grayish-black pulls, and I daubed the keyholes with a bit of black to tie them in with the handles.
The massive breakfront above was lots of fun to do. It's pretty old, made of oak, and was pretty much falling apart when I got it. The carvings on the doors and the backsplash or whatever it is called are great. I reused the old hardware, sanding off as much of the old finish as possible to get them to be mostly a silver color, and then sprayed them with lacquer to keep them from rusting. I had great hopes for this piece, loved it from the first time I saw it, but I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed. . . as my husband says, "it's ponderous." (The reddish cast to the picture is a reflection of the piece above, which is right next to this piece.) I also painted the lamp bases shown on top.
This little table wins the prize for the best unexpected result. I picked up a quart of mistinted Ralph Lauren paint at Home Depot and got this cinnamon color, which turned out pretty cool. I was going to age it a bit, but when I tried that, I decided I like it clean like this so I wiped all the glaze off and left it alone. Unfortunately the mechanism that makes the wings of the table stay up are long gone, and I don't have any idea how to make new ones. But I like the graceful curve the legs . . .
There are a few more pictures to show tomorrow. Tell me what you think. . . would you buy these pieces for your home for a helluva bargain price? I think I would. . .
Rusty crusty and totally visible piece of heavy equipment (there's a pun here somewhere)
Today's newspaper reported that scientists are working on a way to make three-dimensional objects invisible. . . something about bending light rays around objects instead of having them bounce off those objects. It's the rebounding light rays that make things visible. How many times in my life have I wished to be invisible? Many. How often have I thought, "Oh, to be a fly on the wall. . ." There was a television show in the '50s, "The Invisible Man". To be visible to the audience, the man was wrapped mummy-like in white bandages. Sometimes he would be merely an empty suit; other times he would be totally invisible and going about his do-good deeds (which was titillating to me as a kid, because I figured that he was nude when we couldn't see him at all.)
All of this is leading to this: at what point do middle-aged ambitious powerful and wealthy politicians feel that the light rays are bending around them instead of bouncing off them? At what point do they believe they shed their mummy wrappings, and even their empty suits, and become totally invisible?
I try not to be judgmental. . . I know there are things that happen in the privacy of marriages and homes and families about which we have no idea; nor do we have the right to know, or the need to know. I realize that every person, every family, has some secret shame, some skeleton in the closet, some metaphorically crazed relative stashed in the attic. . . things we have done that were they widely published would cause reactions that would vary from uncomfortable squirming to personal devastation. However, WE ARE NOT RUNNING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE.
John Edwards merely joins the already long line of policiticans, all men, by the way, who behave badly and apparently think they are invisible. At what point does the monumental ego required to be a politician tell these men that they are not only invisible, but invincible, untouchable? At what point do they think, "Oh, I want this, right now, and the consequences be damned." Or even that there will be no consequences? The act of infidelity is one thing. . . the self-delusion is what I truly don't understand.
One of my bad habits is waking up at 5:00 a.m. This habit arose years ago, when the kids were little and I was working fulltime and going to school part-time. If I got up early, I had an hour or so before the shit hit the fan and the husband and kids got up and moving. I could drink my coffee, read the paper, check out the garden, take my shower and fix something for the kids to eat for breakfast, all in relative peace. Years later, with really no reason to do so, I still wake up at 5:00 a.m., and although I try to go back to sleep, I rarely do. Usually I just give in and get up, like I did this morning.
So here it is, only 7:30. . . the only sounds that break the peace are the infernal golf course vehicles that travel by on the other side of no-man's-land between our property and the golf course. They start pretty early, too, I guess to mow the course or whatever it is they do to keep it looking unnaturally green and manicured. There's an uneasy truce between the property owners and the golf course. . . we can't cut down any trees or make any improvements on 25 feet of land that we supposedly own, and we can't get caught walking on the paved path that follows the tree line. In return, we have no backyard neighbors and the club members aren't supposed to come onto our property to rescue their slices or hooks or whatever shots make balls fly through our yard. But you would be amazed at how many grown men climb through the brush, risking poison ivy and snake scares, to pick up those little white balls. Since I don't know the first thing about golf, I have to assume there's a penalty for losing your ball. And we have bucketsful of penalties in the garage. Most people that live in my neighborhood on the golf course can't afford to belong to the club. The buy-in fee is exhorbitant and the monthly tab is a house payment.
I would like to tell you that the leaf pictured above is a sign of autumn; however, it is just a bug-infested leaf fallen from the redbud tree, laying on the ground in the garden. But interesting, don't you think?
collage with several layers of texture photos, paper towel scans and my own pictures
It was moving to watch the opening ceremonies last night. If you turned off the commentators, avoided the political leaders of countries in attendance, if you kept an open mind and truly acknowledged and appreciated the differences in cultures, it was possible to believe in world peace (or as one of my favorite T-shirts says, "whirled peas.")
I seem to recall that there was a country with only one athlete representing it. There was another country whose "leader for life" hollowly promised splendor and riches to any of its athletes who won a gold medal, despite the fact that country had never won any medal of any kind. Then there were the countries who didn't allow women to participate. . . and the countries who were allowing women's participation for the first time. The colorful flags, the wonderful native costumes, the patchwork quilt of the infield when all athletes had gathered. The fact that Kobe Bryant and LaBron James and other multi-millionaire athletes respectfully participated in the opening ceremonies. Oh, yes, I was having the warm fuzzies. . .
As I watched the mostly young, mostly gorgeous men and women march into the stadium, I asked my husband if he thought there was a lot of intercontinental screwing around going on at the games. His reply was a quizzical "are you crazy" look. . . healthy, active, beautiful and young. . . of course there was. Perhaps that's the path leading to whirled peas.
with the furniture that was dropped off to paint. Everything has at least one coat of paint or primer on it. Yesterday I did several layers of a sweet yellow on one of those fake French provincial small dressers and a beautiful periwinkle blue on another buffet or chest of drawers. The yellow was and remains a problem. The original finish is something not ordinarily found in nature, totally resistant to sanding. Zinsser BIN worked only marginally well. Just another piece that needs to be painted and sanded over and over again. Way past the point of any profit, but I won't put something that is shoddy out there.
Betsy and Joey came to spend the morning with me, and they have just left. Betsy showed up wearing a hula skirt. She told her mother that they must hurry to my house because it was almost 12:00 o'clock and Nana hands out trophies at noon. It was really 8:30, but I had a trophy for her, one of her Uncle Matt's little league trophies from his 8th grade team. Joe loves to be outdoors, so we played with Marley, Emerson and Avery, neighbor kids. Their favorite toys were a tent, a pizza box and an egg carton. Joe is all boy, kind of like one of those weebles my kids played with, weight at the bottom so they bounce right back up. "Weebles wobble but they won't fall down." When their mom showed up, they stripped down to nothing and played in the lawn sprinklers in the back of the house.
The above picture is (to my way of thinking) entirely too identifiable as part of a rusted barrel of some sort. I couldn't manage to crop it so that all the elements were in the picture that I wanted, without keeping some of the gravel. I loved the blue lid, and the rusty oranges, reds, yellows and whites. I'm thinking next week, maybe back to painting art.
I feel like I didn't do a lot yesterday. . . not much in the way of art or painting anything, anyway. One of the dangers of getting myself cleaned up first thing in the morning is that I hate to do anything for the rest of the day that will disturb my make-up, unpaint-stained clothes, and clean hair. That's why I usually clean up before bedtime, and wake up with bed hair, looking like crap anyway, and just get to work. However, yesterday, I cleaned myself up first thing and took off to find Matt his birthday present.
Matt told me he wanted bedside table, which cracked up his dad. . . ten years ago, we wouldn't have ever imagined that Matt would want furniture for his birthday. It's actually kind of hard to believe now. But he did not want one of the pieces I was painting. . . of course not, that would have been entirely too easy. I knew this bedside table would never become a family heirloom, so I found a nice one at Target . . . they really have some good looking stuff at Target, don't they?
While I was there, I also purchased: a new floor mat for the new front steps, a new big hairclip to replace the ten-year-old one that I broke; some new coated rubber bands for my working hairdo of a ponytail, a pair of slip-on canvas shoes and a pair of black and pink rubber shower sandals to replace the old pair that I wear constantly in the summer. I can't stand flip-flops because the little thingie between my toes always gives me blisters. Absolutely everything but the bedside table was on sale.
Half-Price Books is right by Target, and since I cannot pass a bookstore without browsing, I spent some time in there, purchasing (this is awful, I know) 8 books. Nothing too deep or thought-provoking, just novels to waste time reading and enjoying. I'm kind of into mysteries and court-room dramas. Back in my early working days, I spent several years being a Secretary-Bailiff to a District Court Judge (yeah, I had to say the "Hear ye, hear ye, this court is now in session, the Honorable ** presiding. Please rise.") I was in charge of the jury whenever they were not in the courtroom, and just did various other things for the judge and the jury. So courtroom dramas are interesting to me. I like to see if my experiences are similar to those represented in novels. I sat through probably about three or four murder trials, but some of the civil trials were so boring that the jury and I had trouble staying awake.
The above photographs were all taken at the old cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri, and are of various headstones or memorials. I love the colors and the textures.
It's hard to believe that my baby boy is 28 today. Isn't he handsome? He inherited my father's brilliant blue eyes. He's a wonderful man. . . fiercely loyal, independent, extremely smart, full of useful and not-so-useful information and opinions, sometimes kind of goofy, always funny. . . very much like his father in many ways, but probably more like me than he would like to admit. We are awfully proud of him. Happy birthday, Mattie; we love you.
Back in April I obtained an etsy site, but did nothing with it until yesterday. I created a banner. Wow. Nothing on the site yet. . . must cogitate on that a while. . . I may need to have two sites, one for photography and digital art, the other with actual painted surfaces. I chose that name back in April and now I wish I could change it. I hope to get my act together and list some stuff there soon. Stay tuned. . .
in an attempt to stay out of the heat. I did get three small tables and two lamp bases primed and/or painted. It is weird, but just being in the basement studio made me feel more creative. I have a large framed canvas that is probably not fit for anything I could sell (that's funny, actually sell something? Haha) so every time I finished painting a piece of furniture, I would use up the paint in the brush by painting large swathes of color on the canvas in a kind of dry-brush technique. The dry-brushing highlighted all the lovely texture already on the canvas. At the moment the canvas is in various shades of white, beige, and gold, with brown undertones. I kind of like it just the way it is. I guess we'll just see where it goes today.
I painted one small table a deep dark brown. When it dried, I stenciled something in the corners. I hated it . . . really really didn't like it, so I painted over it and decided unless specifically requested, I was not going to stencil any furniture in the future. My style, in furniture and clothing and probably just about everything else, is not fussy and contrived, and that's how the stenciled table looked to me. It occurred to me while I was in the studio that I should just consider each piece of furniture a canvas on which to paint a background, and I love to painted backgrounds. . .
Kind of like the picture above. . . it is another one of those wonderful shots from July 4 in the junkyard. Aren't there lots of opportunities in this one shot to crop and enhance and come up with multiple good shots of texture and color and backgrounds?
Betsy snapped this picture last night while I was either snacking or fixing supper. . . it's really a good picture of me, the best kind. . . blurry, no facial features showing, nothing close up and personal.
Saturday the people came to finalize the repairs to the front steps. They brought the neatest little cement mixer with them. . . it was absolutely crusty with old dried cement, with some orange and red showing through, along with black and brown. . . I ran inside to get my camera and asked if it was okay if I took some pictures of it. The guys thought I was a lunatic, but acquiesced. I started snapping away and looked at the display. . . nothing but fuzz and clouds and haze. I thought the camera was broken, so I went back inside to see if I could fix it. Within seconds, it was all right again. Then I figured it out. . . the camera had come out in the stupendous heat from the chilly air-conditioned house and the lens had clouded up. I took a bunch of shots of vapor. Or ghosts.
Today I'm going to paint in the studio. . . it's just too hot to be outdoors. Who knows, maybe between pieces of furniture I might get in a lick or two on a canvas. It makes me nuts that I can't go outside. . . I get jittery. So I'll probably sit on the porch for a while anyway, even in the heat.
Oh, it is hot, hot, hot here in Kansas. . . the misery index or whatever is supposed to be 112 degrees today. Outside activity is discouraged. Even swimming is tiring. Everything but the weeds in the garden are shriveling up. However, for really hot, nothing can compare to July-August 1980. We were living beyond the hubs of hell in a small community in central Kansas. The house had no central air conditioning but we had a couple of window units. And I was eight and one-half months pregnant. The temperature hovered over 110 degrees for 17 days straight. I don't think they have a misery index for that. We finally resorted to hauling a mattress to the living room, and Stephanie and I shared that on the floor and my husband slept on the couch. My Matt was born on August 6; thankfully the weather broke the night of August 5, but they practically had to pry me out of that hospital. . . it was so nice and cool. I do not plan to do any sanding or messing with furniture today. . . but we did have new concrete steps put on the front of the house to replace the brick-veneered steps that were caving in, and someone forgot to tell the guys that neatness counts. So I will be trying to scrape concrete from my nice new white cement siding, because I can't stand that it looks so sloppy. The concrete guys will be working in the neighborhood next week, so I think I'll have a word with them. . .
For the past couple of days, I have been sanding furniture to the point that my arms vibrate even when I'm not holding the hand sander and my dreams are filled with removal of varnish. My plan was to have as much furniture as possible sanded and primed so that I could take some of the smaller pieces down to the studio/basement to finish.
I read on the internet that Zinsser BIN was the stuff to use to avoid sanding. It was supposed to stick to any surface and allow for repainting. It dried fast, and was even supposed to let you paint formica. So I took off to the hardware store. I asked the paint manager about it. He had never heard of it, but I think I sold him on the stuff as we discussed it. He had a project that he had put off at home because he didn't know the easiest way to proceed, and apparently this BIN stuff was just the ticket. He kept saying, "It's shellac-based, wow." I never did understand the reason for his amazement.
I told him what I was doing. . . painting furniture. He was appalled. . . why would I paint good wood? It was a crime. I tried to explain to him that I wasn't painting good wood furniture. . . I was painting furniture that could never again be pretty with just a layer of stain or varnish. . . like that fake French provincial chest with the fake gold accents and the formica top. Or the nasty buffet that was water-stained beyond hope.
So now I have four small tables more or less ready to finish. The Zinsser BIN stuff worked pretty well, although I still needed to sand in a few places AFTER I primed it, mostly because I got sloppy and careless and was in a hurry to finish. Also because neighbor kids Grayson and Morgan were watching me, and Grayson took a paintbrush out of a pot of water and started to paint the driveway. Then they got curious and smelled the ammonia solution that I use to clean up the BIN (I probably shouldn't have told them specifically to stay away from the stuff) and I had to take time out to tend to their various symptoms.