Tuesday, September 30, 2008

. . . were rendered speechless

Totally created in Photoshop instead of Picasa, first try

or, for purposes of this blog, wordless. But not really. . .

The nation's financial situation has gone way past weird, all the way to surreal. The good news: taxpayers don't have to foot the $700 billion to bail out Wall Street. The bad news: taxpayers have no money, no credit, no retirement funds; soon they will have no jobs, no houses.

The Dems voted for the plan floated by the lameduck President who has no credibility left at all. The GOP reps get insulted by a speech and refuse to be swayed by their own presidential candidate's support of the bill; and all the representatives in the house who are in hotly contested races back home lose all sense of responsibility to the public in their zeal to get reelected. McCain takes credit for the bill until it doesn't pass, then says it is Obama's fault. The problem seems to be that no one is in charge and the inmates have taken over the asylum.

At our age, we are worried about our retirement funds. We didn't actually plan for retirement from age 20 onward. . . we were too busy being broke, supporting kids, working from paycheck to paycheck. Things eased up a bit, and we started to stash away extra funds on a regular basis. And we thought that the equity in our house would serve as the basis for even more retirement funds, when we sold it to move to the "home." But we would have to plan to die at about age 67 to not outlive our savings now.

There is a lovely new retirement home near where both my son and daughter live. I told them I wanted to live there when I was old. My daughter said, "Heck, I want to live there now." She had investigated the place for one of her clients and reported that with all the amenities, the cost was approximately $9,000 a month. And that's if you're healthy and in possession of all your senses.

My dad used to say that his kids were driving him to the poor farm. I understand that there really used to be poor farms. Maybe there will be again. Save a spot for me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

. . . were still dopey

but feeling much more resigned to it. I will probably continue to be a dope in some matters, but we'll chalk this up to experience and call it done.

After two days of stressing over one of my problems, I just decided yesterday that I was not going to waste another nanosecond of my life worrying about it and I would just let it go. . . and I did, and I feel better. The problem revolved around a dispute concerning my compensation for painting furniture. I had thought that we had an agreement in place at one time on how I was to be paid, based somewhat on artists' arrangements with galleries, a modified 50-50 split, modified in his favor; however, apparently there was a misunderstanding (and I'm being charitable here in calling it a "misunderstanding"). On Friday, the guy gave me a partial list of what he expected to pay me for the work I had done. The amounts were, at least to me, ludicrously low. For instance, for my favorite piece, the blue dresser, he offered me $40. The replacement knobs cost that alone. He could have tripled the amounts and it still would not have been up to what I thought had been our agreement.

After venting my feelings in a three-page letter to the guy (never going to be sent, just a private rant) and getting all insulted and puffed up with righteous indignation, and wondering how I was going to be reimbursed for my time and expenses in a manner that would suit us both, I just decided to let it all go. There are complications in our relationship that I won't go into here, involving various members of our respective families, which made everything even more difficult. I went to the store, picked up all my supplies and equipment, told the guy that I couldn't continue to paint the furniture at the prices he offered, and told him to pay me what he thought was fair. That was something we used to do at the law firm. . . in fee disagreements, my boss would never ever argue; he would just say, pay what you think is fair. Sometimes it worked out okay, sometimes we got screwed. I guess there's something to be said for maintaining your dignity.

I know that part of this was my fault. . . I should have been clearer on my expectations and his expectations, and obtained some kind of explicit understanding instead of burying my head in the sand and thinking that because we were friends, everything would turn out all right. Now, I'm out dollars and friends, but at least I don't have to stress about it.

My art rep showed up as promised this weekend, check in hand. . . another load off my mind. He took 14 new canvases. If you were wondering what effect the current financial crisis is having on the art market, he told me that since the "bail-out" mess started, he had not sold one painting. Not one. That's after he sold 15 of mine in a week, and the remaining paintings in a little over a month. He told me that even people with lots of money have less of it now (it's all a matter of degree, isn't it?) and that everyone is scared, and that no one was buying anything, least of all art. I have a feeling that those 14 new canvases will be sitting around for a while. . .

The rep told me that because my resume is so skimpy (seriously, one show in KC) my prices will remain relatively low. If he can land a show for me, he says it will increase my prices. He tries to market art as an investment; right now, he tells me my art is decorative. No argument there.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

. . . were a dope

Lousy photo, I know. . .

. . . a stupid, gullible idiot? That's a rhetorical question. . . it's not a question at all, in fact. Just the fact, ma'am, just the facts. But first, a word about the painting above.

When I was a kid, I was forced to take piano lessons. . . in fact, none of us six kids escaped the torture. My parents had purchased a spinet and a set of music encyclopedias and by God, we were going to learn to play. Even my three brothers had to participate, some for very very brief periods. Once a week, with our 50 cents or dollar, we would head off to Mrs. Johnson's house for what I'm sure was torture for her, too. This whole piano business didn't sit well with us. . . we would have to take time out of our busy schedules, especially in the summer, to endure 30 minutes of incomprehensible instructions in tunes we had never ever heard of. If Mrs. Johnson had helped us play songs by the Beach Boys or Elvis or the Beatles, we may have been more successful. As it was, "The Flight of the Bumblebee" held no attraction for us. Who ever heard of a freaking bumblebee playing the piano, anyway? However, Mrs. Johnson was about 132 years old at the time and I doubt she'd heard any new music since maybe the Roosevelt era. . . Teddy Roosevelt.

Although I took lessons until maybe my sophomore year in high school, it was apparent to me, and should have been apparent to everyone else, that I had absolutely no musical talent. I hated the lessons, the practice, and everything associated with piano. But I was the oldest, and a girl, and it seemed like my obligation to my parents that I learn to play the damned thing. In retrospect, I now appreciate how dear those 50 cents and dollars must have been for my parents to shell out, and how ungracious I was about the whole thing.

But here's kind of an interesting thing: when I was living at home, and things got stressful, like I was fighting with my mom, or I had a big paper due, or I didn't have any friends, or whatever caused me to have teenage angst, I would go into the "big living room" (as opposed to the family room) and pound on that piano until I felt the problem had resolved itself, or at least until I felt better.

Years go by (see the calendar flipping many many many pages. . .) We have no piano. I have nothing useful like that on which to take out my frustrations. Until yesterday. . . feeling very stressed, angry, put upon, betrayed, insulted, and fearful of the future, I was COMPELLED to paint, just like I used to be compelled to pound on the piano. and this is the painting that resulted from the compulsion.

As part of being a stupid gullible idiot, perhaps one of the factors that proves the truth of the statement is that I am posting my art on the internet. Please don't misunderstand. . . I don't think my art is all that worthy of being copied. But browsing around the 'net, and then having a subsequent conversation yesterday with someone who is knowledgeable about this, I am stunned and amazed that any artist puts work on the internet. There it sits, for any unscrupulous jerk to copy and market and sell. And I'm just a tiny microscopic amoeba in the ocean that is the art world. And maybe it's just the amoebae that get copied. Screw it, guys, have at it. If you want it, take it. I give up. Just go for it. Copy. Plagiarize. You have my permission.

I have much more to say. . . rants are building up inside. . . but I never know how far to take it in a public blog. Some are about art. . . some are about personal relationships. . . some are about professional and business relationships. I feel like sharing it would be helpful, not only to me but to anyone else who encounters these situations. I bet there are reasonable people out there, some of whom my actually read this blog, that would be willing to make suggestions to help me resolve my issues. But one must be careful, right? Don't burn bridges; don't puff yourself up with righteous indignation, because you just might be the one behaving irrationally or unreasonably (but I don't really think so.) So for now, that's all I have to say.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

. . .created a collage

from the junk I collected during my recent purge of the studio. Just a fun little exercise to see what I could come up with. I started with a really nasty 12 x 12 stretched canvas that I purchased at an estate sale a long time ago. I had already painted over it in a lazy sort of way, thinking I really had nothing to lose by experimenting. Then I started to look for things in certain colors as I was throwing them in the trash: a paper towel encrusted with dried paint; a couple of pieces of corrugated cardboard that I had used many times over to put texture on paintings; the dried white and navy acrylic paint left in the bottom of a paint pallette; the pull tab on a cardboard box (I love the words: punch in and remove. I know some people I would like to do that to); a crushed orange metal top to some kind of bottle; the silver lining on the top of a bottle of paint. But my favorite element is something I didn't find in the studio. It's the big glob of yellow that is the main focus of the collage. I found it in a parking lot next to my car. It's part of the striping that delineates the parking spaces. It had become detached from the concrete and was just waiting for me to pick it up. this collage is constantly changing; nothing has been stuck down, glued or attached. Sometimes, if I remember, I will wipe the excess paint off a brush on this thing before I clean the brush. I'm sure some elements will be removed and replaced. It will never be done.

Friday, September 26, 2008

. . . chose another photo

as inspiration for my next painting. I believe that this is a portion of an old truck that is owned by my brothers, used to haul junk away from the house that we all own in my home town that they have been working on for quite a while.

I have said before that I use venetian plaster for texture in many of my paintings. I guess I was somewhat inspired by the techniques I saw in the DVD I purchased a couple of weeks ago (Inkjet Transfer Techniques by Bonny Pierce Lhotka), because I decided to experiment with the plaster a bit. I mixed it with some Liquitex gloss medium. The gloss medium made the plaster much easier to work with and provided a finer texture. I use a regular mason's tool to spread the plaster, an oblong-shaped heavy metal object with a curved handle. . . it probably has a specific name, but I don't know it. Palette knives usually don't have the effect that I'm after; they are too small and too flexible. Now if I were truly inspired by the DVD, I would next experiment with using a bit of clear liquid gelatin in the mix. . . interesting? I'll let you know. . . possibly the gelatin will make everything slide right off the surface, who knows?

Anyway, I will use the plaster/gel again on the piece inspired by the picture above.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

. . . admitted my mistakes

. . . at least to myself. I had a talk with my daughter last night, unloading on her all my negative feelings about people trying to screw me around. She helped me see that it was really my fault. . . I should have foreseen problems ahead and met them head on. Instead, I just sat tight, thinking everything would be fine. This is not a good thing. I should not be afraid to discuss payment for goods and services. I should put a value on my time and talents. And I shouldn't bargain against myself. I need to look out for myself first when dealing with people, no matter how much they may appear to be friends. This attitude is opposed to the way I usually think, but I guess I live in a fairytale world. As an attorney, my daughter has learned this the hard way. She tells me it gets easier the more you do it. I hope she's right. So today, maybe I'll try to face my main problem head-on and deal with it. It makes me sick to think about it, though. Perhaps I will detail the problem more in future posts, but not until after it's resolved.

We certainly live in interesting times, don't we. Last night I watched the current President, who pre-empted an interview with the previous President on CNN, tell us that the market is not functioning properly. One of the candidates who could be the future President decides that he's not going to campaign any more, but instead will focus on the financial problems of the country, and the other candidates says, "Hey, you need to be able to do more than one thing at a time if you want to be President." Meanwhile, Congress argues over whether we should let the foxes back into the henhouse to clean it up and whether we ought to pay those foxes a lot of money to do so; and Warren Buffet spends $5 billion. It seems to me (and I'm no expert) that if perhaps there could have been individual bail-outs of the folks who couldn't pay their mortgages a couple of years ago, maybe the entire greed-based crisis today could have been averted. I remember seeing ads on TV a few years ago, telling people they could get money with mortgages up to 125% of the value of their homes. That's crazy and possibly unconscionable, but when people are desperate and/or uninformed, it's a powerful enticement. But everyone just sat back and thought everything would be fine, instead of recognizing the problem and meeting it head-on.

The collage above is a mixed of various textures: one picture is a scan of paper towels left from wiping up paint; another is a picture of text from an old newpaper, and there's another picture of crackled texture. That's all combined with a Photoshop creation. Just playing around on the computer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

. . . chose this picture

as the inspiration for my next painting. As I said yesterday, I was cruising my photos and kept coming up with browns when what I needed was color. I found this one, though, and I have started a canvas using these colors. I can't remember what the picture was originally, because it has been heavily edited, collaged in Picasa, and the colors have been ramped up to maximum saturation. Perhaps a portion of a wall. . . I like the geometrical divisions, the bright reds, yellows and oranges against the dark green at the center bottom and lighter greens primarily at the top right. The canvas is 43 x 43, a strange size, but the last bit of canvas on the roll.

I have been trying to get good pictures of the canvases I have finished, but so far I am very disappointed with the results, which is why I haven't posted any of them. Inside, outside, doesn't seem to matter, they are just crappy photos that don't do the art any justice. So far all I have is a record of what I've painted for my own purposes, not something I want to share. the problem is the canvases are just too large and awkward to hang properly. I will keep trying.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

. . . kept plugging away

at painting pictures. The rep that sold my work last month will be back in town on Sunday, supposedly. The way things are going for me at the moment, he has probably fled to Peru with my money and his name will show up on the art scam website. (Oh, please, don't let that happen. . . ) I would like to have 15 more pieces ready for him. He tells me that bright, colorful paintings sell. So as I go through my photographs, I try to find bright colorful inspiration. Instead, I'm finding a lot of brown for some reason. I'm wondering if a painting based on the digital collage above is bright and colorful enough. . . the oranges and reds and the textures are what attracts me.

At the Plaza Art Fair, I would have to agree that bright primary colors were the norm. There were a few booths with really beautiful subtle artwork. . . mostly creatively presented photographs, but one was mixed media with oil paints.

I had to stock up on art supplies yesterday. Painting large has diminished my supplies very quickly. . . mostly the mediums. I kept asking them for things they didn't have, like black gesso and plastic bottles with metal tips. One of the videos I bought suggested that I use Bob Ross black gesso for a number of things and I really like it. My kids, especially my son, used to watch Bob Ross create his paintings on TV, and they were enthralled. It was magical. He made it look so easy. My son, in his usual wise-ass manner, suggested that I might be a more successful artist if I painted more like Bob. I could take the above picture and paint a little tree here, a sweet little bush there. . .

Monday, September 22, 2008

. . . wondered what's happening

The lowest grade I ever received in collage was in Economics, the macro kind, except for my freshman year, when my education was being financed by the Bank of Mom and Dad . . .until they refused to conduct business with me any more. That was the kind of economics I could understand. There was no discussion of GNP or GDP or a whole bunch of stuff that seemed a lot like voodoo to me. Nope, if you didn't hold up your end of the bargain, the money flow just stopped and you were on your own.

So don't come to this blog if you want an in-depth analysis of what's going on in the government bail-out of private financial empires. My son attempted to explain it to me last night: privitization of profits and socialization of the risks. Gotcha. . . now run that by me again. Despite what I may have exhibited on this blog, I am not stupid, or dumb, or even ignorant. I usually get it. But this whole situation is beyond my ability to comprehend. First of all, the number of dollars is incomprehensible. I have no concept of a trillion dollars, just that it sounds like a lot of cash. It's a number we used when we were kids. . . "I bet you a trillion dollars that I can throw the ball farther than you can." It's not even Monopoly money, although the people running the government act like that is all it is. The government is already in debt, but it continues to spend on a stupid war; now it's going to spend dollars it doesn't have to save companies that reaped megabucks before they imploded; on top of all that, they want to cut taxes and give everyone stimulus rebate. Doesn't make sense to me no matter how you try to spin it. Apparently this will cost every one of us about $2,000. Here's a suggestion: just take my family's share from the bonuses of the CEOs of these failed companies, okay? I'm out.

Does this all have anything to do with art? Only peripherally. Or not. Maybe directly. This past weekend Kansas City put on the annual Plaza Art Fair. We went yesterday morning, early. We have learned that if you want to look at art and get a decent parking spot, the best time to go is just when the booths are just opening and normal people who did fun stuff on Saturday night are still in bed. I wasn't extremely impressed with anything I saw. . . I think I have looked at the kind of art I like on the internet so much that what I saw yesterday wasn't new or intriguing or something I just needed to have to enhance my life. My husband liked the big sculptures and anything made of steel, iron or wood, as well as some of the 3-D assemblages made from old tools and parts of machinery.

This morning's newspaper reported that sales were down and that the art fair couldn't have come at a worse time, at the end of one of the most tumultuous financial weeks since the Depression. People were buying small relatively inexpensive works of art or none at all, preferring to actually spend their money on food and shelter and gas to get to the art fair. What effect is this going to have on my stock of paintings in the basement studio, my NDP (not-too-gross domestic product)? I suppose the only bail-out I can expect is if the basement springs another leak, and I will be doing the bailing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

. . . browsed You Tube

The above is yet another Picasa collage with the same texture photo. . . the other photo is of a grain elevator in Kansas City. I like the way this turned out.

Yesterday as I waited for paint to dry in the basement, I cruised around the internet. One of my bookmarks is this: http://www.youtube.com/user/CapricornArtist73. Maybe everyone already knows about Gary Reefer, but in case you haven't seen his videos, I suggest you take a look at some of them. One of the comments at the bottom of his channel is something to the effect that his videos inspire the write to be "more of an artist and less of a painter." It's true. . . and he has some great, easy tips for interesting effects. He uses stencils and spray paint a lot, which could add a whole new dimension to my art and I plan to experiment on stray bits of canvas and paper. I especially like his tip for creating water drops. . . I ran right down to the basement and tried it, and it worked. I hope you enjoy the videos, and if you have other artists who provide instructions and inspiration on You Tube or elsewhere on the internet, I would love to hear about them.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

. . . experienced some panic

There is some significance to the picture for today's post. It's a picture of a screw. I'm going to write about the IRS. Do I need to point out the obvious? I think not.

Anyway, in my increasingly lackadaisical manner, I only pick up my mail about once a week any more. Even when the mailbox is stuffed past full, when I weed out the credit card offers and other junk mail, I usually end up with just a couple of items that actually need my attention. And since I only open mail twice a month to pay bills, a lot of times things just kind of lay on my desk for a while before anything happens.

But not yesterday. I pick up the usual armload of junk and head to the house to sort through it, stopping on the way to toss a bunch of stuff in the dumpster in the garage. I get to the bottom of the stack and there it is. . . a letter from the IRS. My heartbeat goes off the Richter Scale. . . my stomach drops to my feet and then shoots back up, threatening to empty its contents directly onto the floor of the garage. Beads of sweat break out on my forehead. What does the IRS want? What have I done wrong? What year have they chosen to audit? Where are all my past tax files? (One year is completely illegible, because it got wet once when the basement flooded and a frog died underneath pages 1, 2, and 3, but that's another story.)

Then, trying to think rationally, I begin to remember how easy it is to do our tax returns. I don't hire an accountant; after all, I used to do tax returns myself at work that were a hell of a lot more difficult that my own. Everything we have to report in the way of income is verified by a W-2 or a 1099 or a K-1; everything we get to deduct is also verified in some acceptable way. Plug in the numbers on TurboTax, hit calculate, and pray that the result isn't hideous (that's one of those unanswered prayers, by the way.) Then I send it on its way through the marvels of online filing, wait for the email to show up that says it's accepted, and boom, I'm done. Takes a couple of hours, at the most, and that includes trying to find and/or remember my screen name and password for TurboTax.

So, having calmed down some, I open the dreaded IRS envelope. There is a completely unnecessary relative blank page on top. . . then a form. . . then a short little letter saying, oops, you forgot to sign this form allowing you to file your return online. Please go look up your tax return for last year, fill in a couple of numbers, sign the form and send it back to us. Please use your own $0.42 cent stamp to return it. And by the way, send back the bottom part of that unnecessary mostly blank piece of paper, too. And, oh by the way, sorry for any inconvenience.

Of course, I'm so relieved that this is just a minor glitch. I sign it immediately, have my husband sign it the minute he gets home, look up the numbers, stuff the envelope, stick on a stamp, and take it to the mailbox. Back to the IRS in less than 24 hours. I want it out of the house. And, oh, by the way, IRS, don't worry about the minor inconvenience, the heart attack, the nausea, the panic attack. Don't give it a second thought. In fact, don't even think about us at all. Ignore us. WE are sorry for the inconvenience. Salame, salame, baloney.

Friday, September 19, 2008

. . . didn't paint anything

In fact, I don't remember what I did yesterday, and I have no actual plans for today, so this is really going to be a more boring than usual blog. But just think what it must be like to actually live the life that I do. . . you only have to endure a small blog post while I actually have to experience it. Or not.

The picture above is another digital collage, combining a small crop of a picture I took back in May in my hometown with a wood texture photo. I like it and I think it will be the inspiration for another painting.

I would like to clarify a bit on yesterday's post. When I first started painting, I sought inspiration from other artists, and yes, I sometimes copied them. Since I am self-taught, it was valuable experience. And later on, I sought inspiration from photographs on Flickr. With the Flickr photos, I always either asked the photographer if I could paint their picture (and I always received a positive response); or I painted the picture and showed it to the photographer before I posted it, requesting permission; or I used a photograph from a group specifically posting pictures as abstract art inspiration. I have never even attempted to sell any painting that was a direct copy of someone else's painting. I haven't even given them away. They are all still sitting in the studio, or have been painted over or torn apart. These days I have enough photographs that if I want to copy something, I copy my own stuff. That way I can sleep at night.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

. . . discovered by accident

that someone had copied this painting. I painted this back in 2007 and posted it on flickr on April 23, 2007. Yesterday while cruising around the flickr site, I noticed that someone had remarked on one of my latest paintings. I clicked on her link and went to her pictures. If you click on this link, you can see what I found: http://flickr.com/photos/debdoesflickr/2835160078/in/set-72157600077438998/. I am not at all sure how I feel about this. . . my husband reminded me that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. . . but you will note that her painting is also hanging in a gallery and is for sale.

To me this sort of thing is simply dishonest. . . on a relatively small scale. In light of the breathtaking dishonesty we are seeing everyday in politics and government and finances and Wall Street and in daily business dealings, it seems rather minor. I hope she sells the silly thing and enjoys the rewards. Just as an aside, my mother loved this painting so much that I gave it to her. And she keeps telling me that I can't have it back.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

. . . made studio revisions

This is yet another Picasa collage. . . the broken window is from a very cool old brick building off Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City. . . not sure if it's in Missouri or Kansas, it's kind of on the border. It's a huge old building right behind Ponack's Mexican restaurant and next to railroad tracks. It's crumbling, filled with graffitti and it's one of my favorite places to take pictures. I just wish I could get closer to it, but I'm not brave enough to go inside. I have not seen any "Do Not Trespass" signs, but then I've stayed on the far side of the tracks so far. It's been there in that condition as long as I can remember. . . it's visible from I-35 and I passed it everyday for years going to work downtown. Since there has been construction on I-35 for the past 20 years that we've lived in the area, I have been stalled in traffic a number of times, just loooking at that building. One of these days, I'm sure it will be taken down and something will replace it, so I need to take as many pictures of it as I can before that happens. The other picture that I collage with it is just a texture picture. . . in fact, it is probably the same texture picture I used in the collage I posted yesterday.

No new photographs of art yet, but I keep painting. I have 11 pieces ready to go to the rep when he comes to town at the end of September. I hope to have more done by then, too. After my recent and continuing purge of my art space, I found I had room for another 4' by 8' piece of pink insulation. The ceilings in the basement are right at 8' tall. I now have two pieces of the insulation standing beside each other, which gives me an 8' x 8' are on which to paint vertically if I so chose, and I still have the one piece on sawhorses on which to work flat.

So yesterday I was painting and was just stuck. . . so I called it finished and hung it up. Went away for a while and came back down. . . hated it, took it down, laid it flat and decided that I could not waste that much canvas. I was determined to fix it. And I did and now it's one of my favorites, one that I would keep to put in my own house. It's not exactly happy or bright, but it's subtle, with lots of different layers of paint and glaze and washes in the main part of the painting.

So today I must go paint furniture. . . some woman came to the store last week and bought, seriously, a whole housefull of furniture for her daughter. . . she bought the blue chest, the red chest, and the black sideboard that I already painted. Amazing. She wants me to paint a headboard black, so I will, I guess. Not particularly enthusiastic about it, but I won't say why at this time. . . I will just stew in my juices for a while to see if I can attain a more positive attitude.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

. . . explored the catalog

I received the Dick Blick catalog in the mail yesterday, so I explored all the different media that are available for artists. Printmaking still looks most interesting to me. I understand that there is a new printmaking gallery/workplace open in the downtown/Crossroads Art district, and it plans to give lessons. I hope I can take advantage of that situation. . . either get good at it, or at least quench my curiosity about printmaking.
Still no pictures of my art. . . I was gone for most of the morning yesterday and when I returned I noticed with chagrin that my garage door was open, even though it's a habit for me to reach up and click the clicker. The garage is, of course, open to the rest of the house, and anyone could have just come on in and wiped us out. Fortunately that didn't happen, but the door was screwed up somehow. In an effort not to (a) call a repair person and (b) not bug my husband about it, I read the directions on the door, and just pulled on a cord. Hah. Not the thing to do, apparently. I thought I was trapped in the house, with my car locked in the garage, but I later found that I could quite easily open and close the door, just the remote didn't work. Well, good grief, I spent most of life without a garage, let alone without a remote control garage door opener, so I was okay with that. It's fixed now. . . so maybe I can get some paintings outside today to photograph. In the mean time, screwing around with Picasa, I came up with the above collage.
My husband went off to work this morning, saying something like well, off to make a few bucks. I scoffed. . . the headlines in the newspaper, the television reporting financial doom and gloom, the elections looming large. . . who will be buying anything unless they reallly really need it? Except the really really rich folks, and they usually don't buy Hondas, right? Or relatively cheap art, either. I also saw that some art (a pickled calf with golden hooves) sold for many many millions of dollars at Sotheby's. I wonder what I could get for the dead grasshopper on the deck. Maybe if I put some gold leaf on it. . .?

Monday, September 15, 2008

. . . fought universal dreariness

Here is the last of the three random pieces of art I made from blotted tissue paper. Finally the weather has cleared up and there are sunny days ahead, which is good. . . I was starting to feel as dreary as the rainy days. Even with everything going well. . . my paintings were all sold; four of the large pieces of furniture that I painted have sold; I have been painting every day and producing some worthwhile stuff, although not all as good as I would like. . . I still felt a bit like the universe was conspiring to mess with me. I have been a complete hermit for a week or more, not fit for public consumption. Well, universe. . . bring it on now, give me your best shot. The sun is shining and I'm up for the fight.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

. . . were enamored with

these small pieces of accidental art. This is crop #2 of the larger tissue paper blotting process that I blogged about yesterday. They are so free-flowing and unstructured, and so different from my usual style. I have actually painted a new large piece, but I'm waiting till the weather improves to photograph it outside. I haven't been doing any justice to the large pieces that I have photographed down in the studio.
I finally finished watching the DVD, Inkjet Transfer Techniques, Gelatin and Gel Transfer Processes for Alternative Photography and Fine Art with Bonny Pierce Lhotka. I wish there was a place that I could go to try out some of these techniques, because they look like something that would enhance my photography. But they required an outlay of a considerable amount of cash for something that might not work for me. It would be very cool if I could take the photograph above (or any other photograph, whether original or manipulated by computer), enlarge it, and apply it with the transfer techniques to a substrate with a lot of texture. There are probably other techniques that will achieve the same result. I will explore more.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

. . . created random art

I love it when this happens. . . random paint strokes, dabs, drips, mistakes come out to be something interesting. This painting started when I used three layers of tissue paper to blot up too much paint on a canvas. I just continued to do this periodically until I came up with something I thought I could work with, and then added a few more colors and blots with a purpose. Then I polyurethaned over the top of the tissue layers, scanned it into the computer, and cropped where I thought it was most effective. I have two more shots of different parts of this tissue paper that turned out pretty well, also, but I will save those for a day I didn't make any art.

Friday, September 12, 2008

. . . painted more stripes

I know this is not a good picture, but I wanted to show what I had been up to yesterday in the studio. There's too much glare here. This is a large painting, for me anyway. It's 45 x 45. And it has stripes again. And it may not yet be completely finished. It needs to sit and percolate for a while.
I love rainy weather, but this latest round is getting me down. It's been rainy all week. We sometimes have rain as a result of hurricanes that hit in the Gulf Coast area, but apparently this doesn't have anything to do with the hurricanes; that is supposed to happen later this weekend. The Hidden Glen Arts Festival is this weekend. It's a small art show in the Cedar Creek area in which I live. It could turn out to be a miserable time for the artists. I'm going, rain or not.
Stephanie is headed to Boston for a wedding this weekend, leaving the kids with Andy. I get to take care of them tomorrow morning while Andy shuffles them to Kindermusic. I will be with Betsy at home first, then Joey will come home and Betsy will go with Andy. It's a little more relaxing in a one-on-one situation. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

. . . had a dream

the night before last that I painted black and white stripes on a canvas. Then as I was checking my favorite blogs and websites yesterday, I ran across Graceann Warn's website (http://www.graceannwarn.com/NewWork.htm) through a reference on Bridgette Guerzon Mills's blog (http://bgmartjournal.blogspot.com/). I think I was meant to paint black and white stripes. I am now inspired to do a series of paintings with stripes.
The canvas is probably about 40 x 40. I have been taking really crummy pictures of my art work lately. . . I'm sorry. The canvases I have been painting are bigger than normal; the best way to take pictures of them is to hang them up outside on the garage door. But it's been raining and/or cloudy every day so I've been trying to take pictures of the canvases in the studio and it's not really working out very well. Hope you all get the general idea, at least.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

. . . heard great news

The rep that peddles my art called me yesterday and told me that he had sold all of my art and that he needed more, lots more. If that's true, it means that he sold all the little odds and ends, pieces that I gave him with very little hope that they would sell, experimental pieces of collage and printmaking. . . amazing. There were 34 pieces in all.
Above is another painting I finished on Monday. It's not as big as the others, because I was running out of canvas. It's probably 24 x 24. I have a new piece ready to paint today on new canvas. I tried some experimentation on two small canvases, and suffice it to say, I probably won't use those experiments soon. . . they were total flops. I tried to tint the venetian plaster and basically paint with it. I ended up with mud. Or really, something like chocolate pudding. I know what I did wrong. . . I couldn't wait for it to dry before using new colors. That's always my problem. I think I will continue to experiment on small pieces of leftover canvas while I am waiting for the bigger pieces to dry.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

. . . painted, read, slept

I spent my birthday doing whatever I wanted. . . so I painted a while, took a nap, painted some more, and read a lot. It was a cold rainy day, very atypical of Kansas in September. Just the kind of day made for indoor activities, or in my case, nonactivities.
The above painting got finished yesterday. It is of course based on one of my photographs, and it's about 30 x 30. I tried a crackling technique on the top part of it, and it worked out pretty well. The white may need a bit of toning down. . .
The next few paintings I do are going to be small and experimental. . . I have something in mind, and I want to try it out before I commit large amounts of canvas to it. I'm excited at the prospect of trying something new.
I may have to go to Zip's store today to paint furniture. I have almost decided it is not financially advantageous to continue to do this. . . it would be different if I truly enjoyed painting furniture. . . I'm still weighing the pros and cons.

Monday, September 8, 2008

. . . grew older overnight

Yep, today's my birthday. Thanks, Mom, for having me. And don't think for a moment that I really look like this, because I don't and I won't. Short of surgery, I'll keep trying everything to "look good for my age." I don't really feel like I'm any older, because for this entire year I have told people that I was 58, when I was really only 57. I got confused. . .

My kids came through for me again. They gave me an IPOD dock to go along with the IPOD they gave me for Mother's Day, so now I don't have to plug in the little earbuds to hear my music. It is a cunning little circular thing about the size of a flour tortilla, but thicker. The sound is amazing for such a little thing. Very portable, can take it with me almost anywhere. Love it. Thanks, kids, for being such good kids.

My sister is supposed to come to town today and we will go have lunch and maybe shop a little. I know my mom will call me, and so will my other sister in Michigan. I doubt that my brothers will give my birthday any thought at all. . . that's why sisters are the best.

On the art front, I purchased a DVD, "Inkjet Transfer Techniques: Gelatin and Gel Transfer Processes for Alternative Photography and Fine Art" by Bonny Pierce Lhotka, put out by Digital Art Studio Seminars. The processes all look like great fun and the possibilities for using my digitals photographs in new ways are intriguing. The only problem is that you need to use special inkjet film to produce the results, and that stuff is EXPENSIVE. Plus you have to use certain printers with certain inks, or have your photographs printed by a lab or something. One of the processes uses Purell Hand Sanitizer. . . amazing that someone would have thought to use that product.

Also, being old and all, I have avoided for the most part anything on You Tube, but this weekend I discovered that there are all sorts of art demonstrations on it. . . I enjoyed watching some of them and loved how these artists are all experimenters and embrace the randomness of art. I must loosen up. . .

Sunday, September 7, 2008

. . . saw the ballet

with Betsy and Stephanie. Betsy was just a spark of sunshine in the gray rainy day, with her pretty dress and her colorful umbrella.

The ballet was a cleaned-up PC version of "Peter and the Wolf", where the wolf is not shot and hauled off, like it was when I was a kid. . . instead the wolf is captured and taken to the zoo. As the procession of hunters and Peter led the wolf by a rope, it appeared to break loose and came out into the audience, where it ran down the aisle and growled ferociously right in Betsy's face. . . maybe that will be something she remembers and tells her grandchildren, just like I remembered my first rather terrifying experience with Peter and the wolf.

After the performance, the kids had an opportunity to meet and visit with the ballerinas. Here's Betsy checking out the duck, who is sitting next to the wolf. Unfortunately for the duck, the wolf eats her alive, but the duck comes back as an angel duck, complete with halo.

Then we went for a brief shopping trip on the Plaza, and Betsy invited me home to eat with her. Her mommy had fixed "a whole lot of asagna" and there was plenty for me. We sang Betsy's favorite songs on the way back to her house: "Rocky Top", the Tennesse fight song (for some reason?); "Islands in the Stream", Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton; "Doughnut Make My Brown Eyes Blue", Crystal Gayle. The CDs were volumed up and we blasted out whatever lyrics we could remember.

Completely wonderful afternoon. . .

Saturday, September 6, 2008

. . . dusted and cleaned

all the furniture in the store on Thursday. I swore Zip to secrecy because I don't do that at home and I don't want anyone to know that I can perform that sort of task. The picture above shows a cute little handmade game table. . . I have always admired people who work with wood. . . my husband's grandfather was quite the woodworker and there are many beautiful things in both our house and my mother-in-law's house that he produced.

I really like this oatmeal colored chair and ottoman. . . nowhere for me to put it except maybe Matt's house. . .

Above is the beautiful dining table with twelve chairs. . . you need to have a huge dining room for this set. . . but it's gorgeous and in perfect condition.

Here are a couple of rustic trunks. . . the bottom one had apparently been used as a toy box, because it still contained a number of plastic miniature cowboys and Indians. . . the kind that my little brother (who is now 53) used to take to bed with him. . . there's a funny story about that, but I won't embarrass him. I have more scruples than he does. . .

And here is my little cubby. . . since I took the picture, I have dusted the shelves and organized the paint. One of my next projects is the white chest. . . in fact, there are two of them. But don't be fooled by the picture. These things are filthy and in need of rescue. Zip also let me know that we had sold an armoire that I had painted and that some out-of-control toddler had run a small metal table into one of my painted pieces and scratched it.

Today I will go with Betsy and Stephanie to Betsy's "school" to see Peter and the Wolf, or as Betsy says, we are going to the opera. She called me this morning to tell me that "no adults were allowed on the stage, only kids" and that the last time she went she "wasn't even scared." I remember seeing Peter and the Wolf when I wasn't much older than Betsy, and I remember being very afraid of the wolf.

Friday, September 5, 2008

. . . worked in retail?

Here are some goodies from the shopthat, I guess, is now officially open. There are a couple of these cool chairs. . . modern but pretty classic, I think.

There is a wide variety of furniture and accessories: pretty rugs, tables everywhere, urns, chests, beds and bedframes. . .

a gorgeous white down sofa that you probably wouldn't want if you have kids around anywhere, but delightful to sit in. . .

Some really cool old stuff, like this beautiful walnut chest . . . as well as some mid-century modern stuff, like an entire dining set in blond wood. I really really hate that '50s stuff, because I remember it from my childhood all too well. But apparently it's fashionable again. . .

And this lovely little piece. . . destined, I hope, to be a gift for my mother for some reason or other. . . it's a mirror on a swivel hook. I can just see this hanging by a door. . . you check your face before you go out, apply a little lipstick maybe, then swing the mirror part around and you have this side facing outward, with no hint of a mirror in sight.

More goodies arrive every week, maybe even every day. Zip was still unloading stuff yesterday. The plan is to arrange a series of rooms to showcase the furniture. . . we created a spot for an oriental-style bedroom yesterday. That was pretty fun. . . kind of like shopping without spending money.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

. . . loved, hated it

I can't decide. . . when I was finished with this, I thought I hated it. . . it looks like a big black egg with no frame of reference. It was inspired by one of my photographs. . . but I may want to add some elements. I almost didn't post it.
Then I took it up to my brown and white dining room and put it up on the wall. It looked surprisingly good up there. In fact, one could consider the dark egg to be "whimsical" if one wanted to. The more I look at it, the more I think it could have deeper hidden meanings, if one were disposed to search for those sorts of things. . .
I have figured something out, though. . . someone will absolutely hate this painting, no matter what I do to it. And someone else will absolutely love it. . . When my NY contact was here, it was amazing. . . my favorite paintings were his least favorite and vice versa.
No purging yesterday. . . just cleaned up the kitchen. Today I meet with Zip at the store and start hauling in my furniture painting supplies. I hope to get some pictures to show you tomorrow because I doubt I will be painting at home today. . .

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

. . . painted and purged

The studio/basement clean-up continued yesterday. To the left of my painting table is a set of bookshelves where I put all the books I've read. I straightened that area up a bit, packed a box of books to take to the Salvation Army, put my comfortable chair, ottoman and lamp there. I stashed all my old paintings on wood that I did a few years ago. I did all this between painting the above. It's based on one of my photographs from the July 4 outing. It's more or less 40 x 40. . . I took the picture above just a few minutes ago, and the color is pretty close to the original, but it's a dark and cloudy day with no good light anywhere that won't cast a shadow. I have another 48 x 48 prepped and ready to be painted, and plenty more mess to clean up today while it rains.
Do you have any idea what Citra-Solv will do to styrofoam? I had some of that stuff in the studio because I had read that you could do image transfers with it. I hadn't tried it, but I decided to use it to clean stuff down there. I thought it did a good job, and it sure smelled good. I left the rag that I had used to clean on my painting surface, which is a 4' x 8' piece of pink insulation foam on two sawhorses. Yesterday I tried to move the rag and it was stuck to the foam. I tugged on it and it came up with pieces of the pink foam. The Citra-Solv had eaten away a chunk of the foam in the shape of the rag. And where I had put the bottle, the stuff that had dripped down created a perfect oval outlining the shape of the bottle. Just something to file away for a later time. . . I'm sure there are art possibilities in knowing this. But wow, that Citra-Solv is sure potent. The only place I have ever been able to buy it around here is at Whole Foods, and it is touted as green, organic, natural, and it is expensive. I will make sure to dilute it even more than I did when I use it again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

. . . started the purge

Here is another painting I recently completed. It's not based on anything, not inspired by any of my photographs. It was just random application of colors, then working it, working it. . . layers of painting, wiping off layers of paint, making random marks in the surface and on the surface, etc. But it just took me one day to complete it. It was supposed to be 40 x 40, but like an idiot, I measure the canvas and cut it to 40 x 40, so now the painting is about 35 x 35.

I have been holding on to "art supplies". . . used paper towels, used tape, bits and pieces of paper, packing materials, pieces of wood, you name it, I've kept it. But yesterday it struck me that I would never ever use most of what I had kept. . . I won't live long enough. So the purge has begun. Another reason was that I could not find a pencil in the mess of my stuff. So I have cleaned both painting tables, underneath one of the tables, the bank of drawers and a cabinet. I have barely made a dent in the mess. I loaded up three large trash bags, with probably another two or three bagsful of trash on the floor waiting to be picked up. This purge will take me forever. . . I hope I don't run out of steam and quit, because the basement studio mess is an inefficient and unattractive place to work or play as it is.

Monday, September 1, 2008

. . . did family things

Everyone went to the farm yesterday. . .

where my mother-in-law lives. . .

Betsy modeled the latest in chapeau couture that she found in the house. . .

then she took over the camera and caught Omi (my mom) wearing the hat. . .

and Greatgran (Steve's mom) wearing a cunning little felt & mink number. Mom is 80, Betty is 82, I think (she forgets, actually celebrated her 80th birthday two years in a row.) We all ate fried chicken and potato salad and mushrooms and cherry pie.