Thursday, May 28, 2009

. . . disputed the notion

that this blog was about art. . . Monday's post was a soap opera. Yes, it was for some reason a very hard day for me, and I would like to thank every one that commented, because as you all know, it helps to realize that one is not unique. . . or alone. . . and that others have gone through similar circumstances and have emerged as good as ever.

Browsing at the bookstore yesterday, I came across a book that told how to deal with unexpected crises in life. I thumbed through it, came across a bold print heading: "Denial is not a river in Egypt." I am so much in denial that I didn't read that portion, put the book down, and did not buy it. Inertia, ennui, laziness, and denial. . . pretty well sums up my mindset at the moment. But I know I'll get over it. I just have to.

Here is a lousy shot of my red painting, the third in the cruciform series. Is three a series? Despite my efforts to straighten out the picture, it is probably even more crooked than it was when I took it. But I did want to show the red portion, because honestly, it just glows. Many layers of different reds, with glazes mixed in, painted in the "Betsy style" of heavy applications of paint smeared around and mixed on the surface. I spent way too much time yesterday driving around looking for four stretcher bars, each 36" long. Wouldn't you think that places advertising themselves as art supply stores would have those? Couldn't find them, all out of stock. When I do get those stretcher bars, this painting will go over my family room fireplace, along with the others that have piled up.

I love the internet and blogs. . . I didn't realize how fortunate I was to have such supportive friends, and again, I thank all of you who commented. You will never know how much it helped me. Love to all. . .

Monday, May 25, 2009

. . . couldn't believe myself

Seriously. . . how could I be more boring? I have nothing to show for my time. No garden pictures, no other photographs. No art, except this little piece of foamcore that I worked on a while back. The red painting I was working on is stuck. . . something is missing and I can't get it right, so I've put it aside for a while. I haven't posted here forever, and imagine, I used to post every single day. I have sold no art; I have not listed the house for sale; I have made no effort to find a job. Friends and family ask me, "What are you doing?" My stock answer recently has been "I don't know what I'm doing, so I'm not doing anything." I keep waiting for a sign, some mental clarification, some good old fashion gumption. Perhaps it came, while I was asleep. I'm afraid to make any decisions because they could be wrong, especially when I change my mind almost daily about all kinds of things. Selling and house and looking for a job seem hopeless in this economy.

For those of you who do not know, my husband moved out of the house at the end of January. He is not coming back (my decision). I have not said much about it here because the woman he lives with reads this blog. But I don't care any more. He has many problems, but the one that currently affects me the most is the fact that he has no job. I am spending my savings to keep up with daily living expenses, and I'm running out. I have filed for a divorce, after being married for 38 years, but my attorney is hesitant to finalize it until such time as my husband is gainfully employed so that he can contribute to my care and feeding. My kids are pissed off, to say the least, at their father, but also seemingly at me, too. The babies miss their Papa. The rest of my family is supportive, but the entire subject is like the huge elephant in the middle of the room that everyone is trying to ignore. I am not accustomed to doing things by myself, but I'm trying to learn. I don't like being the fifth wheel, the extra, the poor ol' Aunt Mary that everyone is feeling sorry for. And of all the shitty things that my soon-to-be-ex has done, the worst is that he took his girlfriend to meet his mother while she was in the hospital. Take my husband, if you must, but leave the rest of the family alone.

I never expected to find myself in this situation. I am sad that I will never go to Europe with my husband; that we will not celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary; that our family dynamic will never ever be the same as it was. I am going to be poor. . . seriously poor. . . and soon. I've been broke before, but I was young and hopeful, healthy and optimistic that things would be better someday. I only have a limited number of "somedays" ahead of me, and it's scary as hell.

I didn't mean to spill my guts here, but perhaps this all explains my total lack of activity here and elsewhere. I have always done what it takes to makes things better for my family; I'm wondering why I'm finding it difficult to do the same for myself.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

. . . couldn't stay inside

. . . the weather is just too great. I did put another layer on the painting that I'm working on, but it hasn't changed enough to make a great deal of difference. This photo is one of the peonies that bloomed but was battered by the storms that came through here while I was in St. Louis. All my roses are about to bloom. . . it will be amazing when the buds finally open. Soon enough it will be unbearably hot and I will retreat to my cool basement and paint and clean it up, but I am going to enjoy this beautiful weather while I can.

Monday, May 18, 2009

. . . attended two graduations

this weekend. A van full of family, including me, left for St. Louis Friday morning. My nephew Sean Patrick McManus graduated from St. Louis University. We went to the business school's ceremony on Friday evening, partied with the families and kids at the hotel Friday night, and attended commencement ceremonies on Saturday morning. After touring the campus, we piled back into the van and left for home. Thanks to my brother and his family for the ride, and to my sister and her husband for the lodgings and parties.

On Sunday I went back "home" to attend the high school graduation of my niece Hannah Grace Buenger, who was co-valedictorian. Afterwards we attended a party for Hannah and ate great food, watched Betsy and Joe steal the show, and now finally I'm home again, ready to hibernate a bit and recover from the busy weekend. Joe and Betsy rode back home with me yesterday. Here's a bit of the backseat conversation with Betsy:

Nana, did you know we have a parrot? . . . No, I've never seen it, where is it? . . . We keep it in the attic. In fact, Nana, the whole attic is just stuffed with parrots. They're invisible, though. No one can see them. . . Do they ever get out of the attic?. . . Ack-shu-lee, Nana, sometimes they come in my room, at night. . . What do you do when they come to your room?. . . I feed them.

Waiting to be picked up on Friday morning, all ready to go, all dressed and prettied up as much as it is possible for me to be, I decided I had enough time to start another painting. Above is the canvas with the first application of paint. I was so damned careful. . . but I should have known better. . . paint on the sleeve of my sweater, transferred to my shorts. Not too bad, probably noticeable only to me. Pitiful.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

. . . refused to quit

although sometimes it seems the odds are stacked against me. I have been painting, as evidenced by the photos on this post. Above is part pf one I have been working on lately. . . and below is one that I have completed and stretched (poorly, but temporarily.) These are not as textured as some of my previous paintings. I have been dumping, splattering, playing with paint and colors more than textures.

I received a rather hopeless call from my art rep. Poor guy, hasn't sold much of anything, he tells me. The gallery on the Plaza is closing down at the end of June and the art auction guy is giving me back seven paintings and the rest he wants to stretch and frame because they just don't present well flat and unstretched. I realized that when I saw them at the first auction, which is part of why I have started to stretch my paintings now. Besides, I can hang them around the house if no one else wants them.

I know the economy sucks. I know people are not spending money, especially on items that won't feed or shelter their families. I know that even people who have jobs and money to spare are scared that could just be a temporary situation. But sometimes I think that maybe my art sucks more than the economy. Not naturally being an optimist, it surprises me that my inclination now is to view the situation as a benefit: I will use this time as learning, experimenting, getting better, without having any pressure to sell anything. I keep thinking something good is bound to happen sooner or later. . .

Monday, May 11, 2009

. . . went home Saturday

to visit my mother. Is where you grew up always going to be "home"? It was a lovely calm day; my sister and one of my brothers was there, along with Christopher, my nephew. We took a walk to see the neighborhood gardens, ventured "downtown" to see what was going on (nothing) and ate cheesecake and had coffee (with a bit of wine earlier.)

When I was growing up, downtown on Saturday was a busy time. . . my dad's store stayed open late and the grocery stores, variety stores, drugstores, clothing and shoe stores, all did brisk business. Kids congregated at one of the two drugstores for cherry limeades or vanilla cokes, farmers came to town to do whatever farmers did in town. The many "pool halls" were always busy. But now, you could shoot a rocket from one end of Market Street to the other and not hit anything.

A few months ago, a fire destroyed two buildings downtown, and they have been torn down, leaving a blank space in the middle of a block of attached buildings. I only got a few shots of the remaining walls before my camera's batteries went out. The top photo is of another building, across the street from the fire-damaged area, and it seems that someone is trying to restore the exterior. Another building nearby was constructed in 1886, so this one is probably about as old.
Matt took me to brunch on Sunday, and it was lovely. Betsy called me last night to tell me they had just come from the beach to watch the sun set into the water, but had failed to see the green flash that apparently happens sometimes. I talked with Stef, too, but Joey was busy and didn't want to visit. Betsy had called me before they left for Florida and had wondered if I would cry because they were leaving. I asked her if she wanted me to cry, and she giggled and said yes. I asked her how long she wanted me to cry, and she said "Until we come home." I asked how long that would be and she said seven days. I promised that I would do my best to cry the whole time they were gone, through all the TV shows that she likes, through grocery shopping, even while I slept. She was giggling pretty much nonstop by the time we ended that conversation.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

. . . browsed the magazines?

Here are some interesting pieces of art from the "Veranda" magazine, June 2009 issue. If you go to the website you will find additional artwork. Attribution is listed when provided in the article. This first picture features a home in the Low Country of South Carolina. The article provides no information about either the six framed pieces on one wall, the small painting on an easel on the table, or the piece on the adjacent wall. Nicely posed. . . I will need to find a pair of riding boots, some canes, and a fedora to stage my home for sale.

A Nashville designer decided to recreate an 16th Century Italian villa for her home. This painting is by Carroll Dunham. This painting probably wasn't in a 16th Century Italian villa, although I could be wrong.

Unfortunately I cut off the top of this double spread when I scanned it. This is a triptych by Susan Sales. By coincidence, I found Susan Sales's web page a few weeks ago and bookmarked it. I am gratified to learn that Susan is a self-taught artist. Visit her site and see more of her work.

This work of art amuses me greatly. The picture is part of an ad by Ebanista ("a superlative collection of extraordinary furnishings and objets d'art.") How is that thing supported up there? I just know it would fall down and crush someone if it were in my house. Maybe it's made out of styrofoam . . .

Off to do mother's day things today. . . still painting a bit every day, in a different manner than usual. I am enjoying the process, trying not to think about its marketability. Just spreading paint, seeing what I come up with, then making adjustments and improvements.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

. . . tried painting again?

Watching little Betsy paint on Sunday really opened my eyes. Inspired by her application of thick paint, I began doing the same randomly on a canvas, using a pallette knife. I'm making things up as I go along. I'm trying to create something different than my usual. . . I don't know if it will be any good at all, or even if it will turn out any different, but I'm trying to paint like Betsy. These are pictures of portions of the work in progress, the more frantic portions. I recently read somewhere that you can have too much texture in a canvas.

I believe I have mentioned before that I get message from the Daily Ohm. Sometimes it's scary to get these messages, because they are exactly what I need to hear at that particular time. Here's what I got last week (with apologies to anyone who also got it and has already read it):
The quiet lull into we which we fall between ideas, projects, and goals can make
life seem empty. After accomplishing one objective, you may want to move
immediately on to the next. However, when your next step is unclear, you may
feel frustrated, disconnected, or even a mild depression. You may even perceive
your lack of forward momentum as an indicator of imminent stagnation. To calm
these distressing thoughts, try to accept that if your intent is personal
growth, you will continue to grow as an individual whether striving for a
specific objective or not. Spending time immersed in life’s rigors and pleasures
can be a cathartic experience that gives you the time you need to think about
what you have recently gone through and leisurely contemplate what you wish to
do next. You may also find that in simply being and going through the motions of
everyday life, you reconnect with your priorities in a very organic, unforced

I have been "leisurely contemplat(ing) what (I) wish to do next." Now I needn't feel like a lazy bum about it. It really is a growth spurt.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

. . . discovered emerging artist?

On Sunday, I picked Betsy up at her house and we took off for the Brookside Art Annual, leaving Joey screaming in his mother's arms because he wanted to go, too. Not to the art show, just anywhere . . . We get to the show and at the second booth we meet up with the obligatory grouchy artist guy who growls at Betsy not to touch anything, even though she was still a few feet away. At all the following tents, if I even come close to a painting or piece of art, Betsy's telling me "Don't touch, Nana." After the show, we took off for the bookstore. . .

At Barnes and Noble, Betsy finds two scrapbook-type books, one for Hannah Montanna and the other for High School Musical. She asks if she can have those books. She also tells me that we will leave the books at Nana's house, and asks me not to tell her mother that she has these books, because her mother thinks they are too old for Betsy. Okay, why not, what are grandmothers for anyway? The we hit Wendy's for our usual lunch out with Nana. Then home. Inspire perhaps by the art fair, Betsy asks to paint. We set up a small table and chair in the driveway, get out tons of paper, some craft paints, numerous brushes, a smock (my old T-shirt) and a glass of water. Betsy, like her grandmother, has a penchant for the color red, in any of its permutations. I watched her smear the paint on thickly, indiscriminantly, with abandon, no thought of whether it's good or not. Just to see the colors. Here are some of her works. Betsy was proud to learn about monoprinting. . . the top painting is a monoprint of the second painting. The third is my favorite of all . . . it looks like a flower to me. Betsy's mom like this one best, too.

Joey brought his parents to the house for supper, along with Uncle Matt, and we ate hamburgers, rode bikes, played in the yard, and they took a long shower and made shaving cream tea and crumpets in the shower. I was happy that during supper Betsy whispered to her mother that she had picked out the Hannah Montanna and High School Musical books. The books were indeed left at Nana's but Mommy didn't get mad. Such a full day, and I learned something about art, too.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

. . . abstracted the garden?

Okay, this first picture is not really abstract, but I thought it was pretty cool. In the middle of the sunken brick patio out in the yard, there is an urn on a pedestal. Every year I try out different unusual combinations of plants. This year, the area is becoming more shady as the little trees around the patio have grown, and my urn contains a large autumn fern, a beautiful begonia, and a couple of coleus, among other plants. I guess it could be abstract. . . it's all about texture variations, color, and shape.

This is a hosta leaf, up close and personal.

and this is one of my favorite pictures. It's a rock on the garden path. Something sat on this rock for the entire winter, and apparently the shrubs around the rock sent out roots that wander over the surface of the rock.

No peony pictures today, although there's a dynamite purple one in full bloom right now. To combat the deer that have come back, eating the tips of the rose bushes, I sprayed Liquid Fence yesterday. The sprayer jammed, and I got the stuff all over my hands. I still smell it, despite repeated hand washings. It must work, because not one deer has approached me.

Friday, May 1, 2009

. . . completed yard work

Yes, I'm done, except for the regular mowing. . . everything is clean out, raked, put away, thrown away, given away, fixed up, painted and set up. My reward is getting to see the new peonies blooming. The pretty one above is the only bud on that particular tree peony so of course I had to take a picture of it. Two years ago there was a killing frost that nipped some of the tree peonies and they didn't bloom that year at all. Last year they were still recovering and didn't bloom very much. I hope they are getting healthier every year.

This little tree peony was planted just last year and this year it has many blooms and buds. Don't you love the yellow color? We have had rain almost every day this week, almost five inches since Sunday, so the garden is growing fast, as is the grass. Everything looks lush. The roses, regular peonies, and irises should bloom soon, too.

Of the eight houses on my cul de sac, four are or will be for sale this summer. One family is moving to a multi-million dollar home they are building just a few blocks away. Another family is moving to Colorado, and a couple who live in a third house are moving to Savannah. And there's me. And that doesn't include the foreclosure that sold a couple of months ago, bringing down everyone's house values because it counts as a comparable sale. I have the biggest and best back yard, but not everyone wants a big back yard or a beautiful garden. The exteriors are pretty much similar but the interiors are all over the place. . . from very formal to contemporary to traditional to hodge-podge. Guess which one is mine. Tomorrow is the Brookside Art Fair, and I'm hoping Betsy will go with me again this year. And it's First Friday in the Crossroad District and the Power & Light District tonight. And the Art-Bidz aution is tomorrow night. And the urban homes tour is Saturday and Sunday. Lots of stuff going on this weekend.