Friday, December 24, 2010

. . . can relax today

so I wish everyone happy holidays and a restful and creative weekend.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

. . . turned up again

. . . just when everyone thought I was probably gone for good. It has been a very hectic few weeks trying to move into my new house and get settled, and keep working at the day job. And, I will admit, it has been a difficult time, financially, emotionally, and in almost every other manner I can think of. But now it's done, or mostly done, and I have settled into the little cottage. I tried very hard not to bring with me a lot of extraneous stuff. I wanted to keep only those things that had a special meaning to me, or were beautiful and functional, functional being the key in this tiny space. I think I was only semi-successful. It's cozy and comfortable, safe and close to work. It didn't turn out to be the cool clean modern city/loft space I had envisioned, but that's okay. I've always read about rooms had stacks and piles of books everywhere, and I thought that sounded wonderful. But I learned I don't like all that clutter. All my electronic equipment is hooked up and working, so I have the computer, the television, and my music. All my family and kids' pictures are in place, too. The closets are crammed and I can see that I will need to do a serious wardrobe edit soon. Under the bed is truly a great storage space, and those Spacebags are perfect. . . I wish I had thought of them. I am working on turning the basement into my studio but that's going to take a while. In the meantime, I have been working on a canvas but it's stumped me, and I'm going to move on to something else today.

So basically, I feel like maybe once again I've avoided the wrecking ball (oh, what a tie-in to the pictures.) I made some good contacts yesterday about both my art and my photography, and met some interesting new people, so I'm feeling hopeful about the future. Christmas is less than a week away, and the girl presents I have to buy are all ready; it's the boys that just puzzle me and I have no idea yet what to get. That's one of today's projects.

Soon I hope to again post new art here. For everyone that actually reads and enjoys my rumblings and ramblings, have a peaceful and creative holiday season. Love to all . . . Mary

Saturday, October 23, 2010

. . .jumbled a post

That is what I am offering today. . . a mixed bag of stuff I found browsing around my own picture files. I have so many photos of cool shapes and colors and grungey junky things that I could post every day for years just on what is already on the computer.

I have been very busy lately. Going crazy. I may have stopped myself, but I think it's just temporary. I could blow any minute. First, I finally quit smoking. On or about my birthday. The patch is a lifesaver. Perhaps not the best time to make this move. . . lots of stress here. but so what else is new? And I don't feel like I've quit. I feel like sucking up any second-hand smoke I can find. . . I feel like I could light one up at any minute and never look back. But so far, so good.

(Isn't this just the coolest picture?) I decided to beat the repossessors and get out of the house before they put all my stuff on the front lawn in the middle of December. So I rented a teeny tiny little place much much closer to work. I don't know what to do with all the stuff I can't take with me. But the house is cute. It has everything I require: a shower, a dishwasher, a basement, a garage with an automatic door, and a yard and garden, in what I hpe is a safe neighborhood. It also has a kitchen which I plan to paint today, a dinky little living room, two rooms that claim to be bedrooms, and actually quite a bit of closet space. The very best part for me, anyway, is the little terrace and the garden spaces. Everything I own that goes outdoors gets to move with me. It also has a Jacuzzi. . . can you beat that? Think I can become a Jacuzzi user? Can't quite picture it but . . .

My deepest sincerest thanks to Walter the Art Guy for coming through which enough scratch to pay for my first and last month rent and for a mover to relocate some of the bigger stuff, which happens on Monday. Above is one of the canvases Walter took with him last Saturday. Must have been in somewhat less of a frantic mood when I painted it. I am officially on vacation for the rest of the week from my day job, plus I get to take care of Betsy on Thursday and Friday. She told me she had received her very first report card in her whole life and it lots of plusses and check marks, but she needed to work on tying her shoes. I do so remember how hard it was to learn that particular skill, and also how hard it was to teach it to my kids. That, and blowing bubblegum bubbles and whistling.

Okay, this is the calm before the storm. . . let's go paint a kitchen.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

. . . disliked big crowds

Then I should not have gone to the Plaza Art Fair on Friday, the first night. It was people cram-packed, shoulder to shoulder, with dogs, kids in strollers, mood-enhancing drinks if one were lucky enough to get close to a place that dispensed them. People were not there to see art, because no one could get close to it, either. I have mere impressions of the art. . . from a distance and through a slight buzz of wine. But it did seem to me that there were more abstracts this year than I have seen in prior years. Does that reflect more interest on the part of the purchasing public or the preference of the jurists of the show?

Speaking of the purchasing public, Walter my art guy called early in the week. He was absolutely ebullient, and if you had shared Walter's phone calls with me for the past couple of years, you would know that "ebullient" is not a word that usually describes Walter. He had sold several pieces. . . what recession?? Then he called a couple of nights later, and he had sold even more. Bless his heart. "Paint, Mary, paint," he urged.

I have been painting, finishing up on average one piece per week. The one above is entitled "that troublesome blue one." Is it finished? Don't know, they aren't ever finished until they leave here. This was inspired by a scrap sitting on my table. The scrap is probably better, but I imagine it would be hard to sell a 2" x 2" torn piece of paper.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

. . . were extremely pleased

with myself. I'm 5'9" usually, unless I've shrunk, which I guess is a possibility. Yesterday I bought a pair of boots with the highest skinniest heel I could find. They are wonderful, and I'm as tall as an Amazon. And the boots are comfortable. Seriously, the heels are lethal weapons. I can't wait until I can wear them with my skinny jeans.

Oh, dear. . . it sounds like I'm having an over-reaction to my birthday. Nothing as disgusting as an old lady trying too hard. Maybe I'll have to re-evaluate . . .

Above, kind of a happy accident.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

. . . neglected this blog

but you all know how it is. . . sometimes things are just so bad you don't want to even think about them, and other times, things are just so good that you can't tell about them. Somewhere in between there, I have managed to make some art. The painting above is one of the latest. See those little circular things interspersed among the scratches? I knew those depleted calculator paper rolls would be useful for something. I semi-woke up one morning and staggered down to the basement, grabbed a pencil and a pastel stick, and wildly marked all over this canvas. And I liked it, and the marks stayed.

So for my next magic trick, I'm going to try Kerr Grabowski's deconstructed screen printing. I bought her DVD and have been studying it. I bought the appropriate dyes, ordered the sodium alginate, got some printing paper, and mixed up the pastes and the dyes. I purchased one screen, which is going to be too big for what I have in mind, but I've made several smaller ones out of foam core, so I'm ready to rock and roll. Except I can't find my gloves, and I learned when I mixed that dye that gloves are a necessity. Most of what was on the DVD was about dyeing fabric, which may come in handy someday, but mostly I'm interested using the process in my painting, most likely on paper. I am so attracted to the randomness of the deconstructed screen printing process, but I think I like the regular old screen printing process, too. And mixing the pastes and dyes. . . well, I felt like a happily crazy mad scientist.

This week I celebrated my 60th birthday. Unfortunately, I wasn't in Europe with my sisters, as we had once discussed. We could have done some damage in Europe, I think, and I am certainly in the mood. Now we'll have to wait until one of them turns 60. And I win the lottery.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

. . . boogied at midnight?

There are some definite benefits to living alone. Oh, forget about the house being in foreclosure, the IRS's idle threats, the lack of money, my inability to sell my house or find another place to live that I can afford; or the worldly possessions I'm shoveling out of here faster than they came in . . . I can't do anything about any of that. So I dance in the dark.

Last night I had to reprogram my Ipod and after a lot of messing around, I got it going again. And shortly after 12:00 I found myself dancing all by myself to a rousing blasting version of Opus 17 (Don't You Worry About Me) by the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Okay, so you know I must be pretty old to enjoy that song, but I surely did. That is not something that would have happened BEFORE. I might have disturbed someone.

I can eat salad for supper every single night. . . or Fritos and salsa. . . or Dove chocolate and pecan ice cream. I can paint at 5:00 in the morning. I can have a shower-optional day and lounge on my deck and read for five straight hours without anyone making me do anything at all. I can wander over to the neighbors' house and visit for as long as they let me. I can go out for a drink after work (if only someone would ask me). I can leave here whenever I want to and come home whenever I want to and I don't have to check in or out with anyone.

"I'll be strong, I'll try to carry on. . . so don't you worry 'bout me."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

. . . shared my experiments

I've been experimenting, as maybe you know if you read this blog, and finally I have actually come up with some stuff that might work. Being frugal from necessity, I have save many a shop paper towel, as well as many pieces of deli wrap paper that I use in my monoprinting experiments, and just odds and ends of different kinds of surfaces upon which to paint. I have been trying to figure out a way to incorporate some of the deli paper because it has great impressions on it. I guess what I'm doing is a combination of monoprinting and using acrylic skins. The picture above shows what happens when I spread a thin layer of gloss gel medium on a paper shop towel and adhere a piece of deli wrap to it until the medium dries. Then yank off the deli paper and, Bob's your uncle, there you have it. The black parts are from the deli paper. The paint from the deli paper just transfers itself to the shop towel. . . amazing, isn't it? I'm sure someone has thought of this before, but leave me to my "invention," humor me, okay? Additionally, the gloss gel medium gives the paper towel some strength and an almost leather-like texture. I love it.

This is the same technique but on just a piece of pretty heavy scrap paper. This one has three different layers of deli paper leavings.

And here's yet another sample, where the white part is the transferred portion. Gesso works really well with this method, by the way.

The experiments went a bit awry with this one. Instead of the deli paper, I used saran wrap with the gloss gel medium. Let me just say that I learned that saran wrap will stick to paper with medium. The black is what was on the saran wrap. I can't tell if it transferred, but it doesn't really matter.

And this one. . . the black and the blue parts were transferred from deli paper. I might add that the gel medium will also dry into the cracks, creases and crevices of the deli paper, adding an interesting texture.

Now, here is what hasn't worked, yet: Transfers on both sides of a baby wipe (still isn't dry after three days) and transfers to a piece of gessoed canvas (a bit drier, but still pretty wet). Both of those are big gooey messes at the moment. I keep you posted if I discover anything else.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

. . . defined the darkness

No, not the blackness of my soul, or the depths of a bad mood. No, the definition of darkness is a Target store in the middle of a torrential downpour when the lights go out.

Matt and I were in Target last evening when that happened. Some people shrieked; toddlers cried; one beautiful young girl used the time wisely to jump into her boyfriend's sheltering arms, cringeing in happy fear. I didn't see that until the lights came back on, but he looked a bit disappointed not to have had a longer time playing the hero.

The 30% possibility of showers became very hurricane-like. Apparently 60-mile-per-hour winds and hail accompanied driving rain. I was happy to be off the roads. When I got home, there was a huge limb blocking my driveway, and the the neighbors were busily using their chainsaw to cut it up. Well, it was their tree, after all, so it only seemed fair.

Here are some more blunderings. . . maybe that's the name of a series??? I'm really into monoprinting. Well, I think that's what I'm doing, anyway. Lots of blotting up paint from one surface to another. Using deli paper, cardboard, matboard, old office file folders, plastic wrap, plastic bags from the grocery store, baby wipes.

Without having to judge each piece on its monetary value, I feel pretty good about loving some of these happy accidents. I was going to say they were completely random, but they are not. . . I still choose the colors, the combinations, the direction in which I apply the blots of paint, and the parts to leave alone.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

. . . blundered around aimlessly

in my studio. Not as frequently as I would like, but I'm still just experimenting. These pictures are the results of some recent blundering. . .

Every day I feel less and less like an artist, and more and more like a corporate drone. And it pisses me off, because it took a long time for me to actually admit to myself, and to others, that I was an artist. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be gainfully employed. I do like to eat.

These are just some small samples of my black and white with two other colors experiments.

Maybe everyone has already discovered this foam stuff that you heat up with a hair dryer or a heat gun, and then press the foam into whatever kind of texture you may have at hand. That's what I did with a bunch of washers I had laying around. I used the foam to stamp on this piece. If you get tired of whatever is on the foam, you heat it up again and the imprint disappears. And, it's cheap, too.

I go down to the studio to start some pieces, thinking that while they dry, I'll start packing up the art supplies I won't be needing, at least for a while. But I never seem to be able to start that project. I'm in complete denial, I guess. As good a place as any to live, if you ask me. Of course, the reality of the situation, when it becomes irrevocable, is really going to bite, as they say. Oh, well, at least I will have had a few peaceful weeks.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

. . . were truly amazed

I was headed for a meltdown the other evening. My attitude was bordering on self-pity. . . I felt a hint of a tear in the corner of my eye. Hysteria was looming. As a remedy, my daughter suggested that I join a gym, or, at the very least, become a member of a book club. Oh, Stephanie, you know me better than that; me at a gym? It is to laugh. I am not a joiner, not since high school, when I signed up for everything to get out of class as often as possible. I am simply a hermit. So I paint. And here's the truly amazing part: absolutely everything that was bothering me disappeared with the fortuitous stroke of the brush; a line placed just perfectly, but accidentally, where it was meant to be; a combination of colors that meshed into something unexpected but luscious; an experiment that produced something beyond my expectations. All was right with the world again. How could anything be wrong when I was so delighted with my art? The pictures here were not part of that painting session, but rather are just things I had already scanned. Again, just experimentation for the sake of play.

This week I decided to try to impose some rules on my play. That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Anyway, I cut up some foamcore into 5" x 6" pieces; I also used some abandoned office envelopes and some of my stash of heavier papers from an artist's estate sale. I decided I would limit myself to using only black, white, and two other colors. I intended to use unexpected color combinations, or at least colors I normally don't use. That's really not working out that well. I find I gravitate back to my comfort zone colors very quickly. I applied extra heavy gesso to all the pieces and after they dried, started to mess around. I wanted to work quickly, intuitively. Here's a tip: if you are experimenting, and if you want to save your "good" artist grade paints for your "good" artist-grade paintings, go to Home Depot and get the little pots of Behr sample paint. They are cheaper than the art-grade stuff, and (here's an inspired idea) the lids have tiny little brushes attached. Way cool.

Don't really have a lot of time to surf the net any more, but I did come across an artist I like a lot that I haven't noticed before. His blog is here. And there is a program on our local NPR station featuring a local gentleman, who I plan to stalk and marry one day, just because he recommends exactly the kind of music I like but have never heard before. I don't remember his name and I have no idea what he looks like; he could look like a troll for all I care. I just love his voice and his taste in music. In a recent program about new music by woman, he featured V V Brown and I love every single track on her album. Tell me what you think.

Off to start a hot, humid, stay-indoors art-filled weekend. Have fun.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

. . . really make art

Yes, I do. . . just nothing very good or saleable. But that's okay, because my NY art guy Walter tells me he hasn't sold any of my paintings for a long time. So it's a good time to just play. There's no pressure, just experimenting. I hope I become a better artist because of it. The play should count toward the 10,000 hours one must put in to become an expert, according to that book, the title of which escapes me at the moment, and I'm too lazy to go look it up.

One thing I believe is that whatever I create, I must create it completely from my own hands. I don't like to use other people's stencils, stamps, patterned paper, magazine pictures, words or type, whatever. I'm not too crazy about creating my own, either, but it's better that way for me. However, the little painting above does use a purchased stencil-type thing, something on sale at Michael's by Tim Holtz, but I think I'm using it wrong. I am going to keep using it like that, though, because I like the results.

I was telling my friend Jan at work about the other weekend when I was experimenting with artistically burning stuff, just checking out what would happen. I had a butane torch on the driveway in the sun and couldn't really tell whether the torch was lit or not. One of the less stellar results was that I burned a hole in a canvas, which is, after all, a look, is it not? After Jan quit laughing at me, she asked me if I just thought about art all the time. And I realized, yes, I did. All the time. And that perhaps explained to her my difficulty in grasping the accounting principles that my real paying job requires me to understand. But don't you artists think about art all the time? Everything has potential for inspiration. Except maybe those accounting principles.

One of my favorite artists is Susan Lenart Kazmer. She astounds me in her creativity. . . I mean, really, using little pencils or bullet casings to create amazing jewelry. My friend told me she had seen Susan's new line of jewelry findings at Michaels, so I just had to check it out. Too late. . . it was literally all gone, every single piece. I figured that part of the appeal was the sheer volume of the pencils and/or bullet casings (or are they shells, I don't know) she used to create her jewelry. So I thought, okay, what inane objects do you have an unlimited supply of that you could use in your art. Well, my calculator tape. . . endless rolls of it. . . because I could add three numbers three time and get three different answers. So I use a ton of that. Deer poop, always finding that in the garden. It's really the only way I get to see my day lillies, after the deer have processed what they ate. I have rejected the idea of using deer poop in my art, although, again, it's a look, I guess. But I have started saving my adding machine tapes, rolling them up in tight little coils, and dumping them in my leftover coffee cup. Don't know where this is going, but I'll keep you posted.

Too much rambling going on here, so I'll see y'all later.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

. . . created mobile gardens

Ah, yes, hope springs eternal. . . so in the hope that I will sell the house sometime, my gardening has been limited this spring to cleaning up and keeping the weeds at bay. Nothing new has been planted in the ground, not even to fill gaps left plants that didn't make it over the winter.

Everything I have planted is in pots. I know I will live to regret that when the weather heats up to 98 in the shade with oppressive humidity and blood sucking insects don't let me get further than a step or two out of the house before they attack. I will still need to water those pots.

I was inspired to create this wreath by something similar made by the designers at Red Cedar Gardens in Stillwell. It's my favorite place to visit for gardening inspiration. Most of the stuff I used was stuff I already had. The falling-apart grapevine wreath had been hanging out in the yard for a year. I stuffed it with some dirt, planted the little mossy things, crammed in a bunch of dried moss, and added the candle. Cool? I spritz it with my water bottle and hope that it will survive the summer.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

. . . were experimentally inspired

The last few days have reminded me of when I first started making art. Everything was an experiment, everything was new, and I didn't know anything about anything.

Like then, I'm having fun playing with various techniques that are new to me. In fact, I think I'm making them up as I go along. These techniques involve deli paper, wax paper, tissue paper, vinyl shelf paper, brayers, rubbing with my hand (I have a blister on my pinky), old envelopes, canvas, foam core, whatever else I can find at hand. . .

or underfoot, because my basement is a horrible mess. I can't find any tools, because they are buried under piles of papers. All my scrapers and pallette knives are caked with gesso, paint, ink. No brushes have been injured in this quest, however. Larger pieces of printed tissue paper and canvas dry on the floor. You may someday see footprints in my art.

And, like way back when, I'm having varying degrees of success. Some of these paintings are just awful, others are just okay, and there are even a few that I like. But most importantly, I'm playing, learning, inspired again, and it just doesn't matter.

In between bursts of creativity, I'm reading Carlos Ruiz Zafron's The Angel's Game. I love the following passage:

. . . there are a lot of people with talent and passion, and many of them
never get anywhere. This is only the first step toward achieving anything in life. Natural talent is like an athlete's strength. You can be born with more or less ability, but nobody can become an athlete just because he or she was born tall, or strong, or fast. What makes the athlete, or the artist, is the work, the vocation, and the technique. The intelligence you were born with is just ammunition. To achieve something with it you need to transform your mind into a high-precision weapon. . . (E)very artist's life is a small war or a large one, beginning with oneself and one's limitations. To achieve anything you must first have the ambition and then talent, knowledge, and finally the opportunity.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

. . . enjoyed doing nothing

That's what it feels like. I have another whole day and a half to enjoy myself before I have to start thinking again about CD interest and where to put it and making sure I don't screw something up inadvertently.

It also feels like my creativity has split. I'm soldiering on through it by painting small pieces, monoprinting even smaller pieces, and sometimes completely ruining good pieces by going way too far.

This piece is going to my friend at work, Jan, who has no trouble whatsoever asking for something. I like that in a person. Just tell me what you want; I will either say yes or no. No problem. It's a companion piece to another one I gave her last week. It's a unofficial monoprint, 4 x 6" . I wish I hadn't put the circles on it now. I went too far.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

. . . met a friend

My internet friend Miki Willa e-mailed me a few weeks ago to tell me she was going to be in Kansas City last weekend for a wedding. We met for lunch and a photo outing last Sunday, and had a great time. It was so good to visit with a fellow artist whose taste for pictures runs similar to mine. As it turns out, the bride, a relative of sorts to Miki, married a young man whose great-grandparents lived in my hometown. His great-grandfather was the mayor for almost all the years I grew up there, and we were all members of the same church. They lived a block from my parent's house. I knew the groom's grandparents and played with his father when we were both young. Small world, indeed.

I took Miki to all my favorite photo places. The first place was River Market, where we found a brick building being demolished. Lots and lots of photo ops there. . .

then we went to the West Bottoms. We didn't cover much territory there, because each site was just ripe for rusty decaying photos. . .

Miki and her family stayed on the Country Club Plaza, absolutely the most iconic place in Kansas City and a lovely location. I told her that I would take her to see all the lowlights of this city, and I think I lived up to that promise. We ate lunch at Ponacks, one of the best Mexican restaurants here, on Southwest Boulevard, and took pictures of the old brewery behind it and underneath Interstate I-35 and then, a bit further down the street, the old grain elevator.

The day was rainy and gloomy and I was driving my daughter's gigantic Tahoe, very unfamiliar and different from my little car, which was being repaired. After I dropped Miki off at the hotel, I misjudged the distance between two other SUVs and ripped the mirror off one and scraped Stephanie and Andy's car down the passenger side. Just another blip on the radar screen of my life.

These are just the black-and-white pictures I took. There are dozens. I can't wait to see what pictures Miki came up with. . . probably the same things. Thanks, Miki, for being my snooping-around-KC friend. And if anyone else wants to visit, be sure to call. I'm available as a tour guide.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

. . . were a grandmother

In honor of Mother's Day tomorrow, I'm showing off my little ones. In fact, I don't think I've ever shown a picture of Nora (above) before. What a little sweetheart she is. Her first birthday will be July 9. My sister Ann knitted her darling cap. The hat and the baby are perfect.

And here's Joey. . . it's been quite a while since I've put up a picture of him. He's growing up so fast, doing everything he can to keep up with his big sister. He turned three at the end of March. He seems so much older than three, though. He's very smart, just a joyful kid.

And here's my mom and Betsy. My mom is 83 and Betsy is five. Doesn't Mom look great? Betsy is a dandy. . . I think she's wearing multiple layers of clothing for some kind of fashion statement. Wisely, her mother chooses her battles, and what Betsy wears isn't one of them. Betsy is also very smart and beautiful, and she will start kindergarten in the fall.

I miss having the time to spend with them. Joey and Betsy are great company; Nora is still a bit uncommunicative, but she is such a happy baby that I know she's going to be a lot of fun, too. Thanks to both my kids, Matt and Stephanie, and to my son-in-law, Andy, for being such great people. I'm proud of them all. It's easy being their mom.

Monday, May 3, 2010

. . . offered a bargain

If someone would buy this garden, I would thrown the house in for free.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

. . .took a break

at least from taking pictures of ruins, rust, and remains. . .

I've thought it before, that I would quit looking for old nasty stuff . . . but then I come up with pictures like these. Enlarge them to really get the effect that I do.

I wonder if taking these pictures have any effect on how I paint. . .

and many times I wish I could paint the photograph.

I doubt I'll be able to resist looking for rust, ruin, remains.