Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Minnesota Wild Life

My sister and I used to take walks together and take pictures. It was always fun to do these photo walks because even though we would ooh and ah at the same things and often point our cameras the same direction, we would inevitably end up with different photos and the being together spurred us each on to find unsuspected creativity. It was so much fun to return home and compare photos and see that each of us had captured such different but wonderful images.

This week I have been taking a break from work and so yesterday I took the time to go out and shoot some photos. Of course it was not nearly as fun because my sister is thousands of miles away and the dog just doesn't show an interest in photography. Still, there were a few images worth saving and I thought I would put them on the blog for her and anyone else who is interested to see.

The most exciting thing I saw did not make a good picture, but if you look carefully on the branch you'll see a grouse. (I was with the 800 pound dog - so there was no hope of crawling over the huge snow bank to get any closer - sorry for the quality here!)

Snow and pine cones - a lovely textural contrast!

This was a tree by the lake - the dried grass blades produced another textural contrast with the rough trunk.

The snow in the evergreen trees made snowflake patterns.

Naturally my existentialist -prone husband loves sumac because it is a palindrome. This photo is for him. It looks like the sumac is waiting for someone.

Of course my sister's favorite wild life picture would probably be the following!

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Thought For the Day

"Before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

Harper Lee

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Blogging Environment

Fun Monday at the Mamadrama web site issued a meme challenge about our blogging environments. Unlike Jenny of the Mommy Bloggers, I can not blog just anywhere. I have a dial up modem and in order not to have to stand up by the sink (where the phone is located), I have strung a wire out of the kitchen, down the hall past the bathroom and into the far bedroom that serves as my study so that I can actually sit down on a chair while I blog. What luxury!!

Of course the room itself is tiny (not as tiny as the bathroom that my sister blogged about today, so in that sense I'm moving up in the world)! This room has the best light in the house, but by the time I got my loom and all my other art supplies into the space, there was only about a 6 x 6 foot space left for me to do my work. That is plenty actually, except that my family also loves the confines of my spacious "studio," so I get visited by the cats (not really a problem as I'm there to work and they keep me from sneaking off to take secret naps...)

But then there is my other family member - Bart the 800 pound dog. (So big that I can't stand in the room and get a full picture of him.) For some reason he too wants to be with the family when I work. He can literally move his head down to rest it on our dining room table. I love him dearly but the poor thing really needs a flock of sheep or a mountain lion or something to keep him active and happy.

So here is the space I blog in. There are some areas of interest there. Note the elephant on a spring to the LEFT of the computer on the box (er, I mean table). The screen is for sanity's sake - the wall has one of those woodland photo murals on it and in the winter it reassures me to see green leafiness peeking out of somewhere - so I can't make myself get rid of it, but of course I don't really love it either.) A few of my more beloved action figures stand above the work space: Rifraff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show Illyria from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Callisto from Xena are some of the more favored ones. To the right on the wall is a water color that my Mom (the real artist in the family) did in South America.

On the table to the right are some very important items (You can click to enlarge the image for a better view)- The Xena mug
follows me everywhere just like Gabrielle followed Xena. Without it and the coffee it inevitably contains, I would be lost. Amongst the brushes and wood glue and sculpture pieces is my computer Buddha, who protects me from hard drive melt downs. My sister gave it to me (probably for the dog - since it squeaks - but of course the dog already knows right speech and right action, so he generously donated it to me.)

Of course also very important is my picture of my partner Don (one of those black and white ones from the days of the bathroom darkrooms!) This keeps me inspired and as long as he stays out of the Study when everyone else is there, I love him and think he is the greatest "spousal-unit" in the world. These memes are fun, but it is time to go paint!!

Remembrances of Thangs Past

So.... My sister (that same one I keep writing about) asked for permission to mention my blog site on her very famous Houston Chronicle blog and since this has always been my secret, private blog, I guess I'd better dust up and get ready for company. I actually like the idea, because it will be like getting visitors from home. It is very hard for a Southern girl like myself to live up here in the frozen north lands. The landscape is subtly beautiful and nuanced and the people are kind and supportive, but there are things they just don't understand - eating your own home grown pecans or figs from your back yard trees, the beauty (and intelligence) of a slow friendly drawl, the smell of salt when you go to the beach. There are plenty of wonderful experiences here too: fresh raspberries from the woods, irises that come up every year and don't rot, calls of the loons as they fly overhead, the nuances of grey and brown in the whiteness of winter; Nonetheless one never loses the connection to the world in which one was reared - I miss the moss, the pine needles, the mockingbirds, the bluebonnets and those big friendly smiles!

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Art That I Choose to Paint

So, suddenly I'm at the cross roads. I've worked on technique and now am being set free to choose my own style and my own objects. It is exciting and scary at the same time. Today i was not completely free since we had had a sugested topic of a favorite object and an "in the style of" our favorite painter.(Of course I quickly realized I have no interest in painting like my favorite painters, so I decided to work with noted painters and do a series instead. I toyed (haha) with several different options for favorite object including a rubber/plastic glow in the dark jelly fish and this really cool pig night-light that Don had bought while I was in Australia, but I settled on three spindles that had some homespun yarn on them. After much indecision I chose Cezanne to imitate and found only a landscape in a general book on art for a model. I set to work and ended up midway through with a painting that looked more like a Van Gogh than a Cezanne and as I worked it became less like either painter's works and more like what I have been doing all along.Although I hated what I was doing during class, things seemed to get better and currently I love the rich colors of this picture. I wonder if I should think about playing with those extremely saturated colors for a while. Without further ado here is today's work (not necessarily finished, but up so that my art friends can talk to me about (help me with) my direction.)

Monday, 19 February 2007

First Egg picture

So, Here is the first egg picture I did (finally). We had our critique today and the instructor thought my third egg picture was a big improvement over the first one. The first image is some of our egggs on the critique wall

and the second one is the original egg pcture.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Oeufs Da (Again!!)

Since my Teacher did not like my second set of eggs and since the original model had been moved, I was instructed to spend another 3 hours on eggs. (We tried to reconstruct the original, but the light was in a different place and it could not really be correctly reconstructed, so it was do another 3 hours of eggs!) I understand why, but have been extremely frustrated working on these guys. Nonetheless, here is yet another egg picture for our eggdification!

Our next project is to choose a favorite painter and a precious object (personal object) and begin to try painting the object in the style of that painter. I sure can't make up my mind which painter to choose.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Versatile modified

My sister (when she was eight) repeatedly insisted that versatile meant "full of eggs". I don't know if she was precocious and already suggesting a female alternative to the masculine concept of cojones or whether she just liked the idea, but our painting assignment this week after the fearsome purple onions has been the fearsome organic eggs. At the moment I am very versatile meaning to me full of (it with eggs- in German "die Nase voll haben" - to have the nose full (of eggs? yuck!!)) and although I intensely disliked my first egg picture, the second is growong upon me with the distance of having painted it earlier (and not wanting to face painting yet a third version- there are only so many eggs you can pullout of your, er... nose).

Here is the second egg image (I'll try to post number one when I get a chance to photograph it - it is currently at the Painting studio rather than in easy access of my camera).

I worked on the eggs a tiny bit today. Here is another photo.

It was a bad painting day. My teacher didn't like this egg picture at all and wasn't crazy about the other one which has smaller more real looking eggs. I was crabby and didn't feel like working, so I did touch ups but since my eggs had been moved, I couldn't really do any observation painting. I guess I'll be doing a third version soon.

Monday, 5 February 2007

More Onions?

Unfortunately the flash on the camera made this picture look a little scratchy, so I'll have to replace it later, but in the mean time here is another attempt at those purple onions.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Fresh Fruit? More Onion with that fruit?

Here are the new paintings from art class for the last few days:

California Rantin'

Okay, I have two sisters, but the problem with both of them is they are always right and I am always wrong. This is such a problem, that whenever I talk about either of my sisters I can just collapse my conversational topic about whichever one I'm talking about to the generic "my sister". If they are both perfect (which they are, because they are always right) then why bother- how do you distinguish between perfection?

Okay, so I'm talking to my sister on the phone the other day and singing one of my favorite songs (that I've been singing fine for years and years!) and all of a sudden over the telephone, I hear this smirk. (Yes. when my sister is right you can hear her smirk.) "You know,..." (and you can just hear the self-satisfied superiority in those two little words) "...those aren't the right lyrics," she says.

"Of course they are," I reply, "I've been singing this song for years. You weren't even around when the song came out."

"No," she reiterates, "They aren't"

"So what are the correct lyrics?" Can you hear my exasperation?

I had been singing, " I got down on my knees and I began to pray..."

"It's 'I pretend to pray.'"

Now I'm absolutely sure she doesn't know what she's talking about! I'm ready to wager a million dollars with her about this, or better yet a hundred million billion dollars. Nobody in their right mind uses two different tenses in the same sentence of a nationally known song lyric. People catch those things and fix them (Well, okay - all of them but Jim Morrison's ill-fated "Make the stars fall from the sky for you and I" Anyway, no one would say, "I got (past tense) down on my knees and I pretend (present tense) to pray." It would have to be, "I got down on my knees and I pretended to pray," and boy does that sound bad!!

I know I've got her! For once in my life I'm right and she's wrong! I'm ecstatic. She's insistent. The conversation ends on a sour note. There is suddenly a wall of smug between us. We both know we are right.

So, of course I have to check it on the web. Why do I ever question myself? I could have lived on in glory knowing how right I was, but no, I had to look. So I google off to

and there it is, lyrics by John and Michelle Phillips

"You know, I got down on my knees (got down on my knees)
And I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray) "

WHAT!!!!!! It's not possible!! I guess my mistake was assuming that a bunch of drugged out pop musicians would be in their right mind. There is no justice! There is no god! Now I know why the guy in the song is only pretending to pray!! My sister really is always right! Well, it could have been worse. I could be out a hundred million billion dollars!