Friday, 30 March 2007

Friday's Feast Questions



What are you proud of?

I'm proud of my creative work and my writing in particular.


What is the best thing you’ve ever won as a prize?

A Tshirt with my story on the back of it. Check out this web site Write Side Out to read the short short story and see the super cool T-shirt - I'm down at the bottom of the page - the story is called "Editorial License" It is short enough to fit on a T-shirt so check it out!


Name something you do that is a waste of time.

I play way too much computer solitaire (I love Spider and 40 Thieves). Eric's Ultimate Solitaire !! The greatest solitaire collection for the card generation!

Main Course

In what year of your life did you change the most?

1969, I was uprooted and moved from a nice easy-going community to a very differnt kind of one. The loss of old friends and family and the realization that the world can be a pretty unfriendly place persoally and politically crushed me. I bec ame very political.


What do you wish you would spend more time doing? (I make up my own veggie/health question)

Of course exercising and being helthy is a natural answer - but I think conversations with my husband and friends rank high here. I live such a busy life that I feel I don't get a chance to be with the inner circle as much as I would like. I miss those deep, but intimate conversations in a restaurant or over coffee or tea - they are the happiest moments in my life.


Where is a place you consider to be very tranquil?

The cemetery - I adore cemeteries. I love to walk amongst the graves and read the tombs and think. Any walk in nature is a reassuring place for me.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

New Blog News

Be sure to check ouot my Mother's paintings at the New Blog ! Her work puts mine to shame!! And while you are at , there is this New Blog too!

I hope to get to paint some tomorrow afternoon. So maybe by Saturday there will even be something of mine up on the blog!!

Abstract Nature

The puddles with ice are becoming fewer and fewer, but there are still some interesting abstract designs to be found in the clash of temperatures and natural environs.

Tracks in general are an item of interest in theland of frozen tundra - the tracings left by vehicles can be surprising interesting and asymmetrical when modified by the elements and other passers by.

I love the layers of blue in this image. (By the way those are ducks on the right hanging out on what is left of the ice.)

Grasses in the marshes when they thaw can also yield fascinating sculptural groupings.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Birch Fantasy

A few more images from my walk the other day.

Birch and beech bark are some of the most interesting elements of life in the upper midwest.

The air is clear and crisp allowing for very vivid colors and images of even the most ordinary objects.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Photos from a Walk

We had a record warm day yesterday and I snapped a few pictures of what was left of the snow and ice (knowing that it would not be around much longer.)

This is some kind of algae or fungus under the melting ice.

The water in the lake near the lakewobegon trail was streaming over this organism (whatever it is) and making beautiful patterns.

This is a the mist over the pond near our house.

None of these are overly exciting images- but I find them mildly interesting. In Painting class today I only got the background laid in - so there is not much to show on that front either! (Soon though! - This weekend!)

Monday, 26 March 2007

Cat Update

Min wanted a picture of the cat carrying the ribbon from in front. I want one too but am having a hard time capturing a good one, so in the mean time here is another attempt.

This one is almost good - but still doesn't capture the pride with which she carries the ribbon!

Callie and Her Ribbon

Here is Callie from the front (and of course she is not far from her ribbon!)

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Fresh New Faces

Here is an update on the last image. I did not have much time to paint today - but I did clean up some areas and add some faces. (Mostly a face to the first girl - I will redo the other two and do their cloaks at a later time). I want to work on the donkey some more too. I like the buildings in the background as they are and will probably leave them alone.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

This weekend's Project

So I've laid the ground in on this next picture in the Afghani series. I'm still trying to decide how I want to use the colors for the series, but I am liking the vagueness of this one at the present time. (I can't leave it that way, because I want this particular picture to speak to the viewer and so I want the eyes to be strong and poignant - Nonetheless it interests me at the moment (which is more than i can say for the previous painting.

What a fat donkey! I adore him.

Best Toy

We adopted a Shelter Kitty recently - named Callie O'Malley (See, Beccy! - I really am Irish). This is the name she came with by the way. (For some reason I might have gone with something a bit more Middle Eastern for a Persian cat). Anyway, as is our wont (because we have no children) we try to spoil our animal companions and buy them lots of toys and play things. This however is the toy that Callie has decide is her favorite and most prized possession.

It is sparkly and beautiful (the reason I kept it too) and she carries it with her all around. (Don't worry, by the way, we watch her carefully and the ribbon is stiff enough and durable enough to be unlikely to be swallowed (but we still watch carefully) - I was VP of our local Humane Society for several years and know the dangers of stringy ribbony things.)

Time For Thought

It has been a very stimulating week for me mentally - but not too productive in terms of painting. (I have the ground work laid in on a new painting but it is not too interesting for the moment. I've done some more touch ups on the First Aid picture and will probably do some modifications when other images of the series start to develop.

I somehow managed to get myself assigned additional work that none of the other students have to do and am now responsible for a ten page theory paper on political art. Harrumph. I'm sure this means I'll be boring people to tears with thoughts on this issue over the next several weeks. Sorry.

On my mind at the moment is the portrayla of the marginalized and how to avoid making this spectacle. How do we show subjects that we do not usually show with out turning it into a situation where we are turning them into a spectacle and thus reinforcing the attitudes of the justness of marginalization. My teacher Clea has been doing slightly distorted images of marginalized people - but I think it reinforces the oddness of them and does not counteract the tendency to see normal as the beautiful, clean and proper.

On another note, I had an interesting experience in the studio yesterday. One of my former students popped in to look at what I am doing. He had taken a film theory class with me years and years ago and now he is a local painter of note who teaches art here. We discussed my struggle to realize my style and this elicited the remark that he can clearly see my style. Of course that may be what I have been afraid of all along, since I hate the kindergarten quality of certain of my paintings. Perhaps I need to embrace it – but I would like to be able to produce something that is less coloring book and more full of grace. It is delightful to have a former student now in the role of teacher. What a delicious inversion!

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Another Food Meme from Beccy

If you were stuck on an island and could only eat one cuisine (e.g., French, Italian, etc.) for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?

It would be Thai or Burmese. This has to be the most flavor-rich food in the world.

What is the most unusual food you've eaten?

This glow in the dark jelly fish thing I had in Japan is probably the most unusual (that comes to mind, anyway). I'll try just about anything.

What is the most unusual food you've eaten and liked?

Natto. (Fermented soybeans - despised by most non-Japanese diners).

What foods will you avoid eating (either because of a dietary choice or allergies or just plain don't like)?

Pork (I was a Vegetarian for years). I HATE uni - sea urchin.

Do you cook (and by that, I mean prepare a meal that you'd serve to friends)?


If yes, what is your favorite dish to prepare to impress someone?

It changes, but I sometimes make lemon chicken and if I feel industrious I'll make Kolaches.

When you go to a restaurant, what's your ordering strategy/preference?

I order something that it would be difficult for me to recreate at home.

Have you ever returned a dish or wine to the kitchen at a restaurant? Why?

I have on occasion, if it has been improperly cooked or over-cooked.

How many cookbooks do you own?

I'm reducing I limit it to two book shelves, but they are piled on top of the books on the shelves too.

What is one food that you wouldn't want to live without?

Does coffee count? Ever- in life - Chocolate chip cookies - On a regular need basis - I hate to say it - because I don't even think I like it THAT much - Peanut butter

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

A Picture of My Husband by my Niece

Here is my niece's holiday gift to my husband : a portrait of him with our recently
deceased Cat, Snuffy.

Wanna Send a Copy to My Mother?

Burn Baby Burn

I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. ~Japanese Proverb

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Watch Out , Min!

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
- George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, 18 March 2007


Here is a new version of the painting I posted yesterday (same post as this). I'm still not crazy about it, but it is better than yesterday at least. The turban no longer looks like a sombrero and so I don't feel like I'm looking at a painting of Pancho Villa.

I'm still going to need to rework the sleeve and maybe the pants - but I don't want to get too involved in them or it will become realistic. We have a critique on Monday, so it will be interesting to hear what Clea (my teacher) and the class have to say. I may have to adjust the angle of the building a bit. I don't like the way it rises, although in terms of composition I would prefer the line not be parallel to the bottom of the picture.

(Post from yesterday) This is not improving - I hate the pants, I keep trying to get the colors down to indicate the dust of war, but ...! I know I don't want to paint realistically, yet that is all I seem to be able to do and when I try not to (like here) I get a bad version of paint by numbers! Oh well, just keep on working on it, I guess! Eventually it will come!

Friday, 16 March 2007

Friday Feast - Following Beccy in a Meme

A Meal of Questions (Borrowed from Beccy's Blog :


Name two things that made you smile this week?

A really good paper by one of my syyposium students.
Having a new idea about G. Vico (Renaissance Italian writer.) (Sorry these are teacher things!!)


Fill in the blank:

Don't you hate it when
there is just one more email you have to answer (or one more thing to do before you can go to bed and you still don't get to bed before midnight!!


When you can't go to sleep, what is your personal remedy to help yourself drift into Lullabyland?

I work on something I am writing or painting (in my mind). Sometimes I redecorate my living room in my mind.

Main Course

What is something about which you've always wondered but have not yet found a good answer?

I want to know if you get less wet from running in the rain (and hitting more rain drops more quickly) or
from walking at a normal pace. (This is a pretty paltry main course) I also wonder why I do these memes!! ;-)


What is your favorite pasta dish?

I'm not sure why this is dessert - but I love lasagna. I am also crazy about Pad Thai (see picture above).

What about a vegetable? (I added my own question!):

What is one thing you have to do in order to live a happy healthy life?


Thursday, 15 March 2007

A Few Images

Mindy asked to see what I have been working on - but now that I am no longer painting on paper, my pieces are taking longer, so I only have half-finished things to show for now. So in the mean time I thought I'd put up some abstract photographs that I took on a recent walk and I'll add the current (partially finished) painting at the bottom.

I was quite taken with the textures of this snow picture. It feels so old and ragged with all the detritus of winter.

I loved the brilliant green of this moss despite the fact that it had been covered with snow for so long during the winter.

The trees create an interesting negative space pattern with the maze of bare branches.

Here is the half finished work for the Afghan project that I am working on:

Monday, 12 March 2007

Fun Monday Recipe

Hmm - I don't remember saying I would do this, but my name appears on the web site for participants, so here is my submission:

Mini-eggplant pizzas (Aubergine Pizzas)

ADDENDUM:(Sometimes it is tricky knowing when the eggplants are done - so I have also put the eggplants in the oven alone for 5-6 minutes, turned them over and then loaded the stuff on the slices - I also use olive oil instead of other oil in this particular recipe).

I'm a vegetarian who fell off the veggie wagon because she doesn't really like veggies, so here is a way to get
those silly vegetables to taste palatable (drowning them in grease and salt!)

Grease a cookie sheet and fill with an eggplant sliced into 1/4 inch (40mm?) rounds (or lengthwise into planks.)
(Use the eggplant instead of pizza dough - now make your pizza). Next I usually thin slice mushrooms, onions, green pepper and mince garlic and throw these on the eggplant. Then I throw a tablespoon of thick spaghetti sauce over the veggies. If your sauce needs thickening mix in a little tomato paste. (Meat eaters can throw sausage or what we call pepperoni on top) Now grate some Mozzerella cheese and put some parmesan on that (I also like to add romano) and throw this in the oven for 15-25 minutes. about 400 degrees fahrenheit and (I believe) 200 degrees Celsius (hot oven.) The thicker the ingredients, the longer you have to bake these - but they are done when the fork goes through the eggplant easily. When done the eggplant is wobbily, so you may want to slide them off with a spatula.

I like my whole grain cookies better - but don't have time to type them up right now!

Kara Walker Thoughts for Consumption (Or not)

This weekend Don and I visited the Walker Gallery and viewed an exhibition of Kara Walker images (no relation to the person for whom the museum is named).

For those not familiar with her work - Walker (the youngest ever winner of a Macarthur "Genius" grant) takes the stereotypical images of Black people that have been present in White media for hundreds of years and exagerates them and reproduces them in the "genteel" medium of the silhouette. Her works are enormously disturbing both visually and in terms of the reminder of the fact that these images are embedded in the memories and subconscious of our historically and even presently unfair social systems. An example can be found at the PBS slide show on Walker , where a variety of images are available to peruse.

Her images are raw and perturbing and not for the prudish, (echoing the ugliness, obscenity and biases of past generations) and she has given me a lot to think about in terms of issues of Art and truth.

She herself speaks about her work and ideas more elegantly than I ever could:

“Beauty is just kind of an accident. Beauty is just a happenstance. Beauty is the remainders of being a painter. The work becomes pretty because I wouldn’t be able to look at a work about something as grotesque as what I’m thinking about, and as grotesque as projecting one’s ugly soul onto another’s pretty body, and representing that in an ugly way.”
— Kara Walker

Thursday, 8 March 2007

True Fear

"You can out-distance that which is running after you,
but not what is running inside you."

~Rwandan Proverb

(Thanks, Mindy, I needed a little nudge!)

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Tuesday's Painting

Well, I'm coming along on my own path. Here is the first draft of one image from an intended group of paintings I am hoping to do. My Instructor has asked me to use masonite instead of paper - so this meant that today I could not begin my project, so I simply practiced on a pre-prepared piece of gessoed paper and I will have to go out for materials in order to get to my project off the ground. I think today's piece turned out pretty well. I'm working on finding my own style and although one can see the influence of Alice Neel and Jawelensky, I think this feels more natural to me than the hyper-realistic things we have been doing thus far.

Since I have an 8AM class tomorrow I will forbear any more discussion for the time.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Why We Create?

“A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.”

Albert Camus

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Oh the Humanity- Oh the Horror

It is Monday in Australia - so I'm posting this - (I want this over with - so I can get on to something less disturbing ). Please be warned that the subject matter is disturbing - so if you are weak of stomach (although I can not imagine anyone who has just read Mindy's Brain Post being too much more offended by this) go read something else.


The flaccid pustules tensed in preparation of eruption as Rudnick lay groaning on his lumpy mattress, while his saccharine sister stood smiling nearby and remembered him proclaiming defiantly (rat in hand) that household rodents had never caused anyone the least bit of harm.

Okay here is one that is even worse on the same topic, but the intials spell a third and even worse sentence.

"A nasty trick," hissed Rudnick, a xenophobic drone, eagerly setting the rat on yonder scruffy mattress as Sarah turned eerily repeating for us little pompous explanations of pustules left eagerly by rats (innocent not guilty in noticing grief such as did Nicky's elder smiling sister. )

A n t h r a x . d e s t r o y s . m a s t e r f u l . p e o p l e . b r i n g i n g . s a d n e s s.

Warning - this image is gross - I spent HOURS making it that way!! (And tell me how to depict the above sentences without making it grotesque, really!!!)

Last chance to turn back!!


Saturday, 3 March 2007

Updated Paintings

Well now, I've had a pretty productive day and just finished putting the touches on my image for Mindy's Fun Monday meme on the worst opening sentence for a novel. I still have to write the sentence, but for all the nice people I've met in the last few days, I recommend you not stop by on Monday as my sentence and image won't be terribly pleasant and may perhpas be viewed as being in poor taste.

I can't claim to have done much work today - but Don and I went out for Mexican food which made me homesick for Houston and warm weather!

In the mean time, I have been painting a bit today and improved on my two pictures, so I'm going to post the updated versions with the originals. I still have a way to go (and have so little interest in painting vegetation that I don't know how I'll ever get myself to fill in the courtyard flowers, let alone the salad on my spousal unit (Don)'s plate.) I fear Australia is taking on a dark and dreary look because of my fatigue with Winter here in Minnesota. It really is time for winter to be over.

The courtyard still needs straighter lines, but I'll just work on this one slowly, a little at a time:


As far as the picture of Don goes, it is improving slowly. I must have worked on the nose for hours and still do not love it, but in general the image looks more like him than it used to.

I'm real interested ot see what people do for their Fun Monday posts, I'm glad we do not have to wait too much longer.

Friday, 2 March 2007

A Song in My Heart (and Blood on my Lips?)

If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.

- Catherine Aird -

I stole this quote from ChrisB's blog . Check out her wonderful stories about American Internet marketers and most inspiring quotes about aging as a woman!

Her friend Lisa at the food snob has a meme going on the three songs that you would choose if you could never hear music again. That is SO hard -and one is tempted to choose really long pieces so that one could stretch out the time before one had to do without.

I know that one of my "songs" would be Beethoven's Ninth symphony (or the Ode to Joy movement" if we can't have the whole thing as a song. (Or maybe the second movement from the Fifth or the first movement formthe seventh - that is three right there!!)

The next song would be "Let it Bleed" by the Rolling Stones

...and finally I would choose a Billie Holiday song

- either Gloomy Sunday or Maybe Georgia on My Mind.

(Sorry no Youtube connections - I am still learning the essentials of a simple html blog! ;-} )

Thursday, 1 March 2007

In the Midst/Mist?

I thought I would get to spend the week painting, but actually only got to any painting at all yesterday. The work for yesterday was mostly preparation work - gessoing and getting ready to paint, although I did do a bit of work on a painting I started when I was in Australia . This one is the court yard of the house that we lived in in Fremantle, WA.

I had basically done only a wash on this picture and then ended up shipping it home. I started the painting in Spring and have a photo of Summer - so the plants have changed and unfortunately I seem to have taken the photo at a different time of day, because the shadows are all different. Nonetheless, I have decided to work on the painting a bit and try and give it a little bit more substance. Unfortunately i did not take a before picture - but above is where I stopped yesterday. I need to staighten some lines and have only a bare indication of the steps and plants, but at least I can demonstarte that I have been working and thinking.

For my actual class, I decided to do a couple of portraits. I've been looking at the work of Egon Schiele and Alice Neel and although I am only loosely working in their styles - I did decide that I wanted to do something a bit looser than the assignments we have been given in art class. This is my partner from a photo taken in a restaurant in Minneapolis. I got to a stopping point - here.

But then decided to do a little bit more work - so here is a second view of a slightly different painting. The table and red background are not different (but the light has caught the area differently on each photo).

I need to make the face thinner and want to work on the jacket as well as the stuff on the table - but am now going to stop and make dinner. We have gotten more than a foot of snow, so we should have a nice cozy evening - I think African Peanut and tomato soup sounds like a good meal for tonight with home made wheat berry bread.