Friday, June 26, 2009

Today in the news...

First I'll start with me because its a little more upbeat...then we'll talk about the cultural event that will serve as a bookmark in time.

I finished my last painting today. Yah -hoo!

It was a real pickle of a project but I kept at it and it finally started to look like something. I'm pleased to say my professor was very happy with it and she gave me a "B" for my semester grade.

I am relieved because this has been a yoke around my neck for months now. First I was sick and couldn't paint so I was totally stressed; then I was gathering doctor's notes and writing appeals for an incomplete; then I was waiting for the 2 week window to open up so I could start on the huge amount of work I had to make up and now; (sigh,) its done and I did Ok. That is the last I am going to speak about it... Turn the page... NEXT!

So I spoke to Russ at backporchquilters today and I've decided I want him to be my new best friend. He is so stinkin nice and I can't get over how connected I feel to him because he has my "baby" (my quilt) in his hands right now. I know its his business but it feels as though he is doing this wonderful gesture of kindness for me. I guess that is why people are so into their family quilts. I never knew what a labor of love felt like until now. Anyway, we had a great chat and agreed that the vertigo stitch he did for Dana would look fabulous on my quilt with variegated thread. We also discussed my old sewing machine and the Old Red Barn drawing coming up - (I want that sewing machine!!!) It was a great conversation and I am thrilled to have yet another North Carolina pal!

Projects on the horizon - boy there are a bunch. I've got some ring blanks just waiting for Utee, some watch faces screaming for beaded bands, several carpet bags pinned with fabulous lace just waiting for permanent stitching and that gorgeous Wonderland fabric ready to be made into mom and daughter matching skirts. I also want to spend some time tinkering with my the aperture and ISO on my camera. What fun! This will be the first time in a long while I can play without feeling guilty because of school work. Now I just have to figure out a way to incorporate "kid fun" with these activities so its a win/win for everyone during the summer vacation. Any thoughts?

On a more somber note... I still remember where I was when I learned that Elvis Prestley died- in my mom's Volkswagen bug after school, and when John Lenon was killed- at my next door neighbors house sitting on her front porch. How interesting that I was on Facebook when I learned that Michael Jackson has passed. I feel ashamed because, at first I thought it said Michael Jordon died and I had the same response I felt when John Kennedy Jr's plane crashed - "oh no, one of the last of the good guys was gone." Then I realized it was MJ and for some reason I was detached from it. I guess all the rumors and hype over the years had caused me to write him off. But as I watched the news and saw the responses on Facebook, so much of my childhood came rushing in. Billy Jean, Thriller, Beat it... these were the songs on the soundtrack of my life. I decided to do a little research and read the very lengthy bio of MJ on Wikipedia. It turns out that a lot of what I thought about him was just tabloid gossip. I began to feel a sadness, not just for the loss of a huge talent, entertainer and musical genius, but a sadness for a man who, despite his great success, lived a very hard life of mental and physical abuse, health issues, addiction, accusations, legal battles, and undoubtedly, some mental illness as a result. I feel bad that I believed what I heard. I feel bad that he died with people thinking so many false bad things about him. Perhaps some of the things were true and now he'll have to answer to a higher authority about that. I know that hurt people hurt others and so I choose to feel compassion at this time. At the end of the day - he died and I'm so sorry he is gone but I truly hope that he finally KNOWS what a talent he was and has peace. we'll miss you Michael.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Painting Spree - almost there!

It has been really intense painting so much these last 10 days. Essentially, I started this run last Tuesday afternoon, took a 3 day break over the weekend due to various commitments and have been painting like crazy ever since. I finished the casual composition painting and got my grade back: a B-.

My work is improving but there is a part of me that feels frustrated that I was not able to put more time into the important details. Normally, I would have had a week to complete each painting - the suggested time dedicated was 12-20 hours per piece. Obviously, I did not invest that into my work which means I missed the end game. The part where you see what is there rather than what you know. The lock down vibe where it is just you and the canvas. Sometimes I love this but, to be honest, it also REALLY stresses me out because I had destroyed a good painting last April while in this zone.

It was a lot of wet on wet work and I went into an intuitive frenzy, painting what I "felt" rather than what I saw. Next thing I knew my perspective was demolished, my ellipses where cockeyed and there was no reconciliation. I'm eager to address that fear before closing this chapter because it will be at least 6 months before I pick up a brush for any kind of school work. I don't want that anxiety festering.

Hence, of my last 2 assignments, one was offered as extra credit - flowers. I really want to learn flowers so I am going to combine a high key with a floral set up so I have 2 days to work through it and learn everything the class has to offer. The last required painting was our choice - either a casual set up or High Key. I really like High Key but have mixed emotions about how my last piece came out.

High Key set Up (light values)

On one hand I love what I did here. There is a Renaissance feel to it that speaks to me. On the other hand, I know I could have push it so much further and I have issues with the bowl ellipses which I am sure everyone can see but I hate to draw attention to. (I would love it if ppl. thought it was intentional and brilliant - denial is a powerful thing).

Finished painting using only light colors to define objects and shadows

My low key painting was definitely harder. In the composition, the right side of the bowl disappeared into the shadows although the set up photo does not show this because I don't know how to photograph in that low of life light with my camera.

Every time I tried to take a picture with the light turned low, the camera would leave the shutter open for 5-10 seconds and the picture would come out blurry. There was just no room to pull out the tripod. The challenge was making the bowl disappear while communicating the depth between the foreground and background.. Also, in order to retain the lighting, I had to depend entirely on the otto light I have mounted to my easel. This light caused a lot of refection on the canvas so I could not always see the subtle changes in color. Blah, Blah, Blah... it came out as it came out. I was done- I ran out of patience and the clock was ticking.

Last night I posted a treasure trove of new items on my Esty shop. I've had these beauties for a few weeks now but did not have time to photograph nor post them. Last night, I needed the change in pace so I got busy. I have a lot more to add but first things first.

Tomorrow I'll turn in the last painting and then I have to prepare 20 tag album kits for camp on Tuesday which is a really nice creative transition. I am also looking forward to playing with my kiddos, cleaning this house and earning some moola. I'm working with a new client on Sunday which is going to be SUPER fun! I'm teacher her daughter how to scrapbook while creating an album for a friend...Teach a man to fish kind of thing.

I can't wait to hear from back porch quilters on the status of my quilt. I hope it has arrived in North Carolina! I'll check on that today. Busy, but loving that my todo's have nothing to do with dry cleaning nor spread sheets - just art, life, art!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Painting marathon - Day 2

I finished painting #2 - Replicating Patterns in still life set ups. I can see the areas I am improving and areas other that need improvement are becoming more obvious. This one was much more fun than I thought it would be partially because I watched the entire 1 hr 20 min. lecture before I tackled the second half. It is so hard to watch the lectures because I just want to jump in and start painting. Also, watching someone paint is not an action packed experience but this lecturer was pretty darn good. The way he hit the shapes with bits of color, maybe just a value higher then the previous spot and BAM!, the whole object became 3 dimensional. It was amazing and made a big difference when I started on this painting at the 50% mark.

Painting #2 Set Up

50% (ish) complete

I went in and layered some paint over the background and foreground to enhance the texture, then took to the details.

Painting #2 Completed

I really enjoyed breathing life into this one - sometimes it can be incredibly stressful - I think it boils down to the original sketch. If you can put down a good drawing and your perspective and proportions are accurate you only have to work on color and details. A bad sketch on the other hand, spirals into a bad painting and worse, a bad painting experience.

Painting #3 Set Up

My next project is on casual composition. It took me all afternoon to create a set up and I am not 100% pleased . Here is my painting at 50% complete. I've got my work cut out for me on this one.
I just don't have the time to get hung up on small details with just 12 days left and 5 more paintings to do. That includes the final which we had 3 weeks to complete. Stressed?! Maybe a little - but there's no time for that right now...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good times...dare I say great times?

I'm sitting here looking into the yard laughing at my husband's attempt to catch every last plum without a bruise or squirrel bite. He wants to invent a gizmo for this - he's been talking about it for several years now - I better shut up about it though just in case it ends up being our golden goose.

I'm loving where we are in our life today. Its not perfect but its really good and the fact that I can take a moment to acknowledge that fact makes it great.

We have had the summer vacation "pick a card" plan in action for 3 days now and it is really been successful. On day one they pulled the SHOPPING card for the A.M. so they went to Home Depot and were allowed to get out of the cart and run freely - Woo Hoo! a big deal for our little guys and they went to the pool in the afternoon. On day two, they pulled the Wash the cars for AM and play with Aunt Pam for the afternoon. Today, they pulled Go for a hike and do a field guide scavenger hunt for the morning and in the afternoon they will be watering the garden with spoons, and other random objects. Since Tim is doing kid duty, he is loving it too. The kids are super enthusiastic and he has currency to get them to follow directions. "If you don't... you won't get to pick a card tomorrow."

I've been doing all kinds of fun things too. I finished assembling my quilt and sent in off to Back Porch Quilters to have it long arm quilted.

My old singer doesn't do quilting so I was happy to send it out. I feel so stinkin accomplished that I assembled this bad boy I can't stand it! It may very well be my most treasured creation. Its no masterpiece and I can see I'll have some seams to repair right out of the gate, but gosh darnit, I made a king size quilt! I am going to make drapes from the extra squares but first I have to get my remaining paintings completed for STILL LIFE.

I had to take an incomplete in this class due to some health issues - ended up being Trigeminal Neuralga which is now being treated and is MUCH IMPROVED! I was able to finish my photography class and pulled a B+ even with all the sick days but painting is a labor intensive activity that requires lots of time and concentration - something I could not do with my pain. Anyhow, I now have 2 weeks to complete 6 or 7 paintings. I jumped in yesterday feeling pretty darn good after sending off my quilt and I'm at the 1/2 way mark with a reflective silver assignment.

This is the set up

This is the painting at 50% complete

Today I go in and do my detail work, play with the color, texture, brush strokes and make adjustments to the layout. It's "a work in progress" but I'm trying to share the journey and check my ego at the door. It keeps getting in the way of learning which is the whole point. If I was an awesome painter I would not need the class.

Update: Here is the finished piece. I made a mistake using a lighter background which wants to come forward making the painting look flat. A super valuable error because after trying to fix the "flatness" with everything under the sun I was able to "see" the problem and now I "understand" creating depth a little better.

I'll also begin working on a new painting working with patterns. This is going to be a tedious project but I'm up for it. I'll be creating a set up including an object that has a pattern then replicating it as precisely as possible in my painting. The process requires both right and left brain activity. My bridge between the two hemispheres isn't a developed muscle/pathway so it will be a lot like doing sit-ups but the result is a more developed eye, a more responsive hand and the knowledge that I have completed it.

(This is not mine - this is done by an accomplished still life artist, Nancy Chaboun - AMAZING right!?)

I will also be preparing kits for camp which starts on June 30th. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE teaching art to these gals! This is my 3rd year with Camp Gen Israel and it is an honor to be on their faculty.

I want to share some of the great pictures from camping last weekend. We had such a great time! I cannot wait to go back - maybe mid-week so its less crowded and there is less partying. It didn't really bother us too much but they were pretty loud at night and we were woken up a couple times. I really can't complain because I was young once and acted the same way - maybe worse. For some reason you just don't know you are being loud when you have been drinking beer all day. Its weird like that.

We had a blast paddling down river but did not catch a single fish. It was one of those times where something always got in the way of focused fishing. Tim was pretty disappointed... which is hilarious but that is another story...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Everyone's To Do List's should look like this

So I'm trying to make sure I have lots to do for my munchkins during the summer break. I've been working on their "To-Do" list like I was trying to name all 50 states - I just can't seem to let up. The hard part is coming up with activities that are enticing for a boy and a girl and do-able for a 3 and 6 year old.

I've decided that we will have a general calendar and then each day that they don't have excursions, play dates or other coordinated activities, they EACH (one for morning, one for afternoon) will get to draw a card from the TO DO pile which we will then add to that day

Man -I wish my TO DO list looked like this:
  1. backyard obstacle course
  2. scavenger hunt using toy stickers from learning tree
  3. Hide and seek (an oldy but goody)
  4. water the plants with squirt guns
  5. go to the club pool
  6. build sculptures for the backyard with wood glue, nails, wire and assorted exterior suited materials
  7. run through the sprinklers
  8. sort toys to give to the shelter than if we come up with 20, go to toys r us to buy each a new toy
  9. build a fort
  10. silverware wind chimes (get silverware from good will)
  11. hiking scavenger hunt with trail guide to find animals, plants, etc.
  12. play in the blow up kiddie pool
  13. play Faeries and elves (leave little notes and sweets for the kids from the faeries)
  14. have kids each draw 3 pictures then make a story from it and write it for them - use the bind it all to make it a real book. Let them each decorate a chipboard cover
  15. find the golden egg hidden in the backyard
  16. Paint our wooden table and chairs which are totally thrashed from the winter
  17. finger food picnic
  18. go to the library
  19. dress up in costumes and play in character
  20. Make cards for the troops
Left to their own devices they do manage to have fun but you never know if someone (or something) will get hurt. This is last weekend - they woke up at 6:00 a.m.- WAY before mom and dad and they managed to find an interesting way to keep themselves busy:

Monday, June 8, 2009

The change from lazy summer to busy calendars - who authorized this?

4 days until school is out then life will get busy - how strange is that? Those days of unstructured, spontaneous living are no more. My kids need the structure, the routine or they get squirly. A schedule to a 3 and 6 year old is like swaddling to a new born baby. And truth be told, I'm pretty ineffective myself without the perimeters of deadlines and schedules. The good news is that a bunch of the events and commitments quickly approaching are creative opportunities, celebrations and family adventures. However, I have learned that one must be strategically prepared or these occasions can quickly turn into stressers and chores.

The first step was assembling our family calendar which is the real story of what life will look like. The next, and my task for today, is scheduling in time for preparations and cleanup as well highlighting days of flexibility and scheduling downtime. This summer I am making a conscious effort to stay ahead of the curve so that our family can enjoy all the activities and still experience the "lazy daze" I recall from my childhood.
To be totally honest, I have another motive. I love signing up for swaps, on-line artsy challenges and hostessing play dates with my friends but I rarely look at the calendar when signing up. I want to be more thoughtful of these activities so my world is slower, quieter, more fluid. I don't want to feel guilty during one activity because I "should" be doing another.

For example, the quilt-along is a absolute delight and I am thrilled I am doing it - not sure the King size quilt was very practical though. Its double the work and I am afraid if I fall behind, I won't finish so I've been devoting more time to it than I should - the guilt has started to set in... It is a pattern I want to break, an example I don't want to set, a life I no longer choose to live. Today, I want to be


If my husband took on things as I did and did not consult me before doing so, I would be so annoyed. Why do I think it is OK for me? I want to be a more considerate, less busy person. Of course this means that I need to sit still when there is time to sit still, not see an opportunity to "do something". Wow - this is not at all where I saw this blog entry going...this is going to be tough! But Eva gave up her binky so I can certainly do this. I'll need support and gentle reminders from my posse, OK? I think this kind of work is considered cognative behavior change. Maybe I need a carrot to stay on the path. Any ideas?