Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Riding the Thermals

Today I have a few journal pages to share. Feeling pensive as I observe the lengthening shadows and shorter days presaging fall. Oh, I fight the passing of summer. I love the long, warm days so thoroughly.

It's funny how we feel autumn's approach under our skin. The light changes. The senses quicken. I always feel like starting new projects in the fall; enrolling in classes or embarking on journeys.

Last Sunday we picked the peaches off the Frost Peach tree and I made a double recipe of Peach Cobbler to take to a potluck picnic that was a reunion of our old Portland Tilth Group.

For around 10 years John and I attended monthly meetings at the Friends Meeting Hall along with dozens of other enthusiastic organic gardeners and CSA growers. We shared vegetarian potlucks from our gardens and information on growing food and flowers. We met the best people in the world there.

This honeysuckle growing in Liz's garden reminds me of the honeysuckle that grew up the wall in our old house in Orenco. Up the wall and through the wall and finally into our bathroom window on the second floor of the house with the big clawfoot bathtub and the weathered window sashes. John and I fell in love in that house and the memories now are sweetened by time into legend. It was a hard life there but a good one too.

Sweet summer; I plan to stretch time and keep you with me longer.

I did this encaustic titled "Postcard from Mama" based on an old postcard I collected from around 1910. As I worked on it I reflected on the story of my mother's cousin's mother who, on one snowy, bitterly cold winter night, walked in front of a train on her way home from work. "On purpose?" I remember asking. But nobody knew. Maybe the wind muffled the sound of the train. Or maybe she couldn't take it. They were coal miners in that town in southern Illinois and life was a struggle.

Lots of rain this week forced John to dig the onions early and set up the drying racks.

He brought in a beautiful harvest of onions. Our garage smells yummy. He's also harvesting beans, before the rain spoils them.

The image on the right side of the page above reads, "Might as well face it, you're addicted to blogs". ha ha. That's me alright.

One last reminder here. Elizabeth is taking sign-ups for Squam until August 29th and then the doors slam shut. Squam is going to be delicious; in two weeks I'll be there along with many of my blog heros that I've yet to meet. There are classes for writers, artists, craftspersons. In the piney woods of New Hampshire. I'm already thinking about what I'm going to pack (flannel!). I've made workbooks and handouts and goody packets for my students. I'm going to spoil some people (hee hee). I love to do that.

In fact I'm going shopping today for some of the treasure. So if you can join us you will have a wonderful adventure. I'm teaching 2 journaling classes and one class on painting expressive faces in mixed media.

That's the update from here for today. Art in the Pearl this weekend and then on to Squam. I'll keep you posted; Girl Reporter on the job!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gaining Traction, Burning Time

I've been away from the studio for so long that I hardly knew where to start. I procrastinated for a few days (yes, me too) until the pressure to create was overpowering. My first few efforts were shaky and weird. But then I got into flow and lost myself in it; ah, that's when the angels sing.

These are all 8x10" encaustic collages on wood. I'm making new work for Art in the Pearl that happens in the Park Blocks in Portland over the Labor Day Weekend, Aug. 30 (Saturday) through Sept. 1 (Labor Day). This is only my second art fair this year and maybe one of my last as I don't see how I can keep up production while having a heavy teaching schedule.

I want to do both, as well as spend more time with my family, my close friends, my far-away friends, and so on. I want to gulp life down and put my arms around everyone but I am not my big fat imagination; I am only one 'me' that can be in one place at a time, doing one thing at a time.

I've dropped some important balls this year. Old friends that I love and miss. Art fairs that were fun and that brought me into proximity with artists I look forward to seeing and catching up with.

If life is a box of chocolates then it is one where you can't choose every single flavor. Sometimes choosing one kind means that you have to let go of another kind, even if you didn't realize that when you made the first choice.

That's what's been in my thoughts this week. All the beauty that slips through the cracks because we can only do so much. The things a person sacrifices (and I do dislike that word) to be the only person they could ever be. Because nothing could make me stop doing this; teaching and making art. And sometimes that makes me selfish.

I will not solve this, I know. Just tossing it out there in case anyone shares these thoughts too or has considered them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Overview

By climbing this ladder in our garage I was able to get most of the panel in my viewfinder without too much distortion.

I still cut off the bottom fourth but at least it's right side up. I added varnish, stars and mica and now it's officially done. Big happy.

I'll link to the wedding pictures in a few weeks and then you'll be able to see the whole panel.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Painting Me A Big One

Ah, the things we do for love. Remember Liesl who just got married recently? Well, in the interest of keeping the economy healthy, her sister Justine is also going to be married in a few weeks time. (poor Papa - I can only imagine!) Anyway, Justine's wedding will have a Parisian theme and I've been asked to paint a backdrop for the guests to have their pictures taken against. It's going to be 9 feet tall by 6 feet wide with a 4" unpainted area at the top for a hem so a rod can go through it. Since I don't have 9 foot ceilings in my house the only place I have to paint it is on my deck so here I am measuring the canvas from a large roll.

And this is where I spend the next 12 hours in a bent over position painting the canvas. Good thing I do my yoga regularly.

First I draw in the image in black paint. I often start my paintings this way. I think it comes from learning to draw from the funnies as a kid. Or maybe coloring books.

Anyway, I feel comfortable with a doing a drawing and then 'coloring' in the lines. I'm experimenting with other approaches but for this image I liked this one.

And then aie yi yi just stoop labor from here on out as I use my handy chip brushes to apply color and shading.

John comes out every few hours to record my progress from a high table top. This is the biggest thing I've ever painted and it took twice as long as I'd expected.

Once in awhile I got to sit down and do some detail work. Ahhhhh ....

Toward the bottom of the canvas I was racing a storm that was moving in with wind gusts and distant thunder. No problemo. Except for the leaves and dried gunk that wanted to blow across the wet paint.

Finito! Tomorrow I'll varnish both sides of the canvas to stabilize it against puckering (easy to say - more stoop labor involved) - and then I'll get a better photo for you.

Huge busy. Art in the Pearl coming up over Labor Day (3 days) and then I ship my boxes to New Hampshire and head out to Squam Art Workshops to teach again. This is the life I asked for and this is the life I was fortunate enough to have been given. It makes me feel so happy to be healthy and able to do so much at my age. Humble thank you's every moment. I want to give back as much as I can in the time I'm given. I want people to find happiness in self-expression and in being included and appreciated.

Life is so short when all is said and done. Nothing feels better than giving back.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Art Unraveled Part 2

On Sunday we worked in our journals. Love the paper, the writing, the drawings, the individuality of the page. I just thrill to the various styles that emerge as we do the series of exercises together on the page. Then it becomes obvious that each one of us is our own person with our singular history and our individual way to doing things.

Once again, the photos struggle under the poor lighting which I did not notice until I got home. The faces were a favorite of mine and each one was unique.

There were a couple of writing prompts although the focus was on the backgrounds and cursive styles.

We talked about our machined culture and how hand made things from the heart were so deeply human and satisfying.

We chose papers from our kits and from our personal stashes and combined them in our own ways. We tried out a variety of paint application techniques.

We worked in a variety of hand made and re-purposed books.

We discussed the beauty of old things, worn things, objects that have seen the passage of time and how beautiful those things are.

We talked about the beauty of the imperfect, the old, the broken. About the sincere, small, humble moments in life.

And I took a photograph of Ada's magnificent Buddha tatoo. One of the most beautiful tatoos I've ever seen.

I met many new friends but only came home with one picture; the lovely and talented Alma Stoller.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, John had gone online and taught himself how to make salad rolls with a number of different dipping sauces. On my return he made them for me. Wow, are they ever beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

The blue flowers are Borage (always covered with hundreds of honeybees in our garden) and he put thinly sliced strawberries inside too along with lots of Mrs. Burns' Lemon Basil, cucumber slices, chopped peanuts, cabbage, onion, carrots and a sauce of soy, ginger, green onion, and hot pepper.

Followed by icy gin and tonics.

Life is good.

Thank you to Linda and all the beautiful souls with whom I crossed paths at Art Unraveled. My heart is filled completely by the memory of your faces and the sound of your laughter. It was perfect in every way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Art Unraveled Part 1

Last Wednesday I left Portland for Phoenix where I taught 3 classes at Art Unraveled. My roomie there was Katie and we agreed we could not have had more fun than we did in our 5 days there. I brought back a few photographs.

This is the view toward the east from our sixth floor balcony. My beloved Arizona mountains. (I grew up in Mesa.) So many tearful homecomings. I love this desert where I experienced so many years of joy and sadness. Nothing is ever just one thing. I always have such pangs of memory when I visit.

Stephanie Lee gave us this bouquet of sunflowers for our room. The generous thoughtfulness of friends. It makes all the difference; to be loved and remembered. I'm still learning that lesson.

I didn't get photos of my Business class but we had a wonderful exchange of information there. Then the next day it was on to the class of building collages with paper, encaustic medium, transfers and ingenuity. Yum, don't you love to see the art supplies spread out as we play and experiment?

Today I'll show only the student work from that Encaustic Collage class. The light was very low in the room and while most of these photographs are poor I'll post what I have. We had 21 enrolled attendees (one over a full class) and every single project turned out brilliantly.

Gold foil transfer on the Buddha above and also linen thread woven into the wax.

A strange Frida-bird rising from her strange Frida nest.

A beloved pet, immortalized in wax.

The moon; the beautiful, pensive moon. Mica, twigs, buttons and a bow.

A princess in her private world - a story in the making. Perhaps a legend.

This woman makes her own light as she navigates the darkness.

A sense of peace and stillness.

A woman with sass and style.

She became the mistress of Cortez, the mother of the Mexican people, "La Chingada" (the despised one), a woman who loved a dreadful man. She must have felt torn as she helped to shape present day Mexico.

A beautiful portrait.

Bridget Benton started out with a heart that she painted into an octopus; thank you Bridget for helping me out more than once and for being a great artist and teacher in the Portland area. (sorry for the lousy photo of your divine piece)

The little boy doll is attached to the back side of the board.

A pensive child.

This artist drew the central figure so beautifully; the towel is upholstery fabric.

Photographs, collage elements and more ingenuity here.

These are the photographs that I came away with although I realize I missed a few. Everyone's work was unique to that person and wonderful. I was so happy at the end of the day to see that everyone felt elated and successful.

Closing with a photograph of Doris Arndt and Thomas, celebrating their 30th Anniversary of marriage. Doris is skilled at many things (think book arts but everything else too) and she and Tom met in art school when they were just kids. I've seldom seen a happier couple.

As soon as I got home I saw that the class list is posted here for Artfest 2009. Wow, some great classes this year and I'll be teaching two of them. Heads up folks, this is a great retreat that you won't want to miss.

It's going to take me awhile to get back up to speed with everything. I'm on the job though.