Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In the white room...

This strange looking room is my future collage/assemblage space. It was once the guest room with blue carpet (thus the blue venetian blinds). I ripped up all the carpet and the baseboard will have to be replaced as it was just some vinyl junk.

I really hate blue carpet.

I painted the floor white - and I was considering marbling it into "tiles" - but I think I'm going to just clear coat it and leave it. I love all the reflected light, and it will be easy to find all the things I'll be dropping - or that my cats will knock on the floor (when they sneak in). The white floor reminds me of my old loft in Philadelphia. It had a nasty chipped linoleum floor that I poured - yes, literally poured high gloss oil-based white paint onto. The smell was unbelievably terrible - (I probably lost a couple of years of life due to that ) but the effect was incredible, gorgeous, perfect - for an artist's space. The rest of the loft was sprayed white, too (of course!)

And so in the honor of my former white art makin' space of 3,000 square feet, I've decided to rip down the wallpaper and do the walls in white textured plaster. It will be the only space in my house without lots and lots of bright or strong color accents. But then, white on white on white is color too.

Speaking of white... (or formerly white), this is Glynnis after the flood. Note the high water - or should I say mud - mark.

Funny thing about Great Pyrenees, though. Within 24 hours, the mud will just slide off and she'll be pure white again, just like Claire.

Yes, this is Claire. Very dignified... (and clean).

And this? This is a Charolais cow. I love her ears. She's rather dignified too. Where I live, I seem to be completely surrounded by these moos.

She'll likely turn up in one of my paintings, but for now, she fits right into this blog, which seems to have developed a theme.

And one more - Frosty, a white cat rescued from being a feral fellow many years ago. He's gone on to his reward, and I'm sure his little bunny friend is up there too.

This is an old painting. And when I look at it now I can't believe I did something this sentimental. I do like the bunny toy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Theme Thursday : mineral... COPPER

Wealth falls on some men as a copper down a drain.” - Seneca
Last week I was confident of getting my theme post up in a timely manner... Yes, well, that was before all plans for the week fell apart. Instead of painting the outdoor mural next on my schedule, I've been out scrambling to make ends meet. Seems the weather is uncooperative, and I won't be able to paint or get paid for some time yet. And as I had counted on this income for March, I've got to step back and punt.

I hate thinking about money. I'm not gifted with cunning or opportunism when it comes to getting ahead, closing the deal or being self serving. I suppose it's due to my just not caring much about making money. I'd happily life on the smallest of stipends if I could just make art. But this is not my lot in life, and for the first time in twelve years I'll be taking a temporary job.
With that in mind, I felt it apropos to choose as my mineral that of which the smallest of legal tender is made: copper.

Copper has been good to me. As I stated in an earlier post, I'm one to: see a penny and pick it up, all the day to have good luck... I love the idea of finding a "copper." I've often thought that if I could possess all the lost and mislaid pennies of the world, I'd be comfortably well off - and no one would suffer loss. I also hate waste. It is with this in mind, that I've made it through here and there by recycling. No - not pennies - though I've a gallon jar filled with them as well as an additional container of wheat pennies. I keep the pennies. But several years ago when I was still married, my spouse - a welder - began to carry home pockets full of the little welding-rod end caps shown here. The pipeline manufacturer he worked for threw these away! He knew how much I loved bits of metal like this for my assemblages, so he collected them for me. Gradually, several coffee cans were filled and set aside amongst my collections of "stuff."

Things change. The marriage ended and I became sole proprietor and sole supporter of myself and my critters. More recently, free-lance art jobs became scarcer and scarcer as the price of copper soared higher and higher. Those little throw-away "O" rings actually made a couple of mortgage payments possible.

I've never cared much for gold or diamonds, but I love the color of copper. I've copper-coated horses, copper-bottomed pans, and copper plates for etching. I have yard art made of copper and jewelry made from copper wire and some say my hair is the color of copper - but I think it's actually more like "natural" brass. Hopefully, I'll be able to hang on to my yard art, my jewelry - and my hair! (heh) Though soon it may be more silver than copper...

The world is an old woman, and mistakes any gilt farthing for a gold coin; whereby being often cheated, she will thenceforth trust nothing but the common copper
- Thomas Carlyle

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My vegetable garden...

Back in the 1970's when I was a struggling artist (oh dear - I still am!) beginning to make and show things, I worked in fabric and fiber. I'd been a sculpture major in art school, and I loved working with form and texture and color - all in the same art form. Fiber was hip. Fiber was now. Fiber was where it was hapnin'. It still is, but I have moved on...

I guess I am no longer hip or hapnin'... (heh).

For the Thursday Theme, I stewed (groan) over what to post on "Vegetables." Rummaging in my rummage room last week, I'd come across one of my old soft sculptures... Aha! Cabbage is a vegetable, right? Well, it will have to do. I love cabbage - and I owe a couple of years of living to the sale of these cabbages - or cabbage roses, as some called them. I've never been any good at growing a vegetable garden, though my flowers, shrubs and trees flourish. But this fellow seems to be an exception. After all, he's managed to survive over thirty years with me!

Ahhhh... pear blossoms from a cabbage's perspective.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm featured!

Top Artist's Directory

I just learned I've been chosen as the featured artist this week at Top Artist's Directory. Kim Barker (aka laketrees) provides a great service to artists listing over 300 artists who blog, and providing a venue that showcases the artists' biographies and selected images.

I know it works, as several people have said they found me through Top Artist's Directory' listings. Thank you, Kim, for your time and efforts on our behalf, and a big thank you for selecting me as this week's feature artist!

Thank you.!

And my gallery reception was today for the two person show of which I am one person (heh). Some of my friends say I could do a two person show all by myself... but I think they mean it in a nice way... sorta. I mean; they're referring to how prolific I am; not how many personalities I have (cause two ain't nearly enough) - nor do they mean I am two-faced.

I do paint pretty fast and it comes from spending six years reproducing old master paintings onto furniture for a high end company. We were paid piece rate, and one had to be fast or be cut. If you've never had a job that paid you by the piece, count yourself lucky. It's not for the faint of paint. I once painted an entire armoire (sides and front) similar to the one pictured, but bigger, in a day and a half. Twelve hours. 'Course by then, I'd done a dozen of them and hardly needed to look at the sample. The "allowed time" for that piece was 30 hours. And no matter how fast or slow one painted, all work had to pass inspection at quality control. So one couldn't take short cuts, one just had to be fast.

The cabinet pictured here is my own design - and I only ever painted one of these. Took me three days of steady painting.

And more good news! I sold a piece at the show - and so did my friend Carolann. As is so often the case, the purchasers were both artists themselves. The piece I sold was a framed print of Desperado, a tiny painting I did a couple of years ago and couldn't bear to part with. I made only 5 prints, as I'm not a fan of large print editions. You can see it in the photo at left from my shop/gallery. The painted oar, shelf and headboard are among the things I paint to sell there. Many of my customers live on Lake Rabun or along the Chattahoochee River so trout and fishing scenes are popular.

The reception was a good time, in spite of being a chilly and rainy day. Lots of folks brought food, and I was even given a delicious pineapple cream pie to bring home. Yum-yum!!

Here is the original Desperado... 4 x 6 inches of grumpy chick...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Theme Thursday... animals

This is my first thematic post, (find the other culprits here) and because it's animals, I just couldn't resist. I'm a total softie for animals, wishing I could make things better for them in general, and sharing my life and home with many over the years. I've never counted the number of cats and dogs I've rescued, saved, neutered, fostered and loved, but I know they add up to dozens and dozens and dozens. Birds and bunnies, horses and pooches, kittens and cats and even turtles, possums and squirrels have quartered with me at one time or another.

Those helpless little faces, those eyes begging for love and understanding. How could I not answer the call?

And today I wish to share a little secret: I also rescue homeless stuffed animals.

I know there are more of you out there who share my compassion for these, the cast-aside, the forgotten and forlorn. They number in the millions; helpless creatures once-treasured for their fine fake fur, silken ears and polyester-plumped little bellies, their bright glassy eyes now clouded with despair.

Stained with the tears of old sorrows, their hapless little faces peer hopefully from the shelves of thrift shops and second-hand stores. Their threadbare little limbs poke out of yard-sale boxes, tossed there with the callous indifference of capitalists bent on gleaning some further mean and meager sum - as if all their years of dedication were not enough penance...

Never mind how they were there for us when we needed them: when we were frighted of the dark or when our hearts were broken, or when we needed someone to hug when no one understood. They listened without judgment or censure.

Like tokens of love from a now-defunct relationship, we are embarrassed now by their very presence in our domain. They remind us of our fragility; they frighten us with their knowledge of our deepest fears. And so they are scorned, cast away, abandoned, forsaken.

Here now are the faces of some of the wretched and forgotten.

See how their faces are careworn; etched with love passed on, tattered by disappointments and frayed with anxiety.

See how they ask for nothing except to be loved.

Can you turn away, unmoved?

Open your heart and your home to those who have served us well in our time of need. Hug an animal today... stuffed or otherwise...

(It'll be our little secret.)

Like the Velveteen Rabbit, it's the loving that makes it all real.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Introducing Freda...

As my last post was rather lengthy, and my fingers are stiff from pulling on fence wire, I thought I'd tell Freda's story. She's so uncomplicated that there's not much to tell. Just the facts (mostly).

Fact No 1. I couldn't say no.

For nearly I year I didn't have a dog at all. After the loss of my beautiful black Great Dane Chloe, it was a long time before I thought of another canine. I was cat food shopping at a Petsmart, and I stopped to look at the photos of pets for adoption. Just as I was turning away, a young woman with three small children walked up. She asked if I was looking for a puppy and she shoved a snapshot of five mostly black hound-dog looking pups at me. I politely said that I really didn't want another black dog as it would remind me of my Dane. The woman's face actually crumpled, and much to my horror she began to sob loudly and to wail "Oh God, what am I going to do? Nobody wants any and now I have seven dogs and they're getting really big and they're not very cute anymore and I've tried everything and what am I going to do and I don't have any place to keep them and we found the mom dog and she was starving and we rescued her and she was already pregnant and I can't bear to have them all put to sleep and what am I gonna do? Wa-aa-ah."

Fact No 2. No good deed... yadda, yadda, yadda.

Everyone in the store was looking at me... I said: well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to take a look . She hic-cupped and smiled and apologized - and said she didn't live far and I followed her... I named my new nearly all black puppy "Freda" after Frida Kahlo - but I didn't learn how to spell it until later (obviously).

Freda's mom was a Yellow Lab. Freda's dad ?????. He must have been some sort of Pointer though, as she looks like a black German Shorthaired Pointer. And she points.

Fact No 3. Some dogs are completely useless. (heh)

Freda is naturally lazy. She doesn't bark unless the moon is full and the foxes or coyotes are yipping in the distance - oh, and once she barked all afternoon out in the pasture and when I finally went to investigate, she was dancing around a huge rattlesnake that had obviously just eaten something very large ( rabbit? neighbor's chicken?) Freda must have known it was the sort of thing one rarely sees in real life, and she didn't want me to miss out (eeesh). Safari guide dog anyone? She loves strangers and won't even bark at their dogs. Not much of a watch dog...

But she did help me get that plaintive look for a little painting...

Fact No 4. A winning smile will take you far.

I'm a huge supporter of spay/neuter and good care for all cats and dogs, no matter the color, breed - or lack thereof. I hate that so many people are indifferent to the wonderful mixed breeds in shelters and go out and buy dogs and get on "waiting lists" for particular puppies rather than saving one from euthanasia.

I mean: just look at that face!!!

Coming soon: Freda's paw...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

...some bunny to love (heh)

Due to several recent sightings of rabbits – or bunnies, as I prefer to call them - my left brain is focused on the nature of superstition. .

I think of myself as rational and logical, and I was heavily educated in the sciences. This means I like to know cause and effect and the “why” of how things work. I’m the sort of person who had trouble in algebra and calculus, because I wouldn’t just accept the formulas for problem solving; I had to try to reason them out, to understand why/how the formula worked. How anal! How obsessive! How stubborn! But I am none of these things exclusively – because, like all humans, I contradict myself.

What do bunny sightings have to do with any of this? I thought you’d never ask.

For several years I worked as an artist for a high-end furniture company. I had to “clock in” at 7 am – which meant up at 5am and on the road by 6am for a 40 mile drive. Armed with a mug of black coffee, I would set out before sunrise, driving along blacktop country roads for most of the journey. As the faint light of dawn gave way to sunrise and then sun-up, the finite natural world along the berm woke up along with me.

Startled by the sudden bright light, nighthawks and doves and other small indistinguishable birds would often flutter out of the tall grass and veer drunkenly across the beam of my headlights. I had to watch carefully as nothing upset me more than having one crash into the car. Once in a while I would spot the murky forms of deer or wild turkey as they moved to their daylight hiding places. Apparently, although skunks, opossums and raccoons are late night party animals, they retire before sunrise because I don’t recall ever seeing a live one in the very early morning.

There was one other creature I would see on these morning commutes: little rabbits: les lapin; bunnies. Now I am very fond of rabbits, real and imaginary, often using them as subjects in my paintings. I once had a little chocolate Netherlands Dwarf bunny named Ernie who had the run of my house. He was adorable, used a litter box and got along well with the two cats I had at the time: Johnson and Evinrude. Every so often I would find that my phone was dead which meant Ernie had chewed the line in two again. And then there’s the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland ( I’m late! I’m late! - story of my life), and The Velveteen Rabbit and the fabulous song: White Rabbit of Jefferson Airplane/Grace Slick fame.

I didn’t see rabbits everyday, and sometimes a few days would pass without seeing ‘a-one. But seeing bunnies hopping about in the early morning cheered me, - and I began to take note of whether I saw any - and to mentally categorize the days, based upon the number of bunny sightings. A ”bunny” day was any day a rabbit or rabbits were sighted, and then there were “two bunny” and even “three bunny” days. A “three bunny” day was rare indeed; rabbits are solitary creatures, after all.

Upon arrival at work, someone would unfailingly ask: “How are you?” Since my mood was better on days when I spied bunnies, I might answer “I’m great, I saw two bunnies this morning.” Eventually, I would say simply: “It’s a two-bunny day!” and the person would know that was a good thing.

I mean, sure, I was being cute, but part of me meant it. This is where the superstition thing comes in. I actually began to correlate how good my day would be with whether or not a bunny had appeared. I didn’t question it at the time; I didn’t even consciously think it, but I felt that the bunnies were good omens. I mean I didn’t really believe it – but it seemed that those days, those bunny days, just went more smoothly. It’s obvious looking back on this that bunny days probably went more smoothly because of my attitude. Conversely, sighting a road kill rabbit (or any other hit and run creature) negated the good karma of the day because it bummed me out. Thus on a day when I was in a good mood, I noted the good things, and ignored or discounted any bad or unpleasant happenings, and vice versa.

Is this how we come to be superstitious? … I say I don’t believe in luck, good or bad, but I am likely to pick up a penny found on the sidewalk because my Dad always did. It seems disrespectful to his memory to let it lie there – or is this my excuse “just in case?” What about saying the name of that play? What about believing in second sight or fate or ghosts or a supernatural being? What about jinxes? I freely admit to keeping certain potential good news to myself for fear of jinxing it. This is probably just aversion training: having spoken too soon, or counted my chickens before they hatched, I have had to eat crow – an unpleasant dish. But I truly think of it as a jinx, as if the one causes the other. Hmmm … not so rational after all, am I?

My huge encyclopedic dictionary defines superstition as follows: A belief founded on irrational feelings, especially of fear, and marked by a trust in or reverence for charms, omens, signs, the supernatural, etc., …
And supernatural: Existing or occurring through some agency beyond the known forces of nature; lying outside the natural order….

I noticed that the old Elvis song: “Suspicion “ kept running through my head ever since I began thinking on the nature of superstition. Granted the words sound similar, but I thought (assumed) their meanings were disparate – and they are – but they are also related.

suspicion: the state of one who suspects; the imagining of something wrong, without proof or clear evidence…

Each of these terms deals with things that cannot be proven, and interestingly to a linguistic afficionado like myself, each has a different root word origin. I will not bore you with these….

Suffice it to say that curious but imaginative beings that we are, we continue to invent reasons and answers for things we cannot understand and to question our own conclusions in our attempt to have proof of reason and reasonable proofs. And if all else fails, let humor prevail.....

May each and every one of you have a three bunny day!

I hadn't thought about bunny days in a long while. But since my two Great Pyrenees guard dogs are unemployed (I sold all my sheep), they have also become uncharacteristically indifferent to small trespassers. I have started to notice there are bunnies down along the driveway, especially in the evenings. And every time I see a bunny rabbit, I smile and I get a good feeling. Obviously, the bunnies pictured here are excapees from someones domestic rabbitry.