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Lot’s Wife

I’ve always admired abstract artists who can go to their studios, grab a brush and just paint from their hearts.  Whether it is laziness or lack of imagination I most often prefer to have a jumping off point.  The poem Lot’s Wife by Anna Akhmatova  has been tucked in the back of my mind for some time, and I pulled it out and jumped for this watercolor.

Lot’s Wife

 

Lot’s Wife

And the just man trailed God’s shining agent,
over a black mountain, in his giant track,
while a restless voice kept harrying his woman:
“It’s not too late, you can still look back

at the red towers of your native Sodom,
the square where once you sang, the spinning-shed,
at the empty windows set in the tall house
where sons and daughters blessed your marriage-bed.”

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
stitching her eyes before she made a sound . . .
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
too insignificant for our concern?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
who suffered death because she chose to turn.

From Poems of Akhmatova, by Anna Akhmatova and translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward. Published by Little, Brown & Co. © 1973 by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward. Granted by permission of Darhansoff & Verrill Literary Agency. All rights reserved.

Hard to believe that the summer is almost over, and that all the oil paintings I planned to paint are still unpainted, even though the studio windows were cranked open wide.  Where did June go?   Did I daydream through the whole month?  And July, where did July hide?

In September, just around the corner September,  my classes will again begin at the Tukwila Community Center…Open Studio where I am The Enabler with advice and encouragement on Thursdays from 10 until noon, and Truly Beginning Watercolor on Friday mornings where I will be Teacher Extraordinaire…hopefully.

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While Listening to Gregorian Chant

It’s been a long time since I last dipped a brush in the water bucket, so for the past couple of weeks I’ve been digging around in the watercolor box, muttering, Keep it simple, keep it simple!  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I hadn’t forgotten everything but what I had forgotten was how very beautiful watercolor colors can be.  Once again I’ve fallen in love with the medium…hoping I can pass this love on to the newbies.

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August Still-life In A Grid

Every once in awhile I look in the mirror and determine that it’s “Time to paint a self-portrait, kiddo.”  I did my first selfie in high school…I drew myself as Medusa because the snaky hair thing intrigued me.  At some point I did a drawing of me pregnant, and another painting of me as a Madonna…little escaped my pencil or paintbrush when I had the urge to Paint Me.. Most of these selfies no longer exist, and for good reason…some discarded because I was moving (and I moved a lot!) but most because they were embarrassingly bad drawings/paintings/ prints.  I wish now that I’d saved a few more of them because they are both more interesting to look at, and a better reminder of where I was at in my life, than old photos.

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I painted this one when the Always Pleasant Mr. T and I were dating.   He was living in Oklahoma; I was living just outside of Chicago.   We spent an inordinate amount of time and money on phone calls and flying back and forth.   I worried that given the distance he might wander off with a more economical and available local lass.  Clever girl that I was,  I mailed him a good-sized, wistful painting of me to hang in his apartment.

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By the time I got to these two dry points, the Always Pleasant Mr. T and I were long married and living in S. Carolina.  I don’t remember that I felt all that miserable, but looking at these two prints it is apparent that  I did.  After a long and happy love affair with clay,  I’d gone back to school for an art degree, where I felt frustrated and invisible.  Plus it was hot.   Plus there huge flying cockroaches about the size of hummingbirds that could sneak into the house with the groceries.  The move to Seattle was one that filled me with joy!

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There has been a long hiatus between self-portraits, but last week I grabbed a mirror and some oil pastels and, woops, I did it again.

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Someday, I’ll try smiling….

 

 

Not Dead Yet

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Oil Pastel 30″ x 22″

 

The very nice thing about having a blog is hearing from treasured but somehow lost friends.  The bad thing is staring at a blank computer screen.  It has been months and months since I last took fingers to keyboard because writing is far down my list of favorite things to do.  To be honest, it’s never made the favorite list…never, ever came close… writing is on the dread list that includes cleaning the bathroom, weighing myself and defrosting the freezer in the garage.  Today I am not defrosting the freezer.

 

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Oil Pastel 30″ x 22″

 

For the past six months I’ve had two easels smoking…acrylics when I feel the need for a brush in my hand and oil pastels because, gosh darn,  I love them!  Compared to painting oil pastels are so, so neat…a little stuff gets under the fingernails but who can’t live with that?  No brushes to clean, no water to fetch, no paint smudges on my shirts, no worries about spilling….oil pastels=easy living!

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Oil Pastel 30″ x 22″

 

 

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Oil Pastel 30″x 22″

 

 

 

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  My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,

  Thinks these dark days of autumn rain

Are beautiful as days can be;

She loves the bare, the withered tree;

  She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.

  She talks and I am fain to list:

She’s glad the birds are gone away,

She’s glad her simple worsted grey

  Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,

  The faded earth, the heavy sky,

The beauties she so truly sees,

She thinks I have no eye for these,

  And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know

  The love of bare November days

Before the coming of the snow,

But it were vain to tell her so,

  And they are better for her praise.

by Robert Frost

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It’s been a crazy, Up-and-Down summer.  In April we were told that our son and his family were moving back to the Seattle area (great happiness and very, very Up!) and that our son would be arriving several months before his family… so the always pleasant Mr. T and I decided that we would finally convert the dank and dingy storage room in the basement into a lovely and comfortable studio/guest room.  Unfortunately we lost our magic wand and were forced to be personally involved in the transformation. (How many lights?  Lots!  What color?  Don’t care!  What kind of hardware on the door?  What???  Pretty much a Down even though this was something long considered.) We also decided to finally paint the house, something that had needed to be done for years…more decisions re: color which the always pleasant Mr. T put squarely in my corner (very, very Down, in my opinion but a safety move in his!)   By mid-May decisions had been made and contractors scheduled (about as Up as you can get) when one evening, while Mr. T and I were eating dinner,  we were unpleasantly surprised when a not-young-but-not-old woman, hopped up on Red Bull and suffering from (she said)  low blood sugar, lost control of her car and ricocheted at a high speed off our narrow road and into our front yard, knocking boulders out of the rockery, mowing down my beloved garden, smashing the birdbath, shattering the picket fence and  attempting to enter the house via the kitchen’s south wall. (Down and more Down.)  She was uninsured, of course (very Down!)  Neither she nor her companion were hurt (must have been all that Red Bull) and the impromptu gathering of neighbors in our front yard, along with the police, made this event a strangely festive Up. However, the cleanup the next day (and the next day and the next day) was an incredible chore particularly since the always pleasant Mr. T is unpleasant Mr. Death to all green and growing things (Down!)  The contracting dates were pushed back while we checked the house’s foundation, etc.  (Down, Down, Down!)

Fences Can't Stop Me!

Fences Can’t Stop Me!

Except for some shattered shingles the house wasn’t damaged. (A surprising Up) The fence has been finally replaced and painted, and the surviving flowers and bushes are mostly back in the ground.  The house has been painted, and the very scary place in the basement has been remodeled into a surprisingly pleasant room.  Our son and family are settled into an apartment in the city. (Up, Up and more UP!)  During all this, the always pleasant Mr. T had his knee replaced and has managed to stay mostly pleasant. And today it finally rained. It’s good to be alive!

The past two months have been crazy busy, and I’ve been popping in and out of the studio like a jack-in-the-box.  I never have quite enough time and never get quite enough done.  I did manage to finish this painting…on one of the pop-ins, I decided it was a little to raw.  So, from this:

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to this.  Better, I think, and finished.

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