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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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There aren’t too many good things to be said about moving.  It is first of all an awful lot of physical work, so who likes that?  And secondly, the “finds” in the studio are mostly either plain yucky or strange and puzzling.  There are the dead and desiccated flies hidden in corners and on the window sills.   For the life of me I can’t remember why I have a rather large box of rhinestones in varying sizes and colors…but keeping those just in case.   Likewise, there were the google-eyes…I remember the project, a google-eye covered lampshade (quite chic) for a charity auction but why would I have saved all the leftover eyes?  They’re gone.  Uncovered a plethora of paint tube caps from long gone tubes of paint…different brands, different sizes…which made some sense since the floor in my old studio had gaping holes, not so gaping that I would fall through but gaping enough to swallow paint caps, small change and once my studio keys when I dropped them…all gone to a special place, never to be seen again.  There was the small leak in the ceiling that I never knew about until I moved a stack of lovely drawing paper, lovely no more but apparently quite absorbent.  The culling of paintings and drawings was definitely necessary, nonetheless I had to keep reminding myself of a long ago newspaper review of a retrospective that said, as best I remember:  Obviously Artist Joe Blow never threw anything away!

I did find a stack  paintings that I’d forgotten about or chose to ignore. Some were canvases meant to be painted over (which I mostly cut up and tossed) and a few were canvases that were meant to be finished when the weather changed or when spirit moved me or  when I decided what exactly the muse was trying to say, and  there were some just turned against the wall for who knows what reason.  This is one of those paintings….

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Seattle Studio finally empty

Seattle Studio finally empty

If someone tells you that you have too many art supplies, for God’s sake, listen.   They are not jealous of your well stocked studio.  They are not coveting your art supplies nor questioning your expertise in multiple media.   They are not even (one hopes) plain, old ordinary mean and critical.   And while they may sound a just a tad snarky, they probably like you and mean well enough.   Probably.  My guess is that they are just afraid that you are going to ask them to help you move all that stuff from your old studio to your new one.   They’re not being  preachy, sarcastic or derogatory, they’re  just watching for that sucker punch….

The cabinet I wish I could have kept!

The cabinet I wish I could have kept!

To my surprise two of my friends actually volunteered to help me move, not counting the always pleasant Mr. T who had no choice in the matter.  But because I valued their friendship, of course I said Thanks but no, I’ve (meaning we’ve) got it covered.  What I didn’t but should have realized is that Mr. T and I have totally different moving styles.  I carefully study each item, deciding whether or not it should be kept or tossed.  He is of the “Toss it in a box, move it and decide later!” persuasion.  Between the two of us, we managed to be out of the Seattle studio at the end of January.  But, sweet heaven above, the chaos in the new studio has to be seen to be believed.

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Valentine's Day project

Valentine’s Day project

Mr. T and I spent Valentine’s Day in the new studio putting up and then painting peg board.Were we tired?  You betcha!  But not so tired that we couldn’t spend a romantic evening with a take out pizza and a bottle of red wine, dressed in our classiest  jammies in front of the tv.