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December

Annual December madness is upon me…I’m not spending enough time at the studio and too much time at the post office…not memorizing the wanted posters as you might think, but mailing packages and buying stamps just in case I manage to get out holiday cards this year.   I didn’t manage to do that last year or the year before and I’m pretty sure not the year before that, so the perfect, carefully chosen cards will soon be candidates for the Antiques Road Show.

Star Dust & Cookie Crumbs

Star Dust & Cookie Crumbs

When I do go to the studio I pack a little, then paint a little, and then pack a little more.  These two paintings are both acrylic on canvas.  Winter Bouquet is a small painting ( 20″ x 16″)  and obviously (although not so obvious to me when I was painting it) influenced by the twinkling  Christmas lights… or perhaps the twinkling sugar on Christmas cookies… or perhaps the twinkling in the always pleasant Mr. T’s eyes as he happily plans my Christmas morning surprise.

Winter Bouquet

Winter Bouquet

Wishing joyous twinkling to you all this holiday season!

Au revoir, Seattle

After more than two weeks of the temperatures dropping below freezing, a tiny but nasty bit of snow and ice (hopefully the last of the season) and  blustery winds from the north I’ve decided to really and finally and at last move my studio south…to lovely Burien By The Sea.  I truly hate the thought of moving the studio since I love the SoDo location, but adding anther space heater (the fourth!) into my unheated and un-insulated studio only managed to raise the temperature to 65 after several hours and to that I say, “Ah, phooey!”  My new studio space has lower ceilings (too bad!) and equally bad lighting, but is slightly larger and very, very much warmer…but having to say good-bye to coffee-and-a-cookie at the incredible Macrina Bakery is going to break my heart.  I’m starting the  Pack Or Toss now, but will make the actual move in January when it will, most certainly,  be dark, cold…and raining.

The Snow Falling On Our Skin

The Snow Falling On Our Skin

This is the third oil on Yupo.  It started out a tad more romantic, but I was temperature-influenced and sorely cold-bit while painting.   I envisioned this painting as a sweet little (well, not so little since the Yupo measures  28″ x 40″, but definitely sweet) valentine but regretfully it morphed into a survivalist statement.  Sometimes paintings have a mind of their own.

I’m now on my third Yupo and oil stick painting, only to find out from them that know that this is not a good idea…something about chemical reactions and solvents and deterioration  (the paintings, not me.)  Too bad and so sad and am not quite certain what to do now with all that Yupo…too transparent for wearing, too thin for insulation, and too stiff for toilet paper…a conundrum,  for sure. Here is the first Yupo and oil stick painting…I was having a mighty good time painting it and it shows in these jolly jellybean colors. The always pleasant Mr. T pointed out (very carefully, I might add) that it really didn’t look like one of my paintings. Quite right, as I am not normally this cheerful. 003 This is the second painting, still happy, happy, crazy happy but a little more like my normal painting style. I started out with a teapot and a daisy, but it morphed.   Just as well, I suppose. 002 The third painting is not yet fit for human eyes to see,  but it is coming along nicely. Too bad it may fall apart faster than me.

Woke up yesterday morning to rain…at last!  It has been dry and sunny for so long in Seattle that I’ve been feeling like a broken potato chip.  Maddie, the pretty good Airedale, has totally forgotten rain and staggered through her morning walk as though it were her final mile.  Enzo, the tiny terror from L.A. who remembers everything he’s ever seen or smelled,  was thoroughly disgusted with the whole wet thing and did some serious canine grumbling, and the always pleasant Mr. T and I both got our socks wet dragging the beasties through the puddles (hot damn, puddles!)  It was a very good morning, indeed.

I love this time of year…this break between summer and winter.   In the studio this is that special time between running the fans and running the space heaters, and that means I can happy dance without the fear of a broken body part from a cord trip.  As the days get shorter and darker, I find my work becoming lighter and more serene…when I look at old paintings I might not remember what year I painted them but I can immediately tell you the time of year…dark and intense…had to be July.

 

Superman Picks Flowers For Lois Lane

Superman Picks Flowers For Lois Lane

 

Above is an acrylic painting from awhile back…it was lost in my computer for awhile and I finally found it again…must have been a summer painting.

It is unseasonably warm and dry here in Western Washington, to the happy amazement of sandal-footed Seattleites, most of whom have been eyeing his/her sandal socks since the first of September.   I’m still working in the studio wearing sandals sans socks, windows wide open and two fans a’blowing, with oil paints…and wondering what I’m going to do when the weather finally changes.

Still Life With Sticks

 

A friend recently gave me some oil sticks which I thought I could use like giant oil pastels…not quite!  I have some 28″ x 40″ sheets of Yupo (best described as very, very thin and bendy sheets of plastic or very, very thick and stiff sheets of plastic wrap) that have been gathering dust in the paper rack for years, which I’m using for my oil stick experiments.  The oil sticks stick to the surface well enough…it kind of “slicks” on… but I’m not sure that the paint won’t crack when I finally finish layering.   There’s a nice smeary, finger-painty feeling to these oil sticks, at least on Yupo,  that makes them kind of fun.  There are four different brands of oil sticks (maybe more, but that’s what I have) and each one feels and works differently…the Senneliers seem the softest but the other sticks might just be older and dryer.  Don’t know and, perhaps, I should find out.  The fastest way to learn about them, I suppose, is to find another artist who uses them and ask careful and useful questions…but where, in that, is the joy of discovery?

 

Tumbling

Tumbling

A week or so ago I decided to finally frame this oil pastel…I had a nice enough frame but needed  a mat.  In the olden days I used to cut my own mats, but stopped a few years ago because it is the one framing job that I truly, truly, TRULY  hate…I can clean glass for hours, practically juggle razor blades, cut and assemble a frame in a flash…but faced with a clean, white mat board and the ever evil mat cutter I turn into a cranky, weepy and very mean child.   So, off I went to Daniel Smith Art Supplies in Seattle with pastel painting in hand…to get a mat cut and have a catch-up chat with the worker bees at Dan Smith, who are not only knowledgeable and helpful but so very, very nice that they are some of my favorite people.   I threw myself on the mercy of Cindy, frame shop guru, who suggested that I might want to float the painting  and I whined that I hated dealing with spacers even more than I hated cutting mats…and I ended up handing her the painting and saying YOU DO IT! and do it she did…I think this painting looks super…the framing enhances the painting without overpowering it…Daniel Smith Frame Shop (Cindy and Holly and that guy in the back whose name I don’t know) I love you!

002

Unfortunately and alas,  I haven’t mastered the skill of photographing paintings behind glass…but even with reflections, I still think it looks super.  And it didn’t cost an arm and a leg…how great is that?

Dancing With The Moon

Dancing With The Moon

Not so long ago, a friend told me that she had always liked a painting of mine (one in a series of moon paintings that I had painted several  years ago) and I have to say that I not only mentally cringed but even made a sad, horrified face…. “Maggie, ” I cried, “those paintings have been around so long that I’ve been painting over them!  Had I known,  I would have given you the piece!  Why didn’t you tell me!”

This  conversation (quite a bit longer than that reported above) was absolutely and totally full of exclamation points,  but both Maggie and I always  speak that way anyway.   When I got to the studio the next day I started poking around my Use It Or Toss It pile, and found this painting…the last of the moon paintings…and I actually think this is the one she was talking about and so fondly remembering.  It was a little worse for wear… paint drips here and there, and maybe some dead spider splotches not so artfully placed, but  I did a clean up and a touch up and hopefully she still exclamation points it.