Saturday, December 31, 2011

Brand New Canvas

Ah, yes, here we are  - - New Year's Eve and the inclination to post about all things 'Resolution' is temptation indeed. I am 'resolving' to refrain. I'm sure all of you can find that in spades all over cyberspace.
New Year's has always seemed an odd thing to me - no, no, not the whole 'celebrate another year/fresh start' tradition but the time of year it happens in. I've always thought Spring would be a good time with all that awakening of the earth business except Easter has that pretty much sewn up as IT'S own special time and you're left with the question about when to have a New Year and I guess after Christmas is sort of the 'Default' position.
Oh and I hate kissing strangers at midnight too. Really. Am grossed/creeped out by mashing lips with all and sundry.
Personal quirk.
Yes, and anygofigureway, I suppose having to mark a time of year for a fresh start is a good thing. Like a brand new canvas sitting in front of you. You have the vision; you are hoping/determined to make it the best one yet; maybe you'll cry in frustration/disappointment, maybe you'll get that 'nailed it!' feeling; you might, you might not but you're going to keep on going until you do.
Yeah....that's Life.
Just grab the brush (or whatever implement you have) and dive in.

The painting: " New Year's Poster " by Han-Wu Shen from China. That's some nice. Lots of symbolism and if you're Chinese you get it, it has a lot to do with the mythology inherit in the figure on the poster behind the young woman. I've got China on my mind because the Global Ed class at the local High School has asked me to do a poster for them as that's where they are going and they're trying to fund raise for that.
And I'm just feeling that if our schools can offer these programs then the world is not so bad.
And that's a nice way to feel at the start of a new year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

All In The Family

Every once in a while I get pulled up short by realizing just how good my life really is.....ok, ok, not gonna get all 'preachy' here.....just that this Christmas gave me something that made me sit up and take notice of how full of miracles life can really be.....and often hidden in the small details that can be so overlooked by the random chaos ordinary everyday life creates around us.
I was pretty blah about this holiday - I mean, Mom died around this time of year and I'm mostly alone on the morning of due to the life choices I've made and so on (and on apparently).
Anygettothestoryalreadyway, I was at the 'family' gathering Boxing Day night. And I have what could be construed as a 'different' family. It was a pretty momentous gathering too, because No. 1 son brought not only his beloved girlfriend up but her parents. A meeting of the clans, so to speak. Now, my 'family' is truly extended - there's the ex (father of my 2 sons), his wife (whom I am happy to call friend), her daughter (stepsister to my 2), her son (stepbrother to my 2), his 2 young children (grandkids to ex and wife), Wife's brother and mom, and me. This is decidedly new age, I think, and what the lovely parents of No.1 son's wonderful girlfriend got thrown into.
Add 3 dogs, a psycho goldfish, recalcitrant cat and your picture postcard is complete.
It was fantastic! At one point we spontaneously gathered around the piano and sang Xmas carols - I mean, pass the hankie! Seriously Norman Rockwell.
And my present of 'Snowball Guns' for the sons + girlfriends was a hit - score! for the ma! (I usually get the oddball but cool gifts if I can - part of the creative mind)
So! Here's to the hard to wrap moments we get 'present'ed with! I hope that all of you are gifted no matter what shape it takes.
With all the warmest and most heartfelt wishes!

The painting is "The Artist's Family" by Jan Steen - could there be a more appropo title? Or pic for that matter: there's the drinkers and the kids and the crazy Uncle getting the kids up to mischief and the singing and the music and good food and just plain old family good times.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

An Artist's " Night Before Christmas "

With apologies to Clement Moore and, yes, I wrote it myself:

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the studio
Not a paintbrush was stirring, the Artist wasn't in the moodio
The blank canvas was hung on the easel with care
In hopes that the Muse soon would be there

The paint was all nestled all snug in the jars
While visions and ideas were remote as Mars
And I as the Artist without sizzle or snap
The Creative spark was gone for a long winter's nap

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the curtains and threw up the sash

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Gave the luster of mid day to objects below
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a miniature palette with eight arty deer

And a little old driver all covered in acrylic
I knew in a moment it was St. Arty Nick!
More rapid than brushstrokes, his art deer they came
He whistled and shouted, and called them by name

"Now Van Gogh! Now Rembrandt! Now O'Keeffe and Khalo!
On Rubens! On Escher! On Mucha and Picasso"
To the top of the easel! To the Studio wall!
Now paint away! Paint away! Paint away all!

As sketches that before a wild wind will fly
And met with an obstacle, mount to the sky
Up to the easel the art deer they flew
With a palette full of color and St Arty Nick too!

Then in a twinkling on the easel they stepped
Layered on some Gesso, the canvas was prepped
I blinked both my eyes and almost fell down
When up to the easel St Arty Nick bound

He was dressed all in paint clothes, from his head to his foot
And his hands were all smudgy from charcoal black as soot
A bundle of brushes he had flung on his back
He looked very messy, like me, that's a fact

His eyes-how they glittered! His teeth they were set
His cheeks were rose madder, his nose quite scarlet
His droll little mouth was a mixed media study
He was a walking art text book - really quite funny

The stump of a pencil he held in his hand
And he laid out a painting and it wasn't half bad
The lines were quite bold, the perspective a sensation
I knew all at once I had found inspiration

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work
And finished that painting with a flourish and perk
Then laying his paintbrush aside of his nose
He gave me a wink as to the palette he rose

He called to his art deer and loudly did whistle
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle
But I heard him exclaim and I really knew it
"You'll always be surrounded by the Creative Spirit!

The picture is by J. C. Leyendecker who I've featured before - a most accomplished illustrator who did quite a few Santas for magazines and advertising during the early part of the last century. I like his style very much.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Marla's Merry Christmas Stories # 3

Have you got your cup of cocoa?(or hot toddy) And your gingerbread cookie? (or booze filled num-num)
Swell! C'mon up onto Santa's knee for the tale:


In pretty much most families, the 'mom' takes on the responsibility for making sure the prezzies get bought for everyone and stockings get filled as well. You know this is true.

Anyandwe'reofftotheracesway, in my long ago marriage to # 1 - father of my sons - this was the scenario too. I dutifully did all the Xmas stuff while husband # 1 just kinda showed up and got the kudos. After a bit of this, I rebelled. But I rebelled in a 'quiet' way. I thought to myself 'Why can't he figure out the stocking thing for me for a change' - I mean, it's borderline pathetic to have to fill your own stocking, right?
Anyboohoohooway, this was the stage on DEC. 24th 1979 when son #1 was 3. I went to bed with all stockings etc filled to the brim but mine.
Come Christmas morning we (the parents) are woken by a very tearful young son crying "Mommy! You must have been very bad because Santa didn't leave you anything!"
 I remember turning to look at husband # 1 and seeing his rather guilty/chagrined face and I quietly said, " Oh? Really."
I got up to deal with kids and tears and make breakfast giving a cursory glance at my limp - and empty - stocking. The young son was very upset and even more so when # 1 husband got up and dressed and slipped out of the house. Everything was going wrong this Christmas morning. In about 1/2 an hr. 'Dad' was back bearing a large package. He knelt down in front of our young son and said "Look! Santa found me in town and gave this to me! He said he couldn't get it into Mummy's stocking so that's why I had to go out and get it!"

Peace restored. Mum is back on the 'Nice' list.

Good recovery # 1! Big present points!

The photo is me in 1956 at 3 - my brother would have still been a young baby so unable to sit on Santa's knee or perhaps unwilling as the case may be. But hey! I'm just so styley! I love the little purse! I want that hat back! And isn't 'Santa's' beard something else!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marla's Merry Christmas Stories #2

Ok boys and girls. You've all been very good, so cuddle up in your trundle beds with your visions of sugar plums - and Santa-Artist is going to tell you all about:


When I was a kid, it was an accepted part of life that you went to Sunday School. And when you went to Sunday School, you were always involved in The Christmas Concert. And The Christmas Concert pretty much followed the standard religious theme about the birth of Jesus....not a lot of room for artistic re-interpretation on alternate themes, shall we say. Anathema to an artistic soul and I generally found ways to put a creative spin on things. My colored pages were decidedly more than just good coloring.
This particular year I'm speaking of, I was chosen to be the angel, (and if that isn't a bit of an oxymoron, I'll eat my halo.) - yes, the angel that announces the whole big Christmas happening to the shepherds and all and sundry. The costume, in my young eyes, lacked a certain elan. I was already an early 'dress-up' maven and had been making my costumes for Halloween for a few years (one year I actually made a 'Devil' costume - by hand! with a tail I could twirl around (my 'trick') This should not come as a surprise to any of you who have read my blog.
AnyRudolfloveacookieway, I decided to 'fix' the angel costume by adding a special accoutrement. I went into my Mom's 'special drawer' in her usually off limits bedroom  (unbeknownst to her and most definately with a great deal of sneakiness on my part) and 'borrowed' Mom's very fancy and certainly costly gold flecked and shiny silk stockings. They would add just the 'statement' I wanted for my big role. To further enhance the effect, I rolled up the hem of my 'angel gown' to up over my knees and pinned it there. Comes the night of The Christmas Concert the little church was packed with all the parents and grand-parents to watch all the progeny perform. All proceeds with the usual laughs for the little kids etc. Then it was time for me to make my entrance.

Picture this, if you will, good people. The audience full of hot and slightly bored parents - they've been to endless Christmas Concerts over the years and it generally is pretty much the same old thing. The littlest kids are good for some laughs but, honestly, you've seen one wise man, you've seen 'em all and God please make this end soon....

It is into this atmosphere that I enter in my 'altered with the very sparkly nylons' angel costume.

As I walk onto the stage from the audience there comes a loud and unexpected scream. It's my Mom, who, understandably, is not as impressed with my costume as I would have hoped. There is a bit of a 'hitch' in the play while the audience calms down and laughs nervously. I think there was whispering as the story behind the scream gets passed around.

Time has shadowed the memory of the consequences of my costume alteration and what ensued from the scream onwards. I'm pretty sure the play finished in the well known way and I'm also pretty sure I had a severe talking to about 'borrowing'.

Ah, the 'Creative Spirit'! Long may it live in the hearts of us all, young or old, performers or not!

The photo is me and my brother at about 4 and 2 (1957) on Santa's knee. We have the 'get-me-the-heck-away-from-this-weird-guy' look so many kids sport in Santa photos but what I really like is the fact 'Santa' is some really young guy and looks to be quite 'hot'.......huh. And catch the great hair cutting skill of my 'ma' there.....could it be any crookeder?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Tradition is Born....Marla's Merry Christmas Stories - #1

(repost from Dec 2010)
Yessir, the 'day' is almost upon us and I find my mind (ha! There's a poem....) yes, well, I seem to be travelling down old memory lane during this time.
I am bemused by the fact that I have quite a few 'stories' that have occurred around Christmas. I wonder if this is due to the actuality of the season being extra 'hyped' in my memory or if these stories just happened to coincide with the date. So I thought I'd tell you a few of these tales over the next few days. Happy Seasonal raconteur-ing to all of you!
And now:


I grew up in a family that made very little fuss over the Christmas Season. I don't recall many 'gatherings' after my grandparents passed away when I was 5 so it was no big deal that on this particular Christmas Eve, at 13, I was reading while my Mom, Dad and brother were downstairs in the TV room. It was snowing like crazy outside, as Vancouver is known for so there was little traffic out on our normally busy-ish road up by the UBC gates. Only buses were going past ever half hour or so. Imagine my surprise when I heard the doorbell chime and went to open the door to find the Bus Driver standing there with a young toddler in his arms. Apparently the Bus Driver had been coming down 4th Ave hill and seen dimly in the whirling snow, a dark small shape in front of him. When he went out to look after stopping his bus, he found this child sitting there in the middle of the road. The only thing he could think of doing, with a bus full of passengers and a schedule to keep to, was to go to the nearest house - ours as it turned out. By now, my Mom, Dad and bro had joined me at the door. Dad and Iain decided to canvas the neighborhood while mom and I took the small tyke into the kitchen to check 'it' out. Mom checked and found out we had a young boy in our care and we proceeded to get a warm - and rather large - shirt of my brother's on him. The little guy was remarkably placid throughout our ministrations, I don't recall him crying at all. Real cute too, with a head full of dark curls and big brown eyes. I was given the task of 'entertaining' him while Mom started to phone around. In short order my Dad and Brother returned with an understandably distraught young couple in tow. It turns out there was a party across the street and because of smoke (it was some time ago folks!) and the heat of the bodies, someone had opened the front door. Unbeknownst to all, the young lad escaped from the house and crawled out into the road.
Many things about this story come to mind on looking back. It about makes you believe in 'Guardian Angels' or the capriciousness of Fate, if you will. That child was only dressed in a diaper and small t-shirt when he crawled out into a winter storm. The bus driver must have just found him just in time before he would've froze. The Bus Driver actually seeing this small shape in the midst of a snow storm. The choice of our house with a family at home - a bit of a lucky chance during a season of many folks not being around or out at some do.

A small 'Christmas Miracle' in any case!

The photo is me and my brother Iain, Christmas 1959. Lookit the shoes! Lookit that dress! But it's that wee bow tie on my baby bro that just melts my heart.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pain In The ..........

I've been laid low with a severe case of Sciatica, which is, for those of you lucky to be in functional health, a condition where, due to age or injury, your vertebrae start to erode and press upon the sciatic nerve - the BIGGEST nerve of our bodies - and causes huge amounts of pain. Yowzer amounts of it in fact and until it all decides to calm down and behave you must assume position of dead salmon and take many little pills that make you loopy and sleepy.
Sitting makes it worse.
Ah joy.
Anythebodyiscrappingoutway, I've been mostly horizontal since my last post but was feeling pretty good yesterday, so I actually did the dishes, vacuuming and laundry all of which were resembling an art project in the hovel and then also worked on my sculpture. As a result, I have a hot water bottle planted firmly to my ass today.
Ah, hot water bottles.
What a brilliant invention. It's been around for some time which just adds to the testament of a great design. Originally made of zinc, copper, glass, earthenware or wood, somewhere around 1903, Croatian inventor Slavoljub Eduard Penkala made them in rubber. They disappeared a bit when the electric heating pad came out but in this day and age of 'going green' they are having a comeback.
And just what does this have to do with Art, you query?
Not too darn much except it had me thinking about Frida Khalo (in between the zoned out times). Frida really had pain. So much so, that my little problem pales in comparison. She had polio for one and then in her teens was in a horrific tramcar accident where a tram rail actually pierced her back and led to a lifetime of surgeries and special braces and myriad amounts of bed rest. But she still painted and created some of the most memorable work by a woman artist to date.
I shall endeavor to emulate this personal icon and soldier on.
But first, another little pill and a snooze.
With my hot water bottle.
Painting is, of course, by Frida Khalo, titled " The Broken Column ", 1944. The other thing I love about Frida is how she painted herself with the giant 'uni-brow' and mustache. It really wasn't that exaggeratedly obvious on her real self but it obviously loomed large in her eyes. Makes me feel reassured that such a fine artist was plagued with body image issues just like me. And also makes me want to shake us both as being ridiculously caught up in the idiocy of that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Open Me First

Jams has discovered the Christmas Tree......and as you can see, her tongue is sticking out. This, I'm sure, is her general 'nyah nyah ny-ya ya' attitude towards all things human and me trying to curb her reborn kitten-ish tendency to boink the balls around. (hm-m-m-m-m-m....that's almost a song right there...."Boink the balls with claws of, la la la la. We don't care if it makes you, la la la la.")
Moving right along, I'd like to apologise for being tardy with a post for the weekend. My pc is acting up; or would that be 'down' as it has slowed to the speed of waiting to grow up when you're a kid. A slower-than-waiting-for-the-kettle-to-boil speed is the actual operational celerity of my PC due to Dial-up, a Zen exercise in patience every day may I add, but lately it has become even worse. And fully attributable, I'm doubly sure, to me trying to 'fix' my printer problems by reinstalling the program for that and obviously screwing up along the way.
'Dear Santa, I have been a good girl, mainly because I'm all by myself and sadly getting a wee bit long in the tooth to mis-behave anymore, so please could I have some gorgeous hunky Techy guy to be at my beck and call this Christmas. Your friend and believer of myths, Marla. P.S. The Rumballs are for Rudolph'
....I think perhaps not going to happen.
Anyareweintotheeggnogalreadyway, it is apparent that a new PC is in order for me but I hesitate because of...well, money firstly and that I am hoping I can move from this benighted area of 'no high speed connection until hell freezes over' into a town which has caught up to the world at large.
I seriously need 'a' Santa.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Clap Your Hands

Ah we go with the perpetual question of this time of year , "Do you believe in ---------------", and you can fill in the blank with any particular character of choice, biblical or otherwise. I've been watching the argument between two acquaintances (Facebook, the world is at your kitchen table) about good old Santa and the pros and cons of having your child/ren believe in that generational hoax; because that's pretty much what it is if you want to get technical; and so far there is a two way tie.
Apart from the whole 'bad/good' underlying judgement on the above, let's just think about 'believing' in of itself.
My Webster's Dictionary (does anyone still actually use a dictionary anymore?) defines believe as:
"1. to take as true, real etc., 2. to have confidence in a statement or promise of, 3. to suppose, assume"
Ok, that's pretty clear. But what is it - that 'thing' that makes believing, for lack of a better word, 'work'?
Isn't it imagination?
That oh so unfathomable place our mind goes to whenever we dream or think of what may be or even create.
And when we are young we seem to have it in spades and we can believe in a funny fat old man bringing us our heart's desire all in one night. I remember when little, I used to believe that if I loved my treasured stuffed monkey toy enough it would come alive. And that's pretty much stretching the envelope of concievability right there but I did. (and no, 'Chimpy' didn't, more's the pity)
AnyIdohaveapointway, aren't most of our beliefs pretty much nebulous in the realm of true/real? From the reading I've done over the years about Science (and there's a 'grounded-in-reality' topic) a lot of what we 'believed' as true has proven out not to be so. But all that aside, I guess what I'm saying is that without imagination we would be a sorry lot. Who cares if 'it' (whatever your 'it' is) can't be proved, just the fact that you can dream/ponder/create this scenario in your world is a wondrous thing.
I am entranced when I paint because I am making real the believed vision in my mind.....what a joy.
So dream on oh beloved reader - imagine the world and create your vision.
And I hope Santa visits you still. 

The painting - Sadly, I could find no attribute to the accompanying pic and enlarging the image only made the writing blurrier. (something something dot com???) But it is just astoundingly right on for expression and feeling, maudlin as it is. Oh, and "Clap Your Hands" refers to Peter Pan and when Tinkerbell almost died and you had to 'clap your hands' to prove you believed in faries to keep her alive. You betcha I clapped...I still do.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All The Wonder of The World

Sometime yesterday I was browsing the Internet for images of Christmas and came across an illustration from an old kid's book. That little interlude led me down the rabbit hole of vintage children's books, and a search for the rekindled remembrances of a tome that I had when young - oh these many eons ago. The thing about this book of my tender years, was the remarkable illustrations that were a catalyst in my brain to the artist I am today.  I can still recall the hours I'd pour over them, trying to decipher 'how it was done'. I'm doubly sure that the influences of those drawings by the likes of Arthur Rackham and Howard Pyle and L. Leslie Brooke, stay with me to this day. Magic, just bleedin' eye magic when I was a kid. Sadly I couldn't find that volume from my youth....probably remembering the title wrong, but I can visualize the exact embossed brown/gold cover and small attached illustration on it like a crystal clear pool. The book happened to be poetry....maybe R. L. Stevenson's...? Ah well....
Anylostinthemistsoftimeway,  what this has me contemplating is how lucky I was to grow up before TV became the insidious monster it has become. We read. And thank you all the fates for that singular skill.
Books have given me more than anything else in my life.
So! Since we are upon the seasonal mind altering chaos of 'what-to-give', may I suggest books? And not a book from Amazon (sorry A. ) but a book or books you trot down to your local little bookstore to buy. You need to immerse yourself in the whole experience of that unalloyed 'bookstore-ishness' that can only be felt behind those doors as you cruise the shelves. And since most bookstores now offer some great coffee, have one of those too.
You may never know what you'll inspire or cause to happen, but I guarantee a book is the best gift ever.
(and may I also add that ART books are the shizzle too)

The pic is an illustration from 'Alice in Wonderland' (by Lewis Carrol) by Arthur Rackham. Loved his work from the get-go although I did have someone once say that his 'fingers' terrified them when they were young.

Monday, December 5, 2011

All Is NOT Merry and Bright

Oh Rumballs, it's Christmas time.......and I am noticing an alarming tendency in myself towards the above character. Sadly.
What has happened to make this 'used-to-be-thoroughly-enjoyed' time of year so well, fraught with grumpy behavior by yours truly?
Being single.
At least I think so. And maybe the way too many events and obligated duties there seem to be piling up right now. I was a right Bee-hatch at the Gala. I am ashamed of myself.
Anywewillhavecoalinourstockingway, I've done it to myself by being the organizer/planner/head honcho so the fault lies squarely upon this artistic head. (just say "No.") (ye-ah...that singular function seems to be missing in my programming)
But I do find being 'just me' exceedingly forlorn at this particular junction of the year. Not that I am without invitations and extended gatherings to participate in - far from it! And with my crazy blended family it is a great celebration of getting together.
But! But but but.....
I always feel as though I'm on the periferal edge of it all; slightly out-of-step; decidedly uncomfortable and waiting until I can slip away to be alone again > the thing that makes all this angst happen.
What a pastiche of behavior. "Paging Dr. Freud!"
 (A pastiche is a literary or other artistic genre or technique that is a "hodge-podge" ... in this sense is 'a medley of various ingredients; a hotchpotch, farrago, jumble.')
I have a horrifying vision of being the eccentric old crank Emily Carr became. ( I shall wheel Jams about in an old baby Jams would put up with that!....and scowl at everyone. )
But, oh boy, do I ever understand why she did.

The image is, of course, the talented Mr. Jim Carey (Canadian!) as the Grinch.
"You're a mean one, Mr. la la, la la la......Stink, Stank, Stunk!"
(All I can remember of that song....)

Friday, December 2, 2011

...and the winner is....

Here it is....the GALA GAL Trophy.
Worth dressing up to win these babies, huh?
The Christmas Gala is something I've been involved with for about 4 years now, mainly organizing the Artists and designing the Poster and decorating the room. We are a 100% fund raiser for our community - this year the extended care wing in the hospital and the Seniors home. We get local eateries to provide top notch nosh and have a dancy band and get the place set up as posh as it can be. With a silent auction of all sorts of goodies graciously and generously donated by our town's folks.
A crackin' good time!
And a way to do good while having a great time.
I started making these one-of-a-kind trophies about 3 years ago - mainly to get the people around here to dress up.
But I repeat myself.....anynowIamgettingoldway, I admit to being highly entertained making them. And the Gallery in the next town wants to have me put them in there for sale.....yikers....I was only foolin' around!
Go figure.

Short but Sweet....

As I wait for the sun to be up high enough in the sky to be able to don my outdoor painting gear and spray paint the final coat on the Trophies, I have been casually scanning the myriad effluvia out there in cyber-space and came across an article on being a short man and all the woes about getting a woman etc etc yaddity yadda.
Now apart from the fact this has virtually nothing at all to do with art; although maybe it does when you think about painting large canvases, which I do, (something very Freudian about 'small woman paint big' and how occasionally I also paint large murals many feet high; I'd like to say that: I am short.
I am not only short, I am really short, like about 5 feet even and that will change apparently as I get (even) older thanks-very-much as visions of a gnarled and creepy dwarfish crone traverses through my head.
Anyshe'soffagainway, it all has me contemplating the way we view absolutely inconsequential things like height/weight/facial features/shoe size/whatever as being directly attributable to a person's worth. I DO know there is a tendency for the 'normal' world to treat me as somewhat 'cutesy' (shudder) and I can't count the number of times guys want to pick me up - I mean that literally, as in off-the-floor - mind you, I've put on some pounds due to aging (and may I restate: Childbirth is not that wow of an experience to have to pay for it with menopause) (but I do carry on) so that doesn't happen so much anymore. Thank the gods and goddesses.....I HATE being picked up.
All this is totally silly when you boil it down - we all have some kind of 'something' that makes us feel inadequate. I guess it's all part of the journey trying to get to the place of total acceptance. It is what it is.
I'll tell you for sure that I will keep the short/fat/old for the amazing gift of being an Artist.
Everything else is just...stuff.
The painting: "Las Meninas" by Velazquez. Short people fascinated many of the old masters. They seem to pop up in many paintings. Especially Velazques. I found 3 other 'dwarf' paintings by him : "Prince Batasar with a Dwarf " , "A Dwarf Sitting on the Floor " , and "Court Dwarf Don Antonio el Ingles" . And that was only Google Search page 2. Other artists with a penchant for dwarfs are Bronzino, Ignacio and Jan Miense Molenaer. 
Just think, these 'short' guys have attained immortality through the medium of paint. More than a lot of 'regular sized' guys.
So there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Einey, Meany, Miney, Moe....What 's The Look This Week - Do y'know?

Let's compare shall we?

Talk about 'cosmetic surgery'......of the paint kind.
If it only was this easy in real life. Although, around these parts I'm known for my constant change of style...Let's compare shall we?

....and that's not even close to all of them but I've spent about 3/4 of an hour fooling around with the fracking image uploader and am now late for an appointment......honest-make-your-eyeballs-spin-ly, I am constantly amazing myself with the astounding crap things I get wrapped up in.
Never mind and moving on.....The next post will be: The "TROPHIES" !
....if the glue don't knock me out first.
...does explain a few things tho'....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


It's almost embarrassing to post this....bu-u-u-t then again, three times lucky.
Ok. I promise this is it. Tomorrow I take it to Reflecting Spirit Gallery in town and it's going up on the wall and out of my reach.
I hope.
Save me from myself......

Monday, November 28, 2011

One Quick Coffee.....

Ah....yes, that's just about all the time we have right now.......the Craft Fair was amazingly great considering the weather was horrific. The biggest winter storm to date with torrential rain and wind. I believe parts of the road out here were washed out, no less. It seems that absolute abysmal weather and the Craft Fair go hand-in-hand, traditionally it's been awful on this day. Mind you, it brings in the folks - what else can you do on such a lousy day?
 I spent 4 hours setting up 42 tables and about 100 chairs and getting all the fiddly bits attended to. That was Friday. Saturday, the actual day of the fair, (noon to 4) I awoke at 4 am with spinning brain about all the useless minutia of event organizing , got up, made more things (and coffee) and took off at 9 am to get last minute items and set up signage - which, because of the poopy weather all blew down after - ah, wild west coast - and to open the doors for all the exhibitors to set up. Which I had to do as well, as I also have my own display. Lots of people are cranky at this time of the day it seems. (and I wonder why....not really and I don't take it personally anymore) We had to reverse all this by day's end, d'accord, but at least there were more bodies around to help and it was done and dusted by 5:30.
I collapsed at 7 and slept until  8 the next day.
Then we needed to unload the car and could sort of relax but , I must say, I was doing things for the next round which happens today with setting up a small Art display of our donated paintings and prints from the generous souls in the creative world as an enticement for the Christmas Gala on Sat coming up.
Mother of all running around like a headless chicken, just writing that down makes me dizzy....and I'm doing it.
Soooooo, today we are thinking about what 'giving back' means......and admittedly there is a bit of 'pat on the back' there (you know it's so) but there is also the realization that by doing these kinds of things and by making opportunities happen, you are helping foster some more good in the world...and we all know it sorely needs that.
With a coffee break or two.
The painting: "A Quiet Moment" by Georges Croegaert. I just love they way these ladies are sitting there, just putzing for a bit but look! There's a sword hanging over their heads.
SO know that feeling!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

No! Um...Wait! Here it is!

One of these days I will learn to WAIT for about a week and live with a painting for that time and make ALL the changes and fiddly-farts and etc BEFORE I take a photo and post it as a done deal.
And then I'll live with that one for another week.....
Y-E-A-H......and Jams will stop wanting to be on the computer chair at the same time I do.
SOOOO not gonna happen.
And just in case you can't guess what I've done.....check out the face. (yes, the face...shuddup)
Well, another little illustration of 'art-mind-at-work', boys and girls......tune in next week when we learn to dress appropriately.
Thank you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 it is!

Almost forgot about this painting, huh? Well, in between those meetings and organizatings and ponderings.....we were still painting. One good thing about being single is that my time is my own and I can leave things about with gay abandon and paint until 2 am if I wish. Jams is very understanding.
Now....where were we on this painting journey.....oh yes some twelve posts ago, we were changing the legs and there were jugs and flowers etc in the background. Obviously those all went the way of those 'old' legs and we went the gold foil bird design - the pears are still in situ.....I like those pears.
Anyhowitcanchangeintheblinkofaneyeway, you can somewhat percieve the many alterations a painting goes through. It's a continuous process of refining until you see the vision your mind is holding made concrete on the canvas.
What an enjoyable journey it is.
Title: "PANDORA"
Acrylic with gold leaf 26" X 48".

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Wallflower Blooms

Last night, sometime during the boisterous supper meeting that I was hosting in my typical vociferous and genuinely goofy way as the 'new' Arts Society President, it occurred to me, as a formerly painfully shy wallflower - and I have to interject here because, anyone that knows me now will find this statement incomprehensibly unbelievable, this is the gospel truth - we have certainly come a long way baby.
Hopefully we haven't bloomed into a noxious weed, by the way, but instead have finally found our voice.
And Art did that for me.
It only took about 40 years to get to that place mind you.
The point of my rambling narrative is that what I have discovered is the truth of what gives you that voice is your authentic self - the one you mostly believe nobody wants anything to do with because it's so 'odd'. Well, it turns out that 'you' is actually the person people love best.
How strange it is that most of us live trying desperately to 'fit in' or 'be like them' or whatever the fleeping hello our fragile beings perceive as 'everybody else'. I ponder on this alot.
Anybeloudbeproudway, I guess it boils down to accepting ourselves with all the warts and craters as being worthwhile. I know in Art that the creative work that generates the strongest response is usually the one full of those 'warts' (so to speak). Certainly the most pleasing paintings to our eye contain odd numbers; the distinct planes of the painting is divided into 3s. You have top, middle, bottom and the corresponding left, middle, right and your image covers these planes in such a way that the bulk of the painting lies in one plane with the other two not as prominent or the 'focus' of the painting lies off center. Are you following my drift? In other words, we find images that do not sit dead center the most dynamic and interesting.
Just like people.
The painting is: "The Grecian Girl" by John William Godward, 1861-1922. I used this because she looks so shy but it's also a great illustration for what we're talking about. The focus is her face and if you divide the painting per my post, you will see it sits off center. As well, the bulk of the painting - her lower body and pillows etc. lie in the lower third of the canvas. There is also a 'color hook' that purple wrap catches your eye in the predominantly creamy rose tones of the rest of the painting. Nicely counterbalanced by her dark hair and headband.
But look at that skin! I swear you could touch it and leave an imprint it's so luscious!

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's a Gift to Be Simple

This last couple of months with it's seemingly endless amounts of meetings and organizing etc for the two large events I'm either in charge of or helping with as well as the new duties of being president of the Arts Society are making me feel a bit of 'mother-of-all-things-overwhelming' and decidedly cranky at times.
Today when I woke up and immediately sat down in front of the computer to deal with emails and updating of lists and duties I happened to glance over at Jams all curled up in her box with the old quilt right by the heater and was struck at the simplicity of happiness.
For her it's a warm place to nap and the knowledge she has food in her dish and me to give pets......ah, how 'nirvanic' that seems.
Anyhoweasyitsoundsway, this just has me pondering on what we do and what we need for happiness. No great insights here my would be lovely for any of us to effortlessly make our lives simple, full of grace and happiness but it appears we are caught in our own webs of endless desire that leads to these complicated journeys.
Maybe, just for this small moment, I will sit by the heater with Jams in my lap, surrounded by my artistic life and feel how blessed I am.
That sounds pretty simple.......doesn't it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

6 Degrees of Separation

You are, I'm sure, being the erudite and learned souls that flock to this blog, well aware of the concept of 6 degrees of separation. The 'my-plumber-that-knows-his-postman's-wife's-cousin'-sister-that-has-a-hairdresser-who-does-Madonna's-hair' sort of thing.....had to count dincha?....implying that we are only six 'clicks' - if you will - away from anyone famous.
Well, I have a few 'clicks' of my own.
First off, my cousin happens to be Robert Thirsk the Canadian Astronaut that was Canada's 4th astronaut in the expanded space program and also spent 6 months on the orbiting space station. That should give some of you your own  position in this (silly) game. If you know of Bob. Or care. And if you're Canadian you should....but I digress.
However! And this is the biggie, at least artistically speaking, I actually got to see and be in the presence of a famous 'Group of Seven' work of art and was friends with the grandson of the artist when I was a young woman. We are not speaking in a gallery or anything here, but in some one's ordinary home. Like '3 inches away from my devouring eyes' near.
This reminiscence comes about from doing some research last night for our local 'Wild Pacific Trail Society' a very awesome and not-to-be-missed walking trail out here that hugs the coastline right along the rugged terrain we live in. They have recently added a part to the trail they call 'The Artists Loop' where they have put in some great bump outs and viewpoints with an artist in mind for sketching or painting at these locations. I happened to mention that they may want to add to this loop by adding plaques detailing the famous artists who have travelled here to paint. They emailed me asking if I'd expand on my topic  and so I did some trolling on the Internet and this is what I found:
Our most famous and BC born alumni of the Group of Seven - Emily Carr - came
up here (Ucluelet) often. As a matter of fact, it was the Nuu-chal-Nuuth people who
gave her the name of 'Klee Wick'. She painted watercolor sketches of the
original first nations village that was here and Matterson House has copies
of those on their wall. I believe it was her that introduced the others in the 'group'
to this part of the world.
FH Varley lived in Vancouver for many years and as such you can believe that
he would have travelled with his buddies Lismer and AY Jackson when they
came over here to paint. What you need to realize about artists is that they
don't always make paintings from their sketches or what they see. Who knows,
they all might have just drank themselves silly and gone fishing.
Arthur Lismer did come out here very often to paint and there are paintings
of his from around here. But his favourite spot was Long Beach. That doesn't
give this any less importance because all of them had to take the boat from
Port to get here and it landed at Whiskey Dock. I'm kind of sad the Park beach no
longer has 'Lismer Cove' as a name anymore.
Lawren Harris moved to Vancouver in 1940 but he went into painting abstracts
then. although he probably came out here because of his old ties with
Varley, Lismer and Jackson. Artists are a pretty close group.
AY Jackson was Lismer's great pal and he did go out on painting trips with
him. The paintings he did though tend to be of the north island - Prince
Rupert etc.
JEH MacDonald - not too much info on him and from what I see he tended to
mainly paint the east environs. Same with Frank Johnston and Franklin
Carmichael. I think what needs to be pointed out in the brochure is that
these great names of our cultural history did travel out here and they
walked on the dock and up Main Street to continue on to the beach or just
spend some time before travelling further.
I also went looking for their paintings to see which ones could be tied to this area. And when doing so found the painting that heads this post :
"Vera" by Frederick Horseman Varley.
That painting hung in the home of FH's grandson, Christopher, who was my - at the time - boyfriend's good buddy. We would go over to his home often. Anyway, 'Vera' always caught my eye and - being as I was a fairly naive and unhip girl - I was completely unaware that it was so famous. The actual 'Vera' was Chris's mom.
How close we all are to the breath of fame. I'll guarantee by mentioning this story you will have the person you're speaking to tell his/her own tale of 6 degrees.
Hands across the water, folks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa

Holy Shoodabincathlik Batman, I've been obsessing over the last post/confession. It pretty much boils down to ethical behavior and as an ex druggie/alkee/idioticbehavior person I am trying to keep myself accountable for the things I do and say. In this regard I'm reconsidering my action of donating 'copied' in : would I like it if it was my stuff way.
SO! (and let me don my hair shirt) I've scrapped using those pieces and am donating this very early starting-to-paint-in-acrylic piece, by me, titled: "Early Morning Light -Still Life." Acrylic 20" X 36" we can sleep.

Intro Poster by the dual husband/wife team of Joe Scorsone and Alice Drueding. Titled "Guilt". Is this not most excellent?! for some more awesomeness.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Giving and getting....

I get asked to donate to a number of local - and well deserving - events. And it grows as I get better known. I believe that for most artists with a recognized name this is a fairly common occurrance and as most people with a concience ( yes, ok, we could debate that statement especially for some artistic souls) you want to help when and where you can.
Therein lies the issue.
For most artists.....say around 95%.....selling your work is a 'few and far between' scenario and generally by the time you do sell something, the bills are red lining and the phone is on 'screen calls'. So when you are asked to donate, you kinda go through this 'why-should-I-donate-when-I-need-money-how-revoltingly-shallow-I-am' thought process.
How do I soothe my fevered brow at this time and still retain a sense of win-win?
Well, I donate my 'practice' work.
This is a fine line here kids and you need to follow along with my logic.
 I am self taught. That means in my case, I find paintings that intrigue me or offer an image that I'd like to paint I copy it. (oh I can hear the intake of breath from here) It teaches me new techniques and color choices and ways of painting I have not tried before.
There is nothing wrong with copying, by the way, it has been a time honored tradition artistically for students to go to galleries and reproduce the 'Masters' work to learn by trying to duplicate what they believe the Master has done. (And you can find many examples of famous artists having done this)
The thing that is WRONG about this is when you SELL that work as one of your own creations without giving recognition to the originator. As an example see my 'Self Portrait - after Egon Schiele' on the side bar.  I have copied lots BUT I have never gotten any money for any piece I've copied from another artist. Ever. And I ALWAYS mark the painting as being 'after so and so' (the original artist)
And these are the works I donate. The money they make goes to a deserving charity and someone gets a nice painting that is done by me.
I have discussed this practise with other artists and aquaintances and get a dual reaction. Some feel this is dishonest in a way....copying something after all makes it not original but it after teaching many many classes and having folks paint exactly the same thing, I know for a fact there is no such thing as everyone painting alike (let's just bypass forgers here because that is dishonest right from the get-go) your own hand is inherently unique. That point brings on the 'other' side of this debate, wherein that anything you paint can be claimed as yours. And you shouldn't feel that you can't take money for it.
Yes, well, that doesn't sit right with me personally but I know and have seen work for sale that obviously was a copy. Once even one of my students selling a piece that was done from an original of mine. (Imitation the highest form of flattery....)
Anyplaybothsidesway, this is a strange 'grey' area, is it not? I'd love to see what other people to weigh in on the debate?
The Paintings: Top - "Thinking of Summer", Acrylic 24" X 24"
Bottom - " Experiment in Abstraction - Maple Seed Pods", Acrylic 24" X 24"
Both after Ann Tuck.
 Donation to the Christmas Gala - raising money for Tofino General Hospital Extended Care Wing and the Forest Glen Seniors Center.

PS* After a timely comment from a reader, I have contacted the artist to ask permission from the artist to donate these 'practices'. This is the smartest thing to do. Thanks again to P.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not This (wo)Man's Best Friend

I have something to confess. Something so awful, so heinous, you will gasp with incredulity.

I am afraid of dogs.

Ok, that's a wee bit exaggerated...maybe....but I have to think that this particular phobia is viewed by many people - and most certainly by dog lovers everywhere - as being akin to having a very disfiguring disease. It seems incomprehensible to this sector of the human race (doggie aficionados) how anyone in their right mind could be so, well, idiotic.
And, yes, I concur.
However in my own defense may I say that after being bitten (twice!) (in the face!) by the 'family-wouldn't-hurt-a-fly' pet waggie-tail, I am really really really super cautious around them.
I am also amazed at the reaction that my confession to people-who-are-gaga-about-dogs creates.
First of all they ALL claim it must have been something I did. (I was 8 years old and petting the 'nice doggie')
THEN they ALL say it would never happen with their dog. (well, yes it can)
AND then they make me physically interact with their lovely pet. (and by then I'm so intensely freaked/angry/scared, that the animal is convinced I am the enemy....and growls thereby insuring my terrified response)
And by all that is furry and bright do I EVER wish I wasn't like this.
I have many cherished friends who are dog pals. One who, whenever she sees any four legged soul, will run to it and gush with torrents of love. And where I live it seems there are more dogs per square inch than grains of sand. And they are not just dogs but BIG BLOODY HUGE dogs.(ok yes again with the exaggeration) The saddest thing of all is that I actively search out ways to ensure my interaction with friends and acquaintances with dogs stays to a minimum or happens without a dog around.
You want to know the craziest part of all this?
I actually have had my own dogs.
It defies description.
Anywhatastrangephobiaway, all this came about because the lovely friend who has done my hair forever has just gotten a Japanese Tosa. For those of you who don't know this breed, it is a 'Mastiff' that has been specifically bred to be a fighting dog. (sport in Japan...and many other parts of our world may I add) A dog who is written up as being fiercely loyal to his own family. (my italics) And after voicing my query about if it was considered as a good and gentle dog with others, I have created a very touchy situation with her avidly avowing that this dog is right beside Buddha in temperament.
Perhaps so and I'd love to believe that but I am looking for a new hair salon.

The painting....and I LOVE it altho' it actively makes my heart speed by JOEL REA who paints a lot of these 'big dog' paintings. This is EXACTLY how it feels to me. EXACTLY.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11 - 11 - 11

The photo that I have as my featured pic is a photo of a fallen soldier but not of our Canadian forces. He was from the Royal Netherlands Army corps and I do not know his name. This was my Mom's boyfriend before she met my father who was part of the Canadian forces that liberated Holland. This young man gave his life in the fight for freedom from the Nazis occupation of his homeland and also as part of the war against their bid to overtake the world. I often think of the twists of fate that have a hand in the way our own lives are played out. If not for the sacrifice this young soldier made I would have had a very different story to tell. War affects us all in more ways than we realize.
I came across this when I was organizing my mom's effects after her death 25 years ago. I didn't recognize the face and asked my Dad who it was. He's the one who told me it was her boyfriend that had been killed during the war.
How removed most of us are from the devastating repercussions war brings. I try to put myself in my mother's place back then, a young woman in love with a handsome young man with the future shining bright and then everything, literally everything, you know and believe and dream about changes.
Today I sat in a beautiful resort restaurant with the sun glinting off the crashing waves right outside the windows. Eagles were soaring by and it was peaceful and calm. This is what those brave young men and women gave their lives for us to enjoy.
The least we can do is pay attention to their memory for a scant 2 minutes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Those Fifteen Minutes

“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Ah, Fame.....that elusive 'thing' we who create would wish for. At least I think we do. It's true that recognition for your work from the world at large is a sought after goal but what if Fame visits you for a completely different reason?
Let me illustrate with a story......
Last night I received an email from a reporter from the 'Chicago Tribune' saying they had found my blog from a cursory search and would greatly appreciate contacting me in person to do an interview about.....wait for it.......being perceived as 'unphotogenic'.
*    o   *      *   o   *      *   o   *      *   o   *      *   o   *
Now my first reaction - after doing a Google Search to authenticate said person - was to think, "...WTF? Unphotogenic? What about the ART, man?"  and then to laugh bemusedly about what I write about here that gets attention. (may I add my post about being expelled from school because of my earrings, has gotten the most hits to date....) Ah yes, the 'artist ego' takes another shot....and rightly so. Let's remain firmly planted in humility, shall we?
Anyswelledheadway, we have just completed said interview and the reporter was most gracious and I can't wait to see the finished article.....yes, we will post it here.
One part of me is greatly flattered to be in the CHICAGO TRIBUNE (!) but that other part is snorting derisively about being known as the-person-who-looks-like-a-goof-in-photos forevermore.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Queen of All She Surveys....

Well......well, well, well.
A few things going on in the 'always something' world of my life over the last week......I'm just trying to decide what I'll start blithering on about first.......and may I interject that it never ceases to astound me how things can go from couch-potato-slothingness to not-enough-time-to-put-on-socks around here. And, of course, seeing as I procrastinated about finishing the painting during those 'couch moments' I find myself itching to get back to it and no time to do so.
Yes, and have I learned anything yet....
So! Here's the run down of the Artist's List Of Things To Do/Been Doing/And Done:
Dealing with the poster for the GALA - this is my little 'thing' if you will, for our annual Christmas Gala that happens out here and it's a pretty awesome event where we gather together all sorts of cool items to auction off as a communities fund raiser for local well deserving charities...this year our Seniors and our local hospital's Extended Care Wing. We also have a great band and fabulous food and assorted fun things happening all in one night in an extravagant venue and everyone gets dressed up. Which, out here where the Gumboot reigns supreme, is a minor miracle to make happen. My part is to create the poster image and design and get it printed and all that, which can be a chore as I have a timeline and am always waiting to hear about last minute things that HAVE to be added to the poster. That often means a redesign of the poster so everything will fit. And being as we live in a small town, it details some amount of running around to get it printed because this place has a scanner big enough but only this other place a printer big enough to print and then the digital file needs to be sent to the other other to get tickets printed.
And I also have to gather together artists to graciously consent to donating work to the auction. That all needs picking up. Then there is the actual set up etc.....OH! And I have to hand make 2 trophies for Best Dressed. (we have to offer trophies to get people to submit themselves to looking nice) (sigh)
Christmas Craft Fair- I've been doing this event for a while - I may have mentioned that - for which I organize the names and tables and requirements of some 30 odd folks and making up a floor plan to fit everyone in and then putting out advertising and signage and setting up and taking down. Oh, and making my own things to sell.
Working the Town's Election -  Meanwhile I need cash - artist, artist, artist, need we say more - so I'm doing our local election which means a training day, the advanced poll (8 to 8) and the actual day of (8 to 8) but generally add @ 2.5 hrs to that time for set up and count and take down.
Meanwhile the van has to go in for the every-so-many-miles checkup (that's a day of waiting around except not so bad in small town where I can walk around to do stuff) (but not paint) (sigh); we need to go in for our own so-many-miles maintenance and, and here's the kicker, the actual point of this post and fairly major, I have stepped up to be President of The Pacific Rim Arts Society.

....and I'm working on the new site....

The Painting: PANDORA CROWNED BY THE SEASONS 1824 by William Etty. Why the date of 1824...who knows, but the Artist did deem it important. I like this as it captures that winning of a 'crown' (or title) with the folks happy for you and those others that are already disillusioned (those two out front look miffed to my eye) and the one who you know is going to question all you do. (guy with back turned) I guess I should be proud and humbled as I could've ended up like this poor gal:
Be thankful for small mercies.....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The "NEW" Book!

Well...this is the cover image at least. I just spent 1 1/2 hrs trying to 'copy and paste' the book cover with title etc to the blog but the only way I could do that was to add the little sidebar apps over there > and
down there     ( to which I cannot draw an arrow because the key board only has < , > , and ^ , which is totally inconceivable......are we not to look down...? Perhaps in the world of computer typing, this was considered...redundant....looking down I mean.) At the least the preview book at the bottom is interactive whereby you can flip pages and see the whole thing.
Isn't technology wonderful!?
AnyonlyIcanfindusesforunwantedthingsway, please avail yourself of the links to the BLURB site and the preview of the book.
Let me know what you think. Feedback is encouraged.
Thank you all for coming. Help yourself to the wine.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

HALLOWEEN TREAT # 2... with tricks because it's a beehatch to download all the photos on Dial-Up....

This has a story too. (what doesn't in my life?) Anylongtimeagoinanotherlifeway, I volunteered in a local school that had a fantastic theatre division. I offered myself to design sets and costumes for them. The RAINBOW PAINTER was the name of a play they put on and many years later I used it as the basis to create this costume. I even painted a pair of old boots in rainbow colors but I think those left the premises when the young lady cleaned out my tickle trunk a week back. I even made up 'business cards' to hand out. Those are gloves up at the top......not a wierd wig.....
What a stickler (anal) for detail.

Costume Number 3. THE WEDDING DRESS
Yes and seriously, this was my wedding dress some 16 or 18 years ago......time is blurring the memory of getting married. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it) Anywho'scountingway, it is showing a bit of wear and tear after becoming a costume fav. But look at that hand painting.....taken from an old silk kimono I had from my Mom's estate.....long long ago.
Painted with fabric inks......such a pretty thing. In need of a good cleaning I see!

Costume Number 4:  THE MEDIVAL GOWN

I did awesome amounts of research on medival dress for this costume I recall. And another 'not for Halloween' outfit. One of the best birthday bashes I ever went to.....with throwing food around and all that kind of silly stuff. The outer dress made from an old shower curtain. The inner dress is of velvet and stretch lace....and yes not really accurate time line fabrics but the design is true to that.
Queen of recycle, me.

AND....Costume Number 5 ...last one because it's taken me @ 4.5 HOURS to download all these pics...thank you stupid dial up.....THE COAT

Those are real shell buttons....found at a second hand store. What is very hard to show is that I 'embossed' the velvet patches by ironing over a pair of very cool metal art earings I had. Appliqued with beads. I wore this to my eldest son's convocation from NASCAD. (Nova Scotia School of Art and Design)
There are actually about 5 more costumes but that's all I have patience for right now.....maybe, if you're good and don't knock over the outhouse, I'll post them tomorrow......


Remember how I promised you that I'd post pics of my hand-made Halloween costumes? I did, too. Here we go my lovelies! (that should be heard as extremely cackle screechy witch type voice) There's lots to see and this might have to morph into a two-part post. (....or three, or four....)
Let's away then.

What a costume this was to make! All those leaves are appliqued on. The 'critters' are hand painted onto fabric and appliqued on. BUT! And this is a great story: this costume was never created for Halloween. nope, it was done for a friend's 50th Birthday bash and since he was an old logger everyone was asked to dress apropos to that. All folks came as 'loggers' EXCEPT for your truly who came as the TREE HUGGER......only party that I ever went to where I was basically ignored.

The 'interior' of TREE HUGGER. You can see the great owl I painted. I think this was my favorite bit.
This is the back of the 'cloak'.  Gives you an idea of how much sewing was involved. And some more of the 'critters'.
Now: the BEST part..........THE HAT!
This is a good close up of the 'nest' and, yepper, it was all hand done! I have HUGE respect for birds after that! They have a beak and, apparently, I have opposable thumbs, 4 fingers and big brain but, even so, my nest looks like a drunk and drug addled zombie created it. With lots of glue.
The leaves were appliqued over the head part of an old baseball cap - I cut off the bill. Really - this is some art work.....I keep it hung up on the wall.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-anges Part Something or Other (4?)...... You know the drill

By all that is artistically changeable - lookey where we are now.
As you can see, we've taken a whole new direction and changed the legs/feet completely. I took the pic of the painting with all the 'correct-o change-o' bits visible. In the finished piece, most hopefully and I should know what I'm doing you'd think, you should not be able to tell where all these new bits are. (remember 'Pentimento' from a few posts back? This is generally how it happens)You've gotta hand it to Acrylic for offering one of the easiest to change mediums around. BUT! (and this is the part you need to pay attention to, kids) You MUST take out as much of your 'old' work as you can.
For me that means scrubbing the canvas with one of those very rough synthetic pads to get as close to the original canvas surface as possible. This can be tricky and often you can destroy a work by scrubbing too vigorously and thereby going right through the canvas and leaving a hole. *GASP* (and you will)
And that pretty much is game over for ya. Although Robert Genn did give a great tutorial in repairing of torn or damaged canvases and I admit I've tried his suggestions a couple of times. One worked (a finished canvas that tore slightly after a gust of wind smacked it down off the display easel) and another one where I did scrub too hard and left a big hole along an edge, did not. (and that fix-up was a big FAIL.)
The biggest reason for scrubbing out as much of the old painting part, is that if you just paint over it, you will end up with visible 'ridges' where the old lines were and that just looks crappy. Let's not mince words. You can see in the above that there are tell-tale parts where the old sketch is quite obvious....but I wanted to show you what I meant. I will be rescrubbing after this little tutorial.  The other reason of scrubbing down is for the texture. Canvas, unless you've gesso'ed it with 5 or more coats, (and some artists do) retains it's 'rough' weave texture. I happen to like that texture. I mean, I paint on canvas so I'd like it to appear genuine. This is a personal preference and you can most certainly choose your own way.
That's the nice thing about Art in general.
Anypayattentiontotheteacherway, I'm wa-a-ay happier with the layout of the figure now. Before with those 'akimbo' legs it just looked...well, awkward. I even tried painting in a stool but that sucked. There is a better flow and balance too.
And we all need that, don't we.
Stay tuned!
ps....I want to add that after you've scrubbed out the old, you will 're-gesso' that spot. This is to 'match' the original pristine surface before all this fol-de-rol change-o scrubbo happened.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If I Had A Hammer

All of a sudden I'm transported back to the 'Easter Be-In' at Stanley Park in's that 'header' and look! I'm using, yet again, an old song as my title.
I'm sensing a trend. case any of you dear readers have found me through my web site or perhaps have tried to find my web site, I'd like you to know I'm busy beavering away on a whole brand spankin' new  site as we speak.....well, ok, not actually as I'm typing this right now but let's pretend we can bend time and space for a bit....yes and moving right along, we (that's the royal 'we) are constructing a new site that is just beyond all the bells and whistles cool. Ok, actually that would be my super master Gallery Guy Mark that's really doing it and I'm pretending I know what the paintbox he's talking about. Today I get to put into action all the tutorial zingers he's been flinging into this old brain and 'do it myself'.......if you hear faint screaming later this might be me as I writhe in tormented agony of figuring out how to click the right app.
Anywearenotthetechgenuisway, in a couple of days you will be directed to the new site via a linkup and the web addy will also direct you there. Everything a click away.
Stay tuned.......

The painting: "Picasso Under Construction" by Nancy Albrecht circa 1967. I was surprised to find my Google search 'under construction' actually show paintings with that as the title.....and this one was the fav. First because it's Picasso and second because it actually and truly is 'art under construction'. Way cool.

I'm just noticing I use 'actually' way too much.

Oh and it's and the old link of will still work too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ch-Ch-Changes part 3 ( see previous previous post, if you will....)

...and as you can see, further refining happening! The feet have been reworked to a more believable porportion - the original ones seemed almost like 'Gumby', you know, st-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out to resemble flippers just about. And the left side leg given a new angle so not to appear as though the model was lifting up for a fart......yes, well, that's what it looked like to me. The hands are more dynamic  and we've started in on the background. I've 'wetted in' the hair, ie: applied a wet brush to the pencil crayon outline of the hair - (did you know that pencil crayon on canvas can be used like watercolor? And this is just your ordinary Crayola/Laurentian/Prismacolor type of pencil crayon. That's where the idea of 'watercolor' pencil crayons came from. It works like that on canvas because primed canvas is 'waterproof' in a way. The wet pencil crayon color just 'sits' on the surface of the canvas. If you like this kind of effect as a finished style, you must coat the painting with an acrylic varnish to keep it from damage - it is a rather 'fragile' medium. ) This helps define where the hair is and also to give me a 'color hue' to balance out the background color of the foliage against. ....where was I....?......oh, and we are slowly working on the folds and drape of the skirt....not an easy thing to do.
Things still bothering/not working for me:
1. The 'pears' which look more like avocados...perhaps because I have some in my fridge that I look at each time I open the fridge door so that 'colors' my vision. I'm going to give them a yellow wash to see if that helps. this is a glazing over of a watered down color...I'll use a value 9 yellow and that is a yellow tending towards the 'cool' side of the color wheel. (and you thought it was just slap on any old thing that looks good. No, no, that's how I get dressed, not paint.)
2.The mouth. Surprise! Something in the face is bugging me.
3. The bottom line of the skirt. I think it needs to look stretched out across the lap as well.
OK.....that's how it goes dear keep refining and looking and working and touching up.....the REAL trick is to know when to stop.
Always something.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Color Changes part 2 (so you have to read the previous post first or else this makes no most of the blithering I's a gift)

...and here is what we came up with.
That's more like it.

Ch- Ch- Changes

La-HAY-dees and Gennulmez! Step right up and play SPIN THE PALETTE!

Today I thought I'd give you a glimpse into the 'process' of how a painting gets 'worked' out - so to speak. (Sit up straight, kiddies!) As you can see, being as it's right in front of you, this is the latest painting that is currently on the easel and I'm , per the usual arteesty way, waffling in color choices. Originally I started out with the subdued light blue-ish background and was ok with that but last night, after looking at the painting all day, (it's a I said), I thought it needed some 'punching up' and so switched into the reds and cadmium yellows to try that out.
Well, I'm not really getting the 'oh yeah!', reaction I want.
So today I'm switching up the color choice completely and going into greens........we shall see.
Anyhorseofadifferentcolorway, this is one of the great things about acrylic, in that you can just paint over what you want to change.....wouldn't it be great if it was as easy in Life. Not saying you can't change your own personal canvas but the 'process' does involve a few more tools than a #10 flat head brush.
I'd also like to point out for many of you who think artists just sit down and - hey presto! - have a painting just whip itself out, this is far from reality. (although I may add that occasionally, every once in a blue moon, this magic can happen)
We would wish for a speedier resolution to painting but perhaps this re-working and experimenting with elements adds to the 'wow' end product we all hope for. I am being forced (really! forced!) to draw a parallel into the 'changing canvas' of myself at this juncture; and am musing on the amount of 're-works' I have applied to selfsame and figure by the time I am ready to pass from this earthly coil, I may have gotten it right.....
Moving right along.....there is a decided bit of bravery too in being willing to go in and change up a painting. It does not always work (I promise to post all my 'mistakes' someday) and you are left with the horrid feeling that what originally started out as a really great idea, is now, sadly, really awful.
But you just start all over again and , who knows, that next one just might blow out the stops!
There you go.
Lessons from the palette.

p.s......Anyone else notice that I am really stateing my age by all the choices of songs as titles I use?
Ah boy......