Saturday, December 31, 2011
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.
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.
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
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
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
Swell! C'mon up onto Santa's knee for the tale:
" JUST HOW NAUGHTY WAS I, SANTA? "
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
" THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL "
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
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!
" THE CHRISTMAS EVE BABY"
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
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.
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
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
Ah yes......here 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
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
What has happened to make this 'used-to-be-thoroughly-enjoyed' time of year so well, fraught with grumpy behavior by yours truly?
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 buggy....like 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. Grinch....la la la, la la la......Stink, Stank, Stunk!"
(All I can remember of that song....)
Friday, December 2, 2011
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!
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'...no?) 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.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
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?