Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Party's Over

Took down the "Christmas Me" - I pretty much am the kind of person that likes to clear the decks darn fast after the Christmas pandemonium passes. Not that there's a lot of pandemonium around here in the artist's hovel.....well, unless you consider the actual 'take down' process.
Those of you who have been following stumbling along with me in this blog will recall the method I employ to tidy....see 'Multitasking with a Magpie Mind (6/27/12) ....and we held true to form for this chore as well. Which went as follows and for brevity's sake we shortform this:
Find christmas boxes in temporary cache-it-all-storage-studio room>must move stuff-on-shelf to get them>move chair out to do this>rearrange furniture to place chair in front room>rehang coats that were on floor to chair>find old photo box whilst moving chair into place and locate funny old photos of self>upload these to Facebook>make coffee>take off decorations>find new box to transfer stuff into (WTF...did these decos breed??)>look around to see Jams IN box>take photo of Jams in box>replace Jams onto her chair and boxes into studio/storage room>upload photo to Picasa for blog>get hungry and decide to make soup>Dante's seventh hell of dishes means there is no pot to do so>restack dish mountain to find pot>think about how all this idiocy would be good post>search Internet for good pic to illustrate blogpost>and the rest you know.
I'm exhausting. And that's not a typo. 
And I still have to make soup.
Ok. Here's Jams in the box:

Sorry it's fuzzy - she decided there was a spot she needed to lick as I snapped the shutter. 

The painting is "Portrait in Silver and Black" by Jack Vettriano who is well known for his dancing people on the beach with the butler holding an umbrella. Yeah, those. Which I'm not a fan of, so this was a surprise to find. I like this a lot. It makes me think of these dark grey days we still have to get through until Spring. That's kinda me right now.
But....we have new paintings to get to.....huzzah!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Marla's Christmas Tradition: Stories # 4 (new!!)

Happy Happy Sugarplums and Nutcrackers, everyone! Are you all nestled in your trundle beds? Sitting comfortably? Then let's begin......

Roasting By An Open Fire
It seems that the Festive Season has caused the most stories in my life but none as - um - cataclysmic as the New Year's Eve my Dad gave a box of Sparklers left over from Halloween to my brother and me. My Dad was the owner/pharmacist of Robson Drugs in downtown Vancouver for many years and they sold fireworks so that is why he had this package of sparklers to surprise us with. We, of course, thought that was just the coolest thing ever!  There was company over for dinner and I think that in order for the grown-ups to enjoy themselves, ie: get into the booze - he had the mind set to keep us out of their hair by giving us something 'entertaining'... 
Anyyouknowthereisgoingtobetearsway, Iain and I went outside to light those sparklers and wave them around in a celebratory way. For the first 4 or so sparklers we lit all went well but after that there was a pall in the thrill of it all. 
That was when my brother came up with the idea of lighting all of the remaining sparklers in the box at once. 

Let us pause here to think about how as a kid you are woefully short of figuring out the long range consequences of actions that at inception seem nothing short of pure brilliance. 
As my brother lit all the remaining sparklers, it seems to me that time slowed. I vividly recall the great burst of flame and sparks and then the horrific realization by my brother (and me) that he had what amounted to small incendiary device in his bare hand. His reaction was to scream and throw the flaming bunch over his head. What we failed to notice is that we were standing close to an old, decaying and very Dried-Out Cedar bush. Beside the house. 
The thing to also be aware of is that this was Vancouver where the houses were pretty darn close to each other. Sort of like lean-out-the-bathroom-window-and-shake-your-neighbours-hand way. 
Of course that bush lit up like the proverbial torch. 
Well, my brother took off down the street and I ran into the house screaming like a banshee. The 'adults' reacted like this: The women immediately ran for the phone to call the fire department and the men....well....the guest fellow who luckily had a great deal of presence of mind, ran outside, found the garden hose and turned it on. 
And my Dad? 
He ran downstairs into his den. 
I'm serious. 
Anywhatastoryway, by the time the fire truck got there, the fire was out from the quick thinking of our male guest. 
My brother was located hiding in the garage. 
Can't really recall when my Dad reappeared. 
But I guarantee that pretty much was the last time we ever got any fireworks!

The painting was found after a long search for 'firework paintings' most of which were the standard pretty lame exploding shapes-in-the-sky deal....bleah. I found this but the only identifying info is : Glenray Fireworks

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Marla's Christmas Tradition: Story # 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!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Marla's Christmas Tradition Stories #2

(reposted from Dec. 2011)
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?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Marla's Christmas Tradition : Stories!!

(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.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The 3 a.m. lightbulb

I woke up at around 3 am today with a great idea for a painting series. Seriously, I was smiling when this 'uploaded' itself into my consciousness. Now, apart from the fact I was smiling virtually in my sleep, I started wondering about that strange inexplicable moment of 'inspiration'. As an artist, I have a great deal invested into inspiration. And I believe for any creative soul this would hold true. Mind you, this also carries over to all and sundry as 'inspiration' is pretty much needed for a plethora of activities. Like what to get for all those folks on our Christmas list....right? 
Or what to cook for supper....again.
Anywhateveritmaybeway, inspiration is really a difficult 'thing' to pin down. What is it really? Yes, you can say 'an idea' but the actual definable 'is-ness' of inspiration is beyond words - sort of like love. Has there ever been some scientific hum-and-haw study of it? Not that I'm aware of. What I do know is that it can be the most fickle of desires, often completely deserting you when you really, really, really need it.
And how about trying to figure out where it arrives from. Certainly me waking up with this new idea at 3 am is puzzling - and I wasn't eating a dish of exotic richness for dinner yesterday so the postulate of fabulously indulgent food causing strange dreams don't work here. I always have strange dreams and they mostly don't inspire me in any way other than to ponder what the hell is going on in my sub consciousness. 
The great artists of yesteryear gave inspiration a 'icon' in the figure of the muse. And there are many stories of muses that the same lived with. (Altho' I have to say I've not seen any women artists ascribe the same to themselves....interesting thing that, wouldn't you agree?) 
Ok.....let's get back on topic, or at the least hope we can stagger back from the twisty paths I go down.
It would be greatly wonderful to be able to have inspiration just be there when you need the darn thing. 
I guess until that time I shall just hope for the best - and be eternally grateful that the creative soul still beats within me.

The painting: "Inspiration" by Gilbert Cantu. Mixed Media. 
Nice. And there are not many paintings on this topic, oddly.....

Monday, December 17, 2012

Women and Cats

"Women and Cats will do as they please and men and dogs should just relax and get used to the idea."
 - Robert A. Heinlein

I've been cruising the electronic highway over the last few days, gathering research on cats because I was contemplating that perhaps after my 'dog' series, I need to do a few 'cat' ones. (Jammies says it's 'bout time) 
Anyfurrypurrylookatmyassway, I came upon this great site called (oh so serendipitously) Women and Cats. With a plethora of great photos and art of selfsame. With the above quote as a header. 
The first pic that caught my eye is the above of my own personal icon: Georgia O'Keeffe, with her cat. 
I am entranced by this photo - because Ms. O'Keeffe was not a real 'smiley' gal in the vast majority of her snaps. She had a pretty serious demeanor to herself......but just get a load of that happy face. 
So I started thinking about the thing that supposedly is attributable to women and their connection/fondness for cats. As an aside I'd like to say that as true with all generalities oft purported, it is not always so - I have women friends who feel  towards the felines of this planet much like I feel towards the dogs.....not a big fan. And I also know there are many men who have a big heart for those aloof pets, my son being one.
But there does seem to be a very strong bond with females and felines for some unexplainable reason, whatever it may be.......did you think I was going to solve this universal query? 
I wish I could being as I fall decidedly into this camp of kitty devotees.
It also seems to be a pretty popular subject for painting.....from Picasso on up and down. 
There is one thing that I observed as I look at these pics and that is, in comparison to dogs who have a tendency to open their mouths a lot, cats don't 'smile'. 
But they certainly can be affectionate. Let me illustrate. 

This is me and Jams every time I sit at the computer. She loves sitting in my arms as I browse......the purring is non-stop. I also must wrap my shirt/sweater/hoodie around her...I know, believe me, I know. It makes me crazy because I usually forced to type one handed and after a while of that particular idiocy (as if the slow crap of dial-up wasn't bad enough) I do place her on the couch. 

That only works until I get up to make a coffee after which I will return to find this:

In her defense I'd like to point out she did leave me a corner on which to perch.......kind of.
All of this adds to this connection/bond/furry leech scenario to which I am alluding. 
And I, for one, would not change that for anything. 
And to close I would like to add this little comic that is also something Jams does. 

Yep - pretty much as she pleases. 

PS....I recommend going to 'Women and Cats' for a great browse but be aware - it's a time sink!
PPS.....What in all that is photogenic, is going on with my neck?!?
PPSS.....and finally:

"Artist with her cat" Marion Perlet 

I rest my case.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

You Should VS I Could

An Artist gets a lot of unsolicited advice during the course of their career. Lots of it comes from well meaning friends and clientele - some, of course, comes via the 'I know it all' idjits  folks but let's just give them the all powerful brush off for now.
I'm referring to the words that pop up after you post a painting of something that everyone just loves but is so yesterday for you. 
Here's the illustration of my point:

I posted this painting pic to my Facebook page as a new image for the 'header'....'profile pic'....?? (The larger picture whatever it may be titled) some days back. 
This got a huge response from all my FBFs (Facebook friends) who waxed rhapsodic about it with the most used comment being "You should paint more like this!"
Ok and fine, everyone, thanks for the kudos but here's the thing. I was painting like this in 2008. That's 4 years ago. And nothing was selling then. And then again, this was before I had my big 'soul search' and started with painting using the old photos of my Mom that have lead me to where I am today. 
Here's the other 'thing'. 
Everyone  and by that I mean, everyone who paints, out this way paints this kind of subject. 
Yes there is most decidedly the different expressions and styles of each artist that puts an individual spin on their painting - for sure - but without a word of a lie, it's beach, beach with trees/animal/waves/boat - you choose. 
All. The. Same. Thing. 
And I can do that too. I did for a few years. 
But. (ah....the big but)
I am so not excited by this kind of painting. It bores me. It's just too predictable for me. Simply put. 
I love painting my crazy colourful wildly strange ladies. I just do. 
So here lies the dilemma. Obviously people like my 'west coast' stuff out here. And I relish not being just-like-all-the-rest. But (again with the big but) people who don't live here like my ladies. And they are getting me recognition in the bigger cities.
I suppose I could paint those 'west coasties' for here and those 'colorful ladies' for away but is this pandering to the audience or is it just being smart? (don't answer) 
Is this not a crazy way to be an artist?  Is it actually really being an artist, that is true to your soul, and god knows we are all drama queens about that, by being, well, 'two-faced'? Or, let's face it, mercenary?
From what I've observed in the Art World, most Artists get known for a certain 'style'. That becomes instantly recognizable as their own. And this is what you're pushed to discover in Art School or so I'm told. 
I got to say I'm wobbling all over the place with this.

Talk about being roasted over the flames of indecisiveness.....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Well, Great Jiggly Bellies, Anyit'sbeginningtofeelalotlikeChristmasway


I don't quite know what happened in the last 4 hours.....I mean, there I was this early a.m. at the Community Center, yawning, stiff, and barely cognizant, to clean up after last night's GALA extravaganza (yes - will post pics - after this blithery intro) and sincerly feeling my years let me tell ya- after hefting and loading up plinths and easels and cleaning the great hall and activity rooms etc so forth and continuing, and thinking I would just veg-out at home with some sticky buns, when out of the blue I did the above. 
This is not 'normal' Marla happening.....whatever 'normal Marla' is.....I am not one to go all Xmasy-can't-happen-soon-enough-after-Thanksgiving - nosiree - I'm more the wait-until-Xmas-eve-eve kinda gal. 
I've got Carols on the stereo, even.
What in all that's Grinchy, is going on here? 
Beats the shiny balls outta me.
All I can think is the celebrating with my townsfolk last night and realizing that this little town is really truly my 'home' and seeing what a great group of ladies I am proud to work with accomplished.....well, all that just sort of made Christmas happen. 
A 'gift' indeed.

The photo: my old sculpture from felted carved styrofoam, appliqued and beaded and put together with 'found' objects, strung with lights and garnished with shiny balls. 
The 'Christmas Me'.....(insert smiley face)

and now.......The GALA pics:

The first bunch

The whole bunch - later in the evening- (can you tell?) Amazing we actually all fit in the photo booth!