Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Language of Line

Water worn rocks on glacier sand bed.

Rocks on top of the shore.

One thick cobalt blue line. Rocks deeper in the stream.

All rocks. But different. Begging to be seen. Giving me subtlety.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In Search Of Wabi Sabi

I want unconditional love from my paintings.

I want a world that thrills my senses.

Is this too much to ask of line, color, and some form?

Monday, April 28, 2008

For Audubon's Birds And The Kids Of The Gulf Coast

Click To Bid Online Auction Ends May 1, 2008

My dear friend Kate sent out the call, " Jan, I am chairing the Zoo To Do this year, can you help?"
"Of course." I said with a smile. I love Kate. And besides, we are women of the storm. Doing our part to rebuild.
It is hard to convey how enormous, how pervasive the damage, the impact of Katrina has been. Oh you've seen lots of photos I am sure. And heard all the back and forth,the rhetoric, the pain. But here is back story. Something good for a change. Something simple.
Our children, all of the children of the city, and the region, go to this zoo. Thursdays were always free. School bus after school bus would line up in turn. And happy bouncing kids of all colors, languages and sizes, leap out with a shout and bit of glee. Field trips, Edzoocators, teachers and friends,yep another opportunity to learn and to be, a day at the zoo with so much to see, so much to do. This one rivaled San Diego's. It is a magical place.
I sketched and painted there,took gifted girls on Saturdays to the Zoo and Aquarium. Showed them how to be an artist on location. Little heads bowed together, oohs and ahhs, furrowed brows, tongues between lips, as they tried to draw a jumping sea lion.
As I sit here, tears gently roll down. Happy memories drift across my mind of wiggles and giggles and discovery. A day at the Audubon Zoo. This is a haven.
I am asking you to help. The auction is live and online. The Zoo-to-Do is this weekend. If you or your business want to put something right. Help. Bid, and bid big for this painting I did, "Water Lily Chaos". I rode out the storm two blocks from the Zoo. Walked out to see all the trees uprooted, the sky unnaturally bright. We're making it even better bit by bit.
The money in its entirety goes to the project. Not one cent goes anywhere else. No politics, no waste, just restoring Audubon's bird house this year. These kids need you and a life time of smiles. A sanctuary for themselves. Send the link to the auction to anyone you know who can bid, whose business or home needs some beauty, some grace. Know that even that small part will help us with our mission.But bidding, making that price go up, even better. This one is close to my heart and to Kate, And her two little boys. Thanks. Please pass this on.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Essence of Cakeness

1/100, 5" x 7", original oil on archival linen board, "Cheesecake with Blackberry"

Contained exuberance. A sensual treat. Paint for paint's sake and richness. These are some words that I can give you to go along with the brushwork. Cakeness for me is a walk through the senses. A meditation if you will. Paint is a way to call up my chi. And of course to earn a living.

2/100, 5" x 7", original oil on archival linen, "Chocolate Nun"

Some of my business muses are telling me to be direct. So here we have two fresh new paintings that you can buy from me. 100.00 a piece plus shipping. An email to me saying, "I'm having that one." I will let you know if it is still available. Then a payment to paypal, It's that simple. We are going to do one hundred at a hundred. No bidding, no hassles, just "yes, please send that one to me."
Yes, it's still naughty Friday. So after buying your cake, it's time to let loose. We've earned it this week.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Zen Blue Lines

Home business guru and Itty Biz personal trainer, Naomi Dunford, has joined our zen retreat. (Read shoved her snarky self over here to challenge me with her questions.) "It's a zen retreat," I say, "no turbulence please"...but she persists. She's pushy like that.
"Oh yeah? Well do they know why they're here?" From my place of peace, one eye opens... those pesky real world questions intrude. "Like what is your game? What do you do? Do your clients really know what kind of business you're in?"
OM... I breathe deeply while the cartoon character in my head jumps up and down shaking its fists and stomping, "WHAT? Do I have to use words? I draw them a picture everyday."
"Hmph. They might think you do this just for fun." My other eye snaps open.

"Well, they are here to see Jade's blue line painting today," I point out.
The wriggling Naomi trying to arrange her legs in a Buddha like position, continues, "But, why do you do it?" she pushes on.
" Naomi, be still, contemplate."
She just comes back, one leg wrapped oddly,"Do you love it or do you have one of those creepy knacks?"
"Why? Like why do I breathe?" Words fail me. "Hpmh," I say. "Do you know how hard it is to succeed in this field. Do you know that men are paid much more than women, do you know how much rejection there is?" As my blood rises to an un-zen like boil...I see her giggling...I laugh at myself and say, "Yes, Naomi I love it and I have a very uncanny and creepy knack for all things visual."

"What kind of people would need or want what you offer?", nosy Naomi wants to know.
Ahh, my awkward grasshopper, people want to surround themselves with things that reflect their lives. Things that are transporting, touchstones. My clients need and want more, more than the mundane. They are thoughtful, intelligent, sensitive ones who know there's more to life than nine to five. They are senators and scientists, writers and the written about, bankers and builders, CEOs of large companies and households, money men and mommies, artists and artful souls, even a city.
"People like you, Naomi."
"With a bit of cash", she says.
"Yes." I respond," I take money for what I do, don't you?"

And on she goes while I notice limbs getting itchy ( Are we done yet? My cartoon character looks at its watch, thinking warm stone treatment in five), "What's your marketing USP?( Unique Selling Proposition, Naomi's a Biz Wiz) Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?" (See did I tell you snarky is her middle name?)
"Funny you should ask, Most of my clients become my friends, acquaintances at least.
We share a common bond. They tend to like the one to one. And of course, I am good at what I do. they like the work, they like me. It's nice."
" Yeah, love fest. Good stuff. Got it." She can't be still.

As we rise to our feet and head off to the massage with warm stones, she has just one more...

"So ,what's next for you? What's the big plan?"
"The bright shiny thing on the horizon you mean?," as I smile. "Talk to the Men With Pens. We have plans underway. More. Bigger. Better. There are stories to tell and lots and lots of paint. Friends to make. I can't wait. "
"Now just hush." Be one with the quiet, Naomi." Like that will happen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wabi Sabi Wednesday

When Jade's name came out of the hat, he had a special request. And this is when I really began to like Jade a lot. He's an artist, a client of mine. But his request told me that we could also be friends. You see he asked for a bit of Wabi Sabi.

When given a choice, he went to my blog to see what he might select, "Anything?"
" Anything, just pick it," I said.
"Could you do me some Zen Blue Lines?", Jade asked.
I smiled and thought," ahhh, he gets it. "

It will hang in his new home between the two paintings of mine that he owns. So I looked at this one, the first one he bought.

And looked at this one, the one that followed. To see what I could learn. Jade left it up to me which pastry to paint. "Surprise me. I will be thrilled with anything you do." (See, a very likable guy.)

Like stepping stones in a zen garden, which one goes in between? Can you guess why I chose the one I did, the one in the photo at the top?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Zen Gardens

Zen Gardens have stepping stones. They calm the heart and still the mind to bring focus and tranquility. They are intended, step by step to bring about a pause. A line to trace. A movement through. To gather stillness. Breathe.

Paintings can be like these gardens. Line is language. Useful and eloquent. One plans. Contemplates. Opens up the mind.

The artist ponders, plans the paths. The lines. The shapes. Directions. Essences. Nuance. And what comes in between. How does one get from here to there and then come back again? There are two paintings underway. Each has its own intent. One you see is a glacier sand stream, another a simple blue line painting of a pastry to fit between two others. I'll show you these tomorrow. Meanwhile...breathe...perhaps find your own zen garden.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Book Of Tea

"Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence," wrote Kakuzo Okakura. I am sure he wrote it on a Monday.

"It is essentially the worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life." Oh yeah, definitely on a Monday. Look at this mess.

Tea ceremonies are steeped in ritual. Okay, laugh. Wait until you hear the narrator on the clip. As I gather up my MITs for this week. (Translation: most important tasks), look at the eighth inch progress on the tape measure (grab victories where you can)and pull myself into the stillness of creation (go over my notes, map out a plan), I am reminded to take time to breathe. Gather oneself. Appreciate something as simple as line. And how one gets from here to there. Oh yes, we are going on a Zen Retreat. Open the universe of our minds...yep, organizing Monday is here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Naughty Friday Vegas Cake For Two

"Can you do my wedding cake?" Jenny had asked. Her name had been drawn out of the hat.

Some sketching was done. Some scratching of head. "Sure, will a slice do? The canvas is very small," the artist had asked. "Yes." Next came the list of essentials.

The bride loves chocolate and strawberries. Her dress was red, the table soft green. The artist looked at the berries and thought,"Let's make it a lucky seven."

Let's give it some glitz, the strawberries must kiss. After all this is a romance. And a memory of a sweet trip to Vegas.

I'd like to thank Jenny for letting us have some fun this week. How did you know I needed the road trip, this little diversion? Here's wishing you and your handsome husband a soft place to land with the person you love for many, many wonderful years.

Oh the clip? Here this one is for for the two of you. Next week? Get ready Jade, It's a Zen Retreat. Don't forget it's Naughty Friday people. Shake off the week. Get up to some mischief. Please, I insist.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Part Where Jenny Gets Nervous

Roll clip: Montage of happy couple cutting wedding cake, artist wondering what Jenny is NOT saying about Vegas, Dean Martin singing "Sway", Brad Pitt and George Clooney in conversation, head to the car.
"So you think we can do it?" Pitt shields the match with his manly hands as he lights up his first smoke of the day.
Clooney rolls his eyes, raises his eyebrows, looks at Pitt," Piece of cake."

The artist chuckles. Sips her coffee.
Pitt to Clooney, "Ya got the blueprint right?"
Clooney, exasperated, "Do I look like an idiot?"
Pitt, sardonic grin, "Just last night, yeah."
Clooney (fake laugh, shaking his head), "Just take a look at it. See, you can tell where the headliners will be."

Pitt ponders the plan. "Looks like a solid foundation. Structure's in place."
Clooney, "Hey, she knows what she's doing." Winks at the artist. Artist lifts coffee mug to her lips. Smiles to herself.

Pitt, "It's going to need some glitz, some finesse." He smiles, mischief in his eye. Stares at the sliver of orange just starting to show. Echos of neon. This is Vegas after all.

"And romance. " Pitt adds.
Clooney smiled to himself. "Just leave that to me."
The car accelerates as they head down the strip.
Jenny to artist, "Will they be back? It doesn't look done to me."
But the artist is hearing that song that popped into her head at 4 am this morning. "Not to worry Jenny. You heard what Clooney said, I know what I am did I tell you about the time I saw Sinatra in Vegas with my friends from Paramount?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vegas Wedding

Early morning. Oops, not so early. "Might need coffee", she thinks, pouring her herbal tea down the sink. She looks at her notes from yesterday, hmmm." Let's see... Wedding Cake from Vegas...." The artist pads over to the pantry to look for stronger stuff.

"There must be kissing." She moves the strawberries into a tender kiss. A faint old tune plays in her head, "Love me tender, love me true. "

"And chocolate." She squeezes out some lusciousness. Hears the coffee brew.

"Definitely some showgirl red." She smiles,"LOTS of red. " The old tune begins to change..."a little less conversation..." she feels a dance break coming on.

"Now how do I get some Elvis on this blank board?" Ahh, coffee's ready. And it is time to paint. She dances off...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What Happens in Vegas

"Could you do my wedding cake?," Jenny typed, attached the photo, and hit send.
"Hmm," I replied , "let me check the scale of it. We may have to do one slice. " Typos checked, I clicked a reply.

First up, some thinking. Notes to self, in the Moleskine with my blue Waterman pen. Needs some of this, a little of that. I scrawled and sketched a bit. "Going to have to fabricate a slice, Jenny." So the work begins.

Some searching for textures. Some looking for shapes. Some what it needs to work. It's not just a cake. It's a moment. A wedding...oh yeah, the strawberries need to kiss. And those shadows. They must frolic, celebrate. Because what happened in Vegas for Jenny, was a bit of loveliness. Next...we need some color...Although Jenny is not telling all. You know the rule. So I will wing it, pull out some artist's tricks...she's not the only mischief maker in this tale you see.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Organic Chai Monday

Organizing Mondays. Starting over fresh. Right? Forget the excesses of the weekend, or the studio hours spent. Take stock. See what's up. Then Zen To Done again. "Sound like a plan?", she asks taking a sip.

"What's up is my waist line," she scoffs at herself. See the tape running through here? Those little red numbers are telling a story. A smart alecky, taunting one at that. Another sip. She pauses, thinks. Looks at the to do list.

A voice, she hears the voice of a champion from her Inner Circle, urging her to get tough. "Okay, dammit," she picks up the pen, fills in those blank spaces, " 5 Hindu Push ups, 10 Hindu Squats, and (her favorite) 10 Bridges held as long as she can." Pushy alpha males. She chuckles, takes another sip. Considers the spice in her tea.
" Now where is that purple Swiss Balancing Ball?" Under the desk, see near all your sketchbooks. She patters off, "How many balls must we juggle? How many plates can you keep in the air?"
Matthew bellows, "Is that whining I hear?"
"Uh, no, uh, no sir. Getting tough sir. Getting tough. " She puts down her tea and starts counting, "one...gasp, two, cough ....grrr."
Mondays, she thinks, grimacing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Experiment Continues

Click To Bid

"How do you learn?", she types to her readers in that casual Sunday morning way. Not quite enough coffee yet, she pauses, even though her eyes had opened well before dawn. Thoughts of that crazy wild party yesterday drift through her head. "Just jump in!", they urged. She stared them down, those Alpha males, and jumped.
She sits, still in her robe, looking at this creamy cake, "It is the tip of an iceberg too long contained. It only hints at what she has to offer." These too are her thoughts, as she ponders the screen.
Ahh, but look at that cream, strawberries nestled happily in its abundance. "Cake. You chose cake to keep your muse alive in this transition." Look at the blush and the light in the berries. "There's a very real piece of you there." And you wanted daily discipline in oils. "Yes, delicious. Yum."
Setting up limitations, increases creativity, hones skill sets. Painting in series, as in any other skill, is exquisite experience in setting up experiments, challenges, problems to solve, and conquering them one by one. "Is it like that with you?," she wonders. "Isn't that how you do it?"
One more cup of coffee. That's what she needs. A shower and then back to the studio. There are big canvas's waiting. Yep, that's a smile on her face. There's some blue sky she can't wait to get to. Oh, there's that Twitter thing too, another challenge. Quickly she makes a note to self,"sign up", and saunters on.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Naughty Friday Finger Painting

I like to play in paint. You have seen my blue line drawings before. But I have never shown you my finger smudging.

This piece requires tactile consideration. It's a blob of cream with dots of strawberry form. Values of light and shade become very important. The base is simple, subtle, but strong. It must come to life. It is Atlas supporting the rest. And those strawberries,they must be summer blushes beckoning.

Distinctions must be considered. Expanding the range with light and a little texture. Thinking of subtle coloration, possible changes in tone seen and felt. I like to get involved a bit, explore. Get to know it well. So I smudge a bit. Sharpen with line where contrast must be felt. Smooth where shadows take away an edge. Move across the whole, learning as I go.

You can do it too. Do the warm up, learn the essence, lay down the structure, set the tone. And when the path is known, pull out the pigments. Let brush play. And don't forget, have some fun.