Friday, August 29, 2008

Naughty Friday "Oyster"

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

The time has come,'the Walrus said,
'To talk of many things:
Of shoes --and ships--and sealing-wax-
Of cabbages--and kings--

And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings'

Perched on MY rock conveniently low, I am looking at my list, Friday: "20 quick small sketches for watercolor studies ( separate from the large stuff) ". Tea in hand, I ponder. Hm. That certainly seems doable. I have my pencils out. Some small paper near at hand. Sip. Another slow sip. I pause.

On another list, that nocturnal Nabokov one, is this: "oyster". I have been mulling that one over. There are oyster beds on my island. They are a favorite texture in the low tide sand. A surprise inside. I mull some more. I gently sip. Yep, that's perfect for today.

As for pigs having wings, I do not know, but I DO know that I did not allow for the wiggle and the chaotic waggle that this week had in store. I have no wings myself this week, that's for sure. I think my one week to do list in the studio is actually a two week list. What do YOU do when you are overly ambitious? When you over project? And things come up unexpectedly? Are you a tough task master or a forgiving one?

Me, I'm sitting on my rock perched conveniently low, and contemplating drawing oysters, smiling at the thought. Oh, I got through two thirds of that list. Not bad, that. I have all day today to finish up what I set out to do. Will I make it? Nah. Am I rushed? Am I thinking,"Oh, you idiot"? Maybe for awhile last night. It was a very tough day yesterday. And it did bother me a lot, until I reread the numbers on that list. But now, today, I am contemplating oysters and chuckling at myself. I want to hear what they may say about my island. What kept me up at night. Listen. Can you hear the sea? It's washing away this week. It's saying," good job. You're much further along. Now come sit over here, let me wash your cares away. Just draw the oyster. Just draw its juiciness. And look at those neutrals. And look at the contrast." Yum.

You can't forget about the pleasures of your work. It will all get done. And if it doesn't...check your numbers, they might be off a bit.

Brush, got any ideas on what color an oyster is? Yep, more puddles, you get to play today. Pencil, got any lemon? Come on, let's sketch away. Now, go be Naughty, all of you. Go on, play in the delicious juiciness of your life.

( I see you smiling NOLA NOIR guy. Just duck and cover, Gustav is on his way.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Send More Godiva

I need more chocolate. That list is a task master. I will be in studio mode for the rest of the afternoon sketching and making choices...but I think I'll need more chocolate. My list said pick 10 "possibles" for the 22" x 30"s AND sketch them. Do you see all the little purple and aqua flags flying here in these sketchbooks? I have narrowed it down to 30 or more, "ooh that would be good's". And for tomorrow I need 20 small line drawings for the wash studies. And there's all the other stuff too. Who suggested these numbers? Who?

Uh, I guess that was me, and Dave... And I think Alex chimed in. Hmph. My muse is saying, oh you can do it. You've done it before. Well, okay, but that Godiva is running low, we need a little bit more. "Come on Jan, it's drawing, you love that." Hm, that's true. I'll enjoy it once I get started, forget this lack of sleep. Gotta get the grace under pressure going. Yes, there you go. That's the spirit. But today, today I am thinking grace, is spelled liked this: G-O-D-I-V-A. Yeah, the grace of champions. That's what I am talking about.

Brush is saying, for sure... the good stuff. His guild is very picky. We'll ration this for now...a little hardship is not a new thing. Come on Brush, boots on, grab Pencil... we WILL work that list, after all tomorrow IS Naughty Friday. Surely we can make it to then.

How's your week going?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Purest of Paper, The Color of Night

I am being held captive by Nabokov. My papers are pure, but my thoughts are of sin. Humbert is asking me what holds me in thrall? What is it about island puddles brim full of life? And oysters. Or thin slivers of light. One blade of grass, a footprint, a ripple. He's asking me, "So what?" And now, now I must find the color of night.

When there is bare minimum to paint...what is it about? A breath, a moment, a sigh of delight? Something that stops us in our tracks? Aesthetic bliss. On an island. Where the eye is unfettered and the heart can roam, and the wild parts are right out front. Here is the scary part: It becomes as much about me as it is about those island parts... and Humbert is asking me to get naked. Really naked. He kept me tossing and turning again last night.

It's those oysters and that sweet spot struggle and all those images I looked through yesterday. Hmph. Handmade paper arrived from Hiromi, I opened it this morning. Three luscious sheets for some bas-relief "screens". Those drawings are to be gentle, refined, almost pristine. That was/is the idea. But these other pieces, others on my list, I have to get primal with them. (It's that charcoal drawing ape I tell you.) I have to paint that delicate oyster, find the color of night, and dig deeper. Then deeper still. Tickle some mystery that's right at the core... of me and of you. That's where we'll meet.

Simple? As simple as being naked in public. Sheesh, but can't I have some sleep? That muse...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lolita, Lolita, Lo-lee-ta

Lolita woke me up. I kid you not. As I sit here, tea in hand, I am as puzzled as you are about whatever THAT could have to do with this series I am constructing. Nabakov's first paragraph was on my mind several times this week, out of the blue. I reread it Sunday because there it was, the book, on the top of a table at the big bookstore. Hm. Odd, that. What is up with that?

Here's what I found that he said about his own book:

There are gentle souls who would pronounce Lolita meaningless because it does not teach them anything. I am neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction, and…Lolita has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. There are not many such books.

Aesthetic bliss, huh. Lolita, Lolita, Lo-lee-ta. Love of language and love of line...could that be the message? Humbert, what are you telling me? You know Nabokov said he was inspired to write the book by the first charcoal ever drawn by an ape. The ape drew the bars of his cage. Hm.

Also running on the screen last night ( at 1:35 am to be exact), and noted are: "moored off Dolphin Island at night sleeping aft w/George adrift in the stars", "oysters" and "WTF it is only 1:35 am and I have been awake an hour", and my favorite, "what am I thinking? This flimsy idea..." That is followed by 2 more pages of notes where I just started recording what had gone through my mind. It was another 2 hours before sleep would come. And only then after I read a few soothing chapters from my novel about the South of France.

So I am groggy, and a bit cranky this morning and puzzled. Muses. An unruly lot. I know I went to sleep with a fear on my mind. A small fear, but the one that tells an artist, chase it down. This minimalist thing, this island, it's very different from tangles and masses of shapes. It's more like a breeze touching your skin, gentle lapping of water against your boat, a halyard ping in the dark as you sleep nestled aft in the middle of an ebony Gulf.

The last note on the list is about someone cutting a slice of a pear and sharing it. When I originally read the scene about that in my novel it brought tears to my eyes for it's tenderness, hm. Somewhere in all of this, there is something, something that will lead me there. There are paint color names just above that note. Perhaps, my Lolita is on my pigment list...Maybe. But it is the next to last note on the list that cracked me up, made me tilt my head at this particular muse this morning: "sweet spot struggle". I can hear that muse laughing along with that ape in that cage. And Nabokov is tapping out his tattoo still. Lolita, Lolita, Lo-lee-ta...I need more tea. But I can still hear the lull of the sea.

What? Nabokov doesn't visit you? Sheesh. That muse is playing with me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How Many, How Much?

I love paper. I know I am not alone in that. It is an occupational syndrome and should have a name. This love affair is not restricted to studio papers which are in a class all their own. It carries over to all the functional papers I have in my life as well. I found this Weekly To Do List notepad yesterday. The color attracted me, but who needs a special list like this with clever simple graphics and really cool color stripes? Any of the pads I have will do, and besides I thought, look there isn't much room on each day. How could you fit more than one thing on each really pretty stripe?

Then an image hit me of what one week would look like at the END of the week with those 7 things completed. And that intriqued me. I am a sucker for ideas and experiments, and the paper is kind of cool. I am probably justifying the purchase at this point, but it is my syndrome and I am begging for your understanding. You see Dave Navarro was discussing refining goals this weekend and the Law of Attraction. Anyone who read through my goal setting template knows I am big on quantifying and action as well. If you don't put a number and an action with a goal, it's less likely to net the results you want. I was up for some fine tuning. I have a huge set of deadlines staring me in the face. And a huge number of art pieces to complete. And a not so huge number of hours in a week. For Dave's challenge, I thought, "Hm, I need to put the estimated hours and pieces down, quantify the list." Not that I was totally surprised, but if I started right this minute and worked 16 hours each day... those deadlines are still in jeopardy.

So I thought. And I thought some more. And I looked at the studio production list. Hm. And I looked at that notepad. Wrinkled my nose, thought briefly of Dave. Might be time to bundle operations. Huh? That has worked before. Instead of doing one piece at a time, I focus on a process like say drawing and do the drawing on several of the major pieces at once. Or say do a heavy session of ink, or cutting materials. It has to do with getting into a rhythm. If the overall map of the pieces is in place, and the themes are set, it can be done. Prep to a point and then then get into each piece. Since drying times and materials are a consideration, multiple pieces can be worked at once.

So those color stripes are looking like they need to read something like, 24 inked sheets of collage, 10 - 22"x 30" watercolor subjects chosen/ small sketches done, 4 texture canvas's prepped. Something like that. Can you imagine what it will feel like at the end of the week, when I look at the stripes on that paper and the tasks are complete? And even better, that production list has a finite number of pieces on it. Could it be doable afterall? We'll just see what this little striped paper can help me do. So the biggest one of my 3 Most Important Tasks this week is to bundle my processes and put the numbers on this week's page. (And then do them of course.)

Yes, it is Organizing Monday. I also want 2) to read the ebooks I have on my hard drive, and 3) to move my body more. So I am working on how many, how much there too. That makes my 3 MIT's for the week. Do you have something that could use these two simple questions: How many, how much?

No Brush , we don't need your calculator. Let's just go get busy. Better get Pencil out of bed. We have some stretching to do.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Not this Color, Exactly

Trying out different paints is at once uncomfortable and kind of exciting. We all tend to have favorites on our palette. Friar likes sap green. I like ultramarine violet. Patricia Tobacco Forrester never leaves home without cobalt violet and vermillion. And we all have brands that we have found to our liking. I tend to use Sennelier, Schminke and Winsor Newton, usually out of the tube.

We even have our favorite brushes, papers, and sometimes we are picky about palettes. I like a porcelain plate, white, just like Patricia if I can get it. Right now I have a clear plastic top to a bin that holds my tube color.

Kremer paints are new to me. That's what's in the picture. These are handmade pan colors using a medium made by Carol Gillot. I am trying them out for some small watercolor studies. So far, I really like them. They are rich, archival ( won't fade) and flow immediately when water hits them. No coaxing needed. Kremer supplies all the big guys who hand make their paints from pigments and binders. And I can see why they do it. This is like the best of the best of chocolate... or a sip of single malt scotch.

Only one problem. This is all I have of them. And my favorite colors are not there. Hmph. So I'll have to mix them, make puddles and puddles galore...ooh, won't that be terrible. Yep. Going back to my beginnings, finding the colors that glow. On I can go get them out of my bin. And I will. But these, these are quite glorious. I am going to get more water out...and more paper to make sketches on... because the water is not this color, exactly, but it sure is a good start.

Brush is wanting to dance of course. It is Naughty Friday he says and Pencil is getting the shaker out, shaving some ice...Okay, guys what will it be?

Ooh, Brush...margaritas and skinny dipping?....hmmm, sounds like a plan to me. He wants to play in those paints. Come on guys, let's jump in. I see you smiling. Make some splashes yourself.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Plein Air Drawing

Sometimes the dawn is faster than you are. So a quick series of drawings have to record what you will later paint. Major forms, quick notes and impressions jotted down in just a few minutes. All while thinking ooh and ahh. The mind and the hand must work quickly, the light is dawning right before you. Changing everything slightly as the minutes pass.

Those words on the drawings are color notes. "Gentle pink", "light b/white", "cobalt blue" and "greys" for the not yet lighted water. On the one, there are also numbers. Those are value notes. Dark to light, or maybe the reverse. Then there are impressions, impact phrases to myself. The last drawing is from the afternoon, so I could note the difference.

Today, I am out to decipher the drawings. And play with the Kremer paints. Simple? Maybe. A literal translation might work. But that part, that part of ooh and ahh. There's the rub. Turning light and evanescence into pigmented water on paper that says "here's what I felt"....well, there's the challenge today. It may take a few tries.

Yeah Brush, if your boat tips over, you just go for the center board and get it sailing again. Fall down. Get up. Screw up a piece of paper. Get another one. Let's go play with that paint.

What's up for you today? Going to make any mistakes? Going to push any edges? Try something different. Even something small. I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Searching For Subtle Color

My barrier island is deceptive. It looks like nothing is there. Wide open spaces, plenty of sky, and muddy grey puddles on the leaward side. It looks calm. Idylic. Don't be fooled. It is teeming with life. Sharks swim in the water. Trout, redfish, and shrimp are plentiful. The grasses are full of redwinged blackbirds singing their song. The sand bears tracks of racoons. Pelicans fly overhead. I was told there were not many alligators anymore...somehow that was a relief. Sitting alone on a log drawing. Could have been a tasty lunch.

This is a place at the edges. Part sky, part water, part land. It has hidden treasures. Unexpected wonders. And danger lurks. It is at once peaceful and violent, as prey meets predator. So color needs to be subtle, yet speak of tension too. Why don't I just paint it? Just jump right in? Why all this exploring?

Ahh, remember, it's more of a story. I am after that core. I am trying to pretend I know nothing about this place, so I can see it with fresh eyes. I even hauled out David Dewy's book on watercolor. Me with all my professional experience, yep, looking with beginner's mind. Why? Freshness. No same old, same old. I am after what I don't know, or what I can tweak in another way. I never want to be stagnant, afraid, or rest on my credentials. That is boring. No breakthroughs to be had there. If I am good at what I do, something cool will happen. Why bother otherwise? And that sparkle in my eye...well keeping that is important.

So I am looking for subtle color that belongs to this place in particular. Color that has to be there. I want to strip away all other colors so you will know, ahh, she's been there, seen its essence, and now she makes it glow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fresh Color

I get to play with fresh color today. Blank pages to be filled with the color of puddles, grasses and sky. Colors of sand and colors of water. And I need to find mangrove green, pelican brown, and red for blackbirds wings. Shall I include shark grey? I want tone poems of gentle hues. A smattering of unexpected flashes. Nuances of neutrals. I think it must be like creating characters in a story. These colors are to go with the drawings. They all have a purpose. I want one glance around the full exhibition to show the whole of it, but I also want you to be drawn in to take a closer look. Find a favorite that speaks to you.

That's what it is like you know, when mounting a show with a theme. A big story. One strong point to drive home. All the supporting characters echoing, amplifying, elaborating in their own character's way, but staying on message or helping the mystery unfold. Color is a key to character. So today I am after fresh color. Very selective color that I will continue to refine. Tone poems of an island. That's what will go on those pages, lots of possibilites to get to the chosen few.

Brush, no. Not the Speedo. Save that for Barcelona. Go get Pencil will you? No, he cannot be drinking Lemoncello this early in the day. What? Oh, practicing for his dream of Capri. We are very partial to islands around here. Come on let's go splash around in the paints, guys. I'll get some lemonade.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chop Wood, Carry Water

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”~ Zen Proverb quotes

I wanted a trashy novel. See that book in the second photograph? Not trashy. And it has duct tape on the front of it. Hmph. DUCT TAPE. Had to balance that with a pink selection of small work goodies yesterday to fake my brain into believing there would be fun at the end of the tunnel. Yes, I wanted a beach read, a whodunnit, a tawdry tart gets her man...anything but to work on the files I took to work on and the business at hand.

I grabbbed a latte , a strata and opened up the Sunday New York Times, there was plenty of tawdry there, but I was not in a Georgia Zimbabwe mood. I tried to look at the Style section. Nope. Not happening. Off , I am way off today, I thought. Okay nothing for it, but to begin on the work I promised I would do, all that work I had packed into my location bag. I was already getting a late start. The day had felt slightly odd when I woke up way too early. Couldn't put my finger on the why. I was just not feeling the zen. I came to my alternative office anyway. Did not really want to be there, wanted anything else but that. I had thought of plenty of alternatives to the alternative, but here I was now and the very nice engineer from last Sunday was sitting at the table next to me working away. He'd already been friendly. Great smile, all American look. Western doncha know. That was nice. Sip sip. Do NOT get distracted, she says to herself. Let's just wade into the work. How bad can it be?

I pulled out the files and took the top one. Worked it through. Then the next. Then the next. Jotted down some notes. Clipped a few papers together. Picked up the last file before I knew it. Hm. Starting to feel better. I moved on to the sketchbooks and the journal. Paused. Marked a few pages more. The engineered smiled companionably. I read the first chapter in that ugly orange book. Definitely a guy book. Wait, hey...( as I read on) it is actually good. Might even be brilliant. Compliments another one I like called the Tipping Point that I read a few years ago. I had to make myself put down the ugly orange book with the tape ( which may become a favorite), and pick up the book I'd brought with me on punctuation. I have graduated to the second chapter in that one, the one on commas, having done the work with the dot. The engineer leisurely strolls over to the counter for more coffee and smiles on his way back. I now read that tricky comma chapter. Scintillating. Before I knew it I had completed every task in my bag. What? Yes, I looked in it and saw empty staring back. Huh? Tick tock wow. Done. That can't be right. But it was.

So I promptly smiled and repacked. Game over. Done. I sprinted over to the fiction and grabbed a pastel colored book about an heiress in Nice on the trail of a lost painting- villas and Dragonettas and romance in the South of France by a Sundance authoress. I grabbed the latest De Silva too. His lead character is the Jack Bauer of Israel. It says so right on the cover. That could be excting. I am zen again...and smiling.

Moral of my Sunday story? Chop wood, carry water. It may not be so glamorous, but sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done. Yes, it's Organizing Monday again. Pick 3 Most Important Tasks and simply do them. Small relentess steps. The road to "overnight success", or rebuilding, is full of small steps. Ones we wish we didn't have to do, have done a million times already, or would love to pay someone else to do for us when we can do that. But there's fun to be had there too...and sometimes a terrific view.

Now Brush is excited. That pink watercolor Moleskine in the first photograph is his reward. It's getting color tone poems this week. And island paintings will come from those. We have elegant handmade paper on the way. Brush is feeling very Nice-like now. Descriptions of the Grand Corniche, azure sea and pink villas can do that. Oh, I need island colors, but my heart, it needs a touch of romance, and it needed some zen discipline yesterday. So chop wood, carry water. Then reward yourself.

What, the engineer? Well, Texas seems to be a friendly state. Come on Brush we have drawing and painting to get to. Yes, you can drive the Dragonetta, let me get a scarf for my hair. Brush has a romantic side himself. Go on. Get busy. But don't forget the fun.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Week's End

Gentle rain drops woke me up. The ceiling fan is rustling hand made paper. Brush and Pencil are still yawning, tea is not yet made. It's a nice day to be cocooned in quiet. Softly sketching all day long.

Today, I'd like to be quiet. Let the drawings come. It's raining harder now. The downspouts run like streams. I have to smile, wetlands in Dallas are coming from the sky. There's a creek just down the hill, by a little bridge. Maybe I'll walk down later to see what washes by.

New pieces are mapped out. Ideas are flowing, thanks to beginner's mind. The three things I set out to do this week, I did. But the rain has made me dreamy. It's patting out it's rhythms on the roof. I wish that you could hear it.

Here is what I am thinking: How could I have forgotten to love what I love so much? I love to draw. But I have saved the drawings for myself. Part of what I do. Now, I plan to do some for exhibition and for sale. And that feels...exciting... and scary. Drawings are intimate. Directly felt. It is akin to opening up love letters for public view. But, we are going there.

Sometimes our private loves are essential to our wholeness. Hold them in your heart. But some of them we can share--like a poem. Soft caresses over paper like rain drops quenching a passionate thirst. Today I will be smiling as I draw. Gentle rain drops woke me up this morning. Made me think of love.

Well, it IS Naughty Friday. Go on. Love something passionately. I dare you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Steve Holl and the Paper Chase

I fell in love with an architect on Sunday. Well, at least with his work, but I am quite sure if he asked me to marry him today, I would, sight unseen. I could live in one of his houses. Failing that instant marriage proposal, I will do the next best thing. Play with his influence on my work.

There's a drawing I want to do. Have for a long time. It happpens. Ideas sometimes have to gel for awhile before they are complete. Then boom. Right there it was in the pages of his current book, my drawing staring back at me. Only it is actually a building in Amsterdam. Aesthetic arrest. Totally stopped me in my tracks. Now I will not be able to rest, until I can figure out how to assemble the pieces, what materials to use, what pencils, or color, what mixed pieces I could bring in. So I can make my 2-d version of hide and seek, of the island of course.

I went online later, found another piece of his architectural art that has me thinking too. It slammed right into an idea I had for an environmental art piece. See what beginner's mind can do? I am translating into bas-relief and 3 dimensions what I would normally do in only 2. Playing with the small bits, confining myself to neutrals for just awhile, other aesthetic considerations start bursting on the scene. And I love it.

So today I will search, probably at Hiromi, for some unusual papers. Need some more like silk and tissue. There is a small screen I want to construct. Yes, some of these ideas come directly from those collages of found papers and inks. I am still playing with those. And some are from a small sketchbook I have had for awhile. It is time to move some of those, and the drawings from Tuesday, a little step forward. Some grander more elegant materials, just a few, are called into play. I want timeless whispers, some reflections and some shapes. Maybe it all changed a bit, when I saw that Beijing gymnist running in the air atop The Birds' Nest. But today I am thanking Steve.

C'mon Brush and Pencil, grab your kimonos, we have some looking to do. Yes, you can wear your flops, but not inside. And please, no ju jitsu in the store.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Godiva Chocoiste and Men, or Hoping To Get Lucky

The important thing to remember about stalking, er, doing market research, is to correctly pick your ground. I want to observe my target in some of the species' leisure habitats. Since I am currently without a boat, Ball season is way off (the kind you wear a fancy gown to, not the kind where they sell hot dogs in the stands, or have cheerleaders for), and I am off my home turf, this will have to do.

And look, they have seeded the field. Less than 15 feet from my cafe table, uh, office desk, here we are--Dallas leisure time activity center for the guy who reads. I was sipping a vanilla latte, discretely observing and sending my report back to corporate headquarters. Okay, I was on my cell phone to a girlfriend. I counted 9, no, 12 men and me in the area. Not another woman in sight. It was mid Sunday morning, kind of early, and they were everywhere. Men. Well groomed, casually dressed men, out for a cuppa and something to read.

Dallas men are the most time obsessed, watch collecting males I have come across. Look at the titles on the magazines. And this is a small sampling. There is a whole section on the rack behind this one that is devoted just to watches. However, notice Art and Architecture and Communication Arts are way up there too. And that is a very good thing for me. One of my most prolific collectors is a residential and commercial developer. His International Style private beach house contains no less than 5 of my large paintings in his main public rooms. So I liked seeing the interest in fine architecture.

Among the watch afficionadoes this Sunday morning, are well built security/bodyguard types. How did I know? We artists are highly trained observers. And it said so on their tightly fitted muscle restraining tee shirts. There was some serious muscle at this watering hole, reading and then walking. The muscle guys walk a lot. Up for coffee and back for water. Get another magazine. Get some more juice. Read the paper. Go get a pastry. And they observe everything around them. Like scanning constantly. Note to self: Find out if they furnish the palace or if they just guard it. Either way, a win. I think I spotted a Maverick or two as well. Ball players, not horses. Hm. Do the sports guys buy art?

The Godiva Kiosk was slightly over to the right. I am not sure whether it was a gentle reminder for these guys to pick up a treat for a loved one, or parallel bait to bring in prey. I prefer to think of it as nourishment. This is work after all. Hmm, of course I could be prey come to think of it. The engineer I ended up talking with did ask me if I come here often. And yes, he wore a very nice watch. It's okay, I can take a hit for the team. Such is the life of an artist wanting know her ideal clients up close in a Texas Town. I must breach the Petroleum and Cattleman's Clubs too. Yep, dirty work that...might require special shoes. But I am on it. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Punctuation, Baby Crabs, and a Bit of China

The intersection of influences. Punctuation. I have been reading up on that. Can you see it in the drawings? Those marks are baby crabs and grasses on Chandeleur. And of course, on Friday I saw the big show put on by the Chinese. So it is no surprise to me that these Chandeleur studies are looking like Chinese screens and pencil calligraphy.

The paintings themselves will be a dance across surfaces now with a Beijing bounce. I want lyrical, but depth and timelessness are again my goal. And some color, very selective color. I want subtle explosiveness there; there is violet sneaking in. Gold and crimson here and there. And green, some green of new growth. We'll have to put that in. I want tension in the beauty. That is there too. The calligraphic symbol for harmony was featured in the show. I'd like to hide that in the grasses for you to discover.

Balances and rhythms, in the punctuation book. Pacing and progress, an editor's suggestion. Exploration in line continues, now in the grasses on the leaward side of the island. I have been playing with line so long you'd think I'd have those down, but beginner's mind requires that I take a fresh eyed look. Solve the puzzle like a child. Line, shape, color. Marks upon paper. Punctuation of an idea. Simple you would think. Ahh, but how can I make them resonate and entertain? How to make them speak? So that baby crabs and grasses come out as the heroes they can be. How to make a marriage between science, art, and poetry?

I must play with punctuation, baby crabs and grasses, what, in Chinese? Apparently that's what my muse thinks. Brush and Pencil are still high five-ing our boys who won the Bronze last night. They've asked me for some rosin, and some of those fancy tights. Sheesh. Olympic fever. It's contagious. Come on Brush, Pencil, we have some roaming to do and some calligraphy to learn. "Yes, guys, you can practice your new moves." Learning curves. Do they ever end?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lickety Split Gold

Monday. AGAIN. But for those of you who missed last night's gold medal relay by the American "Fab Four' watch it now. If you have any doubt, any hesitation about anything today, this effort by these four superbly trained and dedicated swimmers will dispel every last shred of it.

After many hours at my alternative office yesterday, I am spent. I waded through miles of work papers and journals. That studio notebook, if not in perfect shape is well on its way to being updated and restored. The files are roughly ready to work in light of the new series and direction, and the journals are marked a bit for some passages I sought. I have my 3 Most Important Tasks sorted out.

It wasn't all work. There was a steady flow of diversions. And yes once again the view was great. Uncanny that. They seed the field. More on that later this week. But all in all I am pleased. It isn't easy going back into everything, especially going straight to the heart of it. But that is exactly where I have to go.

And last night there they were. My touchstones for the week, if I even think of flagging in my efforts I can think of that relay in the Aqua Cube. Those four amazing guys and that Frenchman who talked that trash...hey Bernard, that was NOT the Marseillaise they played last night.

Have your picked your MIT's? Got a goal in mind, or someone you want to outdo? Here's what Lezak said about the French and the race: "They had talked a lot about it, and we would just rather do it in the pool," Lezak said.

Ready to jump into your personal pool and get it done? Brush take off those ridiculous goggles, the Speedo is bad enough. Yep. It is Organizing Monday. We're after a personal best.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gentle Ripples in the Sand

Made by a constant breeze. That is the texture of this week for me. No great strides. No huge thrusts of activity. No drama. No brass band. Just gentle ripples in the sand made by a constant breeze. That is the pattern, the mark of my MIT's (Most Important Tasks). Steady, relentless movement toward my goal.

I can almost hear the gentle waves lapping at the shore, steady like a heartbeat. Maybe it is not ALL gone. Maybe it's still there.

I'll take those small ripples. Relish them in fact. Feel that breeze and soak up that gentle joy. Steady as a heartbeat. One step. Then another. Here we are again. Another bit closer and yes, certainly in the right direction to being whole again.

Time alone doesn't do it. It requires much, much more than that. This isn't easy. Don't be fooled. Each step is hard fought. But steps in the right direction. I have to be grateful for that.

I looked at pictures late last night of my island. Recent ones taken by a fisherman flying over it. Our footprints are not only washed away, the very ground is gone. The lighthouse is who knows where. It is gone too. I knew this already, of course, but it had been a while since I had had the courage to look again. And it, well, it was another stab at my heart last night. Not easy. But I also heard that underneath the waves, the sands are shifting and possibly rebuilding bit by bit. Hm. I can relate to that.

So gentle ripples in the sand made by a constant breeze and the currents offer up some hope. I know that's not a plan, but hope can be a friend. For now that has to do. Here we are on Friday. The photo is a soft sunset on an eastern shore. I just wanted to think of waves and gentle breezes on my face while I reflect on how good it feels to pull a pencil across some pristine white, and how wondrous certain shapes can be. That's all. Not very grand. But it's the world to me.

Good job this week, well done to me and to all of you. I'm sure we all can say, I did my best, I gave some more, I walked toward something I desire. Now let's all go be naughty. Come on Brush, you want to play in some ink?

Here this will help. I think she has the right idea.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beginner's Mind

Collage papers.



Warm and cool.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few."~Shunryu Suzuki

Childlike inquiry is a friend. So is random. I never want to be so stuck in a way of doing something that there is no freshness to my work. I have an island to paint. So I ask, "What is it?" I am playing with abstract. Textures, shapes, colors, identity in line and form. Scale, small, medium and large. Warm cool. Impact. Emotion. Memory. I have photographs. I have sketches. I have experience. I have technique. But, of course I want more.

I want to explore as if I had never seen it before. I have fine sketches and journal notes. I will roam and ramble, play with those as well. I have only to close my eyes and I am there again. But this island... what is it? What makes it stay in my heart? Why is it so important? What could it have to do with your life, too?

I am looking for timelessness in little bits of form. Something evocative. These nonsensical collages are in their first layer. There's lots, lots more to do. My childlike brain is loose on them to wander at it's will with scissors, glue, snips of this and that. Some ink, some pen, some pencil even. Newspaper. Things I have on hand.

After a bit. When I have said, "There, that is enough," I'll stop. Take a breath. Put them on the wall. Go away. Do something else. Then I will come back with fresh eyes, turn and take a look.

What do I hope to see?

My island's essence, as I see it, looking back at me. And lots of possibilities.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Watch the Watch

I am hypnotized by neutrals at the moment. The seashells in graphite grey. I am after timelessness. And I was doing market research. Okay, I was hanging out at the magazine section of Barnes and Noble on Sunday. Seriously, if we were in Africa it would be a watering hole.

What was I stalking? Males. Males with leisure time and discretionary income. My upper end clients are mostly these creatures with some alpha females here and there in the mix. They run companies, head institutions, work for themselves, heal the brain, import wine, advise presidents, and they write. They like original art and other very fine things.

I only had to wait in the Lifestyle section for a minute. Really. I saw something curious. A Robb report on watches. I had never seen so many magazines in one place on collecting watches. So I plucked that one from the bunch. And here, right beside me, total male at leisure going straight for the watches. And another. There was a cagey taller man lingering over by the business section, but he was well aware of the watch guys. They were casually dressed, but totally groomed for a Sunday. Was there a memo for this somewhere? They were everywhere.

I waited just a few seconds. Looked at the gorgeous photos. The male standing right next to me spoke in response to my quiet ooh (over the watches, ahem).

"Those will really set you back," he said.

" Yes, they will...but aren't they gorgeous?", I softly responded.

"They are that," he replied warmly.

I turned and gently smiled ( engaging the target in person is a subtle thing).
"Do you mind if I ask you a question?", I quietly asked.

"No, not at all," he said, his watch magazine tucked under his arm.

"Do you buy original art as well?", I asked him.

"Oh yes, I do as I can afford it," he replied.

We spoke for just a little while more. I said the thing about collecting is that it is about so much more than the object of our collection, no matter what that is. And he agreed. Fine things. We are drawn to them.

I left the men to their leisure habitat. But I watched for a time longer. One by one they came for boats, for watches, for tech or for cameras, some for Travel and Leisure. We were all stalking the object of our desire. It comes in many shapes. But it in the object, or the hunt? They are both kind of fun.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Small Bits- Silk Paper

Elegance of concept. Sometimes it is what isn't there that creates desire. These are finely made papers, one of them is even called silk paper. It is tissue thin. The mottled one that has some taupe in it comes all the way from Asia. What you won't find there is acid. That's what will make them last. That there is no acid. The papers are pure.

Those are tiny bits of shell from the Island of Chandeleur. Tossed and tumbled by the waves, they landed in the sand. Miles and miles from anywhere. What you won't find there is man, just nature on it's own.

I am working on a series of drawings. Just different almost random arrangements of a few shells gathered on Chandeleur. The drawings will be uncluttered, clean. I would like for them to whisper, but whisper eloquently in their tossed and tumbled bits. I want a quiet poetry, no shouting, no not here. I would like there to be room to hear the waves, and feel the breeze between...

I would like to leave room for both of us to dream.

( Note from the artist: There will be probably 24 of these drawings, some of which will be offered for sale only here. If you would like to be put on the list for first option to buy, email me with your contact information. When the offering is made you all will get first choice. You are under no obligation to purchase just for being on this list, but you will get first look. A preview offering. )

Monday, August 4, 2008

Out of Chaos Comes OM

Yesterday, when I was working at my alternative office which some people call the cafe at Barnes and Noble, I noticed a pattern on one of my calendars. I use iCal and have a printout one month at a time. It's color coded. This was the calendar that is supposed to be my editorial calendar. Sonia Simone told me about them from the Liz Srauss SOBCon she attended in Chicago this past spring. I thought editorial calendars were a pretty nifty idea.

I say supposed to be my editorial calendar because June and July were mostly done after the fact. Yesterday my cafe, er, office time, was totally about getting a grip on using this calendar in advance instead of using it to track what I had done. I had a couple other tasks I wanted to accomplish too. Big ones that I had been putting off. So I packed a location bag. I would not leave until I had finished everything in the bag. Yes, of course I over packed. Doesn't everyone?

I was hoping a change of scenery would be just the thing to help me get it all done. Of course I was there to pick up a few necessities. And yes, of course there were some necessities I did not even know I needed until I saw them. So I gathered the goodies, walked quickly past the new releases. Here to work, here to work. And found a table by the window. I ate my strata and sipped at my latte. Did some people watching.

Okay, enough. Dive into that bag. Get to it, one task at a time. Dave Allen's 2 minutes were handy in handling the loose papers. The labeled files ( also Dave ) gladly accepted my first sort of papers into topics. My handy dandy high-lighter made the sort even easier, ooh rich stuff on some pages. Sort, sort, sort. Don't write, just sort. Highlight to come back to the good stuff. Before I knew it the loose ends were no longer loose. Next the content notebook. It wasn't as functional as I wanted it to be. Some looking, some thinking. Ahh, now a guide is made. This is going great. Had not touched the calendar yet. Sip. Sip.

Okay. Get it out of its file. More looking. More thinking. Sip. Oh look at that woman, she actually reminds me of a flamingo. Sip. Hm. Nice Spanish acoustic guitar music playing, reminds me of some really good times with....THE CALENDAR, helloooo, focus here.

I made a deal with myself. I would just put down the things I was sure of so far. It would be okay to have some blank spaces. Hm. Okay. So I made a few notes on the parts I did know. Made some theme notes on the top and bottom for a general guideline for the month of August. I looked at Fridays. Wrote something in. As I sipped and worked, I noticed something. The tension in my shoulders was leaving. The chaos that was before, if not actually dealt with, was in it's place, neatly tucked into it's slot, or file; the content notebook was looking good. And here on my color coded calendar a message appeared:


On each and every Monday I had written it at the top of the little box. And now here it was staring back at me like a meditation. Om....Organizing Monday. I smiled. That was nothing new. But seeing it like that, OM and repeated, laid out on my self designed, color coded calendar, it looked like something bigger. A regular appointment with myself. And there the reassurance. 3, only 3 at a time. 3 most important things to accomplish each week ( or on a day) is a steady relentless march toward my goals. It's also a time to center. A time to breathe. Be clear. Take note. And that is no small thing.

Imperfect. Imperfect is fine. I left blanks, some room on my editorial calendar. But I smiled. Assured. Happy even, because of OM. I left some things undone yesterday. I had over packed. Was forcing all the issues. Most important tasks this week? Well, you can make your own. But one of mine it is to relax and get only 3 big important things done. After I had packed the work away, put it back into my bag, calendar included, I pulled out my journal. Ideas and writing just flowed. Small steps in the RIGHT direction make all the difference in the world. OM. Yep , it's Organizing Monday. What's up for you this week?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Time To Just Paint

I need to take a full studio day today. So I will give you this walk on the beach at sunset to ease you into what I hope will be a lovely weekend for you all. If you let yourself, you might be able to feel the day warmed sand caress your feet and hear the roll of the surf cleansing off the week. There is even a gentle breeze. Ahhh. Breathe.

There. Doesn't that feel good? C'mon Brush. Shh. Let's leave them to it. We have La Vie Dansante to explore.

The hokey music? Sure.

That's what we'll be humming as we paint. Now go be Naughty yourself.