September 24, 2007


Last week didn't start out very well. Disappointment and frustration seemed to be the theme. Someone once said to me that the heart of discontentment and disappointment comes from one's own expectations. And somehow you're not supposed to put all those expectations on someone else, an event, a relationship, a painting... Very, very hard not to do. Live without expectations? While I ponder that and think if it's even possible, I continue with my work, my projects and soon the week has moved to another theme - one of hope and that life isn't that bad after all. When I lived in Texas they had this saying that if you didn't like the weather, just wait a minute, because it would most certainly change. And it did. So I apply that to my days and sing along to my favorite Pink Martini song "Hang on Little Tomato. "
My friend had me paint her beloved cat Katybelle which I finally finished and sent off. I had lots of great pictures to work from, but I have to admit, not meeting the cat made me nervous. It sounds strange but pictures only show so much and meeting my subject matter really helps me create a true likeness. Just writing this I hear how hoity toity that sounds, but it's true. I look forward to meeting her and hope she's like the cat I got to know when I was painting her.

Coloring Inside the Lines

The other night I spent several hours on the phone with a dear friend and writer who was filling me in on her life and what her little girls are doing. Her oldest is in first grade and really stressed out (Did you know they give homework in the 1st grade??!!?? - what is up with that?) This little girl, like her mother is very capable and smart and just wants to do it right. She loves school, getting good grades and pleasing her teacher. Her teacher really emphasizes coloring inside the lines. I certainly understand the importance of coloring in the lines, learning to control your hand and movement, paying attention to the details, being proud of your work. But this is really quite stressful for this little girl and it makes me so sad that coloring has to be stressful.
When I was a kid, I distinctly remember how at peace I was with my box of crayolas in front of me --which I meticulously arranged in some order by shade or rainbow order ROY-G-BIV before even beginning my coloring masterpiece. I would color in my very own coloring book, one that I did not have to share with my brothers. I'm sure I spent hours upon hours at the kitchen table or laying on the rug in my bedroom coloring inside the lines. All I had to think about was what color to put in those lines to make it a beautiful masterpiece. Sometimes I would play color games -- if I could only choose one, which would it be? An impossible question to answer. Even now, I can think of very few things that bring on such peace. I think I'm going to treat myself to a big box of crayons and coloring book today. But at some point, I'm not sure when - perhaps first grade - I started drawing my own lines to color in. These step by step instructions come from Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals. I've had this book since first grade I do believe and still LOVE looking at it. He still makes books to help kids and (big kids too) learn to draw.

September 15, 2007

Still Learning to See

Earth's crammed with heaven and every common bush a fire with God: but only he who sees takes off his shoes. - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

For the first time I saw the difference in sunlight and I couldn't have missed it if I tried. I spent five days in Miami for work and returned to California late in the night. I woke early the next day to the strange light in my room. What a different color the sun is in Miami - strong, piercing and white. While in California it is gentle, yellow, creating softer shadows. I was delighted to realize that I'm finally seeing the different light. Watercolor is the medium of light. So after all this time, I see the difference, but can I paint it?
Training one's eye to see to paint the light on a flower pedal or the shadow on the field might seem like a completely different task than seeing in one's life. I have to work on seeing the sacred and not labeling someone or something before I truly see them. Sometimes I see what I so badly want to see, because it's just easier. When I paint a still life in strong light I have to look for the light on, let's say, the apple. I have to leave it blank because on my palette there is no white. The light, the white is the paper. It would be so much easier to take heavy white gouache and place it where the light hits the apple after I'm finished the painting. But it doesn't look nearly as luminous or true. I sometimes do that with people. I've decided he is wonderful but I have not seen. I myself paint in the light because I didn't look for it so now I have to paint it in trying to make him work in my painting. Over the years, I've learned that before I start painting, I need to sit still and look at my subject matter for a while before brush hits paper. You look for the lights. You look for the colors you see in the shadows and in the reflections. You look to know, so when you finally paint, you do so in certainty. And you keep looking all the while you are painting. Another wonderful paint metaphor to be applied to life, especially my life. So now, I put my shoes back on, lace them up and leave the bush I thought was burning. I never will stop looking for the sacred in life and people. But, I plan on taking my time to really see before I take my shoes off again.
Zinnias from my garden painted August 2007

September 9, 2007


I can't believe it's September and I haven't written anything on my blog since July!!! The honest to goodness reason is that I've been traveling a great deal with my new job - Vegas twice, San Francisco three times, Chicago and Miami. This is my new life and it's pushed and pulled me in a direction I never planned but certainly think will ultimately be beneficial to who I am to becoming as an artist and now a career woman (gulp). The most discouraging part of this new job is the lack of time I've had to paint, missing Baby Kitty, my friends and learning to live out of a suitcase. But I'm determined to make the best of it. I take my paints with me now, my cat ignores me 80% of the day anyway, my friends can call on my cell phone (I bought more minutes) and living out of a suitcase - haven't found the positive to that yet - but I will. I am almost finished with a new watercolor of my friend's cat that I brought with me this last trip. I'll post it as soon as I put the finishing touches on it. All this travel is making me paint/draw even when it's not the most convenient and surprisingly, I've been doing some cool things. Of course I'm still working piece by piece on GerAmyum. Here's the latest - not sure if it will go in the story but we'll see....


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