August 27, 2010

First Watercolor Painting (gasp)

It was this time of year nineteen years ago that I signed up for my first watercolor class.  And this here is the "lovely" (cough) little painting I did in the basement of my parents house testing out my new watercolors that I bought for the class.  This old set of chest of drawers sat very patiently while I painted it on heavy sketch paper - not even watercolor paper.  Over the years of cleaning and moving eight times, I kept this beginning.  It's a reminder of growth.  I can look back and say,   
"See I HAVE improved and I have proof." 

I only wish I could say this was true for many other areas of life.  As we age do we improve?  I'm a bit of skeptic these days. "Things" just don't get better because I get older.  Improvement is imminent when a person is deliberate.  I have been diligent at becoming a better artist.  It has been slow and frustrating but I do see improvement.  This little painting leaves me wondering what other areas of life should I be working on with the same diligence and perseverance. Patience with people? Generosity? Being less self-absorbed?  yes Yes YES.  Today, I think watercolor painting is easier...

August 14, 2010

SPAIN - The Watercolors

Welcome .It's been nearly a month since my vacation in Spain.  I haven't been out of the country for many many years and so this was quite an adventure... sometimes an exhausting adventure especially since I know very little Spanish.  But there are elements of vacation that I LOVE and they remain the same no matter where I go.  To me vacation is more than just laying around - it's a vacation of the senses-new sites, new sounds, new tastes.   
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Spain.  I spent several hours sketching while my travel bud slept on a bench.

An old building in a Madrid square done in pen and "loosened" up with water.

I can always find geraniums. This is pool side in Tenerife at a beautiful new resort on the south side of the island.  Lots of tourists from Europe come here to vacation.

Pool side at the Regency Country Club La Estania.  I was up very early and sat and watched the sun rise.  The light is so different in this part of the world.  The Canary Islands are close to the northern part of Africa.  And I loved painting these white empty chairs before all the topless tourists filled them.
Looking out on the balcony my first morning in Tenerife.
My paper souvenirs from my trip to Madrid and Tenerife

Spanish homes on the island.
Los Gigantes on the the west side of Tenerife Island.  Huge cliffs tower over the ocean.  It's the prettiest part of the island.

August 11, 2010

Remembering to BE a Geranium

It's stifling hot here in the Mid-West.  As soon as I step outside in the morning, the air weighs so heavy on me I have trouble breathing.  My garden is looking a little heavy too and I don't have many things blooming.  My garden could be synonymous for my spirit.  Not much blooming, just trying to bare the heat and stay alive.  Changes at work, uncertainty of tomorrow, the constant longing for....  
It feels like my heart is burdened as much as my flowers are.  

But on my porch in their terracotta pots, the geraniums thrive and bloom.  I can't help but smile yet, at the same time want to kick the pots off the porch.  My "name sake" flower, if you will, geraniums - thrive and bloom best when the hot sun bears down and their soil dries up, reminds me of, well ... me or what I'm supposed to be - strong, independent, capable and best under pressure.  But lately I've been wishing for a little TLC,  a little peace, some cool ground... just a promise and someone who will keep it.

I've been drawn to geraniums for years, ever since I broke down and cried in art class while trying to paint my first one. (Here's the story.) I learned to paint them years ago and have never tired of them.  When I moved to California on my own after nearly ten years of marriage and having to start over again, there were geraniums lining the streets it seemed.  In California, they grow all year long and can handle a great deal of wear and tear.  Baby Kitty liked to sit in a pot next to one on my porch in North Hollywood.  I've left a trail of potted geraniums behind with my friends as I moved from place to place.  Some of those plants are still alive.  I see them in every place I visit and have tons of pictures of them.  And while dating a guy years ago in L.A. he jokingly called me GerAmyUm because I painted them so much.  The name stuck, but he didn't stick around  - thank goodness.  

And even though I have been able to overcome alot, there has been so much that is out of my control that makes me crazy and angry.  I'm tired of bearing up under the heat and pretending like it doesn't bother me.  I have worked hard at creating a life -- my job, my home, my relationships, my art...  I work hard.  Maybe it's time to just BE....  If I bloom, Great.  If not, Great.  Am I not still a geranium?

"Whole hearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.  It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone; I am enough."  - Brene Brown from the blog Ordinary Courage.

August 4, 2010

Webster Groves, Missouri

Every May, there is a plein air competition called Paint Webster in Webster Groves.  I participated in it the first year I moved here and had a good experience and even sold the piece I worked on all afternoon. The following year in 2009 I excitedly jumped in again.  It was a perfect day for painting out doors and I had a location all lined up.  I set up my little outdoor studio and dug in.  An hour later I was so frustrated with my painting, I abandoned it and decided to try another one at a different spot.   This time I chose the quad area of town and sat in a place where I wouldn't get so pulled in by the details.  I worked for an hour or so - still frustrated but pressing on.  Then the dentist whose house/practice I was painting came over and said a kind word to me.  I would have happily abandoned my work for conversation, but felt I should finish. Then not long after the lawn mowers started and I was in the way of the weekly quad mow.  Talk about distraction!  I had to pick up my portable studio to avoid the path of the tractor.  At this point I was 4 hours into it - cold, tired and just about ready to throw my painting under the wheels of the lawn mower, I decided to call it a day and chalk it up to a bad temper and grass.

That was over a year ago.

I found the painting recently pressed between watercolor paper and mat board.  I set it out and just looked at it for a couple of days and I came to the conclusion...

"It wasn't bad! So why did I give up?"

First of all let me point out the most important thing.  Never throw away a painting no matter how you "feel" about it.  NEVER.  Your feelings change, the painting doesn't.  And I have to say I learned some very important lessons in this process.

1. I'm a horrible judge of my own work WHILE I'm working.
2. My feelings taint my judgment.
3. Feelings get in the way of painting... sometimes.
4. Stepping away is important.

I put a few, yes just a few, finishing touches on this painting and am actually proud to post it.  May you take these art lessons and apply them to non-art things too people!!!!


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