Thursday, December 30, 2010

Land Ho

My little narwhal painting is part of this very charming treasury, Land-Ho Little Narwhale! curated by rrthoma, the store owner of The Golden Mark (her horse painting is below.)

I really love the idea of narwhals knitting. It comes from a fabulous store, Sadly Harmless. Her paintings are wonderful and fun, and I recommend looking at her shop.

For your listening pleasure... Tom Ashbrook is asking very dull questions (Larry King, anybody?), but William Shatner still makes this a fun interview. I have always been a fan of people who cross the boundary of good taste: "Having boundaries is a mistake, because it encases you in a shell, and .... you're already shrinking."

Monday, December 27, 2010

More Critter Yoga

It is hard to decide who should do the handstand... Skunk? Bear?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

River Horses et al

Winter has finally and fully hit; we were supposed to go to our friends' house today, and ended up snow bound. Lucy got in a bit of skating before the snow hit, and Émile continues his slow Cowboy Junkie dance.

Lucy just asked me if today could be Christmas, too. It's a bit of a let down to have no more presents, sweets, friends over for dinner...

Question from Lucy: "Can a magician be a fairy?"

I had forgotten the link between hippopotamuses and Christmas, until PluckingPendants curated a treasury on Etsy, called I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. My favorite item on the list is the pair of front and back hippo earrings.

I found a mind bending yogi, Tiffany Cruikshank, online, searching for study photos for some paintings. Impressive, isn't she?

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Lao Tzu

Monday, December 20, 2010

Warthog ... underneath

I am really enjoying the music of PSAPP and the animations of Hauke Hilberg. Delicious noise, silly bugs.

And sorry, frogs, I have found a new love: warthogs. There is something mythic about them, the hairy fairies. Like dinosaurs, I can almost, but not quite, believe in them. Then, of course, they have their own Flanders and Swann lyrics, so how could you not love them? (full lyrics below, listen here)

Lyrics to The Warthog :
The Jungle was giving a party
A post hibernation ball
The Ballroom was crowded with waltzing Gazelles, Gorillas and Zebras and all.
But who is that animal almost in tears
Pretending to powder her nose?
A poor little Warthog who sits by herself
In a pink satin with blue bows.
Again she is no-body's choice and she sings in a sad little voice:

No one ever wants to court a Warthog
Though a Warthog does her best
I've spent a lot of money for a Warthog
I am perfumed and prettily dressed
I've lustrinsed my hair
I'm perfumed here and there
My gums were tinted when I brushed my teeth
I'm young and in my prime
But a wallflower all the time
'Cos I'm a Warthog
Just a Warthog
I'm a Warthog underneath

Take your partners for a ladies Excuse me!

Excited and radiant she runs on the floor
To join the furor and fuss.
She taps on each shoulder and says 'Excuse me!'
and each couple replied 'Excuse us!'
Then having no manners at all
They sing as they dance round the hall:

'No one ever wants to court a Warthog
Though a Warthog does her best
Her accessories are dazzling for a Warthog
She is perfumed and daringly dressed
We know her these and those are like Marilyn Monroe's
Her gown is just a scintillating sheath
But she somehow fails to please
'Cos everybody sees she's a Warthog
Just a Warthog
She's a Warthog underneath'

Head hanging she wanders away from the floor
This Warthog whom nobody loves
Then stops in amazement
For there at the door stands a gentleman Warthog impeccably dressed
In the act of removing his gloves.
His fine chiseled face seems to frown
As he looks her first up then down

'I fancy you must be a sort of Warthog
Though for a Warthog you look a mess
That make-up's far to heavy for a Warthog;;
You could have chosen a more suitable dress
Did you have to dye your hair?
If that's perfume give me air!
I strongly disapprove of scarlet teeth
But let us take the floor
'Cause I'm absolutely sure
That you're a Warthog
Just a Warthog
The sweetest little,
Neatest little
Dearest and completest little
Warthog ... underneath'.

When you try to take a passport photo, don't use a baby as your model

Friday, December 17, 2010

Supertramp, again

Supertramp and Sondheim... I keep hearing Sweeney Todd on the Supertramp CD (remember those?) that puts Émile to sleep. Yay! We have, at last, expanded from the exclusively Cowboy Junkie diet we were on.
Also, the intro to Dreamer sounds surprisingly like the later Jane's Addiction hit, Jane Says...

And I hear my parents' generation in the Goodbye Stranger lyrics,
I have to have things my own way
just to keep me in my youth
This is, more or less, the mantra I was raised on. Not very good for, say, society, family, or individual, eh?

How many times have I heard this album in the last few weeks?

I went to yoga for the first time in years this morning, and I'm already sore.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, no, wait, Rhubarb, and Thyme

So, Rosemary is fine for nursing babies, scary 70s movies aside. Parsley, sage, and thyme, however, are bad eggs. As is rhubarb, mysteriously. That knocks off most of my favorite spices, and one of my favorite fruit/vegetables (actually a vegetable).
Now I only have curry, cumin, and rosemary to bolster my meals. Brings me back to prenatal times, when all I ate was curry and cumin, to the point that I was debating which one would be a better name for my little boy. A sort of Rapunzel thing.

I repainted a bit of the butterfly painting, because it had something that kept me from focusing on it. Wish I understood it...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

media wars

I often put together a photo collage as a model when I make a painting, but this is the first time I have been sure that I liked the collage better than the painting. I feel like I am betraying the medium by admitting that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don't sneeze at Supertramp

Things I have learned over the last few days:
1. Pushing my tongue against my top front teeth can keep me from sneezing. (other methods here.)
2. Amaryllis are poisonous to pets.
3. Cradle cap has unknown origins--yeast? mother's hormones?
4. I love the 70s band Supertramp. The Logical Song makes me feel like I am five years old, running around my aunt's house in Ames, Iowa.
When i was young
It seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical

Unanswered question: Do I really want to make a painting from the study collage I made, or is it better as a photo?

Monday, December 6, 2010

The moon rises in purple

A painting in memory of my childhood pet, my black mouse, Percy. She was a wonderful pet. The charming thing about holding a mouse on your palm is that it defies gravity. It's little heart beats at approximately 480-600 beats per minute, vibrating itself right up into air. Also, feeding her a drop of peanut butter on my finger, with her tiny tongue licking up every bit of peanut oil, was painfully sweet.

The wee little Percival painting made it into an Etsy treasury, called the moon rises in purple, curated by ArtInVenice (yes, he actually lives in Venice, lucky man...) I love the butterfly print.

Lucy drew me a frog. Without a doubt the best frog painting I have ever seen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Legacies and Teeth

Émile has become very interested in the activity that seems so important to everyone around him.

My eye was caught by a posted question in a forum I read. The question was simple, but one that has snagged my mind for a while, long before I saw the question: Why do I, or you, make art? It seems, to my farm country genes, and my Peace Corps-raised Id, like an insignificant thing to do in the face of climate destruction, poverty, suffering.

On good days, I think the artist is like a priest, and has a spiritual role to fill.
On other days, it is just a handicap, an itch that must be continually scratched.
Or maybe it is a way of justifying my own existence. "Look, but I made this."

Sometimes this need goes away, when some very significant other creation takes place. Some people teach, and find that their creative drive disappears in the teaching. The same is not true for, say, a filing job. But some of us have it all the time, teaching or not. Babies are the ultimate in creation, but even they don't always make that drive go away.

So, for me, the question remains unanswered. Do you have an answer, yourself?

Monday, November 29, 2010


A yowling, howling cat, a briefly sleeping baby, Cowboy Junkies... Welcome to Monday. I have a few finds to share for your week.

The first was introduced to me by my friends Elina and Jeff: a thorough peacock of a Russian pop star, calling himself Vitas (see the video, below. It's worth it.)

And if you are looking for really light, but sophisticated, silliness to read, I highly recommend Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Ben Winters and, yes, Jane Austen. It's not so much that the sea monsters fill the hole I always felt in Jane Austen (there was none) but they draw screaming arrows at all the social commentary people extol in her work. And it was a fantastic read.

Next, on the more tasteful side, lovely artwork on Etsy, by Melissa McGill.

And, finally, I found two very small people this morning...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Yoga for Critters

A friend of mine, Elyse Rotondo, is setting up a yoga studio, Om Kids. It got me started on musing over light-hearted yoga decor, and came up with a few four-footed models. Some of them have four feet twice over...

Word geekery of the day: the word "clock" originally meant bell. Then became a slang for hitting someone.

Eco geekery: pork is less bad for the environment than beef (according to this article.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Telescoping with a pencil

My daughter cajoled a princess drawing out of my sister, and the sight of it sucked me into the back end of the eighties, the beginning of the nineties. Drawings can stay frozen in time, traipsed out for a little air every few decades, showing the last year when drawing was important to that person. For my sister, it was her late teenage years. For my husband, he was perhaps twelve. My brother in law might have been seven. We see this in their current drawings. Is their any other arena that allows for such archeology of the individual?

I reworked the hedgehog Juju painting, losing the blue background and the text. It used to say, "Does hope help?" but, combined with the wistful expression on her face, it made the whole painting a bit of a bummer, instead of the silliness I had intended. The result is still not particularly silly, but less grim, I think.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tacky is old hat

Last night, Lucy and I were present for the opening of "Collision" at the RISD Museum of Art. Granted, we were there to hear my fiddle teacher, Cathy Clasper-Torch, play her set with her band, The Gnomes (who were completely awesome.)

Still, Lucy and I willingly sat on the steps and listened to Saccoccio (how lucky is she to have four c's in her name?) give a talk about herding the artists into a collaborative mood and work. Saccoccio, perhaps in her mid 40s, was dressed in artist boudoire fancy funk, an extremely hesitant and nervous, but open, public speaker, with a photo-snapping 10yr old daughter, and a stagehandy, personable, confident husband, who seemed to help orchestrate technical goings on.

Her paintings were good. A lot of the work was good. The space was usually well considered, as Saccoccio herself had specified that all artists were to treat the space as the first participant. Most, though not all, succeeded. Tape streamers hung from the balcony, plumb weights hung from the spanners on the ceiling, videos were projected at and from and over odd angles. Absurd, semi-superheroic, besparkled Velvet Underground-on-inanity musicians (Slink Moss and Susan Jennings) played drums on the walls and bells on bellpulls. They were pretty good.

It was one big, coherent, fun, pretty, ugly, tacky, chaos. I liked it. It competed with the Lynda Benglis show, at least, the early work, over in the new building in shiny, 5yr old/crow attracting gaudiness. Perhaps less serious work? Serious is an important word in the art world. Well, I can't take art seriously to begin with (aside from Eva Hesse's work, and she died from it...) but I think this show dealt seriously with the now classic question of the "white cube" of gallery space. I couldn't help asking myself throughout the show, "Are they serious? They seem to take themselves so seriously. Shouldn't they?"

This whole experience set me to musing. You see were this is going, right? Yes, the question came up in my mind, "Why am I not in this world?" Answer: Perhaps it is that I am too shy, lack social skills, and like to sit in my room like a hermit crab? Perhaps I don't take artwork seriously enough? Perhaps I am too disorganized? Perhaps my work isn't good enough? Perhaps I don't want to be in that world? Don't know.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yorick and furry friend

If you have a skull sitting on your desk, you might be tempted to paint it. This tendency afflicts many artists (my friend Eleanor McConnell pointed out that the whole genre is called Vanitas), and I am not immune... The mouse was not sitting on my desk, alas. That would have been so much more fun.

The passel of skulls was painted by Aelbert Jansz van der Schoor.

The painting of Bailey, my friend's sister's horse, is in its final incarnation. Now to pack, double pack, insure, and ship...

Buddhist quote of the day (ish) courtesy of the Interdependence Project:

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." -- The Buddha

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crows, Welcome

For such territorial displays of aggression, they must be family; crows and jays are both corvidae. I'm sad when the jays chase the crows (American crows) out of our garden, because I really want to host a few.
I read something on Wikipedia (my favorite website) about the intelligence of crows, and it really tickled me:
Another skill involves dropping tough nuts into a heavy trafficked street and waiting for a car to crush them open, and then waiting at pedestrian lights with other pedestrians in order to retrieve the nuts.

So, here is my little love-painting to crows. And then a photo of Émile and Papa doing yard work... And last but not least, a leaf fairy.

Does anyone know anything about amber teething necklaces? I was momentarily entranced with the idea of their soothing properties, but then the "science" brought me back from the brink of buying. These two (one, two) sites are most concise in their discouragements. Still, pretty, and I think I might get one for Lucy and one for Émile (for his ankle? for later?).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paint and Piss

I don't know if it is the company of a giggling five-year-old, whose sense of humor hovers around the nether region ("Did you hear that? I said BUTT. ahahahahh!!!") or a three month old, whose expressions of contentment include delicious smiles, butterfly eyelashes, and clear liquid arcs during changing time. Anyway, I had to look up the etymology of "pee." How did we get there from "urinate"? As I suspected, the French, and their onomatopoeia, are to blame. The origin is pissier, 13th cent. Old French.

My friend asked me (and several other painters) what I like about brushstrokes, as he is writing a painting program. Without thinking too much, I responded that I enjoy, but rarely produce, the unexpected. Think John Singer Sargent, especially landscapes. When the brush pulls two colors together to make an accident that tells the whole story.

Then I thought a bit more, and thought of Lichtenstein's paint stroke sculptures, and realized how important the feathery separations, due to the hairs and structure of the brush, are. Also, the pooling of ink or paint that can create a subject within a subject, as in this painting of wa, the kanji for harmony. What is important to you abot the brushstroke?

My friend Anurag suggested the painting below:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Smaller Splash

It's hard to concentrate when your spouse is generously trying to dance the baby to sleep, and the resulting howls compete with the music from downstairs. Poor monkey is teething.

I spent much of the last two weeks on altering these two pages of a children's board book. It's part of Willowing's free class, Art, Heart, and Healing. The first page is imagining my small self, and sending all of the wishes my adult self would have liked for that little person. The second page is supposed to be fulfilling the strongest desire my young self had, having a mother who cared for me. I substituted my young self with Lucy and Émile, thinking I should live in the present... but it did change the emotional flavor. I focused on what they might need that they aren't getting, instead of giving my own child self what she needed. Valuable exercise, but I may try doing it again, this time with me as the child.

My friend Clive McCarthy sent me a link to a New York Times article about David Hockney (who I have enjoyed ever since I saw the Hockney-grandizing film, A Bigger Splash.) It appears that Hockney still knows how to seize the moment, and the medium, and is producing creditable works on his iphone!