Saturday, October 30, 2010

A walk in the woods

Lucy, the resident naturalist, drew what she saw on her walk in the forest.

And some family photos, with a very tired Émile.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jaune the star

Jaune is an Etsy star!

My painting of her got included in two fun treasuries:

I'll Get You My Pretty, (love the heels) curated by dlurie;

and The session is over... , (very excited about the zipper bracelet) curated by ThatOldBlueHouse.

And a picture of Émile pretending to be a baby who sleeps somewhere other than on me...

Then my current favorite photo of Lucy, a self portrait...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chiara Merlotti

This is an interview with my friend and fellow artist, Chiara Merlotti. I recommend it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Childhood Wishes

May you have people you trust in your young life.
May you have hugs and kisses and warmth.
May you be fed and washed and dressed appropriately.
May you experience kindness.
May your fears be comforted.
May you always know that you are loved.
May you feel wanted.
May you feel appreciated.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Joni Mitchell, Alex Katz, and Inis Mor

Émile and I have been listening to Joni Mitchell, For the Roses. Okay, I am listening. He might just hear it. Either way, it's taking me back (oh so long ago) to the post college days, when I first heard the record on a real phonograph, in a house on a hill looking over Galway Bay on Innis Mor. It was just up this street (pictured), and up the hill from the church you see, where I was working on a farm as part of the WWOOF program. The lyrics are so clever and surprising that I still laugh when I hear them. It makes me see the big blustering sky of the westermost point in the old world. Maybe some day I can be that playful! (photo credits to wanderlustgirl and these folks.)

Perhaps it is a mistake to try out a different style of painting while I am adapting to a new baby. It is difficult to think about anything too deeply, with the interruptions and the stress. Nevertheless, I am working on an art journal entry for the course I am following with Willowing, called "Art, Heart and Healing." I'm struggling with how I want to approach the question of color. Limit color to the bare essentials, like an Alex Katz painting? Or go explosive and rainbow, overwhelming the senses until they submit, and see twenty colors as one tame beige? I guess most of the painters I admire limit their colors: Alice Neel, Joan Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, Jean-Édouard Vuillard. The only one I can think of who doesn't is Lucian Freud, but that is hardly colorful. Franz Marc? Max Beckmann? The latter is grim, and his colors are often brutal and emotional, not visually logical. Maybe I'm a Fauvist at heart. Hmm. Even that Andre Derain painting is more refined than what I'm working on. Isn't that a gorgeous painting of Henri Matisse, by the way? Oh well. Who am I missing as inspiration? Help!

Lucy came home and helped me finish the journal entry. I love her pumpk
in and handwriting.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hedgehog Juju, Bang! Bang!

This painting is just a thought floating around in my head...

I just read an interesting article on boys' (and girls') violent play. In summary, according to the article, children need to imagine aggression and bad guys in order to be imaginative, and to come to terms with aggression and violence, but all of that kind of play has been on the rise with the advent of heavy marketing to kids. They just have more to come to grips with these days, but it won't necessarily translate into real violence. At least, this was my reading of the article. What do you think?

I was just glancing at the ancient pile of images I have been collecting, sitting there next to Émile's play area, and found this photo of a sculpture by Martin Puryear, shown at the MoMA three years ago. Why is it so desperately appealing? The message is beautiful, no matter what message you get from it. I see the elegance of a journey, where beginning and end are undefined, open, whether or not they are even there. The window is a kind of shortcut, one that I can't get to from the ladder. Plus, the colors are very soothing compliments.

Ah. Found the article, and a clearer image, at the NY Times! Kind of like the pattern from the scanner meets printing press, though...

Maybe it's just that I like sky, and absurd surrealism.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fairy Tale Treasures

My little Frog Princess was turned into a treasure... Check out the Etsy treasury, Lost in a Fairy Tale, curated by KatNawlins from New Orleans (that's her painting of the house)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wee hedgepig

Did I mention that it is difficult to paint with a new baby? I finally got a new little critter done, on the pine boards Laurent sawed off of Lucy's old bed...

Oh, lovely Wikipedia, thank you for sharing:
No living species is native to North America. Hedgehogs have changed little over the last 15 million years. Like many of the first mammals they have adapted to a nocturnal, insectivorous way of life. The name 'hedgehog' came into use around the year 1450, derived from the Middle English 'heyghoge', from 'heyg', 'hegge' = hedge, because it frequents hedgerows, and 'hoge', 'hogge' = hog, from its piglike snout. Other folk names include 'urchin', 'hedgepig' and 'furze-pig' .

One of my favorite French nursery rhymes is about a hedgehog (listen here) :
Qui est-ce qui pique, pique, pique
Qui est-ce qui pique quand on le prend ?
C'est mon hérisson mesdames, c'est mon hérisson !
Qu'est-ce qui trotte, trotte, trotte
Dans les allées du jardin ?
C'est mon hérisson mesdames, c'est mon hérisson !
Qui est-ce qui croque, croque, croque
Les insectes et les vers blancs ?
C'est mon hérisson mesdames, c'est mon hérisson !
Qui est-ce qui lape à petits bruits
Le lait que je mets pour lui ?
C'est mon hérisson mesdames, c'est mon hérisson !
Qui est-ce qui s'roule, se met en boule
Sous les feuilles du groseillier ?
C'est mon hérisson mesdames, c'est mon hérisson !
Qui est-ce qui se cache ou bien s'endort
Quand il fait bien froid dehors ?
C'est mon hérisson mesdames, c'est mon hérisson !

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Lucy's Maman Did When She Was Little

We got back from Vermont yesterday. We were there for the wedding of our friends, Brian and Thom. They got married on a field in the town near Sugarbush Mountain. We, however, arrived just after the marriage, in time for the reception afterward, because we were stuck in traffic with a baby who howls and sobs and gives “how can you do this to me” eyes when we are in the car. Fun. But the leaves were beautiful, as Laurent kept reminding me. Emile, along with his sister, has inherited my hatred of cars. At least neither of them does what I did, which was to vomit on every car trip. As I lived in Minneapolis, and my father up near Moorhead, and my mother's family in Iowa, we drove a lot. We always brought along plastic bags. It was a constant of my childhood—I get spanked when I go to a restaurant, and I throw up when I get into a car. It's amazing I love going to restaurants. Still hate the car.

What Lucy's Maman Did When She Was Little

During the ride, Lucy kept asking me to tell her funny things I did when I was little. She wants one or two of these little anecdotes per day, and I need to start stockpiling them. Finally, a way to connect on a human level, instead of the constant guerilla versus dictator that runs rampant through our interactions.

So, here's one. My mother, back when she was still in her alcoholic haze, used to send my sister and I away for a month at a time during the summer, because she “couldn't stand the sight of us.” I remember one summer, I think I must have been eight years old, when we went off to our grandmother's place in Woodward, Iowa. As usual, we packed for ourselves, and I chose my favorite outfits, and only my favorite outfits: two identical bib overall shorts, with little bear buttons, and one yellow nighty top with bloomers, which my mother had made for me. For a whole month of playing with equally parentally equipped cousins, and eating cinnamon toast and Nestle Quick for every meal, I wore these three outfits, with no distinction between night and day. Lucy, was that funny?

I always liked staying at my chain smoking, solitaire playing, march music listening, popcorn eating grandmother's house, but it wasn't for her sake. She was a mean old viper, who told my cousin Courtney that she would end up like her mother, too poor to have a place to shit in. Which Courtney might have, but I hope not. I hope her children are washed more frequently than we were. I liked going to my grandmother's because of the freedom, and the cousins, and running wild over the whole town, from playground to cemetery, day and night, to the neighbors' bomb shelter that we were sure was a troll's house. We had the upstairs to ourselves, at least until I set fire to it by accident. I was only playing with a lighter and some polyester quilting squares, totally innocent, really. (Should we tell the adults downstairs that the house is about to explode? No, we should not, we should all just run outside and watch.) I loved the games of Star Wars, and fairies, and climbing in the old cherry tree (from which we always heard the croaked warning, “If you kids fall out of that tree and break a leg, don't you come running to me...”) Though I wasn't cared for, at least no one ever made me feel unwelcome, contrary to my experience in my own home.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weddings and Guinea Pigs

Beautiful photos of Lucy, Laurent, and me, from my friend Anu!
(M. Benedicte Verley Photography)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

That is tea, and why I love Bob Ross

It's pouring rain, and has been rainy for days. Listening to the Cowboy Junkies helps. I'm pleased every time I hear the lyrics of the Cold Tea Blues, by Michael Timmins:

If I pour your cup, that is friendship
If I add your milk, that is manners
If I stop there, claiming ignorance of taste,
that is tea
But if I measure the sugar
to satisfy your expectant tongue
then that is love,
sitting untouched
and growing cold.

willowing.ning.comI am looking forward to participating in an online course with Tamara LaPorte (aka Willowing).
She has filled the hole left in my heart by Bob Ross. Do you remember him, and his happy little trees? I loved Bob Ross, coming from my grandmother's ancient old television, telling me and her how to use a fan brush, and how to wash oil out with solvents and then beat the brush against the easel.

My grandmother is the one who first handed me a paintbrush and some oils, before I'd hit the age of ten. She took her ducks and ponds and fir trees seriously, and I loved Bob Ross for it. She was a farm wife with no one but him for company. He had lived through aggressive military training, and saw no reason to live in a world that did not have happy little trees in it. Hear, hear!

Willowing has her own version, with whimsy style painting, nonviolent communication, and Byron Katie. It makes me happy. It's that holiday from irony I'm always craving.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moro Reflex, Cypress Hill

In another 2 to 3 months, Émile will sleep without startling himself awake. This startle is a cute little monkey reflex, called the Moro reflex, after an Austrian who, according to Wikipedia, "discovered" it, around the turn of the last century. Really? Discovered, like no parent had ever noticed that newborns wake themselves by acting like they're falling? I'm stodgy, I know, but I think words should be used more carefully than that...
Getting Émile to sleep still involves dancing, often to rap. This drives my husband nuts, especially when it's Cypress Hill. I can understand hating Cypress Hill, even though I love them. Even I can see that they are obnoxious. Interestingly, they are still making music, a new album called Rise Up. I kind of thought they'd be in jail by now.

In the photos: Anne, Lucy, Émile, and me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Goodbye one last time

I really loved the cottage in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, and I know my aunt loved it, too. I'm happy for her she found a buyer, but sad to see it go. This little painting is for you, Aunt Crystal! (Literally-- do you want me to mail it to you, or will we be seeing you sometime soon?)