Finding My Path

Time speeds up even faster when I have a project, such as seeing my life through Art Eyes, including pictures and stories.

My story seems to be seeking and finding my path, again and again…I should have a clever photo of a path through the woods here…I probably have several archived.

Every moment tells a story. This collage in response to a library Zoom program on aging in place. The praying men make a repeat pattern.

I am lucky to have time and a secure life so far to keep contemplating these big questions. I’m finishing a novel today called Portrait of a Thief, by Grace D. Li, about a group of Chinese/American young adults who are persuaded to use their intellectual skills to steal back ancient Chinese artifacts and return them to China. All kinds of questions arise about art and ART and how we identify ourselves. Money making versus feeding one’s soul…do they always have to be separate goals??? At least at 75, I have the luxury and foresight to be able to choose. People without the educational and planning benefits I have had will probably find fewer choices in life.

Collage, ink, gouache wash

I have a new neighbor I may have mentioned. Her presence has totally changed the feeling of my neighborhood. She already knows and talks with everyone, and yesterday I was invited into her 1940’s modern home for the first time in my 16 years in my home. I made a special 5″ x 5″ square fabric wall piece for her, featuring her wonderful bright yellow door and unusual roof angles. She painted the whole place on her own, inside and out, reclaiming it from its dark history. John, across the street, has just painted his outer door bright orange, and of course, mine has always been pink.

I try to order books through my local independent book store (we are lucky enough to have two in a town of 20,000), but sometimes the specialized art books I want in my home library can only be found through Amazon…which makes it Oh So Easy to just keep ordering tons of STUFF, most of which we may not need.

I miss life drawing. The feel of charcoal on paper, selective washes and background collage. Group drawing and even drawing in public at all has been a victim of the pandemic for me.
Diebenkorn 3, simplified from his.

I re-discovered Aggie Zed on Pinterest or Facebook…just exactly the kind of layered painting/drawings/with words I would like to be able to do…and 3-D figures oozing life and more stories. Miraculously, she answered my fan mail from Virginia! Confirming my belief that if I just slowly and gently let myself move along through this isolated pandemic-constrained life, whole other worlds will open up to me.

And Matisse. I hadn’t known how Diebenkorn admired Matisse’s particular simplification of images…more of his next week.

Aggie isn’t as well known as Matisse or Diebenkorn, who were some of my teachers this week, but I take in new and old sights all the time and process them in my own unique way…so, yes, I did order two books from Amazon yesterday. One a show catalog with Aggie’s mixed media sculptures and the other a copy of the Matisse/Diebenkorn book I have checked out of the library, but don’t want to risk messing up, and will refer to again and again. And they will be coming from the same used book dealer who contracts through Amazon. I am learning my very own path…in whatever time I have left. It’s not dependent on other people seeing or buying…but you might be interested in exploring some of my stops along the way. Stay Tuned!

My own back porch faces south. The assembled plants have sort of survived a summer without rain. The tiny white fuzzy hens and chicks are descended from a bag of mixed plants one of my patients gave me 10 years ago. I hope that Nature will survive homo sapiens. I will help as much as I can…without taking the whole burden on myself, as I was taught to do. I know some of you, most of you, are helping, too.

Path through the woods

Art Saves, But I No Longer Expect Income From It

I’m still using experiments from David’s monoprinting class…I always see people, having interesting conversations. I wrote an explanation in white marker, which doesn’t show up very well. “9.15.22 The Dark Season has started” but today, 9.18.22 is hot and sunny, although it hasn’t rained for months. I was out moving rocks around in my yard and am consequently covered with seeds which would like to propagate in my carpet.

I am lucky to consider myself an artist, so I have plenty to do in the sometimes long days of retirement and the long darkness of our winter. There were years, maybe 30 of them, when most of my income came from teaching and sales of my art work…but I knew that at some point, I would have to retire and then would want a roof over my head, so I spent about 30 years, some overlapping, working as an occupational therapist and saving as much as I could.

I worked on more self-portraits this week, trying to get up around 10 tries…some came out pretty warped. I was told that in the ones last week I looked depressed…not sure that these are any less so…but if we each do what we can for the Greater Good, including signing petitions and making art and being outside, perhaps there will be less reason for depression.

This week I sent a box with 6 dolls (two of mine and 4 by other artists to a quilt museum in Texas, celebrating the Golden Age of Doll Making and elinor peace bailey. I am very happy that some of my work may be preserved.

When I was getting ready for college, Dad said I should be a social worker or an OT…not much of a choice. Recently I was talked into thinking about applying for a show, and was reminded how very much work and money it takes to prepare and compete for space…and then not knowing what peculiar tastes the jurors might have and then not knowing if the work will sell, usually NOT, so I’ve mostly retired from competitions, choosing to spend my time on more pleasant pursuits.

Right after I retired from my career as an Occupational Therapist, I took some advanced computer classes at the local college, one in Infographics in which I developed my alter-ego cartoon character of Graphic Grannie

So, I am thankful that I can make art, AND that I don’t have to sell art in order to survive financially. I hope that you all will use this opportunity to make art because you LOVE the process and…oh, phooey! I had just finished writing and somehow didn’t save the whole post…You’ll just have to imagine how very witty it was.

Well, you can see how I look more and more like my cartoon self, although my hair is more platinum than yellow and there’s less of it. I noticed this morning in the mirror, the multitude of tiny pleats around my mouth…and how much pain I associate with getting out of bed…keep moving!

The garden on my back deck is feeling the effects of drought and a sudden drop in temperature, but maybe I’ll get some ideas for a fabric book for the show Evette is organizing at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center at the end of winter to celebrate the importance of nutrition and school lunches. I bet if you look around, you’ll find some signs of fall…and a project in which to get yourself involved.

9/11

Now that I’ve finished the baby quilt and the last family album, I’ve needed to start more projects to keep me going. I’m continuing with my self-paced MA program.

Today is September 11, 2022, 21 years since my partner and I were in David’s, car on our way to the airport in Seattle and his partner called, telling us not to finish our trip. That was a Stunning (in all senses of the word) day. A bright blue-skied, ordinary-seeming September day that ended up changing so many lives.

From a photo of Isadora Duncan in the book Annie recommended about the friendship between Rodin and Rilke…the female artists got short shrift in the 1800’s…maybe slightly less objectionable today. I hope so.

That was the last day of a reunion of the 5 siblings, and we followed our instincts to be as physically close to each other as possible as we waited out the news at Alkai Beach with others who really didn’t know what was coming next.

I picked my photo to be the next one studied and produced in various media. I only got up to 4 this week. This is one.

As the five of us increasingly feel the ravages of age and time, we celebrate the importance of being together and sharing our love and food and fun. Hugh and I worked together on canning, deciding that my kitchen is the best place to do it, he’s leaving some of his equipment in my garage. The second batch of tomato jam is almost ready. Steve has just had knee surgery and Hugh is contemplating it. Doug discovered that Pickle Ball isn’t as innocuous as advertised and is trying to recover from an Achilles tendon injury in time to enjoy his family vacation in Portugal.

Simple collage and black marker #2

I started two new projects: a fabric book for the abstract landscape drawings I made in the Sixties, and another series of experimenting with portraits, this time of myself.

Hugh loves to drive his new electric car, so today we tried to get above the pervasive smoke from wildfires on top of Hurrican Ridge. No one, no place is entirely safe from harm…We Must care for each other and our planet, Please!

Hurricane Ridge, a mile above sea level, but not totally above the forest fire smoke from Canada.

And the lovely short trail in the Olympic National Park where Colleen and I usually walk.

Forest bathing at its best, only about a mile from my house. What can you find in your neighborhood?

Again and Again

This exercise also continues my pictures with words exploration. Sara 1

This week I chose a new subject for repetitive attempts at the same face…Back before I retired from my medical job in 2013 I painted 100 portraits of older women, both to celebrate Hot Flash Women and to have a long-term project to last me through the end of my regular job life.

Sara 2, using the tissue paper glued down, then a brush pen for writing and drawing.

Sara is a Zero Balance practitioner who worked on my body (and mind) when I still lived in NY. She seemed like a very wise woman and was studying to be a shaman. I was full of stress and uncertainty, had started working on my first books, but also felt unhappily that I needed to go back to a regular job in order to have enough money to retire some day. It was also becoming more clear to me that I had a very different style and goals from the man with whom I had just finished building a house.

Sara 3, Gouache and marker on collaged book pages

I had tried pattern design, working with business advisors, and traveling to teach, and I loved the work I was doing, but it was obvious I would never be able to afford retirement. My youngest brother was sending me tempting literature about Seattle and Washington State.

Sara 4 Gouache and marker on watercolor paper

Of course I talked about all this with Sara, who said, “If you were on your death bed now, would you regret not having tried living in Washington?” I moved soon after and never regretted that choice, although I have missed Sara. Sometimes it is challenging to pick a path that would suit us better than staying in the same old ways.

Sara 5, chalk and marker on hand-painted paper on black tissue paper

So Sara is the first one I chose of my own photos with which to do the exercise of doing numerous portraits in different styles. I think I could keep going. Although if you try this, I recommend that you pick a photo with more contrast, like the first two I used.

Sara 6, tissue paper and marker on mono-printed paper

Continuing to challenge ourselves, to learn and grow, seems to me to always be a good idea. After reading about several women painters attached to male painters, Annie suggested You Must Change Your LIfe by Rachel Corbett about Rilke’s relationship with Renoir, and since I’d just finished a book about Gwen John’s relationship with Renoir, it seemed like a good idea. So far, Gwen’s relationship with Renoir is not mentioned in my current book, but Rilke and Renoir both seem like self-centered jerks…do we habitually raise our male children that way? or did we in the 1800’s?

Anyway, I find reading, drawing, and looking a constant source of inspiration and I hope you will as well.

Collage in the larger format, just for fun. After I took David for a birthday lunch at Dockside.

And a few just for living and feeling my way through my own environment. Labor Day Weekend, but downtown wasn’t as crowded as we expected. Last treat to celebrate David’s birthday week: pizza outside by the water and custom ice cream at Wellies.

David at Wellies today…a few of us were wearing masks.
A day I treated myself to a cheesburger lunch from Frugals, eating in my car by the water…I used to do this frequently, but not since Covid.
High in my back yard, the New Zealand flax I planted in 2007 is flowering for the first time

Grapes from Colleen, strawberry shortcake with local ever-bearing strawberries and real whipped cream…YUM! to both!! Treat yourself well.

Patience

Today my theme is patience, especially with one’s self.

I watched my Aunt Arlene’s funeral services on Youtube…my uncle and cousins have been aging while I’ve been away from Vermont. The Ceremony of Remembering Together

The summer drought continues here in northwest Washington state. I miss overcast skies, drizzle, and gray days, but recent summers have brought a total lack of rain. I’m happy to be landscaping with native plants, and I am more patient with the weather than I was last year.

My back yard after several months of drought and when the sun is low enough to be ouside

I’ve been walking before breakfast to avoid the unremitting sun. I passed a neighbor I haven’t seen for a while, carefully moving tiny Hens-and-Chicks babies from one spot to another about 3 feet away. His yard is lovely, exceedingly neat, and I never get tired of looking at it….so different from mine! I do spend as much time as I can stand outside, carefully re-arranging stones and plants and appreciating being able to be outside and have a yard.

My scraggly back-porch garden in pots. I’ve actually been able to eat kale, sungold tomatoes, basil, oregano, and chives…and share with insects.

Then while I was making my avocado toast on seedy bread and salad for breakfast, I listened to an interview with a female Canadian activist…about how we must keep trying to make the planet better for everyone, even when we seem to be losing so many of the battles…we must be patient, take the long view, and keep trying. https://newsletter@brainpickings.org Brain Pickings was about all sorts of authors who remind us that we are only minute specks in the Universe (the one we know about).

I’ve started another series of portraits, working from a photo I took of Sara, my body worker, when I left NY to move to WA. I spent a lovely afternoon downloading inspirational art images from Pinterest and printing them four to a page.

I was raised in the earlier female role to see myself as striving to make Everything better for Everybody Else, and I became So Frustrated and Despairing that I could not, indeed, seem to save the planet, I seriously contemplated suicide…recently I have been working on a longer and a shorter view…to speak out for the good whenever I can and to be good to myself and those around me and to enjoy What Is as fully as possible. So I wrote a letter throwing my support behind preserving old growth forests for the climate, all forests, and started reading: Chasing me to my Grave by Winfred Rembert, memoir and art work by a man who grew up in the Jim Crow South and prison, another step in my quest to understand other people and times. Reminds me that I believe that there are some things in our world that should not be operated at a profit: prisons, homes for old and disabled people, hospitals, public transportation, schools…and probably lots of others.

I finished…or thought I finished…the back to the baby quilt, but find it is requiring patience and some tinkering to get the two sides to align for quilting.

I just finished reading Capote’s Women by Laurence Leamer…just some of the ridiculous excesses by the out-of-date upper classes who don’t know how to accomplish anything productive. I so appreciate this time of my life when my self-education can be so wide-ranging…unlike my nephew who is immersed in his PhD research without even knowing if he will ever find a job in his esoteric field.

I completed yet another fabric book of family photos….I still haven’t mastered or invented a stitch that binds all the pages and still looks good, but I’ll keep trying. Next fabric book is Imaginary Landscapes, which originated from some designs for rugs that I made in college…nothing is wasted.

I’m looking forward to receiving from the library a book that my friend, Annie, in NY recommended: You Must Change Your Life, about correspondence between Rodin and Rilke, since I have recently finished two books about/by the artist/mistresses of Rodin and Lucien Freud. Have people, as soon as we began to walk upright, make pictures and words, contemplated the Meaning of Life…or invented religion, philosophy, and science to try to impose Meaning on it?

Brown field and Queen Anne’s Lace from one of my daily walks…self-maintenance is a priority as I age…and all through life.

My conclusion this week: Enjoy what is, do what you can, be kind to yourself and others, be patient with the process and make Art…whatever form yours takes. Thank you.

Left is a beautiful plate of leftovers from a 3-couple dinner party, that I enjoyed at David’s last Sunday, along with several hands of May I to celebrate the beginning of his Birthday Week. I treated him to a glorious seafood salad at Dockside for his actual birthday, since Brian was on family duty all week. On the right I treated myself to deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls from The Rail and local turnip greens after a masked trip downtown to the Farmers’ Market yesterday. Life is Good!

Be kind to yourself and others!

The World in my Neighborhood

I added some color to this appropriation of Jung Ho Kim’s figures from last week.

Even though some people would like to think that the Pandemic is over, I am still wearing my mask and not spending time in groups. I use the miracle of the internet to explore widely and the miracle of my own artist’s eye to go deep.

A face from beach stones

My adopted home in the Cool Blue North is doing its summer thing, increasing with climate change, of long days of burning sun and no rain at all. I grasp at every cloud that puts on a show through the window over my computer.

Colors in the side walk along View Crest…an abstract painting in my future?

I see patterns in the sidewalk when I go around one of the two big blocks up on my hill, and changing shows in the yards with drip irrigation. Yesterday I found a cool spot to prune up under my Victoria Lilac, with my one baseball cap from the old Moonlight Gardens to discourage tiny spiders from nesting in my hair.

A rotten onion not totally wasted

I am thankful that here on the North Olympic Peninsula, the weather is mild enough all year that I can use an above-ground heat pump run by hydro power to keep me cool or warm as needed. Where I was born in Northern Vermont heat pumps must burrow far below the ground for ameliorating temperatures.

One of my art tables is just to the left of the computer desk. I discovered David Fullerton’s Pictures with Words on Them to reinforce my art direction. Perhaps I am more adept at arranging things than inventing new ones, but line/form/color/texture/shading all play a part in the arrangement, and words to help the story. I’ve been reading two books by the painter Lucien Freud’s lover and about Rodin’s lover…have you heard of Celia Paul or Gwen John? They were both serious painters who were overshadowed by the men they chose to love.

Two sides of a pillow I made this week. David gave me a demo print he made with paper silhouettes in his mono print class. I added the border and the red dot with a circle cut from Marcia Derse fabric. the reverse side is a composition in grays I made from an antique photo of two women on a beach.

Another drawing/collage I made, still using papers from the mono print class. Two mornings now have been foggy (typical of fall here). I have learned to love gray.

Colleen and I went to visit her friend nearby who is as in love with plants as I am with images and words…dahlias taller than a man, the other-worldly seed heads of poppies. She knows every plant intimately and has created a world of her own by the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Passion and curiosity saves lives. What is in your neighborhood?

We took a walk, the geese are on the move. It’s all so beautiful!

What is Art? and is that even an Important Question? I say Play!

This week I’ve been using the papers I made in David’s mono printing class to create collages. The left side was paper towels from a fellow student. I like the simple paper shapes I made…would make interesting fabric…remember when I spent several months working with fabric design and Spoonflower? The red paint created a texture pattern like the herringbone clouds this afternoon.

Once I realized that my mission for the rest of my life is to create and follow a sort of eclectic and inspired Masters or even PhD program for my self alone, it is much easier for me to continue to keep making art…although I have made a Size concession, since I want to be able to stay in my all-art-studio home for the rest of my life AND make the disposition of the stuff I leave as easy as possible on my youngest brother.

I used a very simple collage in my larger 9″x12″ sketchbook to unload after traumatic dental visit…but the surgery won’t be til December and I can pay an extra $550 and be unconscious.

I am reading LOTS of artist autobiographies and memoirs…writers, too, especially female. My beloved high school art teacher, Jessie Loomis, introduced me to Ben Shawn and the whole concept of combining words and images, and I’ve never stopped. My books talk about this process, and I consider my two most recent books to be graphic novels.

Story telling, maybe. I may not be as ground-breaking as Picasso…and I’ll never be as famous as a lot of male artists whose timing and marketing talents definitely helped them to become known…and their sex, of course. I do NOT want to move to NYC at 75…I like my small town on the other side of the continent, and my Covid-induced quiet life.

Using mono printed paper for background and figures I saved, then copied by Jung Ho Kim

Occasionally I do get tempted, like to grad school at the Art Institute of Chicago, or today an online class for $1000 to get me familiar with using all aspects of Photoshop, instead of just the few I’ve painfully accumulated over the years. It certainly helped that my youngest brother moved to Seattle just when computer design was beginning and encouraged me to learn some things. Then when I graduated from the world of Making a Living, at the end of 2013, I took computer graphics classes at the local community college, so I know a few things.

Another collage to let off steam on a particularly bad news day…Art Therapy works!

But back to the topic: Does it really matter if what we are doing is ART or art, as long as we use eye/hand/brain/spirit together to keep it all exercised and functioning???? Some days, just sewing or gluing scraps of paper or cloth together in interesting (or even boring) patterns is better than passively watching old movies. Going out for a walk and seeing something in a new way. The few safe times now that we can get together and talk excitedly about what everyone has been doing can keep me going for days.

Be kind to yourself. Keep making and playing…with words, plants, dinner, paper or whatever. Copying is a way to learn. Have Fun. Visit your local library. Life under the mask is annoying, but almost definitely preferable to illness and death. I’m reading a novel now that take place in deaf culture…who would have thought… Our library persib for book group is Indigenous. We can learn to see and enjoy every bit of the world in different ways…even stupid or scary political decisions are put into perspective by Heather Cox Richardson and Robert Reich and many others…when homo sapiens make ourselves extinct, maybe a better solution to combining carbons will come along…wouldn’t that be interesting to contemplate?

Inspiration for future work: The daisies I photographed a few weeks ago are dying from lack of rain. The window by my computer, looking at the light behind the trees without my glasses on was stunningly late Impressionist into Expressionist. And David’s paper resist on fabric that I will make into a pillow with pieced border.

The gold edge of a purple cloud from my desk early in the morning…Do Not Despair!…at least not for long at a time. Eat some fresh watermelon. Go out and walk and look around.

Inspiration Everywhere

Minimalist collage version of one of the two faces from which I’ve been working.

Hugh and Connie came over from west Seattle to visit and David and Brian were free to eat with us, which is what we do, both separately and together. There was quite a bit of talk about possible retirement from our younger sibs and their partners. It was perfect weather for hanging out on David and Brian’s side porch, watching hummingbirds in the red flowers.

Hugh and Connie at the mouth of the Elwah…that beach keeps changing as the water formerly behind the dam flows to the Strait. There’s a new island where hundreds of seagulls hang out.
It turned out to be Joyce’s blackberry festival, so we shared a piece of wild blackberry pie and watched the parade from the window of the Blackberry Cafe.

I took a class from David, the weather was gorgeous. Hugh, Connie and I did the tourist thing…a gorgeous August week in the Northwest.

Inspiration from David’s class on monoprinting…I was surprised at how timid my pieces were compared to Jane’s, but I don’t like art working that requires a lot of cleanup. Above in the middle is one of Jane’s paper towels that she gave me to iron and use in a collage.

My heat pump is wonderful for cooling, and I have all kind of wonderful leftovers to eat in the coming week, after I deal with finally going back to the dentist with a broken filling and a broken tooth…I seem to be even more nervous about anything medical since the pandemic started.

A rock from the beach that inspires me to make a face. We also visited Murdoch Beach, which used to provide lots of totally spherical rocks, but has also changed. And we went to Lake Crescent and the trail there…lots of people, speaking a variety of languages.

Lots of great food and talk and card games…and inspiration for future art work…More pictures than words this week.

Cut rotten onion inspiration
Hens and chicks in a particular golden light in my back yard inspiration

More from my two faces project

I had to add sashing to the baby quilt top, to get the layout off of the guest room bed. I did this side all with fabric from my stash, but tow yards of two patterns from Marcia for the other side.

Keep making stuff, looking for inspiration, appreciating what and who you have in your life. See you next week.

Try, Try, Try Again

This one is all gouache. I didn’t even sketch underneath. I’m using a limited palette, which yields nice warm grays.

Learning through doing again and again: line, color, shape, feeling, how all the parts work together…I’m still making faces. I am convinced that doing leads to more ideas like making things…which makes it challenging to know when to stop experimenting and go ahead or go ahead on the next one.

This one is all gouache in primary colors on collaged old book pages

I do notice an improvement in hand and eye coordination with practice, and I also notice that, as in life, there is probably no one perfect answer, although there are many moments that seem perfect and should be savored.

This one is a face new to this series of two faces, but one which I’ve drawn before. When I saw the photo, I realized the proportions are way off and she needs more shading under the chin. Sometimes keeping it simple is better…but how to know unless I try??

I’m still working on faces, and each one gives me an idea for the next one to try. The baby quilt I’m making for my next grand niece is giving me plenty to think about, especially since I got a message from Marcia Derce today that her new fabrics will be ready to ship this week…

8″ Squares for the baby quilt, I’m using 8o/20 batting as recommended. I don’t have enough black and white check for all the sashing…can I use other bold black and white prints? What about the other side…maybe larger blocks and simpler graphics…?

Alternately, I wonder What can I do with what I already have? Black and white? Primary colors? Lots of colors? Use my scraps? I must admit (1) I do not follow the RULE to pre-wash all fabrics and (2) I don’t follow too many big rules in color and fabric at all…In my mind, bright red is a neutral, and the more color and pattern the better.

I was compelled to make yet another one-off wall piece, because I like the colors together and am using up cherished milagros. This is 14″ tall.

In spite of my preference for cool gray days,as opposed to lots of color in art, we have been having unremitting sun for what seems like weeks now. My native plant yard is fairly used to it, and I have small green tomatoes on my porch plants, kale that is ready to eat, if I just ignore the bug holes. My youngest brother and I had a brat cookout at his and Brian’s new house on Mom’s birthday. A young buck (two points each side) came up into my yard, just outside my window, maybe looking for a drink.

I’m still using the larger format notebook (9×12″ with thinner paper) for messy explorations on the amount of plastic in the globe’s oceans and practice schemes for repainting and recycling a couple of soft sculptures for a 2023 show.

Spring and Fall…nature, from which comes our food…This morning on Canadian Radio an interview with a author about the rather large percentage of the globe’s surface devoted to raising animals for humans to eat…I am trying to make more of my diet vegetable.

My walks now are before breakfast and there are plenty of regulars out on our wide streets at the top of the hill. Unfortunately some angry and confused young man (I’m guessing) went down our row of mailboxes with a hammer some time on Friday. I got the mailbox door open after working at it with pliers.

More faces, one is Georgia O’Keefe from a Steiglitz photo that I’ve used before, the other is from a Zoom art chat…on quilting

However, I am determined to emphasize the positive today, I take pictures of great colors and textures that may inspire future art. I hope you will find moments of pure joy on ordinary days (the title of one of my books). Keep making Art and good home cooking with local fruit and vegetables, research and vote, hug those you love, grab Joy where and whenever you can.

David cooking brats for us on Mom’s birthday. I made potato salad and he made beans. He put bacon, carmelized onions and other good things on the brats. No more big gas grill. David C just now sent me a photo from the main street of Glover, VT, where Mom was born. David C and I had a lot of fun together driving the back roads of VT on a day such as this.

Sights worth saving from my morning walks this week. Pay attention…and please research and VOTE!

Rigor in Art and Reading

Following my personal educational plan, I am reading essays by Alice Walker and bought some new books by Jenny Offill and Celia Paul, whose work as an artist was overshadowed by her living with Lucien Freud (a famous British portrait artist–and Sigmund’s grandson.)

I had so many fabric book pages using family photos, I divided the pile up into two books. I was Very Happy that when my brother, David, came over, he wanted the one I’d just finished.

Since I’m not spending much money on anything except food these days, I allow myself books that the library doesn’t carry…and in which I can underline and write notes. My personal library is becoming very specific to my quest. This week I stuck with the same two photos and did a number of versions of each one…something I never would have done when I thought I was too busy to focus. I’m still not sure which approach I like the best.

I went through at least 60 years of my life, taught by the US school system that Colonialism and Manifest Destiny–and old white men “made our country great.” It wasn’t until I was in my sixties and traveling across North America by car with my brother, Hugh, that I was introduced to the concept that both North and South America were fully settled with quite sophisticated civilizations before white male Europeans came in and decided to take whatever looked good to them…then they had to invent a god that told them it was all OK.

I like working on a surface of collaged old book pages, they are cheap ones from the early 1900’s, but they take the media well and add texture to the background.

As a female, a member of one of the largest groups of oppressed on the planet, I can sympathize empathize, and continue to strive to rid myself of subconscious and ingrained prejudices…including a prejudice against myself as a woman struggling to improve my skills in visual arts and writing.

This is another larger format notebook (9×12″). I used to use them for life drawing, but I haven’t felt comfortable in a small room packed with people drawing yet, though I do miss the practice on actual bodies. Somehow I feel more free to play around on larger, cheaper paper. I cut a pasted a bunch of drawings going back to my high school days in this one and I keep it on the long drafting table in my bedroom. This artist is one of the talented female artists I discovered online.

I noticed that the dried chilies that I use when I cook pinto beans had what seemed to be an inappropriate Indian in a feathered head dress as a logo…on the other page, an article Colleen gave me about the problem with American men…were the white men who invaded this continent all self-involved narcissists?

Little digger and some other cool tools in the schoolyard to the north of my yard. I am happy that the superintendent wants to flatten out the blackberry mound and keep the grass mowed now. It would make a good spot for dense housing, but the school employee said that it’s really difficult for the school system to get rid of any of its property.

I am continuing to practice using gouache as my paint medium, along with colored pencils, collage, and ink. These weekly essays, along with my daily journaling help my practice…and I no longer care whether or not I gain any universal recognition for either. I just want to know, at this end of my life, that I have tried as hard as I could to express what I have to say. I encourage all of you to do the same.

On the south side, which is the back yard, my New Zealand Flax is making what look like flower pods. David said it may indicate death of the plant, but it’s OK. It’s getting harder for me to balance on that steep hill to weed and horsetail comes up in the middle of the flax.

Colleen and I just returned from six times around our path in the Olympic National Park…lots of cars in the parking lot, but not too many people on the trail. One of my smoke sensors is beeping at me for a battery change. Outdoors went from 50 this morning to 90 and full sun now, so I’m happy I did a lot of weeding yesterday (under the Victoria lilacs and on the hill, so it was hard physically)…I am grateful that I have worked at staying in shape all my life, so even though I’m much less pleasant to look at than when I was young, I can still do most of what needs to be done and recover in a day or so. Rodrigo and Sara do the stuff I really don’t like to tackle: cleaning and weed whacking.

Best pizza in town (mine) for dinner leftovers

My nasturtiums…some of the seeds I planted are adding flowers…nasty aphids ate the other pot of Nasturtiums…and a mound of daiseys from on of my walks…go out and see what you can see…and stay healthy, be kind, Make ART!