Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"No Go Bye Bye"


That's what this little guy said to his mom after playing at our house for a couple of hours.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

True Poetry

When Reese asked me what I wanted for Christmas from him, I mentioned that I would be happy with either a sonnet or a song. He has written both sonnets and songs before, so it wasn't like I was asking for anything out of his comfort zone. Reese, in his brilliance, did both. He wrote an English sonnet and set it to music. It's probably the best thing he's ever written -- and I should know, I'm his biggest fan.

When it occurred to me that I had painted a portrait of Reese playing the guitar for him for Christmas, and he had actually written a song and played the guitar for me for Christmas...it was poetic, in the truest sense of the word.

Blue Sonnet by The Amazing Reese Hazel

Another night is over for the day
And all the little bits of dew are done
You come along and take the dark away
The night is over coming is the sun

You look for hidden meaning in between
The lines that lay around are everywhere
And looking here and there you might have seen
Another rainy night for us to share

Now cuddle up and let me hold your hand
And listen to the water falling free
You know you have to let me be your man
As anyone with eyes would have to see

So anything that I will have to do
I will to make you mine I will be true

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reese and Reese

Reese must have had some sort of idea what the top secret project was. When I asked him if he thought that I was working on a painting of him, he said, "I considered it at one point."
"Well, what else would it have been?"
His answer..."a time machine....or a flying car." At he has complete confidence in my skills and abilities!

It's such a relief not to hide it anymore. There were so many times that I would have asked his advice or just gotten a little feedback on the progress, but it was a secret! One day I took a nap on the futon in the studio. When I woke up, there was Reese standing tall over me grinning from ear to ear....only it wasn't Reese, it was the portrait of Reese. Freaked Me Out. After that incident, it was covered when napping.

Then it took me forever to figure out how to get the frets in the correct positions. I ended up making fret marks on a rubber band, then stretching the rubber band on the canvas to get the fret bars in the right place....which I worked on on Christmas eve. I was in the studio with the door shut to keep out the dogs; Erin's dog, Raleigh, and our "Uncle" Skipper. The painting was on the floor to use rulers, rubber bands, and such, and the next thing I hear is Reese talking to me through the door. He was worried that I might be overcome with fumes.

Another good thing about working on it at the last minute is that Anna was home to give me some good art advice. It's not the first time she's given me invaluable advice. This go around the advice was about shading. She suggested some shading here and there...then said, "That's too blue. Why don't you add the complementary color to get really good shading."
"What?"
She said, "Mixing complimentary colors together makes a neutral, and these colors are better than adding black to anything for shading. Avoid using black ALWAYS."
It was news to me, but when I tried it on the Reese portrait, the depth and dimensions started to pop.

I think Reese likes the painting.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Love, Betsy

This is the delightful surprise that was in my e-mail inbox this afternoon. Betsy is my first cousin on dad's side of the family. I love her. We are the same age and used to play together every summer at our Grammaw's house. What I remember most is lots of giggling.

After the introductions, Betsy takes me on a little tour of the cemetery (I like that kind of stuff,) then she drives past our grandparents' house. The house was painted white back in the day. I stayed in the big bedroom just above the front porch on the left. Around the back of the house there was a little carport. Grandpa would make a swing out of giant springs and attach it under the carport. We called it the "boing boing swing" -- one could swing and bounce at the same time! SOOOOOO much fun!

There was a garden in the back yard, too. We'd eat fresh veggies every night of our visit; my favorites being homemade cream corn and green beans. Yum.

Deep in the back yard there was a big red barn filled with treasures....trash to some people but treasures to me. I'm sure that's where I get my extreme fondness for taking someone else's trash, refurbishing it, and using it to furnish our home. The apple hasn't fallen far from the proverbial tree.

Now, I understand that you, the gentle reader, aren't going to tear up and bawl like I did the first time I saw the Merry Christmas, Sarah video. But that's exactly what happened to me....bawled like a baby.

Hi Sarah,

Merry Christmas! When I read your blog about homemade gifts, it prompted this idea. So, here are some scenes from Concord, since you haven't been there in a long, long time. Hope you enjoy this video, and please excuse the amateurs.


Scenes from Concord from Betsy Bryan on Vimeo.

"Merry Christmas, Sarah!"

Love,
Betsy

Monday, December 15, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Santa needs a little helper.

The short list goes something like this....there's daughter Hilary's birthday dinner party for between 15 and 20 guests, then Christmas, then Reese's birthday, then a "welcome back to Texas" party for some dear friends. It's all do-able, if not slightly overwhelming. There's a bit of extra cleaning, shopping (I've barely started,) cooking and baking to do -- RIGHT NOW.

Plus, at the forefront is a commission to be completed as a Christmas gift for someone I met through working on Via Colori -- it's almost finished but has pushed previously planned projects aside for a bit.

We did get the Christmas tree yesterday, then realized that we didn't have a stand and had to go back to the store, well, two stores because the first store was sold out. Got the lights on the tree today. Sure do hope it's decorated by tonight, and I can get the messy boxes out of the living room.

The production for Reese's Christmas gift has slowed to a crawl....I need more time, and perhaps sanity.

And the gifts I'm working on for family members aren't finished, and they still need to be mailed. There are two separate projects going for friends and neighbors. Whew, I'm tired just writing it all down. I think I'm forgetting something, too....oh right, Skipper (the dog) desperately needs to go to the groomer.

Then there's the added issue that Reese and I need to do something in the back yard to prepare for the two parties. As it is now there's a pile of mud that will be impossible to resist for the young friends who will soon be our guests. There's no way for even grown ups to walk in the back yard without getting in mud....little bits of mud are everywhere. The charming cherubic statue part of the fountain busted (after Reese worked his tail off to get the hole dug for The Beast) and needs to be fixed (with Rockite) and properly installed.

On another note, (so to speak,) listen to this:
Baby, it's cold outside
These two together sound great (in my opinion,) though the youtube images are cheesy. Reese has agreed to sing karaoke with me on this one -- some day.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

VIVA JOY!

When this time of the year comes around
and my mind starts beginning to hound
itself of the chores
like shopping in stores
the head 'round my mind starts to pound

I can't seem to get it all done
when it's me by myself only one
to tie all the ribbons
as presents are given
while ever the errands to run

It's not fair that I am so complainy
this season has always been drainy
as resources dwindle
it's hard to re-kindle
the JOY that should keep us all saney

It's not that sweet JOY disappeared
somewhere in my heart it is here
though that part of my heart
might need a jump start
or at least a swift kick in the rear

Down deep in my heart I'm excited
for Christmas has always ignited
fondness for brothers
and significant others
that flame just might be mostly lighted

For I'm thinking anew of my blessings
and shoving aside all the stressing
for Christmas it's clear
that I should hold dear
sweet Jesus in Whom I am resting

But in practice it's harder to do
much harder than tying one's shoe
the JOY and the hope
gets lost in the scope
and "normal" seems more like a zoo

If there is an answer I'll listen
the meantime my eyes start to glisten
so much to get done
that a lot of the fun
is gone -- it's sweet JOY that I'm missin'

(Sweet JOY is also my daughter
of whom I couldn't be prouder
she's been a delight
morn noon and night
my fondness for her is a lot-r

JOY's our fourth of a bevy of beauties
three sisters has she -- cute patooties
from childhood to now
JOY's laugh fills the house
it's almost as if it's her duty

It so happens that JOY shares my name
first Sarah last Hazel the same
some problems it's caused her
in school they all call her
Sarah, not JOY -- we're to blame

It's my hope that JOY really won't mind
I hope that some day she will find
that I'm pleased that we share
a fine name sounding fair
as she grows into young woman kind)

Monday, December 01, 2008

It

My art blog buddy friend Joan tagged me to reveal 7 little known facts about myself, and then tag other blog buddies to do the same. I've played this game before. It's a lot of thinking to come up with seven new facts.

1. Even though, according to social data, I was born during the boomer years, I have very little in common with most baby boomers. It seems I have more in common with Generation X-ers, even though the years defining that generation are outside my birth year.

2. Any deviation from wearing pure gold earrings and my ears start itching within minutes. Consequently, I wear the same pearl with gold post earrings every. single. day.

3. I absolutely LOVE being a woman with curves, but am really really tired of the lumps.

4. Because of poor eyesight, my ears have had to overcompensate. Therefore, I have incredibly good hearing. It always freaks my daughters out that I can hear what they are whispering from two rooms away.

5. 97% of everything in my house is second hand -- by choice.

6. Reese gave me gum (amongst other things) for my birthday and I couldn't have been happier. I chew an awful lot of gum. My new favorite gum is Orbit White, though Trident White is good, too. Orbit seems to keep it's flavor and chew longer than Trident.

7. Sometimes I judge the boringness of an event by how many pieces of tape I think I'll need to get through it. (I like playing with the sticky side of tape.) A typical church service runs between a two tape to a four tape event. Mandatory school events average three pieces. Whenever I see tape at a cash register, I ask if I can (please?) have a piece.

There it is, seven new, random, little-known facts about me. Play if you want.
(My cousin Betsy played!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Street Painting 301

Clear, crisp, and chilly best describe the beautiful weather for Via Colori. What a delightful difference from last year's miserable rained out event! The weather's charming personality wooed the gathered crowd and infected us with artistic camaraderie. Houstonians are incredibly charitable with support for the arts and the community. This event showcases both -- local artists and the Center for Hearing and Speech.


Beka and Wendy enthusiastically agreed to help me with this year's 100 square feet. How wonderfully and completely serendipitous that sweet Zoe helped, too. It just so happened that she and her parents came at the exact time we needed help putting in blue sky and turquoise water. (Zoe is the little chickadee in the bottom left corner.)



Shortly after Zoe left, another young family stopped to watch us work. There was still some yellow foreground that needed to be filled in, so Reese recruited sisters Anna and Harper to help. Again, 100 square feet is a large canvas, (so to speak;) we were grateful for the assistance. As seen in the photo, their mom chipped in as well. Bless them.



The image for this year's event is from one of my paintings called "Waimanalo, Hawaii." Besides the obvious natural beauty, it was a great place to hang out with friends when I lived there. Our routine was to take a loaf of bread, jar of peanut butter, jar of jelly; body surf and boogie board till we were dog tired; play Frisbee and/or football; then make and eat sandy sandwiches. Good times.


Here are my diligent helpers -- Beka (in the overalls) and Wendy. Beka wore the overalls because she had been forewarned about plumber's crack, an occupational hazard of so much bending.


Reese, Hilary, Joy, and I went back on Sunday afternoon for a sadly mediocre lunch. Wanting to tweak some of the details, especially in the shadowy areas, I also brought some old pastels from home to work on it a little bit. It didn't take much to get it just right. The day before, I was so exhausted that it was impossible to see what needed to be done to complete the project.

So here it is, all finished! Today, it's just a fond memory. The city of Houston washes everything away before Monday morning's traffic.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

63

At some point last summer, Reese and I were outside visiting with some of our socially-comfortable and very energetic neighbors, Jenni and Scotty. We are close in age, and were comparing years of birth. Reese and I both said to Scotty something like, "Yeah, we're both 63," meaning that we were both born in 1963. In context, it made sense. Jenni was distracted by other goings on that day and only mostly overheard this part of the conversation.

A few days later, Jenni's brother Minh came up and marveled at how good Reese and I looked. OK.....thanks? He went on and on about how nicely we've aged....it was flattering, if not a little unusual. Minh wasn't the only one -- random people started coming out of the woodwork, incredulous that we have aged so well.

It did cause me to wonder what was happening. (?) Then again, it's not unusual for people, when they discover our age, to tell us that we are just "babies." The norm is for people with kids our daughter's ages to be 10 or more years older than us. Or the complete opposite; people our age have kids who are 10 or more years younger than our daughters. At both ends of this spectrum, people call us "babies."

Turns out that what Jenni heard that day was that we were 63 years old....not that we were born in 1963. Factual or not, the grapevine message spread like wildfire. According to the latest TMZ report, Reese and I are 63! Hmmm, not a bad idea, though -- to tell people that I'm 63. While I might look a tad aged for a (as of today) 45 year old, I look hot for a 63 year old!

Happy my birthday to you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Top Secret

Back in the day, Reese and I hand made Christmas gifts for extended family members. We have made so many things over the years....painted glass ornaments, piecework stockings, cocoa mix, clay angel ornaments, home made vanilla, toffee, decorated frames, letter blocks (as seen in photos -- a big hit with both sets of grandparents,) and who knows what else. A great deal of thoughtful consideration, time, and effort went into these presents. We encouraged our daughters to do the same and make gifts for loved ones. The idea was that something made from hearts and hands would be appreciated more than something store bought. Well, different people have different ideas of what Christmas (and in particular, gift giving) should mean, even within the same family. Everyone doesn't always have high regard for such a contribution; so after a few years of this types of present being largely misunderstood, we stopped doing it and started buying everything.

But last year, when Reese, Erin, Anna, Hilary, and Joy started asking for my Christmas wish list, I realized that what I truly wanted was something home made. So I sent Reese and the daughters an e-mail that said,

I've decided what I really want for Christmas...
something from your hearts/skills/or mind
such as:
a song, sung or played
a poem recited
a painting or drawing
a scripture passage memorized
something knitted
something baked or cooked
or whatever might come from your hands or heart

All of you are talented. Please give me something from your storehouse of talent.
Reese wrote and performed a bluesy love song. Erin drew something in colored pencils on brown paper. Anna knitted a scarf. Joy did a watercolor drawing. And Hilary promised to sing a song when her voice cleared. It was one of the best Christmases ever -- but then again, I say that every year! (Of course, it also meant that, in order to set a good example, I needed to make something for them as well. It had been so long since home made gift season that I felt a bit rusty and out of practice.)
This year, last year's e-mail was sent 'round again. This year, the preparations started a little earlier. And this year, it's really hard to keep such a big secret....from Reese. He's my very best friend and naturally, I want to talk with him about this little (big) Christmas project. The art studio is a wonderful space to create and at the end of the day, close the door. Keep a secret -- no problem, mon. Only the fumes from the oil paint and solvents is overpowering with the door closed! There's no ventilation. So, in order to not suffocate, and get a small amount of air circulating in the studio, this towel got hung in the doorway, with about a 12 inch gap underneath it. The fumes are still fumy, though not nearly as bad as they were the first week. The little sign on the outside (to the left of the blue towel) is to remind Reese not to enter the studio (please) because I'm working on his Christmas gift. The sign also says that I'll happily fetch whatever he might need from inside the studio, such as stored wheat berries for his most excellent bread making, or good beer (also stored in the studio) for the drinking.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pepper and The Beast

It's no surprise that unless something gets written on the calendar, it's most likely completely off the radar for me. This last weekend, even though something was written on the calendar, I had neglected to switch pages from October to November. This is what happens.

It's not unusual for Saturdays to be filled with a plethora of activities. Even though it's not a natural skill, I really try to keep organized. So, last Saturday, when Joy wanted to go to the homecoming football game, there was a statuary and fountain shop in the general area of the stadium that I had been wanting to visit. (The idea that our kiddie wading pool might not be in keeping with the improved patio prompted the visit.) So after we dropped off Joy at the game, Reese and I went shopping for a bona fide pond. I had done some online research, and knew prices, sizes, and types...just wanted to see the product before committing to a permanent backyard fixture. Turns out that the original black plastic/fiberglass pond that I had wanted to buy (online) was ugly. So we next looked at the top of the line cement pond, and boy oh boy was it expensive!

It just so happened that next door to the fountain shop was a hardware/feed store. (That wasn't in my research.) It just so happened that they had galvanized steel cattle troughs on display in front. It also just so happens that a galvanized steel cattle trough looks an awful lot like a garden landscape pond -- only it is significantly less expensive. Guess what we bought and tied on top of the suburban? That's right, a 6' wide by 2' high galvanized steel cattle trough. It is a wonderful container and will be our new fountain pond! It's so huge that so far, it's called The Beast.

Being totally preoccupied with the beast in the back yard, I was confused and surprised to get a phone call at 9pm Saturday night. The phone call was a gentle reminder that I had agreed to feed a home cooked meal to 10-15 college students plus a few extras after church on Sunday.
"What? That's tomorrow?"
The ingredients for homemade spaghetti sauce were (thankfully) in the cupboard. Since this was being served to a crowd, I decided to double the recipe and follow it exactly, well, as exact as I ever get. The recipe calls for one and a half teaspoons of chili powder. Usually, I dump ingredients willy-nilly, but remembering that the sauce has been a little spicy the last few times it's been made, I was very careful to measure everything just so. By 10pm, it was in the crock pot to gently cook overnight. Very pleased, I went to bed confident that all was well prepared for lunch the next day.

When served, the phrase most often overheard was,
"Wow, this sauce is spicy."
In this blog, I've mentioned that I am no stranger to shopping at the 99 cent only store. Over the summer, I bought a jar of chili powder for 99 cents at the 99 cent only store. It is now my firm belief that instead of chili powder in the chili powder jar, the chili powder jar is filled with none other than cayenne pepper. Like the beast, this sauce has it's own personality!

Back to the beast...it is so large that it created a new set of problems for the design of the patio. The original plans just would not work. The next couple of days were spent playing around with the placement of the beast in relation to the patio flagstone. When I got the beast in the right place, the stones were all wrong. Finally -- an epiphany! It's not even close to being finished, but in the photo one can see the basic design taking shape. In the top left corner of the photo is the beast. I'll add a bit more to the brick work, and expand the edges a bit...but this is the basic idea. The Amazing Reese volunteered to help dig a hole in the backyard for the beast. I'm having his affidavit notarized this afternoon.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Never Say Never

Well, never say never. Not too long ago, I declared that I'd never work on another mosaic in all my life. The entire color coded collection of broken tiles that I had gathered for years was recently given to a very grateful art teacher.

Technically, it's not a mosaic but it sure feels like one...only on a super sized grand scale. This newest project of mine is designing and installing a buckskin flagstone and brick patio in the back yard. The genesis behind the new patio is relocating our old patio to better accommodate the charming cherubic fountain. Our $13.88 small child's wading pool will (sadly) likely be replaced by an official landscape pool, much more suited to all this new work that's going into the patio.

Today, Hilary went with me to the stone yard. Everything was rocks, dirt, dust, and spanglish -- I loved it! The price for the stone has gone up since my last visit, which admittedly was a while ago, but I just wasn't expecting that big a jump. Originally, I had planned on buying approximately 100 square feet of buckskin flagstone. But the price increase per ton freaked me out a bit. So, in order to keep the price down and the square footage up, I figured that picking and choosing thinner pieces of flagstone would do the trick. The silliest part of that was trying to explain it to the guy loading it in the back of the suburban in my limited spanglish.
"Por favor, yo necesito mas skinny flagstone y no necesito el gordo flagstone."
He laughed, and helped find "skinny" flagstone. God bless him.

Monday, October 27, 2008

-- untitled --

As mentioned before, Reese and I attended an open mike poetry night a couple of weeks ago. During the same event, a notebook was passed around, and whoever was in the room had the opportunity to write a few words or phrases as part of a collective poem based on the Astrid painting. This method of collecting words in part to become a whole was invented was by surrealists in the mid 20's. The end result is generally referred to as cadavre exquis, or exquisite corpse.

It was nerve wracking waiting and wondering how the various people in the room would respond to the painting in verse.

The finished product was a pleasant surprise....an exquisite corpse. Thanks to all the poets that night who contributed.

--untitled--

Wondering why I can't go outside today?
When this cold is over, I'll play in the sun all day
And embrace each ray, letting my skin absorb every ounce of its beautiful light.
I will become.
Light.
I will be and reflect
Shining summer and sniffing flowers
and romping in fields like a kitten chasing butterflies
until I fall into a pond!
(knowing glance. wonder. life.)
It is only until I fall into the pond that I see who I am.
If only I had followed rather than just glanced
And to follow would not be so bad if but I followed the One.
Looking for Him, I seek.
One precious in His eyes. Praise be to God.
Your gaze is like a cold drink
pure water to renew my strength
and hope for another day
Another day still coming.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pink and Ike

"Naturaleza Muerta en Rosa" (or Still Life in Pink) is my offering for Lawndale Art Center's Dia de los Muertos exhibit. It's so named for a few reasons. My friendship with Francoise blossomed because she generously and graciously helped me learn a little french. One of the things we did together was watch the Oscar winning movie, La Vie en Rose, the tragic life story of French singer, Edith Piaf. Though the actual translation for La Vie en Rose is Life in Pink, Francoise explained that it was more akin to our phrase, "looking at life through rose colored glasses." So thinking about la vie en rose, and how even when one looks at life through rose colored glasses, life still ends in death. Morbid, yes, but consider that this painting is for the day of the dead celebration. I originally wanted to name it "nature morte en rose" which would be the french term for still life in pink....or to take it one step further, death through rose colored glasses. Therefore, my retablo is named with that phrase in mind....except dia de los muertos is a mexican tradition, and so instead of french, I translated the title (and idea) into spanish.....lots of words to explain a little painting. The exhibit opening is tonight.

Fresh Arts put out a call to artists for art made from the debris left behind by hurricane Ike. The strong winds of Ike tore down many fences, both literally and figuratively. Because the electricity was off in so many homes, Houstonians gathered in neighborhoods all over town and started sharing ice, drinks, meals, and stories. So I built a table top out of torn down fence pickets, because the fences were down in our hearts and in our yards. The black bamboo that was ripped out of a friend's yard became the support, or the legs, for what are we without the support of a good friend? The fence table top was tied to the bamboo legs with bits of electrical wire, because really, it was the common loss of electricity that tied us all together anyway. The wine corks under the table top signify the unity from a shared experience and a shared glass of wine.

"Join the Houston community in a celebration of art and perseverance as we hold a silent auction with the art submitted to the MADE FROM IKE art contest. All proceeds from the auction will go to Americans for the Arts Emergency Relief fund and William Graham Emergency Artist Fund that helps local arts service organizations rebuild the arts in their communities.

MADE FROM IKE
Caroline Collective Courtyard
4820 Caroline St
Houston, TX 77004

Oct. 24, 2008 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

At 6PM, the doors of the courtyard will be opened and the community invited to celebrate the perseverance of our beloved art scene. Meet artists and organizations who have determination in the facce of adversity, bid on some amazing home-grown art made from Ike´s remnants and enjoy a Saint Arnolds among friends."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Canvas

The following poem, Canvas, was inspired by "Astrid" and written by Joe Down.

He called a couple of days ago and said that he had written a poem about the painting, and was going to perform it Tuesday night, and that he'd like for the painting to be on stage as he read, and would we please attend? I, of course, was thrilled to oblige. So, last night, Reese and I went to Taft Street Coffee House's open mike poetry night. Having only ever been exposed to Hollywood's version of poetry readings, it did not disappoint. The evening covered a wide variety of thought, naturally as diverse as the little collection of people in attendance. There was feminine anger, ghetto rap, general angst, lightheartedness, and even a few guitar songs. But by far, the poem that grabbed our hearts was "Canvas," for Reese was as moved as I. During Joe's reading, there were several times when the audience snapped their fingers in quiet applause.

Joe is in the top photo as he's finishing. The guitarist partially hidden behind Joe (in the photo) is Rich Lewis. He played some background chord progressions as Joe passionately read the poem. Rich also performed two of his songs in a clarion voice and is performing solo in the bottom photo.

Canvas

washed in soft light
patient you are
quaintly plain and still
beautiful brown hair
filled with golden light
a daughter of wisdom
yet to be known
beautiful and growing,
longing
you are,
your face alive on the canvas
gentle, quiet and noble
you are
wise for your age
and patient
you are,
there on the wall in peace
alive on the canvas
bathed in beautiful light,
brown hair above shoulders bare
bathed in beautiful light,
a summer dress clings to your frame
holding you in still embrace
holding you safe,
bathed in beautiful light.

even in the wake of disaster
Jesus clings to you
a garment of peace
he will even cling to your neck
and around your shoulders
he is always clinging
bathing you in love
even when life is forlorn
he is there,
yes, he is still there

beautiful young woman
your eyes catch mine
on this cool Sunday morning
and I do not even need
to turn my head
to see your eyes
reaching, alive
longing to be held yet held
longing to be near yet near
your eyes are strong
strong enough
to hold back tears,
waiting they are
glancing forward into years
reflecting dreams of some other day
beautiful young woman
you are not alone
breathing from the canvas
lighting this room with joy
sowing seeds of hope
into these quaint walls
and this polished stone,
hope for a day yet to be known

Monday, October 13, 2008

Star and the Dalai Lama

Carol and I met because she's wonderful. Oddly enough, the Dalai Lama brought us together. Last May, the 14th Dalai Lama came to Rice University to speak on "The Meaning of Compassion in Everyday Life." The event sold out pretty quickly.

How often in life will one have the opportunity to walk a few blocks and hear the Dalai Lama speak? Not only that, but to speak on the meaning of compassion in everyday life? I wanted to go, but there were no more tickets.

So the amazing Reese and I started searching hourly for tickets on ebay and craigslist.

Carol posted on craigslist that she had an extra ticket, and agreed that I could have it! When I went to pick up the ticket, she was preparing for a garage sale the following day. Turns out that she had some wonderful old French garden furniture destined for the sale. Yada yada yada, and the next thing we agreed upon, was a trade of the garden furniture for a painting.

She loves the painting (and I love the garden furniture!) And I already mentioned how wonderful she is, right? When she started thinking about doing something really special for her best friend and partner's upcoming 50th birthday, she thought of me. She commissioned a painting of Star, the beloved pet of her best friend, Slade.

This is the painting that I struggled with so much this summer. One reason it was so hard was because it was a portrait (the dog,) it was a still life (the bluebonnets,) and it was a landscape. All of those aspects had to be believable in and of themselves, and had to be in harmony for the painting to work as a whole. Star's expression is what really gives the painting pizazz, though. What a happy dog. No wonder Star is such a beloved pet.

Happy birthday, Slade.

According to Carol, "Slade received the painting on Saturday night. He just loved it!"

Monday, October 06, 2008

Outstanding in the Field

It was enchanting. It is a movable feast.

The concept of performance artist and gypsy chef guru Jim Denevan is to dine on the very soil that nourishes the bounty on the plate, in the company of the farmers who cultivate it. The event is called Outstanding in the Field.

There could't have been a more perfect location on the Jolie Vue Farm near Brenham, Texas. The tables were set in a gentle curve on a hilltop overlooking waves of pasture. The guest chef, Monica Pope of T'afia, created delicious dishes with complicated names and mysterious taste combinations; names like gruyere, sambal, gribiche, cajeta. It didn't really matter what these words meant, except to confirm that Monica Pope was Jim Denevan's brilliant choice for guest chef. The local farm food and Texas wine pairings were Monica Pope's oil paints. The inspiration of time and place were Jim Denevan's canvas. Together, in the studio gallery of Jolie Vue Farms, they created a small masterpiece.

Reese and I had the privilige of being part of the art for the afternoon. That's me in the black cap across the table. Our dear friends the Globes and the Brownings have their backs to the camera. Reese, bless his heart, is literally outstanding in the field taking the photo.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Busy Week in Review

What an excellent and productive week! Amazingly enough, just as I was lamenting to a friend that there didn't seem to be enough time for all the creative things that I wanted to do, I realized that it had been a busy and creative week after all. This first photo is from the Xnihilo Gallery Showcase Showdown opening reception last Friday night. Dear friend Helen brought some buddies along before going out to supper. They might have all voted for my painting as the Peoples' Choice for Best in Show. If so, muchas gracias. Reese and I still want to go back and really look at the show...we were so preoccupied the night of the opening.


On our trip to Guadalajara, Mexico this summer, I took lots of photos hoping that some of them would be worthy of painting. This little boy was in Santa Ana in the school where we worked in the mornings; Santa Ana is a very impoverished area of Guadalajara. We were there to help the locals finish the actual hard labor work of pouring concrete floors and building walls for classrooms. This little boy was precious. He was sitting in the doorway of one of the front rooms close to the street. Normally I leave out details, but I like the effect of the truck tire in the background. It helps makes the poverty seem more real (in the painting.)

Earlier this week an e-mail came in reminding me of the October 9th deadline for submitting retablos for the Lawndale Art Center's Dia de los Muertos exhibit. How could I have forgotten about this?!! No inspiration -- none at all, except that I had been planning on painting a still life anyway...and what better image to represent a lost loved one than a painting of flowers used to decorate a grave. These sweetheart roses actually decorated our living room, but that's beside the point. Hopefully, it will be dry enough to submit by October 9th.

Whew. After two years, I've finally finished this mosaic. Two years. OK, it hasn't been non-stop work; it's just been looming in the background. Our den is long and lean. Just a few months ago, I gave our over sized "family heirloom" mahogany coffee table to Erin to replace it with the much smaller "better scaled for the long and lean den" unfinished mosaic coffee table. It took an impending visit from very young friends to propel a giant leap in work on the top. It took sheer determination to finish it this week.

A few weeks before Hurricane Ike, the light from our across the street neighbors' front porch light left the shadow of our red bud tree outlined on the front window. I quickly traced the shadow that night, and have been waiting for the right time to paint it ever since. Years ago, when daughter Erin was a senior in high school, she took a class in art history from Miss Mundy (who has since married.) One of her end of year class projects involved a self portrait painted on an old glass window frame. It was so interesting, and is still propped up in a window of our long and lean den. I've basically been wanting to paint on glass ever since. What better than our own front living room window? When I first traced the outline, Hilary and Joy though it was cool. But when they learned that it would be a semi-permanent painting on our living room window, they thought it was a little excessive. When the paint drys, I'll re-paint the inside to make/help it look neater. Right now, from the inside, it looks messy. It's hard to tell from this photo, but it looks pretty neat from the outside.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What do I say?

First of all, I was wearing a name tag that said Sarah Hazel -- Artist. Beginning at 7pm and on through the night, people came up and asked about the Astrid painting. What do I say? Do I talk about the wonderfulness of my friendship with this child's mother? About how much I miss this child's mother now that they've moved back to France? Do I tell them that this child's mother took the time to help a stumblingly ridiculously ignorant French student? Do I tell people about how my heart aches because a dear friend is now living across the Atlantic Ocean instead of just across the street?

Do I talk about all the times I saw this child delight in the world around her, loving everyone and everything? Do I talk about noticing something in the heart and soul of this child early on, and how I studied her face for eight months waiting for the perfect pose to paint? That there was something something I couldn't quite put my finger on that compelled me to paint this child?

What do I say to people?

They all wanted to talk about brush strokes and the colors I used in the painting and the techniques and blah blah blah. Every time I look at this painting I'm reminded of this sweet little neighbor friend and her precious mother and the dear dear friendship we shared with her whole family. How do I explain to people that this is what the painting is....it's part of my deep longing expressed through oil paint, brushes and canvas? How do I explain that I was just an instrument used to paint something that was already there?

The Astrid painting won the Peoples' Choice Award for Best in Show at the Xnihilo Gallery Showcase Showdown opening reception. I'm extremely grateful.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Weasel?

It just so happened that I had gone shopping for easels earlier in the day. A good easel is not inexpensive. Since it's such a large purchase, I called Reese to discuss spending that much money on a new easel.

That same night Reese went over to Mike's to jam. In Mike and Debra's living room was a large relatively unused art easel gathering dust. When Reese saw it, (the story went something like this,) he asked, "What's with the easel? Do you want to sell it?" To which Mike and Debra replied, "Sure, we want to sell it." So Reese asked, "How much do you want for it?" Yadda yadda yadda. And the next thing I know is Reese is walking through our front door with this giant amazingly sturdy easel....for me! They gave it to me! Free!

The next morning Helen dropped in to say that she and her family were evacuating in anticipation of Hurricane Ike. While she was here, I asked her if she would like to see my new easel. She looked at me like I was a crazy woman, and slightly hollered, "A WEASEL??!! When did you guys get a weasel?"

Through giggles, and enunciating very carefully, I said, "Not a weasel, I said A NEW EASEL."

Finally, yesterday was the first chance that I got to use my new weasel...er, easel. It's awesome! It's sturdy, easy to adjust, beautiful, oh, and did I mention that it was free? The little unfinished painting on the easel is an image from our summer trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. More paintings to come!

(Life has been a little out of sorts since the hurricane hit. Thankfully our power was restored at 7pm on Sunday night.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ode to Ike

It's a week and a day without power
but at least we have a warm shower
four friends on our block
(they really do rock)
gave us ice so our milk wouldn't sour.

We baked bread in our friend Judy's oven
so Reese and I still have been shovin'
good bread in our tummies
whole wheat sure tastes yummy
and helps our health for good lovin'.

Gabrielle loaned her washer and dryer
for towels that sopped all the water
since Hurricane Ike
has caused quite a spike
in fact it was getting quite dire.

The Snyders had us over to dinner
supplies in the freezer are thinner
to eat our way through
is not hard to do
meal sharing is always a winner.

Today we got Minh's generator
his power came sooner than later
to Scotty and Jenni
he loaned two which was plenty
and they shared to make our lives better!

So now we have limited juice
I'm sitting here eating cous cous
updating my blog
like a bump on a log
quite happy to catch up on news.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Questions Answered

Message from the curator:

A lot of you have been asking questions about the opening reception, and rightfully so. Taft regained power late Tuesday, and we have been told that we will not reopen until Monday, September 22nd, as per a request from the elders of Ecclesia. That being said, the new reception date for our Showcase Showdown will be Friday, September 26th.

Thank you all once again for participating, and we apologize for the inconvenience. We hope you are all safe and sound and can't wait to see you at the opening.


Marc Brubaker
Curator, Xnihilo Gallery

Monday, September 15, 2008

UPDATE on IKE

Just a quick update because I'm borrowing a neighbor's computer.

The storm was fierce! The winds were unlike anything I've ever experienced.

The water has been deemed safe to drink.

We have a natural gas water heater so our showers have been pleasant.

The weather has been unseasonably cool for Houston is September.

We cooked pizza and chocolate chip cookies on our grill outside today...so we're working our way through the freezer.

Two separate friends have brought us bags of ice -- amazing timing for our food! Nothing has spoiled.

We still don't have electricity, but again the weather is pleasant -- not that big a deal.

Only minor flooding in the yard and street. The neighbors all helped clear the street first thing which prevented problems.

No major limbs fell in our yard....lots of small ones, but they are already cleaned up. Reese worked all day Saturday, and Hilary and Joy helped out today.

So many friends have dropped in and called to check up on us. (and posted comments!) God bless you all!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Y-IKE-S

Hurricane Ike is causing a commotion in Houston. So far, we are staying put.

Here's why:

1. Our home is so far inland that it's unlikely the storm surge will affect us.

2. A few months ago, Reese pruned (whacked) a tree that usually drops big limbs in high winds, so no limbs will fall out of that tree because of high winds.

3. We have plenty of food and water. The grocery store was out of all the good (bad) snack foods, and therefore our diet will remain healthy. On the plus side, Joy is making homemade toffee today. Yum.

4. We rented a few movies -- of course, we won't be able to watch them if the electricity goes out.

5. The leaves are raked from the path beside the house so that backyard water has a proper drainage ditch-ish thing.

6. The flashlight and small radio have batteries.

7. Just in case, the gas tanks in our cars are full.

8. And last but not least, we have an old school telephone that doesn't need electrical power to operate, just an old fashioned phone line.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Burn Baby Burn

Last night I burned two paintings. It felt liberating.

There was nothing but very prettily colored ashes left.















Today, I burned another painting. It was really annoying me.

At this point, there was a need for a bigger barrel type container in which to burn stuff.











Well, I tried to burn it.

Reese liked it. Even after attempting to completely annihilate it, he brought it inside and set it up in the living room.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Yoycie and Jankee

When late morning rolls around and you're feeling a bit out of sorts, don't worry; you're probably just a little eleven o'clockish.
-- Winnie the Pooh

Most late mornings, I'm a "bit out of sorts and feeling a little eleven o'clockish" but not today. Today, at precisely eleven o'clock, I had the privilege of meeting Yoycie, Carmen, David, and Agnes. Yoycie was the grand prize winner in my blog give away art contest, and today was the day that I finally delivered her painting. We have talked back and forth through the Internet but had never met face to face. She's amazing. We had an absolutely wonderful visit despite the late morning hour. Up until today, in referring to her, I had called her Joyce. Once, after I mistakenly replied to an e-mail calling her Joy instead of Joyce, she said,
Don't worry about the misspelled name, I'm used to it, and I'll answer to anything. When I grew up my relatives called me Joyce, Yoycie, Joy, Joycita (variations on my name); also Evelyn, Shebe, Sylvia (Shebe's real name), and Zelda (those are three of my aunts, whom I supposedly resemble). Oh, and John . . . that was my brother's name but my mom was usually so frazzled that we didn't expect her to ever get our names right.
After watching her and being around her for maybe half an hour, I looked at her and said something to the effect that, to me, she looks (and acts) like a Yoycie. She laughed and said that for whatever reason, the people in her neighborhood when she was growing up in San Antonio couldn't pronounce her name correctly...so instead of calling her Joyce, they called her Yoycie. The oddest part about that was that she had a dog named Yankee. The very same neighbors who had trouble pronouncing the J in her name, had no problem at all calling the dog Jankee....because they couldn't seem to be able to pronounce the Y in Yankee!

The whole story reminded me of this particular blog post on the pronunciation of names. Thank you, Yoycie; I had a great time!
(Carmen and David are Yoycie's precious three year old twins, and Agnes was a mother's helper.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Astrid

I'm delighted to report that "Astrid" was selected to be in Xnihilo Gallery's Showcase Showdown; juried by Marc Brubaker -- curator for Xnihilo Gallery and Elizabeth Murray of Art Lies Magazine. Opening reception will be September 13th from 7 - 10pm, with the exhibit running until October 13th.

Reese and I will be at the opening. Please come join us (!), have a glass of wine, and enjoy the variety of art presented in this exhibit. Awards for Best in Show, Second Place, and People's Choice will be acknowledged at the opening reception.

Xnihilo Gallery is located in the heart of the Montrose district at 2115 Taft Street. Walk through the coffee shop/book store to access the gallery.

UPDATE: Opening reception now September 26th from 7-10pm.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

NeoHooDon't

After reading positive reviews my curiosity was aroused. The Menil Collection is hosting an exhibit called "NeoHooDoo: Art For a Forgotten Faith." According to the Menil brochure, "the works in NeoHooDoo illuminate various ways of living in the present day Americas. They are an embodiment of ideas in the forms of the ritual and the sacred that come from this unique and vast cultural expanse, and they validate the spiritual as a foundation for the making of contemporary art." The NeoHooDoo Manifesto "believes that every man is an artist, and every artist is a priest." Hmmm, to draw from one's personal cultural experience in order to signify and add meaning to one's artistic endeavors; to elevate one's art to a form of worship; to be a conduit for the spectator to one's inner soul; well, this sounded intriguing to say the least.

Going in with an open mind, the first image that caused me to wonder was the entrance sculpture. It was an upside down liquor store neon sign with the tips of the toes of shoes woven around the empty dead extinguished light. Does this mean (my interpretation) that if alcohol is exalted, then one's world will be turned upside down, the light of spiritual illumination will be dulled, and one will be walking through life partially shod....only on the tips of one's toes? Therefore, one can never be fully grounded because liquor makes us lose our footing? OK, that makes sense....

The next sculpture was a very large gilded brass ring, which could easily be interpreted for wholeness, continuity, and beauty.

In another room, there were totem poles made out of tennis racket bags -- an easy leap to mass consumerism in the US and elevating sports to a form of idol worship. I actually thought this sculpture was quite clever and slightly ridiculous.

Not expecting to agree with the various artists' spiritual views was a given. It didn't mean that I couldn't appreciate the art form and process. However, by the time I had made the circuit to the last two galleries in the exhibit, I was truly disturbed. There was an almost life size photograph of a reclining nude with an enormous scar diagonally across her back. It was stitched together with red beads as if they were cascading from the wound. There was a short film with someone being repeatedly immersed in water...not a baptism, but a drowning. It was very hard to watch. Each turn of my head and it felt as if I was assaulted by something else -- screaming hatred and showing me the utter emptiness of the human soul in NeoHooDoo. The last straw (for me) was a sculpture of small graves set in the wall. The top layer of the grave was a thin film of transparent skin stitched in place with the same kind of stitches that held me together during my tomboyish childhood. It was just too vivid. The description card on the wall said that it was animal fiber sewn with surgical thread, but it looked like an ancient tribal ritualistic skinning of a human. The skin was transparent, and entombed in the tiny wall graves were shoes. If it was meant to be offensive, it worked.

Am I the only person who sees the total depravity of the human condition that accompanies elevating this form of "art?" Art that screams hate is exalted time and time again. Why? Is this type of art really meaningful to society? Why do I look at exhibits like this, and think that the emperor has no clothes? If every artist is a priest, then what kind of faith am I perpetuating?

I am a tiny voice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tubing or Not Tubing


Believe it or not, one of the Reese Hazel family traditions is to play hooky together once a year. It all started when we ran out of money for grand vacations, but were still desperate to do something fun and cheap. So the day before school starts, we skip church, pack the suburban, drive three hours to San Marcos, have a picnic, and go tubing. At best count, this is at least the tenth year we've done this.

For a few years now, one or two of our daughters would drive in from Austin to join us. Some years we smoke cigars while we float. Some years friends join us. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about floating down a river.... it's just pleasant. The water is cold. The day is hot. The conversation is lazy. We give ourselves one last day to fully embrace everything about a hot Texas summer.

After floating a few hours, we have a snack, pack up, and head home. It's always a relaxing way to spend the time before the urgency of the calendar that inevitably starts each school year.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fill in the Gaps


It's finally happening! The mosaic table top that I began two years ago is this close to being finished. It will be such a relief to be done with it. All but one corner is set, and beyond that, all that's left is to fill in the gaps.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Not Spilling the Beans

It's not possible or practical to write (on this blog) about every little detail that happens around here that relates to art. If that were the case, gentle reader, you could be, no, would be bored to tears. One particular heretofore unwritten about opportunity that has been a huge part of my summer is a commission. But alas, it's a surprise for someone else's loved one, and therefore, out of courtesy to the client, has been off-limits as a blog topic. I didn't want to spill the beans if this particular person was a blog reader...or if someone recognized the subject in the painting and innocently mentioned it to said loved one....way too may variables. It has been one of those projects that has been worked and re-worked through times of elation and frustration. It had gotten to the point where I wanted to start over from scratch. The Amazing Reese encouraged me to keep at it. He reminded me of other paintings that I had wanted to chuck out the window, but with perseverance turned into happily completed paintings. With Reese's gentle persuasion, I painted and painted and painted. As of this afternoon, I'm VERY happy with the completed painting and am certain the client will be, too. Some day soon, when the time is right I'll share a photograph of it....but not yet.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Painted Sketch

This was an exercise to see if I could re-create with paints what I do when sketching with grey scale pastels. It's quite different. In order to not be tempted to add color, I painted one of my small indoor concrete statues. What I stupidly did not anticipate was the way oil paints cover the surface. With pastels, one can move, erase, smudge, add, and manipulate to continue to alter the drawing until it is what one wants to portray. If one does all that mixing with oil paints, one ends up with a big messy muddy mess. So this painting, even though it looks like a sketch, took several sessions to complete, because I had to let it dry between painting, in order for it not to be a muddy mess. It's 8" x 10" painted on a prepared linen canvas, which mostly means that I had painted the orange red background and let it dry before beginning the painting.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

First Cousin Twice Removed

"Drop anchor!" said my friend, John.

We've been away from here for a couple of weeks. While it's nice to be back home in Houston, it was great to see sister, brother, in laws, nieces, nephew, and various 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins while celebrating Papa's 70th birthday in Mississippi. One of the highlights of this trip was when Erin was able to identify her 1st cousin once removed, or maybe it was my 2nd cousin once removed or her 1st cousin twice removed. Whatever it was, she got it right, I whooped, high-fived her, and a small victory dance ensued.

This is a photo of some 9th and 10th generation of Heidelberg cousins after several cousin families had left the small "Heidelberg" celebration. We missed the Heidelberg family reunion this year, so it was terrific that so many came to visit while we were in Jackson.

On a sad note, my glasses are nowhere to be found. Naming this blog Finding My Glasses was a play on words -- my glasses are oft misplaced, and these artistic pursuits are a fresh new vision (of mine) being applied to linen canvas. This time, however, I'm pretty sure that my eye glasses were left in a pew at First Pres after church on Sunday.

Bummer.

Reese and I went back to church Sunday afternoon to find my glasses with no success. Reese is still hoping that they will be found in the car or in some luggage....we'll see.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Rose

It wasn't a vacation, but it was fun. Reese, Hilary, Joy, and I just returned from an extra long week in Guadalajara Mexico. Mornings were spent mixing concrete, painting, cleaning, and destroying in order to rebuild a school in the Santa Ana district of Guadalajara. More than the job and the accomplishment of an amazing amount of work, we, along with other members of our church's high school youth group, hope that our time working alongside the Mexicans was as much an encouragement to them as it was to all of us.

The photo on the left was taken at a spot just down the street from the school. We were there during the Fiesta de Santa Ana, a week long festival to honor the patron saint of the area. Every day at noon, fireworks would explode in anticipation of the parade at week's end. The noon time explosion signaled something completely different for our group. Noon meant that there was only one more hour before quitting the day's hard labor. We eagerly anticipated the firework "clock."

Sumptuous Mexican lunches were lovingly home prepared for us by Lulu, one of the members of the church congregation in Moctezuma. Lulu starts from scratch with all of her ingredients. All from scratch, all the time. EVERYTHING WAS DELICIOUS. Now, I have the inside scoop on how to acquire her locally famous recipes. Woohoo!

After lunch, in Moctezuma, our group helped host a Vacation Bible School for children in the neighborhood. In spite of a potential language barrier, everyone found a friend from another country by the end of the week. We played games, sang songs (in Spanish,) did some crafts, and talked about faith in El SeƱor.

The most amazing thing to me about the whole trip however, was how well everyone gelled -- within our group, and with the Mexicans. The potential for high stress was huge, but it never seemed to be an issue. Every night we had a sort of debriefing to give everyone a chance to discuss their day. We used the analogy of a rose bush for our talking points. A rose was some one's favorite thing of the day. A thorn was the least favorite thing of the day. And a bud was something for which someone was hopeful for the coming day. It was great. Some experiences overlapped, good and bad, but all in all the longer than a week week was extremely positive, like a sweet smelling rose.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sweet Bygone Days

This painting might or might not be finished. For three years, three years, I've been working on it. Sister Friends lives on a wall in the studio. Every now and then I'll add a little brush stroke, or re-work and entire section. During my recent 21 days days of painting quest, many of the little painting projects that have been indefinitely postponed were re-worked, this being one of them. It is interesting to note that after writing the Pocketful of Posies blog entry (most recently published,) I realized that I had started a painting three years ago of my young daughters bringing Mommy a bouquet of flowers one Easter morning.

These two sister friends, now grown, are driving here for an action packed quick visit this weekend. Happiness abounds.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pocketful of Posies

Back in the day, our young daughters would, out of the overflow of their hearts, gift me with a handful of clovers or dandelions from the back yard. They would rush in, fresh faced, excited, thrust the bouquet forward and breathlessly say, "here Mommy, these are for you." These bouquets would go in all kinds and shapes of vases, glasses, jars, even plastic cups. One of my favorite things is to have fresh flowers in the house, but more than that, I cherished that our sweet daughters looked for ways to show mommy undiluted love and devotion.

When I was at the farmer's market a few weeks ago, one of the vendors had bunches of fresh cut flowers stuck mish mash in a big plastic pot. The randomness of the posies reminded me of the impetuous bundles our daughters brought in long ago. So, I grabbed a handful, brought them home, put them into this vase and had a delightful time painting them.

What kind of flowers are these? Never having seen this kind of flower before, I would dub them sweet bygone days.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Georgia On My Mind

One advantage of being stuck in bed is having undiluted time to relish the luxury to read at leisure. Reese has kept a steady supply of various art books at the ready. As he was selecting a book to bring upstairs yesterday, he noticed that I have several books on Cezanne, several books on Monet, several books on Mary Cassatt...

When one likes a musician, for example, it's not uncommon to have in one's personal collection several albums (cd's) of the same artist. People who swoon over Elvis generally have more than one Elvis album in their collection. Same with The Beatles; a true Beatles fan has more than one album by the fab four. It's the same kind of thing with people who like certain artists...lots of books about one particular artist. Reese noticed this, and instead of bringing me a book of an artist I know and love well, he chose
Georgia O'Keeffe An Eternal Spirit by Susan Wright. I don't remember ever having read this book. Turning the page to the introduction, it said,
Early in 1915, when she was 28 and teaching art in South Carolina, Georgia O'Keeffe decided to take stock of her career. According to her friend Anita Pollitzer, the artist hung all of her paintings around her room and proceeded to go through a monumental self evaluation of her work. O'Keeffe by then had studied at several schools around the country under notable teachers of the time. She concluded that each one of her paintings was derivative of these influences and so destroyed every piece.

Destroyed every piece! I can relate. When I first started painting, I took 12 classes from a local art instructor. While I'm eternally grateful for someone showing me how to get started, in that short amount of time I was becoming someone else. I was painting the way the art instructor painted. I didn't want to be the next (insert teacher's name here.) I want to be the next Sarah Hazel, just like Georgia O'Keeffe wanted to be Georgia O'Keeffe, not a derivation of each art instructor.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Row Row Row

Day five of my imprisonment wasn't as bad as it could have been. Still on bed rest for a few more days, impatience is barely disguised. Being still for days on end might be fun for some, but is slow, exasperating torture for me. The desire to get well overrides otherwise impetuousness to get out of bed before wisdom dictates. A lot of words to say that I want to get well as much as I want to get out of bed.....so therefore, I'm resting, so that my back heals as quickly as possible.

It's also been one week since the completion of the 21 days of painting quest. I finished what I set out to do, painted every day for 21 days in a row. The two main things it taught me were that it's not really all that difficult to commit oneself to the habit of painting; and, there are so many other things that matter in life besides painting.

In the week since the 21 days has been over I haven't painted once. OK, so I'm not allowed out of bed, but that's beside the point. Would I have painted if I had been able?

Yes, but not out of duty, which is sometimes how the self imposed 21 day test felt. I would have painted because I was compelled to paint. Something -- love, desire, an unseen force -- drives the spirit within me to paint. As a naturally goal orientated person, to keep pursuing painting without a specific goal in mind is almost silly. When I was a runner, I trained for specific races. But now, I don't have any specific shows for which I'm "training." There are no big art events on the horizon. The motivation to paint is derived purely for the love of it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Rest of the Story

Rest really does help. Another week and a half of rest is what the doctor ordered. The doctor diagnosed a severe sprain of the sacroiliac joint, which basically means that my lower back is killing me. Our sweet, kind, wonderful family doctor laughed twice during today's appointment. Once, when he was testing my knee reflexes; it tickled and I giggled which really seemed to amuse him. Then again, toward the end of the visit, he was writing a prescription and asked if I had any questions. I asked if there was any way possible that the back pain was psychosomatic? He laughed, and said no, the pain was definitely in my back and not in my head.

The fountain looks great! Well, I think it still looks fine. Reese has been making me stay in bed, so I haven't actually seen it in a few days. It will look wonderful some day. Once my back heals, then work can be finished which was barely started last Saturday. I've got grand ideas for the fountain area of the
garden, but they will have to wait. Everything, basically, will have to wait.

From my resting perch (propped up on pillows in bed,) I can see a bit of the mural on our house. It's a part generally unseen from the backyard, unless one is told about it and goes to a different part of the yard to look. I'm glad it's here. It's so much more pleasant and cheery to see a painting out the window instead of a blank wall.

Resting is difficult.

Photos and publishing this blog entry through the generous contribution of the amazing Reese.

Monday, June 23, 2008

It's Back

Several years ago, I bought a charming cherubic fountain at an estate sale. At the sale, the fountain was in a small child's wading pool. Thinking it was a little tacky, I opted to bring only the fountain home, not the wading pool. I went to Lowe's, bought a small landscape pool, came home, dug a hole, installed the fountain, and within several hours all the water had splashed off the little cherubs shoulders and the pool was empty.

The next day, I went back to the estate sale, picked up the child's wading pool, came home, dug a bigger hole, re-installed the fountain, and by the next morning the pool was empty.

So I went back to Lowe's, got a bigger better landscape pool, dug a bigger better hole, installed the fountain, bought some goldfish for the fountain, and the next morning, all of the water had splashed out, and sadly there were no more goldfish.

Frustrated by the fountain not working properly, and exhausted from digging so many holes, I planted a tree in the bigger better hole, and set the nonworking charming cherubic fountain in the yard as a statue.

A week ago, Joy and I were shopping at Academy. By the front door at Academy were largish kiddie wading pools for the low low price of $13.88. Oh, the possibilities! Ever hopeful, the excitement built. I thought about buying that wading pool all week long. Maybe my fountain would work after all! Maybe this time the width and depth of the pool would support the water splashing off the little cherubs shoulders. And if it didn't work, at least the neighborhood kids could play in it. One week later (on Saturday) I bought the pool. No way was I going to dig another hole. This time, we set and installed the fountain above ground.

The part of the garden where we put our above ground very tacky child's wading pool juxtaposed with a sweetly charming cherubic statue has been sadly neglected. I spent several hours pruning, raking, re-arranging, and by nightfall two things had happened. The fountain was gloriously working, and my lower back was killing me.

I managed my way through Sunday by popping ibuprofen in large doses, using an icy hot heating pad, and resting on the back massage pallet. By 10 pm, every inch of my body was exhausted. Finally in bed, barely awake, the realization that I hadn't painted all day struck me. It was day 19 in my 21 day quest. Dang it. I would have to start over. It's not that difficult a goal, is it? Is missing one day of painting going to matter? Does this silly quest to paint every day for 21 days straight really matter, even to me? After an angst ridden internal debate, I crawled out of bed, stumbled to the studio, found my inner Marla and finger painted. To speed up the process and reduce clean up time was the reason for finger painting. No brushes to clean. The paints were already on the palette, so no colors to mix. Day 19 is over, and still counting. Whoever wants this painting can have it. In one week all the names of those who want the Day 19 painting will go in my new favorite St Arnold cap, and my daughter Joy will draw the winning name. Remember, it's free.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sweet Baby Anna

On some canvases I prep the surface by painting a thin underlay of color. That way, if some parts of the canvas accidentally get left unpainted, at least a glaring white canvas isn't peeking through. As this image was taking shape, the simplicity of the painting as a whole greatly appealed to me.

Hmmm, thinking back, I had just gone to see John Alexander's exhibit at the MFAH for the third time. He has more than a few paintings on display where only the image is drawn, and there is no background to distract the viewer.

It's an intriguing exhibit. The movement through the years, seeing his work evolve, is very thought provoking. From the messiness of the 80's to the relative peacefulness of the 90's, when he seems to be gathering his soul....then the explosion of this decade where thirty years of his essence/being collide; it's a sight to behold. These last few years he really seems to be tying the bits and pieces of every painting he's ever done together in a grand way, on a grand scale. Epic.