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.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day 11

Of the 11 days that I've painted in a row on my new quest, about half of the days have been complete flops. Half of the days I've spent wiping off as much paint as I've put on the canvas. Some of the progress is encouraging, but in all 11 days, not one painting has been completed.

Painting is a lonely process. I need the calm and quiet when I paint, but quite frankly, it exhausts me. Is that even possible? I've heard that if one is an introvert, that being in big crowds can be exhausting. Could the opposite be true as well? That an extrovert would be exhausted from the solitude?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Kid Could Paint That

There's a recently produced documentary about a four year old girl named Marla who has allegedly created works of art that have sold to collectors worldwide. The documentary raises questions about the authenticity of Marla working alone on these pieces being attributed to her. The parents' adamant insistence that Marla created these works herself appears to be a lie. Perhaps, when the parents initially started promoting their daughter and her art they believed that they had no hand in helping. But after a 60 Minutes hidden camera captured the little girl struggling to create a particular piece, and hearing sideline coaching form her father, serious doubts were raised about the authenticity of Marla completely working alone.

In one scene, Marla tries to get the attention of her father to give credit to her little brother for painting the "green one" all by himself. The "green one" is in Marla's gallery show in Los Angeles.

In yet another scene, the parents are trying to prove that Marla is indeed the sole creator of her art, with no assistance from the father, and allow the documentary film maker to videotape Marla painting something from start to finish. Marla is struggling and says to her father,
"Your turn to do it."
"You have to tell me what to do right now."
"You paint a face."
"Alright just help me dude."
"Or tell me to be done or help. What one? Pick."

The mother in the piece seems genuinely duped into believing that her daughter is the sole creator of her work. The father appears to believe whatever story will propel his daughter to fame and fortune, and everything that goes with it. He reminds me of when my own kids were two, three, four. It's as if he keeps coming up with a new facet to the story (that's not true) in order to convince himself and others that it is true. When the mother says that she wants to take a polygraph to prove that Marla is the sole creator of the art, the camera focuses of the father's face. He's clearly nervous at the possibility of trying to pass a lie detector test.

The part of the movie that's most unsettling to me is the implication that the father is grooming his daughter to be a fraud. The undercurrent is that he's teaching her to lie...small untruths that will cloud her judgement into adulthood. What the movie really is is a commentary on moral relativism, the philosophy that, it's true for me if I believe it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Day 6

Here’s the back-story: In the summer of 2006, a pastor from Kansas challenged his congregation to go 21 days without a complaint. His intention was to help them each to see the brighter side of life. Each individual was given a purple bracelet, and each time he or she gossiped, whined, moaned or complained, he or she had to switch the bracelet to the other wrist. The three-week countdown then started over. Apparently, habits form, good or bad, in as little as 21 days.

Taking this idea of developing a good habit lifestyle, I decided to try to paint every day for 21 days in a row. I'm on day 6. It's an exciting adventure!

Even though it's only day 6, there is a noticeable dwindling of paint. They are going to love me at the art supply store these next few weeks. Anticipating replenishing painting supplies during the 21 day total, the cash amount I likely will spend might pay this month's rent at the art supply store.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Meat Loaf

Last night while at a party celebrating Urban Chef, Reese and I laughed with a long time friend about his movie rental matrix. What's amazing to me is how different minds think. The process of the brain that puts information together in matrix form to make decisions is, to me, astounding. My brain doesn't work like this.

Nils was a little embarrassed. He said that he recently read an article presenting that the best way to make decisions is to sleep on it. So, these days, instead of making matrices, he prefers to make decisions after a good night of sleep.

I've often thought that dreams are the subconscious working through problems on our behalf. Many times I have dreamed about something and woken up with a renewed sense of purpose and direction, particularly with regard to painting. This week, the dreams haven't been so beneficial to solving problems. It's been a week of cluelessness. The grand ideas are still grand, but as of now, unattainable. Perhaps, I need more sleep.

Daydreams can be just as powerful. Just yesterday, while at lunch with a friend, I realized that I was staring at my friend's face, but not hearing a word she had said. There was an unresolved issue with a painting on which I had been working. As soon as I realized that I was mentally working to solve the painting "mistake," I stopped and refocused on my friend and our conversation. She must have noticed that I was daydreaming. She makes her living reading people; she's a therapist.

I could have used a good dream to help with today's efforts as well. First thing this morning, I prepared my palette. With grandiose ideas, I started mixing colors and applying thick paint to a large canvas. It was all wrong. I wiped that off, remixed more colors, started again...all wrong. Wiped it all off. Started a third time. Again, just not right. After wiping all the paint off for a third time, I decided it best to get out the pastels to sketch the image before painting. That's as far as I got today. I'm looking forward to sweet dreams tonight.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance

What could be better than a typical cheesy high school graduation photos of the graduate squeezed between parents and grandparents? Our third daughter has finally commenced, graduating from Lamar High School's class of 2008. If one looks closely at the photo, the mortarboard tassel reads 2007. She borrowed a hat from one of last year's graduates, and the gown from her big sister. I couldn't be more proud....that she was OK with not having all her own stuff to wear, and that she's finished with high school.

Looking at this photo of Hilary with Mimi and Papa, it's amazing to me how much she looks like her grandparents. After a two hour ceremony, it was also amazing to me that we were all this cheerful.

The rush of life happening right now has temporarily delayed a brewing art idea. For a few weeks now, I've had an idea percolating around in my brain, waiting for the right time to begin. Maybe in the next few days, my art life can re-adjust and all these ideas can materialize. The "extra" time to organize my brain and mull over details has been great. The fullness of life that has precluded the start of the art project has been wonderful.