Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blooming Blurry Red Bud

Tuesday would have been a good day to paint. Why couldn't I have painted on Tuesday? Tuesday's sky was super blue and the red bud tree was chock full o' blooms. Today? The wind was too windy; the sky was partly cloudy; and the red bud tree had already begun to drop it's blooms. As has happened before when painting outdoors, I caught the canvas right before it fell to the ground. Had I been painting anywhere other than our own back yard, Mother Nature would have been much too overwhelming. As it was, with the house only yards away, clean up was easy and often.

This canvas has both bugs and tree pollen type droppings embedded in the paint surface. After a while, I just gave up on trying to remove it all.

Also, it has become apparent that I definitely need a new pair of glasses. It would have been helpful to have worn glasses to see the tree more clearly, but with the glasses on, I couldn't see the canvas and paints. I must be that age. This painting proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything I see is blurry.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Waimanalo Four-cast

Two years ago, when my little sister got married, this painting below (Waimanalo, Hawaii/ 22" x 28" oil on canvas) is what she wanted and received for a wedding gift. Little did I know that it was Waimanalo art project #1.

The painting is 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.

Waimanalo is one of my favorite places on God's green earth. Sad to say, the last time I was there was 1993-ish. It's one reason that I decided to immortalize it again in a mosaic table top, on which I worked, not exclusively thank God, for two (or more) years. (Waimanalo art project 2)

Last November, someone commissioned me to re-create the image I had used for Via Colori as a Christmas gift for a loved one. (Via Colori = Waimanalo art project 3.) It was in the middle of a crazy busy season, and thankfully, it was finished in the allotted time. The photo at left is that commission (Waimanalo art project #4) and is a 14" x 18" oil on linen. The transaction was mentioned in a blog post here.

All four art projects were based on a photo used with permission from Judy Vorfeld's website. I fell in love with Judy's photo because it's exactly what I remember from visiting the backyard of the home of a college friend's aunt and uncle. No is the backyard.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Warning: This blog entry contains cheese.

It's only Wednesday. Logically, that means that there's still time to accomplish something useful and purposeful this week -- at least as far as art is concerned. Today, however, accomplishment seems like an unattainable goal. These last three days have been filled with painting, and wiping it off, painting, more wiping off, more painting, and even more wiping off the painting. I've got absolutely nothing to show for three solid days work....oh, and that's not counting last weekend. It's a tad bit discouraging.

On good days, there's nothing better than painting. It becomes part of me; part of my soul; it becomes my home...if only I could think of some way to get that lovin' feelin' back.

To grossly paraphrase Scarlett O'Hara (please read with a syrupy Suthun' accent), "I'm Tara-fied. What if I can't find my muse again? Home. I'll go home, and I'll think of some way to get that lovin' feelin' for the artistic process back. After all, tomorrow is another day."

That's right, Scarlett, tomorrow is another day...and it also just so happens to be the day that I'll announce the winner of the camellia painting. Want to add your name to the list?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Curiously Incongruous

Rice University and a FEMA trailer seems curiously incongruous, but a FEMA trailer is exactly what is resolutely sitting on the lawn outside Rice Gallery right now. Well, at least it used to be a FEMA trailer. It's been re-purposed as an Emergency Response Studio, a solar powered mobile artist studio.

It's the brainchild of artist, Paul Villinski, created in response to a visit to New Orleans post Katrina. It's a brilliant idea; creating beauty and function out of something previously deemed a toxic environment in which to live.

My response? The Amazing Reese and I have talked for years about going off grid, not in a tree-hugger kind of way, but more to cruise and travel, me painting and Reese playing the guitar, our own little version of the ideal life. After being in the beautifully re-designed relatively spacious ERS trailer, Big Man Reese wasn't nearly as enthusiastic on the idea as before....which is saying a lot, because Reese means enthusiastic, and he excels at living up to his name. To be fair, Reese is 6'4", and the trailer, as creative and thoughtful as it was, made him feel slightly claustrophobic.

So, as wonderful as the Emergency Response Studio trailer is, I am glad that our life hasn't required living and working in one. If, for some Act of God or other unforeseen reason we needed to live in a FEMA trailer, hands down this is the one I would want. God bless Paul Villinski for giving people hope that even a FEMA trailer can be a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wop Upside The Head

Sometimes, it's best to not wait for inspiration to wop one upside the head, so to speak. Sometimes, it's important to just get busy. As my sweet little grandmother used to say, "I'm gonna do something, even if it's wrong," which roughly translates, just do it.

That's a good explanation of this little painting, doing something, even if it's wrong. Months ago, there were several days in succession where inspiration seemed to be lacking, much like the museless state described a few blog entries ago. It was one of those days where I thought that it would be better to just pick up a paintbrush and paint versus doing nothing. The end product was lackluster to say the least. A canvas filled with swirls of what purpose? The swirly blue canvas sat in the studio....for months.

Now, fast forward to last week. The camellias were in bloom, and I wanted needed to paint something, (even if it's wrong.) So, using the swirly blue canvas as a background, and not waiting for a wop upside the head for inspiration, I painted this still life of camellias.

And, dear blog reader, this painting is being offered as a freebie. Leave a comment, send an e-mail, or call me and your name will be put in the hat for a drawing in a week or so.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ghost of Business Past

The future wine bar warehouse was full of the ghosts of business past. With the immediate challenge of selecting discarded items to make future art, I muddled through leftover supplies of what appeared to be a former stove parts wholesaler. Encouraged to take only what we needed, I winnowed my selection down to products with which I had already worked; some of which were tiles (even though I promised to never work on another mosaic) and assorted metal, a suitable painting surface considering the two retablos worked on in the past. Also, I took most of the copper tubing since that is used making clock sculptures -- thinking it would be useful in some sort of wine related sculpture.

Well, the still life was still set up in the studio. And there were tiles and old metal desk drawers from the warehouse still in our garage. So, either stupidly or brilliantly, I decided to paint the still life one more time...on the tiles...which will then be attached to the metal drawers with super strong magnets. The whole thing will hang on the wall -- or -- my true inspiration for the idea -- one could put the magnetized tiles on one's refrigerator....grown-up refrigerator art!

Everything is one dimensional on purpose. It was set up on the floor; so to paint one had to bend over. Also, the tiles were left unpainted where the table top should be...and it looked better as a whole without shadows and too much fuss. Because the tiles are so distractingly marbled, the strong outline around the ukulele, apple, and wine bottle are intentionally more pronounced.

This is the last thing I'll do for Block 7 Wine Company's opening.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wine-y Art

A month ago, Anna and I went foraging through a warehouse, at the behest of the new owner, looking for discarded objects to turn into wine related art. The new owner is going to turn the warehouse into a wine bar. As mentioned in a previous post, one of the things in the warehouse was an old army cot.

An old army cot is made of...canvas! It's perfect for a painter. After cleaning the canvas, it was time to separate the canvas from the cot frame. Done. Next, quite a bit of work went into to separating the frame from itself. Because the cot was older, it was extremely well made. At several points, big man Reese helped pry some pieces apart. Done. Then, thankfully, Reese agreed to build the inner frame out of the cot legs. Next, the canvas was stretched around the inner frame, and stapled tight and taut. Two layers of gesso and other prep work...and it was ready.

In the photo below, the canvas made from the old army cot is on the easel on the right. An old piece of corrugated metal (from the warehouse) is on the easel on the left. Today, for the first time ever, I painted two paintings of the same still life simultaneously. The paintings aren't finished, yet, especially the one on the left. There are some technical issues painting in and around the ridges and dips in the metal...not entirely happy with the painting on the left.

The still life will stay put until both paintings are finished. The wine will turn to vinegar and the apple will likely decompose. Poor Hilary won't have a piano bench when she plays. And, very sadly, the ukulele is also temporarily out of commission.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Facebook Double Duty -- See #17

This post is in response to being tagged...repeatedly...on facebook. This game is asking for one to list 25 frikin' things about oneself. That's a LOT of jibber jabber.

1. One of my favorite things about being a mother has been reading and falling in love with children's books.

2. Along those same lines, back in the day, I highly anticipated my daughter's summer reading lists once they were in school. It's hard to go wrong with a Caldecott or Newberry Medal winner.

3. Doesn't everyone love Barnes and Noble?

4. One of my favorite books is called, The Legend of Larry the Lizard by Peter Meinke. It's a children's book that someone gave me and my big brother when I was five. It's simply illustrated, but written entirely in limerick.

5. Limericks, in my opinion, are an overlooked and under appreciated form of poetry.

6. Reese has very wisely said that if I bring one more piece of furniture in the house that I must get rid of something else. Because of this, I'm constantly buying and selling random pieces of furniture.

7. Our furniture is almost exclusively 2nd hand, sometimes even straight from the trash pile.

8. When people come over, they almost always comment on how homey it feels. My theory is that it's a visceral reaction because some of their own grandmother's furniture is here. It's just a theory.

9. When decorating, I'm not afraid to use color.

10. Our dining room is Ming red.

11. I prefer not to advertise brands. To that end, I avoid wearing labels of any kind, even cutting the tags out of the inside of clothes.

12. It's hard to go wrong with cashmere. Mmmm, cashmere.

13. Pearls, too. Is it possible to own too many pearls?

14. Linen, cotton, silk -- I like wearing natural fibers.

15. Once, my mother-in-law (God rest her soul) convinced my daughters that I was a vegetarian.

16. I eat meat.

17. When someone talks about one's civic or spiritual duty, it always makes me laugh. "Haha. They said doodee." It is generally unacceptable to laugh aloud in church when the pastor says duty. "Haha. He said doodee."

18. I'm on my 3rd or 4th wedding ring. Same husband...just keep losing the rings.

19. Hate is a strong word. That said, there's a whole group of people in this world who absolutely, unequivocally hate me.

19. My arch nemesis is Joe. He loathes me and oozes disgust whenever I am in his presence. He's probably the secretary of the Sarah Hazel Hater Club. I'm fairly certain of who the president and VP are, too.

20. People are surprised when they discover that Reese and I aren't hippies.

21. I, myself, added a room to the house and passed a City of Houston inspection.

22. From a $3 box of wool strips, I've braided and sewn together a very colorful rug....

23. ...that I vacuum with an Electrolux. Nothing sucks like an Electrolux. I say this in spite of #11.

24. When Reese and I were young newlyweds, we had come from such different religious backgrounds that the only thing we agreed on by way of belief was The Apostles Creed. Just now, reading this aloud to Reese, he said, "I don't think we entirely agreed on the Apostles Creed...." I much prefer the version from The Book of Common Prayer.

25. Commitment, compromise, communication, courtesy, and contentment make for a happy marriage. It also helps to be married to one's best friend.