Curious Meanderings from an Artist's World
Time flying over my grandmother...and me.
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Thought: Some of you know that as a creative individual, I tend to be of the melencholy kind, like so many other artists and writers. As time passes, I too often find it hard to just enjoy the day, Carpe Dium, and all that. So on New Year's Eve, when everyone else sings that old song...what is it? Old Anxiety? Something like that... Well, I don't listen to it. It makes me sad.
I am most retrospective today. Perhaps it is the rain or maybe it's the chill that has crept into my poor old bones. Most likely it is the new calendar that is sitting on the counter in my kitchen. While it is a lovely calendar - Masterpieces of Art from the Met which I acquired from Barnes and Noble at half price two days ago, it still represents the passing of time. The passing of time, incidentally, over which I am acutely aware that I do not have control.
Yes, sigh. Another 365 days have come and gone - another year in the life completed...like pastries on my table when I had eight kids sitting down to breakfast. Poof! Where'd they go? The pastries or the kids, you ask. And I say, yes. How quickly they go.
So now, a moment of silence for the year that was and the life that has been, so far...
(...silence...except for those of you now sobbing into your hankies...there, there...)
It was a good year.
It was a bad year.
Another year gone. Poof!
May it Rest in Peace in our minds and our hearts.
I've been thinking about my life, especially my attitude and approach to every new morning and every new year. I realize that I spend far too much energy on way too many negative things - Regrets of what I said or did, or what I did not say or do, what I am, what I am not, and what I wish to be but don't know if I can be. There's grief over time forever gone, and fear over what is to come. I try not to speak of these things often, but they are there, all the same. And I confess just to you, that such negative thoughts get in the way of my peace and joy, my creativity, and sometimes even interfere with my relationships with the ones I love. They can usurp the beautiful moments of my life if I allow them to, even as I live them.
What a tragedy. What a waste.
Perhaps you are like me, poor thing. I hope not, but I suspect there are more of us out there than we realize, at least in one area or another. This is what I know about that kind of thinking. It is a selfish, self-centered thing when we dwell on our past, or our failures or what we are not, what we don't have, what we can't do.
I am going to make it my New Year's goal (I do not do "resolutions", mind you...) to change my attitude.
So I think to myself, "How do I do this, and where do I begin?" And I figure that since the problem seems to originate in my wrinkly little brain, it would be good to look to the one who matched this brain up with the body that contains it, and realize that God has given loads of good advice on how to better use the built in tool we fondly call our noggin.
I find in my handy-dandy Official How-to-do-Life Manual:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
That's where I'm going to start. I'll think about what is good and what is right. I'll pray more, paint more, play more, laugh more, feel the sun on my hair and the rain on my face. Pet my dogs more and feel how soft their fur is between my fingers. I want to listen with enthusiasm to the voices of the people I love; look into their eyes when we're together - try to hear what they are not saying even when we're apart. I'm going to get up from sitting in front of this gray box that would consume me and make life happen meaningfully again. Each day. Every day. Starting now.
I must remember who is the author of my hope and my dreams...who loves me when I am unlovable, who knows me when I think no one can understand, who gives me inspiration when I am empty, who remembers my name and calls me out of my darkest hiding places. If God is for me, who can be against me? What is there for me apart from God? Who am I without him, and what is there to fear with him at my side?
Remember, darlings, and especially my fellow melencholy friends, that God is bigger than you and me, and he makes the sun to rise each day, and makes our breath come and our hearts beat with regularity. He is with us whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, whether we can feel him or not.
Oh, you know. I am not expecting to wake up every single day with this fresh new attitude I am trying to will upon myself, as if I were a butterfly drunk on nectar in a garden full of Zinnias. But I want to. And I will try. I will try.
This is the first day of a new year. We should be excited and expect wonderful things from a wonderful, generous God. Rejoice each day, and be thankful. That's a good place to start beginning again.
God bless you and yours in this new year. Be happy and at peace and know that you are not alone.
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Ah, Inspiration. Some days it's solid and beautiful, like a sturdy block of granite, right from the quary. On other days, it's as ellusive as the 1" Butterwort Hummingbird of Louisianna, painted by Audubon, and seen only twice more by explorer W. Weldon Smythe, Jr, in 1762... Inspiration is found in pattern and light and color as well as subject. Inspiration is everywhere, if you will only open your eyes and your mind.
Without the power of Inspiration, none of us would ever paint or write at all. Today I'll share some secrets to the magic of inspiration, and various ways artists go about acquiring such a creative necessity. Hopefully, you will be able to apply some of these suggestions on those days when your brain feels like it's housed in a 2 ton case of steel...impenetrable and impervious to all coaxations from the world beyond your skull.
I used to write children's stories when my kids were small and still taking long afternoon naps. I'm sure you'll agree that kids are a constant wealth of inspiration for a writer, and for artists, as well. Not only for their innocent beauty, but also for their effervescent imaginations which spur us to want to eternalize them in whatever way we can.
In those days of old, I had a Brother Word Processor. What a magical piece of equipment it was for me. It lived on a table in an office with a chime on the door, which would softly ring as I closed the door behind me. The whole effect was hypnotic. I was instantly transported into my imaginary world, and I would start writing exactly where the story had left off the day before. By the time my oldest daughter came home from school, she could tell by the look in my eyes that I was in the world of my imagination. She would say, "So, Mom. What has Penelopy done today?"
It was marvelous! To have such a secret place where my creativity could be immediately turned on by the closing of a door and the tinkling of a cheap $8.50 dime store chime.
Of course, such an environment isn't always possible. We have to resort to more primal means in order to stir up the stuff that paintings and stories are made of. In an effort to produce abundant artwork again, I have been wracking my little brain to remember those things that once came naturally for me -
The things of Inspiration.
I think you will find that at least one of these will ignite some highly flammable sparks of creativity for you.
1. Peruse through a few art books of famous artists. There is nothing like jealousy over another artist's creativity to stir up a challenge in your own mind. This is my favorite "quickie" method for whipping my brain into a creative frenzy. I'll think, "Ach! That Monet. What'd he have that I don't have? If I try, I'll bet I can top that." So what if I don't surpass my favorite mentor and rival, Claude. What I attempt during the race will accomplish something, and it will likely be pleasing and fresh and uniquely my own.
2. Visit some art galleries or a museum. Notice the types of art, whether modern or traditional. Look at the color, the lighting. Take note of what elements draw you to that piece. Then go home and apply those appealing tricks to your own work.
3. Attend a meeting with artists. Being in a critique group was one of the greatest sources of inspiration I've ever had. There's nothing like a glass of wine, the smell of canvas splashed with wet oils, and conversation about making art, to drive an artist to paint. Think about it this way: If you stick a bottle of booze in front of an alcoholic, he's going to want to guzzle it down. Artists are addicts, too. We're addicted to art supplies and creativity. Slap those things in front of us for a few hours a month, and we go home ready to go on a binge. An artistic binge, of course.
4. Look over your old paintings. Look at them with fresh eyes. Think about how you would do this painting differently. How could you approach the subject in a different way? What if you did the same thing in a new medium this time?
5. Find a painting in the people and things around you. Go to the grocery store, or an antique shop. I don't care where you are, you will be able to find something worth painting. If you're in a junkyard, there will be something interesting to paint. If you're in a winter garden, again, you will see things worthy of your time. But if you have a china cabinet, or a pot of flowers, or sunlight casting shadows on your studio floor, you will be able to make a magical vision, indeed.
6. Let the process of using materials be your inspiration. Like putting one foot in front of the other, you may find that by simply going through the motions of painting - taking out your paints or a drawing pen, sitting at a table with some good quality paper, placing some mundane object in bright light before you - these things will begin a bubbling inside you, like warm yeast in flour, and the creator in you will begin to cook something up in the oven of your mind. (Yes, I know what you're thinking...Proceed to the next paragraph.)
7. Go for a ride in the country side or a stroll through a city. You can take your paints, if you'd like. But don't ever forget your camera! Even a dreary day will find something worth painting. But a sunny day. Ahhh. Everywhere you look, there is something wonderful. When you see something that intreagues you, stop and paint. Or stop and take a picture. (But do stop. Driving or even walking while photographing is illegal...or at least it should be.)
8. Go through photos, both old and new. Actually, this may be the best thing for you. After all, don't you take pictures just for painting? They may already be cropped and composed. However, this tends to overwhelm me these days. I have so many pictures that by the time I have chosen a picture to paint, it's time to go to bed. When I awake the next day, I don't want to paint that picture after all. If that is what happens to you, then only allow yourself a small amount of photos to consider. From those, narrow the selection to two or three pictures. Don't forget to look for smaller paintings within the photos. A face, an old toy, a cat lounging on an old TV.
9. Call up an artist friend. Ask him what he's doing. Hopefully, he's painting. Now your jealous again. (Shish! You have a problem with jealousy, don't you?) That's okay. Now go make something.
10. Alas, I haven't a 10th idea today. I said there would be 10. There should always be ten, or twelve...or a baker's dozen. Hmmm. You know what? The important thing is to Make Something. To keep busy. To keep painting and never give up. The more you paint, the better you'll get. The better you get, the more you'll paint.
Just do it.
In the meantime, may your inspiration be poetic, and may your poetry be profound. And may your paintings all be masterpieces, of course.
May God bless you profusely, dear reader.
PS. Oy! I almost forgot. Don't bother to google that 1" Butterwort Hummingbird from wherever it was...It was just a figment of my inspiration.
I did this small painting with Encaustic. Humble next to Vinnie's masterpiece, I know...
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I want to share my latest completed encaustic painting with you. It was inspired not only by the lovely tree growing beside my porch (which grows "too close to the roof", and which I have saved from Bill's Dreaded Pruning Saw many times), but by years of yearning to make something influenced by one of my favorite works of art by Vincent Van Gogh, called "Branches of an Almond Tree", pictured at the bottom of this post. After looking at Van Gogh's painting, I must tell you that I believe his work would have been perfect for encaustic techniques. His use of outline, texture, color and heavy brush strokes work together to make encaustic painting so exciting and unusual.
In the next few weeks, I will be discussing the safety concerns, materials, tools and some of the various techniques used in making encaustics. I was going to write a "beginner's article" for you, and realized it would actually have to be a series of articles, more like a "beginner's book". I will be taking lots of photos, as well as doing a bit more research in order to feel comfortable taking any encaustic virgin into this magical world of beeswax and pigment. So while you prepare to dive into this multi-layered and mysterious world, you may want to check out these websites for R & F Paints and Enkaustikos for supplies, books and videos:
In the meantime, feel free to ask plenty of questions. If I don't know the answers, I'll find out for you.
Vincent Van Gogh - "Branches of an Almond Tree"
"Wash Day" There is a lot of texture and color going on here.
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It's been a while, but I'm experimenting with encaustic paints again. Encaustic is an ancient hot wax medium, with paintings 3,000 years and older still surviving in museums and private collections. The hot wax can be worked and applied in a myriad of ways. It can be used in addition to many other mediums such as oils, oil pastels, clay (bisque ware) and graphite. It can be done on wood, paper, and many other grounds. And you can employ combinations of many art methods to the basic encaustic method, like collage, embedding, printing, scraping and carving.
Needless to say, I am having a great time exploring this fascinating and versatile medium. I'm just getting started.
The 6" square paintings on this page were done this week, at my little apartment studio, using a combination of hot beeswax, encaustic paints, and oil sticks. It isn't easy finding room to work with hot wax and the necessary heat tools in an apartment. I have found that if I push my little red metal cart by the back door, which I have to leave open, I can get decent ventilation. Then I have to do some of the painting in the studio, where I have a palate set up. Also leaving the windows open, and using a fan to keep the air circulating. It's complicated!
There are some serious precautions you need to know about before embarking on this adventure. One of the greatest concerns when using encaustics is ventilation, as heating wax and the other mediums and paints can release toxic and caustic fumes into the air. This can cause all kinds of health issues for the artist and studio guests. Another danger is that certain chemicals some artists use when painting with encaustics, as well as the wax, itself, is fire. The wax must be maintained at a temperature no greater than 175 degrees, or it can literally burst into flames, spattering everywhere, including on the artist.
For these reasons, I would advise those of you interested in this exciting medium to take a workshop on encaustics before venturing off on your own. But if you must do this on your own, do invest in some information and materials. I bought a video ($10.00 at Binder's Art Supply) called "Heat Up Your Art! Exploring Encaustic Techniques", with artist Kathryn Bevier, by Enkaustikos! Wax Art Supplies. I have also found "Encaustic Art, The Complete Guide to Creating Fine Art With Wax" by Lissa Rankin, to be an excellent source of information and inspiration.
There are many other books you could check out, as well. Also available are videos and on-line demonstrations that are quite informative and useful.
Well, back to the studio. I am going to try applying the medium to some bisqued beads which I made a while back. This should be interesting...
PS: Encaustic can't be used with everything. The surfaces and other materials must be pourous so that it can bond with them. It cannot be used with acrylics, acrylic gesso, or other non-pourous surfaces.
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The four year old girl danced before me in my living room, wearing a fluffy pair of red and black feathered wings. She flung herself about with all the grace her little body could muster; a thud here, a bang there, bending down to throw her feet into the air acrobatically. Being the mother of five girls, this was certainly not the first little girl to dance on her tippy toes for my entertainment. But she was the first to do so in quite a while.
Her name was Snow, which I found to be a delightful and unusual name. However, the tiny dancer wasn't willing to accept being named after just another seasonal weather pattern.
"I call myself Princess Rockstar," she told me. With this, she stood a little straighter and lifted her chin royally. "You can call me Princess Rockstar, too."
"Just Princess Rockstar?" I asked.
"Well, sometimes Princess Rockstar Barbie Moviestar. But usually just Princess Rockstar."
"Hmm," I said. "When I was a girl, I would have called myself Princess Cowgirl."
Princess Rockstar considered this in silence for quite some time. I watched her eyes narrow, and a frown develop on her tiny brow. She was thinking about cowgirls vs. rockstar/barbie/moviestars.
"Well," she said slowly and thoughtfully (and perhaps somewhat condescendingly). "You can be called Princess Cowgirl, if you'd like, but...you can call me Princess Rockstar."
Then I understood. A cowgirl is a female cow. There are a few of those clumsy, large animals just down the street from the princess' house. So this was a difficult thing for a modern little girl to digest; a strange concept for one who had never seen a cowboy movie, and one who would be a princess/rockstar/moviestar/Barbie. Nevertheless, she would tolerate it. She would even support my being called Princess Cowgirl for the sake of our friendship. But she would not adopt such an undainty title for herself.
As for me, I still call her Princess Rockstar. But sometimes just "Snow".
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I thought you might like to see some of the tiny paintings I have done recently. This top painting (3"x 51/2") is the chair I photographed for a previous post. You might recognize it.
This is another small painting I have made as a study for a larger painting, yet to be. It is a California landscape; I love the colors in California's countryside. They plant groves and crops on their hills, which makes for an interesting and varied landscape.
Below is scene from a California restaurant. That's Bill, my husband...sadly, it looks more like Phil Donahue than it does Bill. (Bill likes it, so don't tell him about it looking like Phil.)
I'm just getting warmed up, now.
Done from memory while on vacation in Key West
When I was in high school, I painted tiny oil paintings on cardboard. Little baby Monets. Then I had my own real babies, and had no time for painting until I was 38 years old.
In those early years, I thought that I could never grow weary of painting. After having tried on many various crafts, I had at last found my true self. I figured that I would be challenged enough to be satisfied with painting forever, as every new painting presents new challenges to the artist.
It has not proven to be so. In the last few years, I have investigated other mediums, finding new and more exciting (partly because they were new) challenges to tackle. I got into writing, making dolls, collage, stamps and paper dolls, and metal jewelry. This has lasted for quite a while. Still, I miss painting.
So I am settling down again. But how do I get back into painting when I've been away so long?
There is a new but simple method to my madness. I'm going back to my old ways. It boils down to two little words: "Start small."
All of the oil paintings you see above are tiny studies, no larger than 4" x 4". I find that if I work small, I am able to accomplish much in a short attention span...I mean, amount of time. That's what I used to do when I had eight kids at home. I painted very detailed and very small.
This mixed media watercolor painting is about 1 1/2" x 2 1/2"
I have managed to do six small paintings in two sittings recently. They're not masterpieces, I'll admit. But they're a start. Making these small paintings gets me in touch with the process again. I gain a speedy sense of accomplishment and the desire to do more. It's working for me. I can't wait to do more.
Detail of landscape
So, my friend, if you find that you've been getting too far from your old, once comfortable world of painting, and you want to get back, try it. Start small.
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(I just printed this article, (my annual celebratory contribution in support of autumn) on my http://cottageonthenew.com post, and thought my fellow September lovering artists would enjoy it here, as well. Hope you do...)
All the world over, it's month number nine, September (which actually means seven, right?). Numerical placement aside, "September" is different in different places:
For instance, in Down Under Land, Australia, where they have lots of ancient rivers (see "An Ancient River Called the New", upper right on the cottage blog) it has been winter all summer, so September means that spring is springing for at least some of those friendly folks below the equator. And in India where it's still Monsoon Season, it's September, too. In Russia where they have frozen Siberia, its...you guessed it. September. (Yes, that's the best I could do. I know very little about Russia.) Last but not least, in South America and Africa, which both straddle the equator, it is also September, but with winter on one end and summer on the other.
It's even September in Central Florida, where I was born and raised. And though my friend Molly tells me that "it's sort of cool here, too," I know that's not exactly true...at least not by my standards. I'm not calling my girlfriend a liar, mind you, because Molly never lies. (She doesn't. She is honest as the day is long!) But her idea of cool is "under 90 degrees". Dear sweet Molly, that's...*writer shakes her head sympathetically, "tisk, tisk, tisk"*...that's not cool.
Yep. September is not the same everywhere as it is in the Blue Ridge, where cool, crisp breezes whisper fall to you with the scent of ripened apples on their breath and the crunch of colorful leaves under your feet...
Obviously, I love the fall! Just the thought of it lifts my spirits and makes my heart beat faster. Just this morning, my son who lives in Boone, called and told me that he can "already smell fall in the air". He said that its cool, and that some of the leaves are even starting to change. So its officially unofficial.
Well, that does it. My husband and I are driving up there tomorrow.
We're gonna smell the air and pick up a couple of pretty red dogwood leaves off the ground below the trees. Maybe we'll mozy over to Todd General Store for one of their famous hamburgers. We've never had one before. I think a beautiful early, albeit unofficial, fall day is the perfect day for a hamburger aficionado, such as myself, to have her first ever "world's best burger" (according to the mountain bikers, who know their hamburgers
...) in a little General Store along the old New River.
So maybe you're one of those folks who is saying, "It's just September 3rd, so it is still officially summer right now." I hear you; you tell me that every year. And I do not care...'cos I tell you. In North Carolina's mountains when that first sweet, cool breeze washes its breath across my face and catches my hair in gentle fingers, it whispers, "It's me again, your old friend, Autumn".
Welcome back, old friend.
The little girl sat in the second desk on the third row from the window of room 7B.
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Papers were stuffed in a random fashion into the cubby of her beige metal desk with the fake wood Formica top. She was wearing her Brownie Scout Uniform. The sash, which was already adorned with four colorful achievement patches, dangled precariously off her right shoulder.
Just below the two adjoined Band-Aids on her shin was a long gray smear of crusty, dried mud. It matched the mud on the sock right beneath it, which was sliding down into the heel of the little girl's brown and white Saddle Oxford shoe. Her ponytail was lumpy. Wispy straight strands of sweaty blonde locks escaped it around the ears. This was from being pulled tight after chasing the boys during Recess.
The teacher's mouth was moving, but nothing was coming out.
At least the little Brownie heard none of it. That was because she was looking at how the teacher's gold rimmed glasses were sitting rather cock-eyed on her nose, making one eye appear larger than the other, and accentuating the fact that the teacher's left eye went in a slightly different direction than did her right one.
Two nibbled pencils, one red and one green, were balanced in the slot at the top of the desk, waiting for the girl's small, nimble fingers. Blank paper rested between her wrists. Her ankle was shaking back and forth to the rhythm of the ticking clock above the blackboard.
The little Brownie was thinking about drawing.
She was thinking that if she was still sitting at the back of the room like she used to, she would be drawing right now. She was thinking that in one hour and thirty five minutes school would be out and she would go to Kim's house for Brownie's, and then at last go home, where she would draw a picture and color it in with her brand new box of sixty four Crayola Crayons.
The little Brownie was already developing the composition in her mind. It would be a beautiful lady, viewed from the side. She imagined a Periwinkle Blue dress and a Peachy Pink polka dotted sash with lace edging.
"What was the year and where did it land?" the teacher asked. Now it looked like she had two and a half eyes.
"Deborah." The teacher had said her name. "Do you know the answer? Are you listening?"
"Um..." said Brownie Deborah. "I didn't know you were talking to me. I couldn't...uh...tell if you were looking at me." This was not the answer to any of the questions, and this apparently was a rather sensitive subject for the teacher, unlike "Mayflower History"...
The year was 1960. Fast forward to year 2010.
Brownie Deborah is all grown up. She's a real artist now, who still has problems with concentrating on anything other than creative things, but she knows that a creative mind often wanders.
She also knows that the failure to listen, whether intentional neglect or absent-mindedness, is usually understood as being rude and uncaring. So she has been working for years to develop another skill.
It's called "listening".
I wouldn't say she's mastered that skill, but hopefully it improves with each passing year. (Unfortunately, she still says stupid things sometimes...)
Listening is invaluable for everyone, even the most artsy-fartsy of us all. It's important that we listen to our family, our friends, the cashier at the store, and our clients as well. Listening is the one skill that connects one human to another. It is an act of kindness, respect, and honor.
Listening is unselfish.
Though it may not be intentional, it is imperative we artists be aware of our tendency to get caught up in the distractions of the moment and forget to listen. As we develop our artistry, we also must develop our ability to listen; to drop everything and concentrate on something other than our own brain on its never-ending creative binge.
So stop and put the pencil down, my friend. Make eye contact. Concentrate on what is being said.
In the end, dear artist, life is communication. Communication is life.
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I found the little antique chair when I was searching for useful things at the Habitat store. She sat bravely amongst other would-be treasures, looking lonely, broken and forlorn. She had seen better days. The caned seat was tied 'round and 'round but not safely secured to the seat's frame with green cotton string. The slats where the caning would have been threaded had broken away from the frame, which needed to be re-glued in four places. It was obvious to me that the reason antique dealers hadn't snapped her up was because she was no longer restorable.
But this little lady had once been loved. She was cherry or mahogany, and appeared in my unprofessional opinion to have been made at least 70 or 80 years ago. And though she was quite rickety, the old girl still had a grace and character that only comes with age.
A piece of tape was slapped on her back. "$8", it said. Was she worth that much? I took her down, wiggled her about mercilessly, just as my husband Bill had taught me to do with old chairs. I deemed her hopeless.
I had to save her.
Loading her onto my cart, I brought the little chair up front, noticing an "Everything in Store 25% off Today" sign along the way. Now she was a six dollar chair. Well, she was worth every penny of six dollars!
I expected Bill to shake his head in disgust when he saw the broken little chair. After all, buying broken chairs is one of the Seven Deadly Sins of Housekeeping, according to Bill.
Of course, I had talked her up nicely first. I told him that she was probably a genuine, bonified antique children's dining chair, and needed but a little gluing and a piece of wood screwed onto her seat's frame to make her perfect.
Silently, my husband took her from the back of my car, placing her on the concrete driveway. He wiggled her about, just as I had. Saying nothing, he carried the little chair up the stairs and into our living room. He liked her.
She now sits contentedly in front of a sunny glass door. The sun's rays dance about her, slipping between the delicate woven caning and the graceful turned legs, and onto the floor below, casting patterned shadows.
I bought my first bunch of tulips for the year. I placed them in an antique vase brought from my parent's house and decided I must photograph them, using the new old chair as part of my set up.
I was not disappointed in her, my friend. She is absolutely gorgeous when dressed in tulips with a fringed turquoise scarf.
I took photos with back lighting, as is the painting requirement for my LongShadow Series. Then I proceeded to take pictures from above, from the side, with dogs, without dogs, with the cat, from this angle and that. I removed the flowers and placed other things on her lap.
She looked beautiful, no matter what she was wearing.
I've decided I'm not going to screw a new seat over the broken caning now. The shadows on the floor insist that I preserve the pretty little chair as she is. Yet she must be protected from the cat, the dogs, or the unsuspecting grandchild. A cushioned cover with a hard base that I can tie on shall grace her lap instead. Then when I want to use her for the next photos, she'll be ready.
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As I sit at my desk, I hear children laughing on the hill across the creek from my house. They take turns riding on a big wheel, the others running along behind, shouting and screaming. They do this every afternoon. It's one of the wonderful things in life, the sound of children at play.
Today my grown son Travis came over just to visit. I feel especially blessed, as I seldom have the honor of getting to hang out just with him. I am grateful to his wife and son for sharing him with me this afternoon. Having shared many hours talking with him as he was growing up, I am reminded of how quickly time does pass.
Travis and I talked about this, and how easy it is for parents to get caught up in doing what we want to do; needing to get away from the children for a while if only to collect our peace of mind. Then one day we look around and find ourselves having to look up at them when we hug. We realize that they aren't babies anymore and that those moments are now merely memories.
There's a song that I love which Willie Nelson sings so passionately.
Its about a picnic and the refrain goes like this, "Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don't think that I can take it, 'cos it took so long to make it. And I'll never have that recipe again." As I write this post, I keep hearing that line in my head. I realize, maybe for the first time that the reason I'm so drawn to it is that for me its not about a woman who baked a cake. Its about life, and moments, and the passing of time.
So to you moms and dads:
It's hard sometimes, exchanging your needs and dreams for menial tasks, like cooking dinner, changing diapers, or wiping runny noses. Believe me, there will be time for the rest. Nothing right now is more important than building those precious relationships. Nothing.
All too quickly your kids will be grown, and you will likely find yourself longing for these moments. (I confess, I even miss having children clinging to my legs as I drag them about the kitchen while I cook...sometimes.)
Heck, even when they are old, you need to stop what you're doing so you can give them your full attention. (My kids catch me not listening more than I care to admit. So as I tell you this, I remind myself.)
No painting, no story, no business meeting will ever make the world spin one full turn every twenty four hours. Nope. Things like wrestling on the floor, baking cookies, going to a ball game or for a leisurely walk...those are the things that make the world go around. And those are the things you will never regret, my friend.
By the way, if you don't have kids, you're not off the hook. You still have friends or siblings or parents who want a relationship with you. Give them your time. Its your most valuable asset.
You could say that relationships are the bricks of gold that build the house of life. That's corny, I know. And I admit that I did make it up myself. But its sort of catchy, don't you think? That's because its true.
Little Pink Spaceship Gazette