Friday, June 27, 2008

Gentle June

June is the best month of all. June is the month when 18 year old Hermanito can finally doze outdoors on the warm cement behind the deck. He is nearly blind now and we are doing that dance with the vet and special care to give him pleasant days. Just when we think he will fail he rises again. He is part of our history. Moved house with us when we left Orenco. Owns our hearts completely and knows it. Today he was comforted with the sweetness of a perfect June day.

"Sheer Bliss" roses on the table following last night's Solstice Party with our friends. More about that later.

John's sugar peas are topping 9 feet now. They tried to make a lunge for the ground the other day but I subdued them with 2 rakes while John bound them back up with twine. They are ripe along with about a million strawberries.

Dozy poppies, swaying among the purple kales.

Buttery "Graham Thomas", lording it over the pathway so that it's a danger to try and pass by. Mercurochrome for my wounded forearms.

"Touch of Class" looking superior in her tall, proud form, not one bit ashamed of the fact that her perfume is somewhat underwhelming.

Plenty of rhubarb for this fanatic. I froze 3 quarts and made a big pan of crisp for our gathering.

We had 9 good farming souls over to welcome the long sweet days of summer.

Everyone brought a dish or two. Chavo brought a tray of beautiful food and made sushi as we watched.

He has a wonderful technique for rolling the nori that is brilliant and much easier to eat than the 'bite-sized' pieces that are too big for one bite and fall to pieces when you try to bite them in two.

Simply put, he rolls the sushi into cones with all the ingredients piled inside like a nosegay of flowers. They are so easy to handle!

Fried tofu, various greens, sticky brown rice, rice vinegar, carrot sticks, tempura sauce and a dollop of guacamole completed the arrangement. Mmmmmmm.

Little Tao surprised us all by crawling for the first time as we watched him. There's nothing better than watching a baby take his first ambitious tries at a new skill. Think of the bravery of taking that first step in your life. We were all, "go, baby. Go!"

Beautiful boy. Pass him around and let all the elders have a smell of his brand new self. Chavo showed us an amazing thing; the Mongolian triangle. On his little butt, just above the fold, is a bluish area of skin that is on every dark skinned baby until they are about 6 years old. It looked like the color of a bruise and was about the size of my palm (smallish). Did you guys know about that? We laughed about knowing about the Bermuda triangle, the fertile triangle and so on but that we'd never known about the Mongolian triangle. I love learning odd new things, don't you?

Then today I went to Linda's for a critique with Andrea (above), and Serena. I didn't take work this time but we had a lively discussion about why you should put the stories behind your paintings into words and we tried to help each other see what was working well in each others' work. This was a follow up to the Artists Statement workshop and why the rest of the group did not join us.

This rose is "Heritage", a heavily fragrant David Austin that begs to be inhaled with eyes closed. So many beautiful roses. So many beautiful friends. Each unique. What a fine and mysterious life this is; what a heavenly creation.

Edit: If you Google "Mongolian Spots" and click on images you'll see a wide variety.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jill Kelly Workshop

Last night 5 members from the Portland IEA group met at the home of Jill Kelly for a workshop on writing an artist statement. The workshop was excellent; Jill is an author, consultant and experienced career guide for women in the arts. She asked us a series of penetrating questions about our work as we scribbled our answers onto a notepad in longhand. I filled about 6 pages with personal observations and obsessions. Then she guided us through the process of winnowing out the gold and outlined several ways to approach writing the actual statement.

I've written statements for my work before of course but I think this helped me figure out the current struggle I'm having between chaos (non-representational) and control (representational). As I've grown more open and mature in my personal life, so has my ability grown to relinquish power over every detail and this has carried over into the work too. I definitely go back and forth on this but overall my soul has learned to trust - both myself and others - to be accepting and easy about what I create.

Jill said the most wonderful thing about artists that's too good not to share with you. She said that we are magicians, that we are on the path of something sacred (can you feel it?) and that we are aware of the creative process in our work and in our lives. Those three things. The word magician may give pause but certainly it is true that we create things that have never existed before us. Food for thought.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lake Oswego Art Fair 2008

We had sun, rain and a nice turnout for the 45th annual Lake Oswego Art Fair this weekend. I'm only doing 2 art fairs this year; Art in the Pearl in Portland over Labor Day weekend is the other one. It is a change to be winding down on the art fairs; one I can hardly believe after decades of travel and setting up the booth. It's sinking in slowly that I am drifting into uncharted territory and that I do not know where life is taking me next. I have a blurry vision in my imagination but that is all.

And so for the first time in this new medium, I hang out the encaustics while John shoots a photograph.

I wish I'd taken photos of all the beloved friends who came to visit. Lisa Kaus came and showed me the work of Jackie Hoyt that she had just purchased. Jackie is represented by the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery. Lisa has a yummy article in this month's Cloth Paper Scissors on her amazing and fabulous assemblages. She is a GREAT artist.

So this is part of my booth all set up. The wax did fine through the sun, rain and little fingers. I let everyone touch; it is hard to resist that. I also set up an area showing the pan of clear medium and griddle of colors to help others understand the process.

After I got organzied in my booth I made the rounds with my camera to introduce you to some fine artists there. This woman is Shauna Morrissey from Woodinville, Washington. She builds furniture and has begun to paint on canvas too. Like me, we love the black line, bright colors, playful subject matter. She's a great storyteller too; had me in stitches the whole time. Please look at the paintings on her website; they're terrific.

This is Tom Boring and his business is called Second Chance Sculptures. He assembles metal cast offs into sculptures that are surprising and fun. It's not Liquid Nails though, he welds the stuff together. ;-D

I liked the watch in this one. They were all sizes, he makes metal pizzas out of hubcaps too. Here is his website.

And may I introduce you to J C Aguirre who I first met through my daughter when she was selling at Portland Saturday Market. J C is a jeweler who works mainly in silver and with precious stones; check out his website here.

Here is the man who I awarded the Judy Wise blue ribbon to; Charles Schweigert from right here in Portland. His paintings were subtle and haunting; I could really live with his work. He is showing at many fairs in the area this year as well as at the top tier shows in the surrounding states; I hope if you can you'll get out and support his remarkable work.

Busy week coming up. Smoochies all around.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Journal Pages

I've been in a low mood for several days now; what a drag. One thing artists always discuss when they gather is depression; most of us cycle in and out of varying degrees of it. It seems to me that it is tied somehow to the creative brain because it is so common in creatives.

When I feel down and crummy I curl up and stay home if I can. I think it is the main reason I work at home instead of out in the world. Unless I love and adore what I'm going to be doing it is very uncomfortable to pull myself together if I'm feeling low.

On the other hand just the knowledge that I'll be seeing people (to teach, to visit, to party) is enough to cheer me up and allow me to join in. And people usually help my moods turn around.

I mention it here because I get e-mails from young artists asking about their own depression so often. I always feel great compassion for anyone who is blindsided and young. What a challenge for a young parent who has no experience yet in navigating the choppy waters.

So for what it's worth I just want to chime in and say that you are among company; it is often the "price" of your creative gift and you are not a freak. Well, no, you are a freak but a wonderful, gifted freak and you will find ways to live with all your parts as you gain life experience.

I got some news today that turned my mood around completely. So how does it work, that one minute your body is starved for happy hormones and the next you are hopeful and back in the human race? It's just another mystery for us to ponder and for us to remember when the blues strike again.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Excellent Father's Day Adventure

I thought I'd share a few soothing photos of our Father's Day with you. The girls know that nothing makes John happier than getting out in the woods for a hike and so that is what they planned for him.

We took the dogs to McIver Park and walked the trails, visited the Salmon Hatchery there and threw the frisbee. It was still, peaceful, serene. Just the quiet chuffing of our feet along the forest floor and an occasional "look" and "be careful of the nettles".

We came upon fishermen and women at the Clackamas River and watched them silently cast out their lines. John studied the eddies and pronounced it a perfect place to catch fish. He knows the riffles and pools.

He told us the story of how he and his cousins would pluck off the foxglove blossoms and put them on their fingers. Children have the most surprising games, boys in particular I think. They need to throw rocks into streams which I've never felt the urge to do.

John and mama with Kitten and Punkin and Cooper and Crazy Cousin Moose. That's the fish hatchery in the background filled with millions of fry; quite an amazing place.

A freshly caught salmon was spied in the parking lot. These men told me they are both native Oregonians and seeing the beautiful catch reminded me of my time living in Eagle Creek next to the river bank where we got to observe their life cycle and yes, also enjoyed them as food. Beautiful creatures they are, I love and feel a special affinity for them. Maybe I'm almost a native myself after 36 years here.

We finished the day at a sushi bar where the dishes go sailing past on a conveyer belt and you let your eyes decide which delicacies to try. I started with smoked calamari and moved on to tempura shrimp and a chewy seaweed number. You can count the plates in the background to see that we had worked up a good appetite.

It was lovely. I am slogging through a bit of a low spot after the high spirits of the Encaustic Conference so this was a good diversion. Nature always consoles; if I sit next to an ancient tree or search a stream bed for a perfect smooth stone I am lifted out of my querulous mind into a place of silence.

On Thursday I set up at the Lake Oswego Show so I am occupied with nuts and bolts. See you in awhile.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More Palaver

My life resembles nothing so much as a car chase movie; skidding and careening around corners, rushing to get out of the way, looking behind to see the pursuer closing in. I need a rest. I need a time out. Tomorrow the family is going on a hike and I am looking forward to it with great happiness. I just want to plod along quietly, listening to the sounds and looking at the green world with no computer, no studio (I can't believe I'm saying this), no telephone or mail. Ahhhhhhh.

My dear compadre Kelly sent me some rose cuttings that I potted up into these mini terrariums. I've always had fair luck with roses so my fingers are crossed that these will thrive. I loved deadheading roses in the garden today. That was a calm moment. I love to get outside and to bury my nose in a beautiful blossom.

Tucked down in the nest of white foam was a little mystery package for me; how lovely!! Look what Kelly sent with the cuttings.

Her fingers must be tiny and clever to have carefully wrapped the thin gauged wire around the beads and then the loops. They are beautiful, Kelly and I will be wearing them on the hike tomorrow as I mumble my mantra, "serenity now".

Yes, I've been waxing again. Had nothing but fun drawing these funny faces in the wax and then scraping them down again. Like a kid in mud.

This is one of the things I learned at the conference; how to make collage paper in several ways that are random. Random patterns are so beautiful because we recognize them as out of nature. Just splatter splatter drip drip.

I love spells, charisma, charms and potions. The whole idea of being under the sway of suggestion or trance. People are so weird, don't you think?

My benefactor Emma has struck again, this time by sending me a giant teak bunta that is used for printing dye on fabric in India. I can think of about a million uses for this - wow, thanks Emma!

Here is another view of the same bunta. There are several parts to it. Can you say rubbings, plaster castings, wax stamping and so on? Way fun.

This is my big sister Sandi at about age 9 I think. She phoned this morning and we had a precious visit. Peggy from Lancaster, if you are reading this, I tried to e-mail you 3 times with my address but your mail program thinks I'm a spammer. Peggy asked what kind of photos I was interested in and the one above is a good example; children or women from the 50's or 60's or earlier; I love to use them in my work.

Ciao my pretties, and happy Dada Day.