Friday, October 30, 2009

Photo for Friday

On the way to a museum jaunt, my son and I spotted this license plate and had a good laugh!  Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tune in, Drop Down

"Art is an act of tuning in and dropping down the well. It is as though all the stories, painting, music, performances in the world live just under the surface of our normal consciousness. Like an underground river, they flow through us as a stream of ideas that we can tap down into. As artists, we drop down the well into the stream. We hear what's down there and we act on it -- more like taking dictation than anything fancy having to do with art."

-Julia Cameron, Week 7 in The Artist's Way

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Doodles at my Desk

It's a miserable, rainy day again, but I'm spending time at my desk in my little studio!  I decided to straighten up the desk and surrounding area and ended up day dreaming and drawing.

I'm so proud of my productivity.  I started doodling with the conte crayons first.  Once I was over that, I remembered some photos I took of flowers in my garden.  I have been wanting to try a technique in watercolor where tube paints are used straight, no thinning with water.  The paint is applied with bristle brushes instead of sable hair.  The marigold photographs might work for this technique since I took good close-up shots with alot of color.  I paint big, even on a small support and this flower was going to be big!

Luckily, the watercolor paper I'm going to use is just large enough to handle the size of my drawing without being crazy big.  I sketched out the petals and planned how I'm going to start applying paint.  If the rest of my day was free I'd plow right into painting, but I have to stop here.   

Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Errand day, again

I like Mondays.  Everyone goes back to their usual schedule.  I can enjoy the quiet of the morning with my newspaper and coffee before I get myself together.  On Monday's I help my husband in his business, doing the things he doesn't want to do can't make time for. 

I don't mind and have been helping him for 20 something years.  Yes, the artist as secretary/bookkeeper, lots of fun!  Since the early years, the job holders have evolved from myself, to my very competent sister, to my pro-bookkeeper mom.  Everyone has had their chance to help. I do some things from home, discuss the office end of the business by phone, but Mondays I show up in person.  Secretly, they call me "Big Boss."  I think that's funny.

Today is Tuesday.  Tuesday ends up being errand day!  As hard as I try, I cannot make Tuesday an art day, all day.  The farmer's market is Tuesday, I need to visit the post office, bank, sales at the drugstore, pick up/drop off dry cleaning, decide on dinner, load the laundry, empty the dryer, and on and on.  By mid-afternoon I'm surprised the day has flown by and I couldn't get to the art. 

My next target for an artist's date is Wednesday, which could be a problem, so I might look at Thursday. 

In The Artist's Way I'm still in week 7 when I should have moved on by now.  I haven't done the tasks I was required to do.  The "teacher" will not be happy and I'm going to be left back in this course! 

I think I need a secretary.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Painting, and Knitting, and Beading, Oh My!

Some people have a hobby or two that they like to indulge in now and then.  Others do one thing very well and have fun doing just that.  When one enjoys their "thing", whether a creative outlet or sports related, it's a go-to activity that gives pleasure in the down time. 

Having too many enjoyable pursuits becomes a burden.  I am one of those people.  As an artist I really need to paint.  My favorite medium is oil paint and I paint BIG.  What am I painting right now?  Nothing.  I'm not oil painting, not right now anyway.  Right now I'm knitting!  And I'm knitting five items at once.  And I'm making bead/wire jewelry.  And I'm pastel drawing.  And I'm sketching with watercolors, which is painting, ok.  Did I say I'm knitting?

It's all a distraction, you see.  No, not multi-tasking like people want to call it.  I'm working on one thing until I suddenly am very interested in another thing.  Then I stop doing the first activity and fluidly move on to the other.  No multi-tasking involved.  There's a good excuse for this and it's not ADD.  Since I haven't used the oil paints in a while first I need to set them up on my palette.  This takes time.  This takes energy.  So I go to the next easy-to-get-to thing which is the pastels.  Just open the box of pastels, draw, and clean up the dust, and I'm done!  But I have to pull out the boxes from the shelf.  As I start for the shelf I see the half done knit socks I'm working on.  I head for the knitting.  I'm at a juncture in the knitting where I have to count rows and I spy another pair on other needles.  I pick them up and knit on them for a few rows.  Behind this project is the beading bag full of jewelry goodies.  I stop knitting and look through the bag for something I thought of.  Do you see where this is going?

Wouldn't it be smart to get the oil paints out and just do that?  Yes, it would be a good thing unless the half knit sock is in the way.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Thought for Thursday

When they asked Michelangelo how he made his statue of David he is reported to have said, "It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn't look like David."

- Michelangelo

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's Wednesday. Want to make something out of it?

Remember yesterday when I said I didn't want any surprises?  Well, as soon as I say I don't want something, I get that which I didn't want, an annoying surprise.  The Universe doesn't hear the word "don't" and gives it to me anyway.  Go figure. 

Nothing big happened.  Just a little thing I found out about a "Crazymaker" I know and it just gets my goat!  Arggg!

However, in reading The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron writes that "anger is a map".  She suggests that anger points the direction, anger is a tool, anger is meant to be acted on not acted out.  When acted on, anger is use-full.

Today I'm using that emotion to push ahead to do the things I'm thinking about doing.  Instead of thinking I'm doing.  Today is the day for action.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On with The Artist's Way

Each week I try my best to get with the program here in The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.  Each week is a challenge.  Somehow I get sidelined by things I can't seem to put aside.  I don't plan the date, forget to do the tasks, and errands galore present themselves.  I hope this week is different.

After a horrible, rainy, cold weekend, this week the weather seems to be leaning towards warm and pleasant.  I'm going to plan to be out in it on my "date" on Thursday, the most agreeable day weatherwize.  My errands are scheduled and I've decided to put my small travel art supplies in the car today. 

I don't want any surprises, do you hear me Universe?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Watercolor Class

The opportunity to work with watercolors never came up while I was studying art in college.  However, the town I live in was offering beginner watercolor classes and a friend pushed me into attending.  She wanted to try the class and needed me to be the "wing man", side-kick, buddy.  I went along thinking, "Ok, I never worked with watercolors before.  Maybe I will learn something." 

We signed up and received a list of all the supplies we needed to bring to the first class.  They described the class as a guide in the use and application of watercolor and "other water media."  I'm thinking this is going to be good. 

Teacher ©2000 Dora Sislian Themelis

The classroom was a big space with a long line-up of tables and chairs.  We found a spot and set up our supplies.  Other students filed in and set-up, too.  Most of the students were retirement age, we were the youngest in the group.  That doesn't bother me in the least, I'm there for the lessons as well as meeting other artists. 

The instructor began the demonstration.  He pulled out a magazine clipping of a painting someone did of a ballerina in a pose.   With his pencil he sketched out the lines of the painting on his stretched watercolor paper.  At this point we didn't receive any instruction in how to lay out the paints, how to stretch the paper and if we should or not, which brush does what, how to manipulate the paint on wet or dry paper, and he's advocating the piracy of another artist's art!  I am floored!

We Are Artists Too ©2000 Dora Sislian Themelis
 Compounding my rage at this guy, the other students were all copying his painting of a painting.  They were actually taking photographs of his painting of a painting so that they could duplicate it at home! My friend loved the class, socializing with the others, taking phone numbers, emails, and having a ball doing that.  I'm flipping out.

I finally asked the instructor when was he going to teach us something.  He didn't answer.  When I asked why he was demonstrating on someone's painting, he had no answer.  I asked if he was going to set up a still life or have a model to paint from, he still had no answer, except to say these students want a demonstration each week.  Well, I thought, let me teach that class and we'd have some quality art work to show for the time we're there! 

Watching the Teacher ©2000 Dora Sislian Themelis
He did not like me and chose to ignore me the rest of the 6 weeks in the class.  I decided then, that I was going to paint him and the rest of the students, like it or not.  He definately did not.  And the students definately did not, as they glared at me while I painted them. 

I taught myself how to use watercolor and loved every minute of my rebellion.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Photo Friday

Pt. Lookout Beach, NY ©2008 Dora Sislian Themelis

Wishful thinking on a cold, wet, dreary Friday morning.  Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


“A little nonsense, now and then, is relished by the wisest men”--Willy Wonka

Where would we be without a little diversion from the monotonous, every day stuff?  As creative people, we need time to decompress and recharge the batteries. 

Let's all be a little bit silly for a change.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Blast from the Past

Charcoal sketch ©1975 Dora Sislian Themelis

Going through some past artwork, I dug up the charcoal figure drawings I drew in college.  As art students usually do, we had to respond to the nude figure with charcoal on these huge, 24x 36 newsprint pads.  Quick, expressive studies of short poses and more intense drawings of longer poses of either male or female models are the norm when learning one's art.

When I was in school the models we liked most were those that had an animal quality about them.  Let me say right now that this was the later 1970's, with leftover Woodstock hippies mingling with new disco people.  Interesting to say the least. 

Charcoal Sketch ©1975 Dora Sislian Themelis

Two models come to mind, a male and a female.  The female model was quite interesting as she was a large girl with wiry red hair and set up interesting backdrops for her poses.  In between poses, she would retreat to the next studio room for her break.  There her chiropractor would set up a portable massage table and give her adjustments, which was as fasinating as her poses!

When the favorite male model would be posing we were in for a treat!  He also had big, wiry hair, was really tall, lean and muscular.  This wasn't the exciting part.  His poses were big and theatrical.  He would bring huge tree branches or spears to pose with and made his body do strange stances in front of a blaring light to emphasize the shadows of his body and props. 

Yeah, that was always a really good drawing day. 

Close up ©1975 Dora Sislian Themelis

Charcoal Sketch ©1975 Dora Sislian Themelis

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Artist's Way or No Way

I'm well into the 12 week course of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.  Some artists I've discussed this book with swear by it and others don't, suggesting other avenues to rehabilitate the "inner artist".  All I can say is that I think it's working for me.

Cameron instructs the artist to journal each and every morning for three pages in long hand.  Remember using a pen and paper, anyone?  Now that every thing is on computer, going back to writing long hand in a book is like a new discovery.  She insists these "Morning Pages", as she calls them, be written without fail and is crucial to the artist's recovery.  I've been journaling for a few months before I found this course, so to continue for three pages, well I can do that! 

Cameron asks to pay attention to a slight shift in attitude by one and a half pages and I think she's right.  By then I've rehashed all the stuff of my day floating around in my brain and really get to the heart of creative thought.  As another favorite book, The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace Wattles suggests, thought becomes the thing thought of.  The tasks for each week eventually lead the artist to their art.

At least it's working for me.  Today is going to be a day of art, after the errands, farmer's market, laundry, bed making, vacuuming....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday in the Morning

I enjoy Monday mornings.  In fact, I look forward to it, and start thinking about it from Sunday evening.  Mind you, I'm thinking about what I'm going to have for breakfast from dinnertime on Sunday night.  I imagine myself waking up early, around 6:30AM, getting dressed, and going into the kitchen to make coffee. 

The best coffee comes from my 1950-60ish Corningware percolator.  I think so anyway.  I love that coffee pot.  When I was little I had a play kitchen set complete with Corningware pots and pans, all white pieces, each with a little blue flower design.  My favorite piece was the coffee pot because it had fake coffee in it.  When I tipped the pot, making believe I was pouring the coffee, the liquid disappeared somewhere inside the pot.  Loved it!

Quite a few years ago I found a real coffee pot at a flea market.  Well, I had to grab it.  After that, when ever I would find one I'd buy it.  Now I own a few!  The large pot makes 9 cups, the smaller one makes 6 cups.  Weekdays I use the small pot and the aroma that comes from the perking coffee is heavenly.  I never had the same smells from electric coffee pots or the drip types. 

The best part of my morning is when I make the coffee.  My kitchen has the original, 1953 Chambers gas cook-top.  I set up the 1950's Corningware coffee pot and it happily perks away. 

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Last Chance at a Beach Day

Before the winter begins to chill my bones, I took the opportunity to visit the beach one last time.  A couple of weeks ago we had some beautiful, warm weather.  The sun was out and putting out some nice, hot rays.  The air temperature was perfect and there was really no wind, which was definately a plus.  Wind can be bad!

Living on Long Island, New York, offers a quick trip to the beach any time you feel like going.  I can be at the beach in fifteen minutes, barring any traffic.  After the summer is over, a beach jaunt is so much more relaxing.  Everyone else is back at school and work.  Most people have had it with the summer activities by now.  Not me.

I packed up a quick lunch, ice coffee and off I went!  My travel bag of watercolor paints was already in the car. I decided that I was going to paint whatever I found when I got there. 

Point Lookout Beach, NY ©2009 Dora Sislian Themelis

The parking lot was practically empty and so was the beach. Maybe thirty people were scattered along the shoreline.  Another plus: no kids. Yes! Heaven is an empty beach on a nice day. I set up my chair and put the paints near me.  Along the shore I collected some objects for my painting. I found some nice shells of different sizes and colors, and an interesting branch of driftwood.

With my camera I photographed the scenery.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll paint from the photographs during the winter.  I usually like to paint from life, but sometimes it's not possible.  The photos will help motivate my creativity at a time when I can't get outside.

Shells and Seaweed ©2009 Dora Sislian Themelis
14x16 Watercolor on Lanaquarelle paper

Settling down with my still life items, I got myself to work.  I sketched a small collection of interesting shells.  The inside of the shells were so colorful I decided to paint them upside down.  Bits of seaweed clung to the undersides along with some hardened sand.  Would my watercolor sketch do them justice?  I don't know, but the point of the day was to get my inner artist to have the chance to play with colors on a nice day.

I think it worked.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Time is fleeting.  We keep wasting it, trying to make it up, see stretches of it, and watch  it just fly by.  We spend most of it just doing nothing.  But if we're the person at home, the one responsible for house and family, the CEO of the household, we've got to figure out how to spend that time very wisely to get things done. 

I stink at it.  I get so sidetracked by the every day stuff, that I miss opportunities of time to be my creative self.  What's up with that?

Somehow I have to schedule in the "me" time.  Time to make my art.  Time to be just me.  I like "just me" too.  I'm very comfortable being alone with my own self. 

Lately, I've been reading The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.  Her book is a 12 week course on finding the artist within that's been lost along the way while having a life.  More than a course, it's a recovery for artists who need to find their way in the creative world, again.  It's very interesting for me.  I'm up to week 3.  Cameron suggests making time for an "Artist Date", spending time with the inner artist to do something fun, no third parties invited.  Ok, sounds good, but when do I have this date with myself?

Let it be said right now, I should be at week 5, but as usual, I can't find the time to do the tasks and move on. 

Ok, so I'm trying, right?

New Work

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