Friday, December 31, 2010

Photos for Friday and the New Year

Today is New Year's Eve. Tomorrow is the first day of a brand new year. Isn't it amazing? How is it that time just flies by so quickly? Before we know it the summer will be here again, and gone. These holidays are so hectic I can't really enjoy what's going on. I'm trying to keep my eyes open rather than cloudy with thoughts and plowing through my days. It's not easy.

And the to-do list keeps growing. I was able to cross off a couple of things I had been wanting to do, so that was a plus. Can you imagine going to IKEA during a Christmas shopping foray, to pick up some much wanted bookshelves? I can't believe I did it either. Somehow my car just drove to that store just before Christmas. I bought what I wanted to buy, brought it home, and put it together. I even placed books and decorative items in them. That was an accomplishment! I guess you have to go with the flow when the mood strikes.

Today will be another busy day. I don't have to worry about tonight because we're going out with family. But later on today I have baking to do. St. Basil's Day is January 1 and in the Greek culture we celebrate the New Year and St. Basil at midnight with a sweet bread that is baked with a coin inside called Vasilopeta. We cut the bread for the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, mother Mary and some people cut a slice for the saints. Then each family member gets a slice and we check to see who won the coin for good luck the whole year. So I am baking the breads today and also a batch of sweet, honey dipped biscuit-like cookies with walnuts on top. Another something sweet for the new year. Need those traditions.

As you can see by my photos, my cookbooks, my stand-by's, are pretty beat up. My mother gave me one book when I was married and it's seen better days. I don't bother getting a new one because I figure some day my granddaughter might want to see how I handled it from my own hands, writing and splotches all. This book is kind of like me: basic and traditional, a little unorthodox, a bit thrown together, with a big rubber band for security. 

This little paper thingy? This is from the back of a Greek calendar that marks each day. They print recipes, jokes, anecdotes, songs, etc. This is a traditional Greek song we sing for St. Basil, the new year and the first day of the month. We Greeks have a saying for everything from the first day of the month, the first day of the week, before you eat your dinner, when you go on vacation, a name day, a birthday, a wedding, before you give birth, you name it- we have something to say about it. And that's another post for another day. Now I having some baking to do.

Kali Hronia! Hronia Polla! Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thought for Thursday

"A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."
~Carl Reiner, comedian

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

by Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne 1945
(click the title and hear Dean Martin sing it)

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping,
And I've bought some corn for popping,
The lights are turned way down low,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

When we finally kiss goodnight,
How I'll hate going out in the storm!
But if you'll really hold me tight,
All the way home I'll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we're still good-bying,
But as long as you love me so,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thoughts on Shopping on Thursday

Finally I believe that my shopping for the holiday is done. There are a few more errands to mark off my to-do list, but basically I am finished. Yes, checked the list twice. If I forgot anything there will be trouble!

While at the mall this week, I was stopped by a number of merchants hawking their goods from these small kiosks that pop up this time of year. New Yorker that I am, I was able to deflect most and keep my eye on the tiger. But this one guy had a good move and some how he was buffing my nails! He was selling Dead Sea Salt facial scrubs and his accent said Israeli. And he's buffing my nails! Oh brother!

He told me his name , but who remembers? He asked my name, my nationality, and my age. Whoa, hold on there mister! All the while buffing my nails, and pitching his wares. I mean really pushing me to buy his facial scrub stuff, discounts and all, but I refused. When I told him my age he eyeballed me intently and said "No way!" He turned to his co-worker and asked her to guess my age. Give me break people. Are they all in on the action or what? Well, this girl guessed a good 15 years younger than I really am and says No way, too.

Ok, fine! So the young guy buffing my nails stops, looks me in the eyes and says,"You know something? You are a gorgeous lady and you look a million bucks. But your nails look 50 cents."

And with that I said thank you and was gone. Oh geez!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Time to Shop, Park, Bake..

Between the Christmas shopping, babysitting, decorating, and all the other errands I do around here, painting has taken a back seat.  That should be only for the time being.  Blogging has also had to wait it's turn.

I have been writing here for quite a while and it's a very satisfying activity, but right now it's hit or miss.  Every day that I go out and do my thing, I return home and hit my head that I forgot to take pictures of my surroundings.

New Yorkers rarely turn their heads at anything.  Most craziness is not that interesting to us.  Okay, we do take note of the nuts that exist, but it's not like we make a big deal out of stuff out in the open.  But someone taking photos of nothing is something we might pay some attention to.  Since we had the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01 people taking random pics are eyed suspiciously.  A while ago some men were taking photos of one of the bridges leading in and out of Manhattan.  They were suspected of planning some plot.  So yes, I might feel a little weird if people see me stand around and take a picture of nobody.

Anyway, during one of my Christmas shopping jaunts I remembered my camera and peering around that there was no one looking at me I took a couple of photos of the vast, full parking lot at the local mall.  Roosevelt Field was jam packed, but I found a great parking spot.  I mean great because as I pulled into the lot a car was just getting out. Bam! blinkers on and I was in it! Mall parking lots can be cut-throat.

I guess if I thought of it I could have taken a photo of the masses of humanity shopping in the mall too.  You know what?  I had shopping of my own to get done.  My free time is limited so I had to make the best of what time I had.  I must say that yesterday happened to be quite productive. Am I done? I'm not sure. If I have time I will let you know. In the mean time, I have to get back to babysitting now.

I'm coming Baby!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thought for Thursday

“The world would not be in such a snarl,/ had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl.”
~Irving Berlin

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Perfect Tree

The annual quest for the perfect Christmas tree was accomplished this weekend.  I'm sure everyone has their own little rituals around choosing the right tree to bring home and decorate.  Here at our house, we have our own list of criteria.

Firstly, it must be tall, around 8 to 9 feet so I can trim the height without losing too much.  Second, it shouldn't be too cylindrical.  A nice upside down V shape is preferred.  Lastly, I like a certain pine needle, but these days I can't seem to find it unless it's ten feet tall or two feet short.  So I have to compromise on the last item and concentrate on the first two. I would take a tree that was sparse in branches if it was the right needles. I don't have a problem with a real tall 'Charlie Brown' kind either.

We used to visit the local garden shop as a family on the weekend before Christmas.  There would be alot of back and forth about which tree was best.  Everyone needed to add their input.  Once we were all in agreement we made our purchase and took the tree home where we propped it up in a bucket of water until we were ready to bring it inside to decorate.

When I was little my father would buy the biggest tree and put it up as we slept on Christmas Eve. He loved the shock and surprise we had Christmas morning seeing this huge, decorated tree with presents under it.  My sister and I would be in awe. Later in years our parents told us Santa Claus needed help so we'd get the tree together and put it up Christmas Eve. A little less stress for them, different fun for us.

This year I went with my sister for our trees.  The Mr. was working, as was Son #2.  Son #1 has his own tree to buy for his little family.  We were on our own, which was fine because there was just the two of us to discuss the purchases. I asked Son #2 if he wanted to go, but after he said he had to work on Saturday, and Sunday was out because a rain storm was expected, he told us we had better know what we were doing.  Oh, thanks alot!

Most of the trees were short this year. Most of them were not of the V shape I was looking for, and only the twelve foot trees had those pine needles I prefer.  Everyone at the store was eyeing the trees that did have good height so we had to keep saying "We're interested in these." We needed one tree for my house and one for my mom.

With our trees purchased, we move on to the guy who trims the trunk to fit the tree stand.  Thank goodness we had our stand with us or else we'd have to do that job at home, not fun. He trimmed both and left the stand attached to the second tree, hoisted them atop my car and tied them down. The tree stand was hovering over my car windshield, but the garden guy said it would not fall off.  I wasn't so sure about that, however.  No, no, it will be fine, he assured us.  We drove off for home. I forgot all about taking pictures of our adventure tree shopping!  That would have been fun to see in pictures.

While I was driving, the tree stand was bouncing in front of my windshield. So my sister said we should take a picture of it.  I don't know why it struck me as funny, but after she showed me the photo I couldn't stop laughing. We were driving and hysterically laughing. I had tears streaming down my face and we laughed all the way home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Photos for Friday and the Latest Work

Back at the dining room table again.  This time I decided to use three small rocks as my subjects. I had to laugh because I sent the last still life to the blog of The Twenty Minute Challenge and one commenter thought I could finish that painting with line around the egg.  So I was thinking, what egg?Then I realized that one of the rocks I painted certainly did look like an egg! I had such a good laugh that day.

Here is the beginning of the latest work. I thought I could try to make these rocks look like rocks instead of eggs! I am still laughing, can you tell? Anyway, this is what my start looks like. I am still using too much water on this Arches paper. Rats! I'm not going to get twenty minutes out of this. More like two days!  (Still laughing!)

After a little bit of drying time, I try again. I don't know how I remembered to take photos of this!  Besides, my granddaughter was asleep and I wanted to work quickly so I could be done by the time she woke up.  Not a twenty minute deal. Nope.You can see how I try to sketch out the subjects. When I work, I try to move around the whole surface so that most of the painting is moving together and evolving at the same time. I usually work this way so I'm not surprised by having one element fully developed before the rest comes together. Because if I do that, it never works for me. That one element ends up standing out or floating in space. It's very action oriented even though I'm stationary. My painting arm is moving around alot and sometimes I stand, then I sit. If I do one or the other too long, I lose my focus. But then I lose my perspective, I can't help it.

How did Monet paint the same scene at different times of the day? Did he paint a quick twenty minutes, an hour, and do another one of the same scene a few hours later? Or did he come back the next day, but later, or earlier? If you sit there and paint a landscape on the scene the light and shadows change with the hours. This is what I was pondering as the afternoon slipped away.

By this stage in the painting I had very little natural light left. The whole painting time was maybe about an hour. I began later than I wanted, mainly for the light. Drying takes time and I couldn't move on until it dried. My mantra was 'Less water'. I wouldn't listen.

I must figure out this water thing. The longer I take on my work, the more details I see and want to add. It's my opinion but, I think the paintings lose spontaneity if I go too long. Not good, not bad, I don't know. This is not the finished work.  It looks done, but that's just because it got really dark when I took this photo and I had to edit it to see anything! Do these rocks look like eggs?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thought for Thursday

"Look Charlie, let's face it. We all know Christmas is a big commercial racket. It's run by a big eastern syndicate you know." ~Lucy Van Pelt, A Charlie Brown Christmas. 1965

In 1965,this little animated feature cartoon by Charles Schultz, A Charlie Brown Christmas, lamented the growing commercialization of the Christmas holiday. Can you imagine what they would say about it today?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Time Just Flies

Do you see what happens when you're having fun?  Time just flies right by!  Oh gee, when was the last time I posted here?  I have to take a look to remember what day it was.  One day just flows right into the next and before I know it the week is gone and another begins.  If you're not watching, life turns into one long cup of coffee, my analogy anyway.

I was writing in my Morning Pages just this same thing yesterday.  I can remember adults saying that life goes by in the blink of an eye, and it is just so, so true.  I thought of it while writing at 7A.M. that every day I see my granddaughter she is different.  Literally different.  I am trying to slow down life so I can really see her changing.  Most times when she is delivered to my house she is asleep.  I stop whatever I am doing to look at her sleeping face until she opens those big, brown, beautiful eyes of hers.  I straighten up the house and myself, before she gets here so I can be comfortable in the present moment.

Being present has to be one of the hardest things to do.  To stop and smell the roses, as they used to say, is a difficult thing when life is so demanding.  There is so much to do, lists to cross off, errands, painting, beating myself up for not painting, cooking and cleaning, and on and on.  I have had a good talk with my brain and told it that it must shut up and stop bothering me for the time being.  I am going to sit here and look at this baby for now.  Granted, my off days will be hectic.  Even so, I will try to be present, aware, and awake.

When Son#1 got engaged I jumped up when I remembered I hadn't put his 3 month baby photo in a frame yet!  What an idiot I am!  I can't believe I let that much time go by without doing some of those things.  Don't get my wrong, I do have pictures in albums.  But then again, there's a slew of them in boxes and that's just not right.

So I have made up my mind to slow down, breathe, remember what day it is, where I am, what I am doing, and keep my eyes open.  If I don't, this baby will be 10 years old and I'll be wondering what happened.

OK, gotta go, the baby just woke up!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thought for Thursday

“Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.”
 Nora Ephron,author

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Some Time in the Morning

While my granddaughter was fast asleep after her bottle this morning, I headed to my watercolor paints at the dining room table. Like I have mentioned before, the light from the window at this spot is great. Even thought it's a rainy, windy morning the light is still good, north facing light.  The basement studio hasn't seen any action in a while because it's easier to keep an eye on my charge if I paint nearby.  I set up the usual suspects and painted for twenty minutes.

I haven't had the chance to get a smaller block of paper for these quick works so, as suggested by a fellow artist and blogger friend Pat, I cut larger paper down to the size I need. The way I paint, the bigger the paper, the bigger I go so I have to pencil in a dot to limit the area.

The paper I am using is Arches. The small notebook was Canson, and I'm noticing a difference. The Arches paper block stays wet longer, not so the Canson notebook pages.  I'm also finding that I can't paint as fast with the Arches because it's still wet when I want to add color and then it gets muddy.  I have to pay attention.  Learning how to use the tools is part of the process, so it's all good.

This is how the painting looks after twenty minutes. It's not exactly how I'd like it to be so later on, if I get the chance, I will go back to clean it up.

Mid-Morning (c)2010 DST  8x10 Watercolor
On impulse yesterday, I purchased a 10 pack of small stretched canvas for almost no money at, gasp, Michael's Crafts.  I do hope there will be some oil painting in my future, meaning this winter.  How does twenty minutes of oil painting sound? Can it be done with any success?  Can I do it with a modicum of success?  I guess I will have to try it and see.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Painting on Sunday

The weekend was pretty quiet around here and I had hoped to get many things done.  The Mr. had planned a fishing trip with his buddies so I planned to be home getting the house ready for holiday decorating.  My Sunday was set!  I even hoped to take time out to paint something for twenty minutes.  

The fishing trip was leaving from Freeport, NY, on Long Island.  Freeport is on the way to Jones Beach and very close, which was a plus to The Mr.  He's gone fishing out of Montauk on the south fork and Greenport on the north fork, and every where in between.  This trip was a short drive to the boat, but then the captain takes the fishermen out in the Atlantic Ocean for three hours to the spot.  Gear, food, and men were ready for a full day.  The boat was leaving the dock at 3A.M. Sunday morning and expected to return by 7P.M. Sunday night.  All day.

I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.  Usually I'm the pancake lady on Sundays. Now I could sit with my little breakfast, my hot coffee and my newspaper.  A quiet morning is one of my best times.  If I'm pancake lady I'm so busy making them that my coffee gets cold before I can enjoy it. This time, nice hot coffee!   I daydreamed of the day ahead, what I would get done, and what I was interested in painting.  

Since I was invited to join a new blog The Little Art Club, I thought I would try the theme "Candy" in a twenty minute time slot.  It would be just enough time to paint something as a start.  Ideas floated around in my head while I sipped my coffee.   When I was ready I headed off to paint for twenty minutes.  Heaven, and it was still morning! Later in the day I worked on this another twenty minutes. 

(I tried linking to the blog for this post, but it seems it's unavailable.  I wonder what happened?)

Chocolate Wrapping (c)2010 Dora Sislian Themelis  7x10 Watercolor
Around 11 A.M., The Mr. called to say they were already back from the trip.  It seemed that another fisherman collapsed as they started casting their lines.  Frantically, the captain, his mates, and the other guys performed CPR to try and revive the man.  The Coast Guard was alerted and they tried to help, but unfortunately they were unsuccessful.  When the boat returned to the dock three hours later, they were met by the police, detectives, fire personnel, and ambulances.  The Mr. and his buddies had to give their names and statements.  Needless to say he was home early.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Back to the Future

When I was in college studying for my BFA in painting, my professor threw it out there that women very rarely become full time artists because they end up getting married and having children.  Oh great, thanks alot.  But really, when the time came that's what happened to me.

In the field of study I chose, I was able to do studio art, commercial art and art education.  I had worked for a studio doing paste-up work on fashion catalogs and electronics magazines, so I had that knowledge.  I liked the idea of art education, but hated the high school kids I did student teaching for.  Real cocky kids, not my cup of tea.  After I graduated I landed a full time position as a paste-up/layout artist where I stayed for a few years up until I had my first son.

Those days most women were still at home with the children and that's what I did.  Even if I had the idea to keep working there was no one I could trust to leave my son with, every family member I had was working.  Let me say I was thrilled to be at home with him.  No more jealous bosses, crazy co-workers and wild fashion magazine overtime.  No thanks!  I'll take my chances being at home raising my kid.  I marveled at how he grew and changed every day.  We played, sang, took walks, drew pictures and it was all fun for me.  When he slept I painted or did pastels, knit, sewed little outfits, cooked, cleaned, and did the things to keep the house.  I ran the roost.  I was the boss.  My son was my side-kick, my little helper.

Art had to take a back seat like my professor said.  Over the years I made my art in fits and starts, while my babies slept and later, when they were at school.   And as the time passed the field of commercial art changed so much that I couldn't go back.  The paste-up artists' bull pen had been reduced to one artist and the computer.  I missed that boat.  So it was back to painting.

Now I'm home having a ball watching my granddaughter.  Thank goodness I'm an artist at home or I wouldn't have this precious opportunity.  I am back to the beginning, painting while baby sleeps!  This time around I have more experience under my belt and I know how to get more art in.  That great idea of twenty minutes of painting was unheard of in my college days, but now it's how I roll.  Twenty minutes is working.  Even though I hit the brick wall of resistance a little bit ago, I'm back in it.

I am back to the future.  Life is amazing.

Maple Leaf (c)2010 Dora Sislian Themelis  7x10 Watercolor

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thought for Thursday

"A lot of Thanksgiving days have been ruined by not carving the turkey in the kitchen."

~Kin Hubbard

I'm very thankful for the great readers and commenters here. Thanks to all you for listening to my yapping! I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful holiday with family and friends.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Knock Knock! Who's There? Oh, it's You..Again

Where have I been this past week?  Right here, at home, visiting with Resistance.  Yeah, it hit me again, that lousy Resistance, with a capital R.  Sometimes things go a little off track and lands me smack in the blahs of creativity.  Meaning no creativity.  Meaning resistance mode.

What's an artist to do?  Well, first I decided to lay off bugging and nagging my inner artist.  I gave in to resistance and took a nap.  Maybe it was well deserved.  Feeling off is not going to help anything, but dropping out of it can.  So I did.  That's all I could do on Day 1 visit with Resistance.

To back up a bit: I ran out of paper in the travel watercolor pad I was using.  Bad move #1- I didn't shop for another pad.  I still have paper, but it's larger.  So, I decided to just use the larger paper for the next work.  I set up a small still life of the usual items and added some interesting agate stones I have for my jewelry making.  Maybe they were too interesting?  Make that Bad move #2.

As I was free from babysitting one day this week, which is another story I will have to tell another day, I sat down to paint this set up.  Remember, bigger paper.  I began to sketch in the objects with paint, no pencil drawing.  I had hoped to do twenty minutes.  Bad move #3-20 minutes on big paper with interesting items that had detail, lots of detail.

How did it come out?  Disaster.  Knock-knock, Resistance at the door!  Hi, how have you been?  Come on in!  It's been such a long time!

The next day I took that nap.  The day after that I pushed myself outside to take some photos of the Japanese maple tree with it's bright red leaves.  I wanted to post them, but Resistance wouldn't let me saying we should have a coffee together.  So I had coffee in my 'dream corner' of the living room and looked out the window at the back garden.  Resistance told me to just leave that horrible painting on the dining room table where I started it.  Sure, look at it every time I pass through to the kitchen, why not?

The following day I ran my errands and totally ignored the painting and anything to do with it.

Do you know how hard it is to fight the soothing call of Resistance?  I must say I've been lucky these last few months.  Keeping resistance at bay was a breeze.  It was smooth sailing for a while, plugging into creativity, staying in the mode with 20 minutes at a time, happy with the process and feeling good about the outcome of it.  Nice work.  I guess a visit with Resistance was inevitable sooner or later.

What did I do after all that?  I knit.  After I knit, I am going to ditch that painting.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Welcome to my redecorated blog! I started fooling around with the new templates on Blogger while playing with the iPad and decided to change it up a bit. It's almost as satisfying as rearranging the living room without the heavy lifting. But by no means is it easy.

What size typeface, which typeface, can I even change the typeface? And then which colors look good with the backgrounds, photo background, flat color, no color? Can I move this here or not? Will it fit, can I change it? So many choices and then not enough choices.

The template with a black post background is really interesting to look at but not so much fun to read white type from it. It made me cross eyed. Then again I didn't play with the options to change the colors. It can make one dizzy, so I stopped at this design you see.

The banner at the top is another story. I painted this watercolor a while ago and made the banner somehow and I have trouble trying to fit it into this set up to make it fit across the page. Okay, so I just added the color to clean it up and fit. I think it looks alright the way it is. I know it's just a blog, but it's like you are coming to visit my house. I would like it to be neat, clean, and comfortable for me and for you.

Now if I have time I might move the living room couch across the room for a different look there. Will it work? I'm not sure, but it might be fun to try it and see.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fun

Yes, Friday is sometimes fun.  It's a busy day for me with lots of things to be done before the weekend.  One thing is food shopping.  Why do I always have to visit the fruit market or the big super market?  Why do we have to do all this eating, and cooking, and shopping?  It's too much.

So I did my running around and came home exhausted.  By the time I got myself together at home it was already afternoon!  Where does the time go?  I should, at least, be having a blast doing something I like to do.  And even that doesn't get a whole day!

Yesterday the town where we live had trucks out vacuuming the fallen leaves for mulch.  When I came home from my errands I found that one of my neighbors had blown all my leaves into the street for the trucks.  He's a nice guy, very energetic.  In the winter he plows the whole block with his snow plow in the driving snow.  Like I said, energetic.

A small, bright red Japanese maple leaf was poking itself up over the mounds of leaves as if to say Hi! Over here!  I took it out of the leaf pile and put it in my Artist's Way notebook to dry.

This afternoon I arranged it with my favorite rocks and painted it.  I did the twenty minute challenge thing so when the time was up I stopped painting.  I got a little watery with the rocks, which I didn't want to do, but the leaf looks good to me.  I will go back and work on the rocks after this dries so I can better define that area.

Red Leaf 7x10 Watercolor (c)2010 DST
I'm happy to say I've kept up with these twenty minute paintings.  It's never boring.  I like the process and I'm even comfortable with the outcome most times.  The challenge is helping me produce more finished work besides.

The hydrangea painting is waiting in the studio.  I think it hates me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thought for Thursday-I'm Just Not Ready for Christmas Yet

Today I had the day off from sitting with the Princess and I had some errands to run.  I'm not ready to run around with her in my car.  I don't have one of those car seat things yet anyway.  But she's still small and I'd rather be at home with her until she gets a little bigger.  So the days we're not together I do my own things.

While I was out I remembered I needed those flood lights for my kitchen.  One by one they blew out and I had no back up bulbs.  I stopped in a nearby store that once was a 5&10.  Remember those?  Dark and big with creaky wood floors, it was fun to look around and find just about anything you could think of.  Well, they renovated it and now it's all bright, shiny and new.  Rats!  They still have everything, but I liked the way it used to look.  It reminded me of being a kid and rummaging through Woolworth's.  Is anyone going to remember Woolworth's anymore?  Anybody remember the luncheonette counter at Woolworth's?  I do.

So I looked in this store to no avail.  Plenty of light bulbs, not the ones I needed.  I decided to visit one of those huge and inexpensive hardware stores, Home Depot.  Plenty of light bulbs, not the ones I needed.  No luck.

Next door to this Home Depot is Marshall's, a designer discount store.  Also big.  Would it hurt to just take a quick look around?  I thought not, so I did.  Guess what?  I couldn't wait to leave!  I did a run through and I was done.  Why did I run out so quickly?  Christmas had exploded in that store!

I love Christmas, but not the craziness that comes with it and every year it seems to get worse.  If I had been out shopping in October and saw Christmas stuff out I would have to leave.  I'm not ready for it until after I see Santa Claus at the end of the NYC Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!  Don't show it to me months before.

The whole store was decorated.  The gift items were out, all red and green and gold and tinsel and Santa Claus.  You name it, they had it ready for gift giving.  But I'm not ready.  All I wanted to do today was buy those light bulbs and all I got was the anxiety of what gift to give who.  Yikes!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Princess' Visit

Tuesday is my day with the Princess. She's here and after having her bottle she fell asleep. I know I have said it before, but she is just an amazing thing to look at. I am just so lucky to be able to be such a part of her life. I am blessed.

A while ago, before the Princess was born, I ran into another grandmother with her charge in a stroller at the supermarket. We said hello and started talking about grandchildren in the aisle. She told me she has hers 5 days a week. I said I would probably switch off with the other grandma, at the time I wasn't really sure what our arrangements would be. This woman had retired from teaching and for her, being home with the baby was lonely. Oh man, not for me!

Being home with this baby is great! She's a good baby, with rarely a peep from her. I was able to be home with my boys. I was busy as anything, if I had a job I don't know how I could have handled it. And I need time to do my art. Besides, I like my own company and the quiet of my house. In other words, this is heaven!

Will I get to paint later? Maybe. Unless the baby is awake and feels like playing!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Quiet Sunday

It's a quiet Sunday.  I usually wait for inspiration and post to the blog on Monday.  As I have said before, Monday is a favorite day.  Unlike other people, I love Monday.  I know, we won't go there.

Today was kind of like a Monday because everyone was out of the house for a few hours.  To me that is bliss.  Since I've been having alot of fun painting for just 20 minutes I decided to get my little things done around here and then paint!   After all, what's 20 minutes? 

The great thing about this little travel set is that it's right in my path, along with these things I keep painting.  I never get tired of the rocks and the shells!  I guess they remind me of the summer and the beach.  I painted this at around 3PM with plenty of north light from the dining room window.  

The teeny travel brush in this photo is my favorite brush!  It holds just enough water and has a great point, but it's not an expensive brush.  I might have to investigate some regular size brushes that match the way this one works.  And I'm going to need another one of these spiral watercolor pads.  For now it does the trick, but I have only two pages left of this one.  

I can't wait to shop for art supplies!  With 20 minutes of painting so often I might need more supplies than I plan to get.  Fun!

Shell with Seaweed  (c)DST  7x10 Watercolor

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Don't Paint in the Dark

Where do the days go?  It seems I'm awake at dawn and suddenly it's time to sleep again.  What happened in the middle?  It's dark too early now, too.

My days with the Princess are done for this week.  As I have some things to do on alternate Thursdays, she'll be visiting her other grandmother tomorrow.  I will definitely miss having her with me.  She's such a comfortable baby, not a complainer at all so she is wonderful to watch her.  And she smells really good!

Monday and Friday I have off from sitting with her so those days I try to get my own stuff done.  When will I try to have an Artist's Date?  Who knows.  Some where in those off days if I plan it right.

Since I've been trying to keep up with The Twenty Minute Challenge I think that's the way to go for now.  So while the Princess takes a quick nap, I run to do 20 minutes of watercolor painting.

Yesterday was a day that she was awake for a long while.  We looked at dots, which she is fascinated by, talked to each other, had some tummy time, and had lunch together, sort of.  Wide awake and alert, there wasn't much time for me to paint most of the day.  After Gorgeous came to take the Princess back home I ran some water in a tub and took out the paints.  Just arranged the same items that are hanging around and started painting. Mind you, it was already 4PM!  By the time I got going the sun was on it's way down and I tried to work quickly.

Oh well, I did what I could in the twenty minutes I allotted for painting.  Too much water and not enough dry surface so the paints ran.  It's fine.  I told myself that it's the process that counts.

The Princess has left for the day and I decided to return to this painting.  Now that it's dry I tried to clean it up, make it neat, and worth showing.  Next time I need to paint earlier in the day because painting in the dark isn't much fun.

Pebbles and Leaves (c)2010 DST 7x10 Watercolor

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day Off Friday With Photo

Friday is my day off.  I had a lovely three days of babysitting my amazing granddaughter and can't wait for next week.  Of course, I think she is the smartest thing at only 6 weeks old.  She is alert as a whip, when she's not asleep, which is alot of the time.  You know, babies need sleep to grow, so that is cool.  She's adorable when she's asleep.  When she's awake her eyes are wide and steady.  She can and wants to raise her head and look around.  I don't remember my kids doing that this young.  She's a voracious milk drinker when she's hungry, but right in the middle of her feeding she nods off to sleep!   Then she's awake and looking for the rest of that bottle.  And her legs keep moving, kicking, pushing with a purpose.

She is very interested in her crib decor here at my house.  Who knew polka dots would be fascinating?  One side is lime green with dark brown dots, the other side is brown and white herringbone.  It's the dots that makes her excited.  She turns her little head to see the herringbone for a few seconds and turns right around to the dots.  Her arm extended, those little legs pushing in the air, she's all into the dots.  Her breath quickens and she starts to vocalize at those dots.  So I do too!  

Am I running off about this princess?  I might be.

I think helping to raise a child is a huge responsibility.  There is so much to learn about the world and themselves.  I am thankful to have the time to devote to her.  While feeding her I had Mozart and Frank Sinatra music playing.  We looked at shapes and colors.  We talked back and forth.  I helped her push her legs and flip herself over for a few minutes.  We took a walk in the carriage in the lovely fall weather.  I walked, she slept.

And during one of her naps I sat at the dining room table for twenty minutes to paint while Mozart played.  I had already set up a still life of the usual objects of late:  rocks, leaves and apple.  As I had pulled out the tomato plants from the garden and culled the small green tomatoes, I added one to the mix.  Twenty minutes was enough to keep me in the painting mode.  Twenty minutes and I was done.

I can't wait until this baby can hold a paint brush!

Green Tomato (c)2010 DST 7x10 Watercolor

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day With The Princess

Day #1 is over. Well, it's been over for a couple hours, but I just had the chance to post here now. In fact, I'm writing this post on my iPad because I'm too lazy to go to the computer.

Needless to say I had an amazing day with my infant granddaughter here at my house. I felt terrible for Gorgeous, she returned to her job, so I took photos of the Princess with my cell phone and sent them to her. It's hard to leave that little bundle of cute baby and go to work, but things are what they are these days.

However, the luck is all mine! I get the chance to be with that adorable munchie most of the day and I loved every moment of it. The to-do list, errands, chores and painting can wait for another day. Right now is the most important time of this short period called infancy. Babies are babies for only so long so we need to make the most of it.

My mom stayed at home when we were kids. My grandmother lived with us, but when she wasn't at work she took care of us. Built in babysitting. As both parents work now, grandmothers are in high demand, and many of them are working too. Me, the artist, I'm at home. I never thought I would be so happy to step into this wonderful opportunity. Do you know that in some parts of the world it's not cool to be a young-ish grandma and watch the babies? That's just not cool to me.

Son#1 brought the Princess in the morning. I gave her the bottle, changed her diapers, put her down for a nap and pretty much looked at her in amazement. This infant is my baby's baby! It's like a dream. Where did the time go? How is it possible?

Want to know what the best part about this job is? I get to do it all over again tomorrow!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Equipment is Essential

Every job has it's essential tools.  As artists, we must have implements that help us do our job.  The right brushes or pencils, paints of all sorts, surfaces and surroundings, allow us to be somewhat successful at what we do.  We can get along with substandard equipment, but for how long?

What do I mean by substandard?  I know I can get along very well with non-professional equipment if I just think about the process of creating art.  Will I be thrilled with the result is another story.  As I go along this art journey I've learned that having the better supplies makes the journey easier.  Knowledge is power, as they say these days.  I know I should have signed up for those iMac classes when I purchased this computer, as an example, because using it wouldn't have been such an uphill climb.

Same thing with art supplies.  Except that sometimes we can over indulge and end up going overboard.  Like those watercolor paints I bought a while back.  I always used tried and true Windsor & Newton paints or Grumbacher.  The colors were what I expected in these companies, but I was lured to MaimeriBlu and now I'm not so happy with them.  Through the wonderful blog commenters I have stepped up to a better watercolor surface though.  Now I'm very happy using Arches papers.  I'm learning.

The down side is that now I have plenty of MaimeriBlu paints and I would rather paint from my teeny travel set of Windsor & Newton half pans.  I love how the former paints look on the paper, but the latter colors are exactly what I expect.  Alizarin Crimson in MaimeriBlue is not the same hue or strength as in the other company's paints.  Okay, so I'll just have to live with it for now.

Which leads me to my new venture.  Tomorrow is Day One and I think I have the equipment I need.  Take a look at this:

This is the carriage I used when Son #1 was a baby.  Twenty eight years ago there was no sparing any expense for that precious newborn.  Remember Perego carriages?  Who uses this kind of thing today?  Nobody!  I used it for a while with Son #2 and then that was it, we went to those little umbrella strollers.  This carriage is a classic!  It's practically brand new the way I kept it covered up and put away.  I wish my mother could have kept my carriage.  Now that was a piece of equipment.  It was so big that my mother would go food shopping with my sister in it and have room for bags of groceries.  You can't find those anymore, but I kept this one.

Tuesday is the day.  Our princess will be with me a few days a week and with her other grandmother a few days a week so Gorgeous can return to her job.  The weeks flew by and things are what they are.
If the weather is good we'll be taking a nice walk.  I've got the equipment!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shaking up the Week-Friday Photos and More

After I posted to this blog on Wednesday I decided to try to upload these photos once more before I hung it up.  Voila!  One of the photos of the painting I did popped up.  Go figure.  The second wouldn't upload again.  Maybe by the end of this post it will work.  So I'm writing this Friday Photos post to take advantage of the uploading.

Can you tell I'm painting on the dining room table?  Yes, that's been the spot for the 20 minutes paintings.  The light is good from the large window and casts great shadows on the subjects.  And it's close to the kitchen!  I've been getting to the painting late in the afternoon which cuts into cooking time.  People around here need to eat!

The studio in the basement is okay, but the hydrangea painting is down there and I just don't want to look at it for a while.  My large watercolor palette is there too, but I'm having too much fun with the travel set, even though it's supposed to be for painting on the go.  Good thing I purchased plenty of half pans of Windsor & Newton paints on sale because I'm going to run out soon.  The large palette is filled with the MaimeriBlu paints.  Something about the colors with those paints, but if I really should use them.  Next time.

Dark Red Apple (c)2010 DST 7x10 Watercolor

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Still Hate Computers

Why do I always have to encounter problems at the computer?  Huh? Why me?  I'm going along my merry way, checking my pages, shop, blogs, surfing around reading interesting things, and when I'm ready to write up my blog post BAM! I can't upload photos.  Nope.  Not happening.  Why why why?!

(Stomping my feet and holding my breath).

It's okay, what can I do about it?  Absolutely nothing.  Just like the weather, all you can do is talk about it.    So that's what I'm going to do, because I can't upload to this blog now.  Lovely Blogger is disabling uploads for two hours due to maintenance issues.  It's supposed to begin at 5PM Pacific Daylight Time.  What's that got to do with little old me here in New York?  Am I wrong, but isn't it 5PM here before it becomes 5PM over there on the west coast?  Huh?  Is it me?  What?

Besides the weather turning cloudy and cold, my day was pretty quiet.  Couple of small things on the list. Like yesterday, I decided to add 'Paint for 20 minutes' at the end of the list and that's what I wanted to do.  It felt so good yesterday I thought about painting all day today.

Again, I had a plan and followed through.  Pretty good for me!  Had my leaves, my rocks, added my apple and set the timer for 20 minutes.  When I was done I took a couple of photos to upload here.  No luck.  Server rejected.  Waaaahhhhh!  I tried again, and again the same notification.  Now, I think I'm in time before the maintenance thing begins, but no, it won't work.  Blah.

Just take my word for it, my little watercolor painting came out nicely.  I feel good about it, but I can't show it to you.  One more time for good measure....nope, no good.

I'm sorry.  I was so happy I painted something and finished it.  Maybe I gave myself the evil eye, a jinx, a canary?  I will try again tomorrow.  Get back to you then...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Twenty Minutes to Success

Time is such an important commodity that it's a terrible thing to waste.  How can you get back wasted time?  You don't.  That's it, done, finished, kaput.  Once it's gone, there's no running after it to stuff it back into the clock.  Maybe we don't want to call it "wasting time."  I call it daydreaming.  I think daydreaming is useful, and we can say it is time well spent.  I do alot of running around in my head, painting, redecorating, organizing, gardening.  I try to think things through to completion in my mind and decide how I like the outcome.   Much of that thinking seems like wasting time, but it's work!  Many times I can't see the end result.  Then it's wasted time.

Today I was impressed with myself because all the little things on the to-do list were done.  I've been working on it.  Another week and my new job begins.  All that thinking-things time must become useful-doing-and-accomplishing-tasks time.  Babies need attention and thinking isn't going to help when they need a diaper change!  So yes, I'm working on it.

Today I planned the route of all my stops and crossed each item off today's short list as I finished.  Last on the list was this entry:
"Paint for twenty minutes."
That's exactly what I did, too.  Why waste time thinking about it, just get it together and Do It!  The important part of it was that I had the idea and a plan.  The tools and subject were in my head (thinking again).

I read a blog called The Twenty Minute Challenge by artist Teri Casper.  Some of my blog/artist friends were posting there and I decided to take a look.  Talk about not wasting time!  This idea of spending only twenty minutes on a painting resonated with me.  After the times I spent at the beach this summer and painting a quick painting, I came to realize two things:

  1.   I very much enjoy painting from life rather than from a photo.  
  2.   I think I painted a better work in a short amount of time.

As I said I had a plan.  A task in The Artist's Way was to take a walk and collect different leaves representing a sense of abundance and fulfillment.  The theme at The Twenty Minute Challenge was Autumn.  I added two plus two together and got a painting out of it!  The rocks were out, I found the leaves I had pressed in the Morning Pages notebook, took out the trusty travel watercolor set and went at it.  And twenty, perfect minutes later I had painted a small still life and was happy about it too.

Dry Leaves (c)2010 DST  7x10 Watercolor

Monday, October 18, 2010

Decorating Old With New

Sometimes I jump start my creativity by cleaning up my art space.  The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, suggested re-arranging a room to spark ideas.  Doing something methodical like vacuuming a carpet, or mopping the kitchen floor can release pent up energy and while doing the repetitive motions the brain can trail off and daydream.  Why not?  Works for me!

As you can see by my photo I've been very busy redecorating.  It's kind of freeing in a way, my brain can get away of thinking about the art process, how/what/where/ to paint, or not, and the guilt with not.

So maybe after it's all said and done I'll feel like getting back to that painting I've left behind for the moment?  Not sure.  But looking at fabric, colors, shapes that are pleasing to me has had it's wanted effect.

This was such an enjoyable project!  Where and what is this?  Well!  I have set up my sons' crib, which I kept, in his old bedroom.  On a shopping trip to the baby store with Gorgeous we picked out this bumpers and sheets set that blends nicely with the existing furniture in that room.  And, it's not Pepto Bismol pink!  Comfortable colors and shapes on this set make it a cozy haven.  I know my granddaughter won't have a clue, but it's comfy to me!

I'm ready to receive my precious one.  And I had better get organized or I'll find myself scrambling!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Time Out From Busy

Did I say busy?  Yes, really busy doing all sort of things on the never ending to-do list.  Trying to cross things off the short list takes forever.  What about the long list?  Fuggetabottit!  That's NY-ese for forget it.  Not going to bother.  The long list can take a long hike off a short pier.  And in these times, the long list is never going to see the light of day if this keeps up.

The short daily list is about all I can focus on.  However, there are alot of things on this "short" list.  I know I complain all the time about no time, but what else can I do?  Who cares if I have lots of things, everyone has things!

Today I had to double track because with all the things I had going on yesterday, I left some important things off and they just had to be done today, like hitting this blog.  Mind you, there are plenty of things, but Surprise! they're not going to get done because, well, I think I might want to ignore them.  So there.  Hah!

Besides the usual errands, I need to arrange Son #1's old bedroom to accommodate his new baby's crib!  Now THAT I don't mind doing, it's a fun thing!  I get to purchase new baby bedding and such, for when Gorgeous goes back to work and I get to babysit.  Fun!  So you know the to-do list is getting shuffled around to accommodate the fun stuff.  Who needs to make doctor appointments and other phone calls, fix the light in the studio, call the dishwasher repair guy, organize the computer desk, shred old papers, etc. Who really cares about those things?  I'm hunting around baby items!

Ok, so not to look like I'm a complete jerk, leaving important things off the list of to-do's I found time to paint yesterday afternoon.  The opening in the day was there, the rocks and broken shell waiting patiently, arranged as they were on the dining room table, yes-not in the studio.  Out popped the travel watercolor set and a half hour of freedom!

I think I'm on to something with this "no time" business.  Things seem to get done and I find a small window of opportunity to paint.  This must be an omen, or a directive:  have still life items strewn around, the small travel paints and paper pad out and available.  Is the small set with mini brushes and paper less intimidating?  Maybe.  The long to-do list certainly is intimidating and possibly costly.  All the better to ignore it, my dear.

Rocks and Broken Shell, (c)2010 DST, 7x10 Watercolor

Monday, October 11, 2010

Always Busy Doing Something

When I was a kid I was always busy doing some thing.  I could amuse myself quite well.  Being the first born and alone, until my sister came along by the time I was five, I had drawings to do, daydreams to have, a special imaginary friend, and a grandmother with her own creative and imaginative spirit.

My grandmother lived with us.  She would draw pictures, make her own dolls, sew and knit clothes, and tell me the stories of her life.  We were a lot alike that way.  She taught me how to use a tiny crochet hook to make lace doilies with french crochet threads I can barely see with glasses now.   She told us stories of when she was young in Greece, how they made their own toys.  Her brothers and sisters were older and she had to amuse herself, too.  Later, when she came here to the U.S., in the middle of the Great Depression she had to make do with what she had.  Many times a dress she knit that she no longer favored ended up being reknit into a sweater, and later on, a blanket!  She'd just rip it out, untangle the skeins and knit a new item.  Talk about reuse, repurpose and recycle.

I always have many projects going on at once.  This time I finished a couple of things!  The new baby was welcomed with two handknit blankets.  The teal item I showed you here a little while ago was a pretty, knit lap sized baby blanket with a wavy border all around it.  The second was a crocheted afghan in a fun shell pattern, large enough for when she gets older and has a big bed.  Covering all the bases here!  The fact that I finished two items was an accomplishment.

Above are my projects at the moment.  Three pairs of socks, one of which is just for me.  I think I deserve a pair of handknit socks, too.  The pastel thing is a baby sweater I started when I first picked up knitting after years of not knitting.  I chose a baby sweater because I thought it was a nice small item that I wouldn't have to really size to a regular body.  I had knit scarves before, and crocheted plenty of blankets and doilies, but not a garment.

What did I learn from knitting a baby sweater?  I learned that the yarn is thinner and so it takes longer to knit!  Great.  And, since I hadn't finished putting it together, needing to knit another sleeve, I realized my gauge was off anyway and ripped the whole thing out.  I took it apart and reknit the front, the back, the little pocket and the one sleeve.  Now that I have a baby to give it to I would like it to look right.  When gauge is off baby, it's not going to fit anything, anyone, even a baby!

See those rocks on the side up there?  I took them from the beach when we went on our excursion to Greenport, NY.  My plan is to throw them together with the sea shells from Pt. Lookout beach near my home and paint them.  Next up, quick still life.  Umm, I'm ignoring the hydrangea for now.  Doing alot of that lately.  Yes, I'm busy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Need to Schedule Time

Taking my time doing things here today.  Had a list and needed to stick to it.  Posting here early, which I really would rather do, just was impossible given the length of the list.  To-do lists are never popular things around here.  Rarely do I cross off everything needing attention.  As time goes on, I'm going to have to stick to the list as my services will be needed "elsewhere".  How exciting!  I can't wait!

So I must be prepared and organized every day.  Don't laugh.  I'm trying to keep it together so my things get done daily.  And maybe now is a good time to develop that schedule I've been thinking of making.  Time for everything and everything in it's time.

But the sun was out today again, and the warmth felt really comforting on my face, if not just a little windy.  You know how I feel about a warm sunny day?  The one thing I had left off the list for today was to paint that hydrangea painting and get it over with.  Finish it and move on.

When I returned home, having done the required things, I noticed the Montauk daisies in the front garden.  They were twinkling in the sunlight.  Wednesday I took photographs of them and wished it was warm enough, and dry enough, to sit out and paint them.  After putting away my things I thought I would take a walk outside and think about what I could do.  No, it was just too cool with the wind to stay out long.  However, idea!  Get the photo out and paint from the camera.  Just a quick sketch, twenty minutes maybe, at the kitchen table, without my reading glasses on so the photo is sort of fuzzy.  And away I went!

It was a nice idea and by using the small watercolor pad I use for the beach trips, I could get away from the hydrangea and just doodle in color on something new.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thought for Thursday

   “Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.”~Winnie the Pooh

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thankful for a Sunny Day

What a relief the sun came out today!  I was really worried winter was here already.  Thank goodness for autumn, at least it's a warning that the cold weather will be here so get it together!  If it wasn't so wet and soggy in the grass I'd go sit out there and paint.

The white Montauk daisies in the front garden are blooming nice and big among the lavender asters and pink Knock-out roses.  I usually don't cut down the liatris, echinacea or black eyed Susan's so the birds have seeds to peck at.  The purple chrysanthemums are starting to show off now too.  I've noticed that people buy new chrysanthemums every  fall, plant them, only to pull them out of the ground before winter sets in.   Why is that?  I plant these and every year they come up prettier than the year before.   They're perennials for goodness sakes!

People are weird, and don't we know it?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Time of the Crazymaker

The weather has not been cooperative here lately.  Rain, clouds, cold, more rain, so not to my liking.  Someone I know said something about the weather being "crispy."  Nope.  Crispy weather is hot and humid, the way I like it.  People like New York in the fall, and the winter time, but my favorite is a New York summer. You know, you can keep "Autumn in New York."  I like the way Frank Sinatra sang it, but I just don't want to think about what's coming around the corner.

So I'm having a tough week.  Annoying watercolor painting and lousy weather, a horrible combination.  To top it all off, the Crazymaker has made an appearance again.  Not gonna be fun.

When I was reading The Artist's Way course and Walking in This World, there was the mention of the Crazymaker, how to deal with him, and keep fighting resistance. Those courses helped me stay in creativity mode and to remember it's the process not the result.  But there are those that upset the proverbial apple cart, the individual who can throw you off your art path.

The Crazymaker, the Opportunist, makes your life not your own. One spends time with them and not working the creativity.  Sound familiar to anyone?  They act supportive, but it's a ruse to usurp your talent.  If you mentioned it they would balk and say "Who me?"  A whole day can be ruined while on a wild goose hunt.  The pay-off is you don't work and remember the things you wanted to create that day and didn't. They are not your good mirror.

It's been a long while and my brain has been quiet, happily so.  My time is my own. No running, long phone calls with nothing being said, or wasted time.  Time away turned into artist dates with myself.  I chose whom to spend my time with or be alone.  I breathe.  I am creative on my own terms.  Had it continued I would not be as creative as I have. I feel good. I feel strong. Privacy is a good thing.

There was a reason and they appeared.  I could ignore or give in. If I pick up again I'd be the stupid one. There is no way I'm going backwards at this point. Moving forward is the only option. When you taste freedom you just don't want to go back to jail. I'll ignore.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just Not Feeling It, So I Plod

Here's a look at the hydrangea painting as I plod along on it.  What is it about working from my own photos that just brings me down?  I seem to like the photo more than I do the painting.

Maybe that's the trick.  My eye sees what it needs to see while composing the photograph.  Is it then not meant to be a painting afterwards?  I just see too much in the photo and my brain tries hard to replicate the details in paint.

I'm starting to get annoyed with this thing.  The colors I'm using are annoying, the way I'm applying the paint is annoying, the composition is annoying.  There's nothing I am happy about with this piece.  That's happened to me before so I keep plugging at it.

I did a watercolor in the spring of the daisies in my garden.  Yes, I painted it from life not a photograph.  Anyway, I wasn't thrilled with the result, but I kept thinking in my head "It's the process."  I was going to ignore the result and move on to the next thing.  Well my DIL, Gorgeous, loved it and wanted it for the baby's room.  That cemented the idea that maybe I don't know beans about my own work.  So I plod through this watercolor too.  Push to finish it and think about what's next.

Fighting resistance every step of the way with this painting, I plod.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Photos for Friday

It was a very stormy morning today here in New York.  We had the remnants of Hurricane Nicole dump buckets of water on us.  Rain, wind, and flooding as you can see.  The thing I don't get is that drivers think their cars are boats, or tanks, or something.  Why would they fly into a deep puddle of water like that and keep going at top speed, making a wake not unlike a speed boat in the ocean?  Are they idiots, or what?  Or are they just brave?  Aren't they afraid to get stranded in such deep water?  Even a couple of inches of water can cause a car to stall out and float.  I've seen it happen.

I don't get it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thought for Thursday

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Painting in the Wild vs the Studio

This new computer stuff is just taking up alot of time that I could be doing other things.  I visited the Apple Store yesterday and asked a few questions about the iphoto thing.  The wacky salesman, yes he was wacky and all over the place..very upbeat, high energy guy, went to a computer station and tried a few things.  He said he really wasn't that informed about specifics with iphoto.  I watched in rapt awe as he brought up a photo and per my thoughts, resized it.  Amazing.

At the time of purchase our sales person asked if we wanted to add lessons.  I didn't think it would be something I'd have time for so we opted out.  Of course, Son #2 has it all down already. Kids!  Now I'm thinking maybe lessons would have been a good idea.  But when?  I've got enough on my plate as it is, but then, if I knew what I was doing all this wouldn't take all the time I do have.

It's a dilemma.

I came home and tried to copy what the high energy crazy salesman did in the store and I did figure it out.  It just took me a while.  So maybe that's what it will take, a while.

Later on I visited the watercolor of the hydrangea on my desk and got to work on it.  I don't know how I feel about it.  Painting from life at the beach is so different from painting in the studio.  I think I like the life painting better.  I can't be sure what it is about the out-of-studio painting.  It could be that I'm outside.  It could be that I'm working live and don't have all day so I have to be quick. Maybe it's that working from life leaves out the possibility of going into too much detail.  If I work from my photographs I see too much detail and paint too tight.  Working in the 'wild' I paint more freely, only adding enough detail to tell the story.  We've been down this road before, I know, I know.

Maybe it's good to have different styles of painting?  Maybe I should just paint and keep quiet?

If I find that I'm really a plein air painter, winter is going to be a tough time!  I can't even think about it from now.  Back to the easel!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Meet my Friend iMac

Meet my new friend iMac.  We've known each other for a couple of weeks and we're still trying to figure out what kind of relationship we have.  I mean, we're really not friends yet, sort of acquaintances. I think it's going to take some time getting used to our likes, dislikes and quirks.

For the most part iMac is cool.  I like the fact that it's so compact.  There's no tower thing, the guts of the computer is in the monitor.  The keyboard is smaller than I'm used to, but the keys make a nice comfy sound when I type on it.  Plus which, it's wireless, as is the mouse, eliminating all those pesky wires that would be all bunched up and tangled under the desk.

Working on it is a little bit confusing.  What was on the right on a PC is on the left on the iMac.  So my brain needs to remember things like that.  Cutting and pasting is different.  The applications for photos and word processing is new too.  Since I use photos alot I have to learn how to use that program.  I'm still trying to figure out how to size my photos up or down.  Maybe I just have to add my stuff to Flickr where I'm familiar with resizing.  And forget the website I needed to access for The Mr.'s business.  I called their help desk and they informed me that the site doesn't support Mac products.  That blows.  So they're just going to have to do more work from the location instead of my having to do it.  Now they need to hook up their printer and move on.  I'm off the hook with that.  Great!

All this learning makes me tired.  It's fun, but okay, I have things I need to do and it just takes so much more time to do them.  All right already!  Enough with the learning!

So, iMac and I are in the 'nice to meet you' stage of our relationship.  I am waiting for the day that we have moved on to the 'meet you for coffee at the nearest Starbucks so we can dish' stage.  I think it's going to take some time before that happens.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Need a Sunny Day

What do you do when the weather outside is not perfect?  I get Artist A.D.D when it's rainy.  Yeah, I'll just call this "Artist" A.D.D. because I don't want to say how really blah and unfocused I feel in weather that's not my opinion of good.

Last week I was somewhere and was asked what do you need to feel good?  The thought that immediately popped into my mind was that I need a sunny day.  Is that dumb or what?  No one can change the weather.  You get what you're going to get in that department.  Sun, rain, snow, it's out of my hands.  But I can imagine it, right?  So that's what I try to do.  When things get crazy I try to remember to go to the beach on a hot sunny day, in my mind.  Sometimes it works.

Today is a cloudy, rainy, but warm day.  Not my favorite, but I can live with warm.  I'd rather have hot and humid.  People don't understand it.  I don't care, I need it.  I could get myself down for the day if I think about how the winter is creeping up on us, but don't tell me to move because that's not happening.  No matter that I live in the New York suburbs on Long Island, I need to be in close proximity of the city of Manhattan. I may not be going there often, but nearby is good enough.  I know it's weird, don't ask questions!

Last week was great hot and sunny weather for September.  You bet I took myself to the beach for some R&R.  Yup.  I packed the essentials, (food and iced coffee) and drove out there.  In fifteen minutes I was sitting in my chair in the hot sand with very few people on the beach.  I remembered my watercolor set and found some broken shell pieces for when I was ready to paint.  But first I breathed a nice long sign of relief that I had arrived!  Yes!

I fished around in my bag for my camera so I could take a couple of pictures.  It wasn't in one pocket, not the other, not in the bottom of the bag.  Well, OK, I'll get the phone out and shoot a few pics, I thought.  I couldn't find that either.  So I was without a camera or any device of communication.  Let me tell you that was kind of scary!  What did we do before cell phones?  We were free.  But in the 21st century, being free is not an option.  After a little bit of panic and anxiety I decided I better get it together, paint and go home.

Thank goodness I found those bits of shells otherwise I didn't have a good subject.  This beach is so long there's just ocean and sky, no little bay or curve of dune to be interesting.  I hadn't eaten the apple I brought so I arranged it with the shells in the sand at my feet.  There's just something magical about painting things in the bright sunlight with the reflection off the sand.  The shadows are sharp and the bright light evens out mid tones so there's no need to squint.

It's a good feeling to work with color and form, to be able to forget where and who I am.  Some people have the ability to be out of their body at will, their mind off in another world.  For me, it's this moment that I'm gone.  Nothing exists but the brush moving against the paper.  I don't have to speak.  I have no thoughts in my head, no worries, no concerns, nothing but an empty brain.  I might not even be me.  I almost don't exist.  It's great.

I sketched out the apple and shell bits in watercolor paint only.  Blending in straight color, making the shapes take form and moving quickly enough to get it done, I finished and was able to lay back in my chair to let it dry.  Breathe in and breathe out, and sigh.  I was there, I painted and I was done.
Broken Shells (c)2010 DST 5x7 Watercolor

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