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

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thought for Thursday

"Family faces are magic mirrors.  Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future."   ~Gail Lumet Buckley

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fun in Church, if You Can Believe it

We were invited to the wedding my kids were involved in a couple of weeks ago, to see them in their roles as "koumbari".  The marriage ceremony in the Greek Orthodox church is rich with symbolism.  It lasts about an hour as the rituals are performed.

First the couple is formally engaged and one of the koumbari help exchange the wedding rings between the couple uniting them.  After which the couple approach the altar for the marriage part of the ceremony.  The priest reads passages from the Holy Gospel about Jesus at the wedding in Cana.  The couple are united further by wearing pretty crowns tied together with white satin ribbons, which are also switched between them by the koumbari.  Later in the ceremony the couple circle the Holy Table on the altar wearing the crowns and holding hands, led by the priest and followed by the koumbari who hold the satin ribbon of the crowns, signifying the Dance of Isaiah as they take their first steps together as husband and wife.

It's all very beautiful.  There are a couple of little things people like to watch for too.  There's a passage the priest reads that says "And the wife will obey her husband".  If the bride can have her head together and hear this passage while all this is going on, sometimes she steps on the groom's foot as if to negate that whole thing!  It's fun to watch and see if she does it.

The best part of the Greek Orthodox wedding is that no one says anything.  There are no vows, nobody is talking, no one except the priest.  What a relief!

So we're watching the wedding, admiring the new couple, admiring how beautiful Gorgeous is nine months pregnant and ready any day, and our handsome Son #1.  I liked seeing all the people dressed in festive dresses and suits, the pretty flowers, the icons in the church.

A couple in the pew in front of us were very cuddly and gazing into each other's eyes.  OK, fine, they had to be on a date.  What long time married couple are doing that?  None I know.  Anyway, they were maybe my age, maybe they were older, or not much younger.  You get the picture?  An older couple making goo goo eyes, and it's distracting me.  A lot.

So then the woman of this couple puts her arm up and over the back of the pew as if to hug the guy, but her hand ends up on the full back of his head.  The fingers begin to scratch the head.  They massage this guy's head, circling, scratching, round and round, up and down, back and forth.  I can't believe this is going on.  Are they thinking they're alone in this church?  Don't they realize the people behind them are watching all this?  What's up with that?  Why?  And why did it have to be right in front of me?

I nudge The Mr. and he eyeballs me.  I nudge Son #2 and he opens his eyes real wide.  We are in complete disbelief, and they just would not stop it with the massaging of this big head with that big hand.  It was horrible.  I couldn't take my eyes off this display.  I'm bad like that.  I was wishing they would just STOP IT!

They finally did, and I could finally breathe.  Thanks alot.

Yeah, I took their picture.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Moving On To The Next Thing

After I had my lovely beach day a little while back, right now it feels as if it was a year ago, I decided to look over some of the photos I took in my garden and elsewhere.  Some of those photos stand on their own as photographs.  Did I really need to work them up as paintings?  Some of them just didn't feel right at that moment.  None of the landscapes were pulling me in.

Then I printed out the hydrangea photos I took in the summer when they were at the height of deep blue color.  I even flipped the photos upside down to see if a spark would come.  Well, I did feel something click and I sketched out the big petals into some kind of composition.


I lightly painted in some shadows on the petals and went in darker with the background.  I'm still using the MaimeriBlu watercolor paints and not so sure I'm that thrilled with them.  The colors are not the same as the Windsor & Newton paints I have used in the past.  So I can't even tell you which blues I dipped my brush into.  I'm just going on instinct and mixing and applying to the paper, which I'm enjoying working with.  Thanks to my artist/blogger friends' suggestions, the Arches paper is making a difference in my work, but I haven't been able to get going on this piece.

Shall I rant about now?  Why not.

The new baby excitement has calmed down and all is well in that area.  OK.  The idiot light in my studio went out a while back and hasn't turned on again since.  Has it finally decided to quit?  Just watch when I call the electrician to fix it, the thing will light.  Isn't that how it always is?

There's my issue with the watercolor paints, as I mentioned above.  Not that happy with them, but spent the money and now I have to use them up.  When I think about it I feel discouraged.  Move on!

Then there's the technology thing.  On the old PC I knew how to change the size of my photos, enhance the colors, etc.  Now with this iMac things are a little different and it just takes me longer to get what I want out of the photos, and from the computer.  Cut/paste, new tabs, skipping around looking for help, more to learn.  It's tiring.

Rant over.  Time to get on with it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Amazing Grace

The past week has been so hectic I had to bow out of cyberspace for a bit.  I did check up on the goings-on in the world, just enough to be aware of what and who.  


It started with the computer crash and eventual purchase of this amazing iMac thing that I have yet to master.  There hasn't been enough time.  


Then all the excitement happened with the countdown to the due date.  Son #1 and Gorgeous were in the wedding party of her best friend and maid-of-honor.  In the Greek Orthodox church we really don't do best man and maid of honor.  These similar roles are very important and called the koumbari.  


The koumbari (plural of the female koumbara, or male koumbaros) help to unite the new couple in their marriage in the church ceremony, and usually later baptize the first child.  They become close members of the family.  So when countdown to due date time came, we weren't sure if we would make it past the Sunday wedding, to the Friday due date.  That's some heavy lifting, being koumbari!  


Gorgeous was nine months pregnant and, well, gorgeous for expecting any day.  They participated in the ceremony, danced at the reception, and handed out the favors with flying colors.  


By Tuesday our first grandchild came into the world, quick and easy!  She was calm, quiet and the most alert I had ever seen a newborn be.  Both Son #1 and Gorgeous beamed with happiness.  


Most of our family was at the hospital to welcome her!  The nurses had put the baby's footprints on Son #1's forearm and he greeted us in the waiting room with his arm extended.  How cool was that?


This baby looks a little like my sons when they were born, but maybe all grandparents think the same thing.  She has parts of both her parents in her face, dark hair and lovely olive skin.  That's my kind of look!


We helped bring her home on Thursday afternoon.  A little jaundice over the weekend kept us on our toes, but that should be over now.  


On with life!  Oh, and she's named after me.  What a "gift" she is.  Amazing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The New Addition

I will be too busy this week to post. Son #1 and Gorgeous gave us our first grandchild today at 9:35 this morning! It's beautiful little girl and we are over the moon with joy!

Details to come when my feet touch the ground again.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Little Something New

It's Monday.  A new week begins again.  The awful feeling of reliving the events of September 11, 2001 has passed for another year.  This week should prove to be very different.  It's the anticipation of a new thing to be with all kinds of excitement.

The new thing is still growing, cooking, working it's way to us and expected to be revealed soon.  Have you guessed it yet?  Maybe you have.

I am superstitious.  Let's get that out of the way right now, up front, plain and clear.  I'm not saying anything more about it.  But I will say that the anticipation is killing me now that the time is nearing.  Yes, superstitious I am.  It comes to me from my family.  My grandmother had plenty of them for different things.  Doesn't everyone have a little something they do for good luck, or to repel bad luck?  Like a Friday the 13th kind of thing?  We have plenty, for sure.

My kids don't want to hear about the different superstitions that have been passed down.  You want to shrug your shoulders and say, So what?  What's going to happen?  But go ahead.  Do it and see.  Do you really want to chance it?  I go with that flow.

Some people call it a jinx.  Some call it a canary.  Why even try to explain these things?  If you don't know maybe it's better.  The Mr. will say Don't even tell me!

Now my poor DIL Gorgeous is stuck with me and the superstitions, old wive's tales, Greek folklore stories and the like.  She's Greek too, she knows, but every family has some they believe in and others that they don't.  My bunch just seems to have more.  I read somewhere that some very prominent, intelligent, famous people were superstitious, so that gives me some hope we're not all nutcakes.  Son #1 rolls his eyes at me, but I think Gorgeous is starting to 'get it'.  She's a great sport!

When it's all over I'll tell you all about it, but not before.  No need to count those chickens before they hatch now, right?  Of course.  Details will come later.

In the meanwhile, here's the watercolor I painted on my beach day last week.  I understand that Tuesday is going to be sunny and pleasant.  There's a good possibility I'll be visiting the beach again if it is, unless there's something else that comes up.  In that case, I'll be somewhere else.

Sandal in the Sand (c)2010 DST Watercolor 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Photo for Friday and Sept. 11

On Fridays I like to post a photo on the blog.  Something you might like to see me working on or something to laugh about.  I had planned to post a picture of the watercolor I did on that beach day this week.  Then I thought to post the new painting I started yesterday when I realized that tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our city.

I hunted through my photographs, mind you that was not an easy task since most of my photos are NOT in books.  I know, bad girl.  Anyway, I took this photo of the twin towers of the World Trade Center during the summer of 1990.  Our boys were young and my husband and I decided to visit lower Manhattan for the day.  We took a Skyline Tour on a boat around the city.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I remember lending other tourists my sunscreen.

How can we ignore what happened in our city?  Now that I'm blogging I could not ignore the date.  The pain is still there, just under the surface.  A news article, a documentary on television, and I'm right there again.  The sadness, the shock, the lost people, right back in the moment.

Nine years ago tomorrow.  September 11, 2001 I was at home on Long Island getting ready for my day. I had an appointment, my father was in the hospital, the sons were at college and freshman year of high school, The Mr. at work, my mom also, and my sister was in Manhattan.  Son#1 called to say something is happening, he heard it on the Howard Stern radio show and thought it was a joke.  I turned on my TV and watched the towers being hit in a matter of minutes.  I told Son #1 that this is a terrorist attack on New York City, maybe the whole country.

Frantically I phoned my sister and she answered her cell phone just as she was driving out of the city over the Triborough Bridge to Queens.  Later that day all access to and from Manhattan would be shut down.  Thankful she was safe I went about my day, to my appointment and the hospital.  Cell phones were the only means of communication until later that day.

On the car radio I heard the reporters say one tower was collapsing.  I switched the radio off.  I switched it back on.  And the second tower went down.

Three thousand regular people lost their lives for no good reason that day.  3000.  Regular people going to work, or school.  Regular every day people became murder victims and other regular every day people became heroes.  People just working.  3000 regular people.  Buildings, offices, homes, churches, schools, museums, restaurants, regular every day people living in that densely packed city.

The people who piloted those planes into office buildings believe that anyone not of their religion is an infidel and must be conquered.  Say what you want, but that's the truth of it.  Greeks know it, the Armenians and Assyrians know it, and others do too.  It's not our wealth, prosperity, or life style.  It's because other religions are beneath theirs.  Only theirs is the true faith.  Others are the dirty infidel dogs.  This is nothing new and has been going on for centuries.  Their religion says they must conquer and bring down the infidel.

Fight or flight set in after the shock of such an event.  In the moment of that quick, sharp inhale of breath the mind is set at a tilt, but thankful knowing my family was safe.  How? Why? Who?  In the nine years since the attacks sad things happened here, but happy things happened too.  As time passed the distance grew between the events allowing life to continue to go on.

As I prepared my photo for Friday there was no way I could ignore the date.







Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Progress, Process and the Beach

Monday scene
All of the angst over the computer issues has worn me down so I've been at the beach.  Let me say how much that beach helped my brain relax.  Sun and ocean does wonders for the psyche, my psyche anyway.

Sunday was a beautiful day at Pt. Lookout Beach.  My sister, my mom and I went and met up with Son #1 and Gorgeous DIL (daughter-in-law).  The sun was out, there was a nice breeze, we talked, laughed, and generally had a nice day.  Monday, Labor Day, I visited the beach again with just my sister.  People must have been on vacation or away for the day because it was pretty empty beach for a holiday.  We chose a nice spot with good space all around us and plopped ourselves down.

Have you seen the stuff people have been bringing to the beach lately?  I want to know where they stash all of that during the winter?  And what's with those carts?  Gorgeous pointed them out to me and we were counting them.  I don't know about you, but I used to take my kids to the beach with an umbrella and a bag with my stuff.  My kids held their beach toy or a pail and shovel.  Done!  There must have  been a sale at Costco and everyone bought that Wheelie cart thing.

After sitting in our choice spot on the beach for a little while, a couple of people show up in front of us and assess the space.  My sister and I looked at each other thinking the same thing:  Of all the space on the beach, are these people really going to sit right here in front of us practically touching our toes?  Very nice.  They don't even look at us.  After the first two people came a band of ten people! All thinking this is a very nice spot to park themselves, two inches from our feet!  I said we need to move.  My sister said let them sit on our feet and she'll show them who's boss!  Look, I'm not interested in trouble, I just want to spend a nice day at the beach.  At my urging she grudgingly got up and we move away from that crowd of annoying, no conscience people.  I thought about it too late, but I should have taken their picture for my post!  Rats!

Okay, we settled down again and try to relax.  I just can't help but ogle all manner of tattoos and belly rings on people.  Sorry, but I can't stop looking if it's all out there.

Then a swoop of seagulls came and dive bombed all the people in our new spot.  Some guy had thrown his kid's french fries on the beach, full of ketchup, so the gulls could eat them.  Not a nice move mister.  People were annoyed, kids were crying.  My sister heard the guy tell his kid, "Now we made the seagulls very happy".  Well what about the human people?  Nobody around this guy was very happy that the seagulls were happy!  Give me a break.

Tuesday scene

Tuesday I sneaked off to the beach by myself.  It was the first day of school and NOBODY was there, except a few people scattered around.  Just me, myself, and I.  I brought lunch and my watercolors, my chair and a drink.  What else did I need?  After enough relaxing I felt like painting something, but there were no shells or rocks.  I was too shy to ask some little kids and their mothers if I could borrow the horse-shoe crab they found, so I decided to paint my sandal in the sand instead.  Progress, process, artist's date, and I'm back in business.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Coming Up Soon

There are so many things I have to tell you,but now I need to learn how to upload photos to the new computer. Right now I'm posting from the new iPad and it's kind of uncomfortable. Fun, but wonky. All you need to do is lightly touch the keyboard and it types!

Bear with me as I get myself together. I want to tell you my technology news. And I have beach adventures to report.

The long weekend was very relaxing as I was at the beach twice and the weather was beautiful even as Hurricane Earl was threatening. Nothing happened, but a little breeze thank goodness.

Today the school kids had their first day and rest assured I was going to the beach and boy was it the best! Like I've said before Heaven is an empty beach.

Tomorrow maybe photos...maybe.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fun Friday, or Not

Well, I bit the bullet and bought the iMac.  It's a beautiful machine.  Have I got alot to learn?  You betcha.  But it's real pretty.

I hope it gets to be fun, or I'll be throwing my shoe at this computer too.  Hope I make it through the weekend with my head still attached to my neck.  I'll let you know.   Wish me luck because I'm gonna need it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thought for Thursday

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.”  ~ Maimonides, Spanish Philosopher, 1135-1204

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And the Word for Wednesday is...

....shilly-shally.

shilly-shally

verb

To be irresolute in acting or doing: dither, falter, halt, hesitate, pause, stagger, vacillate, waver, wobble. See decide

adjective

Given to or exhibiting hesitation: halting, hesitant, indecisive, irresolute, pendulous, tentative, timid, vacillant, vacillatory. See decide

noun

The act of hesitating or state of being hesitant: hesitancy, hesitation, indecision, indecisiveness, irresoluteness, irresolution, pause, tentativeness, timidity, timidness, to-and-fro, vacillation. See decide