Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thought for Thursday

“They say life's what happens when you're busy making other plans. But sometimes in New York, life is what happens when you're waiting for a table.” ~Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw from the HBO show Sex and the City

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer in New York City

Zipping along 5th Avenue in NYC
Yesterday was my last day on the job. The babysitting job that is. Gorgeous is a teacher and she's finished for the year. To celebrate we took a ride into NYC to shop at Bergdorf-Goodman on 5th Avenue. Manhattan is always a treat. Something or other is happening at every turn so you just never know what kind of adventure you might have on a visit.

Gorgeous, with Mushy in her stroller, my sister and I enjoyed a lovely day. Window shopping, real shopping, browsing, people watching, eating, laughing, and being stuck in the usual traffic was all fun.

 Central Park

Rats near the Plaza Hotel

Watching tourists on a bus at 57th Street and 6th Avenue
while we had dinner outside
Do you know what they sell at Bergdorf's? All kinds of high end designer duds. Name your shoe designer, they have it. You want Christian Louboutin? Got it. Manolo Blahnik? Yup. Dior, Chanel, any others? Yessirree. Can you say "butterrr"? Uh huh. Say it the NY way-Buttttaaaaa. Can you recall "Sex and the City"? Yeah.

This time only one of us bit. Last time we all bit and hard. But let me tell you, there's nothing like putting on a shoe that feels like butter. This is going to be an annual thing, I can tell! It was too much fun to skip.
What a way to teach the little one about retail therapy, right? At least there were sales.

To top it all off, today is the third wedding anniversary of Son#1 and Gorgeous. May they have many years of wedded bliss ahead, with health, happiness and love.

My Pop always liked to sing us the appropriate Frank Sinatra song at various events so here's his favorite at such times: The Best is Yet to Come.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Wild Goose Chase

Early this spring I signed in on a vegetable cooperative. I had been wanting to do this since last year. I liked the idea of helping to keep a local farm in business and reap the benefits of fresh produce closer to home. Thus began my wild goose chase.

I received an email that my bi-weekly share was to begin two weeks ago and I was very excited to see what kind of produce I would be getting. Thrilled to say the least. I opted for a half share of all four items available: vegetables, fruits, eggs, and flowers. 

The pick up site was about a twenty minute drive from my house. Perfect! I was going to be on the north shore of Long Island anyway that day, helping Gorgeous do some things. On my way home I would get my stuff. Well, my directions were no help, pointing my in the totally opposite direction than where I was supposed to be. 

That day I had also chose to be the day I roasted a whole turkey for dinner and the subsequent leftovers. Also perfect! I had timed it so that the turkey would take a few hours, more than enough time for me to help Gorgeous, get my stuff and come home. So while I'm tooling around northern Nassau County looking for this pick up site, my goose is getting cooked at home, so to speak.

I drove back south, I drove back north, sweating in the traffic, thinking the turkey is on fire along with my house. God help me come home to an intact house without firemen and trucks outside, please.  Back and forth I drove to no avail. The light bulb in my head said "Forget it. Just go home." And so I did.

Two hours into my wild goose chase, I thankfully returned home to a happily roasting turkey and a safe house. I'll never do that again. I got on the phone to the CSA to rant about their directions. The girl on the other end of the phone asked if I was sure it was MY day to pick up. Well, I did get the email. She replied she'd check the roster and return my call. As luck would have it, it was NOT my day. Phew!

Last week I set out again. This time without a turkey in the oven and with my trusty GPS. I made it in no time flat. What I didn't know was that I was supposed to supply my own carrying bags. They had some plastic and we made do. See some of my haul below..

Blueberries, strawberries, half a dozen brown eggs, a bunch of lavender, kale, scallions, arugula, cilantro, salad turnips, beets, two zucchinis, some other squash-like thing, and a head of red leaf lettuce. All very lovely and delicious. And almost all gone by now.

What was the next logical thing to do with all this bounty besides eat it? Begin to paint a watercolor of it, of course.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Photos for Friday

Step into my garden..
The week has flown by after an event filled weekend. I'll tell you about it next week when I have the chance. For now just enjoy a peek into my backyard garden. Last spring I painted a watercolor of the inside of the garden gate looking the other way. Will this be the next, with the view peering in?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thought for Thursday

"Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing. " ~Thomas Edison

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Distraction for Friday

 A Distraction

Oh man, I had to get away from that last painting with something that didn't need to make any sense!
I went out into the backyard garden with the watercolors determined to get away to a far away place. Planted out under the crabapple tree are these late blooming, salmon azaleas among other flowers and potted planters.

Twenty minutes was all I wanted and I did it. Done. I really didn't care what I came away with as far as a finished product. Back in the saddle people! A little too washy in some spots, but who cares anyway? I mixed up some pleasing colors, threw them down on the paper with no objective other than the process of painting something, anything.

A little secret: on the other half of this paper was the dance party painting. It took all I had not to paint right over it. Would have been some kind of satisfying though.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thought for Thursday

"I don't think there's any artist of any value who doesn't doubt what he is doing." ~ Francis Ford Coppola

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Painting Figures in Watercolor

If you asked me to draw the figure in charcoal, pastel, or pen and ink I can be pretty loose and free with my style. Posed models, stationary people, or bodies doing a repetitive motion is easy enough to get down on the paper while drawing. Even painting a figure that isn't moving very much is easy enough.

People dancing is another story. In gesture drawing you can get enough lines on the paper to suggest the human form in motion, but more than that, I don't think so. That's where photographs come in handy, for some artists, maybe not me.

When I use a photograph things get dicey. I see way too many details. I can't squint enough to blur the two dimensional scene. With live models my brain decides what to keep and what to eliminate. In the latest watercolor I did of the dancing party I took my reference from that photo and drew the scene with the least amount of detail possible. Then I went in with color. Working like that felt like a coloring book, a cartoon.

Art Instructor (c)2000 Dora Sislian Themelis Watercolor

(c)2000 Dora Sislian Themelis Watercolor

We are Artists Too (c)2000 Dora Sislian Themelis Watercolor

These three paintings are examples of people sitting and standing in pretty much the same position, just enough stillness for me to capture their poses in watercolor paint. I posted about this class, which was my first intro to watercolor painting. It was a horrible class, but I made the best of the situation by painting everyone in it. The instructor didn't like me one bit. I was not going to paint his painting of someone's painting. Enough said. Look up the post if you want to read more about that.

Playing Laouto (c)2000 Dora Sislian Themelis

Gregory (c)2000 Dora Sislian Themelis

These two pieces were done live also. The top is of Son#1 while he was practicing his instrument. The second is Son#2 as he was doing his homework. Both were worked without prior drawing except for the shape of Son#1's head just for proportion. Basically, I sketched in paint. Do these paintings look melancholy to you?

Dance Party (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themelis Watercolor

Here we are back at the dance party painting. I can see the difference between this and the others. How could I have treated this differently without seeking out a dance party to paint at? I didn't try to go at it with just paint and no sketching in pencil. Would that have made the difference? It's still a photograph though, not live.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Me, Whimsical?

Having finished the dancers painting for the person interested in illustrations for their book,I emailed the image with fingers wimply crossed. Yes, I said wimp-ly. As in like a wimp. Should I have said sheepishly? Anyway, I was thinking it might not be to their liking with the "whimsy" word being tossed about.

Do I see my painting, or myself, as whimsical? I think not. My kids would say "Who, you? Uh, no." Those are smart, observant guys, those kids of mine. Yeah.

I think watercolor work is light and airy by nature of the medium. Would I call my handling of the medium melancholy? So I lean toward Prussian blue and alizarin crimson, are they sad, depressing colors? Not in my opinion.

I paint what I see generally. With photos I see too much. From life there's no time or room to see everything, which is what I like about painting from life. I am not sure it's even possible to use watercolors to capture a crowd of people dancing unless in abstract forms or quick gestures. Maybe that would have been a better way to go, but I needed a reference, hence the photo.

What can you do? Can you please everyone? No.

I will continue to stay positive, or invite the unwanted advances of Mr. Resistance. I decided the operative word was "Yes". I went with the flow. I tried my best with what I thought would be okay, and maybe not how I would have liked it to be.

After working from life going back to a photograph for guidance didn't feel exactly right. Being true to myself and my own objectives may be more important in the long run. Book deal or no book deal.

Friday, June 10, 2011

But I Like the Photograph

Dance Party (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x12 Watercolor on Arches paper

Well, it's finished. Or let's just say I'm finished with this. I had to stop. If I had continued I am not sure what kind of mess I would have gotten myself into. There was nothing else to do at this point.

Shall I tell you what I like, or what I don't like? How about this: I like the photograph I took of the original scene. The suggestion from you dear readers to add lights or banners was a huge help. I decided to make it look like an outdoor party and the lights strung over head were just what this needed. Not to mention the fact that in Greece they decorate exactly like this.

I'm not so sure what else to say about it. But if you have something to offer go ahead and let me have it. Good, bad, doesn't matter. Tell me your opinion. I'm an adult. I can take it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Long Weekend is Finally Over

Finally, the big, fat Greek festival is over and my job is done. Now I can breathe. Can you just pinch these little kids' cheeks? These are my Greek dance students. They were so amazing, cute and worked really hard to pull off their year end performance of traditional Greek dancing. Look how proud they are. It is really hard to remember which foot is left and which is right!

The flea market was a success and all the people who worked with me and my co-chair really knocked themselves out trying to hawk our wares. Customers would ask us for a price and if they didn't like it some would just walk away, others would look at me in disbelief (at .50!) and others didn't mind a fun haggle.

If I had the idea they really wanted a thing, but would jump at a haggle I would say "Make me an offer and if I like your number I could say OK." Then we would play a back and forth with numbers and when I'd say Yes! we'd all laugh and smile. Then I'd say "Wasn't that a lot of fun?" Smiles all around!

Believe it or not, we have yearly customers. Some have purchased from us and we had fun in the sale, they return year after year like old friends. Then we have the crazy customers that return year after year. Those people want to take home bags of items for .10. Give me a break already. And they tell us their tales of woe. Hey, we all have a story, just pay the $1.00 and get going!

Late on Sunday we hold a bag sale. Whatever anyone can fit in the paper supermarket bag is $5.00. You'd be amazed at what people put in that bag and are thrilled to pay at the checkout. All manner of item is in that bag and it's fun to watch the customers swarming with their bags.

I had my fun and now the weekend is over, thank goodness. Now I can get back to painting.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Photos for Friday

Day 1 of the big, fat Greek festival in the mad-house which is our flea market. People were lined up outside the door, waiting for first dibs on the treasures. Once allowed in they flooded the flea market space like the tsunami you watch on the news, rolling in slow and strong and knocks out everything in it's path. The flea market is like that.

When it's over all you're left with is the devastation, the clean-up, and some breathing space to regroup. It's going to be a long weekend.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thought for Thursday

"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." ~Thomas Edison

New Work

New Greek island harbor watercolor painting All the trouble started when I decided to switch blogging platforms from Blogger to Wordpre...