Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thought for Thursday

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!” ~ Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thinking of Something Else


Back to business! As you can see I have ditched the apple. I'd had enough of it. I think it was more fun for me when I had the apple in the middle of objects that really didn't belong together. Then it became a habit. Boring? I'm not sure. That, and the annoying paint colors, was making my painting time feel drab.

Maybe painting time isn't supposed to be that exciting anyway. Maybe it is. The action of painting, the process, as I've said so many times, is the goal. Just to paint. The end result is a by-product of the action.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I get it. Still, I want to be excited by the subject. I keep thinking back to that autumn day at the beach when I scrounged around for objects only to find broken shards of shells to paint. They were really small pieces and then I got the bright idea to put the apple from my lunch next to the shell bits for a color pop. I was so excited with the prospect that I painted quickly and was happy with my work.

Three Shells (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x12 Watercolor on Arches paper

Now the apple idea is old, the paints annoying. No more apple. No more leaves. On to shell bits. I think I need the color pop though. And then I think I need to move on. I should look through my swipe files and photos to see if anything appeals to me. Going back to painting from photographs feels like a step backward, for me anyway. Since I've been painting from life it's helped me see things better. Can you switch back and forth like that and have work that feels right? Something to ponder.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Marched.. Now Back to Monday


On Sunday I had my fun day on New York City's 5th Avenue marching in the parade. This dress is from the Greek nomads known as the Sarakatsani. I like this costume because it's very different than many others, and there are plenty of layers to ward off some of the cold.

And man, was it cold!  The Greek Independence Day Parade saw sunny, but cold and windy weather as the backdrop. Painfully cold! As our group waited to step off 64th Street to march we had to endure an hour of side street winds. The little kids were so cold their teeth were chattering, their bodies were shivering and every time a strong wind blew they screamed. So did the adults. Thankfully the sun was shining on the avenue. Marching was ten times better than standing in one place waiting.



The Evones marched in formation, tall and strong, at the start of the parade. The National Guards of Greece are amazing to see in Athens when they perform the changing of the guards, but to see them out of their element here in NYC was great. I was able to watch what I could of them because soon after that our group had to line up and be ready to go.


I was lucky to get a couple of pictures at the start and at the end of marching. My fingers were stiff from the cold and I could barely move them to hold the camera and push the button. The parade began at the Pierre Hotel on 62nd Street and extended to 80th Street, near the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we stopped to take a group photo. It was a nice walk at a good pace so it really didn't feel uncomfortable at all. If it wasn't so windy the day would have been perfect, but I was glad to march again.

And now, it's back to Monday.



Friday, March 25, 2011

March 25, 1821





"..Better one hour of free life,Than forty years of slavery and prison." ~ Rigas Feraios, Greek writer and intellectual of the era who conceived the national movement to oust Turkish oppression
Combat of the Giaour and the Pasha, Eugene Delacroix 1827
March 25, 1821 marks the day that Greece began to shake the shackles of 400 years of slavery under Ottoman Turkish rule. The Muslim world tried to squelch the freedom of a people and spread Islam as far as it could. Sound familiar?

This day of the anniversary of the war for Greek Independence brings out the pride of our ancestors. They tried hard to hold on to who they were despite the Turkish rulers who expected them to switch from their religion to Islam, to forget the Greek language and history. The Greeks had to be Greek in secret, hiding in caves and secret places to teach their children after dark in the moonlight.


Φεγγαράκι μου λαμπρό,
φέγγε μου να περπατώ,
να πηγαίνω στο σκολειό,
να μαθαίνω γράμματα,
του Θεού τα πράματα.

My little bright moon,
shine on my way,
that I may go to school,
to learn to read and write,
and the teachings of God.

Today the Greek dance students I teach performed a few traditional dances at a commemorative luncheon sponsored by our church. I thought, how fortunate they are to be able to continue these traditions in the open, not needing to learn in secret, and how this freedom is easily taken for granted.


How cute and innocent they are! They did a good job performing their set of dances. What do they know about oppression, learning in secret, and the strife their great-grandparents had to be free? Nothing, and maybe that's the way it should be for now.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Creative Habit

As I was saying, I bought this book a while ago and haven't had much time to read it. The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp, was recommended by some other artists as a great way to fight resistance and develop a routine for creativity.

I read The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, about a year ago and really enjoyed it. Most of the tasks were doable and a couple of them have become things I can't do without now. One of the tasks was to write three pages of free thought, in pen on paper, every morning. I have kept at that one and filled quite a few marble notebooks. The other task which I haven't kept up is the weekly Artist Date. Finding time to keep a date with myself to do a small fun thing was a great idea which I have neglected.

I don't think you can call a walk with my granddaughter in the carriage an Artist Date, but it was wonderful anyway! I'm almost all alone, she is only six months old, but she does have a personality and makes little noises. So it's not really the idea. Some of the other tasks were annoying and I didn't bother doing them. Some I would like to try to do the next free day I have.

Anyway, I started reading this book and from the first page I was hooked. The first chapter begins with this "I walk into a white room". Immediately thoughts of sitting in front of a blank canvas flash through my mind. I know how it feels to face the canvas or the paper, and think: now what?

Twyla Tharp is a world class dancer and choreographer. For her to admit it's terrifying to start something new is unsettling. What's it like for the rest of us if she has doubts?

She writes:
"Some people find this moment-the moment before creativity begins-so painful that they simply cannot deal with it. They get up and walk away from the computer, the canvas, the keyboard; they take a nap or go shopping or fix lunch or do chores around the house. They procrastinate. In its most extreme form, this terror totally paralyzes people."
I can relate to that. The idea that creativity can be something we can make a habit of is interesting to me. I could use a good kick of "habit." I can blame everything around me and procrastinate all day, but in the end it's only me here. I am working art in as best I can.

We can always learn a new trick to keep it fresh. If routine is the thing, and I could always use a new way to keep it up, I am there. Being ready with the materials I'm happy to use will be the other half of the battle. New paints are in the plan. Next up, a new routine.

I will let you know how it goes once I get rolling. Be sure of that.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Paints That Annoy

Having time to play with the paints, I thought I would show you the colors I hate in this set. My favorites, Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna, look nothing like what I expect. To remind you, these are MamieriBlu, new to me. I've used Grumbacher and Windsor&Newton and never had this problem.


I don't have any of the other brand of paints or I would show you the differences. However, I think anyone worth their salt can tell the Alizarin Crimson is not how it should be. I think I remember the sales guy saying these paints are the hues of the color. That was after I had already bought and used them. I went back to ask my questions when I figured out the colors were weird. Well, what good is it to me that they're hues? And the Burnt Sienna? It looks almost like the Yellow Ochre, very little, if any difference.

The other colors are passable. What can I do? A commenter on the 100 Paintings Challenge said Go buy new paints and move on! I'm not quoting verbatim, just the general concept. I'm inclined to agree. This is so annoying. And she named these paints The Paints That Annoy. I love it!

With that, I used The Paints That Annoy and painted. That apple is done. Over. Kaput. I moved the items around once more and painted them without the stupid apple.


I allowed myself the twenty minutes I've been having success with and stopped. It's a little smooshy, but not horrible. Getting away from the apple helped since I didn't have to use much of the reds. The Paints That Annoy are going to have to keep company with paints I can rely on. Time to shop!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Finished for Friday

The Dark Apple Hides Shells (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x12 Watercolor on Arches paper
A finished work for Friday is here. I am done! I can't touch this another time. I think I will keep at this apple until all that paint is used up. I have no choice. How many times can I complain about these paints? I guess an awful lot by the looks of the posts about this apple! Have you all had it with me yet? I've had it with my constant whining. The next time I decide to throw caution to the wind and by paints I know nothing about, kick me please?

Besides that, I fooled around with my camera and for some reason my photos in my last post came up like a widescreen TV. I don't know what button I pushed. I was hunting for something that would take a decent photo and not be huge when I uploaded it to the computer. There's just alot of steps to get the photos the right size so that they upload in seconds rather than long minutes. I mean long. Looks like there are no short cuts here, or in life in general.

I will be posting this to the 100 Paintings Challenge, too. Slowly, but surely, I'm working my way to 100. Oh I'll do it, too. No doubt. But it's going to be slow.

A while back I purchased another book on creativity and resistance titled The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp. I know she's a great dancer and choreographer, but from what I've heard this is a really good book for breaking through blocks to creativity. I finally started reading yesterday and I think it's going to be interesting.

I want to read it slowly for the words to really go into my head. Most times when I read, I more or less scan and read too quickly. Oh I've read big books in a couple of days, but don't ask me what I read, I couldn't tell you. While I'm reading I am in the moment. After I'm done, forget it. Talking with a friend about a book I had just finished, which she read in college, she remembered characters and plots. Me? I could barely remember the main character and some sketchy details. Not good. I need to take time to read this, and not while I'm having lunch. No. Multi tasking is not my forte.

The first page of The Creative Habit began with this: The White Room. Just imagine a large, empty, white rehearsal room for dancers. Immediately I thought of a blank, white canvas or paper. I knew then that this was going to be a good read. I will let you know next week.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thought for Thursday

“I don't mind you thinking I'm stupid, but don't talk to me like I'm stupid” ~Harlan Ellison

(A thought I like to tell myself sometimes..)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tomorrow is Another Day

So, back to the dreaded apple, sharp shells and fearsome pebble. Just kidding! Nothing scary a out my still-life set-up except the paint colors. Yes, I'm not feeling it with these paints. It's becoming a problem. An issue. I feel as if I'd rather not paint, but I'm fighting it with all I've got.


If I give in it could spell trouble with a capital T. Let's just say it could happen, but I'm planning on it not happening. Besides, I have a challenge to complete! 100 paintings in a year are not going to materialize just like that.I have a goal, a plan, and by golly, I'm going to win!

Ahem. So here it is, the next work. Twenty minutes in and I wanted to trash it. I hate the reds of this watercolor brand.Ugh. Ok, I will try to lived with it. The more I use it the closer I get to buying new paint. That's how I'm looking at it.


I turned the still- life around once again, to view another side and different shadows. I stood on the opposite side of the table too. I tried to let the magic flow, but it wasn't easy. My brain sees different colors than I have here. I shrugged that off and kept at it. I have more to do, but this is where I stopped for the day.

Let's see how it turns out tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beware the Ides of March

"Beware the ides of March" Julius Caesar,  Act I Scene II, William Shakespeare
In olden times the ides of March meant nothing more than the middle of the month. No omens of evil, nothing bad, just mid-month. For some reason the ides took on this spooky quality after Shakespeare has the Soothsayer mention it in the play about Julius Caesar, on the day he meets his end.

The ides fall on the 15th of March, May, June and October. Check out the Wikipedia link. The other months' ides fall on the 13th. So what? What's the big deal? Everyone always says that line as if some big thing will befall them on this date like Caesar. Shakespeare made the ides have some weird and eerie feeling. I think I'll stay away from painting today.  Why play with fire?

Although, something interesting might come of it if I do paint. Who knows? Maybe some strange, ethereal quality will emerge from the dreaded apple and fearsome shell bits?

Can you picture it? The apple- dark, mysterious with red foreboding. The shell bits-pasty white with pointy and sharp edges. The fearful pebble! What will it mean? What is the evil omen they suggest? Is it possible to paint a lonely apple and broken bits of seashells with an quality of doom? How about the beach pebble?

I have an idea! I think I will paint!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Already Off Schedule

“The best laid schemes o' mice and men Gang aft a-gley; And leave us naught but grief and pain For promised joy”
~ Robert Burns(Scottish national Poet of Scotland, who wrote lyrics and songs in the Scottish dialect of English. 1759-1796)

Here I go again, but it's not my doing, sort of. I need to confess I never got to paint and not going to get to it until I have a free moment. Painting will have to wait. Family obligations come first.

The funny part is that poor apple is starting to get old! I keep it out with the shell bits so if I have time I can just paint. If I put the apple in the refrigerator, I have to fish it out to work which might hamper the motivation. It's a whole thing.

On the bright side, the weekend is coming up. Will I or won't I paint? That is the question.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thought for Thursday

     “The dumber people think you are, the more surprised they're going to be when you kill them” ~ William Clayton

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On to the Other Side

Determined to keep myself in a mode of allowing good things to come my way, I painted. Yes, I did. I took the time while my granddaughter napped this morning and ran to the paints. I cannot let another day like that get the better of me. My mind is set. I must paint daily. At least I'll try to paint daily. Fingers crossed!

Let me remind you, I'm still not happy with the colors I'm using. I don't mind mixing colors to get what I'm looking for, but this is ridiculous. I just can't make the colors I need with these paints. MamieriBlu is lovely and creamy, blends nicely on the paper, but my brain is looking for colors that are just not there! What else can I say? Maybe I didn't buy all the colors I needed? My palette is full, but I am still lost without some of my favorite colors.


I like using a palette with minimal, but essential colors. Here I have more than I really need except they don't look like the colors I'm accustomed to using. I know I keep harping on it. It's a problem for me.

Other Side of the Dark Apple (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themeli
8x12 Watercolor on Arches paper
I turned the still life set-up around once again, to get a different perspective. I also moved around the table to get the shadows going in the opposite direction. The reds are not what I wanted, but somehow it works. I'm not sure if the apple looks like it's laying down. I think it's floating. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't care. I signed it and it's finished. Questions? Comments? Criticisms?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Intention was Good, but..

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." 
It seems there is a question as to who first made this statement. I really don't care who said it. It reminds me of something my father would say though, so I kind of like it. I think it makes a weird sort of sense. Just imagine what it means. People thinking they're doing good things, but they are actually digging themselves into a hole. That's how it comes off to me.

Well, it was running through my head between Sunday and today, Monday. By the way, today is the first day of the 40 day fast of Lent, also known as Clean Monday. Yesterday, the last Sunday before Lent begins was the Sunday of Forgiveness in the Orthodox calendar. The Orthodox calendar coincides with the Roman Catholic calendar for Easter this year. Every now and then it happens to be celebrated the same weeks. Just makes the days more difficult and heavy with stuff. I'm busy as it is and now Lent?

But back to good intentions, of which I had many for Sunday. I had the day to myself and planned to paint again. Quiet house, rain and cold outside, and me with my paints. Did it happen? No. Not even for twenty minutes. See? I said I had intention, and it was a good one, except I shot it all to hell by doing nothing. It happens.

A while back, maybe around this time last year, Son#1 had it out with someone whose intentions may have seemed good to them. I said, may have, because the ranting that this person aimed at my son didn't end up well. All this time later that individual found themselves in a position where they had to apologize for their terrible behavior and awful display. Next time shut up, and don't shoot yourself in the foot by flipping out. People are strange. Okay, whatever.

I didn't flip out. I just didn't do what I had intended to do. I blew it for Sunday, and today too. It's too late to salvage the rest of today. By the time I post this the sun will have gone down and my reserves are depleted. No painting will happen today.

But I meant well.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finished Items for Friday


TADA! Voila! Finished items! Yes! Winning! (A Charlie Sheen-ism) The knitting marathon is done! And I must say I am very pleased with the outcomes. I didn't want to give it away in the earlier post, but these were birthday items for my sister. Working from the mohair yarn we purchased the hot pink and the pink, fire polished beads. The mohair became a scarf adorned with the beads at the fringes. The hot pink with sparkles became an adult bonnet-like hat with extra beads at the ends of the ties, and a pair of fingerless gloves. My sister is definitely a "winter" and these colors suit her perfectly. She likes a bit of bling!

I knit the scarf in a garter stitch pattern on really big needles to accommodate the loftiness of the mohair and rayon yarn. It's beautiful stuff from Fiesta La Boheme. Sounds beautiful, right? It does to me. This yarn is delicious and soft as anything. I must admit this yarn is a bit pricey, but it's justified due to the colors they offer and the great softness. Besides, mohair is a warm yarn. So while it looks gorgeous, it's practical too. The hat and scarf are acrylic blends and they will hold up wonderfully as hat and gloves.  Overall, it was a fun project to make and give.

On the painting front I finished two watercolors. Well, one is really finished, the second is finished in my head. I signed both anyway. The second work just needs a brush stroke where I know an apple stem is supposed to be, and I'm done!

Dark Apple (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x12 Watercolor on Arches paper
Dark Apple in the Afternoon (c)2011 Dora Sislian Themelis
8x12 Watercolor on Arches paper

Good thing I keep the painting equipment out on the dining room table or they'd never see any action with the studio in my basement and the baby asleep upstairs! I've used up my favorite paint colors in the small travel set so this week I brought up my large palette. Now, I'm not thrilled with the paints in this palette, but I have to use them up before I buy more.

The travel set was Windsor&Newton, the large palette has MamieriBlu. Not thrilled with the later, more comfortable using the former. Although the MamieriBlu paints are really lovely on the paper, the colors are throwing me for a loop. Alizarin Crimson is not the same as the WN paints. This apple was a very deep red and I just wasn't feeling it with these colors. I did my best. I lifted out color. I added color when dry. I did what I could to make it feel right.

I set up the first painting and worked from there. For the second work I just shifted the paper the objects were laying on and painted the same items from a different angle. I think I will do that again at the next session. I think I moved the apple so I saw the top end instead of the bottom. A more pleasant view.

Finished work, non the less!

Thursday, March 3, 2011