Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!!

Hist Whist
-- e.e. cummings

hist whist
little ghostthings

little twitchy
witches and tingling
hob-a-nob hob-a-nob

little hoppy happy
toad in tweeds
little itchy mousies

with scuttling
eyes rustle and run and

whisk look out for the old woman
with the wart on her nose
what she'll do to yer
nobody knows

for she knows the devil ooch
the devil ouch
the devil
ach the great




Monday, October 29, 2007

Confessions of a serial journal killer

Though I've attempted to keep many written journals and diaries since I was a child, I have almost nothing to show for it. It always begins and ends the same way: I get a new journal/notebook/diary. Some have handmade paper covers, some are leather or metal. Some are simple notebooks with cardboard covers. Regardless of the form, I love the potential that the clean, crisp, empty pages promise. I believe that I will fill this book with amazing ideas and thoughts and stories. I begin by writing a page or two. I do this for a week, or a month, at best. I go back and read a page or two. Not only are they not brilliant, they are embarrassing. What is this drivel? Why am I writing these inferior thoughts down? What if I die and someone else finds this and discovers what a complete idiot I am? And then I destroy it. If it was a "good" journal, I might begin by tearing out just the incriminating pages, and using the remaining pages for sketches, doodles, to-do lists, etc. If it's a simple, spiral bound notebook, I waste no time tossing it directly into the trash. Phewf. I am saved onced again from posthumous humiliation.

Of course, my blog is a journal of sorts, but it is public, so I am cautious with what I choose to share. I edit. But there are things I'd like to write about that I am not brave enough to let anyone else see, and there are events I'd like to document for myself, just to remind me that they were real, to chart my progress as an artist, as a person. And whenever I read about people who are living fully creative lives, most mention journaling, and how much the practice helps them in their creative discoveries, so I am seduced to try again, and again.

I do keep a number of art journals, and while I frequently write in them, they are not about the written word, and the stories they tell are more visual, sporadic, experimental. They do not serve the same purpose as a written journal. In fact, because the messages in my art journals are more vague and open to interpretation, I do not feel the urge to destroy them. Their true stories are hidden.

But this week I began again. I invested five dollars in five colorful composition notebooks. Yup. Five. I've already admitted that I never complete even one, so I bought five. There is nothing logical about this urge. Also the book came in four primary colors and white, and for a dollar each, I didn't have to choose a favorite color. And they look so nice together, for when I file away all those stories, right? I really like compostion books for journaling. They're cheap, so when I throw them away, I will not feel guilty. They're durable, although why this is important to someone who will throw them away is a mystery. Perhaps so some landfill archaeologist can find them and read them and laugh at me. They have lined pages, but they're bound, unlike spiral notebooks, so you can't just tear out a page without leaving evidence that you've altered history. I can't cheat in my composition book.

I write only on the fronts of the pages. I don't like the ink to bleed through. So far, I have filled seven whole pages with words that I will probably find unbearable to read next week. I would love to hear about your journaling experiences. Are they similar? Different? If you journal regularly, what motivates you?

Friday, October 26, 2007

People I've known #1 - Debi Mazar

This is another new theme I am going to explore from time to time, to highlight some of the interesting (or not) people who've crossed my life's path. They will not always be famous people - in fact, given the number of famous people whom I've known, this may be the only famous one.

I am not a big viewer of regular TV series' anymore. I prefer the food network and the HGTV variety of shows, being the domestic goddess that I am. But every now and then, I see Debi Mazar on tv, (right now, she's on HBO's Entourage), and I keep meaning to write about her... because I went to school with her.. and she rode my bus as a kid...really. For those of you who rub elbows with the rich and famous on a regular basis, this may not be much of a claim to fame, but she's about as close as I've ever been so far (besides Figaro Minnick of the Velmas).

I was in fifth grade, I think, when I first met Debi Kojak -- which was her name back in 1974. She had lighter hair back then, brownish blonde, was always cute and petite, and she had a bit of a lisp, which you can still catch in her performances if you listen carefully. On her, it made her more cute, unlike on me, who would have just been a chubby, homely child with a speech impediment. She was extremely outgoing and lively, and I was drawn to her, as she was everything that I wasn't but wanted to be at that age. I remember snippets of conversations we had on the bus. She told me excitedly one day that she was wearing a bra, "size 28A" and I relentlessly pestered and pleaded with my mother for the next year to buy me a bra. After all, I was chubby, so I was at least a 34A, and if I squished my arms together, I almost had cleavage. She also declared back then, in no uncertain terms, that she would be an actress someday. And sitting next to this, compared to me, worldly, confident, lively girl, I could feel the energy in her words, and I believed her completely.

I don't remember ever paying any attention to the house she lived in when the bus picked her up or dropped her off back then. I do recall that it was on a very rural road, off of Route 23A in Catskill, (near Zwickel's hill for you locals) practically in the woods. If you read any biographical information about Debi, all reports say that she was born and raised in Queens, and she does not admit to having ever lived in the Catskill mountains, but she was there for a couple of apparently forgettable years as an adolescent. In eighth grade, I finally escaped Catholic school and we were classmates for a short time, though I don't recall seeing much of Debi beyond the bus. I was practically invisible in eighth grade, and it would be years before I rubbed elbows with the "popular" crowd.

After eighth grade, (in fact, possibly sometime during eighth grade) Debi vanished from Catskill Junior High School, and I never saw her again until I was watching an episode of LA Law in its eighth season (93-94), and she played Denise Ianello. I recognized her immediately and I shouted excitedly to my husband, "hey, I went to school with her." He was unimpressed, but I waited until the credits rolled and saw that Debi Kojak was now Debi Mazar, and I knew, in spite of the jet black hair, that the cute, lispy friend on my school bus and the cute, lispy, fashionable actress were one and the same.

And while I did not begin this story with any point in mind, other than to illustrate how totally almost famous I am by association, I do have one...

Declare your dreams and intentions, loudly and often -- believe in them as you say them -- like Debi did on the school bus all those years ago. You'll be amazed at how the universe steps up to meet you.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I have such a great sense of humor...

that I almost had to get my resume in order...
It happened like this.
My colleague asked me to forward an email photo of the new president of our organization to her. She referred to an image that appeared on page 10 of our monthly magazine. I looked on page 10, and there was no photo of our president. So AS A JOKE, I sent this image instead. She's not our new president, as you might guess. I expected to hear a chuckle from my colleague's office, and then a smart retort via email to send the correct photo.

Instead, I heard nothing. I wanted laughter - or a response - something, so after a few minutes I sent another email asking my colleague to check the photo I sent to make sure it was the right one... and her response to me was:

"Nice - I just sent it to the [name withheld to protect the guilty] newspaper...without checking it.
Our boss is gonna love us now. I copied her on the email."

Fortunately, our boss did not open the attachment, (because she trusts us!!) so she has no idea this is the photo we sent. And we did immediately send a correct photo to the [name withheld to protect the guilty] newspaper; unfortunately this is a rather small, NYC weekly union paper -- the kind where you'll find a diverse range of characters pictured all the time, and they might not distinguish between our esteemed president and, well, this woman.

So I have been anxiously awaiting a copy of this newspaper for over a week, to see whether I should be looking for a new job.

And it arrived yesterday, and it does not contain this photo.
So I still have a job.
This week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Paint what you love...

I am forever fascinated with how other artists and successful people find their way, when they finally know they are doing what they were meant to do. I suppose this is because I feel like I've not quite answered that question for myself yet. I still tend to flit from one artistic medium to the next.
The stories are many and varied, but the common thread always seems to be "do what you know" or "do what you love" or "do what comes naturally" or "tell your true story." For that reason, I am really quite pleased with this painting. -- A woman and her wine. Now that's something I know. Really. I loved making this painting - the bold colors, the glass in hand - I almost resorted to using a collage hand rather than trying to paint one, but it's not too claw-like - she's got the correct number of fingers and a good grip on her glass, which is important. You won't find any spilled wine in my paintings (oh, the tragedy!!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two steps forward... step back.
the path to success is not always a straight line of steady improvement toward a goal, particularly as an artist. Sometimes it is a meandering path, and a climb up a steep hill, and as lot of twists and turns, and that is how I am feeling about my artistic journey right now. My first painting this month was bad and messy, but I expected that, as I got my feet (and brush) wet after a long hiatus from paintbrush and canvas. I felt that my second and third paintings were improvements in shading and detail over the first, but this fourth painting looks a bit flat to me and I think I rushed it a bit. Painting is teaching me patience, among other things, which I need.

And today, in spite of the fact that it is going to be a glorious sunny 70-ish afternoon, and a perfect day for fall clean up gardening, I am going to make a pot of soup (tortellini and white bean with sausage - my current favorite) - and sit in my sunny art room painting. I may regret this decision when the winds start to blow and I am out in 40 degree weather cleaning up my yard, but today, I will live in the moment and enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My crush of the month...

Todd "Figaro" Minnick, of The Velmas
This month, my crush is a guy I just discovered recently. I've actually met him several times over the years, and I thought he was just a mild-mannered insurance executive with the patience of a saint, (he's my sister's boss), but it turns out he has this totally other life as bassist in a band that is named after my maternal grandmother -- so he's got this artsy side that I knew nothing about AND a stable job with health benefits. How cool is that? Plus, he's going to give my sister a HUGE bonus, so that she can fly "the girls" all to Hawaii for our next female bonding weekend - so what's not to like?? (C'mon Figaro, just take it out of the team-building account!)

I must confess that as I write this, I have yet to hear a single note of "Velmas" music, but I am not terribly hip in the music department, and they seem to be.

Okay, I must confess, that I am also hoping to become an honorary member of the Velmas street team, which qualifies me for all kinds of cool Velmas merchandise.

Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to meet, stalk or otherwise pursue the subjects mentioned in my monthly "crush." I just think it's a fun way to highlight someone who piques my interest each month.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pencil sketches

While trying to improve my painting skills this month, I decided that it would help to get back to basics - like drawing - to improve my painting. I always begin my paintings with a basic pencil outline, so this seemed to be a good way to practice improving the bones of my paintings. It's also something that I can do on a whim -- while watching tv or waiting for an appointment, or when I am too tired to pull out my paints at the end of a long day. These are a some images from one of my little sketchbooks.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Experimenting with acrylic and oil pastel

While vigorously neglecting my lawn and yard this weekend, I have been experimenting with acrylics and oil pastels. So far, I think my painting is a bit derivative of others whose paintings I gravitate toward, but I am just letting it flow and seeing what happens. I am hoping that if I can paint one or two a week (and more when time allows), a style will emerge that is all my own. These two are a combination of acrylics, oil pastels, and rubber stamps for texture.

I am also experimenting with different facial shapes and trying to improve my shading and general brush skills. It does not come easily for me, which is good. If I catch on too quickly, I tend to undervalue the skill and lose interest.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I luv me mum(s)

It has been a truly beautiful fall. The weather has been mild, with cool mornings and evenings and warm, sunny days... and mums, one of many reasons I love the fall...(oh, and pumpkins too!)

My friend Ali tipped me off to West Shaker Farm, where they sell 3 pots for $14!!! Needless to say, I bought lots of mums this year.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My September ta da list...

Almost every month, as I write this list of creative accomplishments for myself, I am usually surprised at the length of the list when I get done -- proof that I need this monthly reminder that I am moving forward creatively -- even if the progress is slow at times. Well, this month the list was almost non-existent until Saturday, but fortunately I was able to dive back in over the weekend, ignoring dustbunnies and piles of unfolded laundry in pursuit of art...

So this month, I...
Read 1,000 days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi (true story, wonderful - colorful - visual);
Made ATCs for monthly swap (the theme was favorite foods - mine is takeout chinese, so I made miniature place settings complete with chopsticks - unfortunately they do not photograph well at all, so I am not featuring them here);
Worked with my event planner friend to design the program for a fundraising luncheon;
Refreshed my polymer clay skills to teach a fall class using polymer clay tiles to make bracelets;
Found some little polymer clay faces I made a year ago and turned them into a Christmas ornament project (I'll show them here closer to the holidays);
made a pot of tortellini and white bean soup w sausage (yum, I love soup-making when the weather gets cool)!!;
Started painting - Here is my first attempt at acrylics on canvas with no collage - just my primitive style and a rubber stamp to add texture - I've had a major urge to paint lately, so I am going to run with it. I am not at all happy with the results -- too messy, primitive, not enough facial shading -- but that's why I am bravely sharing it. I hope that each attempt shows improvement and that I can see progress at the end of the month;

and finally, this curious discovery...
Over labor day weeiekd I had finally moved into the larger, brighter spare bedroom that I've coveted for the past three years, but something was wrong. I could not pinpoint it, but the room felt "off" and it wasn't inviting me, in spite of the fact that I've wanted to be in this larger, light-filled space for such a long time. This weekend, I finally had time to actually sit down and create, and within the first hour, I figured it out. My art table was in a left-hand corner. This may sound ridiculous and trivial, but I am left-handed, and not at all dainty in my movements, and my movements were just too constricted (or my mind was) with my table in this placement. I need to have my left side 'open.' It's amazing that this has never occurred to me before, as I've been re-arranging my art spaces for years, but I think that by some coincidence, I always made sure that my table was open on the left until now. So a quick turn of the table onto an opposite wall, and I could move!!! Of course, now my back is to the door, which I think violates some basic feng shui principle, (right Sisser?) but I can counteract the bad chi with a mirror or something.