Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Acknowledging the Bah Humbugs

For those who say "Bah! Humbug!"

I suspect many people want to say the same thing about the rush and bustle and parties which doesn't have anything to do with the real reasons.

I suspect that many people will return to quiet preparations and more meaningful celebrations and gifts from the heart.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


This week, the studio was visited by the pumpkin fairy.

She was a little late for trick or treat, but we let her in anyway.

How can you not believe that Life Is Magic?

(The Fairy's tiny smocked dress was made by her grandmother -me!- in 1967.)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Life Celebrations

I would not have taken the time to drive through the countryside yesterday. I might have poked around the studio wondering when I would find the courage to pick up a brush again. I might have sorted some papers and wondered which artist's birthday might be on the calendar for next week. I might have raked the leaves in the yard.

Instead, daughter and I drove through the autumn afternoon of breathtaking country roads under blue skies past farms and tiny streams and landscapes of color. We took tiny roads with few markings to reach an old church by an older cemetery to attend the unexpected funeral of a favorite cousin. There were hymns played on an old piano, arrangements of flowers, and prayers and words to comfort. But we missed her bubbling, wicked laughter which always punctuated family gatherings.

From there, we drove a couple of hours through more scenes which rivaled our "take that back road" tours in France. We joined a birthday dinner for the high school classmate who had been my matron of honor and best friend. It was not an anniversary but the presence of the classmate who had been by her side for more than 40 years made her celebration complete. After much great food and good laughter, we drove another 3 hours through the cool fall night with stars and moon and clouds to keep us company.

It was a complete day.

Friday, October 27, 2006

No Evil

In today's Arts Journal, Modern Art Notes returns to the question of the school children, their fired teacher and nudes. Author Tyler Greene includes a link to photos of possible nudes which the Texas children may have seen and from there you will find a link to a NYTimes article. He will address the role of museum directors in their communities in future articles. Stay tuned for his comments.

In case you are yawning by now. Art tells something about who people are - their history, their culture, their beliefs. Who makes a decision about what cannot be part of the story? What will you do when a museum cannot show your work because of content?

Hear no Evil.
See no evil.
Speak no evil.

Just at Halloween -- scary stuff.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Red Sun

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What Will Happen to the Big Green Nude?

Last month references to an article in a Texas newspaper made the rounds of art newsletters and there was a little commentary. But I have been waiting for responses from friends about the 28 year fifth-grade teacher who lost her job because her students saw a nude sculpture during a museum visit. Not a big deal, they think! (Note: the children were on a school approved trip.)

Perhaps they dismiss this as the complaint of one overly zealous mother. Perhaps they do not know of the "warning: nudity" disclaimer in a newspaper article on religion which was accompanied a photo of Michelangelo's Creation which shows a nude Adam. Perhaps they think it doesn't affect them -- all of it does.

Perhaps they've not been the subject of front page stories and student demonstrations about exhibitions of nudes in public places. Or perhaps they have not been chastised for making a "politically incorrect statement"about appropriate exhibition venues in a watercolor class on a college campus. I have and I do not take this lightly.

In our regional museum, there is the seven foot "Figure Dedicated to Peace." She is moved from place to place as exhibitions change, but her green presence is an important one and she is always somewhere in the museum. In the future, will this big green nude have to be removed or draped when there are children present?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Enlightening Conversation

For months, my mailbox and my inbox had been filled with information about this "extraordinary partnership" between the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Brochures and newsletters mentioned the rare opportunities for "the exchange of cultural expertise and educational programs" which this three year alliance offers. I was eagerly anticipating the first exhibition "Kings as Collectors" which was described as "a breathtaking exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and antiquities from the collections formed by King Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI." For more about this Collaboration, visit (requires Flash 8)

Our visit coincided with a members preview day which was filled with mimes, activities for the children, live entertainment and photo opportunities with the "King of France" and his Queen. Everyone was in a festival mood as they stood in long lines, squeezed through galleries filled with interested viewers and browsed at the gift shop. It was a pleasant day, and everyone seemed to 'get it' but me!

As we drove home from Louvre-Atlanta,
I began to comment about what we had seen. My daughter and I agreed that the Marble busts - a group of about 30 - were exquisite. But when I said that I was disappointed in the drawings and half-finished sketches and some of the paintings which seemed to be minor works of minor artists, she was quiet. Finally, I asked what she thought. She disagreed with me!

She loved the progression from unfinished sketch to completed painting which she said that most people don't get to see. She was intriqued by the tiny bronzes and she didn't care if the painters were majors or minors. She had not read the glorious descriptions which I had, so she did not go with preconceived notions of breath-taking, overwhelming works. She simply enjoyed.

Two points of view. An enlightening conversation.
I think my second visit will be with fresher eyes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Some Days You Get Caught in the Traffic

-- sometimes it lasts for a week!

I had great hopes of getting regular blogging done this past week. There were some things I wanted to think about in my writing. Suddenly, I got caught in the traffic and blogging came to a stand-still.

I have been behind a big truck called "Computer Crash." You know it. The one labeled "Use us and you will lose everything you have stored here."

Just ahead of that was an emergency vehicle which is still flashing its lights: My mother, who is never ill except for an occasional bout of vertigo, has suffered from a earache for more than a week now. Although she drove herself to the hospital when having a heart attack, this time has been different. I have driven her to two doctors to discover that there is no infection -- just a tiny ulcer in the ear passage "which should clear up in two days, but come back next Wednesday." The earache has not cleared up and a sinus infection has joined it, so I am doing odd chores like arranging flowers from natural materials for a program she planned, delivering refreshments for her church group and driving her to appointments.

A tiny, but never-the-less important, part of the traffic this week was a sad one. Beautiful Maggie, the deaf kitty, sped across the street into the wheels of a passing car. We buried her under the hydrangea bush where she liked to sleep.

Finally, in this traffic jam were a family vehicle filled with luggage, food and weekend gear which blocked my way for three days and on Monday a sporty little model named Lucy caught my attention. Oh, what the heck, I probably wouldn't haven't blogged on those days anyway!

So the computer is back up (thanks to Susan) and the traffic has cleared for a bit. I am back at the keyboard and I'll try to get some regular words strung out this week. After today's doctor trip . . . and . . . a training session for next month's election . . . and . . . the big reunion BBQ which has my painting and words on the inside back cover of the souvenir brochure . . . and . . . .

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Power of Place

Somewhere on the winding roads of West Georgia near Pine Mountain, there is a small drive along the top of a ridge which comes out at Dowdell's Knob and an edge-of-the-world view across a wide valley. Tucked on a protected ledge is a historic marker which declares "This Was His Georgia." As the realization hits that the sloped sidewalk had been a President's wheelchair ramp and that he had come here to make decisions for His Country, the place takes on new meaning. It was not lost on the fellows in the sketch I made that day.

I was reminded of the power of this place when reading my latest issue of Cezanne-2006 -- a newsletter which covers the celebration of Cezanne in Provence. I made the connection through this explanation of an exhibition of photographs and videos by Julien Oppenheim which explores Cezanne's fascination for the Sainte-Victoire Mountain.
"Exploring what links us to places, to a place, to a key place.
Displaying the physical link to the place, the link with the land, the stone and the trees.
Feeling how your breathing changes when in contact with the place,
feeling your body enter into the place and touch it.
To be within, inside the place and capture its power. The power of the place that I come from."

I wondered about the places which make my breathing change. I wondered about whether I can give to those places some sense of their power in my life in the way that Cezanne did with his mountain. It's something to ponder.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Rooted in the Past, but Growing

The annual Homecoming weekend was one of those which is sometimes special; sometimes just short of the mark. A portion of the drive, through a country landscape of pastures and small town football which was lit by a full harvest moon, was the high point. Then, we found that our usual hotel was lacking some amenities. The restaurant presented lovely food with many apologies for the much too long delay. And, with this year's focus on football, some old alumni traditions were discarded while new ones were created. The weekend never quite met our expectations. It was simply 'off.'

This year, there was a formal Convocation
for the presentation of classes in reunion -- it tugs the heart-strings to see the joyous faces in classes who have come back to their alma mater for their 50th, 55th and 60th years. The Convocation also recognized this year's group of Outstanding Alumni: an economic developer who has contributed to the growth of his state; a former pastor of the Church-of-the-Year who now works in healthcare; an artist who has co-founded a contemporary art museum; a musician from the Class of '44 who accepted her award in a fabulous pair of red shoes; an educator who emphasizes volunteerisim with his students; and a founding partner of a major Atlanta law firm. This school has a 175 year history of sending students of this caliber into the world. But this year the focus was FOOTBALL!

So I thought back to last year's Homecoming. All of my family was with me as I was named to the Wall of Outstanding Alumni. It was a very special weekend. When I came home I reread the presentation which was made to me by President Gulley last year. (You wil find it here: I realized that although I haven't started a museum or a law-firm, written a best seller or discovered some scientific marvel, I can be pleased to be in the list and can be satisfied with the words. I realized that every year is not a banner year, but my Alma Mater and I go back a long way and we both have a long way to go. . . . I won't be playng football, but I will be trying new things.

The photo: Smith Hall was my dorm in 1961. It stood on this spot in 1861 and overlooked a continually changing Quadrangle. It's precious window which was scratched with initials to check for 'real diamonds' is on display in the alumni house and it's drafty old dorm rooms are now sleek and functional offices and meeting rooms. It's formal parlor hasn't changed.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Random Acts of Seasons Changing

It has been a while since I have posted. I really meant to write some things down. I have some pretty cool notes, a few odd sketches, a photo or two, but it has been the last of summer and the first of autumn. . . . Here are a few observations.
1. The last of the summer concerts brought good crowds to the outdoors just as the evenings became comfortable for listening. Now, the new schedules fill the mailbox with lovely formal programs or funky combinations of styles promising longer selections, better paid guest artists and, sometimes, tables for eight. No more dogs under the chairs, blankets spread for picnicking or mosquitoes adding their own brand of music to the evening. Perhaps a new outfit or two is in order.

2. As the days grow cooler, the cats who slept stetched out long and skinny during the dog days of summer, make cat commas throughout the house and begin to scout out spots for winter naps. Fred likes a lap or Lucy's pillow; Greene loves a box, Vinnie nestles in a dining room chair just under the table cloth, Boomie likes the cushion in the chair at the top of the stairs and Maggie the deaf kitty hids in spots where she will feel safe. They are getting ready and they don't have a calendar or a weatherman.

3. The big yellow school bus blows its horn each morning and empties the neighborhood of children's voices, mammas' scolding and teenagers booming music. Some days it is almost too quiet -- until the afternoon when the bus lumbers down the street to return its cargo.

4. In the bird bath, there are red seeds from the magnolia pods at the Widow's Home down the street and the Asian ladies are watching the ripening fruits on the soon-to-be brilliant golden Gingko trees -- hints that it is time to prepare a Celebration of Moon Viewing.

5. Homecoming and Reunion weekends are planned for Alums to return to their Alma Maters to see old friends and professors. This year, we will -- for the first time in 175 years -- have a football game on the schedule.

Random Acts of Seasons Changing. . . .

Like Fred, I have just enjoyed without really paying attention and I don't think I'm ready.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Question of Bloggin'

It seems everyone is doing it and there is the question. WHY? Why would anyone write stuff which can be read by ANYone around the world? Why would anyone read this stuff which comes off the keyboard like so much stream of consciousness writing? It seems the answer to 'why?' is as individual as both the writer and the reader and web-logs (blogs) are filling cyberspace with random thoughts . . . daily records . . . real communication . . . and even good business.

I read a few daily blogs. For me, they are like this row of trees at Puivert in France. Each day they are part of a whole: some have real texture to them, some are missing, some are skinny little things. On the lake's surface, their mirror image doubles their impact except where the water is disturbed. Like the trees and the lake, some mornings, the message is quite clear; other times, it falls on a ruffled surface (fuzzy brain.) But, along with my morning paper, each has a place in my day. There are many reasons why!

I am currently reading (and occasionally commenting on) these and a few other art blogs:
*Nita frequently talks about teaching and has recently reviewed a list of new watercolor books. I trust her knowledge and her reviews.
*Karen writes about process, where she's been and where she's going with her work.
-----and *Martha write about creative influences and business decisions which affect their work.
*Joyce posts a daily painting which she creates from her bicycle studio.
*Shelly adds a whole new set of topics to my day and has taught me more than I ever thought I wanted to know about observing clouds (which made me know I had seen something special even though I didn't know what and that it was a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.)
*Robert's Letters often hit the mark. Last week, his descriptions of clouds truly made paintings in my head.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Marking Changes

Over the weekend as I read and watched about the events surrounding 9/11, I have been reminded of photos in my files of a cold weekend in NYC more than 15 years ago. Some of my favorite images are stored in that box.

This is one of them from a winter business trip and a quick visit to the Statue of Liberty -- just a simple tourist snapshot with my spouse and the NYC skyline. Who could know what changes were on the horizon for all of us?

This week, the country marks the 5 years of 9/11. In November, my family will mark the 10 years of his death.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Taking Five

When I finish a major judging event, I "take five" -- a little time to rethink the awards selections. I reflect particularly on what made the winners stand out and whether I would choose a different set of winners another day.

We each spent an average of 2 minutes per exhibitor to move throughout the show asking questions about process, touching and looking at the work and making notes for later comparison. We were not surprised that many said they had never had a judge even enter their booth, much less ask questions. Having been out there ourselves for many years, we had seen many judges walk past without really knowing what they were seeing -- were they afraid someone would think they didn't know 'everything'?

Although I have been judging for more than twenty years, evaluation helps me grow as a judge and gives me confidence in my ability to handle the task when faced with new directions, new technology and new ideas. Over the weekend, I was able to return to the show after the awards were announced to review the choices which Joanna and I made. I only second-guessed myself on one choice and, in the long run, I was satisfied with my work.

NOTE: With so few websites available for reference, I have added descriptions to the post from Sunday, 9/3. Since Powers is a traditional festival, many of the entries are traditional and the awards relect this, but most also reflect a unique use of the medium.


Both of us also had many friends in the show which is both a good thing and a bad thing. We get to see friends (good for us), but we know what their BEST looks like and that's what we want to see so we're tougher on friends (bad for them!) So today, I want to remind myself about my old friends and what I love about what they do.

Lucy Moore, Anniston, AL is a toy maker extraordinaire who greets everyone with a smile. Her stuffed animals and blankets have been in my house for almost than 30 years. Working in fur, she always has a new design or texture which excites her. And yes, our Lucy went home with a new mouse, but no, Susan did not bring home the L-A-R-G-E moose.
Charles Adams, Troy, AL shines a light on the world in stained glass and colored sugar. His famous brightly colored suckers, exquisite glass windows and lamps and wry sense of humor bring smiles everywhere. I've watched the subtle changes in his work for many years and he just gets better.
Brenda Harris Tustian, Ball Ground, GA is a hard working watercolorist who manages to look lovely and unruffled in any condition. Along with her floral paintings, she has developed a unique style of floral paintings and pet portraits. She has raised thousands of dollars with a series of Christmas scenes which she has created for various charities.
Kazuko Chiyo Sasaki, Birmingham, AL, has been creating sumi and watercolor paintings for longer than I have known her which is almost 40 years. Her quality is consistant, yet always fresh and her laugh is spontaneous and joyous.
Pam Snellgrove, LaGrange, GA melts glass rods to build tiny, elegant figurines with circles and loops and blobs. No one matches her control of this traditional craft or her eye for quality. She uses mostly clear rods, but occasionally adds some colored and painted glass.
Don McWhorter, Carrollton, GA throws large stoneware pottery which he decorates with intricate lacy designs. His pitchers look as if they come from Arabian Nights. He is often surrounded by visitors who just enjoy his conversations or his music.

All of these artists are solid, creative people. They along with their families can be seen at major festivals and craft shows throughout the Southeast. I am pleased to call them friends.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Strutting Your Stuff

Yesterday's winners at Powers Crossroads Country Fair and Art Festival, Newnan, Georgia can also strut their stuff.

Joanna and I took a full day to look at each of the almost 250 exhibitors - checking for attention to detail and a personal interpretation of the medium. It was a hard decision in some cases and an easy one in others. Finally, we presented this list of 14 for recognition. Some of the artists were overwhelmed and grateful; others were ho-hum. Neither should have been.

NOTE: I have added some comments since very few of these artists have a web presence.

Fine Art Best of Show
Mark Edwards, Hudson FL - metal sculpture -Edwards
Mark's large metal sculptures are like three dimensional abstract paintings with a perfect balance of shape, texture, space.
Awards of Excellence
David Gill, Richmond, VA - watercolor painting - Gill
David's highly detailed interiors make beautiful use of the juicy and transparent characteristics of watercolor.
Tim and Erika Peters, Winter Haven, FL - porcelain
Tim and Erika handle porcelain clay like no one else - carving into the dried clay pots or painting on a flat surface and then glazing in just the right places.
Maurice Cook, Birmingham, AL - acrylic painting - Cook photo
Maurice uses acrylics to paint stories filled with people and colorful shapes in a primitive style which sits just at the edge of outsider art.
Honorable Mention
Kathleen Green, Groveport,OH - oil painting
Kathleen uses layers of traditional oil pigment to tells stories of silent empty spaces filled with light and shadow.
Suzanne Bellows, Valrico, FL - batik/mixed media
Suzanne's beautiful silk batik creates the basis for such diverse pieces as jewelery and framed designs.
Fred Draper, Knoxville, TN - photography
Fred's photography covers a variety of subjects from found landscapes to interesting studio work but all have strong composition.

Craft Best Of Show
Connie Nabholz, Pensacola, FL - mixed media/beadwork
Connie Nabholz strings beads into exquisite abstract designs, into tiny little purses and amulet bags and into copies of her own paintings.
Awards of Excellence
William White, Jacksonville, Beach, FL - clay sculpture
Bill sculpts intriquing and humorous figures in layers of variously textured clay.
Robert Howell, Moultrie, GA - wood carving
Robert carves and paints fish leaving the suggestion of delicate movement.
Robert T. Roller, Bowden, GA - kick-wheel pottery
Robert uses a kick-wheel to throw his pottery which he fires in his own unique glazes.
Honorable Mention
Jeff Zaffino, Rossville, GA - mixed media/wood
Jeff creates intricate and amazing pictures using sheets of wood and a scroll saw.
Jerry Zefft, Statenville, GA - wooden puzzles
Jerry's wooden jigsaw puzzles appeal to both children and adults with color, shape and clean lines.
Janice Kirkland, St. Mary's GA - clay garden sculpture
Janice begins with a beautiful red clay and creates a wide variety of simple garden sculpture.

Another note: In case you think judging is simple and that a peacock would win over a rooster hands-down, take a look at the scraggly old peacock in the picture. The rooster gets my vote.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Influencing the Influence

When I research artists for my BioGem pages, I am often surprised at the influences which turn an artist toward one direction or another. Sometimes it is on a personal level; others times it happens to whole bunches of us at once. In art, sometimes it is even hard to tell which is the influence and which is the influencee.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend who said, "I had to get back to what I do best; my work had gotten too crafty; I was adding too much junk." I knew what she meant; I had judged a show and was surprised to find her name attached to one of the collaged entries. We both wondered why she had gone in that direction.

The 20th C was filled with artists who invented new ways of expressing themselves. We thought they were in a class by themselves. Today, I see a whole realm of creative impulses out there which seem to be influencing the making of art. There are admonitions as non-specific as to "follow your muse" and "dream with color," to instructions to "take a bit of this, add a little of that, tear an edge, glaze over, try some texture, float in an old photograph, make a line with these new markers. . . ." And I am beginning to see a fading of that fine line between abstraction, altered books, contemporary painting, collage, assemblage, and scrapbooking.

Is this a good thing? Gotta think about this.

Robert Indiana was influenced by signs and LOVE.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Porch Sitting

When I was 10, the bookmobile came near my house. I always brought home all the books than I could carry and stacked them on the front porch next to my favorite chair. Even though I knew there would be no more for two weeks, I read them all in just a few days while shifting into the kinds of contortionist positions I can only dream of now. I went to worlds beyond my imagination in those marvelous books. Now I don't have to wait two weeks for the bookmobile, I can make the trip to the main library which is just five blocks away and I still have stacks of books by my chair.

Fifty years later, I discovered another way into imaginary worlds and now I spend way too many hours on my computer soaking up images from museums, having conversations with artists and dreaming of places I'd like to go. And, with a laptop, it can all be done on the front porch.

One of my most used sites is Its statistics show 8,407 artists listed; 2,278 art sites indexed; and access to about 180,000 works of art. And now, I've discovered that I can have the Art News page connected to my blog subscriptions -- more worlds -- does it get any better? I think I'm a kid again!

Comment: This fast loose sketch (4.5" x 5.5") was done with a simple pen and a waterbrush while I was waiting for friends. I was interested in the reflections in the door, the black-green wicker and the swing chain, so perspective is mostly OFF and the chair just got in the way.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Keeping the Wonder

I can't keep up with technology. It seems to me to be like bubbles floating in the air.

I was puzzled by a whole variety of computers with those big ol' floppy disks, then those little 3" ones, and then CDs. I was confused by the alphabet soup of a tiny little 'starter' website in WYSIQYG, by a 'better' website, my own domain name and HTML codes and, now, by a BLOG. I was interested in the results from my little PhD point and shoot camera and then a bigger zoom model . . . and now I'm fighting the digital curve. I just learned to do most of the stuff on my cell phone which it seems may soon become 'gone' as I check out the prices for the new "Chocolate." And that doesn't even consider the changes which technology has made in the painting process and pigment which made my little watercolor book obsolete.

I have watched the bubbles of new stuff float by and have tried to keep up. I love all the capabilities of computers although I depend highly on my resident techie. I enjoy the combination of a website and a blog even though sometimes I forget to update them. I love the pictures from my old camera. I even love the surprise that comes when a roll of film gets tucked away and doesn't get processed for a while -- like these five month old shots of Lucy which I thought were the photos of her first birthday! -- but a new digital would be so-o-o convenient. I am satisfied with my rhinestoned cell phone even when I forget to charge it but I'll suspect I'll transfer that bling-bling to a new one which might just do it all.

So what is it about the bubbles of puzzling new stuff? Why do I keep trying to figure out the new technology which is floating by?

The smile of wonder on Lucy's face is reason enough.

I want to keep that wonder within.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Does It Matter What I Look Like?

As I count the days to my 65th birthday, I keep looking at my goals for the year which include weight loss, exercise and walking. "My clothes will fit better." "I will have more stamina and flexibility for standing at the easel." "I will not get as tired at the computer while working on writing projects." Reasons enough, I thought.

Now comes this!
"Do women have a tough time getting noticed in the literary world and, if so, does looking good give some women an edge over their competitors?"
Written for subscribers to the Writer's Digest newsletter, these words jumped from the email. Could it apply to women painters as well? Is a gallery director more inclined to look closer at your work if you look "arty?" Will there be better opportunities for publicity if you photograph well? Should your work "look like you?" Is this a consideration for men?

And this!
"'I remember a friend telling me that her publicist had said she was pretty enough to go on television, and I was horrified,' says Lisa Selin Davis, author of the novel Belly. 'I assumed this was one industry where it didn't matter what you looked like.'"

In the end, the words carry the book and the art makes the sale, but. . . .
I think I'll go do some stair-climbing . . . . Just in case!

Read "Does This Book Jacket Make Me Fat?"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tiny Lessons Learned

I learned a lot from these four baby sketches -- each is 2" x 2" and was timed for 5 minutes. I learned
--that it is not easy to get good depth in such a small space,
--that I don't like to do chairs,
--that looking up is harder than looking out and
--that sometimes 5 minutes is too long; other times it's not enough.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Oprah Says, "There are no Coincidences."

I'm not so sure. Things seem to come together at the oddest times. What do you think: coincidence or something else?

Last week, Robert Genn's Twice Weekly Letters addressed which was more important in Judging -- "Mastery or Spark". I replied to his letter with the formula I have developed over 25 years of judging art. The timing seemed coincidental since on Labor Day, for the third time in 15 years, I will be returning to judge the Powers Crossroads Festival near Atlanta. I began to think about my judging and this question of excellent technique vs. inspired creativity. I began to hope there would be many works which would include both.

Then, over the weekend, my long time friend, Joanna Ellington, called from Florida to say that she would be the second judge and would share the judging duties with me. Were there judging vibes in the air or simply another coincidence? Oh, dear.

Joanna and I have paid our dues as festival exhibitors, so we will be sure every exhibit gets a good look - we remember the snooty judges who just passed by. We are painters, but our art purchases have most often been from the potter or wood carver or metal sculptor or quilter -- we learned the difference between excellent work and the work of a friend. We honed our skills by preparing slides for watercolor society exhibitions, 'selected our own shows' before sending the entries off to the real juror, and often argued later with each other and the absent juror when comparing lists -- we understand the place of both the traditional and the avant-garde.

In spite of our similar backgrounds, we bring different styles, tastes and experiences to the job. I expect some differences of opinion as we select the winners and I wonder which will affect our choices for the 20 awards in the wide range of categories: Mastery, Spark or Compromise. I'll post the winners in September.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Year of the Unfamiliar

Today marks Lucy's first birthday.

It has been an interesting year both with my first grandchild and with options in the studio. As she explored the new things in her world while clinging to the familiar, in the studio so did I. While she was trying scary new things, so was I. Not everything she did was successful and that was okay, but she tried again; I have not learned to do this. We will celebrate tomorrow with a large cake covered with butterfly frosting.

As she goes into her second year with the usual bumps and scraps, dusts herself off and tries again, I will do the same. Successful changes for both the tiny redhead cherub and the white-haired grandmother painter will come with practice and determination.

NOTE: In the photo, I introduce Lucy to the piano. What fun when she realizes SHE is making the sounds. Maybe later, I'll teach her to play - more practice and determination.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sound and Fury

Yesterday was another of my long days at the polls. There was a run-off from the primary elections of last month. Voters did not make a clear decision in three of the races, so we went back to the polls. Or should I say, the election workers went back to the polls. In my precinct of more than 2800 voters, only 171 made the trip through the neighborhood to cast their ballots. There were a number of phone calls, mailings and ads for each candidate -- all filled with sound and fury signifying nothing. For the eight of us on duty for the twelve hours, it was a long and boring day.

I think sometimes painting is like that. The equipment is ready, the choices are outlined but the ideas just don't come and participate. For the painter, it is a long and boring session.

For an election and a painter to generate enthusiasm, there must be more than sound and fury.

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Art Can"

On Sunday, I put on my favorite straw hat -- the one with all the flowers -- and drove 90 miles to a birthday party and show at the State Botanical Gardens. The cake was exactly right for an artist's birthday. The paintings were light and airy, full of color and energy and perfect for the space. The paintings were not what I had come to expect from my friend of thirty years.

An established painter with a grand following for both her originals and her reproductions, Judy had decided to go out on a limb and try something new for this show. She was rewarded for her bravery with excellent response from the 100 or so friends and patrons and a number of those coveted red dots. She knows that whatever she wants to do: "Art Can."(Her website is; her work is also at her ArtCan Studio and Gallery.)

I wonder how often I stay in my rut because I fear the new and unknown? How often do I stay with the tried and true because I am "too old" to change directions? How often do I stop the creative energy which lends excitement and new expression to my work? Maybe I should I put on my flowered hat, have some cake and punch and view my own paintings. Maybe I'm not brave enough.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

And the Choir Sang

Sketches can be made anywhere. This was done during a short piece. Later, added the flowers. I wish I hadn't.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Shining Stars?

This was last week's cover on our weekly creative rag. An intriguing headline. Don't just you know every one rushed to the feature article to see if their favorite artist was included?!!!

With an article titled "Fame in their future - 18 Augusta artists poised to make their mark on the world," the writer had a wealth of information which could be used. She settled for long descriptions about 9 artists and a mention of 9 more -- some are well-known, others are not; some are good, some are not; some deserve some recognition; some do not; some deserve respect, some do not; some have earned their reputations, some have not. I was in Very Good Company among the Un-Included.

As I skimmed the artists' information, I realized that this paragraph in her opening essay may be the most powerful one she has ever written. Most of her readers . . . and most of the artists. . . will miss it. She wrote
"The ability of artists to gain recognition and reputation is what puts money in their pocket, and thus art in the public eye. Materials are expensive and creating is time-consuming, but art is one of the many important things that help a community to thrive. It lifts us, inspires us, talks to us and sometimes shouts at us."

Stacey Hudson promises to illuminate more artists in the future. I'll be watching.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

In the Light of the Sun

Yesterday, the topic of 'reunions' came across my desk from two directions. One in an on-line discussion of whether to attend or not. The other from a member of a committee which is planning the annual 1954-1960 classes reunion from my local high school.

After my class's 45th reunion, I created this painting, "Rivals for the Passion of the Sun" -- hidden under the sunflower leaves is a big 59 for my class. Most of the things in the painting respond to the light of the sun -- as did our class.

It was a beautiful day when the old high school class gathered in reunion on the hillside by the barn. So many years ago, each of us had walked that auditorium stage in our own little bubble, yet knowing that our class was touched by the sun. Now we came with a better understanding of our places in the universe and the absence of some made the presence of others even sweeter as we reminisced. On this day, we understood that, for some of us, the sun's fiery passion is fickle. Late in the evening, we left that glowing place by the light of the moon.

Two observations about reunions:
One of the most disappointing things about reunions is who doesn't come -- usually the locals. Folks who have been out of touch, but who have often wondered about others, make the journey with anticipation only to find those who only had to drive a few miles weren't there. It's really why they came -- to see those who kept the 'homefires burning.' As one friend said, "You opened a door to my past. Thank you."

Secondly, it is often surprising who has looked forward to seeing whom. At our 45th HS reunion, I was surprised at those who said, "I hoped you would be here. I couldn't wait to see if you were the same." and then they added an anecdote which I didn't remember, but which was important to them. I found that the 'sameness' they were looking for was not in appearance, but in personality.

The committee would like to use the painting and it's accompanying quote in the souvenir booklet for this year. Interesting request. Before giving permission, I need to decide if the painting/quote will be memorable for the 1000 or so who will attend the barbecue or if a photo of classmates would be more appreciated in the space. I have learned that exposure of my work is not always a good thing. Will having the painting in the brochure open doors to the past, will it make someone feel that I am just the person I used to be, will it make more good memories? Or not. . . .

Monday, July 31, 2006

Take That Road - Part II

On Friday, Daughter Susan and I made our way across the state for the summer alumni council meeting. (We represent our respective graduating class from LaGrange College.) After an hour and a half on a glaringly hot, boring and speeding Interstate, we decided we needed a better use for our time. We decided it was time to say, "Take that road!" Unlike the times Karen and I said this in France, Susan and I had no map. We checked one at a rest area and headed cross-country through Victorian and Antebellum villages, horse country and pecan groves. We saw some things we didn't enjoy -- towns which were dying, junk yards and abandoned farmhouses, but mostly it was a visual feast of gentle rivers, overgrown woods and planned forests and old, but growng, towns. I found almost as many times to say "Ooh" as on our excursions in France. It took us about an hour longer than planned, but so did our trip to North Carolina this month and that hour was spent sitting in standstill traffic!

We arrived just in time for a tailgate party to celebrate the arrival of the very first FOOTBALL season in the 175 years of our alma mater - gasp! This is also the first year in which men outnumber women -- men were admitted for the first time in the 1950's. The campus is growing, the facilities are improving and we wear our colors proudly. (A little aside: In France, we were very close to a little community named LaGrange which had about 6 houses. My LaGrange College sweatshirt brought some curious looks.)

We returned home without driving on an Interstate at all. It was a good trip.

Refreshing News

This month, there has been the buzz of excitement and anticipation in the email conversations of my friends. Nita's newest book just arrived on her doorstep and she began to autograph copies to send to the 100 or so artists who contributed to it. This one is a revision of the tattered volume I have in my art library. She says it has lots of new stuff and many new color photos. It could not be much better than the old one and I wonder if I really need another how-to book. But . . . It does have Cheryl's painting on the cover and Alan's orchid quilt inside and the words have almost been read off the other one and . . . and . . . . I can always use a refresher course in creativity.

Read more about Nita Leland, her article in the Artist's Magazine and this great book, The New Creative Artist: A Guide for Developing Your Creative Spirit.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sharing Celebrations

For the last few years, I have been filling a chart with artists' birthdates for use as I research and write the 400 word BioGem. Yesterday, while revamping my list of about 450 names and birthdays, I discovered this new calendar published by the Metropolitan Museum.

The description:
12-month format, with a 12-month planner for 2008. 12 in. x 24 in. when open. Celebrate more than 800 artists' birthdays, from Cézanne (January 19) to Matisse (December 31), with this calendar. Nearly every day notes the birthdays of renowned painters, sculptors, photographers, and artists working in other mediums, while each month highlights popular works from the Museum's collection, including paintings by Gauguin, Hopper, and Seurat. More about the calendar and costs here:

I will be delighted to get this new calendar and compare notes --eight hundred artists! I wonder if I have some names they don't?! Maybe I'll buy two and give one to a friend. (After I pencil myself in on November!) Besides, I think it will be a good addition to the studio and maybe will keep me on track for the weekly posting.

Meanwhile, the previous BioGem and a suggestion for "Sharing Celebrations" for Jenny Holzer has been posted for this week. Maybe it is new to you.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Bottle of Wine, a Bug Candle and . . .

Oh, yeah. A sketchbook.

One of my favorite summer sketching spots is a concert in the park. The light is still good early in the evening. The atmosphere is casual. No one cares that you are sketching. The players stay in about the same place for 3-5 minutes.
And . . . I love the energy of the music, the people and the images on my paper.

Once the rhythm of the lines is working, it is possible for me to continue by candlelight -- Hey, YOU can pour wine after dark without spilling a bunch, can't you?

I especially like the feeling in these three sketches of one of my favorite Jazz groups.

Maybe a little sketchbook should be part of my concert-going gear!

Saturday, July 22, 2006


When I began to work on the Artists Row project in 1991, I had a little black dog who accompanied me into the old derelict buildings which are now high-rent storefronts and galleries. Sassy was only a year old but she contracted some kind of bacterial infection in those old spaces and died soon after we held the grand opening of the project. Artists, patrons and students missed her. She was very special and we thought there would not be another like her.

In fall of 1993, Rags was rescued from the pound to replace Sassy as my watchdog in the studio. A little Peekapoo, he looked like a little pile of Rags and was so dark the children called him "Black Shadow." He quickly found a place for himself with a style of his own. He barked quickly at undesirables, greeted children with enthusiasm and applauded with happy barks whenever people clapped. He loved balls, water and jet skies, and his family. He loved being in the studio even after being there when a burglar broke in -- his barks had kept me from coming back inside while the burgler went out the back door. He has been a constant companion. He went to Alumni meetings and slept in the dorm. He visited friends and galleries and was often asked to come back again. He was a joy to all of us.

This year, he had gotten blind, almost totally deaf and very ill. We thought he would come to a natural end and hoped for that solution for this brave and lovable old dog. When the pain started, we knew it was time.

And so, we say goodbye to Rags.

Friday, July 21, 2006

If you've wondered

...why I've not posted lately?

...where I've been?

...what I've been doing?

This picture should be all you need to get the answers!


Yes, I've shifted some paintings, done some sketches, and put a little paint on some things, but this has been the most important part of my month.

There will be some major changes in my household in the months to come, it will be interesting to see how they affect life in the studio.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Summer Days

Last week, Lucy and her parents visited at our summer house. We listened to the birds, were awed by the leaves in the trees and tasted all sorts of new flavors. She enjoyed some time in a tiny little plastic pool. (When you are 11 months old, almost everything is awesome!)

Tomorrow, I will go a North Carolina gallery to pick up some paintings which I will evaluate for future placement and for new ideas. When I return, I will bring daughter and Lucy back for a week with me, Susan and the cats. We will spend time in the hammock, paint a bit and learn new things. Isn't that what summers are for?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Forgetting What We Have

I've been away from TV, hot water, telephone and computers for about ten days (with only an occasional check of things at home.) It was a lovely retreat. I came back to tall grass, a musty house and piles of dirty clothes. I complained that it was hot, I was tired and that I had left the long extension cord in the country and I would have to piece together short cords to use my weed trimmer. Finally, the sun settled down for the evening and I began the grass cutting.

A woman I had not seen in the neighborhood came by on the sidewalk with a boy in a stroller and a young girl. I spoke and returned to cutting. Soon, they came back by and stopped. The woman said she had gone to a friend's house to heat some food for her two year old, but that no one was home and asked if I could heat it for her. An unusual request. I called my daughter to come out and get the food so that I could continue on the grass while I still had light.

I settled the family on my big front porch; the mother shed quiet tears and apologized that she had to ask this. Daughter brought out milk and lemonade while the food cooked and helped the little girl catch some fireflies in a jar. When the very strange assortment of fish sticks, pot pies, enchiladas, french fries were ready -- the remains of a freezer, it seemed -- she repacked them in their boxes and the family went down the street in the near dark.

I brought in my extension cords. I will finish the grass tomorrow and I will not complain. I have electricity.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Endings and Beginnings

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have been involved in a proposal for an art history book for a major book publisher. You may also know that before I went to France, I learned that another author was selected and that while I was in France I was contacted and asked to begin work again since the other author had backed out. I essentially broke my contract with the residency folks and the six other artists in the group to continue on the proposal under less than desirable conditions. Daughter S sent me files by email and everyone lent me pieces of equipment which I needed.

When I came home, I rested one day and worked for the next several weeks adding extensive material -- dates, facts and two new chapter outlines. I worked on Mother's Day and during a family weekend. I sent some preliminary files and requested feedback. I got none. Strange. I sent more information and requested comments. I got none. This week, I got the final word from my agent that someone else would be doing the book.

Am I upset? Angry? Disappointed? Annoyed? Some of all, I guess.
Upset that I missed out on part of the French experience and probably affected the others as well. Angry that an editor who was panicked that she had a deadline to meet and had emailed me directly for weeks could not have the courtesy to let me know that she was going to use someone else. Disappointed that I will not see my name on one of those black and yellow books. Annoyed that I let this become so important.

But, I do know that it is part of the process -- the submission, the acceptance or rejection, the beginning again. I know that when I judge art there is sometimes an unexplanable thing which makes me select one painting or sculpture over another. The easels are waiting . . . and maybe another publisher somewhere down the road.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Family Trees

On Sunday, we made a 3 hour trek to celebrate a family high school graduation in an old neighborhood in a large Southern town. Other family and friends made the drive from several hundred miles to congratulate "Huck." The lawn was scattered with white-clothed tables and chairs and croquet wickets nuzzled up to the large trees. Children tumbled down the grass-covered slopes. Adults gathered near the tubs of ice and beverages which filled the space between beautifully appointed tables and a big barbecue cooker. Striped umbrellas shaded the terrace and the musicians -- a fiddler and a bass player. Green and white balloons floated everywhere and a large red and black University of Georgia banner hung over the front door. It was the perfect setting for greetings and conversation between family members, old friends and new acquaintances.

About an hour and a half after the party began, the pig had been picked, the beans, cole slaw and salad had been refilled for latecomers and the watermelon slices were being appreciated. It was looking like the party was a success. Then the clouds covered the sun, the wind moved the trees and thunder rumbled. The rain suddenly dropped from the sky as everyone covered things and moved inside. The party simply began again. Teens adjourned to the basement or the graduate's room. Little girls chattered on the stairs. Adults chattered everywhere else while the musicians strolled. Two parties in one -- both warm and wonderful and rare. Our family tree -- warm and wonderful and rare.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Two Halves

I am only guessing that these two horses from the French countryside are a team -- partners, yin/yang, two halves working well together.

This week, I had another encounter with a computer chair (the first in France where I banged my nose on the computer monitor.) This one at home where I spilled water and sort of sat on the chair to dry things which got wet. The chair slipped out from under me and I hit the floor banging my other end! and spraining my wrist. I'm right-handed. Who knew I used that side of me so often? I couldn't get the top off the cat food or a tube of paint, could only type with one hand and we won't even talk about personal stuff like putting on clothes.

My team isn't functioning very well. I will be glad when I have both sides in good working order.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Road Less Traveled

Since I have finally finished posting the sketches, I have given some thought to new directions for my work in the studio. This image is a good reminder.

It certainly was a road less traveled and was bumpy and rocky. It meandered across an unfamiliar hilltop and I followed it with some trepidation. If I had only known what I was seeing, it was well-marked with yellow slashes clearly recognized and used by hikers. It offered spectacular views which couldn't be seen from the main roads and at the end came out at a glorious place.

Sometimes, 'the road less traveled' is just one which calls for an unfamiliar means of getting there and being unafraid to take the path.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Stairs to Dreams

This creaky set of stairs lead to the studio in the French residency. They were worn by many feet and got tinier as they curved around a hollowed out piece of log on the way to the top. They were the way to the ideas which each of us had for the residency and our dreams for its impact on our work. We had to make a conscious decision to climb the stairs and reach for those dreams.

I have posted the last of the sketchbook pages in the April archives. I think you will see that a sketch a day doesn't have to be wonderful, finished or frameable; it just has to be. I'd like to hear of your progress. I will occasionally post some of my continuing sketches (although not the ones of my bare feet I did last night!) and some photos of the trip as I feel that they relate to other parts of my days and weeks to come. I hope you have enjoyed the sketches and the report on the residency. I will also be interested in hearing how you think the month in the South of France has affected my work processes and the dreams which will come from my brush.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fuzzy Memories

As I post the sketches from France, I am surprised at the little details which pop out of the sketches. Things I thought I wouldn't forget. I took this photo through a dusty window in France, but if it had not had a date on it, I might think it had come from an old memory of Japan.

Memories are like that. They get fuzzy. They connect with other memories. They recreate themselves. They recreate us.

Today, I've added 3 more days of sketches to the April Blog. They begin just after my list of thanks. Click here for the Archive:

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Conversation Between Two Friends

This afternoon, I called my friend Rebecca for a little conversation. I had not talked to her since the trip to France. Finally, she said it was so nice to talk with you. I replied, You didn't get to talk much. She said, Well, it was nice being your sounding board. Conversation between two friends. Everyone needs a friend like that. When I hung up the phone, things were clearer and I focused a little better on the task at hand.

There are a few more pages from my sketchbook. I just got them posted in the April archives. Check for Day 14, 15.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tripping over the Back of My Brain

I had a project idea today. Daughter Susan said I have too many others ahead of it and I should put it somewhere in the back of my brain where I would trip over it occasionally. That didn't seem like a reliable place.

I had just read this quote in an e-newsletter discussion about repetition, "In retrospect, the point you wanted to stop seems to be the point were you were really just beginning." (John Fitzsimmons) My friend Ellie had just emailed that she has completed her 100 Tiles project and she mentioned the value of imposing constraints -- hers was minimalist landscapes on 4" x 4" canvases. (You can see her little paintings at
As I looked at them, I started thinking about my 4" x 4" sketchbook and the daily sketches in France: repetition and constraints.

I decided that I should continue the daily 4" x 4" sketches, but the notations should be things I might put "somewhere in the back of my brain" -- painting ideas, projects to try, information sources. It might interesting to see what I trip over later.

In my April archive, scroll down to find Day 11, 12, 13 from the France Sketchbook. More about the ant artist on Day 12.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Adding Days

Some weeks I wish I could do that -- add days! There doesn't seem to be enought time to do all the necessary chores, the projects, the exciting things and the family visits. I did manage to add Days 6-10 from my residency sketchbook/journal. You'll find them under the April archive if you are checking out the progress of the trip.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Madonna of the ATM

While in France, we often drove the 4 kilometers to Chalabre and the ATM. It took a while for me to notice this gentle statue in a little park across the street. Funny how we get focused on what we think is important and miss something so delightful. Happens to me more often than I'd like.

I have added some more days of my residency sketchbook. I also adjusted the dates so that you can find them all in the April archives.

Monday, May 08, 2006

van Gogh's Presence

As we left the Toulouse airport and began the 2 hour drive, the images flashed past as we followed Ellie's little blue car. Driving an unfamiliar little car (and not having driven a straight shift vehicle for a while and with no knowledge of how to put it in reverse) on unfamiliar roads, I dared not take long looks when something interesting flew by. BUT as we left the Auto-Route and wound through the tiny towns -- Laroque d'Holmes, Peyrat, Bastide sur L'Hers -- and entered Ste Colombe, they began to feel familiar. How could that be?!!

When I walked into the back bedroom at Maison du Cerisiers, I knew. Through the window, I saw van Gogh's painting of the plum trees; we had cherry trees, but it was the same! The painting was influenced by his exposure to Japanese Ukyoi-e. You can see it here: Japonaiserie: Flowering Plum Tree (After Hiroshige)

We know that Van Gogh did not paint in this part of France, but his images, his spirit, his memories are here at other turns as well! How can that be?!!

On our 4th day, we were joined by Chin Kong Yee, a painter/photographer from Malaysia. What an exciting addition to our thought processes! His meticulous images, his discovery of the unfamiliar gave us new food for thought! Will we be influenced in our work by this contact with Kong Yee's culture as Van Gogh with that of Hiroshige? Will we be influenced by the 'presence' of Van Gogh? What will we paint under the influence of these ancient and mysterious cultures of the Aude? How will that be?!!

(For more more on van Gogh and his techniques, check here the Van Gogh Museum's newly designed site:
Several languages are available, so click for yours. )

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Dior, Cat'Art and the Paradox

One of the things I missed while in France was my daily visit on the website of the Metropolitan Museum as a new work of art pops up on my screen and I spend a minute or two exploring some tiny jewel. A Dior dress one day last week seemed perfect for the images which are now in my head from the South of France. The description with the dress says that "Dior reveled in the paradox of the natural and the sophisticated." The dress is called "May" and is described as "'simple' patterning of meadow-gone-to-weed" and "flowering grasses and wild clover . . . rendered in silk floss on organza. You can see the dress and more at:

Dior would have fit perfectly in the paradox which is Cat'Art -- a Center for Contemporary Art hidden away in a tiny ancient village -- where forgotten spaces are being renewed with the creative spirits of today's artists. Check the blog entries for April 1-5 for my impressions of the first days. You may want to begin with entries from late March to know a little more about the trip.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Finally, Sharing France

I have been trying to decide how to share the France experience with you. I now know that it will take two forms. I will post images from my daily sketchbook here under their appropriate date -- you may have to go to the archives to see them -- and then I will create a webpage with a combination of sketches, photos and commentary which I hope you will enjoy. The webpage will take a while, so I will let you know when it is up.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying the blogs of Karen, Robin, Cheryl, Ellie and Pat. I think you will, too.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On Being Remembered

Several years ago, I judged the Outdoor Art Exhibit at Piccolo Spoleto in Charlesto, SC. I surprised myself by selecting a very traditional painting for the top prize. The selection stunned the artist who "thought it might be a mistake" and pleased the Mayor who got to hang it in his office for a year. When Mayor Joe Riley presented the award, Joanne Evans cried on the shoulder of his good suit! Since then, awards have become a regular thing for her and I often get updates. This week, she sent a press release about her selection in a national competition sponsored by Early American Life magazine as "Best of the Best" in representing 17th and 18th century art. The release states that "Beginning in the early 17th century, classical fine art began what was considered a radical departure from historical style. Most evident in the 'new' subject matter was the departure of human representation in the artist's work. . . .Flowers, fruit, animals and other objects were presented in elegant detail, but normally without human presence or representation. . . ."

I had a job to do and she deserved the award, but I appreciate being remembered. You can see her work at

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Two Days of Rest

Early Saturday morning, we gathered the usual stuff for two days at our country house. Suddenly, we remembered that when we closed up for the winter, we brought all the linens home. This brought discussions of "Where did we put them?"

When we arrived, we did minimal cleaning of the winter dust, turned on the refrigerator, hung the hammock between the oak tree and the house and put the cushions on the big swing under the locust tree. It was cool but we bundled. We were warmed by the sight of the lavendar blooms of the chinaberry trees (which we usually miss) -- they're not French lilacs, but they have a unique beauty.

Lucy and her Mamma came, too, and she got reacquainted with her high-flying grandmother. Maybe one day I will introduce her to France. It was a restful two days.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Weeds, Glorious Weeds

We marveled at the 'weeds' in France - every blade of grass was a picture to us. We put them in wine bottles and water pitchers and coffee bowls. I picked dozens to nestle in the ivy and eggs which lined the long Easter tables. Funny how different those same yellow dandelions, the pink oxalis, the tiny blue spring blooms and the little white asters just look like 'WEEDS!' when you are the one behind the mowing! There is much catching up to do, but still a little time to offer a new appreciation of the colors and shapes of my own weeds.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Jet Lagging and Thanks

Obviously, there were no blog updates while I was gone. -- As there is time, I will add the daily pages from my sketchbook, so France WILL show up. You'll just have to remember to check these pages. I'll try to remind everyone with a current blog posting. If you don't want to miss any of my wonderful words, you may want to subscribe to BushStrokes through Blogarhithms.
Today, I am resting, unpacking, reading mail and catching up. And did I mention resting? But today, I have thought of all the people who made the last month so special. Here is my official list of thank-yous to:
The American Artists:
----Ellie and her husband, John, and Dalmation, Daffy -- for checking out the program and facilities at Cat'Art, reassuring us that it is a good place, meeting Karen and me at the airport in Toulouse even after a 5 hour flight delay and sharing their new world in the Aude with us.
----Karen for sharing the planes, airports and frustrations of international travel, car rental, food shopping and spur-of-the moment excursions as my Residency partner and for the use of her laptop when I suddenly needed it;
----Cheryl for finding the travel deals and communicating with Cat'Art for all of us and for the use of her USB jump drive when I suddenly needed it;
----Pat for listening and for explaining how to use a Mac computer and its French keyboard when I suddenly needed it.
----Robin for her enthusiasm and her camera along with CDs of my images when mine suddenly stopped working.
----Raya for her quiet presence and house cleaning as the third member of the Maison du Cerisier and her inspiring diligence in working daily in the studio.

The Cat'Art team:
----Catherine for her gentle direction of the Center and its programs
----Cristophe for managing operations of the Center with smiling efficiency
----Josep for learning to love a place where artists can be inspired
----Addy for doing the unsung stuff like the grass cutting, the cooler hot water, the minor repairs . . .
----Nicolae for the surprising pieces of his work which we stumbled upon everyday.

And then there is family and old friends and new friends . . .

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Return Home -- Day 25

April 24

Last night, no one seemed to be around at dinner, so we cleaned out the fridge and had a great last meal. Christophe came in to bring a great red wine and to say good bye. We watched the blue candles burn down, listened to the sound of the birds and ended our time in this beautiful, creative and inspiring place. As we finished packing for our early morning departure, we had already shifted our minds to home - - -

There will be time later to think of what this month will mean to both our personal lives and our professional progress. It may mean change. It may only validate where we are. And that will be worth it!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Packing It In -- Day 24

April 23
Since Karen and I were to be the first to leave, we spent bits of time over the weekend trying to pack bags, pack in last views and look good for the film crew from Barcelona.

We met them at 1:30 in the Patio near the remains of last night's party. They asked me to continue working on the pages of this sketchbook/journal. I had taken it apart for yesterday's sharing session in the studio, so I spread some of the sketches out and sat writing about the day. Then I went to our Maison des Cerisier to make sure it was presentable while the crew filmed Cheryl and Pat in the small studio of the Patio House. They took interesting shots through the window of me working on notes for "the book" and making sketches in a small sketchbook. Later, they filmed Karen, Robin, Ellie and Raya in the Big Studio.

It made an exciting ending to our time together.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Last Days' Things -- Day 23

April 22 - Earth Day

There were many things to go "back-to-see," but we just stayed near the houses to absorb our own private times. After lunch, we gathered to look at the full body of work by each artists and we talked about what we tried to accomplish. Ellie and I made notes for a possible magazine article. Later, we planned a wine and cheese conversation in the studio, but switched it to the Patio where our small party expanded to include the guys from the sculpture shed, the Barcelona film crew and other friends -- about 25 in all! I love these parties!

This might be a good day to try for a sketch of our pair of magpies. They are very large birds in beautiful back and white. We can usually see them from the kitchen windows or the back terrace.

Everyone has painted or drawn this tree which stands tall over the spring fields. It seems to guard the rows which are freshly plowed and to wish us luck on our daily artistic journeys.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wandering Destinations -- Day 22

April 21
How could I forget the drive from Mirepoix yesterday where bicycles out-numbered cars and everything stopped while a flock of sheep (mouton) crossed the main road and oo-oozled on down a side road toward their next green pasture? Wonder where they are going? Rent-a-Mouton, perhaps? (The farmer moves them around for grass cutting.)

It's hard to draw a BLACK cat in the just-after-dawn-hours, but she stayed still for these two attempts. I just let the pen oozle around the shape!

After lunch, we had no plan, so we took a long walk to explore LaForge, the sculpture studio and the little road to the River Hers. We collected rocks, thistles and images along the way through what will be summer cornfields. We sort of oozled as well.

"What do you do on a trip?" Before the trip, I had asked daughter Susan to edit and bind copies of a small book which I have been writing with tips for artists who are making non-art trips. I presented a copy to each of the group and asked them to review it over the month. Today, I asked for feedback. General opinion was that there is a lot of good info in it; it should be fleshed out to full volume; ' plein air' is misspelled and assorted other comments -- some helpful; some not --- as expected ---hum-m-m . . . /

Friday, April 21, 2006

Putting Things in Perspective -- Day 21

April 20
Needing a few groceries and a bank machine, Karen and I drove to Chalabre where we passed Randy walking her dog, Maggie. We parked, got money and bought bread, cheese, etc. Then we found the way to the Chateau de Chalabre which is now a historic park. It was closed, but we just wanted the ride through the plaintree allée, the view from the hilltop and a few photos. (A Medieval Gentleman in brown garb appeared and told us it was OKAY. We were so stunned, we forgot to take his picture!) There is a medieval theme for open weekends since the Chateau was begun in the 13th C. There are 15th and 18th C additions.

Ellie and John came to join us on the ride to Mirepox for lunch with Randy and Jean Marc at their favorite restaurant -- Le Commerce -- which allows dogs and the food is great. All had the 12 Euro plat du jour except Karen and me. We splurged on the 16.50 euro lunch because it had sea snails with garlic mayonaise, stuffed salmon in cream sauce with spinach and au gratin zuchinni and finished with creme brulee.

After lunch each of us went in search of our own treats. I returned to the quiet interior of Ste-Maurice Cathedral. It seemed so-o-o quiet and different. Later I realized it was because, on my previous visit, the old sanctuary was filled with warmth and smiles of the Altar Guild which was dusting, mopping and changing light bulbs to prepare this special place for Easter Sunday. Sometimes we forget that most places don't exist just for the tourists! I stopped outside and sketched the garden.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Checking the Pog -- Day 20

April 19
A spur-of-the-moment trip after the market in Lavelanet led us to explore the road to Mont Segur. The Cathar Castle on top of a "Pog" was much too far for us to climb to -- maybe in another life! -- but we enjoyed sketching it from the road at the bottom of the mountain.

I couldn't resist starting with the opposite view with its lime green grass and some playful cows -- Mammas and babies making their way down the path from the top of the hill. We think they went down to the little house . . . .

A "Pog" seems to be a rock mound which explodes from the top of the mountain like Pilot Mountain near Mount Airy, North Carolina. Who knew it was a POG?!!

I was driving today -- great views, scary drop-offs, and hair-pin curves. I later commented that my eyes seemed to be doing funny things and that maybe I had a concussion from hitting my nose on the computer monitor. Karen said, "Thanks."