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.