Monday, April 30, 2007

Finding my way back

So. . . I have had a little sabbatical from blogging. I've missed it.

Shortly after I posted about joining classmates at the Futurity in January, I realized I wouldn't be up to it. I knew I was sick, sick, sick -- some kind of respiratory ailment.

Although the next 6 weeks were a little hazy and were spent mostly in an upstairs bedroom, I did make notes on a few things which were more interesting than the coughs which seemed to crack a rib or burst a bra, the wads of tissues which overflowed the trashcan and threatened to take over the bedroom as if some really bad poet was doing rewrites, and the visits to the doctor which required dressing in real clothes instead of my really grungy PJs. My energy level hit zero and my brain cells took a vacation.

All of this while this little bundle of energy and her mother were moving in for the next year.


I did make a few notes of things I'd like to share here.

***There was the death of a friend/mentor, a note on a friend's blog and an interview by a middle school student in February.

***There was early spring walks by the River with daughter and granddaughter in March.

***There were Easter egg hunts, tea parties and new kitties at our house in April.

***There was a short trip to the coast for me where I shared a couple of days with friends and explored a sculpture near by.

***There was more time to practice with my camera and some resulting photos I like -- such as these.
(What?!! You think she is an angel ALL the time.)

So, I'll transcribe my notes and add some stuff for these missing months, just because I think I'd like to know what happened during February, March and April when I return to my own archives!

You can read them. . . . Or not.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lessons from Lucy: 'Play' is Not A Dirty Word

Watching Lucy grow and explore every day for the past three months has been fun and frustrating.

She often reminds me of new painters as she picks up a new toy, a new fork or a new pair of shoes (and yes, she does love red ones.) She wants instant success. But sometimes, she takes her time.

When I gave her a small box of sand for the front porch, she checked out everything -- BEFORE she got down to business; BEFORE she tried to create a masterpiece. She touched, felt and tasted; poured, sprinkled and scrubbed. She explored the materials at hand. She played!

If I could just get new watercolor students to do the same. They would know how to handle the brushes, what papers to use for textured or smooth results, why colors glaze or granulate or cover and maybe even when to use a photo reference as only a beginning. But most don't want to explore. Lucy and I think they miss the fun part.

And, by the way, sometimes we add water. Well. Maybe play IS a dirty word.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lessons from Lucy: Practice Helps Fill the Basket

On Easter Sunday afternoon, our family gathered at Mamma's house for dinner and a small egg hunt. There were just Lucy and small Ben to look for the bright shapes among their great- grandmother's flowers.

They each had a basket and helping hands to guide them, but Lucy filled her basket quickly while Ben looked confused.

Painters are like that. One grabs a inspiration and quickly fills the canvas or paper with glorious colors. Another stands around and cleans his brushes, draws ideas, or sorts photos.

What makes the difference? Maybe a little preparation.

Sh-h-h-h! We didn't tell anyone, but Lucy had practiced a week earlier.

She was prepared to fill her basket.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Stolen Day - Part II

After leaving Morris and Whiteside Gallery on Hilton Head Island, I managed to find a few more shops where I had a perfectly marvelous time spending a little money. I am not really a 'shopper,' but sometimes, as my friend Frankie says, things just call my name.

And then, I began to look for "The Sculpture." I knew that the latest creation of Patrick Dougherty, The Stick Man, was in Bluffton. I had followed the construction and enjoyed the one he created on our local college campus, so I eagerly anticipated seeing both his work and the variety of art in the galleries and shops of the tiny village.

The tiny old village of Bluffton had slowly dwindled to fewer than 600 people when artists began to discover space there for working and showing. Empty storefronts and houses were transformed and flags and banners marked the "places of art." Through a diligent marketing effort, the village began to grow as people began to come.

Now the developers are coming . . . . But that's another story.

I had read about the Stick Man's Bluffton project and the support provided by the community. I expected to find it easily in a public area in such a small town, but in the printed material, I kept seeing "Take the Ferry to Palmetto Bluff." I did not know what that meant and could not locate either the ferry or the sculpture. Everyone just said "You can't miss it!" Well, you know what? I almost did.

I had given up my search and was taking photos near a church. I struck up a conversation (of course!) with a picnicking couple who gave me marvelous directions -- leave town on the state road, go four miles toward Savannah, turn left and after entering the gate to Palmetto Bluff, go another four miles. And, by the way, those cars parked nearby did not belong to church-goers, but to the ferry riders. It arrived and departed just at the end of the lane past the church!

So, I made the drive -- it was on my way home -- and I entered another world. The Bluff offered spectacular views across the water, shaded walks under old palms and oaks and new homes with the look of gentle old ones. And there, in the middle of the public space, was The Sculpture.

I parked and walked over to it. I went into its dark spaces and looked out the openings, I marveled at the intricate design of the dome and the flow of the surfaces.
I walked to the old church and the nearby Gallery at Palmetto Bluff and viewed it from that distance.

The experience is not one which can easily be described and I wondered how many people have missed it because, like me, they couldn't find it.

On a Stolen Day, I found

the hidden treasure.

The Stolen Day - Part I

As the morning sun lit the tops of the trees at Sea Pines, we rushed around to pack our things and exclaim over things we didn't have time to do. We hugged one last time and headed home -- Frankie and Charlotte for the long drive to Virginia and me to Georgia.

Wait! I don't have to leave right away. I have a whole day just for me.

It was 9:30 in the morning as I passed the one place I didn't get to visit yesterday.
Could it be open?
It seems so! I made a quick u-turn. Yes!

And so. . . I got my visit to Morris and Whiteside Gallery and the Red Piano Gallery which has now been incorporated into the space as well.
807 William Hilton Parkway
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

I took my time with the always exciting watercolors of Stephen Scott Young and Dean Mitchell. I looked at the abstracted figures and heavy texture of Dan McGraw. I marveled at the quick brushstrokes of Marilyn Simandle. I wondered at the intricate landscapes of Joseph Orr. I wished for the powerful design ability of William Hooks. And as usual, was amazed at the handling of the paint by both Ken Auster and Pino. I introduced myself to the work of Joseph Larusso and vowed to search for more about him and his mysterious, old-fashioned images. I was in awe of the subtle value and temperature changes in the figures of Joe Bohler and happy to see his work here. I brought home the brochure on an upcoming show. And there were others . . . . Plus sculptures. Ah! the sculptures.

There is something very comfortable about this gallery. It always makes me feel good. They let me look all I want yet I never feel ignored. The work is well-presented with enough space to lend respect to even the smallest piece. There is room to look at the paintings and sculpture closely and from a distance in spaces which are not white-box. It is the kind of place which makes an artist want to do better work.

What joy in a stolen day!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Just Come

It seemed that I would not get there after all. The day had begun off-kilter and I called my friend to say I would not try to make the trip. It was rainy and cloudy. And who goes to the coast on such a day? I had misplaced my car keys and would not be able to leave until they were retrieved. I couldn't find anything to wear. . . . She said, "Come when you can. Just come."

Later in the afternoon, the sky cleared, the car keys appeared and I began my three hour drive to Hilton Head. I decided to by-pass the number of small towns on the route and take a small road which I had spotted on the map. I thought if I stayed between the River and the main road I would be okay -- this is on an off-kilter day, remember? It was the right thing to do. There was little traffic other than a logging truck or two. There were big, awkwardly painted signs offering "Fresh Eggs" and taxidermy and well-drilling. There were views across pastures and fields which possibly rivaled last April's views in France. There was time to leave behind the weeks of coughing, of room rearranging, of adjusting to two more people in the house (even though one is charming Lucy.)

My friend Frankie, who now lives in Arizona, and her high school friend Charlotte, who now lives in Virginia, and I settled in for an evening of catching up and making plans for the next day. We packed our schedule with shopping for stuff we didn't need, lunch closest to the catch of the day and some art, of course, before it was time for me to go.

Then, as we watched the sky across the Atlantic slowly change to night, I decided to stay another day.

What a simple and amazing gift,
"Just come."