Friday, August 31, 2007

Lessons From Lucy: The Process

I was interested in the comments this week about my photos of Lucy. I do think that good pictures have to do with a combination of good photography and keeping a camera on-hand. (I think the subject has a little to do with it as well, but grandmothers are allowed to be a little prejudiced. . . . Well, aren't they?)

I keep my tiny digital camera and a little notebook with me almost all the time -- upstairs, downstairs, on the porch, in the car, in meetings. I do have to remember to use them. I have loved editing, cropping and looking for that second meaning in the photos just as I do with painting. So today, I offer this little photo essay about "The Process."

1. Getting Started. "I'm thinking." Lucy is obviously considering two ways to go with her creation. What will she use? Paint? Collage? Or Both?

2. Decision Making. "It's Just Not Working." Lucy finds that the process is not always straight forward with expected results. Some adjustments must be made! "Maybe I'm not sitting in the right position."

3. Taking a Fresh Look. "I Need a Break." Lucy learns that sometimes the best answer is just to stop for a while and take a walk around the block, have a snack.

4. Finding Satisfaction. "I Like It." Don't push so hard. Sometimes its just supposed to FEEL right.

5. Knowing when to stop. "I'm Done." There might be some tweaking later, but for now Lucy has worked hard, likes what she has and thinks she'll ride her tricycle -- in her pink dress-up shoes, of course.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Joy in Red Shoes

Elsie Jane died last week. She was 100. She loved color and her mountain house and travel and fun clothes which she wore with panache, even when her knees kept her out of high heels. At art openings, she could be expected to wear something glorious.

Elsie Jane was in her mid-eighties when she was one of my watercolor students. She was often frustrated that she couldn't paint the way she used to; I thought there was a fresh look in her work. She commented on her inability to create a certain blue, that she only got pink. When I saw the blue she described, not pink, it was my first understanding of loss of color in sight like loss of pitch range in hearing.

Catherine turned 88 last week. She has been a neighbor for twenty years. She celebrated with a surprise birthday luncheon and then hurried back to her floral shop. She loves color and flowers and interesting jewelry and fun clothes which she wears in many layers and combinations. At art openings, she is sometimes the art.

Before she was ten, Catharine began her journey with the floral business while collecting money for grandmother. She learned something about almost everyone in every house as she stopped in after wedding or funeral arrangements had been delivered and she still remembers. Now, when I hear her describe those early neighbors, and now the third and fourth generation which still gets flowers from her, ' as "beautiful person," "sweetest thing,"or "so lovely," I understand that it is Catharine who is these things.

Elsie Jane and Catharine. Two women who have lived their very different lives with the same wonder and enthusiasm for creative projects and interesting people. Two women who have taught me about life and living with joy. They are part of the reason I still love to wear red shoes (or is it really green?)

A little addendum: One day in my senior watercolor class, I began to hear a conversation about funeral planning. One lady said, "I went today to plan everything for my funeral." A ninety-six year old said, "I have paid for mine." Elsie Jane said, "But if the price goes down, you won't get your money back."
(I'm sure if Catharine had been there, she would have taken orders for the casket spray.) They were all matter-of-fact about living; matter-of-fact about dying.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Quote of the Day

I am always interested in what we miss when we try to focus
on what we see. For example, when you take a photo you will
always feel a bit disappointed after the exposure, because it's
never representing what you perceived when you took it.
::: Peter Doig :::
Inspirational art quotes and fine artists

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lessons from Lucy: Not by Giant Leaps

About the time, Lucy was learning to maneuver steps, she was also practicing jumping.

Suddenly, she decided to put both her new skills together and she jumped from the bottom step. She laughed and giggled and then did it again.

Now, she has gotten good at it. She still occasionally has mishaps, but she is figuring it out.

In the studio, we can rework a mishap or edit a phrase. We just need to figure it out a little at the time.

Is that called Practice?

Don't expect giant leaps.

Note: All the kittens have new homes;
all the adults are fixed!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Welcome to the World!

A tiny little discovery this week gave me a 'frisson' of concern. (I've always wanted to use that word; the heroines in gothic novels always seem to love it -- and this is my second time in two weeks!) Following my statistics for website visitors, I clicked on a link back to . . . my own website!

My first reaction was, "Strange." My second reaction was, "Wait, something is not right. It's in SPANISH!" Since others have had their websites appropriated by nefarious characters, I wondered if mine had been stolen as well.

With a little help from my webmistress/daughter, I've learned that my webpages -- and my blogs now appear as about ten or so different websites in as many languages -- we believe it is a new creation from Google. (See my English website and their Spanish versions.)

I have sometimes taken for granted the reach of the World Wide Web when I need to find information. Now, I feel a little like the mother cat in the photo who stepped between the camera and her baby -- don't bother my baby!

Colloquialisms and dialects sometimes need interpretations in this country, but, certainly, translations from one writing system to another are not always clear. It makes me a little nervous as I publish my words in perhaps a dozen languages: my own English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Korean . . . .

I once had to explain to my Japanese friends that a new gallery label was needed to replace "A Big Harvest" for the painting, "A Bushel and a Peck." (The title comes from the song "I Love You a Bushel and a Peck.")

So, I hope these words I write will find good meanings for readers wherever they live and whichever version they use.

Welcome, World!

NOTE: I also published this post today on my 59Musketeers blog.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Taking a Challenge

Several months ago, I decided to create a blog for my old High school classmates -- Class of '59. We are getting ready for our 50th Reunion so lately there are more contacts, photo ops and emails and it seemed like an easy thing. The committee didn't seem interested in using E-communications, so I did it for me!

I know. I hardly have time to post here on BushStrokes, but this a different. I also thought it would help to generate a little enthusiasm between the sometimes-quarterly newsletters. Well, the Barbecue which we held five years ago to build interest/enthusiasm for our 45th Reunion has grown annually to include its own committee, all classes from the 50s and 800-1000 attendees -- all of them pre-baby boomers! I don't expect the blog to grow to those numbers, I just want to have fun with it. So why not!

Now, the Reunion Chairmen have asked me to do the print newsletter too, "After all, you do the blog and it's the same stuff," they said. "Same info, but a different kind of writing," I said. "One is for you and one is for me!"

The same news. Twice. Different. It's a challenge.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The MAGIC number is TWO!

Things didn't change much in the household when the new baby arrived. She ate and slept and cried. Big sister wanted to be a baby again, making baby sounds and forgetting potty training. We mostly just carried on as usual.

But, we have learned that the magic number is 2.

On the 11th, Belle turned 2 months and Lucy became a 2 year old. Belle began to smile and coo at more than just her Mamma and there is now a little person there. Lucy learned that "Happy Birthday," a cake and candles were for her; (and not just for the ChickFil-A Cow!)* and suddenly a preschooler lives here!

I can already tell that there will be less time for blog entries, housework and art. Having Lucy in the household since January brought lots of fun changes; the two-year-old temper tantrums are the least pleasant.

Now there will be two for stories and songs, two for walks to see amazing things, two with fingers in my paint and crayons on my sketchbooks, two with tears to be kissed away and two for bedtime hugs.

Oh, yes. TWO is the MAGIC number!

*A little note: We stumbled upon the annual birthday party at our local Chick Fil-A. It was Lucy's first "birthday party," so when she went to a friend's party the next week, she sang "Happy Birthday, Cow!" For her own birthday, she got a special cow from her great-grandmother LaLa which had been her gift several years ago from Truett Cathy, the Chick Fil-A founder.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Art On a Grand Scale

During the months before Belle's birth, I often went with daughter #2 for her doctor's appointments. We always passed by a water sculpture, a large mural and some painted windows, but we didn't stop to look. I could take Lucy to visit the Art Museum or just meander through the neighborhood. This time, with daughter #1 along, we explored.

We strolled past the inner city church which now serves as a community center; its boarded windows filled with strong designs and colors which lend excitement to its new purpose.

We wandered around the corner and over a block to stand by the gigantic fire hydrant which erupts through the concrete of the parking lot, spraying water on unsuspecting passers by (NO Dogs Allowed.)

We zigzagged through the parking lot to stand before the tunnel mural painted by Blue Sky which we had watched from the hospital after Belle's birth; its sun glowing red in the evening in the dusk. The pale orb of daylight did not lose its charm.

Three kinds of amazing art added to the subconscious of a community. GRAND!

Note: Both the hydrant (Busted Plug Plaza) and the mural (Tunnel Vision) were created by Columbia, SC/LosAngeles, CA artist, Blue Sky.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Quote of the Day

Okay. If you miss the quote of the day, here is a link I enjoy.

How can you miss? The pairing of the Nietzsche quotes and the Family Circus cartoons is random. If you don't like the first one, just try again! Here's one of my favorites.

The Nietzsche Family Circus
We have art in order not to die of the truth.

permanent link for this one is:

Monday, August 06, 2007

Rediscovering Bits of Yourself - Part V

My sisters and I joke that we are three 'only' children. Our parents were the same yet distinctly different when each of us was born. Our personalities and interests reflect both their levels of maturity and our age differences.

But this past weekend, we pulled ourselves together to share in the preparations for middle sister's role as 'mother of the bride.'

The wedding was planned for a white-framed country church where our great-grandparents are buried in the cemetery and where our mother attended as a toddler. The bride had requested that the reception have 'none of that wedding food stuff;' she asked for just cake and ice cream with a little punch. Oh my! It had to be simple, yet elegant.

In the church, just a few ferns and palms formed a back drop for an arrangement of mixed flowers created by the groom's mother. Light glowed through simple stained glass windows to set the mood for piano and flute. In this place, the sacrament of marriage did not need to be long.

In the church reception hall, family hand-crocheted table cloths covered pristine floor-length cloths. Cut glass punch bowls were brought out from the bottoms of closets and filled with either ice cream or punch. Colorful depression glass held the ice cream toppings and sauces. A large ice sculpture, a gift of sculptor friends, added more coolness and sparkle. Magnolia leaves from our mother, eucalyptus branches from the mother of the bride and dozens of my green and blue late-summer hydrangea blossoms were everywhere.

This day will be a treasured memory for many of the guests. One of the cousins said, "This looks like Aunt Agnes planned it." ('Aunt Agnes' was my grandmother who died in 1992.)
Perhaps she did have a hand in it. She instilled in each of us a love of simplicity and quiet elegance, an understanding of working to get things right and the joy in being with family and friends.

She came from a long line of women who knew this . . . . and the line continues.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Rediscovering Bits of Yourself - Part IV

Daddy was the oldest of nine redheads. The youngest is just 6 months older than I -- the one who came to cut my fallen pecan limbs. All of them, and I, went to the same elementary school and had the same first grade teacher. Granddaddy was a mechanic and grandmother stayed at home and worked her gardens -- vegetables and flowers. The nine redheads turned out pretty well.

On Monday, there was a funeral for my daddy's second brother who was called "Red." He had fought lung cancer for 9 years and, at 82, finally gave in. He left behind a close-knit family who will struggle with his absence.

As I looked at the faces of two of his sisters, three brothers and dozens of nieces and nephews, I was surprised at the smiles among the tears. I knew that there was joy in the greetings and love in the hugs. I knew that his was Family.

Spotting my oldest cousin in the crowd, I found another bit of myself; one which didn't hinge on my being an artist or any of the other roles I've filled. I was reminded of my place as the oldest 'girl' cousin in this bunch of folks. It is a special place.

Addendum: Photo in 1942 shows youngest uncle at 12 months, me at 6 months and oldest cousin at 18 months.

Note: Oldest cousin, Gene, suffered a near fatal accident some years ago which did not diminish his sense of humor. I have cherished his advice that every silver white hair represents a good time.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Rediscovering Bits of Yourself - Part III

Since my teenaged years, I have been used to being recognized by people I don't know. It has sometimes been disconcerting when 'strangers' have spoken who seem to know me -- usually it has been a student from a class or lecture I've given, sometimes a watercolor workshop participant, or even sometimes a person (of extremely good taste) who has bought a painting over the last 40 years. But sometimes none of those! This summer, it was not me or my paintings which were recognized!

Each year, I am pleased to be asked to show several paintings at the art show which accompanies the last of the free summer concerts in a small town nearby. (They are taking giant steps in their growth with careful planning for business, green space AND the arts.) As I hung my work in the assigned space and began to place the title cards, I heard, "Oooh, these are beautiful. Who is your teacher?" Then a little silence and " Oh, you are Annette Bush. You don't have a teacher." I wasn't sure what she meant.

After the concert, the artists came to remove their work. I again heard my name and turned to find a friend and former student. One of her paintings was an older (I know because it was dated on the front) watercolor of luscious watermelon slices. It looked as fresh and juicy as any good watercolor. She had asked if I remembered that she had done it in my class almost 10 years ago. She said, " When are you going to teach again? I miss class."

My friend Randy often quotes, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." As if teaching is some kind of badge of dishonor . . . . I was pleased to recognize the teacher still in me.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rediscovering Bits of Yourself - Part II

My corner city lot takes more manicuring than I'd like. With almost 200 feet of sidewalk to be edged, tiny bits of grassy area to be trimmed, fences and flower beds to be maintained, it seems there is always something. When there is little time or too much heat for yard work, I usually ignore the section under the large pecan tree. So when several tree sized limbs fell, the big trellis over the fence gate blew down, the small Blue Gate needed to be repaired and the grass near the garden pools died, all about the time of the new baby's arrival, it was seemed overwhelming.

Susan and I , and a little help, began to tackle the chore with vigor if not with enthusiasm. We trimmed, raked and filled the curb with piles of limbs and bags of clippings. I called an uncle and aunt who use wood for winter heating -- they were delighted to get the clean burning pecan logs and came to cut it up. I pruned the overgrown hydrangeas which were beginning to change from their soft blue to a brilliant green and dried the blooms for my sister to use for this weekend's wedding -- she will fill the country church reception hall with the best of them. Susan and Lucy put new fish in the small pond and will fill the larger one with sand.

As we finished each task and we could see the end of the work, I remembered why I've always carved out flower beds which needed to be weeded, pruned and maintained.

It was in the work, in the sharing, and in the freshly created patterns of light, space, texture and color that I rediscovered another little bit of myself.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rediscovering Bits of Yourself - Part I

Most of us think of summer as vacations, travel, and recreation, but summer is a season for returning. Vacations give us time to be who we thought we'd be every day. Travel takes us back to family or off to fulfill long held dreams. Recreation anoints the body with the energy of younger days and lets us hope for more. Summer sends us back and what we find can surprise us.

The last few weeks, I've had little time for blogging. There has been yard work and filling the curb with debris, pruned limbs and grass clippings- "how did I let it get this bad?" There have been events -- art obligations, high school class reunion meetings and college alumni weekends. There was a family funeral for my daddy's second brother -- two of his sisters, three brothers and dozens of cousins were there. There were discussions of a niece's wedding which will be this weekend -- and, of course, shopping for clothes! There have been days and cool nights in the country -- quiet sunrises and noisy birds.

It has been a typical summer. And in each of these things, I found a little of myself which I had forgotten but which someone else remembered.

The photos: When opening the weathered shutter on my bedroom window in the country, I discovered this tiny wren's nest AND that the soft white lining was strands of MY hair.