Saturday, January 30, 2010

Photo of the Week -- Looking Good!

I have learned that a relationship with a sidewalk may not result in a broken heart, but it certainly can mean lots of aches, pains and general discomfort.

My glasses hurt my nose. The arm splint makes it awkward to do almost everything. My head hurts when I move around a lot. BUT there is little pain, I'm not bleeding and I don't have to put on make-up today!

Aunt Alice said I would be better after forty-eight hours, but this is NOT Looking Good!

photo: My face - Day 3
Looking Good!
BushStrokes (c) AAB

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Anticipated RETURN

I used to paint on sweat shirts. I had a chance to do it again yesterday.

I have been reading about artists who are using a variety of materials - whether to emphasize the transient nature of the environment or some other kind of statement - I'm not sure I get it. But yesterday, I dribbled a bright Alizarin on my favorite pale green sweatshirt. The one which matches my favorite Crocs. ® I hope this is one of those transient art pieces, but I'm not sure how well blood will wash away.

Yep. I was walking my little dog, jogged a few steps and hit the sidewalk. It's very undignified to crash on the green in my historic neighborhood, so I managed to get up, pouring blood from several places. I spread blood down my shirt and all over my iPhone as I called for help.

A visit to the emergency room in the hospital where I was born assured me that I have a bruised chin, forehead, hand and knee (BTW carpet burn is more fun than concrete burn.) The big ones are two black eyes, a sprained wrist (now in a splint) and . . . a broken nose!

I'm hoping that these colors will go away as well.

When I selected my word of the year, painted sweatshirts and the old hospital were not how I anticipated RETURN."

Phone photos: : My Spattered Shirt; My ER close-up
Anticipated RETURN

text & photos of BushStrokes (c) AAB

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Word of the Year

Good art looks new because the artist has recombined something old to make something better.

Darby Barnard

I'm still working on my Word of the Year. I never did settle on one word for last year.

I've been thinking about the do-over words re-cycle, re-purpose, re-new, re-present. But I'm already DOING those.

I'm reusing the church window/greenhouse glass. I'm saving coffee grounds for younger daughter's compost bin and bottles for edges along the garden paths. I'm shredding paper for older daughter's paper making projects. I'm planning to use this old non-working sewing machine, which I bought from a neighborhood street person, as the base for the new mudroom sink. I have even been shopping at the Habitat for Humanities ReStore.

What I need is a word that's just for ME. A do-over word would be okay.

I like the idea of returning to some of the best parts of me and combining them with new and unknown parts of me.

I like the idea that as I work in the studio old techniques and themes will return in new forms as simply better quality of art.

I like the idea of that some of the energy I have sent into the Universe might return to me and propel me into exciting non-comfort zones.

I like the idea that I can return to the place where I thought that nothing was impossible.

I like the idea of this word, Return, as My Word of the Year.

Walter Darby Barnard is a Professor of Art at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. His work is included in many prestigious public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Guggenheim Museum; Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art; Baltimore Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

paper tube and pipe cleaner ornament from Lucy and Belle

BushStrokes -
Word of the Year
text and photos (c) AAB

Monday, January 25, 2010

Clear Unbroken Panes

Last fall, Mamma took down her old greenhouse. It had seen hundreds of plants and blooms across the years, but the old wooden frames had finally given way. The windows had originally been in our church and Daddy recycled or "re-purposed" them when they were replaced just before I married.

When Mamma wondered if the trash people would take the glass away, I knew I needed to find a way to use it again. So I brought home the clear, unbroken panes and measured, washed and packed them away.

Last week, we sat under the "new" windows -- the stained glass now a half century old -- for the funeral of the oldest member of the Red Hat Society. At almost 102, Ethel was perhaps the youngest at heart . Her bright blue robe was hanging on her chair as the choir took their places; she had worn it just before Christmas. Always impeccably and fashionably dressed, (no little old lady was she!) she won a couple of senior beauty pageants after she was 95. At 92, she drove across the state for the birth of a grandchild. She danced at her granddaughter's wedding at 100. Everyone of every age loved to be with her; she simply spread joy.

As I looked around the sanctuary, the new glass threw spots of color on the women of my childhood, I knew that Ethel represented all of them. Women in their 80s and 90s who had met each other in the 1940s. Women who have been bonded by their common experiences in this church. Women who have simply slipped into new roles as old ones have fallen away. Women of strength who have re-purposed themselves again and again.

I now have some ideas and drawings for my pieces of glass. I have plans for reusing these wavy old things and, when I do, I'll think of Hazel, Laura, Mary, Dean, Anne, Betty, and Edna. I'll wonder how they'll repurpose their lives next and I'll wonder if, I too, will be able to reframe myself like clear, unbroken panes.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Color of the Week - Marshmallow

"It's a marshmallow world in the winter, When the snow comes to cover the ground". . .

Problem is. . . we don't get much snow in middle Georgia just south of the fall line. But, we bundle a little when the wind blows fluffy clouds in the cold blue sky, sprinkle marshmallows in mugs of hot chocolate and hope for "a whipped cream day."

Lucy and Belle made snowmen with big marshmallows, kisses and M&Ms.

We toasted mini-marshmallows on skewers in the flame of the dinner table candles -- they were supposed to go over warm brownies, but were perfect by themselves.

Lucy wore her snowflake dress with fluffy white trim and a fur hat on her red hair like a spun sugar confection.

The big white cats, Green and Vinnie, melted together at nap time. A double purring marshmallow.

And Sugar Plum Princess came to live at our house, frightened and recently shaved of fur which was dirty and matted after her days on the street. We didn't learn much about her from the folks at the pound, but we do know she likes tiny treats and the spot on her forehead is a delicious bit of fluff.

. . . "so what if (there's no snow,) In winter it's a marshmallow world!"

The perfect color for this week: marshmallow.

Lyrics by Carl Sigman -- lyrics

BushStrokes text and photos(c) AAB

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Kick in the Rear

Winter was here last week. Today the birds are singing, neighbors are visiting on the green and leaves are stretching in the warming sun.

These quiet days of January seem perfect for my goal of writing a few times a week about what I have observed in the studio, around the house, in the classroom and about my family.

Too many weeks have passed since I made notes here about the ordinary events of the Feasting of Thanksgiving, the Preparation of Advent and the Celebration of Christmas. I have dreamed of finishing some of the sentences still floating around in my head like paintings left sitting on an easel or turned to the wall. I had even set deadlines, but somewhere there was a disconnect.

So I went back to a list by writer James Scott Bell which I saved almost two years ago about D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E -- something I handle even less well than goals or deadlines. When I opened the file, "Ten Disciplines for Fiction Writers," I immediately thought, " Yep, Motivation. And Momentum. Yes, I need that. And the nifty 350. . . wonder how 350 words translates to brush strokes?" And it was there that I found yesterday's quote: "A goal is a dream with a deadline."

I looked at each of the ten headings and pulled a sentence which simplified it for me. (with apologies to Mr. Bell.)
  1. Motivation - Find your own ritual that gets your juices flowing, and don't waste it.
  2. Momentum - You must find a way to write (create) consistently if you wish to be a working fiction writer (artist.)
  3. The nifty 350 - (Get) a kick start in the morning. If I don't watch it, my day can fill quickly with little tasks, distractions, interruptions, phone calls and crises of various magnitudes.
  4. The furious 500 - Whatever your quota is, break it down into furious chunks. . . . You can make it perfect later.
  5. Super Tuesday - I have designated each Tuesday to be exclusively a writing day. . . . I don't schedule appointments or pleasure trips or anything else on that day.
  6. Celebrate - Look for creative ways to celebrate even the smallest victories.
  7. A kick in the rear - Find ways to get yourself back on track if you derail.
  8. Keep a log - (Record) daily and weekly production. Review this log each week.
  9. Get Healthy - Your productivity and creativity improve with the care of your body.
  10. Retreat and Advance - (Assess... Create... Plan...) Then, day by day, week by week, advance on your goals, like a general in charge of an army.
Okay. So I've got some dreams. I've got some goals. I have some deadlines. I need some discipline. THAT might take a Kick in the Rear.

Used by permission of the author. *(words in parenthesis are my addition)
Mr. Bell's list was first published in The Writer's Digest and was included in the February 11, 2008 on-line newsletter. The full text is here.
This article appeared in the October 2002 issue of Writer's Digest.

Both The Writer's Digest and books by James Scott Bell are excellent creative resources.

James Scott Bell studied philosophy, creative writing, and film in
college, acted in off-Broadway theater in New York, and received his law
degree, with honors, from the University of Southern California. A
former trial lawyer, Bell is the Christy Award winning author of
Deadlock, Breach of Promise and The Trials of Kit Shannon series which
includes A Greater Glory, A Higher Justice and A Certain Truth. He lives
in Southern California with his wife, Cindy, and their two children. You
can learn more at his website:

A Kick in the Rear
iPhone photo: Winter Tree
appropriate copyrights apply
BushStrokes (c) AAB

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quote of the Week: Goal

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

James Scott Bell, writer

Setting goals is simple for Lucy. She loves Toddler Time at the Museum but it's not looking at the art nor the creative time in the art room which is her dream. It's "I'm finished. Let's go to lunch at the Sunshine Bakery." She almost always meets her deadline.

Photo: "Lucy and her abstract painting."

Note: Sunshine Bakery is a local favorite with German deli roots.
Soups, Sandwiches, Josephines, Sunshine tea . . .

BushStrokes - photos and text (c) AAB

Monday, January 18, 2010

Along the Quarter Mile to the Mailbox

We watched across the landscape as a plume of dust marked the progress of a vehicle along the unpaved "big road." We knew it was the mail carrier and so we ran with bare feet toward the treasures of the mailbox, making our own dusty plumes on the dirt track between the cotton and watermelon fields.

It was the summer when I was eleven. It was my week to visit my cousins who had hard chores to do on a hard-scrabble farm, but who also had a stash of movie star magazines and wonderful RED shoes! It was a week of "girl" stuff with my glorious, serene and joyous cousins. We rarely saw their younger brother who, just a month older than I, was out hunting or plowing and we worried about their older brother who was away in Korea.

Rural mail carriers brought letters and bills, newspapers and packages and, on this day, the newspaper was a special edition. We ran back to the house with the exciting headlines sure that my oldest cousin would be coming home for Sunday Dinner. It was some time before he returned, but we celebrated on that day -- the Armistice in Korea on July 17, 1953.

This week, we celebrated the life of Cousin Billy in a tiny, quiet church on Iron Hill. I thought of the morning he came to our house in deep depression, how happy he was when he visited us - newly wed to the love of his life, how across the years he had changed from a difficult man to one who was at peace when he died. Others had their own memories and private thoughts.

This week, the North Koreans proposed a peace treaty to formally end the hostilities of the 1950s. . . . Others have their own memories and private thoughts.

That day, fifty seven years ago, plumes of dust floated up and dispersed and settled along the quarter mile to the mailbox.

Along the Quarter Mile to the Mailbox
BushStrokes text & photos (c) AAB