Monday, January 21, 2013

New Portraits: Practice, pracitce, Practice!

Pam Russell, 1/20/13
I'm talking with my online class about the fear often associated with finishing projects. Is it that once the thing is figured out, we no longer have to complete it...or a kind of over-whelming sense that we can not complete anything less than perfectly, and since we're not yet perfect, we can not possibly finish.

Maybe all of the above, that the one percent inspiration part is not nearly as
much fun as the 99% perspiration part.

I find that I am gradually breaking myself
of the part where I had to be perfect and do perfect work. It may be depressing to accept that one is Not, indeed, as 
stunningly good as we might have thought
or fantasized, BUT it is certainly Restful
not to Have to be!

                                                                                    Unfortunately this portrait of Kristen
Kristin Halberg 1/19/13
 doesn't look at All like her, and became less and less so, the more I struggled over it. I finally decided that it was kinder for all concerned to just Stop. Maybe I'll try again at some future time, if I run out of subjects. I'll have to assure her that my interpretations in paint often have very little to do with Reality.

On the other hand, the third painting in this set, of Pam Russel, may not look a lot like her, but I am happier with it, since it carries some of the essential Her.

Mary Franchini  1/13/13

Mary was the first in this set of three, and
although I was apprehensive about painting
her, I think she turned out OK. 

I've been working on portraits for the last  3-4 years, and I still can't tell if one is going to turn out acceptable (to me) or not. 

I think the only solution is to keep working and struggling with the process, declaring each one "finished" after a day or two, and going on to the next. I could never be one of those artists who works for years on the same piece. My approach is to get her done and hope that the process of continuing to try, slowly but surely leads to improvement.

As my 3.5-day weekend winds to a close, I 
have 3 new canvases primed, and no time to paint. We'll see what the next round brings.

To all my online students: Finish those UFO' might like at least some of the results!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy Birthdays!

Hugh and Connie at his birthday, party Perche No
We are getting to the age when we are grateful to be able to celebrate another birthday, rather than dreading it. My little brother, Hugh, turned 60 this week and treated 12 of his closest family and friends to a sumptuous million-coursed feast at Perche No in Green Lake. The exquisite Italian food kept coming, along with the wines! 5 hours of dining and fun! The Asian couple who owns/runs/hosts the restaurant just LOVES Italian food and entertaining their guests.

Me and Brian...thanks, David, for taking pictures!
Whoops! in my desire to travel light, I left my camera in the car, so borrowed some of David's photos.

I am always wondering: Is it better to document the event in pictures...or be
Totally Present in Experiencing it? 

At the  request of the other guests, I wrote
down the courses: marinated grilled portebellas,  Fresh mozarella wrapped with yak procuitto, veal meatball with tomato sauce, white turtle soup with 
carrot and green vegs, gnocchi with butter rosemary and mushrooms, rissotto with tomato sauce bay scallops calimari and
David, Amal, Doug
Brian and David...I took this one!

 shrimp, veal shank over smashed Wisconsin   potatoes, a huge grilled ribeye steak, sole with lemon and parsley, arugala salad with goat cheese and grilled peppers. Dessert course: fried chocolate lasagne with raspberries and cream, pears poached in red wine, a custard, a strawberry compote. Wines, in addition to some of Brian's finest, a small glass with a combination of home made lemon ice/champagne/vodka, then a walnut liqueur....

This was one of the best ways I know to really appreciate food as a sacrament of
love, with tiny, multiple courses, and much discussion between each one. 

As a family, indoctrinating each new member, we prepare, share, and  talk about food. Sensual enjoyment ties us
to our environment and the seasons.

David loaned me A HOMEMADE LIFE by Molly Wizenberg...more shared pleasure.

Thayer sent us antique postcards from
Israel with paragraphs from
for use to assemble as a group...More tasty
delights for the senses!                          

Art on the pedestrian bridge from Seattle ferry dock to downtown
 Earlier that same day....after more than seven years of living on the Peninsula and 20 or so before that visiting Seattle, I am slowly, slowly trying to learn my way around downtown.

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Art appears in unexpected places, both intentional and not so. There was a series of drawings along the bridge, morphing from a forest, gradually into abstract shapes.


The bridge structure plays right into the drawings.

This country girl is blown away by all the color and variety of garments available for sale in the Big City...but quickly runs out 
of cash for buying. Sometimes it's easier not to be tempted.

Hugh at home on his actual birthday

I treated Hugh to breakfast on his actual birthday. Hudson's, dark brown interior, ancient brown flocked wall paper, cracked and stained photos of long-dead people, Willy Nelson and Johnny Cash playing, a couple of dark-haired tattooed single mother hipster waitresses with hearts of gold, an older Italian(?) who's been around, running the grill. 

Good coffee in thick white mugs. We split an omlette stuffed with brisket and covered with cheese and frizzled onions...Good bacon and home made biscuit with strawberry freezer jam...

I expected to see Tom Waits at the circular counter, nursing a hangover.

Space needle and Chihuly glass bush
Now that I know how to take the Monorail to Seattle
Center, I met Hugh and Connie there before dinner
and after Hugh's last performance in Wizard of OZ.

The life of a full-time actor is tough. He has already
started rehearsals for Music Man at the Fifth Avenue, where Connie works and organizes activities. Too 
bad there is a real shortage of good roles for older
women...We all have our Art Passions to structure our
lives along with our passion for food.

Glass bush, red bush, airplane accent.

The glass bush, a bare
red-barked bush, tiny
plane flying above as
an accent mark.

Sometimes I miss sun on snow, cross country skiing in Vermont on a -12 degree day or by moonlight between snow-laden evergreens, but I am learning to embrace where I am.

No more cutting, hauling, burning 12 cords of firewood.
The white stuff looks great up on the mountains behind town.

Leaving Seattle in the rain, Ferris wheel--I want to ride!

Leaving Seattle, in shades of gray, maybe I have the best of both worlds--city for stimulation, small town for comfort.

There's something about so many people so close together that makes tempers short. It's nice to be able to leave my car on the home side. Thanks to my brothers for driving me around, and to the city for being compact enough to walk ...I'm learning my way.

Focusing in on raindrops on the window
What makes a place Home, besides the experiences lived there, the people with whom it is shared, a decision to take root and emphasize the positive.

January bloom in my back yard
I always breathe a sigh of relief, crossing over the waters back to my home on the Olympic Peninsula, in the rain shadow, sun showing herself as I came across the Hood Canal Bridge...We appreciate her with a certain universal giddiness because her presence is so rare in January.

Exploring in my back yard, one of the
evergreen ground covers is already in 
bloom, along with the heathers in yards
around mine.

Grass is bright green with all the rain and there's a haze of purple/brown around the tree tops with leaf buds swelling, as I drove home in 50 degrees and sun, through the woods. I think I heard peepers in the evening. I should get out and hack the blackberries back while I can still see their bones.

Ediz Hook, looking toward Canada on New Year's Day

Ediz Hook looking west..shades of gray
The salt water has always called me, and now I have a wide variety of ever-changing beaches to explore.

We won't be able to tell when the days get longer until the clouds lift, but here, one learns to appreciate shades of gray and the difference between "showers" and "occasional rain."

Gray days are good for creativity...and appreciating my cozy home. Worked on two paintings today, walked to the library and brought home yet more books and movies...What a Good Life!