After the fourth of July and all its hoop-la, after the pie sale was over, after David's opening, I turned my creative thoughts to pastels. I have been trying to use them for about three years, but wasn't able to get far. I had trouble with values, not to mention tecnique. Last week when I was in Bangor for my physical exam (yuk), I bought some black paper, convinced that it would solve my problems. There are two new gallery members who do pastel, and though I was not inspired by their work per se, I was inspired by my own competitiveness. I could not accept the fact that I wasn't able to do what they could do. These three paintings are the results of my efforts so far. The top one is not done, as I haven't worked on the buildings at the bottom, but I am feeling good about my efforts.
The middle picture is more like the tecnique I thnk I would like to cultivate, since it is more painterly. The two skies, I felt, had to be blended to get the softness I wanted, but I may learn how to accomplish that without using my fingers eventually. I'm enjoying my efforts in any case. I am the eternal student, always in love with the idea of learning something new. That is my nemesis, too, because usually once I get to the point where I know I could become accomplished, I skip the follow through. The rest is not a new challenge, only the drudgery of practice.
Luckily I feel that I have a lot of learning to do, and am quite anxious to continue. These paintings are very small: 9x12. Before I am done, I will have to buy some expensive large paper. Before I do, I have to feel that I am up to the task. I need to be confident that I will not waste the paper.
Not the least of happenings of late has been the disappearance of Esther. She seems to have simply vanished. I spent about an hour looking for her last evening when I realized she was gone, but she was nowhere to be found. I try not to think of what happened. The night before there was a big thunderstorm and when I came home from Judy's I found that the door to the henhouse had blown shut. It was almost dark and all the chickens had been closed inside except a very wet Hannah, or so I thought. I opened the door to let her in and left them for the night. The next morning I found Mary out in the yard clucking for her breakfast. I had not seen her the night before and she had spent a wet night outside. It is my recollection that when I opened the door and let the other chickens out they were all there except Demeter, who often stays in the little nesting house in the mornings to lay her egg. But when I went to put them to bed last night, Esther was not there. Either she got out during the day, or she was actually not there that morning at all. She may have been out as Mary was and escaped. In any case, since she did not reappear this morning, I am certain that she has met an unfortunate end somewhere in the neighborhood. Whatever it was, I don't want to know.
The dogs also mysteriously got out of the house the other day while I was visiting Sydney. I came home to two frantic boys barking and wanting to get into the house. Benny was inside, but Lytton and Patrick must have had a great adventure. They were hot and panting, covered with burdocks and full of mats. The doors to the house were all closed and no windows were open from the bottom, so I can't imagine how they got out unless somebody opened the door. My suspicion is that one of the people visiting Diana this week for the painting non-workshop came by to see me. When I didn't answer the door, perhaps they innocently opened it to call to me, thereby allowing the dogs to sreak past them. Evidently Benny was not on the ball, or he would have been gone, too. I asked everybody if they had been to my house and all pleaded innocent, but since I can imagine no other scenario, my guess is that the guilty party kept quiet. I would have had I been in that position and I hope that is the case. If not, it remains a mystery that I need to solve.
It is amazing that I have become somewhat callous about chicken death. Hannah and Demeter are special to me as individuals, but the others seem to just round out the group, adding little more than their numbers. I am sad about Esther, and I hate thinking about how she died, but that is the extent of the impact on me. I'm sorry to say that I didn't shed a tear.