Thursday, September 21, 2006

Replacement for no.14

I just couldn't stand the painting I did on the smooth paper, so am replacing it with this one. I'll do the other image, because I like it, on some rough paper. There is too much difference, and the lack of the same quality is too obvious.

Will and Lisa came over to do the work on the house that section 8 required in order to renew my eligibility, and now my discomfort at not having it done has been replaced by my discomfort at having had it done. My anxiety about it had built to such a level that I decided to hire Tony to do the work instead of agonizing over pressuring Will any more. This idea angered Will and, as with all such things, we both felt injured, misunderstood, and abused. The upshot is that I feel as bad now as I did before, but for different reasons. I suppose this is why it is considered a bad idea to do business with friends.

It is very difficult to feel so beholden to a person as I feel to Phyllis, and therefore to Will, as her son. I feel that she has done so much for me already that I have no right to expect the least crumb from her, and yet my dependence on government agencies and their money necessitates that I follow certain rules. The rules involve Phyllis, as my landlady. It makes me feel like the worst kind of beggar to ask her for anything when she has already given so much more than I could ever deserve. It is certainly no mystery to me why welfare recipients have no self-respect. Or else some of them cover their shame with defensive bravado, trying to feel that they are as good as anyone else in a world where they are shown no evidence that they are. Of course Phyllis has never been anything but unwaveringly kind to me, but the facts stand for themselves, and I am often humiliated. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

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Good-bye Mary

How sad it was to hear today of Mary's death. None of us knew when we saw her at the reception a few weeks ago that we would never see her again. It was clear that she was very weak, but when you have known a person for so long, when that person has always been there, it is not possible to imagine that the time will actually come when she will really be gone. Just Monday we received a letter from her at the gallery with her check for her dues for next year's membership. She said that she would truly be a "non-working" member. Now we know that at the time she sent the money she knew that she would not be around and that it was a last gift from her. She never told us that she was under hospice care.

I am unexpectedly hard hit by this. There have been very few people in my life who were anything like Mary. She was such an old-fashioned "lady" in the best possible way. She was soft-spoken and gentle, never uttering a negative word about anyone. She was always impeccably dressed and groomed. Really, she was like her paintings...perfectly tasteful, graceful, and peacefully beautiful. They ignored anything disturbing and showed an idyllic nature that one felt was the way she really saw things. Her skill was amazing, and she painted right up to the last, when cateracts prevented her from seeing well enough. She loved the gallery and even made it to the meeting last winter when we looked over the new space before we rented it. It was certainly a stroke of lucky forsight that we gave her the reception and show. Her relatives said that it meant a great deal to her and she talked about it many times over the past few weeks.

It is actually painful to think of her being gone. Good-bye, Mary. I'm so glad I knew you.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Epping Road 14

I thought I was coming to the end of the usable photos I had of Epping Road, but yeasterday I went through them all and put the ones I hadn't painted into a seperate folder. Of those, I found fifteen more that I thought would make good paintings. So on I go. This one posed difficulties that the others have not because of the smoothness of the paper I used. I realized how much the paper texture was contributing to the look of the images when I had none. I had to make every mark with my own hand, which is certainly not too much to ask, but the result looks different and the process is much less direct. To achieve the same degree of complexity and interest in my strokes, I had to paint the picture to death. I will certainly not use that paper again.

Otherwise, time marches on. Today I went to Toni's and installed a dog run in her yard. A few weeks ago she and I went to an animal shelter in Cherryfield and she adopted a dog. We will be picking up the dog this Friday, since we had to wait for him to be neutered. I was central to this event, doing all the preliminary contacts, setting up the appointment, and transporting Toni to the shelter. The story of her life while we were estranged is rather bizarre, though no more than most ordinary lives are, but she is in even worse psychological shape than usual and needs a lot of coddling and forgiving. This is not easy for me, but I stepped into the situation unknowingly when I called to renew our friendship and now I am in for the duration. Her gratitude is some consolation and I only hope that what she feels is going to be her salvation (getting a dog) will really benefit her and the dog, too. If she is unable to care for the dog, I must say that my loyalties will lie with him and I will get him out of the situation no matter what it costs me where Toni is concerned. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What I Did and Didn't Do

This is the pastel I started yesterday at Judy's. I thought it was the only one I have done without clouds, but when I put it up on the wall I saw that I have done one other one with a clear sky, too. This one I actually blended with my fingers because the paper was so rough I wasn't able to make it look smooth without filling in the texture. Normally smooth isn't what I want, but in the case of an unblemished sky the bumps and lines of the paper are distracting. Of course I didn't smudge anything below the horizon.

I did make soup today for David and I to eat tomorrow night--apple soup. It smelled delicious cooking as I worked in my studio. But once I had finished this painting, I couldn't think of another thing I wanted to do. I felt tired and irritable and fat. An on-line test I took the other day told me that my real age, as opposed to my chronological age, is 67 years, and despite my belief that these tests mean nothing, I have been bothered by this ever since. It is sobering enough that my age is 61, but I have thought that I was a healthy 61. I am unable to dismiss the results of this test, which dooms me because of my lack of vegetables, fruits, and exercise, and chastizes me for getting too much sleep. My reaction to this was to eat a big bowl of cereal and take a long nap. Posted by Picasa

Sick Dog

Poor Lytton, poor me. For the past five days Lytton has had diarrhea (if you'll pardon my directness) and it has not been pleasant for either of us. I called the vet yesterday and the technician gave me the advice I expected; to feed him rice and boiled meat or chicken. I had already been doing that to no avail. However, today he is finally better. I woke up this morning without any foul smell assaulting my nostrils, even though he had jumped down off the bed several times during the night--a very bad sign. I sat up and looked around with trepidation, squinting without benefit of contacts, but saw no telltale dark spots. I forsaw a morning free of paper towels, soap, disinfectant, and queasiness. So far that has been the case. Life is good.

Today I am faced with a day without appointments. I have been longing for such a day for weeks, but I find myself now wondering what to do with it. I feel fidgity, my mind flitting from one possible activity to the next. It is raining slightly, creating a somber atmosphere conducive to cooking something that smells wonderful, like turkey or bread or soup. My house is in great need of cleaning, but that seems too mundane for such a special day. I need to get going on my chicken house remodling poject, but that, too, will happen wether I have a day off or not. I need to think of something that I otherwise would not have time to do. There are two portraits to start, as well as the blueberry field series to work on. I want to do a linocut. I need to practice the recorder, and I want to get going on learning the alto, try the violin again. On the lazier side, I could finish my excellent book and go to the library, or watch my movie on the Emperor Penquins. I could get out my DVD and immerse myself in "Northern Exposure." I could change my bed and do a few loads of laundry. I could take a long, hot bath and moisterize myself afterwards---maybe even shave my legs! The world is open to me and I am stymied. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Salmon Festival

I had almost forgotten about the fact that our Paint Eastport Day auction is really a part of Salmon Days. When I went down to the gallery yesterday to regeister for the auction, I was surprised to see that the place had returned to its Fourth of July festiveness and the streets were full of people. Cars lined the road almost all the way back to the bottom of my street. The sight made me temporarily grumpy, but the reaction was ridiculous since it was all part of the week-end I had been preparing for and thinking about for some time. My narrow focus on my own part in the celebration was so fierce that it became an end in itself and I lost sight of the reason I was doing it all. I recovered myself and proceeded to my secret spot near downtown where I can always find a place to leave the car. I unpacked my painting paraphenalia and walked to the gallery, signed in, and trudged down to the warf behind overlook park where Lisa and I had agreed to meet. It was close to noon, and Lisa was already at work, her first painting almost finished. I set up , facing the opposite direction, and started my painting.

The day was foggy, with a light mist. The temperature must have been in the fifties and a cold wind blew off the water. I was dressed too lightly for the weather and became very cold as the day wore on. Nevertheless I forged ahead and completed my 8x10 canvas by around 2:30. I painted the view looking toward the Waco......Eastport's signature pink granite and the backs of the buildings on Water Street. It was a boring painting, so I painted the sky yellow. On the way back to the car I decided to partake of the festivities by buying a hot dog from one of the kiosks set up on the street. By the time I got to the window I was starved, so I ordered two. It must have taken at least fifteen minutes for the hot dogs to appear, and when they did I was disappointed that they were not nearly as good as I wanted them to be. My standard is set by Rosie's, the local hot dog stand that operates all summer at the head of the breakwater. Those are steamed, and the damp rolls almost disintegrate in your hand. The slippery fried onions on them slither along the hot dog in a greasy tangle. They are delicious. I ate the inferior grilled hot dogs sullenly and headed for the art center.

Paint Eastport Day culminates in an auction of the paintings that participants have completed that day, preferably on the street where people can watch them at work. Anybody can participate whether they belong to the gallery or not. It is supposed to give people a chance to get paintings at a bargain price while benefitting the gallery. All paintings are brought to the art center at the end of the afternoon, we(the inevitable committee members) hang them on the wall with bid slips beside them, set up our usual spread of food and wine, and then let in the hoards. The viewing and bidding lasts for an hour. Within minutes of opening the door, the place is full of people. It's amazing what a crowd keeps coming year after year. The mood is light and festive despite the weather. It's a social occasion to rival the biggest party, as well as a fund-raiser. Seeing all our planning and work come to fruition is, as always, a reward that keeps us doing it over and over again. Wonderful Eastport.

When the hour is over, we have sold over five-thousand dollars worth of art. People have cheered the high bidders good-humoredly, collected their prizes, stood in line to pay, and run out into the evening. Sometime while we were inside it finally began to rain, and rain with a vengeance. Umbrellas flared as our patrons clutched their paintings under their coats and raced to their cars. Everyone was still talking and laughing as we picked up trash, returned furniture to its proper place, and closed the place down. Congratulations were in order, and we supplied them to one another in a spirit of camaraderie and success. Posted by Picasa

Epping Road 11 and 12

Here are the latest in the Epping Road series. The top one took me two art days to complete because I've been so busy with other things, but the second one I did just this afternoon in a couple of hours.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 04, 2006

Mary's Reception

Mary has been a member of the gallery for many years. She paints wonderful watercolors that are very popular with patrons. There have been years when her sales practically kept the gallery going. Now she has grown frail and sick. She needs oxygen all the time and can't see well enough to paint. She told us that she would not be a member next year.

We decided to give Mary a one-person show and a reception tea to celebrate her years with us and her career as an artist. The event was very well attended and she was the quintessential lady that she has always been. She looked beautiful and greeted everyone warmly and graciously. She wasn't able to stay very long, but she appeared to be very happy and appreciative. It made us happy, too, to be able to do something to show our admiration for her and for her life's work.

I think that we all felt a little wistful, and couldn't help but have a passing thought that we, too, would reach a point when we can't work anymore. Most of us are of an age to imagine ourselves in her place, and I think that part of our desire to do this for her came from the realization that we followed closely behind her. Our identification with her was far from remote and the whole thing might have been in part for ourselves. It was a symbolic act, with Mary playing the part of us all.

There is certainly no one who could have done the part more justice.