Sunday, April 29, 2007

Persephone's Progress

I'm having some trouble making myself finish this, my last painting for the June Show. Now that I am almost done with the project, I am grinding to a premature halt. I still have three more feet of this image to go, as well as all the finishing touches that will surely be needed. I've had problems with relative scale on this one, especially considering that it will be viewed from a low perspective. That makes the head seem too small, even though when looked at straight on, it seems fine. Since I have no place to hang it up, I can't really know how it will be, and I keep making the head larger and smaller. At some point I'll have to decide. This picture was taken as I perched on top of a stool holding the camera out in front of me over the painting on the floor. It is still skewed.

I've spent some time outside working on days when the temperature is into the sixties. My front yard is looking better, though already the grass needs to be cut. I transplanted more day lilies and did a lot of weeding. On the side of the house I unearthed a big bed of irises. They have been buried under mounds of left-over dead grass for years, but I knew they were there because they still managed to poke out their purple heads last spring. Now the spot looks moderately cared for, though a lot remains to be done. In the back yard I cut down scores of errant roses whose thorns were making walking in that area impossible. I raked out the area under the huge lilac near the chicken pen and plan to cut off more of the branches that are lying across the ground.

One would think with all that work the place would be looking better than it does, but there is so much to be done on a lot that has been neglected for so long. This is the first time I have had much interest in doing jobs that needed years to accomplish. I never planned to be anywhere that long. Now I have some reason to imagine myself here for a long time and am willing to invest in the future of the appearance of my home.
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Hi-Ho Silver

This is Poseidon as a stallion. I decided to paint it in order to give meaning to the herd of mares. It will be hung to the left of the long painting. I had some good news today about the show. Marlys was at the gallery when I went there today to check up on the progress of the cleaning. She has had a show in Machias, so I was able to ask about things I have been worrying about. It turns out that the University does the invitations, gives the reception, and hangs all the work. Apparently all we artists have to do is present our work and sit back. I have been thinking about all those details and feeling very pressured. Now I am relaxed to think that all I have to do is finish my painting and all will be done.

I have failed to write about Alice for awhile, mostly because I was trying not to think about her. I have been in touch, though, and she is recovering from surgery she had over a week ago. All seems to be going as anticipated and it is expected she will be back at work in a few weeks. I am suspending as much emotion and anticipation as I can, busying myself with anything I can think of, looking in other corners of my life for places my mind can roam. It has taken me to unexpected places, which I do not trust. When one runs away in panic, one doesn't stop to look where one is going.
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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dead Dolls, or Jeannette's Memorial

I was cleaning out the small room at the end of the hall and remembered Jeannette's (my mother)dolls. She collected them and made some herself. When she died I sold a lot of them, but out of sentimentality I kept a few. They were in a box under the desk upstairs. I decided to make a kind of shrine, or memorial to her by using the dolls to decorate the table under the stairs, in the downstairs hall. I picked up the box, which was quite large, and carried it to the top of the stairs. As I started down, my foot slipped and I began to fall. With amazing presence of mind I let the box go and saved myself, grabbing for the banister. My own descent was only three steps, but the box went tumbling down the entire flight. Dolls flew everywhere. The only one that survived in tact was my own baby doll, Carol, which I received as a Christmas present when I was six. She is made of rubber, now as yellow as a dandelion, and cloth. The rest of the dolls, made of porcelain, smashed against the stairs and the hall floor, leaving bits of themselves along the way. Even the tiny, antique dolls lost their arms. The doll on the right in the picture, my favorite because of her heft, was beheaded. If that weren't enough, her eyes sank out of sight leaving nothing but dark holes.

Well, if the thought counts, putting them out was one of the nicest ideas I have had concerning my mother since she died. Nevertheless, I ended up destroying what remained of her precious belongings. I have never liked dolls particularly, but she loved them. They were the ideal for her, replicas of the best part of real children. They could be dressed up and played with, but demanded nothing. They were beautiful. She placed them in cradles and high chairs with frilly pillows and blankets. She sewed and knit clothes for them. She bought toys.

Jeannette loved to care for helpless things that depended entirely on her for survival. I remember her nursing three newborn kittens, standing in for the mother cat who had disappeared, until they were on their own. She loved infants. But with both cats and babies, she became indifferent or hostile to them once they began to strike off on their own. She interpreted their independence, no matter how minute, as rejection. She could not take rejection, and man, could that woman hold a grudge. She went to her grave hating pretty much everyone she ever knew. Rest in peace, Jeannette. We have all forgiven you by now. My heart was in the right place when I decided to get out your dolls.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hungry Birds, Snow in Spring

Toni gave me some bird seed that she wasn't going to use and I filled up my own feeders with it. I had seen a lot of finches and chickadees at my neighbor's feeder, which is hanging from my lilac bush by the deck. I thought that it wouldn't be much of a reach for their tiny brains to notice my offerings just a few feet away. I had hardly closed the door when the birds flocked to my feeders. What a wonderful sight to have so many birds out there. The trees are just loaded with them, taking turns diving for the food.

I used the telephoto lens to take the picture through my dirty window. The house in the background looks very close, but isn't. The red in the front is a geranium bloom on the sill. The snow on the ground is the result of several Spring storms that are assaulting the area as if to make up for the short Winter. It is like a battle between the seasons, with warm sunny days followed by snow and wind.
David came back yesterday from his winter in Florida. It was wonderful to see him and we had dinner together. Once he arrives with the Spring, it seems almost as if he never left. I miss him when he's not here, though, and his absence seems long. He heralds the beginning of a new season that is as different from winter as fire is from ice. Eastport's cycle of life is comfortingly predictable. It is extreme at its opposite poles, asking us year-round residents to go along with such changes of climate and activity that we could be travelling to different counties. It is we who are stationary, though, while the world moves. Nowhere in the country does the revolution of the earth seem more obvious, nowhere does it give more richness and variety, as it does here. We are delighted with the first snow, and with the first robin equally.

Patrick the Cute

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Time Out

I spent some time painting with Diana and her friend Helen this afternoon. I decided to give myself a treat and do something that had nothing to do with Demeter and Persephone. This is a 10x10 canvas I had hanging around. I used a photo I had recently noticed in a book on the body. Although it's quite derivitive, I doubt that the original photographer will ever see it. I 'm happy with the results, but more than that, I loved painting it.
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Thursday, April 05, 2007

The best I can do........

This is the best I can do getting a picture of the whole horse painting. I took pictures if two sections at a time, then spliced them together. I photographed the resulting image and put it on the computer. Some of the pictures reflected light, others did not. The color is terrible. The actual painting is very bright red and yellow, which comes across better in the previous pictures I took. Nevertheless, this gives a reasonable representation of the whole thing, eight feet long and three feet high. I still have to paint the sides of some of the canvases--a tedious job if ever there was one. It's necessary, though, to keep the seams from showing white.

I think I am pleased with this work, but I really feel nothing about it right now. Everything I'm doing for the show has ceased to be fun because I HAVE to do it. I rush toward a goal now. It's a product oriented task without the luxury of enjoying the process. It's no longer the by-product of my enjoyment, but what I squeeze out of myself with great effort.
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If you don't like the weather.............

Here is April 5. There's an old saying about Maine: "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute." You would think it was full Winter again. Cars are buried, plows are out. I couldn't find the newspaper until I rummaged around under the snow in front of the house. The dogs came in looking like giant snowballs after their morning constitutional.

Well, the down side to the saying is also the up side. In a few days we will certainly be back to spring.
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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

April Tulips

I awoke this morning to see snow on the ground again. At this point, 11:30, a lot of it has melted. The world is still white, though, and much more remeniscient of Winter than a promise of Spring. I photographed the eight tulip bulbs I planted last Fall valiantly rising from the earth no matter what. They have endured more than any tulip should have to endure, but seem unterderred by it all. David gave me the bulbs before he left for Florida because he didn't have time to plant them in his own flower bed. I left them in the package, on top of the stove, for several weeks where they were subjected to extreme heat from the burners around them. They were shoved out of the way of every meal I cooked, but barely. Many times I almost threw them away, thinking I would follow my usual path of sloth. Eventually it seemed too late, too cold, and had it not been for that same slothfulness, I would have trashed them. But I didn't, and the weather stayed stayed like Fall well into December when David was about to return for Christmas. Thus inspired, and not wanting to be so irresponsible with his gift, I finally dug out a small portion of my overgrown day lily bed. I retrieved the bulbs from their nest of old crumbs and splattered grease. With renewed enthusiasm for their possible giant white blooms, I stuck them in the ground. Look at how they are rewarding my small effort. I watch their progress daily and delight in their will to survive. I pick at the surrounding dead grass to give them room. They are like foster children whom I failed to nurture until it was almost too late. It makes me so glad that I gave them the possibility of life. Now, indifferent to me, they go about their own business while I stand by and silently cheer them on.

I had the power to kill them, and, in the end, did not use it.
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