Saturday, March 31, 2007

Happy Chickens

It was such a nice day today that the chickens actually spent a lot of time outside. I have been opening the door to their house for several days, but they usually prefer to stay in. Wind is something they would just as soon avoid.

Lisa has painted many pictures of chickens, and I almost feel that she owns the subject matter. Hers are really beautiful, but I want to paint my own girls once I am finished with the work I'm doing for the June exhibit. I took a picture of them today similar to this one that will make a good painting. The sun is behind them and they cast long shadows. As usual, the lighting situation will be my main subject, chickens being the vehicle. (That sounds like it should mean something important about art, but I think it is really just words.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Socks

I have been working off and on on these socks for several weeks. In fact I started them before I did the sweater. This is probably my last knitting project for the winter, though I may feel compelled to do something else now that I'm so used to occupying myself this way while I watch TV. In any case, I won't be doing any more socks. These are made from heavy yarn and the weather is fast becoming too warm for them. In the background of the picture is one of the tablecloths Thom sent me in combination with a square of lace that came in the same package. I have been having fun dressing my table up in various outfits, even though very few people see it.
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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Horses, dogs and chickens

I worked more today on the horses. The first picture shows the new addition and the second shows it in context. I tried to photograph the whole thing by standing on the coffee table and holding the camera as high over my head as possible, but I still couldn't get it all.

Once I had done the three new canvases, I went back and made a few changes on the first horses I did. Then I added a few background horses. I plan to do more of this because I want it to look like a big herd. My first priority , though, is to get the entire thing finished. Putting on finishing touches can take as long or as short a time as I want, but I will feel relieved when I have all my paintings for the show in some form of completion. The rest will be frosting on the cake.

I spent the morning with Toni. She came over with the intention of playing the recorder, but we ended up just visiting. The dogs were causing a rather distracting rucus and we opted to forego the music. Her dog Toby is very playful, and my dogs don't really like to rough-house the way he does. Benny sometimes enjoys a little wrestling, but Patrick and Lytton are real killjoys. It is quite entertaining to watch them interact, but Toby gets frustrated eventually and ends up barking. Patrick responds in kind, though with a hysterical high-pitched note. It can get deafening, and then everyone has to go outside.

The weather has been getting warmer and I let the chickens outside all day yesterday and today. They were very happy to get into the fresh air, and I don't blame them. Their house doesn't smell very pleasant after being closed up all winter. I got new wood shavings yesterday and plan to make everything nice and clean for them within the next week or so. It depends on how the weather holds. When I turned to look at the chickens from the deck after I had let them out yesterday, I was filled with pleasure. All the times I struggled through the ice and snow to feed and water them was worth this one experience. I just love to see them there.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

New Horses and Lunch at the Waco

I spent the afternoon repainting the gray horse I did yesterday and adding the next two. When I finished the three panels first, I didn't like the gray horses and decided to redo them as chestnuts, or palomino, or some reddish-brown color that would go well with the background. Somehow the introduction of the other color didn't work for me. I can't photograph the whole painting any more, so this is just the last two rows. I thought I would get more done today, but redoing what I did yesterday set me back.

Earlier I had to go to a luncheon at the newly reopened Waco Diner. It was for people who have businesses downtown who might be interested in advertising in the magazine "Bangor Metro." I was asked to go by Jet Peterson, and felt I had to do it to represent the gallery. The presentation was interesting and we were treated to a nice lunch, but the cost of the spread envisioned by the salesman is much to expensive for the gallery. Nevertheless, I enjoyed playing my role of gallery president. How fine to be a "big fish in a little pond" once in awhile. It doesn't matter how small the pond is, or how unimpressive the other fish. The door to the Waco became the border between us and them for a short while, the seperation between those of us worthy of a free lunch and those who weren't. Such pleasures are worthy of note.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Horse of Another Color

I managed top get this picture of the next step of the horse painting. The quality isn't very good, but the idea is there. I'm now half done. I've introduced a horse that isn't a palomino and will make different colors from now on. If the palominos look funny all lined up, I can always change their color at the end. Doing them the way I did served its purpose, since it made me dive into the red paint and use it for the space around the horses. I hadn't planned for that. Somehow I forgot about the way I always turn everything red, having planned to make a realistic kind of background..........a field and sky. Thank heaven my unconscious mind isn't as banal as my conscious one.
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Sunday, March 18, 2007


Here's the sweater I just finished knitting. It is really a beauty--very heavy and warm. I did it white despite the fact that I'm sure to get stains on it. Somehow I didn't want to compromise on what I wanted, no matter how impractical. It has taken me about three weeks to knit it, working while I watch TV at night. The dogs will be happy now that it's done because they have had a hard time being beside me or on my lap, as is their custom. I didn't discourage them per se, but they hated the needles rubbing against them or a strand of yarn being pulled under their bodies. After making several attempts to get comfortable, they usually abandoned me and settled down on the other couch or on the floor. Every time I put the knitting down for a minute they all charged from their places and pounced on me, licking my face and jockeying for position. No matter how many times this happened per evening, hope sprang eternal. This commotion took place several times every evening, ending with them returning to their inferior places to wait for another opportunity.

Now they will be happy boys, and I will be a happy Mama. I love them cuddling against me.
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Stage 2

Worked some more on the horses---I couldn't get the whole thing in the picture from my vantage point. I had to stand on the step ladder and hold the camera out at arms' length, guessing when I had framed the picture. This is the best I could do, but it is cut off on all sides except the right. After this I won't be able to photograph it all at once unless I hire a helicopter. I like the way it is coming along. I'm trying not to leave much for later, pretty much completing each square as I go. I don't want to leave a lot of work for after the whole thing is done. I need to think "finished product" at this point. As it is I am sloughing off such problems as framing and hanging. June will be here before I know it and i don't want a lot of loose ends to tie up.
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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Another Beginning

I received canvases from David so that I could start another big painting for the Machias show. This is the first six of 24 canvases that will fit together to make an 8' picture. Demeter changed into a mare at one point while she was looking for Persephone, and hid herself in a herd of horses. The subject was perfect for me, since I do love to paint horses.

I took this picture standing above it, having laid it out on the floor. One canvas caught the light differently and looks off in the photo, but it actually isn't. So far I am having a good time with this. I think it is going to be the best one I do.

One thing is for sure.........I won't do another one on canvas boards. The quality is so different that I wish I had used stretched canvas for Demeter and the baby. Well, I didn't.
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Tonsils and Ether

When I saw these pictures in the paper yesterday my heart lept into my throat and my nostrils filled with the terrible smell of ether. This is the building where I had my tonsils removed. It's also the sight of one of my most powerful introductions to deceit. That stairway is the one I innocently climbed as a four-year-old, holding the hand of a black-habited nun. My mother encouraged me from the foot of the stairs, promising balloons and ice cream.
My next memory is of sitting on an operating table, the aforementioned balloon being placed in my hand. I remember its rubbery feel and smell. Someone told me to blow it up. After that, I remember only the overpowering smell of ether, the pressure of plastic on my face, and people wrestling me to a prone position.
The promised ice cream appeared later, as I lay in a crib-like bed. My throat was too sore to eat it. The bitterness I felt has never fully dissipated.

The Phantom Plowman

Every time it snows at night, I go out in the morning to get the newspaper and find my car plowed out. Today was no exception. After what was spring-like weather, there was a big snowstorm last night, dropping about six inches. I had to kick the back door open for the dogs because there was a huge drift along the house side of the deck. Nevertheless, the area behind my car had been cleaned out, as has become usual.

This is Eastport, of course, and good deeds are not so unusual. Still, I wonder who my benefactor might be. Possibly it is the man down the street who once gallantly hooked my car to his truck with a chain and pulled it out of a huge mound of plowed snow at the entrance to my driveway. I had tried to blast my way through it when I came home from Sydney's one Wednesday after an afternoon blizzard. I realized too late that the snow was much too deep, even for front-wheel drive. Once the car was out, he plowed the driveway and drove off like the Lone Ranger, not waiting for thanks.

Amother possibility is the young man who rode with me in a WHCA vehicle early in the winter. He said he loved to shovel people out anonomously. He said it made him feel good to go to needy households under cover of darkness and clear the snow, leaving before anyone could discover him.

It may be neither of these, but some unknown knight in shining armor who believes that good works are their own reward. I would certainly like to be able to speak my gratitude, but unless I somehow catch this person in the act I guess I won't be able to.
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Monday, March 12, 2007

The Perfect Gift

David mentioned that he was sending me something in the mail last week, but I had forgotten about it until I saw the package outside the door. It rattled, and I couldn't imagine what it could be. After I opened the box and found many identical smaller boxes inside it I was really puzzled. Then I used my box cutter (another gift from David, by the way) to get into the first box and found two plastic pink flamingos. I laughed out loud with delight and continued to do so as I opened box after box. The dogs watched me curiously and took pleasure in the boxes themselves, carrying them around and chewing them.

What a perfect gift to get on the first day of Daylight Savings Time, when Spring seems imminent and temperatures have climbed into the high forties. It is still light and sunny even though it is past five o'clock. It is finally the time of year when five o'clock is still afternoon, water rivulets from melting snow flow down the streets, and mud rises to the surface everywhere. The flamingos are such a cheerful sight to me, one who has a particular fondness for these icons. There is something so utterly absurd about them. It goes far beyond the simple snobbery of those who think of them as the epitome of bad taste. They have the charm of total uselessness, a burst of garrish color that proclaims joy and enthusiasm for tropical warmth and happy, sunny days. They are obviously symbols, with no pretense of looking like the real birds they represent. They shout "plastic" out of every pore of their rigid little bodies. Here in the north, they reveal their owners to be of modest means and good-humored temperament, people who love to celebrate summer after dark snowy days.

I have always decorated my bathroom with pink flamingos...........well, since I have lived on my own and can indulge my every impulse anyway. I've wanted some for outside, but it's hard to find them in this part of the country. Besides, they are at their best in numbers, and I couldn't afford enough of them to make the statement I wanted to make. Now David has made this possible with his spring gift.......a gift that no one else would think to give. How wonderful.
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Monday, March 05, 2007

Summer Version

I finally finished the summer version of the landscapes for the Machias Show. I worked on it longer than most, changing things over and over, but I have it the way I want it now. I see all this work piling up behind me and I get a distinct feeling of moving forward. It is a precipitous journey, leaving me feeling rushed and uncomfortable. I want to stop and enjoy the present, but as soon as one painting is done, I have to turn away from it and move to the next, barely glancing back. I don't like this goal-oriented activity and what I have created seems superfluous.

The Epping Road series is different. I suppose it is because it has no end, and really no beginning either. When I began doing it, I didn't know it would be a series. It can go on and on, as long as I choose, at whatever pace I choose. It has no purpose but what I give to it, and there is no reason for its existence other than my pleasure in doing it. The paintings are the by-product of my enjoyment, souvenirs of time happily spent.

It's easy to see why I have never been much of a success in life, at least in a traditional sense. Working toward a specific end holds no appeal for me. I prefer process that is an end in itself. Thinking about results only drags me down.
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Saturday, March 03, 2007

What I Have to Show for Myself

I've felt as if I had nothing to say because my thoughts have been consumed by worrying about Alice. However, I have not been idle by any means, so here are pictures of what I've been doing. The top picture is my enlargement of the charcoal drawing of Demeter. I didn't have room enough to put the whole thing on the wall. There will be three or four more rows of fire, and the whole painting will be eight or nine feet tall. Each canvas is 12x12. It is quite an interesting process to paint each square seperately and then assemble them.

The second picture is the finished product after I changed the sky on the Epping Road painting for the Machias show. I like it much better. I am working on a summer version of the same scene now.

The third painting is a Fall Epping Road picture that I did on Art Day. I've worked on it some more, and still have more to do. Since neither of my Machias works are portable, I decided to do a small pastel at Sydney's. The Fall season is not as well-represented in the series as Summer and Winter . I have to say it was much less inspiring to work out of season............more like doing a duty. The work showed my lack of respect, too, at first. I have had to work much harder to pull it together than the others, which came so naturally.

I have done many things I could have written about in the days since I've not posted here, but my brain is unable to focus on anything once it has passed. I am waiting.

Last night, though, I went over to Will and Lisa's for dinner and we watched a movie. After a delicious meal of chili, corn bread, and wine, I sat on their large couch with my feet up under me. I lounged on many pillows and shared a lap blanket with Lisa, who was comfortingly near me. Children came and went during the evening. There was a blizzard outside, adding to the cozy atmosphere.

When the movie was over, Will drove Meg and me home through the empty, icy streets. For a few hours I felt as if I were living in a perfect world where everything was wonderful and we all lived happily ever after.