Monday, September 29, 2008

Making a Satement

The rumbling of the earth as our country's forefathers collectively roll over in their graves sent my flag head over heels.
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Friday, September 26, 2008

More Memories

As I was trying to organize my studio and put away my summer clothes, I came across some audio tapes. I put one in the cassette player to see what it was and heard the voices of our long ago family at the dinner table in Newburgh. Carrie had just started kindergarten. She looked then like she does in this photograph taken in 1977.

What a traditional family of the day we were.........father, mother, and two children, a girl and a boy. We had two dogs, too, and a cat. I stayed home with the kids and Phil worked. That ideal was just beginning to go out of favor. Woman were starting to feel uneasy. A few got married and kept their own names. A few worked after the children were born, feeling guilty. It was the time of "women's lib," a term not quite understood by most. I hovered on the edge, having been brought up to think that a woman should be a housewife. Before marriage, though, I had been a professional with an office and a secretary, my own telephone extension........ I was never quite comfortable in my stay-at-home role, but could not imagine leaving the upbringing of my children to someone else. I panicked every time I thought of it.

Listening to the sound of those voices this afternoon took me back to long days of "itsy, bitsy spider" and "Mary had a little Lamb." In her five-year-old voice, Carrie recites nursery rhyme after nursery rhyme. Phil and I cheer her on. We discuss her first day of school. I had almost forgotten what a precocious child she was, how well she expressed herself. I forgot the relationship we all had, laughing and talking together. I don't remember Carrie so gentle with Jesse, age three, coaxing him to talk into the microphone. He consistently refuses despite Carrie's efforts. Finally she says, "Daddy, let's just let him do what he wants." But she keeps trying, patiently trying to think of phrases he might be willing to say. Finally she hits it........"Hey, man, what'cha doin'?" Apparently they slap hands as they say it. There's lots of laughter and praise.

I often remember myself as an inadequate and indifferent mother. I watch families on TV and feel terribly inferior to them, wondering what havoc I wreaked in the psyches of my children. I think of them unhappy, sullen, quiet. I discuss motherhood with my friends and find myself wanting. Hearing those tapes has unburdened me somewhat. Listening to them I hear happy, outgoing children with their own minds and preferences they are not shy to express. It's possible I wasn't such a terrible mother after all.

As the dogs waited irritably for me to get their supper, I sat with my earphones on, listening, remembering, laughing, and falling in love with the kids all over again.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Latest Watercolor

Here's a watercolor I worked on twice at Sydney's. It's from a photograph I took when Thelma and I went to Corea a few years ago. It's not very big........around 9X12, but now that I look at the picture of it, it looks like it could be one of my Rockport watercolors on a full sheet of paper. I like it for its cleanness. I approached it carefully, patting the paper with my little brushes. There are no mistakes to be corrected because I didn't make a single spontaneous mark. There was a hush in my mind that made me work quietly, deliberately. It's often my way of doing watercolor now.

When I painted outdoors in Rockport I was always wildly excited. My brush marks were big and sloppy, the paint often dripping all over the paper. I ignored the drips, painting the air itself over my if the day were threatening, yellow if the sun looked like it would stay all day. On top of the color of the weather, I'd paint the blue atmosphere, covering the landcsape, ultramarine at the top, then cobalt, then cerulean. Toward the bottom I'd ad some warmth to bring the world to my feet, some warm red and raw sienna. My pencil drawing would sit on the surface of the paper, visible through the washes that created its environment like a dream, full of potential. It was my job to place it piece by piece in the new dimension I had made for it.

I was not trying to "capture" anything......a good word to describe what many new artists think they want to do. We can never steal something from the environment and put it on paper. It's a brand new thing we make.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Overwhelming Sunflowers

The sunflowers have certainly taken over the garden, as well as the area under the bird feeder out back. I suppose this will be the last hurrah for the garden, along with the Cosmos that peek out from under the heavy leaves. We have had strong winds lately and the stalks of all the plants are leaning over in a southerly direction. Things look disheveled. I'm watching the decline of the garden with a degree of melancholy. No matter how you look at it, things are dying. Their decendants will come up next year, emerging out of their parents' skeletons. It's curious that when new growth emerges from the roots or seeds left by the previous generation we see it as the same plant coming back. "The crocuses are just poking their heads out,"we say. "The Lilies are up." if they have just been napping. The blossoms that came and went and blew away are forgotten.

It's a way we have of looking at nature. We control populations of animals and plants by weeding them out, often randomly. Individual life is meaningless until we speak of homo sapiens. Religion has somehow elevated our species...........or perhaps I only blame religion. In any case, we treat every human as unique, but consider one individual member of other species pretty much the same as another..............and the best of them can't compare to the human being. We worship our own brains.

I am going down a familiar path and will stop there.
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Monday, September 08, 2008

September Flowers

Things have been very busy lately withe the kids visiting, gallery events, and company. I've not missed the events taking place in my garden, though. What a wonder. There's a never-ending drama going on. Nothing stays the same as different plants grow, bud, blossom, and retreat back to the soil. These gladiolas (gladiolae?) appeared all of a sudden, just as I thought they weren't going to produce flowers. I am particularly fond of yellow flowers, and although I rarely pick flowers to bring inside, I am going to cut these. They are heavy and leaning over, not showing off.

The sunflower is huge, much taller than I am. It's companion is about to burst out as well. Both are facing the house rather than the street. I would have thought they would look toward the sun, i.e. the sky, but it's nice seeing them from the living room, peering down at the bay window.

There is something sad in watching the progression of the garden, remembering my Spring effort and enthusiasm. It was all potential. Then every new leaf and blossom was a reward and a joy. Now it is winding down. I must say that the end is just as good as the beginning, if not more spectacular.
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