Monday, March 30, 2009

Mixed Media, etc.

I've been working on this painting for several days. I've tried to edit the color of the photograph to match the real thing, and this is as close as I can get. It's been fun, because I have used pastel on canvas, over acrylic paint. Originally this was another painting that I didn't want to keep (I can't remember which one). I thought I'd do an abstract, so I covered it with thick, colorful strokes. It sat in my studio for over a week while I lost enthusiasm for abstraction. I then thought of trying pastel over it. Then the lights weren't light enough, so I painted over the pastel, then put on more pastel. It's not evident in the photo, but there is a lot of texture on the canvas from all the layers of paint...........also a lot of color from all the pastel. I don't know how to preserve it, but it was a great time doing it.

I haven't been writing lately out of exhaustion, physically and mentally, over the chickens. Even now, I don't have the energy to relate the whole story. Consider pecking order, crowded chickens, fights, bad bloody wounds, escapes. Think of me trying to rectify the situation every way I could think of, and failing. The upshot is, though, that everyone survived and I have two unhappy girls in a chicken hospital of my own making (don't ask me where). The whole thing has been traumatic for us all.

Meanwhile, we have had a lot of rain and the snow is receding. Several of my plants are coming up, and the poor pink flamingos are now visible. Two of them met unfortunate ends during their hibernation period under the snow, but the rest will be fine once I put them on their feet. The world is cold, windy, muddy, and drab. We rejoice to see it.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I haven't been able to get pictures downloaded for several days , but finally decided to reinstall my program. Voila! I never learn that the simplest solution is the one you should try first. This is a drawing I did from the photo I took and posted of my back yard after the last storm. I added the birds, since it is a familiar sight (and ads some interest). I thought it might be good fro the "Black and White" show we are having at the gallery, but now I'm not so sure. I'll have to let it sit for awhile.
We have had a little more snow, but nothing significant. It is very cold and windy, though, and any sense of impending Spring is pretty much absent. I have been rearranging furniture again. I'm ready for another change, and if the weather won't do it, I will.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Emerging Life

It's amazing how the perception of beauty and ugliness is altered by context. I'll let it go at that.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Persistent Benny, More Persistent Me

I came home yesterday to find Benny up on the puzzle table again. I had forgotten to move the chair far enough away so he couldn't climb on it from there. Needless to say, Mona was once again rent asunder. Fortunately, many of the pieces were still stuck together and I was able to get it back together in about an hour. I have the puzzle mostly done except for the black parts of the picture. I put those all in the box until the pieces with recognizable clues are in place. From that point on it will be a question of putting shapes of the same color together.

I have certainly been persistent with the task, and it has become a point of honor that I finish it, no matter what. Amazingly, not many pieces appear to be missing after all its falls to the floor. I won't know for sure until I finish it how many actually have disappeared, but what's there will be in place if its the last thing I do.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Back Yard

I've been planning on painting this since I took the picture weeks ago. I started it at Sydney's on Wednesday and finished it today. I think after the first session it was better, in that it had the feeling of the day much better. It was all blue and white. The addition of the color presented a lot of problems as far as composition was concerned, as well as taking away the coldness. I got a nice painting, and I love the chicken wire fence, but I didn't get what I wanted. I may try it again in anther medium.........that seems to be my way of doing things lately.
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Mixed Media

I liked the light in this photo of Carrie, her friend Melissa, and baby Allen. Inspired by pictures I saw in my pastel magazine, I set out to try it. Right away I had trouble because the pastel wouldn't stick to the underpainting. I still don't know why. So I decided to do it in acrylic. Working over the failed pastel drawing, it dawned on me to try mixing the two. Once I had the thing covered with paint, I tried the pastel again. At that point, the chalk did stick to the paint and this is the result.

You can't always do a winner..........
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Big Bird

Just when I thought I had all the possibilities of chicken escape covered, this is what I see from my window as I sit drinking my morning coffee. Apparently if you like birdseed enough, you will ferret it out. The wind had blown a lot of seed from the feeder that hangs over the chicken house onto the roof. Somehow Lily decided that if other birds could fly up there, so could she.

I watched her departure as she flapped her way to the ground after the feast, and fortunately she chose to land inside the pen. If she had moved to the left a little, she might have realized that freedom was at hand and jumped into the driveway instead.

Well, now I have another escape route to worry about. I spend a lot of time coping with runaway animals.
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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Well, it's Something.........

It is 47 degrees outside. I let all the chickens out and walked the dogs in celebration. Beside the front door the ice has melted, and the first tiny green leaves are poking up next to the shovel. You may have to look closely to see them, but they are really there. This is the first Winter that I have ever considered "hard." I will be glad to see it over, though I still wouldn't want to have missed it. There is a certain sense of satisfaction in dealing with what is, with as much good humor as possible. I don't envy those who escape to Florida or some other warm place. In fact, I must admit, I feel a slight superiority. There's a hint of scorn in my attitude as I listen to stories of sunny days, warm beaches, and blooming flowers.

I think it is in my blood and bones to see valor in "toughing it out," to admire those willing to endure. I don't know how such a thing can be part of a person's DNA. It is probably a result of upbringing and culture. If so, it's amazing that enough regional culture still exists in the modern world to allow certain characteristics to typify any one area. This area was steeped in early Protestantism. There was value in hard work and self-sufficiency. Suffering was something to be accepted as part of life. The church still dictates what we do, and even how we feel, reaching out its tentacles of morality long after the source has ceased to have much influence.

As an atheistic child, I comtemplated what determined good and bad. I wondered if humans depended on religion to show them what was right or wrong. I wondered if right and wrong existed outside of the church. It seemed that the function of religion was to keep us in line. People seemed to think that without it, we would be abominable creatures. I reasoned that it couldn't be true, that people were good naturally , that nastiness toward others was abherrent behavior. Fueling this idea was the fact that I had no religion, nor did my family, yet we were still nice people.

Little did I realize that the words from my mouth, the ideas in my head, were nothing less than Martin Luther, John Wesley, Joseph Smith, et al, reaching forward, undetected, like an invisible, invasive virus out of the past, letting me think that what I believed was born spontaneously out of my own mind.
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Friday, March 06, 2009

Brave Chickens

The girls love birdseed (and why wouldn't they?) so when I went out to fill the feeders, I tossed some over the fence for them. These three brave ones ventured out into the snow to get them, even though lettuce had failed to motivate them five minutes earlier. Poppy and Petunia were first, and then Pansy. The other three are in confinement and couldn't get out. I'm trying to get their feathers to grow back in where they were being pecked. They seem to be making some progress, though I'm not sure that one of them isn't the culprit. Lupine doesn't seem to be healing much.

I will be so grateful for Spring, when they all can come out every day.........though probably not nearly as grateful as they. This has been no winter for man or beast.......
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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Photo Albums

This is a picture of Jesse riding Winnie, our pony. He was about six. I had forgotten I had so many pictures of us all with the horses.

Since I moved the furniture all around and put my CD player on the bookcase in the living room, I was left with the displaced photo albums to deal with. I wasn't able to find a place for them yet, mostly because I spent so much time looking through them. I saw my married life march before my eyes year by year...saw myself expand and contract with weight gain and loss. There were several different hair styles represented, all looking better than I thought at the time. In fact I looked better in general than I remember, probably because I am comparing myself to the way I look now.

The first picture in the first album shows me a week before Carrie was born. I am huge, and it still amazes me that something that big somehow got out of me. In that picture and many others, I am drinking coffee and a cigarette dangles from my fingers. I often joked that if smoking causes lower birth rates in babies it was a good thing I smoked. The rest of that album is full of Carrie's first year of life. Everything she did was marveled over and recorded.

The other six albums follow us through our lives together, with Jesse's arrival central in the second one. After that there is a string of birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters, mother's days, fathers day's, first days at school, plays, recitals, plays, parades. There is the parade of houses we bought and sold. There is Carrie learning to ride a bike, there is Jesse learning to ride a bike. There is Carrie learning to swim, and Jesse learning to swim. We are at the beach, we are canoeing, we are at the Fair. There are various cats and dogs we loved, and horses, our life at Marie's boarding stable. And many trips. The kids asleep on the train to Florida, us picnicking along many highways, us looking at statue after statue, historic landmark after historic landmark. We are in Quebec City, in front of the Chateaux Frontenac, on the boardwalk by the St. Lawrence, at the concert in the Parc des Gouveneurs, by the statue of Champlain, watching the street artists, eating at Aux Anciens Canadiens. We are in Washington D.C., at the Lincoln Memorial, at the Smithsonian, at the National Gallery..... We are at Walt Disney World, we are atop Mt. Washington. We are at Strawberry Bank and Plimouth Plantation, Ste Anne de Baupre and Isle D'Orleans. We eat in an outside cafe in Montreal. We are at the JFK Library, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts........the list is endless. In every picture we stand smiling, the one taking the picture absent unless we ask a stranger to take one of all four of us. We change over those years, but not much. The albums end along with the marriage.

Now my pictures are on the computer. I won't be able to sit and look at them like I did this afternoon. I'm so glad to have the albums, to bury myself in these memories. The pictures make the memories, and because there are no pictures of arguments or sickness or tears, no disappointments or failures, no deaths, no endings, they do not exist. Every day we were together was a happy day and we were always standing close together, smiling.

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