Thursday, February 27, 2014


For my own sanity I took a short break from my origami tarantula and made this pagoda.  I had to prove to myself that I wasn't completely inept or senile.  I am still not able to do my closed sink reliably, though I am slowly learning..  At this point I can accomplish the fold every time I try it, but I still have trouble.  I am seriously wondering if my cognitive powers are diminishing, since inability to learn new things is a symptom of impending dementia.  I try to dismiss the possibility, but I worry that I will end up like my mother, who had Alzheimer's disease for the last ten years of her life. She ended up in a nursing home not knowing who she or anyone else was. 

This thought has plagued me off and on for quite a few years.  Luckily I am able to keep myself from dwelling on it.  There's nothing I can do.  Meanwhile, I will make that tarantula if it's the last thing I do. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New Snow with Dogs

We have had yet another storm, dumping another several inches of snow.  Another is expected tonight.  It was relatively warm today, though, and after our walk I took the dogs next door to Diana's back yard so they could run loose.  The pictures show the side of one of the drifts, and the natural bare spot next to the deck.  The wind makes such interesting formations here. This time my car was buried, but right next to it grass was sticking up through a very light dusting of snow.  The chicken yard is totally clear, but to get to it you have to get through drifts higher than my head.

Willy was ecstatic (you can see him tearing out of the picture on the bottom), and Patrick was excited in his much quieter way.  It was a relatively warm afternoon and a great time was had by all.

Monday, February 17, 2014

More of the same

Okay..........I'm bored.  Whatever I was trying to do, I've done it.  Painted this watercolor from an old acrylic that I always liked.  It's on the calendar I made for Christmas. I've got to move on from these little watercolors.  They're fine, but so what?

Closed Sink

Much of my time lately has been spent trying to make an origami tarantula.  This picture shows a mere fraction of my failed attempts to achieve the "closed sink" fold.  It is number 32 out of the70 steps it takes to create the bug.  I have certainly mastered the folds that come before the closed sink, having done them over a hundred times, but although I can fumble my way through it, I have only the flimsiest understanding of how this particular fold is accomplished.  By the time I have completed it, the paper is is so badly molested and reworked that it barely holds together.

Why do I spend hours every day in pursuit of the elusive sink?  My only answer is, why not?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Next, and Pretty Darn Good

When I moved to Hampden to look after my mother this was the view from my house.  It's the farm where for so many years we all spent so much time together.  My mother and father, Faith and Ray, Phil and me, and Carrie and Jesse.  Before she died, my grandmother was often there, too....and on holidays, Mike, Fran, and Amber.  What a different life.  People started to die, starting with my grandmother, then Ray, then my father, then Faith.  Our happy family (or what we thought was happy) fell apart little by little.  There is a time in life when what has always been erodes.  A new way of being has to be created.

Well, the time I spent in Hampden was, I hope, the worst time of my life.  Only my recent law suit over alimony can compare, though it is certainly a distant second.  So this subject evokes both good and bad, resulting in a stalemate, I guess.  Now it is watercolor on paper.  My attention is on color and value as I work on it.  Can I create a cloudy sky?  Rocks?  Bare trees? Architecture?  No, of course not, but can I arrange paint on a piece of paper so that it makes one think of those things? Yes, but it will be a cloudy sky in someone else's life, a farm where somebody else visited or lived, was happy or sad.

It's interesting that people expect an artist to communicate with them.  Many times even the artist thinks he or she (ooohh, that's hard on my learned version of the English language) is communicating, or even enlightening the viewer.  All anybody can do is look in a mirror.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Next Effort

Today's effort in my pursuit of watercolor excellence.......I did this from an old painting of my backyard.  It's not a good subject for trying to loosen up, but I did accomplish a couple of things.  I maintained transparency for the most part.  And I managed not to overwork a good part of it.The picture looks better than the painting in that respect, but I am pleased.  Even though I didn't do this from life, the original painting I worked from was done that way.  So I got the perspective one gets from standing in front of something.  Cameras put the viewer at a distance........I used to tell my students that it was a "helicopter" view.  They still had to learn to look down at their feet in composing a least composing the way I was trying to teach them.  It was so natural for them to look out across the landscape, ignoring what was directly in front of them.  I used to tell them to look down at their feet for a good foreground and then up at the sky to make sure it isn't shaped like a rectangle.  Then find something in between to paint.  There were many things I liked about teaching, and tearing down everything the students thought made a good painting was one of them.  It was fun to be shocking.  Once they were used to everything I had to say and developed minds of their own I needed new blood.  They didn't need me anymore.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I have been thinking a lot about Betty Lou since her birthday party.  I look at all of her paintings on facebook and marvel at them.  They are so wonderful.  I use to paint pretty good watercolors when I was studying with her, though not nearly as good as hers.  Mine are more academic.  She is inspired by the landscape, by nature, in a way that I am not.  I think about my painting......she thinks about what she is painting.  Still, what I did with watercolor was much better than what I do in other mediums.

Josie talked to a gallery owner in Rockland about my paintings and he said he would like to see them.  No matter how often I have told Josie I am not interesting in selling, she doesn't seem to believe me.....or she can't help talking about me when she's in a gallery.  Anyway, she gave me the name of the gallery so I looked it up on line.  She had lead me to believe that I was as good as any of the artists represented there.  The work I saw humbled me, and made me realize how amateurish my painting is.  This took me back to Betty Lou and watercolor painting.  I was much better at that than what I'm doing now.  So I got out my watercolors, determined to regain some expertise.  The painting here is my latest attempt, as this is certainly not the first or second or third time deciding this same course of action.  I set up a still life of the dolls I made, hoping that part of my problem has been painting from photographs.  I think I was right in that.  Plein air painting was always my forte.......and always large format.  This little painting, though, has some of the characteristics of my old self.  It encouraged me. Photos have a static look that I can't help but capture.  So I make plans once again to go outside, using my own old work as inspiration.  I'll try to post a couple of those here, though I am having trouble getting pictures on line since my computer was "fixed."

Ahh, the good old days.......

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Apres la Deluge

I have had quite a series of  electronic and mechanical problems over the last couple of weeks that interfered with my regular routines, including writing here.  I had no internet, no phone, and no heat..  Gradually things returned to normal and I won't bother to expand on my hiatus from normal life.  I am always at my best during emergencies, though, and the whole thing was quite exhilarating.

Most of the snow we had has disappeared, but before it did, this picture of me and the dogs was taken by a photographer I ran into on my morning walk.  He was doing some work for the Tides Institute, taking pictures of Eastport with a special camera.  We talked about it for awhile, and then he asked if he could take my picture.  Of course I said yes, but I never expected to see the results.  This copy came to me by way of Hugh French, director of the Tides Institute.  I love it.  It sums up my life.......