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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Life is what happens...

while you're busy making other plans," said John Lennon. Oh, yeah. Since my last post, life has been happening a lot around here, mostly centering on a routine outpatient surgery for my husband that didn't turn out to be routine and kept him in the hospital for four days. He's fine--somewhat weak and hurting, but definitely on the mend. There's nothing wrong with me that a little stress-reduction won't cure, but none of my "other plans" (see above quote) are getting done. Never mind. He's good, I'm good, and life is good. Who could ask for anything more?


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Turner revisited

Monday night's PBS program, based on Simon Schama's The Power of Art, explored the dark side of some of Turner's paintings, which are generally recognized for their luminous light and expressive color and brushwork. In the painting "The Slave Ship" Turner has used his amazing skill with color and light to compel the viewer to take a closer look. As your eyes take in the glory of the light and the power of the mighty waves, you suddenly become aware of the horror of the scene. More than 130 ill or dying slaves being carried from Africa to north America have been thrown to the sharks and their agony is horribly depicted in the foreground. The actual event took place many years before and England had already taken action against the slave trade, but Turner's painting raised public awareness of the enormity of slavery, which still existed in many places in the world, including the United States. Schama described The Slave Ship as the most important painting of the nineteenth century, certainly a work that illustrates the power of art. I've seen the painting several times and it's awesome.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

J.M.W. Turner and the Power of Art

I missed last week's episode in Simon Schama's Power of Art series on PBS, but I won't miss tonight, when Turner is featured. He's in my top ten of favorite artists. Charley Parker writes about the program and the artist on his Lines and Colors blog today. Thanks, Charley.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Color schemes in beadwork

I found a link to Bead Arts by Cindy Lavin that talks about color schemes. She hits the nail on the head. You can use color schemes in any color medium, whether art, crafts, interiors, and even architecture. Cindy had always used the common basic triads, but decided to try something different based on my book, Exploring Color. She got exciting results when she tried something new. Check it out.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Life-size paper doll

Jenna came over to play Saturday morning and we had a ton of fun. She lay down on a sheet of brown paper and I traced around her with a black marker. Then she got busy decorating her paper doll with odds and ends of laces, ribbons and sequins from my scrap box, plus markers and crayons. I helped with the gluing, but she decided where everything would go, including the google-eyes and the blue circles and eyelashes she put around them. She wanted the ruffle trim for socks, pink velvet on the skirt, shirttail and sleeves and gold braid for her ponytail. Not to mention the sequin jewelry and yarn necklace.

We taped Paper Jenna to the closet door, then Jenna hid while Granddaddy looked for her. Lo and behold, there she was, in front of the closet. He tickled her, but she didn't giggle. Jenna thought it was a great joke, so we took P-J over to her house and taped her to the basement door. Mommy and Daddy had a nice conversation with her, although it seemed like her voice was coming from around the corner. Imagine their surprise to see that there are two Jennas!

Am I having fun, or what?

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why do you paint or draw or write?

A friend recently asked me this question, specifically about writing. When artists and writers get together with their colleagues, this subject often comes up. Naturally there are many answers to the question, but the thing that always intrigues me is that so many believe that their response is the only "right" one and feel somehow morally superior to others who have different ideas. Here are some typical responses:

I paint or draw or write because:
1. I feel I have something to say and want to share it.
2. I am compelled to so I can feel fulfilled.
3. It pleases me and makes me happy.
4. It's my job.
5. ....Just because.

Is one of these the right answer? Of course not; there isn't one. There are a million reasons, one for every person who answers the question. Make up one that suits you and don't feel you have to explain or defend it. The only person who has to understand your motivation is you. And that is very important.

It's equally important to decide for yourself how you'll approach your tasks in painting, drawing, writing. Once again, there isn't a "right" way. Some people plan extensively before beginning, others meditate to get in the mood, and still others jump in and work without a plan. But here are some thoughts to help stimulate your creative juices regardless of your modus operandi.

First of all, do what you love. Henry Miller said, "Paint as you like and die happy." What more can I say?

Avoid distractions. Wow, a tough one, but it can be done. I stole time while my four children were in school to develop my art and write my books. It also means making choices about what NOT to do.

Get into your Creative Zone and stay there as long as you are working. Betty Edwards has some great techniques for accomplishing this in her right-brain drawing books.

Reward yourself. Sure, you can party when the project is finished, but give yourself a pat on the back or a treat whenever you put in time on it. Everything you do should be acknowledged as an accomplishment.

And finally, treat yourself with respect and admiration, regardless of what others might say about your work. It's yours--own it and love it.

"Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself."
Chinese proverb

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Art in Denver

Just returned from a quick trip to Colorado to see family. On our last day we went to the 16th Street Mall and walked over to Larimer Square, the historic district that we visited several times in the seventies when it was just getting started. What a shock! In the seventies there were a few struggling galleries and some artists' studios, but on the whole the area didn't show a lot of promise. I don't remember anything at all being on 16th Street until several years later, when my sister and I rode a little trolley from one end to the other. Now they have huge buses that run a block apart the entire length of the mall, which is probably a mile or more long. There is a Starbucks in nearly every block. People everywhere of every description. Nobody dresses up to go "downtown" in Denver, at least not to the mall. The Suits that work nearby come for lunch and every other person is talking on a cell phone. Ah, progress. Oh, yes, the art. We didn't find any in Larimer Square and didn't have time to find out where the arts district is, which I'm sure must exist somewhere. I bought my R.C. Gorman lithograph of the Barefoot Lady at Larimer Square in 1979. I bought it because I loved her, not as an investment, but it appears she may have grown in value through the years. She's 7/100 in the edition.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Coming up for air

Won't last long, though. The book is shaping up. My editor is reading the rough manuscript and we should soon have a title for it. Lots of great art has come in and I'm beginning to work on where to place it in my layout. It's a relief to finish each step of this process, until you realize that the next one is even more complicated. The hardest part is writing captions for the art. Oh, and adding code numbers to the art, the manuscript and the layout so nothing gets misplaced. I will try to get someone to help me with that, as it's so easy to make mistakes in the fine details. Somewhere in there I have to do about 150 small illustrations, charts and diagrams. I have a sinking feeling I'm not going to get it done before our new grandbaby is born, for all my hard work and good intentions. Going to give it a shot, though.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Where did your day go?

Do you ever get to the end of a day and wonder where it went and what you did? I sometimes think about the opportunities I may have missed to enjoy the richness that surrounds me each and every day. Here's a list of a few things to do today and every day to make the most of every moment.

1. SEE: Enjoy the trees changing color, a baby smiling, a butterfly on a blossom.
2. LISTEN: Hear bees buzzing, cicadas chirping, children playing.
3. DO: Play the game. Dance the dance. Sing the music.
4. EXPLORE: Try new ideas. Follow a different path. Discover a new place.
5. SHARE: Be generous with your expertise. Give your love.
6. REMEMBER: Take time to value your friends and family.
7. GIVE THANKS: Appreciate the kindness of others and the great gift of life.
8. BE AWARE: Today is the beginning of the rest of your life.

The busier I get, the more I need to remind myself to do these things. I'm too focused on tasks in my studio. The weather has been glorious for the past two days and I've spent most of the time on my computer. I did manage a stroll through my woods yesterday. The black-eyed Susans are almost ready to bloom. Today I'm going to walk at the arboretum.