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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blessings abound

Cleaning windows inspires an ode to nature's bounty. The tree outside our bedroom window, a red maple, blazes like fire and casts its color into the bedroom when the sheer curtains are pulled aside. I was feeling out of sorts about having to clean the windows to install the storm windows today before it freezes next week.

Our house has many windows--lots of light pouring in at all seasons. But, there's the window cleaning. After enjoying the red maple, I made more discoveries looking out the remaining windows as I cleaned them. The squirrels are running full tilt, carrying acorns from the oak tree in front to their stashes in the quarter-acre woods. The chipmunk seems to have found a new domicile in the woods. Soon I'll put the feeders up, and the cardinals, titmice, chickadees and finches will be here in a flash. I'll enjoy them more, looking through clean windows.

Baby-sitting twice a week has subsided to one evening for a few hours. Granddaddy and I are getting pretty good at the routine. I feed Daniel when we get there and let him play awhile until it's his bedtime. He's 14 months old now, toddles everywhere, but never without a truck or a book in hand. I caught him at a serious moment--usually he sparkles with smiles and belly laughs. Lucky me, he loves to go to bed and curls up with Green Dog and goes right to sleep.

Jenna decided last week to build a playground with her big Lego blocks. Her construction included all kinds of play equipment and people to use them. The final touch was a green tree with daisies on one side and a red rose bush on the other. Imagine seeing all that in those rigid rectangular blocks. She delights in reading stories to us from her beginning readers. It's an awesome thing to see a child beginning to read, when you realize the lifetime of pleasure books can bring. We're a family of "bookaholics," it seems.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mr. Pig in a new 'hood

Mr. Pig hasn't had a good ride for a long time. He was originally installed in my quarter-acre woods, but his wind-driven wheels didn't get much action there. We tried WD-40 to make the wheels spin, but that didn't help. Recently I moved him to the windward side of the house and you should see him go. My husband had to do a little adjustment on the rear wheel so it would keep up with the front one. Today, with a bright sun shining, a light breeze, and the nip of fall in the air, Mr. Pig is on a wild ride. He's a hoot.

Blog discoveries

  • Making a Mark, Katherine Tyrell's blog, is interesting and informative, with in-depth discussion of art matters. Read her essay on Monet's grain stacks series. Don't miss her commentary on the AWS Gold Medal controversy.
  • Search her blog for "AWS" to find follow-up articles on the subject.
  • Ancient Artist: Developing an Art Career After 50 also has some interesting things to say about the controversy. Scroll Sue Favinger Smith's blog for other interesting posts.

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  • Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Art to Art Palette Print Edition

    November 1 is the deadline for submissions to Art to Art Palette. Click the link to read about this issue's features and to order your copy. The Palette print edition is a keeper, with art event calendars and artist features covering a wide area of the Midwest and beyond. Painting, pottery, sculpture, books and more. The Palette has expanded from a small local newsletter-type to a full-feature magazine during its twenty years of publication.


    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Report from Art to Art Palette

    Pat Rayman and a friend drove more than 100 miles to attend the book-signing at Books & Co. last Thursday evening. She wrote a lovely commentary on the event for Art to Art Palette online magazine. The photo of the Books & Co. staircase gives a much better impression of this fantastic bookstore than the small image on my photo pages of the signing. Erika, the woman she describes, is seated in the front row in a print dress. She's a very interesting person, whom I've met before and enjoyed discussing color with.

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    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Something unusual

    Recently I began attending the Digital Camera Club at Hithergreen Center. I became interested in photography when I bought my first digital camera in 1998, a low- resolution Sony Mavica. I was amazed at what I could do with the camera and some simple software. I've learned a lot since then and have upgraded cameras several times (now using a Canon G6), but I often feel frustrated with no one to critique my photographs or lend a hand when I'm having a problem. It's incredible how much I've learned in just two meetings. The presenter gives everyone a "practice card" with suggestions for shooting images. Sometimes the group goes out for the last half hour and shoots on the center grounds, and sometimes they bring in something they've done elsewhere. I shot this photograph at Hithergreen. It was quite a challenge. The suggested subject was "something unusual."


    Mixing it up

    Today was the last day of 5-6 year-old soccer. The kids have learned a lot since it started the last week of August. They all run the same direction and usually head for the right goal. Jenna doesn't daydream so much anymore and will get into a scramble--if she has to. She's very polite about letting others kick the ball if they want to. If she does get her toe on the ball, she'll go at it a couple of times, until someone else wants it. Then she'll move out of the way, looking pleased with herself. She's had a good time. We'll see if she wants to go out for soccer next year. My role is photographer and Daniel-watcher. He loves toddling around the fields, picking up stones ("Ack! Ack!" he says, when he spots one. "Rock? Rock?" Maybe.)


    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Books & Co. signing last night

    This was a very special occasion. Twenty of the 21 artists from Ohio who have work in Confident Color showed up for the Books & Co signing. We had a good crowd and a fine time, with artists signing each others' books, as well as those of store customers who came for the talk and signing. I so enjoy watching artists interact this way. Some hadn't seen each other for a long time and others only knew each other by reputation. Here's a photo layout of the event. A big thanks to Books & Co., who always make book signings a pleasure. Our hostess, Julie, was very helpful.

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    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Color Talk

    I gathered some charts and fabric samples this morning to use in my brief talk at the Confident Color book signing tomorrow evening. Bookstores sometimes call these events "readings," but I can't imagine reading an art instruction book aloud to a group, can you? The "program" part lasts about 15 minutes, so it isn't a formal talk, just a short show-and-tell with a few questions. Then I'll sign books along with some of the 20 area artists whose works appear in it.

    The site is Books & Co. at The Greene, which is a huge, elegant two-story building in an upscale towne center that is fairly new here. Books & Co. started out as a tiny Little Professor bookstore in Town and Country Shopping Center about two miles from my house. A special corner in the back had a lovely sitting area, where an amazing selection of art books were shelved.

    Eventually, Joe and Anna, the owners, dropped the franchise and operated independently as Books & Co. From that small space, they expanded continuously, until they became the crown jewel of the center. People drove for many miles to shop at Books & Co., and still do.

    This is one of the few local bookstores where national figures and bestselling authors come for book signings. (The store is now owned by Books-a-Million but continues to operate as Books & Co.) Sharon Roth has managed these events for many years, including five previous signings of my books. This is my first at The Greene, where we'll be on the upper level, so it will be a new experience for me. I can hardly wait.

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    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    WordPerfect is biting the dust

    I've been a holdout, favoring WP over Word for 20 years of word processing. Up until recently my document files have been nearly all WordPerfect, except for the books, which my publisher prefers to have in Word. I'm getting used to Word, but strange things have been happening since I upgraded to Word2007. My printer has become finicky about printing WP documents and freezes up entirely on a regular basis. I've discovered I can load the WP documents into Word and surprisingly, most of them are formatted like the original, so I save them in Word and delete the WP file. Actually, some WP files are corrupted when I make the save, so they're useless anyway. I discovered another workaround--I can save the WP files to PDF and the formatting is the same, but I can't edit them. So I guess it's goodbye, WP. Eventually, I'll move my files into Word. I'll miss "Reveal Codes," especially, but I'll get used to it.

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    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Pix from the opening in Dallas

    Here are some of Judith's candid shots from the opening.

    AWS traveling show

    On my way home from a meeting with my publisher in Cincinnati last Tuesday, I stopped in Middletown to see the American Watercolor Society show. I enjoyed it a great deal. Some of the work is very powerful, other pieces are more subtle. There was quite a bit of "mechanical" subject matter and abstract design. I was surprised not to see a single spectacular flower painting. On the whole, the show seems more bold than poetic, but there is no doubting the expertise of the artists in design and execution of watermedia. The controversial Gold Medal winner was pulled from the show before it came to Middletown. I don't think there has been any resolution to that matter yet. If the show should come to your area, don't miss it.

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    More kudos

    It just dawned on me that I overlooked two very important people who assisted Judith Irwin with the Artist's Showplace exhibition in Dallas. Teta Smith Aris and Linda Rowe were involved with the event, as well, and I'm grateful for their contribution to its success. I'm sure there were others I may not have met while I was there. "Many hands make light work." Well, I wouldn't say it was easy to put together, but they all did a great job. Thanks to all.

    Art to Art Palette had a reporter at the opening reception, who interviewed several of artists and spent the evening browsing the show.

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    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    My 15 minutes

    My trip to Dallas yesterday was an awesome experience. The Artist's Showplace, under the direction of Judith Irwin, outdid themselves to create a beautiful event last night, including an impressive display of work by eighteen gallery partners and a special exhibit by some of the artists in Confident Color.

    More than half the artists in my book sent artwork, from New Jersey to California, and as far away as British Columbia, Canada. Impressive artworks from the book hang in the hallway next to the front entrance, leading to a gallery where the rest of the show is displayed--a total of 48 paintings and fiber pieces from 26 artists.

    I signed copies of my book, and artist Naomi Brotherton, a venerated Dallas artist, whose book Variations in Watercolor has been a favorite of mine for more than twenty years, signed pictures of her artwork in my new book. Several artists in the book attended the opening and signed their artwork, including Teta Smith Aris, Gail Delger, Judith Irwin, Sally Meding, Herb Reed, and Kathy Miller Stone.

    Other contributors to the exhibit, which will hang at the gallery throughout October, are Karen Becker Benedetti, Derrick Davis, Bing Davis, Anne R. Eberle, Mike Elsass, Rosie Huart, Cathy Jeffers, Cheryl McClure, Trish McKinney, Shirley Eley Nachtrieb, Lynn Lawson Pajunen, Cathy Quiel, Pat Rayman, Donna K. Rogers, Kay Smith, Sharon Stolzenberger, Michalyn S. Tarantino, Leonard Williams and Suzanne Zoole.

    Visitors filled the gallery throughout the three hours, as a jazz saxophonist provided musical background. Judith has promised me some photos, so I'll post a link when I get them.

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    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    On the moon

    I'm flying high today. Confident Color has been #1 on Amazon.com most of the day in the "Using Color" category. So cool. I've been working since Tuesday evening to get the artist's slides, transparencies and CDs ready to send back to them and off they went today. What a relief. I hope the post office gets everything delivered in good shape. I've had the art more than a year. It takes that long for me to make the selections and do the captions, then the production department doesn't return the art until it comes back from the printer with the first printing of the book. It's such a long process.

    I'm trying to straighten up the studio a little so I don't have to come back to a mess. Tomorrow is the Big Day. I'm flying to Big D Dallas for the book-signing and exhibition of artwork from Confident Color. For my earlier books I mostly did local signings. New Creative Artist had one in Shreveport that I couldn't attend and another in New Jersey when I was teaching a workshop at Pine Shores Art Association. The Artist's Showplace on Coit Road has gone out of their way to make this a nice event and I'm thrilled to be able to participate. Can't wait to see my friends there, too. If you're in the area, stop by from 6-9 and enjoy the party. I'm taking 100 prints of four of my paintings to give away to guests at the signing.

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    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    The final task

    Yesterday I picked up the slides, transparencies and art included in Confident Color. Today I've spent most of my time checking in every piece of art to be sure nothing got lost. I would feel terrible if one of the artists lost an image in the long process of getting the book published. These things are handled by so many people in different departments that this is always a concern. Actually, in 23 years of publishing, only twice has a slide been lost our of thousands submitted. So far, we're in the clear this time. One final check before I send the art back, to be sure everything that was sent to me is returned. Then I can relax a bit. Already have some things cooking, so I'll be on the go again soon. In the meantime, three book signings ahead--party time. The book has gone up to 7,177 on amazon.com and was #3 in the Using Color category a little while ago. What a great start. Makes it worth the effort.

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    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    Treasures from the past

    We've lived in this house for 40 years now. Before we moved in, we had cupboards built at the back of the garage for storage. In one of those cupboards we stored a footlocker packed with costumes my mother made for "Pride and Prejudice," my junior-class play in high school. There were also some Halloween costumes I'd made for our kids and even a couple of pieces handed down from my mother, like the gym bloomers she wore to play basketball in the early 1900s.

    They went undisturbed for years. Each time we cleaned the garage, we moved the trunk out, swept behind it, and pushed it back into the storage area. About three years ago, my curiosity got the best of me and I opened the trunk. Everything in it looked in fantastic condition, but it all smelled so strongly of mildew I could hardly stand it. I put everything in a huge plastic lawn bag, knotted it, and put it back in the cupboard, vowing to learn how to get the mildew out. Of course, I totally forgot all about it. But when we cleaned the garage last weekend, I opened the bag and sorted through the costumes. I was astonished that the mildew smell was nearly gone, since the bag had a couple of holes in it and fresh air had filtered through. Its a lovely collection of dress-up clothes for my granddaughter. I pulled out several pieces and soaked them in oxygen bleach, then washed in hot water. They look (and smell) good!

    There's a 65-year-old Little Bo Peep costume my mother made for me, complete with petticoats and bloomers. There's a clown suit I made for our oldest. I think the other two boys wore it as well when they were two or three years old. A skirt and bodice my daughter wore for a folk-dancing program at elementary school. What fun! I'll know better after I iron them what condition the fabric is in after all these years. The thread in the clown suit has nearly disintegrated, so it needs to be completely sewn up, but that won't be hard to do. I suspect that the three boys each added a new rip in the seams when they wore it over and over.

    The gowns for Pride and Prejudice may not fare as well. They would be more than years old. Fabrics weren't wash-and-wear. There are two taffetas, a satin, a dotted-swiss and a gingham full-length gowns. Mother altered two of them for me to wear as prom dresses, events I attended with my one-and-only boyfriend and husband. Very amusing to see the modest lace inserts she sewed into the top of the strapless gowns. No cleavage permitted in those days. I hope I can salvage one or two of them for Jenna to play with.

    If this works, maybe I can restore my wedding gown. My beautiful dress has had a sad history and is bundled in a heap in the attic.

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    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    Confident Color coming to the real world

    The books are shipping at last. Amazon.com has them, too. Yay! I've shipped and distributed pre-publication orders and signed contributors' copies the past two days. I've been sashaying into the post office with a luggage cart piled with boxes of books to ship. I can feel the glaring eyes of other postal patrons drilling holes in my back. I think I shipped 25 yesterday and 45 today. Another dozen signed, sealed and delivered to the post office tomorrow ought to finish the job.

    Today the Artists' Showplace in Dallas is hanging the show of work by artists in the book. I can't wait to see it a week from Friday at their reception.

    Then, less than a week later on Thursday, October 16, is my book signing at Books & Co. at The Green in Dayton. This will be my sixth signing hosted by Sharon Roth at Books & Co. She manages the events and they're always a delight. Stop by if you're in the Beavercreek neighborhood at the store at the Green Town Center.

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