Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Review


It's hard to believe that it's already time to close out the year. Where did it go?

Last year, Diahn and I met up to set some serious art goals. Throughout the year, we kept up with each other, reviewing our goals regularly (until the last third of the year, when other things in life overtook us...), encouraging each other, and just generally making ourselves accountable.

It worked. NEVER underestimate the power of firmly setting your mind on accomplishing something!

So, here's how it went... 2007 Goals are in RED

1) PROJECT -- 500 Objects. I don't know why 500, it just sounded like a good number. I will be drawing 500 objects over the next year and a half or so. ...PURPOSE of this goal -- to improve my drawing, painting, and seeing --... It is something that MUST be done ...
Yikes. I have a lot of work to do if I'm going to do 480 more drawings in the next six months. I think 500 was just too big a number to wrap my mind around. I got REALLY bored with this goal! The purpose of the goal was GOOD, though, and I'm going to continue to work to improve my drawing with a more, um, "do-able" goal in 2008! Still ... the "500 Objects" Moleskine is there, and I'll keep adding to it. ;-)

(2) I will be working more in pastels.
Kind of vague, isn't it! Still, it got me motivated to work in pastels, take some workshops, rearrange my space, stretch my boundaries. This year I turned out one of the best pastel pieces I've ever done, in my opinion, and I got to give it to my sister for Christmas this year. The goal, although not specific, was the right kind of goal to set for me in this case -- just enough of a nudge to get me started dabbling. A more specific pastel goal will be here in 2008!

(3) I'd like to take an art workshop sometime this year ... I don't know where or in what, but something as a little treat.
This one cracks me up! "Little treat" indeed! I took a workshop in figure drawing early in the year, and several workshops in pastel that made a huge impact on my ability to "see" value and light. Along the way I met new artist friends and gained great new insights. I'm scheduled for another weekend workshop in February, and am considering a weekend oil painting workshop this upcoming year ... we'll see! Still, who would thought that taking a workshop would be something that you need to set a goal for? For me, I HAD to. Work gets hectic sometimes. Sometimes I get a little bit settled and lazy. I'm a procrastinator and will do that thing that procrastinators do. (I'll just do it later...) Now, however, I'm hooked on getting together with a group of people and learning something new in a small, fun, weekend environment. Absolutely HOOKED.

(4) I WILL be hanging art for sale at the gallery at the art center. Period. I'm running out of room here...
See, now THAT'S a goal. See the emphasis -- the finality -- the certainty? And it happened! I had work in two different shows at the art center this year. One of the shows was juried and I was very honored to not only have three pieces accepted, but to receive an award for one of them. To prepare for the shows, I took the work to a gallery / framery to be framed, and when the opportunity presented itself, I WAS PREPARED TO SELL MYSELF to the gallery owner. I had been presented with a similar opportunity at another gallery a year earlier, and had let it slide. Why? Because my mind wasn't in the right place at that time. This time, I ended up having several pieces shown at the gallery, and not only sold my first painting, but sold my first limited edition print. Wow. I'm so very thankful to Debi and Mary and all the rest at The Town Framery for their support! They are so wonderful to work with! Next year? I've got notes about joining another local art association that holds a couple of open shows. More importantly, I plan to look at my productivity for the gallery, and keep in better contact with them. I think I've slid there .... maybe I just wasn't prepared for "what comes next." Just goes to show -- if you set your sights on something and believe you're going to get there, you better have a back-up plan, just in case you make it!

P.S. Do you all remember the five year goal about going to the Galapagos? Well, I've worked very hard at learning to speak Spanish this year. It's going to take a while longer, I KNOW. Still, it's really important to me to know the language before we go there. This week I was helping D put together a new piece of computer equipment. I opened up the sheet of directions and had read about a third of the way down before I realized that I was reading the Spanish language side of the paper. It shocked me to think that I had read that far and hadn't noticed. Yeah ... the Galapagos are still in the plans. :-)

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Stuff to Try

Sigh. It's was a wonderful Christmas with a long, restful, yet unplanned blogging break. The break just happened -- well, that's not really true. I was cleaning my little study, which doubles as a second guest room if needed, and found a paper with a quote on it that really struck home to me. Of course I can't find the paper now -- I think I probably threw it away -- but it said something to the effect that the absolute greatest waste of time was to do something perfectly well and then find that you never had to do at all.

That quote kept popping into my head every time I'd find myself overstretching this holiday season. Normally I have a "Christmas meltdown" sometime before Christmas simply because I try to do too much -- most of my friends have the same problem. This year, however, I kept my focus. I decided it was going to be a smooth, relaxed, enjoyable Christmas, AND that work was going to be smooth, relaxed, and enjoyable, AND that I was going to do what I could to make it smooth, relaxed, and enjoyable for the people that I'm responsible for, too. In other words, I cut out all the unnecessary stuff. We had a good time and did it simply. The shopping was finished early -- packages were wrapped and mailed off in early December rather than at a the last minute. Cooking was kept to a minimum. If there was something that I had planned to do for the holidays but it felt like too much of a push to get it done -- well, we decided whether or not it was essential (usually NOT) and if not, we just DIDN'T DO IT.

As a result, other than missing the family members who were out of town, we had as perfect a Christmas as I had hoped for. We even managed to pull off the First Annual Traditional Christmas Eve Macaroni and Cheese Supper ... although, unfortunately, the Second Annual Traditional All-Girl's Christmas Poker Tournament was cancelled due to shopping and hanging out talking instead of playing cards. That was okay, though. We hung out TOGETHER, which was really the point after all.

Unfortunately, my daily drawing and posting here got slid over onto the list of non-essential items. I simply couldn't fit it in and get the Christmas that I wanted. So I didn't do it. So there. I haven't really checked e-mail too much in about three weeks. I haven't surfed other people's blogs. I haven't surfed the internet much at all.

I've spent the last week "cleaning up 2007" at home and at work. The plan is to have all stacks of paperwork type stuff, magazines, and general junk cleared out and gone by Dec 31 (done! as of last night!). I want to have my painting area cleared up and organized by Dec 31 (yikes! not started yet...). I want my desk at work cleaned and caught up by Dec 31 (about three quarters of they way done, and the plans are to finish Monday!) Hopefully I'll be able to start 2008 with a CLEAN slate. Hopefully! :-)

It was a good break. BUT -- I missed everyone and am ready to come back and get back to art! I feel re-energized by the break. Tomorrow I'll be looking at last year's goals, and how they worked out, or how they fizzled by the wayside and WHY. The day after tomorrow, on New Year's Day, Diahn and I meet for our "2008 Strategic Planning, Goal Setting, Coffee Drinking, and Bagel Eating Workshop" -- or something like that -- and I'll have new goals for 2008 then!!!

Oh, and see what I got (above)? A new set of DaVinci Gouache tube paints -- specifically to use in the Moleskine (which handles it perfectly!) Yep. There are Moleskine plans for 2008 ...

Woo hoo!

I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday season!

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Catching Up

I went missing for a few days there without a word, didn't I!

It's been busy at work, at home, everywhere I go. I decided that the thing to do was just roll with it, putting down the things that weren't necessary for the moment and NOT getting behind right now. Instead I FOCUSED on getting work caught up and in order, Christmas shopping is very nearly done, and packages are mailed out already. That's a record for me -- so woo hoo!

I'm cleaning house now, and it's just sad. This last year I've been fairly intent on art, and when I stop to really clean, it shows that my poor house has been neglected. Gotta put something about that in the 2008 New Year Resolutions... either that or find an extra job so I can hire a maid ...

Here's a quick colored pen sketch of a poinsettia. It can be Thursday's drawing -- I'll catch up on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (today) tonight and tomorrow!
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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Italian Christmas

"I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas" is the BEST Christmas song ever, but you can also go HERE for one of the other top ten greatest Christmas songs of all time...

A special Buon Natale to Bonny !

And, despite the fun, special thoughts and prayers to the folks in Omaha tonight.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday Treat

Oh yeah ... it's that time of year when D starts bringing home chocolate. Boxes of candy, bags of cookies, plates of fudge. Does he eat it? No. (Sigh.)

It's been a busy, busy day and evening, and tonight I'm finishing some work and getting ready for a continuing ed course all day tomorrow in Therapeutic Yoga. I suppose I should try not to be all stressed out for that one, right?

So, for a CALORIE FREE TREAT to you all -- Click HERE for a YouTube video of one of my favorite oil painters, Karin Jurick, hard at work. It's about 10 minutes long, but absolutely amazing (and has Dean Martin music, too!) Give yourself the gift of watching this and going by her blog to see her awesome work.

I'll post a drawing / painting tomorrow! I really have to get back to work now, though!

What I did Christmas-y today: well, it's a secret. Yep. A big ole' secret.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Monday Mug

Marta is doing a series of mugs this month, and I thought I'd do at least one this year. This is a mug from my favorite Christmas dishes. I'm trying the watercolor and Verithin CP, this time leaving the mug like this (below)...

... and doing the pattern and design with the colored pencil. The Verithins just don't stand up that well on their own, although the indigo did better than the other colors. I ended up adding red, gold, and green WC and then refining with the pencils. I also hurried to finish because, darn it, my coffee was getting cold! It was supposed to be a fast sketch, after all!

And HERE is the famous four-foot tall inflatable -- did I mention that it lights up? -- snowman. Doug joked and joked last year about getting one of those blow up snow globes for the front yard. My sister and I began to get the sneaking suspicion that he really LIKES them -- you'd have to know him -- a great big kid! So, this year at Thanksgiving, she gave him his Christmas present early. We put it up Saturday and he hasn't been deflated since. The snowman, that is. At Sam's on Sunday, Doug stood in open mouthed AWE at a 15' long inflatable Santa train with lights AND MUSIC. No way. I mean it. NO WAY!!!!

Christmas things I did today -- (1) Unpacked the Christmas mugs!, (2) brought a wreath to work to hang in rehab, (3) brought another wreath to work to hang in a resident's room, (4) hung some stockings and decorations on some bulletin boards, and (5) didn't blow my horn and make mean faces at that guy in the huge white pickup truck who cut me off on the highway this evening.

And if you want to listen to some Christmas music, you can go here! :-)

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Sunday, December 02, 2007


Hey -- I think I found my groove. It occurred to me last night that I was loving painting little stuff on the smooth Bristol, so why wasn't I using it for a full size piece? So, while washes dried on the front porch painting I started this from a photo I took in Seaside, Florida this summer. Eventually I gave in, clicked onto Sammy Hagar and the Wabos Livin' it Up album on the iPod, and painted this, dancing all the while. It was so much fun -- I just can't tell what a good time I had with it. This morning I was afraid to look at it, thinking I would totally hate it, but I'm still happy with it. Yay! I LOVE this paper!

The paper corrects easily, too. This morning I realized I'd made the roof vents -- or whatever these are -- too wide.

So this afternoon I fixed them. Not a problem at all.

I just love the puddles, too. The paint misbehaves so beautifully.
Now, to decide whether or not to use colored pencil on this to do some refining...

My Christmas thing to do today (other than shopping!) was to hang the wreath on the front door. See the accidental self portrait in the glass? ;-D

Tomorrow I'll show you the four foot inflatable snowman. Believe me, it's better than the 15' long lit inflatable Christmas train that plays music ... I escaped THAT one!
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hallah Art

I got this Christmas ornament today at a art and craft show here in Knoxville. The artist, Hallah John Paul Boltik, of, moved here after being in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and the following flood. His stories were touching -- his spirit was great. It is one of those "non-coincidences" that he is the third person I've met this week who stayed in New Orleans during that time. All of them stayed because they felt they had to -- the first to care for an ailing relative, the second as an employee of a hospital who was required to stay with patients who could not be evacuated, and the third who stayed to help elderly neighbors who were unable to leave.

Non-coincidentally, I hadn't planned on being at the art fair. And, non-coincidentally, Hallah said something that helped coalesce some thoughts in my head. I'm going to paraphrase him, but he showed some of his art that he had found floating in the water in his flooded studio. (Because he paints on wood and varnishes heavily, some of his art survived the water well.) He said that in that type of crisis, you realize how unimportant art is. Of course, art is important, he added -- as art. But, he realized that the artwork itself -- well, if it had been a blizzard and freezing, his artwork would have been firewood -- and he would have been glad of it. I suppose that if it had been made of canvas, it might have become a tent, or used as a sign, or something else. You see where this goes? Art is not something to get all worked up about.

One of the other people I met talked about how she had lost things she'd been saving for a special occasion. Now she says she realizes every single day is a special occasion. Again -- there is the attitude of not getting worked up about STUFF and instead just enjoying it.

Oddly (or not) I had e-mailed Diahn earlier this week about 2008 art goals. Here is part of the e-mail:

"...And something about painting with more "joy" -- I mean, just think about that wonderful painting at the art center -- THAT was painted with some joy. ... I kind of start out painting with joy, and then choke. Gotta quit doing that."

This all started in early November with the aforementioned discussion about "content." We were privy to some professional art critiques, and while the judge did some valid critiques, several were not so much critiques as arrogant dismissive criticism and ... oh, I don't know. It was poorly done. There were some comments that were not at all "objective" but were just, well, mean. There was one comment in particular that made me so angry -- and I have no idea what the piece of art was or who the artist was, but the comment would have been completely devastating. As in, never paint again. It was THAT bad, and, I felt, done very unproffessionally. (Whew. I really wanted to get that off my chest.) Our real conversation, however, centered around his comments about artist's choice of subject matter. We couldn't figure out how one still life was "trite subject matter" and another was prize winning. We could understand compositional issues, execution, etc., but the CONTENT or subject was the issue .

Our conclusion was that content or subject matter is a very personal thing. You may see a portrait and see "just a child" and someone else see a poignant moment in childhood. Diahn finds landscapes kind of boring (I hope you don't mind that I tell on you, Di!) -- and the ones that make her yawn the most are the ones I find calming. One person may feel that a painting is incomplete without something alive somewhere in the painting -- the other person may find another presence intrusive. In short -- it just doesn't matter. You have to paint what you love. You have to paint what calls your name, whether it's realism or complete fantasy from your head. Listen to and learn from people's critiques about your composition, your technique, how you could express your vision more fully -- but just smile and nod and don't worry about it if they don't like WHAT you paint.

And I think you have to do it with some joy. Go visit Hallah. You'll smile.

Since I didn't get to go to watercolor class this morning, there isn't any poinsettia painting. Here's my first December drawing -- a 10 minute watercolor and colored pencil sketch of a little candy cane that I stuck in my back pocket at the art fair.

(You know how it is in December -- you just never know when you might need a candy cane. )

I'm loving doing these very fast little paintings with watercolor on Bristol smooth finish paper. The paint behaves in a ... wait a minute ... what I mean to say is that the paint totally MISbehaves and that makes it fun! I grabbed my colored pencils to define the shadow, and accidentally picked up Prismacolor Verithins, rather than the regular waxy colored pencil. WHAT a great difference! I'm going to be exploring this mix of mediums and some palette additions a whole lot more this month.

Now -- I promised myself that I got four hours today to work on the front porch painting ... I'm off to paint!

Woo hoo! It's December and countdown time!
P.S. What did you do Christmas-y today? I put my Santa picture on my phone for my wallpaper and put out a four foot inflatable snowman. (LOL -- there's a story to that!)