Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 283

Aubrey has officially and literally flown the coup for new adventures in other lattitudes and time zones. She will, without a doubt, create wonder wherever she goes. She is Aubrey, Fair-Haired Ruler of the Elves. And all that goes with.

And here, her magic lingers though we miss her already.

g'night Aubrey. Tomorrow, wake up and fly.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 280


are my tastes. My life is mix of new and old, simple and ornate. Furnishings, clothing, art, books, music, friends and ideas came from discordant decades, styles and places.

What is it that ties these things together? How is it that they fit? Perhaps the connections can't be seen by others, though I'm told it's an interesting place to visit, full of subtle surprises. I see it very clearly, but I can't define it.
Over time, this life has translated itself into my work. My work is made of collections of oddments, bits and pieces in little cabinets. Nightmarish figures with bits of kindness, old bones in bright toy colors, dead insects wearing tutus and tuxedos.

I begin to understand the thread.
This is the good stuff. It's the kind of stuff that begins to happen after twenty years of studying a subject.

About that many years ago Harlan Ellison told me I was a true- to- life monomaniac. He was right. I don't have to tell Harlan he was right. He knew, even then. But I didn't. I didn't know what the word meant. Not twenty years ago.
All this time I've been looking at the absolute absurdity of being human through a specific lens. Through eyes distant and amused, kind and dangerous. I've been teaching myself a language I'm creating as I go.

Some of my earlier works have codes engraved or painted or sculpted into them. Other's have the cipher.
I've tended to amuse myself in odd ways...
It's like time travel.
(I've told you this before.)

Such discoveries are hard won. Possibly you've had some and you're smiling. Possibly you haven't yet. Not to worry. The difficult stuff is also the best stuff.

Tonight the desert is burning to the west of us. My son is safely asleep in his bed. Another Hellish Summer is over and it's time to laugh, seriously.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 274

Sitting here, starting to write, I realize I was so eager to get Red to her new owner that I forgot to finish her photographs. No matter, I'll catch the next incarnation.

This morning I was hardly aware of a deep rumbling before I became acutely aware of a great hissing, cat-wise. It was Soosi, behind me at the kitchen window, staring wild-eyed at the crane and cup of a tree trimming truck passing on the street behind our house. I can't imagine what was going on in her brain, but mortal fear was in every other cell of her body. I've never seen a cat in such full bloom. Her tail was huge--seen that before--but every hair on her head and body were standing at end. Her pupils were like olives. This was a cat staring Death in the face. Or at least Death's tree-trimming truck. I didn't dare touch her, but I kept repeating soothing things, it's alright, Soosi, you're okay, it won't hurt you. I could've said anything, I know. It's not the words, but the tone that matters. Presently, she...deflated. And that face on her! Just...hanging. I'm not exaggerating. I thought I'd cry. I spent the next twenty minutes holding her until finally she purred and fell asleep. I've never seen an animal so scared. I can't say I'd like to again.

The rest of the day was quietly productive. I had the great pleasure of hearing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, uninterrupted. It never fails me. That particular work might be my constant. I first heard it when I was no more than six. When I hear it, when I listen, there is no time.

I'm the last one awake now, Orion and kitties all snoring together, including Soosi.

Hope your day was good.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 269

Here's where I left off with "Red."

Skin is made of a lot of different colors. I make a palette of antique white, canyon orange, king's gold, white, red and even a bit of navy. I use a soft brush and stipple until I'm happy with the results, both color and texture.

Blocked in the mouth and tattoo.

Softening and cleaning up between lines where colors meet.

Gaining on it here. Still a bit of detailing and clean up, but she's starting to gain some life.

The first wash of Alazaran Crimson over the red. It's still transparent enough to let the texture and color show through, but adds a great deal of richness to the red.

Have to use some restraint here. Too many layers will make the color opaque and the depth could be lost. Live and learn.

Lots of clouds and changing lights today. Loved it, but not so good for photographing. Will get her finished portrait up tomorrow. But I'll miss the clouds, for sure.

Kitties in late afternoon sunlight.

It seeks Bilbo out and changes him into a storybook kitty.

At least, I see it that way. Then, my vision is affected by love for both cat and sunlight.

Hope your night is good and you wake up ready to go again, dear human.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 268

This morning Orion and I woke at 4am to booming thunder and great, jagged columns of lightning. He climbed in with me and we watched for a while. It was an awesome and spectacular show. (I'm not one use the word 'awesome' lightly. When I use it, I refer to actual awe, you know, mouth opened, heart humbled awe.) The kitties joined us and soon it was just me watching, with boy and felines sleeping around me.
I enjoyed it as long as I could before drifting off again. When the alarm went off two hours later, rain was pouring and there were flash flood watches. I needed real coffee.
Red is finished and lovely and I'll get the photos up tomorrow. Tonight I'm going to sleep reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig. It's a loan and I promised my friend I'd try not to drool on his copy. I'll do my best to get Little Pink between the pages and set it aside before my eyes close for the night. I wonder where I'll go when I sleep. I suppose I'll know when I get there.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 265

Painting "Red" today. (I'll be amazed if the captions line up with the photos. stoopid blogger.)

If not, I'll trust you to figure it out. I R sleepy.

After cleaning up the casting and sanding, a thin layer of black primer (spray) then a painted layer of acrylic after the primer's fully dried at least 24 hours.

First layer of drybrushing is very, very, very...dry. Drybrushing is a real discipline for me. It has to be done in layers to be done well. The first coat is a fine all over brushing. After that is a little less dry and, using a very flat brush, touching fewer hightlights. Easy to screw up. Lots of cussing.

Boys in the pool, me working outside. The poppet bird house is made by John Baucum. I'm hoping he'll make some for the Etsy store in the fall. It's held up wonderfully, even in this desert heat.

Full dry brush.

Back, fully dry-brushed.

Detail of drybrush. This is after several rounds of drybrushing, each lighter, touching fewer highlights than the previous. It's a subtle thing, but in the end, adds a luminosity that just isn't there without it.

I don't buy palettes or palette paper. I use old phone books for dry brushing and magazines for other painting. The pages are slicker and don't dry the paint. For dry brush, the newsprint leeching the water out is a benefit.

Red's a transparent color. I start with this bright red layer, undiluted but applied thinly so the lights and shadows of the drybrush show through.

Red dress. Stage the 1st. Sunlight is great for photographing such bright colors.

Self-snapshot of the artist, Saturday afternoon.
Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of the events of 9/11/2001. I feel as I did on 9/11/2006:

I'm not a patriot. I'm a human being.

Tomorrow I'll finish up this piece and photo as I go. Please ask me anything about the painting process. Or anything else for that matter.

I hope you're sleeping well. I wish us all a good day.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Day 262

Let's think about color.

Once, many years ago and many miles from here, I was a student with little money and a budding aesthetic. I learned to dye natural fabrics with coffee, tea and certain dark vegetables. I learned that a set of mismatched solid and striped towels could be unified with an application of powdered dye in black, turning them into coordinating deeper shades of themselves with black flecks.

Probably should've been a clue to rethink that biology major.


Possibly I found my palette there. Reds were deep, orange was burnt and yellow was gold. Purple became eggplant, Blue muted by winter, French and midnight. Green shades of sage, moss and Charleston. Rare touches of pink dampened into deeper shades found in varieties of flesh.

Possibly it goes way deeper.

It rained the other night and I turned everything off so I could listen to the sounds. As I lay there, Bilbo bit at my toes. I knew what he wanted. He wanted to ride. He climbed on and hung on tightly while I bounced my foot up and down, up and down. I imagined the spring-based tot rides at the park. How about a giant foot to bounce on? Bilbo is getting too big for this. Soon it won't work anymore.

I can no longer throw Orion in the pool.

In a way, it's like shrinking.

But I was talking about color. As I lay there listening to thunder and bouncing Bilbo I looked at the art on my walls. My work and that of others, all in the palette I'm drawn to. The same colors that followed me to and from all the places I've lived.

My furnishings fall within these shades.

As do the clothes in my closet.

Basic colors with undertones of black. It makes perfect sense for me.

Shades, not tints. Is my palette made up of ghosts of other colors?

Children ask each other, "What's your favorite color?" It is, after all, a completely logical question.

What's your favorite color then, and why might that be? Let's talk about color.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Day 261

September 6th. Labor Day has come and gone, signaling the end of summer. Or, at least the end of white shoes. As if. I'm calling it anyway. End of summer. Because of all the suckass summers I've spent in this desert, this was the suckassiest. I curled myself up into a little ball. Then I rolled on the floor. Back and forth, up and down, side to side, for a few months. It sort of feels that way. But I figured some things out too. Some of the things I figured out were worth the effort.
Possibly it's time to let Poppet do the talking. I'm preoccupied, thinking, which is significantly better than rolling.

Summer is over for me because I say it is. I'm not up, but awake, before the alarm.