Day 59

While my cousin tells me my auntie still has a drawing I did of my first pet, Chip, I don’t recall ever drawing any dogs. So I tried my hand at a quick sketch of Chester while he slept on a couple articles of clothing on top of the couch. Unfortunately he started to have a nightmare and woke up about 3-4 minutes in, which resulted in a poor drawing. Today’s drawing is a reminder of why working from photos tends to be a better bet for me when it comes to portraiture- even doggie portraiture. So I figured I’d pair a bad drawing with a bad poem, just for kicks. Enjoy!

Ode To Chester

Beloved pup, you rule our roost

Your cuddles are a serotonin boost

With sable fur and charcoal nose

Our love for you constantly grows

You stretch and yawn with curly tongue

You keep your ‘parents’ feeling young

You’re king of nicknames, Chessie-lou

Sir snarfs-a-lot, and you-know-who

Chess Match, Chesapeake Bay & more

Life with you is never a bore

With the pickiest palette of all canine-kind

And a maintenance-requiring stinky behind

You test our patience but it’s okay

We love you more than words can say!


Day 58

I saw a blouse today with a fascinating bead-curtain mardi-gras-esque type of pattern on it. For some reason, it reminded me of a drawing I’d done years ago, between classes in college, sketching in ballpoint pen because that’s all I had on me (believe me, normally I would have used pencil so I could fix mistakes).

Despite being an art student, I could be remarkably unorganized with art supplies some days. I’d be CERTAIN I had my pencils and charcoals somewhere in the bottom of my bag, when really they were in the backseat of the car since I’d been sitting there doing a drawing last and forgot to return them to my satchel, which I’d only discover after parking a half mile away from campus in the hills of Oakland. I distinctly remember sitting in the cafeteria in the fall, nursing a cup of tea I’d bought with the 75 cents I’d fished out of the coin dish in the car door that morning, glaring at the people who’d let the door fly open in the wind and not bother to close off the cold air behind them.

I drew this figure then- a stripper leaning lightly to avoid the sticky wall, staring blankly at the dark- out of my head, which is always tricky for me. I work much better with a model, but I wanted to try. I found it difficult to add little details like the feather hairpiece, beaded bikini string and tucked dollar bills in just the ink, but when I was done, I was really happy with it. And I kept it all these years.

So today I decided to begin an old/new series. Artists are constantly inspired by other artists- anyone who says they aren’t is either insanely vain or a liar- and I thought “why not be inspired by my OWN work?”

I chose a wood block and painted the beaded curtain pattern in washes of color muted with charcoal and finished it with the bright orange red of cathouse neon and tacky lingerie. For me, the grain of the wood feels like both the movement of the curtain and an echo, which I think is appropriate here since we’re looking at two pieces connected in time. I left the background the wood color too, since it’s warm and close to flesh tone, which I think references the other piece as well.

My cold is primarily habitating my throat now, which Rob has jokingly referred to as the “Kathleen Turner” phase of sickness. He made me a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea with soy milk and amber honey. As I sit here sipping on it, I feel as if things come full circle sometimes in unexpected ways and smile.

Day 57

Sometimes it feels as if the universe conspires to provide me with divine inspiration. The other day, for example, I was sifting through cut up pages and came across the words “garbage collector”. About 30 seconds later, some song playing on the internet radio station I’ve never heard included the lyrics “garbage collector”, and I had to stop for a moment to let the Twilight Zone music play out in my head because I found it rather odd. Now, I haven’t yet painted a garbage collector, but who knows? Perhaps it’s foreshadowing and my first great masterpiece will be a portrait of a garbage collector.* (Today’s post ended up being kind of verbose and brainy, so I spliced it up with photos. Feel free to scroll through without reading. Hell, I won’t know.)

Today’s pieces were inspired by a physics lecture I was listening to this morning. I’m a big fan of color, and of course color itself is a pretty amazing phenomenon. The fact that we can see it at all is because we have different types of cone cells in the retina that are able to recognize variations in frequency of visible light. (If you want a more intense science lesson on color than provided in this blog post, Wikipedia will help you with that here.)

There are frequencies of light outside of the spectrum visible to humans, of course, and so there are all kinds of amazing things going on that we can’t see at all when it comes to light and energy and the universe. Vision is huge for us, as everything we see is perceived in our brains as reality. This is a quote by Einstein from here that I found fascinating:

“A human being is a part of this whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to apportion for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” — Albert Einstein

So today’s work is an ‘optical delusion’ if you will- three doors, in the primary colors from which all other colors are comprised, without doorknobs. Sometimes it’s not so easy to alter pre-defined concepts of reality by just grabbing and turning a handle. Sometimes you have to figure out another way altogether.

Thus ends my tree-hugging “whoa man” mind-expansion post. Happy Friday, everyone!

*P.S. I know you haven’t seen any portraits, figurative work, still life pieces or a few other styles from me in this project yet, but don’t worry! It’s all on the horizon. I may be two months in, but I’ve got 10 left to go. There’s plenty of time.

Day 56

I am TRYing, but I still don’t understand the fascination with pastels. They are pretty much blunt edged, they get all smeary into other colors.. every time I use them, I feel like I’ve been handed a box of crayons. Actually, crayons are sharper. They come WITH a sharpener built-in. And I once made this totally badass drawing of a red bar candle with nothing but red crayon (yep, for the children’s menus), a ballpoint pen and a sharpie (and yep, I was totally doing that sketch at work). 

So, in this artist’s rendition of Roshambo (rock-paper-scissors), charcoal beats crayons, crayons beat pastels, and pastels beat.. I don’t know, pricking my finger and drawing in my own blood. Alright, I guess that wasn’t a very successful comparison. I am still sick, so I’m going to blame it on that. ANYWAY..

Today’s piece was inspired by an aerial shot of New York at dusk when it starts going into all blues. I was watching Cash Cab, this great trivia game show where taxi passengers in NY get to answer questions for money. And this awesome picture came on with all these fabulous Yves Klein-esque blues, so I paused the TV to sketch it, but it was live, not recorded, so the Langoliers were coming to eat it up and I had to draw it in real fast. I thought pastels would be appropriately haphazard as a medium, and here we are.

Someday when I grow up, I’m going to start painting with oils. Until then, I would love it if anyone has any photos they personally took of night scenes in New York or other cities with colorful streets to send to me. I would love some inspiration from you guys and gals, so bring it on! Post a photo to the Facebook fan page and I’ll check it out!

So today we’ve got a call for nightscape photos, and yesterday was the beginning of a reader haiku challenge to win a free print! Things are heating up in this art project thing, and it’s not just my fever! 😉

Day 55

Today’s blog post is in Haiku format. I’m introducing a viewer challenge stolen from a blog I love called Create your own haiku about this piece (or this art project) and leave it in the comments! The best one will get a free print (I’m making prints once I get to 200 facebook fans, so spread the word!). 🙂 I’ll be watching for entries until the end of March. Remember- a haiku is a non-rhyming poem made of three lines, in which the first is 5 syllables, the second is 7 and the third is 5. Good luck!

Charcoal born of ash

Sketches fire hydrant in chains

Smudges where rust grows

Day 53

“Wow.” I thought. “I am an uber-cliché right now.” I’m an out-of-work artist standing in the kitchen, literally staring at a pot of water and waiting for it to boil. Figuratively, I’m pretty much doing the same thing, checking my inbox every morning for some miraculous message with fabulous news.

I walked over to the counter and tore open a piece of mail from our Health Care Provider reminding me that our benefits ended when my job ended as I sniffled (how can a nose be stuffed up and runny at the same time?!), impressed at yet another cliché I was acting out- I get a cold for the first time in years right when I lose my health care. Hilarious.

Since when am I a character in some bad author’s novel? This is ridiculous!

Needless to say, being sick with a cold my husband gave me (who jokingly declared “sharesies!” when I woke up this morning sounding like an emphysema victim), I really didn’t feel like making art today… really. But I did anyway.

Today’s piece is an abstract in pastel on paper based on a blurry night photo of SF. It kind of looks like Easter Bunny vomit on black velvet, but at least it’s something, right? Right. And now back to the couch…

Day 52

I’m kind of in love with painting on wood right now. I love texture, I love the square format, I love that these were virtually free because I got to use my dad as unpaid labor to cut them for me… they’re just a bucket of awesome. Or rather a box of awesome, sitting in my living room, waiting for their own individual makeovers to occur.

Today, I went with a trio of landscapes from photos I took on the trip to my grandparents’ house the other day. Together like this, I think it gives you the feeling of movement and travel through the charming farmlands of Northern California.

There’s something about the combination of nature and manmade shapes in a composition that’s so intriguing to me. I don’t know what it is, or why it is, but when I do find out, I’ll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, I’m trying to cook ribs for the first time. Wish me luck!

Day 51

At first I couldn’t paint today because I kept thinking about how somewhere out there is a box of Girl Scout Cookies with my name on them. And I don’t think I’ve even had one for two years. One would think that a powerful brain-altering recipe like that would be examined closely. I think, however, that the people responsible for chemically testing Girl Scout Cookies also love Girl Scout Cookies as much as I do and have no desire to ruin them with some pesky science, so the world will never know.

Sometimes one painting I’ve done beckons to its’ soulmate floating as potential inspiration in the ether, and sends it through my paintbrush on to a suitable surface so they can be together again.  Or I’m just kind of OCD and feel like they all need to come in pairs. Either way.

So today I made a match for the red/orange/gold one from the other day with a complimentary color scheme (cool tones and silver sides) and “poem”. Enjoy!

Day 50

Today is my mother’s birthday! She is visiting my grandparents in Paradise (the city in Northern California, not a figurative wonderland) for a few days, and I drove up there to see her and go out to lunch today. It’s only about an hour and a half from Sacramento, and while some people might find the drive dreary, I enjoy it. I see it as tons of little paintings. I snapped a bunch of photos of the little farmland landscapes that will be appearing shortly on more woodblocks, but having arrived home fairly late in the day and not having tons of time to paint, I decided to go with three lovely flower photos I took today.

These are from Camellia bushes in my Grandma’s garden. She clipped a few and had them floating in bowls of water. It was as if I had just walked into a wedding planning meeting. There’s nothing quite like a gorgeous blossom. When life gets tough, it’s important that we remember to be happy for the little things. And for me, that’s my wonderful, supportive family full of fabulous female role models and other things like fresh flowers. Although I guess an awesome family really isn’t a “little thing”. I love you mom!