Day 49

It’s a good thing Rob turned down the neighbor kid selling Girl Scout cookies after this painting was done, or it would have probably been a darker piece. I don’t know what it is about those things, but they’re buy-a-box-and-hide-in-a-parking-lot-devouring-them good. Sigh. I did work out again today, which would only have accounted for, say, ONE Samoa, and I would have wanted to eat four, so I suppose it’s for the best. Sadness.

So here’s where the inspiration came from for today’s piece: I was watching a documentary about the history of Apple today, and one guy being interviewed in some café made some extremely accurate -and hilarious-  observations about engineers & social graces, and I noticed in the background there was this painting that was half figurative, half color-field.

I used to love drawing figures in school (probably because I was good at it), but it’s not easy to do without a nude model and good lighting. Hence, I couldn’t really bust out a figurative piece.

Then I considered writing a poem, but that’s one thing I really can’t force. The good poems seem to come to me of their own volition, and rarely.

So instead, I filled this field with colored squares in warm tones and a makeshift “poem”- bits from the Capote scrap pile- finished it off with a smear of gold and painted the sides the same brilliant color. I rarely use gold, but it felt right today. Et voila!

I’m off to attend an art lecture (I know, I am willingly going to a lecture. I must really be an adult now) at the Verge Gallery with my buddy Reina (and I talked someone into going with me! I must really be a con artist too). Here’s hoping it provides some divine inspiration for work to come!

Day 48

“Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible.” -Walter Cronkite, found here.

I do love the city. I could never live there, because driving in San Francisco is hazardous and terrifying and the parking frustrations alone are enough to incite violence, but I do love to visit. This skyline is from a photo I took while standing across the bay in Berkeley. I was visiting Berkeley for a photo shoot- I used one of those pictures for Day 27’s watercolor- and I couldn’t help snapping a few shots of my old gray friend across the way while I was there. Living in the Bay Area taught me to love all the many variations of gray. I can smell the salty, damp air when I look at this.

Painting on this wood is fun and different. The texture is like velvet. The grain resists the paint, but I don’t mind. And it seems like it would be faster to paint in “miniature”- these blocks are about 4 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep- but it’s such a contrast from what I’m used to. I started out painting murals as a kid, and from there went to pretty large canvases. Only recently (these past few months for the most part) have I done small-scale work on a regular basis. I keep trying to make things bigger than they should be. 🙂

I’m only a month and a half in, but already I’ve learned A LOT about myself as an artist. I sincerely recommend this challenge to other artists. Try making something every day for a month straight. You’ll be surprised and probably amazed with what you end up with. 🙂

Day 47

Call National Geographic! I’m officially a wildlife photographer. That is, if you can consider wildlife to be weeds and bugs in untamed suburbia. Despite the ever-present money worries, I’m in a good mood today. Rob & I went on a date into Old Sacramento and had lunch at Jack’s, came home and cleared the house of negative energy with sage, and spent a bit of time in the backyard. Chester romped around in what I fondly refer to as “God’s Gardening” (i.e. we don’t do anything out there), and I grabbed the camera when I noticed that I’m officially the proud parent of a ladybug sanctuary!

I realized there are all kinds of lovely lessons to learn about the positive things in life, and they’re right here in my own backyard! The ladybug in the image above says to persevere even when life hands you prickles. This guy encourages me to “hang in there”, even when everything seems to be turned upside-down..

And these ones.. well.. they remind me to spend more time “snuggling” with my man. 😉 I hope these little beauties make you smile.

Day 46

Do you ever start out doing something nice but then it gets ruined in the end? Like holding a door open for someone, but then when they don’t say thank you or nod or acknowledge in any way that you didn’t let the door slam into their bitchy face, you say “YOU’RE WELCOME” really loudly? I know yesterday I was waxing poetic about love and goodwill, but I’ve found those things can’t instantly erase pet peeves.

For example, I wave to say thank you every single time someone lets me merge. I know that in theory, they have to let me merge anyway (or run me off the road, I suppose), but that doesn’t mean it hurts to be friendly about it. In part, this is because of my news-induced fears of road rage, and I’m trying to make sure my bases are covered just in case. But also, I wasn’t raised in a barn, as pictured here in today’s piece with a small grove of Eucalyptus on the horizon at sunset.

I’m starting to think the phrase “raised in a barn” is more equivalent these days to “raised on the internet” because it’s clear that no courtesy is required there. If you are one of these people so very accustomed to roaming around in anonymity without recourse or consequence for your actions (i.e. the hosebeast who didn’t say thank you about the door), do the world a favor and practice having conversations with real people, in person, where you get to use things like tone of voice and facial expressions (vastly more diverse than emoticons, believe it or not). Perhaps if enough people get back into that habit, you’ll never have to hear the headline “local Sacramento woman impales stranger with paintbrush handle over door altercation” in the news. End rant. Thank you.

Day 45

As a bona fide Discovery/Science channel junkie, this time off of work has given me a chance to catch up on some geekery goodies. One of the recent ones was about quantum physics and the M theory, which (as I understand it) postulates that the “strings”, or the super tiny things that make up subatomic particles, travel through multiple dimensions interacting with other bits of energy as they go.

This is the scientific basis for other fascinating theories such as those described in “What the Bleep do we know?”, “The Secret” and “The Secret Life of Plants”, which essentially state that emotion is expressed as frequency. As “carbon-based life forms” (if you’re like me, those words sound like robot-speak coming out of a computer in an old Star Trek episode when you read them), we function because of chemical reactions and electrical impulses (i.e. all that crap you learned about ATP & neurons in Biology).

So the idea is that you can use the universal “law of attraction” to draw goodness into your life by feeling good.

Now, though I am an artist, and am accordingly very emotional, I’m also pretty logical. I was “book-smart” in school (guess that’s not much of a feat in California’s public school system, but hey) and this has always been a source of difficulty for me in art and in life. My heart goes one way, and my brain pulls in the other direction a lot of the time. Over the years, I’ve found that if I can track down information to satisfy the left brain, it will be in harmony with the right brain.

So while the square in me says these theories are a bunch of hooey, the dreamer in me has arrived at the meeting with a powerpoint presentation, graphs and laser pointer and saved the day.

In summary, I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day by feeling the love I have for my husband, family and friends as fully as possible. And when I think about the future, I project that same love and gratitude for all the good things I’m blessed with, and imagine a great time very much like I’m having now- sans the calls from bill collectors. 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Today’s painting is a landscape featuring a white silo and mustard flowers inspired by the road behind our home on a thick slice of fence post. Rob looked at it and said the grain of the wood reminds him of those waves of energy I was just describing. What a fabulous connection to see there. Gosh, I love that man.

Day 44

I’ve always been a bit of a “rockhound”. Dad took us on a couple of hikes through Coyote Hills as kids, and he’d show us the shale and limestone and quartz veins in the hillside. We picked up a rock on each family trip and brought them home; eventually we had enough to build a great path of them from the deck to the giant pine tree in the corner.

So when I finally talked Rob into going to a Gem Faire with me awhile ago, he found this GIANT quartz crystal formation and talked the guy into selling it to us. Seriously, it’s massive. It weighs about 40 pounds, is about 3 feet in diameter and is an amazing piece of geologic history we keep in our home.

When Rob first prattled off the merits of quartz with regards to its piezoelectric qualities, my brain kind of turned off because it sounded complicated, and I only have so much space up there. I have fewer and fewer childhood memories as time goes on, and it’s because crap like how Secure Socket Layer encryption works has taken up the space those bits used to be in and pushed them out of my ear into oblivion.

But later on, I paid more attention, and it’s fascinating. Quartz creates voltage, or energy, when compressed, so it’s in things we use daily, like watches, cell phones and barbeques. Some people believe that crystals amplify energy in general, and while it may sound like hocus-pocus, the science seems to back it up. I like to think that it can take our positive thoughts and energy and turn them up a notch before transmitting them to the universe. So when this thing finally helps us win the lottery, it will get a nice, cushy, custom-made throne to rest its awesomeness on. And until then, it’s just plain gorgeous. Today’s piece is a high-contrast photo of one tiny cluster within our little “fortress of solitude” sculpture.

Day 43

I wanted to be sure to get this thing knocked out before the opening ceremony of the Olympics, and just squeaked in under that deadline (thanks in part to the Digital Video Recorder). I love the winter Olympics. My mom got me figure skating lessons when I was around 11 years old; my birthday celebration that year included a trip to see Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton (who did a QUADRUPLE backflip that night!) and other amazing skaters perform. It was awesome. In fact, it still ranks up there as probably the best birthday celebration yet.

As any woman in a relationship who is a fan of figure skating knows, it can be tough to garner TV time at home for this sport. The costumes are exceedingly ridiculous (or impressive tailoring feats of rhinestone and spandex, depending on how you look at it), and despite the panty-shots, I think figure skating generates cranky chemicals in the brains of heterosexual men that causes them to whine and complain until the channel is changed. But when the Olympics are on, this attribute seems to be lessened due to the competitive weight of the event. I’m no neurophysicist (do those even exist, or did I just make it up?), but I’m pretty sure this theory would hold water if lab-tested. 

Today’s piece is a painting on 8”x10” canvas, and features the Baker & Hamilton building on 2nd St. in Old Sacramento. I didn’t add the lettering on the building because my hands weren’t cooperating. You have to hold super still and draw perfectly straight lines- in this case, combined with perspective drawing, which I really do loathe, believe it or not- and that was not happening. Virtually this entire piece was really painful to complete- and I mean that in a literal sense.

Yesterday when making salsa, I decided it would be a fabulous idea to seed the Serrano pepper with my FINGERS (thumb and forefinger, to be exact), so since that moment of brilliance, whenever I grasp something like a paintbrush or a piece of charcoal, the sensitive skin under my nails starts to burn. So call it an excuse, or laziness, or whatever you will, but for now- no lettering. Happy Friday, and enjoy the fabulous Winter Olympics courtesy of our neighbors up north!

P.S. I think we neutralized the burning with some baking soda/water slurry, in case you ever do this. But I’d recommend you learn from my fail and use a spoon instead.  

Day 42

So yesterday when I was in Old Sacramento, I happened to walk by a chocolate shop… which means I went in and bought chocolate. How could I not? It smelled FABULOUS. It was like one of those cartoons- I sniffed the air, the alluring aroma of freshly made chocolate wafted into my nostrils, my butt magically lifted into the air and I floated in, following the scent of yummy. I only got 2 small pieces each for Rob and I- that fancy chocolate is expensive- but I also got a photo of the shelves of candied (or should I say chocolate/nutted) apples in the window, courtesy of the really happy looking guy working the giant copper pot. Unfortunately, the photo came out like this:

So I knew I’d have to improvise and mentally remove the glare from my mad photo skills if I was going to paint it. While pondering that, I couldn’t help but think of the inimitable Wayne Thiebaud and his Candy Apples

I love Thiebaud and his brilliant use of color, and I loved this painting the minute I first saw it. I even painted it- we had to do a few “master copy” assignments in art college. And today’s painting is nowhere near as glorious or skilled as Thiebaud’s is, but it still makes me happy. The feeling I had while I was walking up and down the streets of Old Sacramento was wonderment. The scent of sugar felt like childhood. And what’s childhood without some chocolate or a candy apple now and then, right? If you want to visit this spot, it’s the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Old Sacramento. Both the cashier and chocolatier were very friendly, and did I mention they sell THESE? 🙂

Day 41

Gasp, it’s the earliest post yet! This morning, I set out on a photo excursion. On my commute, I’d always go past Old Sacramento. Though I could see the Victorian scrollwork and old brick buildings from the freeway, I wasn’t sure how to get there, so I took the Prius, knowing its GPS would help me get home. After trying a couple freeway exits that looked like they should take me directly there, but which looped around in all manner of bizarre construction, I surmised that the architect who plotted these streets had modeled them after an arteriovenous malformation*. It started to feel very much like my text-based roleplaying game days of old..“Sorry, you need 200 more XP to unlock Old Sacramento!”**

Sitting at a stoplight, I noticed the car in front of me turn awkwardly into what was, for all intents and purposes, an invisible road. I would never have seen it if I hadn’t noticed that car slipping through the fabric of spacetime into this hidden left turn. Happily, I followed and discovered I’d ended up on the streets I was looking for! I even found parking. As I fished around for quarters, I saw endless ant-trails of schoolchildren walking past the vendors who’d just opened up. The shopkeeps looked at the kids as they trod past as if they could see little dollar-signs floating above their heads. I could almost hear them think, “Ah, that pudgy one’s definitely good for a funnel cake on the way back.”

The street was pretty quiet, considering it’s a weekday, and I felt like an explorer. I didn’t feel weird with my camera, like I sometimes do. Long shadows stretched across the plankboards of the raised wooden sidewalks and into the dribble of cobblestone they’d decided not to pave over for sentiment’s sake. I took quite a few photos and had them printed out at a Kodak kiosk for painting references, but some of them were just lovely on their own. Today’s piece is a photo that captures textures and modern ruins in a way that enraptures me (with some boosted contrast and red tint), and I hope you like it too.

*That one’s for you, mom! Nothing like having an Angio Tech as a mother. 🙂

**And that one’s for my nerd brethren. Enjoy.

Day 40

To quote a punk band that was rocking out when my mom was rocking me to sleep -The Descendents- everything sucks today! It’s just one of those reverse-Midas days. Assuming the opposite of gold is poop, which I am.

First, I got red paint on some of my other pieces piling up in the studio doing a splatter technique. Then, irritated, I went to get the pear cider I’d put into the freezer, and I cracked it open and got one nice, cold sip before it froze up. My hands look like I’ve been performing 19th century surgery, I have a headache, and to top it off, the painting I’m working on SUCKS and I hate it and I wish it would go away. I could chuck the “entire shebang” and do something entirely different.

I thought I would be so much more productive at home, unemployed, yet this morning I slept in till 11:30 and, outside a trip to BevMo, have essentially accomplished squat. Ack, which reminds me, I haven’t exercised in awhile either. This is ridiculous. Tonight I’m going to make a list and tomorrow I’m going to set the damn alarm.

After many layers of ‘ick’ and ‘eww’ and ‘damn it!!’ and ‘why, God, why???’ I finally got this thing looking kind of creepy and colorful and interesting and- most importantly- FINISHED. Yay me!