Day 35

This morning, I decided to get an early start. I began sketching this hillside photo of Istanbul at around 9:30 am. I began with the mosque and minarets. With watercolors, it’s imperative to get the shapes right from the beginning. With acrylic painting, I can just paint over a layer to change a shape’s location entirely. Well, it’s not THAT easy. I feel I should clarify this point, because during the many years Jennan and I painted murals together, we’d often get clients who would come in after several hours of work and say “Hmm, I like it so far, but could you scoot the elephant over a few inches to the left?” At which point, my nostrils would flare, Jennan would shoot me that plaintive “say something congenial before I kill our client” look,  and I’d try to explain that this was actual paint being applied by hand, and that it didn’t magically become a vinyl sticker once dry.

So with watercolors, the white areas have to stay white from the beginning. It requires forethought and planning and patience- none of which are strong areas for me. So I looked at the mostly blank page after a half hour, slightly exasperated, and put it down for awhile.

I put several more hours into it in the afternoon. I wanted to just ignore the photo and start making up colorful boxes, but each little square of building is connected to the others. After a while, it started to feel like level 9 Tetris, that point at which I can’t put the lines into neat stacks as easily, and I have a little anxiety attack in my throat and my eyes get all dry as I try not to blink so I don’t screw anything up. I kept telling myself to pick up the pace in my brain, yet somehow it was still like I was painting through a layer of molasses.

Eventually it got to the point where I could just add windows and pen lines and take the pictures. I called Rob, who told me he had spoken with the EDD. We were worried that he wouldn’t be eligible for it because he’d run out shortly before he started his last job. The friendly representative told him that he’d earned just enough income at his recent positionto be eligible again. I took a deep, long breath of relief. Knowing that we’ll both be able to receive unemployment for at least awhile is definitely going to help me sleep tonight. Also, I think this watercolor turned out kind of awesome, so there’s that too. Yay!

Day 23

Feeling reinvigorated about paintings after the success of using photos as a basis for my cityscapes, I headed out today to finally print off some of the amazing photographs mom took when she and I went on a cruise in Europe this past fall. It was a fabulous time and I’m so blessed that mom took me with her. She has a great eye for compositions and took extra care to snap some shots of cities and night scenes for me to paint.

One of the most interesting cities we visited was Istanbul. I think I found it so fascinating because it’s a place that encompasses opposites. The city presides over the borders of two continents, it welcomes a multitude of people and faiths, it is both ancient and new at the same time.

As our ship pulled up, we were serenaded by a band and dancers playing traditional Turkish folk music on the pier, a couple hundred yards or so in front of the Museum of Modern Art. Several minutes later, invisible men sang Ramadan prayers through the PA systems of gorgeous, sculpted minarets surveying the great quilt of architecture covering the hills between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Red flags with a white crescent moon and single star waved welcome to us as I leaned over the bough; my unintentionally matching tattoo on my bosom and I waved back. It was surreal and amazing.

When I was 13, my mom took me to a tattoo parlor. This fact shocks most people that know my mom- she’s pretty straight-laced in general. But she shared that she had wanted a tattoo so badly as a teenager that she ended up getting it done in a living room (it looked pretty good actually, and it was a clean situation so no worries). Her mom found out when an article about underage tattoos appeared in the newspaper shortly thereafter- with a photo of my mom getting her ink done on some dude’s couch in it.

Mom didn’t want me to do the same thing. Knowing I carried her willful genes, she took me in that day (back when you could get a tattoo at age 16 as long as a parent was present, yes I said 13 up there, thanks for fibbing to the dude with the giant snake in the lobby, mom!), probably expecting I would freak out when I heard the sound of the needle, but I didn’t. I picked a small crescent moon and single star for the left side of my chest. I didn’t know it was the same symbol as the Turkish flag then (thanks, California’s public school system!) and little did I know I’d be enjoying an unforgettable time with my mom in that country 14 years later.

So today I worked from one of the harbor photos of Istanbul. I’ve done a few really successful San Francisco inspired cityscapes in the same manner before, but it’s been awhile and I almost forgot how frustrating they are. My eyeballs get lost in all the lines and I get to the point that I have to break off and quit looking at the photo and go from there to make it work. I hated this one right up until the last few minutes or so, and then I liked it a lot. Whew. Thank goodness. I have a glass of Lindeman’s Lambic Framboise getting warm over here.