slightly wonky


ho ho hmmmpf
December 23, 2011, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Drawing, Fleeting thoughts... | Tags: , , , , ,

We all managed to survive the birthdaypalooza for my son this past weekend.  I think that I aged a year just in that day alone.  Basically, from the moment I woke up that morning, I was busy getting stuff together.  Maybe I missed it, but I do NOT remember my mom having to do so much work for a kid’s party.  WHAT IS IT WITH THESE KIDS TODAY????  (imagine me scowling as I look over my reading glasses, which I don’t own).

The cake…took forever.  As soon as I started to make it, I told my husband that we’re buying one next year.  Did I mention that the frosting alone had two pounds of chocolate in it?  TWO POUNDS.  I probably gained two pounds just licking the spatula afterwards.  I gave up on really making it 3D, and just settled for 3D tires…

Hey, I think for someone who had to buy a pastry bag for the first time, I did a pretty good job.  I must confess, I did have my son’s name on the cake, but somehow in order to shield him from the folly of his mom’s blogging, I photoshopped it out.  Not bad as well, right?

I thought that this was going to be a VERY productive week.  I guess that it has been, a little.  I have been sidetracked slightly, as I am making a dress for my friend’s daughter.  Here it is:

It’s cute, right?  Looks very straightforward and easy, right?  The sort of thing that someone on Project Runway could do in ten minutes with a Holly Hobby sewing machine and a broken needle, right?  It’s sad how long it’s taking me to do this.  I have sewn clothes for myself…but I have no shame in wearing my own wonky creations.  THIS dress, however, is not for me…so I’m TRYING to channel Christian Siriano whilst I stitch this thing together.  My biggest fear: that it doesn’t FIT and I’ll have to REMAKE it.  Maybe I should call the mom up and suggest that her daughter only eat lettuce until I finish this thing. 

My own work is always taking a turn for the weird.  Some of my latest drawings:

and:

Someone else’s trash is another person’s treasure!  Yes, I pulled that keyboard out of a trash can.  It was in our own trash can here at home, so I figure that makes it slightly less gross.  You can agree with me now.  I’m wondering if these B&W drawings are less exciting than the bright, colorful stuff that I’ve done in the past.  I mean…have you yawned yet while reading this?  Be honest.

I hope that everyone is having, or will have, a nice holiday.  I’m asking Santa for more sleep next year.  And fewer dust bunnies.  I have more than my fair share, really.  They’re doing some kind of “Occupy My Living Room” right now.  As long as they clean up after themselves, maybe that’s ok.

It just dawned on me that my son and husband are both home all of next week.  This is called a “vacation”.  Hmm…

 



mooning over de Kooning & de 4th birthday…

The birthday planning for my son’s 4th birthday party has given me several more gray hairs.  Today, during his bathtime, he was mad at me and told me that I was NOT to come to the party.  I was to stay home and feel awful.  Sheesh.  Who taught him such nasty mind games?  Do I say stuff like that?  I hope not…I might have been more subtle and not stipulated that the other person “feel bad”.  He’ll learn such subtlety in time…

I am attempting to keep this a fairly DIY party.  No, I’m not hand-making artisanal balloons or anything.  BUT, I’m making the cake, have baked cookies to go with the favors, and have scribbled together the decor.  The theme: construction site.  A week after deciding this theme, my son decided it should be pirates.  Too bad, I said.  That brought on another barrage of vitrol from him.

So, here is one of my scribbly signs for the party:

Isn’t it cute?  Just say it is to humor me.  Actually, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to stop blabbering about this party, and talk about de Kooning instead.  All in good time…

This is probably the last year that I can do anything DIY for a party.  Next year, he’ll want lazer tag with spiderman and Doc Octopus.  Ummm…yeah, I can’t do that with cardboard and markers.  I’d have to be some kind of hybrid between Martha Stewart and Stan Lee.   Hmm…disturbing.

The ornament situation in our house has gotten worse:

I have completely given up.

Okay, enough about my preschool-centric universe.  So, this past Saturday…I had the WHOLE day to myself.  No, I don’t just mean from around 11 am when my husband is done with his marathon bike ride, until 5 pm, when I’m needed to relieve him from being “on duty” with our son.  I mean the ENTIRE day.  What did I do?  I went to NYC for several hours!  Okay…for my friends who are in NY…PLEASE DON’T BE MAD.  I had to do a tactical strike.  I was on a mission to go to MOMA and see the de Kooning exhibit, which is only open until January 9.  I can do a social visit another time.

It was AMAZING.  So brilliant.  That man just oozes talent.  Or, I guess that would be oozed.  Seriously.  I loved his lines, his enormous swaths of color, his manipulation of the human form…

and this:

de Kooning, Untitled – 1961

and this:

Sigh.  You must see this show, if possible.  You won’t believe the scale of some of these pieces…their textures…their energy…so amazing.

When I was rushing through the rest of MOMA, I saw a crowd gathered around something.  Naturally…I was curious.  WHAT was it?

Really!  So interesting.  I am not a fan of Dali, but it was really fascinating to see what was a “celebrity”.  I just like other stuff…I nearly plowed through several people when my eyes locked with THIS from across the room:

Rauschenberg, Bed – 1955

Yes, I nearly became a linebacker in order to look at this old quilt with paint on it.  LOVE IT.  As the old adage goes…it was smaller in real life.  (no, not that it tastes like chicken…pay attention).  Really.  If I hadn’t spent so much time mooning over de Kooning (!), I may have had more time to see everything else.  One other piece struck me:

Wyeth, Christina’s World – 1948

Okay.  This is a VERY familiar painting.  Right?  I’m not savvy in the least, but this has to be one of Wyeth’s most famous paintings.  Anyway…it always seemed to me a very “romantic” picture…I mean the romance of the agrarian.  WELL.  I had a VERY different feeling when I was actually looking at the painting firsthand (which, by the way, was stuck in a  corner next to an elevator vestible and a cafe).  First of all…her hair is not the lustrous brunette of youth…but actually a  harried mix of grey and brown.  This is not a young woman at all!  She’s probably in her late 30s / early 40s…you know…way over the hill, like me.  In addition…her body is neither youthful, nor supple.  She actually appears frail…weak…half-starved.  If you look more carefully, her bent arm in the foreground is very thin…(and not in a Marie Claire sort of way).  She seems to be struggling to raise herself.  In addtion, her dress and shoes are not fresh and new…her shoes in particular struck me as very worn and old.   So ultimately, this painting had a desperate, bleak air to it.  WELL, if my art history class in college had covered anything within the past 300 years, then I MIGHT have known that:

Okay..am I the only person in the world who had an entirely different impression of this painting than is actually the case???  This long-winded story is basically remarking on how important it is to actually SEE artwork in person…not on a screen…not in a magazine…not on some crazy person’s blog…(are you still reading?  amazing!)

As a result of all of this art viewing / party planning…I have not gotten much work done.  Sigh.  I have one drawing to show:

closer:

No, I’m not done with this “line of exploration” yet.  If you get tired of my subject matter, please bear with me.  I’m trying to focus and stay on a path, and not flit around from project to project.

Wish me luck with the party extravaganza on Saturday!  I’m sure that I’ll be crying with frustration and relief at the end of it, and will be sent home in order to have a nap.



Holiday frenzy builds…
December 9, 2011, 1:42 pm
Filed under: Drawing, Fleeting thoughts... | Tags: , , , , ,

Okay.  I have gotten much more into the holiday spirit.  I think that having a four-year old makes it so.  Just to add to his frenzied excitement about both his upcoming birthday AND Christmas…I bought an advent calendar.

I know.  All my architect friends will fall off their chairs in horror.  Look at that pitched roof!  Whatever.  I always loved advent calendars as a kid.  This is even better because I can put stuff in it!  My son loves it.  However, he keeps asking me about what’s behind the big door.  I am now feeling that the silly little christmas ornaments that are behind that door will be a big disappointment.  Hmmm.  What to do. 

I did alter this thing a bit…notice the colors within the boxes, and the colors on the back of the doors.  Yes, I added those.  Laundry is not being done…chores not completed, yet I persist in “improving” this thing.  A true sign of neurosis.  Actually, the true sign of neurosis is this:

These are some of the ornaments that I had in the advent calendar.  My son is hanging them up on this garland (with my assistance, of course).  The neurosis is that I DESPERATELY want to separate those two ornaments from being on the same link.  See the two together in the middle?  It is taking all of my willpower not to change the way that my son has hung it.  This is a real period of growth…not leaping in to “fix” what he does.  Leave it be. 

Our Christmas cactus is looking good this year!

Try to ignore the filthy window.  This lovely plant on the left was a gift from my husband’s aunt and uncle when they came by to visit my newborn son.  So, I associate it with his birth.  I am relieved that it is still alive, as I am terrible with plants.  I either over-water them, or leave them to shrivel and die…not intentionally, of course.  I hope that this plant will be around next year…

Not as much art done this week.  Too much holiday stuff to do.  It’s kind of non stop.  Part of me will be glad when the holiday craziness is over…the other part will be horrified that we will be in the bleak winter.

See how dark this winter light is?  I just went outside to take this photo, and this is how it turned out.  Yikes.  Notice the phone message scrawled in the upper right.  All famous artists do stuff like that.  It makes it more “authentic”.  This is what the scanner did to that picture:

Really not good.  Shoddy equipment.  The scanner basically washed out the whole thing and made it all look more “scratchy”.  Sigh.  Maybe winter photography is beyond me.

That’s all for now…I hope to have something even MORE brilliant to post next week… let’s hope that I’ve done something more than drawing a digger for my son…



Both ends of the spectrum…
November 30, 2011, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Drawing, painting | Tags: , , , , , ,

Okay.  I know that I was going to TRY to focus only on black and white drawings, but I still have a couple of painting classes left…so the color is not dead yet.  Here is the painting that I did today:

Talk about less is not more!  I know.  As soon as I get a paintbrush in my hand, I lose all sense of editing and moderation.  Is there a color that I didn’t use?  I don’t think so.  The little “painting-within-a-painting” was  my teacher’s idea.  I kind of like it.  It must be so hard to be a minimalist painter…the temptation to just go crazy with colors and marks is tough to ignore.  Maybe minimalist painters get that out of their system by age 5 or so.  Not me.  Not yet!

I am still working on my drawings.  I’m going to now try to slow down and spend more time on them.  I’m also experimenting with new papers/surfaces.  This drawing was on plate bristol:

I am happy with this.  I really need an easel, though.  I just try propping that whole drawing board up on either my knee, or the handle of my luggage cart for my acrylic paints.  Clearly, this is not how Picasso probably worked.    I also have decided that I need a little clip on light for my drawing board, as it’s sometimes difficult to see the first pencil lines that I put down.  Here is a close up:

I have to work on my technique some more.  I think getting an easel might help, as I won’t be wrestling to balance the silly drawing board while I’m trying to create poetic and ethereal cross hatching.

My son keeps asking for the little clock/CD player that I took out of his room after he kept squawking about the music that I put on.  I have it at my desk in the basement.  Now I don’t want to give it back!  I keep listening to “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.  It’s the only classical/jazz cd that I have that isn’t stashed away in the attic somewhere.  It’s amazing how I can keep listening to that and not get tired of it.  Maybe I won’t feel that way by Dec. 25, but right now…it’s music to work by.  I just have to keep changing the subject whenever the topic of that little CD player comes up.  I hope that this doesn’t make me a bad mom.  Maybe I’ll have to get him his own little CD player for Christmas…along with some Lego monstrosity…because you can never have too much Lego, right?



Little elephant…painful portrait progress…
September 28, 2011, 2:37 pm
Filed under: painting | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My painting teacher asked us to bring in an object to paint, or “present”, in his words.  I didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded intimidating.  He brought over a Rauchenberg book to show me an example of what he meant when I asked him about it.  Hmmm.  No pressure.  Setting the bar astronomically high…okay.  Have I already mentioned that I love Rauchenberg’s work?  I probably should have just crawled under my easel at that point, but I didn’t.  Maybe if I had a stuffed goat and a tire, I might be able to sort of get within the same solar system as Rauchenberg’s work.  Maybe not.

Anyway, I picked a small elephant toy that I’ve had since I was a kid.  My childhood friend, Anita, gave it to me.  Her dad was from India, and they went there on vacation.  So, here is my little elephant…in pretty good shape if you consider how old it is…

Cute, right?  He doesn’t stand up well, and tends to tip forward.  I think that either his trunk puts him off balance, or his front legs are a little too short.  I empathize.

So, here is my painting of this little guy:

I’m happy with it.  I mean…it’s no Rauchenberg.  I know.  Trust me.  This is what happens when you don’t crawl under your easel.  I’ve always thought that still life painting was kind of…ummm…not so exciting.  I gravitate towards abstract and messy art, so still lifes are so…well, still.  Maybe I need to try it again?  My teacher said nice things about it.  Again, I know.  He has to walk that delicate line of being somewhat frank, but not completely squelching me with reality.  It’s only my third class, so I think that he’s still trying not to scare/offend anyone.  He mentioned that three people left one of the other classes that he teaches, so perhaps he was worried about making the beginners in the class, like myself, run as well.  Comments?

So, I’m still not done with this odd/icky self portrait.  I know.  Just paint over the whole thing and start again.  My teacher suggested some abstract colored blobs to break it up a bit:

I don’t know.  I’d like to help it somehow, but it might bother me too much to keep working on it.   This is one of those painful confrontations with reality.  I need to go out and buy a lot more titanium white to fix this thing.  Maybe just getting a large tub of gesso and a paint gun would do the trick…I think that I get points for even posting it though, right?  Maybe not.  Sigh.



Woodblock finale and a bunch of other thoughts

Before I start rambling on about woodblock printing…I bought my son some big containers of tempera paint, and a long roll of paper this past week.  This is one of those purchases that is mostly for my son, but partly for me too.  I love the idea of splotching big blobs of paint on a huge paper.  Here is part of our creation:

I think that he had a good time with it.  He seems to like to just mix colors together to make “outer space”.  He’s not so concerned about making marks.  He also found large stones and a brick, which he brought over to paint.  So, even when you think you can imagine how a play activity is going to go…kids always surprise you.  It just might be that my son is not as into making art as I am.  Or maybe he is…but in less obvious ways.  Either way, it was messy and fun.

So, last night I had my last woodblock printing class!  It was such a fun class.  I love the bold, graphic quality of woodblocks.  Yes, some people can do subtle things with woodblock…but not me!  Here is my last block in process:

I realized, while carving this block, that I’m not such a fan of carving.  My teacher mentioned that she often listens to books on tape while she carves.  Good idea!!!  That might help.  Also, I think that the pressure of having to design and carve a block on a schedule makes it a little stressful and less fun for me.  I mean, I like to have a new block for each class.  But if I wasn’t constrained by my weekly class, perhaps carving would be more meditative, and less like a chore.  I’m wondering if I’m not destined to be a relief printer, because I don’t LOVE to carve.  Hmmm.  BUT…I do like how woodblock prints turn out…so this is a bit of a conundrum for me.

Here are the prints from yesterday:

I was somewhat happy with this print.  It may need something dark in it.  I’m not sure.  Once again, I decided to just leave it and think about it more before doing anything else.  Here is a detail:

I love those colors together, and I’m happy with my new block.  The new block is the red part of the image.  Here is the second print:

A bit simple, but nice.  The orange looks more yellowish in reality.  Detail:

It’s always an exercise in restraint for me to not add MORE.  Here is just a print of the block that I made last week:

This took A LOT of restraint for me not to add more “stuff”.  Sorry about the odd lighting in the photos.  It’s the morning, and I don’t have great light to take pictures with.  Here is the detail:

Brace yourself…there’s more!

I couldn’t leave that one alone, obviously…

I like this next one a lot:

It’s hard to tell, but the dark ink is a sort of plum color.  Very cool.  Detail:

The last one:

detail:

What do you think?  I’m happy with how this latest block came out.  It seems that no matter how many blocks one has…you need more!  That puts me back in the condundrum of carving…

So, I had a free hour yesterday, so I did a little gouache still life.  Now, bear with me…I don’t paint often.  BUT, I really enjoyed it.  So here is my bigger dilemma:  I love the way woodblock prints look…but I am not keen on carving.  I am not fond of my painting (see below)…but I enjoyed doing it!  So odd.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  I think that typially, people like to do what they are good at.  But in this case, I enjoyed doing what I wasn’t good at.  Very strange.  Here is the still life:

Yes, I know.  It needs help.  I am happy with how the silver rattle turned out…the other parts are so-so.  I think that if I had a nicer brush (one that didn’t have a fat, multipointed/ragged end), then I might have been able to do a bit more.  I know…excuses, excuses!

Woodblock printing = process:not fun / product:interesting

Gouache painting = process:fun / product:not interesting

What a dilemma! Does anyone out there have thoughts on this???

I’ve been reminded by a friend that I never followed up with comments on the Chihuly show at the MFA.  WELL…his work is pretty over the top and remarkable.  He’s definitely not of the “less is more” school of thought.  The pieces were really stunning.  I didn’t really like when they are all put together in a big, jumbled mass…like in his piece, Mille fiori.  It gets too chaotic for me, and the beauty in each piece gets lost to me.  It’s like a symphony where every musician is playing a difference piece.  Cacophony.  The individual pieces, however, are stunning.  The chandeliers that everyone knows well are really stunning.  He tends to use a single color for these, so while they are a bit chaotic looking, they have a unity that does not turn into cacophony, in my opinion.  My favorite part of the exhibit was the room with beautiful woven baskets, bright handmade blankets, and an enormous slab of wood.  The pieces in this room were subtle, delicate, and amazing.   I preferred these pieces over all of the others.  He had large, hollow glass blobs, almost like bubbles bursting, on that huge slab of wood.  They looked gorgeous.  So, I did like the Chihuly exhibit, and I think that his work is extraordinary.  I do feel that it can be a chaotic mess at times, and I prefer when it’s more subtle or unified in presentation.  Has anyone else seen it?  Thoughts?




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