Wednesday, November 28, 2012

15-Minute Art Challenge

A grand idea. Take 15 minutes and do something creative. Just 15, that's all. And not counting prep time, either, which was a good rule because I spent nearly half an hour getting tape residue off my watercolor board, the result of my being too lazy to untape the last watercolor I did.

Goo Gone works well for that.

And then, while I was waiting for the Goo Gone to work, I noticed that the pantry shelves (my studio is right beside the pantry) were untidy, so I scuffled through them for a while. And started some laundry.

Eventually the goo was gone, and my implements prepared. (Incidentally, if you use cheap tube watercolors, use them up, otherwise they clog like my little tube of Lamp Black there in the pic.)

I soaked the paper on both sides, wanting a really juicy variegated wash. I mixed some of the Chinese White with the Lamp Black to make a gray, and slopped those pigments onto the paper. Black first, then gray, then white. I had to re-wet the paper several times, in spite of the damp from today's rain.

Once it's dry, I'll take a better picture.

When the paper is soaked on both sides, it lies flat on the board, which is nice.

And possibly the best result of this exercise was that I woke up thinking about what I wanted to do -- and while I was doing it, suddenly knew what I want to do on the next 15-minute stint.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Day Before the Day Before Rain

There was fog today. Not the can't-see-across-the-street fog, but it was pretty substantial. The morning temps were in the mid-30s.

My studio has no heat, except for a small radiant heater that warms up the heater-side of me and not a lot else. But I did re-discover my winter riding boots, and let me tell you, those things are so insulated you can't tell if you're standing in snow or on cement in a studio. I dusted them off (how many years had they been on a shelf, unused?) and have been wearing them on chilly mornings in the studio. Perfection. Add my NaNoWriMo extra-large hoodie and fingerless gloves, and I'm good to go.

I've been trying to learn how to manage the Piker Press Forums ... I want to clean them up so that they better suit the tastes of the people that actually use them. Not a lot of people -- as one Piker recently put it, "Forums are so 80s." Still, it's nice to have them to leave a message for others: "Can't be there online tonight, my dog's on fire" or such. Or a silly writing game. Anyway, it's been yet another learning experience. I thought I was done with learning experiences for a while, but maybe it's part of adulthood, realizing that the learning experiences just don't ever really stop heading your way.

Tomorrow is supposed to be the last clement day for a week; I myself am looking forward to a bunch of rainy gray days, during which I can catch up on Press work and maybe even get some prime writing time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Sun-Kissed Autumn Evening

Generous warmth from Old Man Sun
Showers down on everyone.
Glowing photons form the hugs
For people, plants and even bugs.

That's right, all those little dots dancing in the late evening sunset are gnats. Cool, aren't they? Glad they were across the street.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Viva Teeny Eggs!

In today's American culture, bigger is better. A soda at the gas station should be at least a quart. A sub sandwich should be a foot long. A family car should be an SUV. A starlet should have C-cup boobs, even if she only weighs about 105 pounds.

I don't agree with "bigger is better," especially as I have grown older. Having to get bigger pants is downright annoying!

Now see that big brown egg? That's a Jumbo Organic Brown egg, and we purchased two flats of them at the poultry farm down the road from us. Their hens were laying so many Jumbo Browns that we got two flats for $5 -- 40 eggs. In a store, for Large Organic Brown eggs, we'd be paying between $3.99 and $4.99 a dozen for them. And at the poultry farm, they're so fresh and healthy and delicious ... well, we don't buy eggs at the store any more.

Delicious as that Jumbo brown egg will be over corned beef hash, it doesn't hold a candle to the teeny egg beside it.

A good friend of ours has a big back yard, and she's been raising Bantam Silkie chickens. She and her family came to dinner at our house last weekend, and she brought us a dozen of her flock's beautiful, ivory-colored little eggs.

What a treasure! What a fine gift! The flavor and texture of the Silkie eggs far surpasses any other egg I have ever had. The yolks are intensely orange, and so delicious that eating even the poultry farm's good eggs seems like a punishment.

Now I do get a kick out of occasionally buying Super-Jumbo eggs, which are almost comically huge, but from now on, my heart belongs to Teeny.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Autumn Arrangement

Some filthy gophers killed John's artichoke plant this summer, but not before it bloomed. The dried heads are beautiful, though, retaining their purple color. Beside them sits an old tequila bottle with fern bracken in it. An autumn display.

I thought it would make a nice composition, but it really didn't. I don't know if the fern pine was too distracting, with its bluey-greens, or if it was just too "staged."

'Tis okay to fail with compositions, though. Not every photo op works out well. (Look at the pics of starlets at openings and events -- argh.) The main thing is to just keep trying. The more you try, the closer you get to what you want to present.

There is a photographer/writer I know, whose pictures are always inspiring, and when she doesn't keep uploading pics to her gallery, I feel the lack deeply. I want to shout at her to take more pictures, good, bad, indifferent, just get them up there and let me see she still has the passion.

Yeah, I need to do that, too.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Dia de los Muertos, 2012

Today is the feast day of All Souls.

Or Day of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos.

My mother never would have considered honoring the day, except to say that we should pray for those who have died; if she could have hidden from the general public that she was Mexican, I'm sure she would have. However, in Central Pennsylvania, which was in her time so very white and genetically homogenous, her dark-tanning skin and classic Aztec-ian features stood out so that she might as well have carried a billboard on her grand broad shoulders that said "FOREIGNER!!!"

Culturally Mexican (though without the benefit of the secret language) and outwardly white (my cousin Susu and I were the only ones in our generation who turned out with reddish-blonde hair and freckles) I can totally sympathize with people who have a hard time identifying themselves within their populations. I never felt "at home" in Pennsylvania, and when we moved to California, and I began attending Mass in Spanish, I cried, because everybody looked like my cousins.

In spite of Mom's denial of her lineage, Alex and I cling to what Mexican customs we can. Today, Alex decorated the hearth in honor of the day, and it's truly beautiful.

We had the neighbor's kid in the house until evening, and Bernie and I were seeing the first showing of a movie in order to do a review, so we didn't get around to dedicating our midday meal to one or another dead relative. We'll get around to that, in the not-too-distant future.

But in the mean time ... Mom, I read a cartoon strip series last week that had the son begging his mother not to show up to talk to his creative writing class. His mom's friend says to her, "Would you have wanted your parents in one of your high school classes?" The mom answers, "No -- of course not!" Huh, really? Mom, I would never have said that. You were one hell of an entrepreneur, and though we butted heads from time to time, you had my back, and made me confident, and I would have loved to have you in my high school classes. You were da bomb.

Dad ... I miss you so. I miss all the stuff I wanted to wheedle out of you about your childhood, your family, your military service. I wish I could have wandered around the mountains with you more, I wish you could have snuck down to the river with me to fish and catch crayfish.

Jan, you taught me so much in the last weeks of your life. I have this memory, when we had to remove you from Mom's house, because she was forgetting to feed you, of you telling the staff of the group home (in a commanding voice) that you were working for the CIA. They thought that was just cute, but I knew you were telling them that you were not a person to be messed with. You were right. They didn't understand. You were epic.

I love you all, my dear beloved dead. Rest well, pray for me. See you when my time has come.