Friday, April 27, 2012

Benny and the porcupines

Benny and the Porcupines
It took me two days to do this one.  I wanted to make Benny and the porcupines both larger, but I have a really hard time figuring out how to do that.  When they are small, it is hard to paint them.  It's also TOO BIG (as they all are) for the scanner, which is not good!  I lose part of the painting when I scan it.  This is the SKETCH.  (the painted sketch, but not the official final).

There is something wrong with this--and with most of these, the scans on this scanner all look washed out and pale.. They don't look like that on paper--that is one of the problems with actual paint as opposed to artrage--getting them digitized so they look right is hard.  Difficult.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Benny and the Kangaroos

Benny and the Kangaroos and koala
acrylic on paper
in sketchbook

Not an Artist, not a mechanic

Not an Artist, Not a Mechanic

I spent the evening, as I have spent every evening lately, struggling with a painting for my children's book, Brave Benny's Animal Alphabet. Nothing was going right and I was berating myself. "Why am I doing this? I am not an artist, this is stupid."
My husband was out in the backyard trying to fix the brakes on my car. He came in looking depressed and upset. I told him what I'd been thinking, and he said, "I've been thinking the same thing, 'why am I doing this? I'm not a mechanic!'"
Of course, he who has had no official training as an auto mechanic has successfully fixed both our cars on numerous occasions. And I have painted some acceptable pictures, in spite of my lack of training as an artist. "Folk Art," my artist friend, Heidi, tells me.
Is a mechanic someone who gets paid to fix cars, or is a mechanic someone who fixes cars? Is an artist someone who gets paid to do art, or is an artist someone who does art? My intellectual answer and my emotional answer are not always the same.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
image credit: me, Benny and the Quetzalcoatl for my book
Please note: My computer is at the repair shop and has been for 2 1/2 weeks and I don't know how to do this on my iPad, I can't seem to upload pictures.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

two new paintings

Q is for Quetzal, Quetzalcoatl, and quail, J is for Jay and Jaguar--these are acrylic sketches in Aya's book
Unfortunately, my progress on the paintings for the April 30 deadline
remains slow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Motor-City Earth Day Rant

Here is my Earth-Day poem (my computer is still down, so this is hard):

Motor City Earth-Day Rant

In a city where big cars rumble down cracked and broken streets
and big bulldozers grind stolen homes
to dust and leave our most vulnerable
dandelions remember spring
and bloom abundantly in the highway medians,
glorious galaxies of stars, born of stardust.

In a city of huge cars, huge industry
and huge pollution
where a new McDonald's rises on our corner,
robins remember spring,
hop on toothpick legs
and search for worms among the trash.

In a city of gigantic cars,
where little minds believe bigger is better
and expensive is the same as quality,
crabapples blossom,
pink as cotton candy.
and just as sweet.

In a city of ridiculously huge cars
where tiny minds care more for the bottom line
than for the earth and its power to sustain us,
our children and our grandchildren,
magnolias drop their petals on intentionally poisoned lawns.

In a city where rum-runners drove across
a frozen river to Canada,
swallows return and skim the water for the insects
that would otherwise bite us,
unless the powerful poisoned the insects,
the swallows
and us
into oblivion.

In a city with the biggest cars on earth,
I stand at the pulpit and preach to the choir.  
The powerless listen
to poetry and song
while the powerful
But if we stand together, side by side, speaking
as they say, truth to power, perhaps someone will listen
and things will change

or perhaps the powerful will mow us down and go on killing,
poisoning their children and grandchildren, and ours,
poisoning dandelions, robins and crabapples,
the water we drink
the air we breathe
and the food we eat
for the sake of their almighty dollar.

Look around.  Dogwoods and tulips blossom
while invisible toxic fallout
from industry and testing seeps silently
into the our air, into the grass and trees
and onto the cookies we serve to celebrate the earth
while their greed and our apathy
take turns shoveling a grave for the human race
to bury itself in forever.

If when we destroy ourselves, the earth survives
if we leave anything at all
to the rest of the biosphere,
if the earth still has the strength and power to heal itself,
it may be better off without
the greedy and apathetic,
better off
without us.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
120421-1654-3d(6), 120420-1513-2a, 120417 1st 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Benny and the Rhinoceroses

Benny and the Rhinoceroses
Acrylic and watercolor
I'm getting nervous because of the encroaching deadline--April 30!

These are theoretically just the SKETCHES, but may end up being the "finals" since my times is running out. The deadline for this Brooklyn Art Library project is April 30. The total final paintings in the book needs to be 32. I have 18 additional actual painting to do. And of those, only 4 of the sketches are done. The deadlines periods are too short for my ability as an artist.

The process isn't helped by the fact that my computer is still at the repair shop and all the computer work must be done on old SLOW machines,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Benny and the iguana adjusted

Benny and the Iguana
The scan came out too light to I adjusted it--my computer is still at
the repair.

Benny and the iguana

This painting is not this light--I am reallu upset with the scan. I'm
using the old scanner because my main computer is still at the repair

Lowering sky

Aya's Moleskine skipped Gretchen and came to me and will return to
Gretchen later. This is "Lowering Sky," a collab with Roma. There
was a little red spot that looked like blood and I made it into an

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Benny and the Skunk

Benny and the Skunk
I have to do 17 paintings in 12 days and I may not make it. That to
meet the Sketchbook Project deadline, which is April 30.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Crying over Asparagus

Crying over Asparagus

I laugh easily, cry easily, anger easily. But when I sob over asparagus while reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, even the most sympathetic reader may turn away in disgust.
One reason I wail about asparagus is my deep beliefs in being honorable and doing the right thing.Or my desire to believe that, hopefully, perhaps, I want to do the right thing. Doing the right thing often seems so difficult. If it were easy, we’d all do it, and maybe we’d all be in heaven.
I have personal reasons to sob over asparagus.I used to grow them.I had a huge garden.I have a small garden now. I live in a big city with a small lot. My whole lot is smaller than my garden used to be.But it’s more than that. I don’t have the energy or time I used to have—or the will, perhaps.I have to divide my time; I have to make difficult choices.
As Sue Monk Kidd says, in Firstlight, "To say YES to yourself and who you are and what you must do and be, you often have to say no to good things." To plethoras of good things. You have to live with guilt and anger.
If, for now at least, I am not going to grow asparagus, then where will I get it? At the grocery store, or at the farmer’s market? The Farmer’s market would be the correct choice, if that were reasonably possible.But here, the farmer’s market is far away and the farmers even farther. And the farmer’s market here has food from everywhere. It’s not a real farmer’s market with locally grown produce; it’s just people who buy up the same stuff the grocery store has and resell it. All very fake. There may be a few real farmers at the farmer's market, but not many.
The problem as Barbara Kingsolver puts it, is “oily food.” We’re paying for transportation; transportation uses nonrenewable resources." And food freshness and quality is lost in the process. I want to support local farmers, cut down on the oil my food, and eat fresher healthier food. I’ve always wanted that, even before Barbara Kingsolver. That causes my tears because being the good person I'd like to be seems impossible for me, and as I age and lose energy, it becomes daily worse. Here on earth, being good may be impossible.
I can only do what I can do.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
image credit: me (quick sketch)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts

Hearts, strung on a line, each with a teardrop
suspended. So much suffering, so many people
the weight of all those tears
bends the stalks. They bow toward earth.
Sometimes I think that each of those hearts is mine, broken
again at your hand. But cherries blossom, too,
crabapples and tulips, and you
are far away, loving
and hurting
someone new.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
image credit: mine, taken yesterday

Tissue Flowers

Tissue Flowers

When we were children, we often made paper roses from facial tissues. After folding several layers like an accordion, we'd wrap a string around them, open them up and fluff and arrange them until they looked a bit like roses. Pink tissues had just been invented and we didn't know yet that the dye was bad for the environment. On cold winter days, we'd make our homes look like spring with bouquets of tissue roses.
I'd never found any flowers in the real world that looked like those tissue roses, until today. The tissue fairy has been hard at work, covering this tree with tiny tissue roses to remind me of lost moments from my girlhood.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
image credit: mine, taken yesterday
location: flowers: Detroit, story upstate NY

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sketch for the Painting "Benny and the Crocodile"

for the book, Brave Benny's Animal Alphabet for my grandson Frankie and for the Brooklyn Art Library.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Synchronicity: the Love of Andrew Wyeth

Synchronicity: the Love of Andrew Wyeth

Many years ago, when my now grown children were young, we took our annual quintessential fall foliage and New England coastal tour on Columbus-Day weekend, and my daughters invited friends. One friend had relatives on Monhegan Island, and after driving for many hours, the first thing we wanted to do after disembarking from the ferry was to take a walk.
I'd never been there before and Susan was still a child and didn't know the best way to go, so we took the trail along the spine of the Island. We spoke of our neighbor and friend, Paul Neimeic, who loved Andrew Wyeth and loved Monhegan Island because Andrew Wyeth loved it. Paul was and is a painter who adored Andrew Wyeth loved all things Wyeth.
After we had walked a while, the girls wanted to go down to the water, so we descended from the spine trail down across cranberry bogs and salt marshy area to the heap of jagged rock along the shoreline. We noticed immediately that there seemed to be two areas of rock, a dry grey area and wet black area.
We climbed through the dry grey area to the edge of the wet black area where we found a sign saying, "Keep off, Dangerous rocks!" The wet rocks, the sign said, were dangerously slippery, and people had been swept away to sea, but the kids were eager to get down to the water, and scrambled over them without incident. I followed more slowly.
A huge, jagged boulder, maybe 25-30 feet tall, wide, shaped like a pyramid, rose out of the smaller rocks and the path of least resistance led the kids toward that rock. As we approached and skirted around the rock, we saw a man, painting. It turned out to be our friend and neighbor, Paul Niemiec, painting en pleine air, his Wyeth-like seascapes.
We were surprised and excited! We didn't know he was on the Island--we all lived 400 miles away. He didn't know we were there, either. We had a happy little neighborly reunion and went on our way again, to meet Susan's aunt and Uncle, who were expecting us.
It's one of those incidents in my life I will never forget. What are the chances we would all be there at the same time and that we would randomly choose to descend from the trail at the spot where he was painting, and that both he and we would disobey the warning signs and find each other 400 miles from home. It boggles the mind, but I like that kind of boggling. If he hadn't loved Andrew Wyeth, he wouldn't have been there, and if Susan's Aunt and Uncle hadn't lived there, we wouldn't have been there.
That sunny day, behind that boulder, was the last time I ever saw Paul, as I moved away, 400 miles in the opposite direction. But I know he is still alive and painting, because I googled him. You can see his work here.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

E says:  What I remember is looking down at a painter in the distance and you taking photos of him, then deciding you needed to ask his permission (even if after the fact).  So we all scrambled down only to discover the stranger was Paul.
She's probably right.  It sounds as if it could be right, very plausible.

image credit: Paintings by Paul Niemiec; the images would be better if they were left SMALL!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Gorilla Sketch, Urchin Final (?), The Dive

Gorilla sketch in sketchbook
for Brave Benny's animal Alphabet
9 x 12
mixed media acrylics and pigment markers

Benny and the Urchins
5 x 7, watercolor
I am not sure I am done with this and am considering inking the outlines.  See the sketch below (previous post) for comparison and let me know what you think.  The sketches are larger than the paintings--the paintings are 5 x 7 and hard to get much detail (for me).

this is a quick sketch for the Dive story

The Dive

When I was a teen and in my early 20s, I used to dive from from very high places: cliffs and bridges. But I am no longer in my teens, I am sixty-five, and haven't dived from anything higher than a standard board in years. One day when my husband and I were camping, we saw on a hike some teens diving from a cliff. I told my hubby how I used to do that and he challenged me to do it again.
I got up there, looked down and and was terrified! It seemed so incredibly high, though I knew I had dived from higher places before. I was scared, but I didn't want to let him down, or have him think I was lying or exaggerating (I was not), so I dived.
It hurt a lot when I hit the water--I'm not as streamlined as I used to be!!! It still hurt when I climbed back out.
He wanted me to do it again, but I told him once was enough!!!

Mary Stebbins Taitt

image credit: me (a very quick silly sketch, sorry!)