Sunday, December 29, 2013

Parrots in Egg Tempera

Three Parrots
Egg Tempera
I painted this last night during a bout of insomnia with homemade egg tempera paints made with pigments from France brought to me by daughter and son-in-law.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Biker Buddy (Keith)

Biker Buddy
egg tempera on "artboard" (cardboard)
I made the paint from French earth pigments and egg-yolk.  My daughter brought the pigments home from France. Keith was talking to a friend and not sitting still.  I did not make a sketch first, but just painted right on the artboard with the paints.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Landfill Harmonic Movie

I totally love this!!!  It made me cry!!!  (I don't usually post these things, but couldn't resist this one!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

From the book I am working on for Frankie

On a bright red caboose
watercolor on watercolor moleskine
click image to view larger

Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Goose                                      
and their friends Aloysius and Frangelica Moose     
And two herons who complained their stockings were loose
all rode together on a bright red caboose.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that I can get this done in time for Christmas.

Complicated Giving

I used to give fairly freely, when I could afford to, to street people, buskers, Salvation Army and so on.  I carried spare change for that purpose.

Then I met Sange Sargent.  Sange was an electrical engineer with a very well-paying and satisfying job. He volunteered at the museum where I worked, taught workshops, helped with wiring.  He was an attractive young man.  But around Christmas time, he grew a scruffy beard, let his hair get long and messy, took vacation time from work, wore battered old clothes and stood out in the old playing his harmonica on a street corner.  "I make more money doing that than working," he said.  "During the Holidays, people are eager to give."

Maybe I was misguided, but this made me angry.  It seemed to me to be wrong, unkind, dishonest and deceitful.  People thought they were helping him.  And other people who really needed help might not be getting as much.  I don't know about other people, but when the money I've put aside for helping is gone, I walk by the next petitioners I encounter without helping.

I now not only liked Sange less, I also mistrusted other street people.  Especially when the same women told me the same lie day after day.  I know it was a lie, because she said she'd run out of gas on her way to pick up her children at school and nothing like that had ever happened to her before.  Only it happened every day!  She was so stupid or stoned that she didn't recognize that she telling the same lie to the same person (me) every day.

And the guy who begs at the corner of Moross and Harper has a sign that says "homeless and hungry, please help."  But he lives with his mother near us and she feeds him well.

Down in the city center, "homeless" men charge to let you park on the street at meters--you have to pay them an extra $5 so they will watch your car and protect it.  If you refuse, there will be damage to the car. And so many people approach you, get in your face and insist on having your money and telling you how much they want and are so strident about it that it becomes frightening to walk down the street.

I've become less generous after these experiences and I don't like the way it makes me feel.  I'd like to give to help people who really need it or to do something valuable for the community.  I want to choose how much I can afford to give and when, and not be importuned falsely.

I do give to the community and to individuals whom I determine actually need or deserve
help, but I would prefer to be more openly and freely generous.
Image: art by me; "Gas Money"         

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Division of Labor

beer in a wineglass from a friend (she painted it)

Aka Nadine over at In Blue Ink wrote a story that derived from an interesting post by Miriel about chores and who does what household jobs.

I am not a very tidy person, and that is a bit of an understatement.  However, I am not the worst slob I've ever seen by a long shot, either.

 When I met my husband, he was extremely tidy.  Turns out that was in part a show he was putting on for me when we were courting, but he's probably still tidier than I am.  During the time we were courting, he did most of the cooking and all the cleaning and laundry etc. when I was staying at his house and I did everything at my house.  I mowed my lawn, he mowed his, I shoveled my driveway and he shoveled his EXCEPT occasionally, he'd also shovel mine.  He was always willing.

 When we discussed living together, and getting married, I expressed a deep concern about my perceived differences in our housekeeping styles and he said, "I'll do everything" and I said, "you can't do everything," and he said, "I WILL do everything," and even though I didn't think trying to do everything was that great an idea, I decided if he was willing to try, I'd do what could and let him do the rest.

 I took over most of the cooking.  He now makes breakfast on Sundays and spaghetti on Wednesdays (or whenever) and also cooks if I have a deadline or am incapacitated (which I was for months earlier this year and he literally did do everything.).

 I tried to take over the laundry, but he insists on fluffing the clothes while they're being folded.  He stands by the dryer with the dryer running and takes out one item at a time and folds it.  Since I have fibromyalgia and cannot do that and don't care enough to want to do it even if I could, he does the laundry.  I am willing to do mine own and the sheets, but he does them anyway.

 He mows the lawns, we both shovel the driveways.  He probably shovels more than I do.  He fixes the cars and motorcycles.  Literally.  Fixes them himself, unless he can't for some reason (as in an engine has to be lifted out).

I handle 98.7% of the personal and non-bill correspondence, he pays the snail-mail bills.  I handle gift-buying, card sending and everything that needs to done online including almost all emails and all online bill paying (but there’s more snail-mail bills) and online banking (transfers etc.).

 I do almost everything that has to be done on a computer, including preparing most of his pictures for the DSS (our club, The Detroit Stereographic Society.)

 We make our own breakfasts and lunches except Sunday breakfast which he makes and occasional special lunches which I make (Saturdays) (but I make lots of leftovers [planned-overs] for his workday lunches. I do the shopping at Village Market, which is most of it, and he does the shopping at Kroger.  He will also often come and carry home the groceries from Village (I walk there).  We both wash dishes.  He usually vacuums. (I hate the sound of the vacuum cleaner [also leaf blowers and lawn mowers], so he usually does it when I’m out.) He usually takes out the trash and recycling and whoever gets there first brings in the can and bin.  (Sometimes me).

He’s 68 and I’m 67 and my health issues are currently worse than his.  But all along, he’s done more than his share of the household “work,” and does it so cheerfully without complaint that I want to do whatever I’m able to make it up to him.

He works.  I am retired.  But I am attempting to be a writer and artist.  One of our family members got very angry (not at me) and said that writing and art are HOBBIES if you’re not making money from them.  So, if that’s true, I’m indulging in hobbies that only theoretically might provide some income at some future date.  However, those hobbies are extremely important to me and luckily, my husband believes in supporting the arts by supporting ME!!!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Imaginary Lives

The Half-lived Life
digitally manipulated digital composit
click on image to view larger
aka Nadine, over at In Blue Ink, has written a post about imaginary lives.  It came from May B's blog and references The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.  I worked though that entire book years ago.  The book was ruined in "The Floods" we had, so I bought a new copy and worked through it again.   Even so, I have forgotten what I wrote, and my old computers (multiple iterations of them) have died, so I will start over and write something new.

One of the things about being a writer of novels (I can't say I'm a novelist, since I have yet to publish any of them ) is that I get to sort of try on various lives, and have based long and short stories on that premise.

Here are some of the lives I've imagined for myself, not in novels, but in my normal waking life:

1)Writer. (famous writer, famous poet, children's author.)  I used to always imagine myself being famous.  Now, I just want to complete and publish some of my work.

2)Artist:  I'd like to illustrate and publish children's books.  And maybe adult picture books as well.  That's more of a goal than a life, but I have imagined myself in the life of an artist.

3)Photographer:  I'd like to be a more skillful photographer and perhaps publish some of my photographs.  One of the lives I often used to imagine for myself when I was younger was being a National Geographic photographer.  Or working for National Wildlife or some other magazine, but National Geographic was long a favorite fantasy.

4)Naturalist.  I used to be a naturalist, and after I lost that job, I fantasized for years about doing it again.   I loved it.

5)Park Ranger:  This is another long-time fantasy of mine.  I used to want to work in a fire-tower, but that job has become obsolete.  For many years, I wanted to be a park ranger or naturalist in one of the big National Parks such as Yosemite.

6)Environmentalist:  When I was in college, I got really swept up by the environmental movement and often dreamed of becoming deeply involved in life of environmentalism.

7)Shaman/Healer:  I took a lot workshops and courses toward becoming a Shaman and many others on being a healer.  That includes such things as Reiki,

8)Vagabond:  I've led the life of a vagabond and have often missed it and considered returning to it.  Before I met Biker Buddy, I was seriously considering returning to that life.

9)Catholic Nun or Zen or Buddhist Nun:  No, I am not making this up nor am I copying aka Nadine.  It's something of fantasized about for many years, off and on.  I was not raised a Catholic, but my father's family was Catholic and I went to church with my relatives for many years as a child.  I later became a practicing Zen Buddhist.  A life of simplicity and even asceticism appeals to me on some level.  I hate the vulgarity of over-consumption, even though in some ways, I am guilty of it.

10)A happily married woman:  For years, I used to fantasize about being a happily married woman.  I had a series of terrible relationships, and some that had their ups and downs.  Some of it was my own fault and some of it was bad choices and some of it was bad training.    But finally, I have a happy marriage.  It's not perfect, but nothing in this life ever is.

11)A healthy life:  My current fantasy, and one I have had for many years, is to lead a healthy life, to sleep well instead of being awake the entire night like I was last night, and to be lean, happy, healthy, vigorous, enthusiastic, active, engaged etc.  I realize the older I get, the less likely this fantasy is to be realized, but I haven't given up hope.

12)A life free from addictions:  My current addiction of choice is food, particularly sugar, which affects me very badly, but if I have the tiniest bit, I want more. ("One is too many and a hundred is not enough").  My fantasy life would be a life free from addictions.  A more practical imaginary life would be one where day by day, I am truly successful at managing addictions.  That is, avoiding sugar and white flour and not overeating and not substituting other addictions for food if I control the food.

13:  A happy life:  I would like to be calm, serene and reasonably happy.  Sometimes I am, but I am not good at being happy or serene when I haven't slept in days.

13)A "Together" Life:  Some people seem to have it all together.  SEEM may be the operative word.  Or maybe they really are in control and organized.  I feel overwhelmed.  I'd like to have a reasonable number of ducks and get them lined up and quacking a happy song.

OK, clearly I could go on and on beyond the original scope of the exercise!!!  I think we were only supposed to do FIVE.  I'm not good at following directions!

Do you have one or 5 (or more) imaginary lives you'd like to share?  Or poem of flash fiction piece based on an imaginary life you'd like to lead or just try out?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Coleurs de Provence a Rousillon and new nettles poem

Unfinished portrait of biker buddy with beer

Unfinished portrait of an imaginary woman

I'm not sure if I mentioned that my daughter Sara and her husband brought me artists' pigments from Rouisillon in Provence, France.

I finally started experimenting with the artists pigments last night.
I was up the absolute entire night with insomnia and decided, since I
couldn't sleep, to try doing egg tempera.  I'd done some at the MOST (Museum of Science and Technology) as a
workshop for kids, but when I read online about it, I got rather
daunted and fearful, but hey, why not try, I thought.

In the first one, of Keith, I drew an India ink sketch on watercolor
paper which I glued to cardboard.  In the second one, I painted
directly on the cardboard.

I was afraid those tiny containers of pigment might only be enough for
a single painting (and if I made oils--that MIGHT be true?), but with
the egg tempera, a tiny bit went a really LONG ways, and in fact, I
had to throw some of it away, as it would have dried before my next
session.  The second painting I started to use up the leftover paint
I'd made, and I did not make a sketch ahead, I just painted directly
onto the cardboard. ("carton")

Neither one of them are done yet--the paint is transparent, it requires
several layers and you have wait for it to dry between layers or it
picks up some of what you've already laid down for a patchy effect
(notice Keith's shirt.)  I've only used 5 colors so far, green, blue,
black, pale yellow ochre, and fleshy yellow ochre.  There are, of
course, a number of other colors, but the process of opening them and
mixing them is slow so I thought I'd start slowly as well, especially

since I don't know what I am doing.

It is interesting (to me, anyway), that when Dave and Julie were here
for the reunion, we went to the Cranbrook art museum and viewed an
exhibition of egg tempera paintings done by
Zoltan Sepeshy, a figurative painter, and Wallace Mitchell, an abstractionist, which really impressed me.  I did
not like all the pieces, but was excited by maybe about half of them,
and particularly excited by about 10%.  They made me interested in trying egg temperas.
Additional reports will probably follow.

and, since I was up all night (literally), I also wrote a poem.  Here's how it starts:

A Gift of Nettles

I plunge into a thicket of nettles, nettles so rich
they tower over my head.  Even with my arms
clutched . . . 

I need to stop "publishing" my poems on my blog, because many of the journals now require that poems have not been "published," even on one's own blog.  I would like to try publishing some of my poems in paper and online journals, so if you would like to read this poem  say so in the comments and leave your email in a separate but related comment (I will delete the email comment), unless I already have it, and I will send along the poem.  It will be a draft, whatever draft is current.

Writing a new poem each week is on my "goals" list, but I didn't mention the egg tempera, although doing art is also on the list.

Again, I apologize for some fairly severe formatting issues that I cannot seem to resolve.

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being." Hafiz of Persia"



 I didn't trust it for a moment
but I drank it anyway,
the wine of my own poetry.

It gave me the daring to take hold
of the darkness and tear it down
and cut it into little pieces.

-- Lala, 14th century Persian poet

Monday, December 02, 2013

Tut, tut, Woman Scolding

"Tut, tut, Woman Scolding"
First half of a collaboration for Mike to finish
pen and ink with watercolor "wash"
click image to view larger.
Okay, here's my collaboration of the second pass of round four in my own Moleskine, for Mike to finish.

I still have one full page to do of my own work, plus I was going to do the back cover.  I may skip that until later, same with decorating the envelope,  If I'm running late.  I'm so OCD sometimes that the thought of skipping something Id wanted to do makes me nervous.

But here is one more sub-task of one of the tasks I wanted to accomplish this month.  And as far as two posts a week, hey, maybe for December, which will crazy busy in an escalating fashion, maybe I just have to average 2 a week and I''m getting head start on next week, LOL!!!

Collaboration with Hennie Mavis: Cardinal Dream

Hennie's lovely start
(First half)
(click this and all images to see larger)
Hennie's gorgeous painting is wonderfully balanced and has really nice composition and color.

my half of the collaboration
cardinals fly, by Mary Taitt
Unfortunately, when I started this painting, we company for dinner and I only had one of my small watercolor kits, it was the wrong one, and the colors didn't match.  Wrong reds and blues.  Of course, that wasn't the only flaw, I'm sorry to say.

full double-page spread
Cardinal Dream
collab Hennie Mavis and Mary Stebbins Taitt

The dream was Hennie's, a wonderful dream.

I have one solo piece and one first half collab for Mike left to do before I mail.  When I complete, I will be able to mark off one item in my ridiculous goals list in the previous post.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Goals for December

Over at In Blue Ink, aka Nadine posted her goals for December, and the results of her goals for November.  I meant to post my November goals but never got a round to it.  They included doing NaNoWriMo, which I did and am pleased about. It took a good part of my month!

Thinking about goals gets my knickers all in a twist. I'm not good at limiting them to 5. And then I feel overwhelmed.

I'm going to try for 5 realistic goals:

  1. walk 45 minutes every day, and if I miss a day, make up for it. Right now, because of the holidays, I'm down a half-hour.  I was down an hour, but yesterday and today, I walked an hour.  I do not want to use a distance, because of my fibromyalgia (sometimes, I'm too sick to walk far and have to walk slowly), and until I can get a fitbit or similar items, I probably will not count steps.  OK, I'm modifying that to success if I average six day a week.
  2. finish 4 books.  (yes, I'm sort of copying Nadine until find my own rhythm--like a said, I tend to go overboard.).  I just finished one today, so I only three more to go, but that's OK, it's going to be a very busy month.
  3. get out into nature at least twice during the month--hmmm--even though this is a big favorite for me, I now live in the city, I hate driving in bad weather, and December is probably the busiest month of the year.  I USED TO GET OUT IN NATURE NEARLY EVERY DAY!  WAHN.  OK, I'm trying for 2, but I'd like even more than two.
  4. post here at least twice a week.  Hmm, I'm not really sure that's an appropriate goal.  I don't exactly have a shortage of things to post, I have a shortage of time.  I'll try it on for size, though.  I'll have to do a costs-benefit analysis!
Auxilliary goals:
  1. do some fun things with my sweetie!!!!
  2. write at least one new poem a week.
  3. revise at least one poem a week
  4. send out a packet of three or more poems every other month (OK, JANUARY? except see below))
  5. meditate 3 times a week (I'm slipping here) or do t'ai chi or something for calmness and serenity.
OK, now my "real" list of what I really wish I could accomplish:

  1. create and "publish" 3 new books for Frankie for Christmas (or anyway, at least one.)  I have two started, but may start a third because that one would be easier to finish.  I want at least one done for Christmas.  One of them requires not only artwork, but also working out the poems needed.
  2. prepare 3 pictures for myself and encourage K to do his or do them for him for the DSS meeting which is December 11.  The theme is water.  (And decide what to bring for the covered dish and make it).  Does that go in the fourth list, under have-tos, or here?
  3. get my Christmas shopping done early, and the gifts wrapped early so I can have one less thing to worry about.
  4. stop worrying (yeah, right).
  5. make homemade Christmas cards and get them all sent in time for them to arrive by Christmas.
  6. continue working on my current novel that I did for NaNoWriMo until I finish it, so for the month of December, lets say I write at least every other day at least 1000 words.  The reason is, once I get separated from working ont he novel, I lose the thread of it and it slides onto the back burner and becomes very difficult to pick up again.
  7. Do some kind of artwork at least every 3rd day, to keep my hand in.
  8. Get the Moleskine that I am currently working on finished and mailed by December 15.  This means finishing the current piece, which is a collaboration, doing one complete page of my own, hopefully for one of the Frankie books listed in goal number one of this second list.  It also will help with goal number 5 (there is some overlap here).
  9. Submit collaborative with Julie Levy poem to Mixitini Matrix.  This means finishing an art piece I started to accompany the poem.
  10. Submit postcard poem 
  11. submit poem to Bitter Oleander (determine if December is the right month and if not, put it on calendar.)
  12. getting back on a diet (this may be impossible in December, too much going on that involves food.
  13. getting back on my exercise program:  I quit exercising , except for walking, during the month of November in order to free up time for writing.
  14. come up with an idea for NaNoWriMo 2014 even though I think I should NOT do it.
And a list of "have-tos:"
  1. Cleaning for guests who will be coming here.
  2. Planning Christmas eve dinner, which I am in charge of
  3. Planning our end of the Christmas trip to Syracuse.  (maybe that should go up above).
It's sort of difficult to decide where to put certain things, and even things I like or love and think I want to do become onerous when I look at the whole big stupid list.

I'm sure I've forgotten stuff, too. 

Image:  from the Heidelberg project in Detroit.