Tuesday, December 29, 2009

93.314% finished

I'm happy to say that I'm almost finished with the 3rd "The Traveler's Tale" piece!  Thanks to all of you, my dear friends, who were kind enough to share your suggestions and opinions.   Here's the "nearly finished" version of The Traveler's Tale: Once Upon a Time.

As you can see, I have added a few more details; most importantly the figure now has a face!  I still need to work more on the sky, and do some little touch-ups, such as coloring in all the white edges.  Also, there will be red stitching forming the dragons' reins; she'll be holding the ends in her hands.

I had tried making the darker value of the figure red, and didn't like it.  But many of you seemed to like the red hair in the last update, which was not intended to be permanent.
So, I reconsidered and came to a "compromise" of sorts, by putting some red into the purple hair.  (That really sounds weird if you think about it.)  I think it works, don't you?    If not, please let me know- seriously!

And, last but not least, I still have to get those blasted snakes out of the sky!  (Wow, talk about sounding weird...)

Suggestions, anyone?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Have Yourself a...

Merry Little Christmas!
I want to wish all my wonderful friends a very merry holiday!  Your support and encouragement means more to me than you could possibly know.  It has been a true adventure getting to know each and every one of you.  Welcome to my Merry Little Christmas...

I didn't think I'd get to decorate for Christmas this year.  We're having our basement carpeted, so everything was crammed into the storage room; chances of digging the decorations out seemed pretty slim.

But- hooray!- we were able to find a few of them.  Here I am, very focused on putting lights on the mantle.

It doesn't look too bad; at least we found my little trees, which look pretty with the Buddha and the lights, I think.  Kind of an eclectic, ecumenical, inclusive Christmas- why not, right?

Arlo likes to wear silly hats...

Or maybe not.

But Colin does enjoy putting them on him, and he's the only one out of the three dogs that will tolerate it.

Sunny and Scout really don't care, but  naps are always good...

My Norfolk Island pine served as our Christmas tree.  I had to go to four or five stores to find lights.  All that were left were a set of multi-colored and a set of blue LED lights, so I got them.

The electric blue is very trippy; reminds me of the sixties...

Caitlin making a goofy face at the camera while opening gifts.

Don't you like my warm and fuzzy Christmas socks?

Enjoy your holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Still Working On It

Remember this?  In previous posts I shared my compositional woes and color conundrums as I tried to work my way through the third in my "Traveler's Tale" series.  I thought this would be the easiest one, but I guess I still haven't gotten past that learning curve, if you know what I mean.  

I was really hoping to finish this before Christmas; there are other ideas I want to start working on before my break is over.  Also, this is what my drafting table looks like right now, and there's no sense in putting anything away when I'm going to need it again in five minutes. What a mess, huh? I decided I didn't like the map I'd chosen for the traveler figure, and I thought she was too small as well.

So, I enlarged her, and decided to cut her out of a blue map, using red for the shadow value.  I thought these colors would look more like the ones you see in fairy tale books or medieval paintings.  However, I tried several different reds, and they all looked pretty icky.  I didn't take pictures of these incarnations; believe me, you're not missing anything.

So, this is where I am now.  (Sorry, this picture is pretty wonky.)  Her hair is still one of the horrible reds I tried; I haven't changed that yet.  I couldn't think of anything else to do except to make the shadow value purple.  Green was the only other possibility, but I was afraid it would not contrast enough with the background, or with the blue.  I've also added some more fairy tale-ish elements to the piece, such as the dragons, the book with evil queen inside, the mirror, apples, flowers, and a story-book border...

What do you think?  If you have any ideas, please let me know.  Maybe, with your help, I'll finish it by Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Even now, 
in the sterile age of technology,
beneath the banging, crashing, clashing street noise,
the deafening roar of airplanes,
beneath the sounds of shrieking missiles, exploding bombs,
beneath the humming and ticking of artificial intelligence
(or none at all),
beneath the ceaseless rushing, pushing, struggling... 

the quiet heartbeat of the earth,
turning in her silent cycles,
as she whirls around the sun,
the ancient dervish dance of sun, moon, earth, planets,
ceaseless motion unchanging,
drawing a spiral pattern across the eons...

as it began,
so it remains.


and now once again
she retraces the infinite pattern,
the apex of her wandering arc,
and turns her face once again
to the brilliance,
toward the one,
the light.

as it was in the beginning,
as it ever shall be,
so it remains. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


 A while back, I joined a group on facebook called "The Weekly Wildlife, Nature and Conservation Photography Challenge".  They do a photo contest each week focused on a different subject, such as "birds" or "two species in one picture", or whatever.  I usually don't participate,  because the subject is one that I don't have access to, like "tropical rainforests" (pretty scarce in Kentucky) or something, but mainly because I just don't have the time.  (Uh-oh, not that again!)

 But his week, it's "Rocks and Stones".  They seemed to think this would be a tough one, even giving helpful hints /suggestions about where people might look to find rocks to photograph. 
Rocks??!  Seriously??!  Rocks, we've got plenty of in Kentucky.   Many farmers for countless generations have wished we could have some soil instead, but- no.  It's rocks.  On most farms you will find somewhere a huge pile or piles of rocks, which had to be cleared out of the fields before they could be plowed.  I cannot fathom how long it must have taken to do this using just your hands, a mule and a wagon.

Another thing about rocks: I love them.  I am what some would call a "rock hound."  (Some might even postulate that my head is full of rocks.")  I've been collecting rocks and fossils since the first time I walked down a creek bed and picked up a bit of fossilized crinoid stem.  I've been known to wrestle an entire backpack full of geodes out of a deep creek bed- I think they might have weighed more than I did!  A day of digging around on the side of a cliff looking for fossils is a good day in my book.

So here are a few of my rock pictures.  I wonder how many photos you're allowed to enter- 100?  200?


* Disclaimer: Not all rocks pictured here are in Kentucky.   Rocks may be found in other places as well.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Time and Time Again

In my last post, I kind of ranted and raved about my arch-nemesis, TIME.  I'm sure most artists, especially those who, like me, work a full time day job, can relate.  At this time of year, it's easy to start freaking out about not having enough time to get things done.  I've gotten lots of empathy, which I truly do appreciate, and even an idea or two.  The most intriguing one was to "command time", requiring "just a tiny change in thought."  (Thanks, Cat!)  Apparently, Cat has been reading up on her General Theory of Relativity, a la Einstein, who happens to be one of my personal heroes.  Here's how he sums it up:

"People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between the past, the present, and the future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."  -Albert Einstein  

Here are a few other thought on time that I thought I'd share with you.  This one's pretty funny:

The line between science and mysticism sometimes grows thin. Today physicists would agree that time is one of the strangest properties of our universe In fact, there is a story circulating among scientists of an immigrant to America who has lost his watch. He walks up to a man on a New York street and asks, "Please, Sir, what is time?" The scientist replies, "I'm sorry, you'll have to ask a philosopher. I'm just a physicist."  Clifford Pickover, Nova Online

 So, I thought I'd check out what philosophy has to say.  Here's a bit about the Tibetan Buddhist perspective:

Kalachakra Mandala: The Wheel of Time
The word kalachakra means cycles of time, and the Kalachakra system presents three such cycles – external, internal and alternative. The external and internal cycles deal with time as we normally know it, while the alternative cycles are practices for gaining liberation from these two. 

According to Buddhist thought, we humans discriminate between past, present and future, and we give them substance by attaching name and meaning to them. This everyday notion of time is not reality and is based on fundamental ignorance (or avidya). Unlike the Christian concept of time, time in Buddhism has no beginning and no end.  In order to awaken to true reality, one must do as Hesse's Siddhartha did - i.e. eliminate the concept of time by realizing that it has no substance. This is how [one] attain[s] wisdom and enlightenment.  -The Conscious Universe  
The question is, how do we make these ideas work for us?  eHow has some suggestions on How to Transcend Time and Space: 
*  Meditation is one of the best-known ways to transcend time and space.
In the Moment  by Laurel Julian
* Try attending a trance dance, ecstatic dance or another movement class where there is no talking allowed in the space. Allow the music and movements of your body to take you outside space and time.  
* Make a commitment to spiritual growth. The more you practice living in the present moment and loving yourself, the more you will experience pure moments of superconsciousness.
Spirit in Flight, by Laurel Julian  
Busy yourself doing something you love. Crafting, reading, painting, singing: Do anything artistic that you enjoy. If you are truly focused and love what you are doing, time and space with dissolve. You can even transcend time and space while doing household chores!Turn your creative outlets into a ritual. Set intentions for what you want while you are creating.
Wait a minute, wasn't that what this whole TIME thing was about in the first place-  not having the TIME to do what I love?  Is that ironic, or what?  I guess I've come full circle here; it has been pretty cathartic in the end.  I guess it's TIME to stop whining and get back to making art!
By the way, I'm pretty sure the part about household chores is a lie! ;)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Matter of Time

Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali
Time has become somewhat of an issue with me lately.  To put it bluntly, I've been very stressed out about it, or, more specifically, about a lack of it.  When I'm doing anything, particularly artwork, I feel guilty about the 400 other things I should be doing.  A lot of these things just don't get done.  For example:

Cleaning the house - I mean really, doesn't it just get dirty again almost immediately?  There's practically no reward in it whatsoever!  Yet it must be done- again and again and again.

Cooking - The same thing only worse.  It takes at least four times as long to cook something as it does to eat it.  Then you have to clean it up!  

Errands - Do I really need to go to the post office, get the car washed, or buy laundry detergent?  I'm willing to bet no one ever died from not doing any of those things.  Which reminds me-

Laundry - Ugh!  Can't I just throw the dirty clothes away and buy new ones?  No, wait, which takes less time, washing clothes or going shopping?  Maybe I could just order them online, yeh, that might work... but it would be awfully expensive.  I'd have to get a second job, but then I'd have even less time to do what I want.  Aaaaaaaaaghh!!

Of course, the things listed above are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.  I think you can see my problem.  I just can't seem to find much time to make art.  It can literally take me days to do a blog post!   And the business side of it, well, forget it!  I have to choose- I can do art, or do the business, but not both.  Without the art, business is beside the point, and the art without trying to sell it is...well, not getting me any closer to doing it full time.

All of this results in me feeling pressured and nervous, always fretting about something I don't have time to do.  Not very Zen, eh?  So, since I can't get this time thing off my mind, I thought I'd use my blog to do a little exploration of time.  I mean, what is it, actually?  Why does time seem to zip by when we're doing something we enjoy, but crawl so slowly when we're, say, sitting through a boring class, or waiting in line?

Salvador Dali

Timothy Ferriss,  Four-Hour-A-Week Entrepreneur, states: "Conceptually, time is the framework that allows us to put experience on a continuum. Practically, time is a non-renewable resource that determines the redeemable value of almost all renewable resources on a personal level. Income, for example, cannot be traded for experience without the requisite hours or minutes. Time is the master limiting factor."  

Oh yeah, I hear that, Timothy!

 Nude Descending a Staircase,  Marcel Duchamp

"Time is the fourth dimension. The passage of time is an illusion."We have this illusion of a changing, three-dimensional world, even though nothing changes in the four-dimensional union of space and time of Einstein's relativity theory."If life were a movie, physical reality would be the entire DVD: Future and past frames exist just as much as the present one."   - Max Tegmark, Cosmologist. (MIT)

I like this idea better, but how do I make this work for me?  If all moments exist at once, why can't I just move to another spot on the DVD?   Maybe Carl Sagan can help me out:

Okay, I'm not so sure that was helpful, but I do love Carl Sagan!  I think I'll have to continue my time exploration later, because, yes...I'm out of time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I've Looked at Clouds...

I spend a lot of time looking at the sky.  I guess you could say I'm a sky watcher- or perhaps more accurately, a cloud watcherNo, I don't mean the game where you try to find shapes in the clouds.   I like the clouds just for themselves.  My kids used to yell at me for watching the clouds while I was driving, which, I admit, is not a very good idea.  But I just can't help it; it's like a whole other world up there, one that changes constantly. The quality of light, the movement, the colors...it fascinates me.  It's difficult to put into words, and I'm more of a "picture is worth a thousand words" kind of girl, anyway.  So, here are my pictures, along with some words I did not write.

Low-Anchored Cloud

Low-anchored cloud,
Newfoundland air,
Fountain-head and source of rivers,
Dew-cloth, dream-drapery,
And napkin spread by fays;
Drifting meadow of the air,
Where bloom the daisied banks and violets,
And in whose fenny labyrinth
The bittern booms and heron wades;
Spirit of lakes and seas and rivers,
Bear only perfumes and the scent
Of healing herbs to just men's fields!

Henry David Thoreau 

[exerpt from] THE CLOUD   By Percy Shelly:

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their Mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under;
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

 [exerpt from] THE CLOUD   By Percy Shelly:

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky:
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain, when with never a stain
The pavilion of heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, --
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise, and unbuild it again. 

Wow, I didn't realize I had so many photos of clouds until i started getting them together to put on here!   Did you know that there's actually a Cloud Appreciation Society?  Hmmmm...maybe I should join!