Paintings of past lives and future projects

This is an experiment using a failed watercolor portrait from a life drawing session. I recently watched Don Peterson's video on how he does his remarkable paintings. He uses Elemer's glue! So I gave it a shot, as well as using some mastic to block out areas of the painting. I am not sure how I feel about this technique, nor how long it will last, but it does make the colors nice and rich. Mr. Peterson gets an almost glossy look to his paintings, and the colors glow like jewels. I will have to experiment with this more.
This is an experiment using a failed watercolor portrait from a life drawing session. I recently watched Dan Peterson’s video on how he does his remarkable paintings. He uses Elmer’s glue! So I gave it a shot, as well as using some mastic to block out areas of the painting. I am not sure how I feel about this technique, nor how long it will last, but it does make the colors nice and rich. Mr. Peterson gets an almost glossy look to his paintings, and the colors glow like jewels. I will have to experiment

Saturday I went to a studio sale for an artist that I just recently met. But in that way we sometimes have,  I feel like I’ve known him for a very long time. Perhaps he is just that kind of a person, the type of person people connect to easily. Perhaps. Some people are that way.

The gallery was full of his beautiful landscapes, a body of work that encompassed years. He is clearing out his studio, and ready to embark on a new project involving travel, video, and painting, as well as a pilgrimage of sorts to the vast wheat fields of Middle-America. If he’ll agree to share, I’ll try to write about it on my blog.

He’s been a professional painter for a long time. He took a different flight path for his life than I did, and decided he needed to paint when I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. But his life, like everyone’s life, is still changing and evolving. I couldn’t help but feel sad for the beautiful paintings that he said he was going to burn if they didn’t go to good homes. A big pyre, he said, that he’ll video tape as part of his next project. An incineration perhaps, of earlier chapters of his life, in order to reinvent himself like a firebird.

I looked longingly at the paintings, sadly totting up my finances to figure a way to own one of his works. “Which do you like?” he asked. I pointed out two that I loved, for reasons of my own. “How much?” I said.

He quietly and sweetly gifted them to me.

I’m sure we’ve met before.

This post is in response to a prompt from WordPress University Writing 101: A Room with a View

 

 

 

 

Songs

Which old witch
Old Witch Old Witch
Pencil drawing on typing paper

The very first record I ever owned was Under the Lollipop Tree by Burl Ives. Don’t judge me; it was a smash hit for second graders.

I was crazy about all the songs and I can still sing most of them, but the one that I love to sing to make The Fiddler laugh is “Old Witch Old Witch.” I blame Burl Ives (and my father, with his bluegrass and hillbilly music) for tuning my tastes to folk music, a temperament I’ve never outgrown.

Longer Boats Pencil on typing paper
Longer Boats
Pencil on typing paper

In the 1970s I discovered Cat Stevens, enraging my father by dismissing his music and falling in love with scruffy troubadors in tie-dye everything. I used to sing “Longer Boats” at the top of my lungs with my best friend, Emily Boltz, harmony and all. I can still sing all the songs from Tea for the Tillerman, and those old vids of a young Cat still make me weak at the knees.

Those longer boats, whatever the heck they were (he once said the song was about flying saucers), were coming to win us, and the song encompasses my young adulthood. My generation grew up believing in things. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. 1001 Arabian Nights. Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. The Weekly World News. Aliens were possible. Everything was possible. Music, like the skies, was blue and wide open.

Painting of Fiddler
Fiddler
Watercolor on Arches #140 cold press

These days the sky has gotten a lot smaller and the horizons are empty of flying carpets and saucers. Jinnis and aliens got waylaid by the internets. Burl Ives sounds hopelessly square and Cat—now Yusuf—is a grandpa. But music remains the same.

With age I’ve grown less musically exclusive; I listen to nearly everything. My father’s old time and hillbilly twang is in heavy rotation with traditional Irish music, Billie Holiday, and Glen Miller. I’ve even got a Doris Day album that I love. Choosing a favorite song would be like choosing a favorite child. But I’ll leave you with “Elzic’s Farewell,” played on the claw hammer banjo. You can’t go wrong with that.

Armchair travel

 

Girl reading by fireplace
We create rooms from our dreams. This is an image from an old post. To see the whole post, click here.

I often dream of plein air-painting trips to exotic lands. Tracing the curve of the Amur River through Mongolia. Filling the pages of a worn watercolor journal with sketches of women in cerulean blue saris or rippling grass-green áo dàis. Painting the song of a skylark as it ripples across blue Irish skies and the howl of a monkey crashing through deep Guatemalan jungles.

Those are my dreams. I would have gladly traveled like that when I was young, a happy vagabond artist sleeping in hostels and riding on trains (and I did, some, but without the artistic skill and drive—or money—of middle age).

But would I do it these days?  I am not so sure, especially when the sun warms my studio, or I curl up in our den with a book. Andrew Loomis’ Creative Illustration would be awfully heavy to carry in a back pack.

But sometimes ultramarine blue and viridian green precipitates onto the paper and glimmers like the ocean. Those are days I long to be on a cargo ship headed to Greece.

This post is in response to a prompt from WordPress University Writing 101: A Room with a View

Why in the world would I take on two internet challenges because my life isn’t busy enough?

Every month the interwebs crackle with bloggers answering challenges—painting a day; photo a day; poem a day; recipe a day, a workout a day, et cetera. I don’t normally participate in these—they’re a lot of work—but every so often I stumble across one that I like. The most recent was the Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days from Leslie Saeta. It was fun, but at the end of the month I felt like a horse that had been, as my best friend is fond of saying, “rode hard and put away wet”.

2015_IFJM_Button3

I’d busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy. But my favorite challenge—well, not really a challenge, but more like a personal project —is Roz Stendahl’s International Fake Journal Month. Roz isn’t about making you work like a dog. This project is so low-key and so much fun that it makes it easy to join. If you’ve got a sketchbook and 15 to 20 minutes a day, you can do it. As it indicates, you’ll be keeping a fake journal. You get to be someone else in your journal. It’s a lot of fun.

BloggingUThis month I also got caught up in the WordPress “class” Writing101. Everyday there’s a prompt with a twist. My personal challenge is to write to the prompts in a way that fits the subject matter, tenor and tone of Mockingbirdsatmidnight.com. That is, how do I write about art and music using the prompts from the Happiness Engineers? Will I be able to add an illustration? I don’t know if I’ll make it everyday, but it will be fun to try.

That’s what I’m doing in April. What are you doing?

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