Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Spillway

6"x6" oil
I am going to a workshop next week which is facilitated by Mark Boedges.  He is an amazing landscape painter and I really hope I learn 4 really great things.  I figured out at some point that if I can take 4 things away from a workshop, then my work might improve.  If I try and take every good bit of information and latch onto it, well I default to overload.  Then, my painting suffers, my self esteem suffers, my husband suffers and....well you get the point.  All the good stuff just goes to my own spillway.  A few years ago hurricane Irene blew through Vermont wreaking havoc throughout the state.  Lefferts Pond took a hit and the spillway and bridge between the pond and the lake blew out. They have since rebuilt it and it is beautiful.  I am coming off a big show and numerous other wonderful things in my life, and I feel like I can barely hold on to the important things. My spillway is working, keeping the catchment of my life together for the important things, and letting go of the rest.  I guess that is the best we can hope for.  There is a balance in that.  I have been trying to find a balance and I think I am going to hold on to the spillway metaphor.  Go Figure!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Celebrate!

8"x8" oil
I feel a little guilty posting a painting image called "Celebrate!" when so many are mourning the events in Charlottesville from this past weekend. I too, am saddened by the injuries and death that occurred.  The attention that North Korea was intensely getting at the end of last week seems to be put on hold in the capsule of fear about the Alt-Right.  That is the way with news.  There is only so much space and time to put out a message, so one gets sidelined for another.  I want to spend my short time to put out a message of love and peace and celebration because, one eye may only see the sadness and discouragement, but the other can see the beauty and the good.  I think wisdom is missing from the social commentary.  I do not believe we should bury our heads in the sand, but I do believe that confronting radicals on the brink of violence is unwise.  We need a strong voice in our culture for understanding each other and a clear message that hatred is unacceptable.  We can respect the rights to differing opinions, but I do not believe that the voices of the KKK or neo-Nazi idealists are merely a differing opinion, but rather a refection of evil.  I just saw that Trump has finally denounced them.....finally.  I think we need to take their rhetoric off the front pages, out of our faces and reduce their voices by not giving them our attention.  Is anyone with me on this?  Maybe I am talking to the mirror...who knows?  Go figure!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Forever Friends

8"x10" oil
Shelburne Farms is the setting for this scene.  The balustrade is in the gardens overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains in NY state.  These women are some of the important women in my life.  I feel very blessed to have had so many wonderful females in my life, starting with my mother who was humble, sweet, nurturing, supportive and offered unconditional love.  She taught me to see the world in a joyful way and tried to teach me to not be swayed by silly things, opinions or people.  She was an artist and one of my dreams came true when she and I attended a Dreama Tolle Perry painting workshop together.  I miss her funny way of saying things, her passion for her family and her wonderful giggle.  She wasn't perfect, like the rest of us, but her faults have faded in my mind because her positive qualities overshadowed them.  I remember as a 12 year old hearing her story about her mother's death when she was 12 and thinking I could not go on without my mom.  It helped me start to see her amazing strength.  She couldn't read and would have been diagnosed with dyslexia if they had known what it was back then, and she was left-handed, another deficit.  She was one of 13 siblings and the school decided she was unteachable and was needed more at home rather than get an education.  She was ashamed about this, but I think it just goes to show what a resourceful woman she was.  She went to art school for a short time and joined the Navy as a bookkeeper because she was a wiz with numbers.  She was a talented mom to five kids and the true definition of great homemaker.  She felt insecure about her lack of education, but taught herself to read and educated herself and she and my dad both valued their children getting an advanced education.  I didn't know, until I was an adult, that my mom had been faking her way life because she couldn't read.  So many things made sense then, like: not ever reading to us when we were little, spending nights up reading when we were teens, and the way she wrote notes in beautiful penmanship but would always leave out words.  Vocabulary was important to my parents. My dad taught me the word "facetious,"  and he was a good example of that.  My mom taught me to use "flibbertigibbet," of which she was not at all!  Go Figure!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Tumbling

8"x10" oil  $200   http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-holzschuh/untitled/474792

Letting out a big sigh of relief right about now.  I just delivered well over 100 figurative paintings (including the one featured here)  to the Castleton Downtown Gallery for a show which opens the first of July.  Like so many things in life, getting ready for this show, aptly titled Go Figure, was fraught with many potential stumbling blocks. Rather than describing the mundane frustrations I have encountered, I will just say that it was a bit like the little tufted titmouse who repeatedly is flying into my window convinced that the image of a threatening competitor is real! Nothing too interesting or life altering in any of that, but it has brought to mind more important events that have changed the course of my life.  One of those was the arrival of my youngest son, Harry.  He arrived with that first name and a heartbreaking back story.  He was an abandoned baby, teeny weeny and clearly scared.  My memory of holding him for the first time was of him gripping my skin with his fingers and toes and holding himself on to me for dear life.  This is not normal behavior for a 6 month old who should be all soft and floppy.  This unprecedented early physical development, although the result of survival skills, has served him well.  He is a natural athlete and incredibly strong.  It took almost 12 years for the adoption to go through, but that day stands as one of the happiest in my life. I could, and probably should, write a book about all we have been through, but the happy ending to the story is that he is a handsome and successful adult who has a sweet and loving personality. Aside from my parents, he has done more to form the better parts of my character than anyone else.  It is easy for others to view our story and react by saying what a wonderful thing I have done for him.  But, truth be told, it really is the other way around....Go Figure! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Umbrellas

8"x10" oil Not for Sale
It is so easy to forget that for the majority of my life I have not had immediate access to obscure information at my fingertips, literally.  In my father's lifetime, he went from flying a heavy tin can around to seeing a man land on the moon.  We can instantly talk face to face, "2001: A Space Odyssey" style, to friends across the globe.  It is amazing, but equally amazing that we can also take courses online for free or very little money.  This painting is a result of Leslie Saeta's online course of painting with a palette knife, which is something new for me.  I have been thirsty for a change in my artwork, and even though I don't think painting with a palette knife is it, it is a nice tool to add to my bag of tricks. There are tons of online classes available and the advantage of them is not just the low cost, but the opportunity to take your time or move quickly through them.  The drawback is the lack of interaction with other students or an instructor, however most of the art instructors I have become familiar with are willing to correspond via email.  I think it is a great way to mix things up a bit and step into new territory.  It gives those brain neurons new pathways and shakes things up a bit.  It will take making a bunch more of these paintings to feel comfortable with the palette knife, so it may take me while...but I am in no hurry.  Considering that I am well into the last quarter of my life, that may not be true about everything....Go Figure!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Spring Bouquet

11"x14" oil on canvas, $350
OK so this is not a figure...lets see if I can make a connection, because of course, that is what it is all about.  There is a quote in the Bible that speaks about not worrying, just asking, that goes something like this....the flowers in the field don't work and yet King Solomon wasn't dressed this good.  So, if we make the assumption that God dressed the flowers and he takes care of our needs too...that sort of associated flowers with the figure of a person.  I may be stretching this one a bit, but there is an importance in making the connection and it does seem to be the point of almost everything.  My paintings have little meaning without the connection...without someone who is moved by them.  I get something out of it too, in the making of it.  I feel meditative, which is good for my soul.  I feel struggle, concentration, problem solving, and discovery which is all good for my brain.  I feel the "zone" which is good for tapping into that creative power bigger than all of us put together.  However, without the connection to others, there is no purpose in finishing them.  When they are successful, it taps something in many and gives them joy.  That is enough for me ultimately.....but of course....in the short term, it is also my livelihood and I did put a price on it....so I guess I also want to sell it.  Oh well, so much for lofty ideals....Go Figure!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Fiesta

6"x6" oil
My grandson used to live close by, however, and alas, they have moved across the country.  Initially we would take him to a Mexican restaurant every year for his birthday.  They sang to him, gave him a balloon, and he got to wear a sombrero.  One day he told me he could speak 3 languages, American, English and Spanish.  American because, well, he is.  English because his dad is British, and Spanish because of the restaurant.  It is funny what we hold close to our hearts and carry freshly in our minds from our experiences in the past.  Recently, I remembered something from junior high journalism class.  I had a great teacher.  She really taught and valued the intellectual curiosity of her students.  One day she said, "The biggest problem with propaganda is that eventually people will believe nothing."  It struck me at the time like a light bulb going on.  I really thought about it, but didn't have any personal experience to back it up.  It was a bit like the story of the boy crying wolf.  At the end of the year it was a question on the final exam.  Of course I remembered it, and amazingly she told me I was the only one in the class that got it right and that someday it would mean something to me.  In this age of fake news and Russians influencing what we think by interfering in what is leaked, that phrase really does mean something to me.  For all of our differences, I hope Americans can come to grips with who we are.  I don't want to live in a country made up of radical factions that are at war with each other.  Really, are we not just a ginormous tribe?  Go figure!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Oh My!

6"x6" oil
I frequently hear this phrase from the "experts,"  Paint What You Love.  I think there is wisdom in that.  I paint a lot of different things, but I always love painting children.  Well, not really children, but painting images of children.  I like my children unadorned and natural, certainly not covered in paint.  I can see things I would have done differently if I was starting this painting again.  Things I know but frequently forget, but all in all, I loved doing it and am happy with the results.  Go Figure!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - New Consumers

10"x10" oil
Some of my concerns have been sneaking into my paintings lately.  I try not to be overly political or socially opinionated, but we all have issues that matter to us.  I love painting children, especially in poses that are natural and not posed.  These three Tweeners are conversing about something important in front of a fashion art poster.  I have 3 granddaughters so I am paying attention to the influences our culture has on them.  I heard the phrase "Pester Power" in terms referring to children influencing the buying habits of their parents.  I don't think this is new, it just seems more excessive and high dollar.  I remember pestering my mom to buy me the shoes I wanted.  There were tears involved.  I lost.  I got sturdy tie up shoes instead.  "No," was common in my parents' vocabulary. I am concerned about how advertising is helping to define how the young girls see themselves and forming a picture for them of what it means to be a girl.  On the other hand, I love to see my girls dressed in their lovely pink dresses as they explore the world and discover its magic and mysteries...like catching salamanders!  I may have to paint this scene!  Go Figure

Monday, May 1, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Too Young

6"x6" oil
The background painting is located at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, which is my favorite art museum, so far.  I love the building which was completed at the end of the 19th century as a station for electric trains and an accompanying hotel.  It was renovated as a museum which opened in 1986. It is spectacular architecturally as well as the collection which spans the years 1848-1915 of western hemisphere art. The Impressionists  paintings make up a good portion of the collection.  This painting, The Red Ball, is by Felix Vallotton.  The flatness and odd horizon line of the painting give a sense of a child running after the ball and away from his/her caretakers.  It invokes a sense of insecurity, hence (in part) my title Too Young.  The second meaning has to do with the visitors pictured here.  We all know that obesity is epidemic with the US rating 6th in the world.  So "too young" refers to the generations of young people who are sacrificing good health for high calorie and low nutritional content foods.  I find it an interesting juxtaposition. Perhaps more of us should be running after that little red ball. Why am I thinking about chocolate right now???   Go Figure!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Figuratively Seaking - Idyllic Happiness

8"x10" oil
What is "Idyllic Happiness" to you?  This art lover is probably feeling pretty happy looking at beautiful paintings and carrying around her front papoose.  Giving birth to a perfect and healthy little one is a pretty good moment.  They painting she is looking at is by Gauguin, painted in 1897.  It is a representation of  Vairumati who is a legendary figure of the Maori people.  Gauguin was at a low point in his life when he painted this scene representing "Idyllic Happiness."  His colors are bright and cheerful even though he was suffering from syphilis and was feeling suicidal.  It is weird how so many artists of fame have such tragic stories and yet they have brought such joy to millions who have viewed their art.  Ironic isn't it?   Go Figure.... 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Seeking Approval

6"x6" oil
We certainly spend a good part of our lives seeking approval.  Whenever I meet someone who is not seeking approval, I admire them for their authenticity.  Unfortunately, frequently they have pronounced anti-social behaviors that keep them from feeling comfortable in the company of others. Like anything, there is a balance.  It works to seek approval as it validates our achievements, helps us to understand our tribes, and teaches us what social norms are appropriate.  The problem lies in how much approval we seek, from whom we seek it, and what are our motivations.  It can be crippling and keep us from achieving that authenticity that I frequently see in those on the fringes.  On the other hand, some of the most authentic people I have met are deeply spiritual.  They seek approval from a higher being and are freed up to be gentle and generous here in the Earthly realm.  In not seeking the approval of others, they are able to find joy in moments we are given and therefore give back what they can.  I admire this and it is something that exists both in and out of religious affiliation.  It is interesting though that some very religious people are also the ones who are least authentic and most judgemental. I am choosing to be as authentic as I can....but, I still care what you think about my painting....go figure!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Figuratively Speaking-Yoga Meditation Art

6"x6" oil
The wall painting is a Rothko.  I have gained a deeper appreciation for his work recently in my efforts to understand color.  I have heard myself (talking in my head) say, "I could spend the rest of my life studying color theory and application, and never get it all."  I think that is what Rothko (in part) spent his art career doing.  Sometimes, even when at a prestigious art museum, our bodies find a need for a little Yoga.  While her friend meditates on the Rothko, she is stretching her quads.  I spend a lot of my time doing art and doing Yoga.  It is the only way I can keep my body happy and keep my disposition positive.  Right now, I am also doing a significant amount of garden preparation which has kicked up my need for Yoga, as well as, chiropractic care and a desire for massage.  I am really excited to be getting ready to grow things and have kicked it off with an obsession with sprouting seeds and grains to eat.  It is hard work staying healthy.  I still need my chocolate though....go figure!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Figuratively Soeaking - Childlikeness

6"x6" oil
"You can't do the same thing over and over and expect different results."  I am not sure that is totally true.  Swimming laps is a good example, or perfecting any skill.  Doing the same thing over and over can refine it, teach you what you need to learn, and increase speed and confidence.  I am thinking about painting the same scene 100 times.  I haven't decided what to paint yet, but when I do, I am going to commit to doing it 100 times.  That sounds like a lot.  The above painting I have painted 3 times and they all look different.  I really like this image and the Bouguereau painting they are looking at.  Karin Jurick is my inspiration for these "Gallery Viewers" (she calls them art patrons).   She is the master in my opinion.  My husband has been waging a battle with squirrels over the bird feeders for millennium.  Squirrels are as tenacious as I want to be about my painting.  They are able to master any obstacle Carl puts in their quest to be gluttons for the bird's food.  Carl's latest trick is to hang slinkies on the poles.  So far, this has been successful and quite entertaining, but I know that it is temporary and I am laying my bets on the squirrels.  FYI:  There are 9 varieties of bird and at least 30 of them at the feeders now.  I guess when our teenagers moved out, Carl decided to spend the extra food money on birdseed.  I think a morning dove has fallen asleep under the feeder....just like teens, all they do is eat and sleep....go figure!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Julia

6"x6" oil
Julia is such a feminine name.  This is Julia Foster Ward painted by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre in the late 1800's.  Poor Julia lived a short life, dying when she was only 19.  The morning glories in her hair may symbolize her short existence as this painting was probably done after her passing.  Since morning glories mostly bloom in early morning and have a short existence, they would be an appropriate choice.  There are over 1,000 varieties of morning glories and they have been used for a variety of purposes from laxative use to vulcanizing rubber and also for creating hallucinogenic  effects.  This gallery viewer, who happens to be my sister, struck the same pose as poor Julia.  Lucky for me, my little sister is approaching 6 decades of life.  In those years she has raised 7 beautiful and talented children and now that she has time, she swims 1-2 miles a day.  She is proud of her age and what she has accomplished and, I am lucky to have her as my sister.  There is enough distance in our ages that we didn't really have much of a rivalry in our youth.  I always thought she was adorable and talented...I am sure she thought I was a fantastic big sister with a driver's license.....go figure!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Stoned6"x6" oil

Add caption
Beethoven is stoned (in white marble) in this image.  This larger than life sculpture by prolific German artist Max Klinger (not the Max Klinger from M*A*S*H) was commissioned around 1902, after the top piece of another sculpture he did in which the lower part is made of bronze and colored marble.  Max Klinger is one of those artists whose work crosses numerous lines both stylistically and in terms of all the areas of art he accomplished including etching, painting, music and sculpture.  I have always enjoyed sculpture, but until my association with the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland, VT, I didn't truly understand or appreciate sculpture or how difficult an art it is.  The sculpture center lies in an old quarry at the heart of  Vermont marble mining.  Not only is it a historic industrial place that aims to keep the history alive, but it is a uniquely creative place to meet artists from around the world and witness amazing art making.  Although it is primarily focused on stone carving, classes are offered in many disciplines including jewelry making, welding, clay and fabrication.  All of that and it is located in the beautiful countryside of Vermont, wedged between the Taconic Mountains and the Green Mountains.  So if you want to get stoned (figuratively speaking) I suggest signing up for a class at the Carving Studio.  Go Figure!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Audience of Two (2nd try)

6"x6" oil
This lovely gallery viewer  (my sister) is only one of many who are sneaking a peak at Jupiter and Callisto under a shady tree.  This is a very voyeuristic painting.  First, Callisto was a River Goddess who attended to and was quite chummy with Diana who warned her against men and gods.  Jupiter  had fallen in love with Callisto so he tricked her by disguising himself as Diana.  Like all Greek myths, this is just the beginning of a confusing and tragic story.  So the painting on the wall is of Jupiter, disguised as Diana, wooing Callisto.  Part of what makes it voyeuristic is that cupid is observing them from behind the tree, not to mention all the gallery viewers who visit it at the St. Petersburg  Museum of Fine Art and, now, you who are looking at this little painting.  So, this is the rest of this tawdry story:  Callisto became pregnant, had a son, and was then turned into a bear by Jupiter's jealous wife, Juno.  Years later Callisto the bear saw her son in the woods and ran to hug him.  Fearing he was going to be attacked by a bear, he shot and killed
his mother.  They now reside together in the evening sky as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.  This story has been painted in many forms by many famous artists.  This version is by Angelica Kauffman, one of those rare 18th Century successful women artists whose story has lived to be told.  Although she was Swedish, she resided and was famous in both London and Venice.  And I thought my life was complicated...go figure!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Buddahs With Anonymous

5"x7" oil
Figuring things out......she is and so am I.  She is "Anonymous" and so are the makers of the Buddha's she is figuring out.  I wonder what questions are going through her mind....historical, cultural, material....maybe she is wondering if she can pick up some copies of these, made of resin, to put in her garden.  I like the patterns of straps on her blouse...very yoga-like...very zen and they echo the patterns of her tattoo, also a piece of artwork.  The shape of her bag and the shape of her skirt are also interesting patterns.  I am returning to work after traveling to help out family and then coming down with what I am calling "flying flu."  I am not sure it is actually flu, but it involves a week-long fever and generally feeling miserable. I seem to get it, or something similar, whenever I fly.  There has to be some way, short of encasing myself in an aseptic bubble, to avoid this.  It would be very cool though, if you could travel in a bubble....mmmm.....still figuring it all out.  Go figure!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Growth

My babies were huge; at least the first two were off the charts.  My third child arrived with great fanfare but no delivery drama, as he was dropped on my doorstep.  He was my "chosen child" and was very tiny, very strong, and very scared.  It took months of holding him pretty much around the clock to get him to settle down and feel secure and start to gain weight. His arrival into my life was a pivotal moment.  His presence has been a molding force in my character.  The unique challenges and exciting victories he has brought into our family have made us who we are.  Thank you Harry!  He is not so little anymore.  He has grown into a fine man who is sweet, funny and really muscular.  The rest of us are stretched out tall.  He is the shortest but by far the strongest.  We are all so grateful to have had the opportunity to love someone who is so different from the rest of us.  It has been a life lesson.  The grandkids all were huge babies too and have stretched out to skinny tall people.  Watching us all grow and change and become who we are is such a privilege.  Growth, like moving, working and learning, is necessary to have a full life.  It isn't easy, but then, who said it was going to be?  Go Figure!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Sorting It Out

8"x10" oil  $75
It was a discovery for me that I really like the shape of circles and bubbles.  I have always loved bubbles, their shape, flexibility, reflective quality, but didn't realize how drawn (pun intended) to them I am.  Generally I paint alla prima (doing the entire painting in one session) but I let this one percolate for a while while "sorting it out."  What I mostly love about painting abstracts is that it makes me think differently.  A book, a movie, a play, a dance, a poem, music, even an exquisite meal, that makes me think differently brings me joy.  I am currently reading a satirical book about the ideal Republican.  I believe its intention is to look at the foibles of Republican thought and policy by expressing an inflated belief in them, but mostly it comes across as sarcastic.  I am not sure its intention is to also poke fun at a particularly narrow minded liberal attitude about conservatives, but it succeeds on that end as well.  So why am I reading it?  The reason is to understand the author better.  This is the second book I have read recently to better understand these authors as humans, because they touch the lives of those I care about.  Then I think about writing a blog and how that tells something about who I am.  Too bad we can't read our own writing totally objectively, or evaluate our own artistic endeavors totally objectively.  All we can do is try to "sort it all out" as best we can.  Go figure.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Illusion

The colors are much more lovely in person.  The reds and purples have pretty much disappeared from this photo.  It is an oil painting 3"x8"...about the size of a large bookmark.  I titled it "Illusion."  I don't know why, but it seemed appropriate.  Everything outside my doors is a bit of an illusion today.  It is white with a bit of grays.  The white is swirling and dropping, sliding and blowing.  We are immersed in a classic spring nor'easter and they have labeled it a blizzard.  It is definitely dicey on the roads and the birds don't seem too pleased by it.  There is a lot of powdery stuff on the ground and my ski friends are drinking toasts to it already.  This weekend will be divine for them although plenty will be complaining about another storm coming in then.  I have no opinion as I will be in the south with comparatively balmy temperatures.  I hope the kids have a blast, that the winter recreationalists are thrilled, that everyone is safe and the disgruntled are too preoccupied to complain.  I will be enjoying a comfortable stroll on quiet streets.  That is, if I can make it to the airport in the morning, which is questionable at this point.  Go figure!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Wild Flowers

oil 6"x6" $75
Wild and exciting, these mums are close to being out of control. A bouquet haphazardly placed in a ball jar grabs the attention of anyone who walks in the room.  They make me smile.  They remind me of my kids.  My son came to visit this weekend with his beautiful daughters.  We had so much fun.  They are free range kids who are sweet and interesting and smart and excited to be alive.  Their father is wild, crazy, fun, sensitive, smart and really good looking.  He is also clever and talented.  He recently went through a tough time, but he pulled it together and sorted the inside and out.  He makes me smile when he walks into the room.  He is interested in so many things and is skilled in a multitude of areas, but is always thirsty to learn new things.  His latest passions include playing the guitar and specializing in plumbing repair to work on his home which was built in 1899 as the town library.  He was not an easy child to raise, but when I see what an awesome and dedicated father he is, I feel so proud of him.  He is like the crazy patterns of these mums, a bit unpredictable, but oh, so beautiful. I would like him evn if he weren't my son! A mother's love....go figure.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Patterns

Canvas boards are not the best surface to paint on.  It is an inexpensive alternative to stretched canvas, canvas panels, linen surfaces or hardboard surfaces.  I had some for my granddaughters to paint on, but I grabbed it to paint this image.  What beautiful patterns there are in  fabrics. Although I didn't copy the patterns as such, I tried to get the feel of the different fabrics and colors.  We seek out patterns every day.  They help us to understand what is going on around us and to find comfort in their regularity or excitement in their alterations. Visual patterns can be found in nature (spirals, fractals, waves, bubbles, cracks and all aspects of weather, water and light) as well as in art, like these beautiful fabrics.  I don't focus on patterns so much, but they do add another dimension to painting.  I often wear black or just plain boring clothing, but when I venture into something stylish, colorful or made of luscious patterns, my friends notice.  They usually seem a bit surprised.  I think I express my love of color through paint, and when it is time to get dressed my creativity is in storage....go figure!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Go Figure - Ruthie's Bouquet

12"x12" oil SOLD
It is tax time.  There are numerous things which make me cringe when I have to do them and taxes hold an honorable place on that list, along with dental appointments and making travel arrangements.  But, somehow, those things are not nearly as imposing after the fact as they are in the anticipation.  Yesterday it was plane tickets and today taxes.  However, it is hard for me to jump into painting when I have days like this.  I fiddle around a bit painting, and then occupy myself with tasks like framing, or preparing painting panels, cleaning the studio or I do the laundry.  It is all part of my resistance behaviors and I am reading a great book about this, "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield.  I highly recommend it.  This was a painting that I did over a number of days.  I thought about it a lot.  Considered the composition, the colors, the values, the textures and patterns.  It is not my usual way of working, but I have been needing a shake-up and this represented part of that process.  It was satifsfying.  I framed it today and will mail it out this weekend.  Tomorrow, I am going to be all about painting.  I may create a flop or surprise myself and have a success.  That is part of the fun of all of this, not knowing if the inspiration and technique will cooperate for me.  It gets me out to the studio and that's what really matters....go figure.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Go Figure - Encouragement

Encouragement is a precious commodity that should be generously shared at every possible moment.  I firmly believe this.  There are many great books about overcoming the fear or resistance to following your dreams.  I am reading a good one now, "The War of Art."  It applies to everything though, not just the arts.  We are designed to be sensitive to others comments and opinions about what we do. We are really our own worst enemies vacillating between insecurity and an over-inflated opinion of ourselves.  Both will lead to a lack-luster performance.  The beauty of following your passion when you are in the last quarter of your life is the truth that "if not now, when?"   I feel I have to make up for years of pursuing important activities that don't directly translate into being an artist.  I feel an urgency and I like that drive.  I am grateful to the teachers I have had along the way, both those I have met in person, and those I have read about.  The daily painters movement has taught me to be disciplined, now I am focusing on other aspects of my artistic development.  It is good to occasionally take  an assessment of where we are now, and where we want to go and then modify and tweak the journey.  I hope you are at a satisfying point in your journey, figuratively speaking.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Figuratively Speaking-Uphill Climb

Making abstract art is so like living life.  You have to create and then navigate the twists and turns and even the most simple of designs or plans is complicated and enriched by layers of textures and subtleties. It is a combination of utilizing technique, and acquired skills and letting inspiration have a voice.  One of the most exciting things in my life is the somewhat tedious trajectory of skills I need to learn.  It is exciting to know that I don't have enough time left in my life to learn everything I can and need to make my art better.  It truly is an uphill climb and I am excited to be making it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Flight

The first time I flew in an airplane was when I was 16 and went to a youth conference in Washington DC and New York.  Having a sanguine personality, I naturally was there for the party, but I learned a lot and felt my horizons expand.  This week I flew to Colorado for the wedding of my nephew.  How  good it is to be with family, and mine is spread across the continent.  My favorite part is the hugs, especially the ones that feel like we are both holding on to make up for so much time, the kind that bring tears to your eyes.  Besides the wedding, the reunions, I got to meet my niece's baby for the first time.  She is beautiful and happy and such a sweet addition to our huge family.  Again, even though I have flown many places in the intervening years, and have lost the thrill of that experience, I still feel like my horizons expand each time I travel.  The attitudes and opinions we take for granted "at home" do not carry over the borders.  There are new attitudes and opinions and it is really important to be humble enough to study them and see how they influence the folks who take them for granted.  I am grateful for my crazy family, for marriages and new babies, for sharing deep thoughts and feelings and especially for the hugs.  But let's be honest (I tell myself)....I am here for the party!  Go figure!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Blue Symphony

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noon-day dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet birds 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.
The Cloud by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Yesterday I made Valentine cards for my granddaughters before I packed a little red bag and headed up to the gym for Pilates.  It was seriously cold, like four degrees and there was a blasting wind, but still  cars were in the ski resort parking lot, hardy souls.  I dashed in to the gym, checked in and went to sign up for my class, noticing that the sign-up sheet was not in its usual place, and that several people I didn't know had signed up for the class.  I was later in arriving than usual  because of the Valentine creation, but I did make it in the nick of time.  I grabbed some mats, pulled off several layers of clothing and other accoutrements, took a  deep breath and was ready to give my core a beating workout.  After class I re-layered and grabbed my little red bag and went to have a cup of joe with my workout buddies.  Conversation inevitably turned to politics and I looked for my graceful get away, but not soon enough.  Someone grabbed a newspaper and put it in front of me to read an article about Melania Trump's comments in a lawsuit about loosing out on the opportunity of a lifetime in promoting a line of clothing while she is First Lady, because of reports that she had worked as an escort.  Deep breath again, I looked at the small print, but then I realized I didn't have my glasses (oh where could they be?)  but that gave me a way out of the conversation.  But really, where could they be?  I retraced my steps and thoughts.  I was able to write the Valentine notes and sign in at the gym, so they weren't at home or in the car.  I checked every pocket of every (and that was a lot) layer of clothing and shook out my little red bag. After totally searching the gym  I figured they would turn up as I am an optimist.  I am wrong frequently and this was one of those times.  Flash forward to today, Saturday.  Carl and I got up and headed up to the gym to search again, and go to the post office to mail the Valentines.  The ski resort was packed with no parking space left as the temps were a balmy 18 degrees and no wind. The glasses had not been turned in, and were no where to be found. I entered the "distressed" zone.  Like every human on the planet, I hate to lose things.  It just didn't make sense.  I said a little prayer, because that is what I do when I feel distressed.  At home, it popped into my head to go look in the little red bag again, even though logic told me an empty bag would not produce a pair of glasses.  Oh wait, there was a little pocket on the bag and sure enough my glasses were wedged in it.  Clearly I am not smart enough to find them on my own, so I am attributing this to providence....go figure!  What color are you thinking about?  I bet it is a little red bag.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Paranoia

I have never been a very pessimistic or paranoid person.  There have been moments of course, where I have entered their realms, but it always is overwhelming so, I run back to my safe, comfortable, optimistic playground where I give everything the benefit of the doubt.  I mean everything, including the weather and (mostly) other drivers.  It comes perhaps from having a very short memory and the inability to hold on to most slights for more than a few moments.  Today, however, I realized that paranoia and pessimism have worked their wormy way into my life.  When the telephone rings at home, I jump to the conclusion that it is probably some nefarious entity trying to get a donation, buy something, or scam me, until caller ID proves me wrong.  I grew up in the nuclear fear generation when fallout shelters inhabited the backyards of relatively wealthy and paranoid neighbors.  My children's generation grew up in the era of stranger-danger, which I think, contributes to the helicopter parenting style.  These things affect us unconsciously until we recognize their presence in our lives and put their influence in their proper place. Unlike my husband, who went to bed at halftime during the Super Bowl last night, I did not lose hope that the Patriots would rally and win.  My optimism paid off in rewarding me with a really fun and exciting game.  So, today, I am going to pay attention to what things bring those two P's into my life and see if I can give them the heave-
ho.  If I do not answer your phone call today, it is because I forgot to expect it to be a friend.  Forgive me....go figure!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Figuratively Seaking - Cyrus the Great

6"x6" oil  "Cyrus's Bouquet"
History is so interesting.  Depending on how you understand the events of the past, and what version you are studying, it completely flavors how you see things today.  If you don't know much history, then everything is a bit of a first impression. Although history is made of stories with facts attached,  it always represents a point of view. Still it can be so enlightening to see how events unfold and influence attitudes and opinions that echo way into the future.  In this day of alternative realities, it seems all the more important to tell the stories that represent the closest version of truth available.  Today I have been exploring Cyrus the Great who is attributed with building the largest empire the world had seen up to that point in human history.  He is considered the Father of Iran and still has much influence in the culture and politics of Iran.  He is mentioned in the Jewish faith in having returned the Babylonian exiles to Jerusalem and is also thought by some Muslim scholars to be in the Qur'an.  Many considered him to be a tolerant leader who allowed freedom for the people to follow their own religious beliefs and customs which aided a peaceful transition when their kingdoms were conquered. It will be interesting to see how our current rulers will play out in history.  I wonder if Cyrus had a florist.  That seems like one of those traditions that go far back into history...picking flowers and putting them in a container.  It has no real purpose other than to lift our spirits and bring beauty into our lives.  Enjoy this one.
Below is my 30 sketches in 30 days project all wrapped up....go figure!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Windblown

I taught a painting session today at the lovely Harvest Moon Restaurant.  We painted a fun winter scene on beautiful slate.  Andrea, the proprietor, provided homemade potato and sweet potato chips and Focaccia pizza, while wine, beer and Argentinian pastries were available for purchase.  A good time was had by all.  After I have been teaching, or have lead a painting group, I always feel rather hyper and it takes me a while to settle down.  This sketch is a self portrait based on my Facebook profile photo.  I am windblown in the sun.  It is rather appropriate for how I am feeling.  This also marks day 30 in the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge.  I am going to continue with sketches for February as I took a 60 sketch challenge but I am also going to do a few paintings as I am ready for color.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Figuratively Speaking -

My boys came to visit yesterday.  We celebrated my baby's 38th birthday (that is revealing) by going to an indoor virtual golf place and played for a couple of hours on a beautiful seaside golf course while it snowed outside. We laughed, teased, and munched on really good tasting but bad for you food.  I felt a little sick after a couple of pieces of fried cheese.  Then we played space miniature golf (all computerized) and I won!  I got a hole in one, a birdie and par.  I was feeling pretty pumped up until Carl pointed out I was last one up and had the advantage of analyzing the play. Being the only woman can be tricky business when playing with men.  There is a spirit of generosity and graciousness until you beat them!  I rarely get to have my boys all to myself.  They are usually accompanied by friends or their family, which is also fun, but I need my mother/son time once in a blue moon.  Virtual golf was a success with this crowd, and we will do it again someday. We usually go bowling once a year and I think it is about time to do that.  I will make sure I am first on the roster so I don't have the advantage of analyzing the other bowlers.....go figure!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Cheekiness

I love this cheeky fellow.  He is much taller and can read today, but he is still cheeky. Cheeky:  impudent in an endearing way.  That is the definition I choose to associate with that word.  My son-in-law is from England.  His native vocabulary has worked its way into our family speech and "cheeky" is one of my favorites.  My husband likes the phrase "taking a lie down."  Carl is a bit phlegmatic (cool, composed, calm, and a bit laid back).  I understand that the Prime Minister of England, Theresa May, is visiting the US president today. I wonder what phrases attributed to their respective nationalities and personalities, were being tossed about.  I would like to have been a fly on the wall in that discussion.  That phrase, "fly on the wall" apparently is an American invention from the 1920's.  So back to "cheeky."    It comes from the word "cheek" with a definition of "insolence".  I think "cheeky" is more "tongue in cheek" then insolence.  By the way, that is a phrase of British origin.  I clearly have too much time on my hands to be writing about this.  Bringing it back around to politics, someone who really looked adorable when he was being cheeky was the president who recently passed the mantle ( I won't go into that phrase) .  Here he is, tongue in cheek
....Go Figure!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Time Dilemma

There seem to be more moments in life when we are either wishing time would pass more quickly to get to an exciting event or to avoid an unpleasant one, or wishing it would slow down because there isn't enough time in the day to do whatever, or the babies are growing up too fast, or I just wish I could sit on this beach for a few days more.  Rarely it seems do we actually live in the moment and appreciate it fully by breathing deeply and letting our senses and feelings just savor the moment.  I think it is true that time seems to speed up as we get older.  Maybe it has to do with coming to terms with our own mortality.  We know we have a limited amount of time left...how are we going to experience it?  I was doing yoga the other day and the instructor  was guiding us in relaxation.  She said, "go to your happy place."  Immediately the image of my grandkids came to mind.  They were climbing on me, and snuggling into my lap and then my mind went to the garden and we all were dancing.  I can't say this was the most relaxing image.  I could feel my muscles responding to the image, but it was an authentic "happy place."  I don't think we have to sit still to really be in the moment.  I know artists who talk about being in the zone when time seems to stand still.  I think this happens to us all in different situations.  It helps us to live life to the fullest by stretching out those moments when we are really in tune with where we are.  I hope you enjoy your moments today.  I am going to conscientiously walk down the stairs and start the laundry and really be in the moment with my detergent and dirty clothes.  Go figure.....

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Self Critiquing

 I have been really paying attention to values lately...dark, light, and mid-values.  It makes for a better design I think, and really defines the light.  However, I see that the strong shadow cast by the fan, in this drawing, is too solid looking.  It has too much substance.  I think I need to go back in and use the eraser to lighten it and give it more of a transparent look.  This process of self critiquing is really important.  Rather than feeling frustrated by what doesn't work, I am trying to think it through logically and make real decisions about what changes need to happen.  Of course I think this applies to everything...our everyday lives.  Self critiquing, not criticizing or self promoting, is a worthwhile pursuit and will, hopefully, in the long run make us better people.  Keeping the good....getting rid of the not-so-good...refining...polishing. We need to check out our own values to see if they are a transparent filter in which the world views each of us, instead of a solid object that we turn into a soap box to stand on.   Self critiquing is a good process, don't you think?  Go Figure....

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Figuratively Speaking -Ethan Allen and the Girl in Fringy Shawl

In 1777 Vermont was declared an independent state in Westminter after 36 years of squabbling, and worse, between New York, New Hampshire and the Green Mountain Boys (rebels) headed by Ethan and Ira Allen.  The United States government did not recognize it at that time and there were secret negotiations about joining the British through Canada.
Vermont really is just a sliver of land.  My husband calls it a state park with lots of villages.  The population is about 1/2 million and the largest city is only 38,000.  Montpelier is the only state capitol to not have a McDonald's (you won't find a Walmart or a Starbucks either). 
The Green Mountains run north-south like a spine, down the center of the state.  The Taconic Mountains border the southwestern border, Lake Champlain the northwest border and the Connecticut River runs the length of the eastern border.  It has traditionally been a conservative state (Calvin Coolidge) but in recent history, it has leaned seriously left politically.  You may recall that Bernie Sanders represents Vermont.
I love our good food, gorgeous scenery, generous attitude, focus on health and exercise, access to arts and culture and education, entrepreneurial spirit, and of course the lovely young girls in fringy shawls!  It provides a lifestyle worth defending and I am glad that Ethan Allen was a fiery radical who helped carve out this forest and make it into a state.
Just in case you wondered.....go figure!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Chasing Shadows

Do you ever feel like you are chasing shadows?  I live in ski country and so the phrase is used by enthusiasts to describe a bright day with the sun to your back casting shadows to guide you down the hill.  That can be a slippery slope if you don't keep your eyes and body facing downhill.  I understand there is a TV crime series with the same name about a missing persons unit.  Go figure. The internet seems to be the place where otherwise sensible people seem to air their most controversial and ugly underwear and opinions.  That, some would say, is leading to a more transparent culture.  I just wonder though.  We are spending a lot of time chasing these shadows and I am concerned we might miss what is really going on.  Do you feel that way?  I should probably stick to painting and leave deep thoughts to the philosophers...figuratively speaking.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Changing Times

In 1789 Samuel Williams moved to Rutland,Vermont, very near where I live.  He was known as a clever fellow who graduated from Harvard at the age of 18 and became  a Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at his alma mater.  He left this job for what could possibly be unethical reasons and brought his talents to Vermont.  He left his mark in significant ways.  He bought the newspaper and named it the Herald, which is still its title.  Recently there was a big change to the newspaper.  It has been sold again, and has reduced paper publishing to 4 days, with online publishing every day.  It is a sign of the times I guess.  They do publish a special suppliment on Thursdays that is delivered locally for free.  It features articles about local people and things happening here.  It is a worthwhile read and I like that they cover the arts pretty thoroughly.  Back to Samuel.....a possibly more significant impact that he had on Vermont is that he is considered Vermont's first naturalist as he did experiments and published articles about the forests and our impact on them.  He rallied against clear cutting of the forests because among other things, it dried up the land and streams and warmed up the land.  He was an early voice about climate change.  Today, there are record numbers of forests in Vermont which is part of its beauty and popularity although there are still issues concerning developments on the mountains and flat farmland.  If you have stuck with me this far, I am sure you are wondering what the point is to all this.  No point really, it is just that this week marks the historic women's walk across the nation and over seas and it made me think about what influence we have in this life.  228 years ago a young man came here and changed things including highlighting the importance of conservation.  I wonder what effect the march will have.  I also wonder what effect this administration is going to have on the issues that concerned Samuel Williams.  Not sure how my artwork fits in to all of this.....I just keep trying...go figure!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Meditation and Boredom

Meditation is a good thing.  I heard someone say recently that if you can't meditate for 20 minutes then you need to meditate for an hour.  I know people who say they can't meditate or do quiet exercises like yoga because their minds are going too fast.  They say it like it is a badge of honor, like having a mind speeding out of control is a positive thing.  We are all made a bit differently so what do I know?  I cut my finger kind of seriously and can't get in the pool until it heals so instead I have been walking on the treadmill.  Now I know the painful boredom of repetitious walking without going anywhere.  Some people love it, I guess because of the endorphins released when they start to sweat, or something along those lines.  I tried listening to music, watching a video, reading, but honestly, it was still a really mind numbing exercise for me.  I couldn't get into the "now" of it.  I just wanted to escape.  I do like yoga, meditation and quietly painting in my studio.  I can sit by the creek and write or just inhale the visual beauty around me, and I know the elegance of being really present.  However, the treadmill (aptly named) is my undoing.  How can I feel critical or superior about someone saying they can't slow their mind down, or don't even want to, when I am overcome with the nothingness of the treadmill?  Opportunities for humility are to be found everywhere!  Go figure....

Friday, January 20, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Quick sketches 12-18

One of my goals for 2017 (well...actually for 2016, so it is a recycled goal) is to draw more.  Leslie Saeta's "30 Paintings in 30 Days" challenge is the perfect kick-start that I needed to get going.  These drawings reflect days 12-18.  Until today I have been doing very quick sketches, capturing the gesture and light, but not so much making them look like a specific person.  I hope to post tomorrow what I accomplished today.  As you can tell, I am a little behind in my postings.  Then again, I am my own boss, so no one else is forcing me to post everyday.  The mind games we play with ourselves.....go figure!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - I Don't Need It

Figuratively Speaking- Quick Sketches #11
My grandson asked if he could go to a cafe with Mimi (me) and Papa for a bagel snack for his birthday celebration, since we were going to miss being with him on the assigned day.  We had a wonderful time at Spring Hill Cafe in Oregon City.  It has a growing wall inside (fun) and an art gallery.  After devouring a chocolate croissant the size of his head and a bagel, we walked around the gallery and talked about the art.  He loved a piece with parrots on it and some little handmade sketch books.  I asked him which one was his favorite and he didn't hesitate to grab the book that caught his fancy.  I said we could get it and he could use it to carry with him to sketch (something he likes doing).  He put it down and said to me, "Wait, let me think about it."  He decided not to get it; his reasoning was that even though he wanted it, he didn't need it.  He is only 6, and very wise.  Go figure!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Twists and Turns

Quick Sketches #9  -  Graphite on Paper
I have been out of my studio in New England for more than a month, spending that time with my grandkids on the west coast.  We experienced an unusual snow event and had snowball fights and built some pretty adorable but wimpy snow people.  We played games, took long walks, visited museums, sang songs and danced around, built magical kingdoms and did a lot of drawing, painting and art projects.  My life was filled with love, hugs, kisses, and creativity but no painting of the type I do for myself.  Drawing is a segue for me back into painting.  In drawing with my 6 year old grandson I noticed he approaches his subjects like a contour drawing.  His eyes follow the Twists and Turns of the edge of whatever motif he is looking at.  He constructs "made up" drawings with large geometric shapes that represent the feeling of the posture of his subject.  These both seem like fairly sophisticated approaches to drawing and it will be fun to see if this develops into an obsessive interest, like his Grandma has.  Capturing both an interesting representation of an object and the spirit in the drawing is really the challenge.  I think that comes with letting intuition instruct and practice inform....a bit of inspiration applied to a formula.....go figure!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - Procrastination Occupations

Quick Sketch #9 Waterfalls  -  Graphite on paper
It can seem so sweet and practical that voice of procrastination.  "Clean the refrigerator, especially those crumbs under the drawer that no one will ever see and while you are at it, clean the entire kitchen, reorganize the pantry and then go out to the studio."  So, a few hours later and feeling like I have accomplished much, I head out to the studio and am feeling a bit uneasy about what to work on, and whether I am equipped to do a good job when my friend, procrastination reminds me to sweep and dust the studio so I can have a calm mind to proceed.  Honestly this conversation can go on and on and I can indulge this cleaning muse until the stars come out.  The logic is unfailing.  The reward is tangible, but the problem is that ultimately it is motivated by my own insecurities. Until I face those, I will not be able to create.  Creating is what satisfies me, gives me a voice that often surprises me, and creates a bridge from what needs to be done to what is possible. Go figure....

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Figuratively Speaking - More Good Habits

So many habits - good and bad - crammed into such little time....brushing teeth, changing clothes, exercising, eating healthy foods, talking to loved ones, planning for the future, entertainment, feeding the intellect and then there is creating.  Creating is made up of a lot of little habits and a bit of inspiration.  Sometimes it is all too much!  January is one of the 30 in 30 day challenges months and I have been traveling and now am catching up, planning for classes and starting new commissions, finishing up projects that weren't completed in 2016.  One habit I want to get better at is quick sketches so this is the perfect project for me for January 2017.  Since I am just getting around to posting today, the attached sketches represent days 1-8.  I am trying out the new pencil I got for Christmas which is a mechanical lead holder (5.6mm, grade 2B) purchased through "Art Alternatives."  I love the pencil so I am motivated to test it out.  I am just doing the sketches in a little sketch book and I am not spending much time on them.  These first drawings are just to get a feel for the pencil.  I hope to develop to the point that by the end of the month I have a few really good drawings.  It is all about developing good habits - go figure!

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