Sunday, May 26, 2013

Charly Painting

Such sadness in Moore Oklahoma. One of the photos that really stands out in my mind is of a  woman sitting on the driveway holding her cat. The animal was wrapped in a blanket and the house was gone--gone except for a pile of rubble, and what I would assume was her car sitting on top of it. I have never felt that kind of paralysis due to a storm but I have come close a couple of times. Where do you begin? I guess the journey of a thousand miles that begins with one step really rings true. You pick up one item then another, then another.
I don't know what it says about me but I can watch movies or TV shows where people get killed and I am fairly unaffected but when I see an animal hurt or abused it is heart-wrenching and unbearable. Perhaps I have been desensitized to human pain but certainly not to animal pain.
The storm was terrible in Oklahoma, and not a couple of weeks before, my town of Granbury Texas was hit and partially destroyed. I don't live there anymore but my family is there and many memories of a beautiful little historic town.
It is tornado season and we all live in constant concern if not fear as the sky darkens and the wind blows. When the sirens fill the air with noise we think--we have been lucky so far.
I am thankful school is out for the summer--at least I don't have to worry about where to take the students--in order to save lives.

Last week I posted early pictures of a painting I am doing for a writing project.
I posted a photo of the first drawing on the board and a second photo of the first stages of applying color. Here is the  "pretty much finished" painting (because nothing is ever really finished). I decided to do a monochromatic color scheme and to leave the background obscure.
As I was working on the portrait of Charly I couldn't help thinking about all those lost animals in Oklahoma and Texas. Charly is well loved and well taken care of as a result of two people who were not intimidated by the bad rap pit bulls get from the media. Charly is loving and playful and a great companion.
He also has a great variety of expressions and moods--just enough to keep him a never-ending surprise.
I hope the painting is a good portrait for aspiring writers and helps them to find a self-expressing voice. I am looking for my next subject--maybe something playful or mysterious.

A small check is on it's way to Oklahoma to help take care of those homeless pets that have lost their owners. If you care to join me here is the address
Central Oklahoma Humane Society
9300 N. May Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mountains of New Mexico

School is about to end for this year and summer is three steps down the path. Cold weather has been lingering and over stayed its welcome. Spring  was here for a few days--long enough for the lilac, forsythia, and purple irises to all bloom gloriously--drop their blossoms and turn all green. And now it is hot. Humidity is 96% and the air so full of moisture you could wring it out like my grandmother's dishcloth.
The portrait of Charly is coming along nicely. I will not post a picture of it here because it is in it's "ugly" stage and very shy. I will post one next week regardless of it's condition--it will have to get over being shy. The portrait of Charly is the first in a small series I am doing in conjunctions with a group of writers. In July we will team up to show case visual arts and writing using some of my pet portraits as inspiration. I am trying to put together a group of paintings of especially ambiguous yet emotional animals that will invoke the writers imagination. Charly and I and the other 5 canvases are very excited.
There is a painting I would like to post. This is a painting done a few years ago in Red River New Mexico. We were staying at my sister's little cabin in the mountains above the town way up a gravel road. We were driving a Honda Insight (hybrid) which is very close to the ground. Not wanting to travel the gravel road overmuch we decided to walk to town. This was a jaunt of a little over a mile.--both ways. The walk was grand, the weather cool and fresh. There was a wonder at every turn in the road. But on one particular turn I took the time to tie my often untied boots when I saw this little stucture. I call it a structure because I didn't know exactly what it was--a cabin, a well-house, an old mining shed (ok that one is pretty far fetched, wrought from too many John Wayne movies as a child). But whatever it was I felt intriged and mystified. It sat all alone in a small openning in the woods--abandoned. Or was it? My imagination was running away with me but my upbringing told me it was private and to leave it that way. So I did--but I painted it, hoping to capture a little bit of it's charm and mystery.
I really never know if the things I end up painting are as special as I see them or if I tend to imbue some personal estimation into people, places, and pets.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Happy Mother's Day

The very best Mother's Day present I have ever received was 36 years ago when my first child was born. She was born on Mother's Day 1977. The day before she was born I had picked a bouquet of wild daisies I found by the roadside. I picked them for my own mother who had come from Texas to be present at the birth of her 8th grandchild. Amanda came easily and with dark curls all over her head.
Three years later her brother was born and added smiles and laughter to our lives. Two sweeter children never existed. They have truely been a joy all of their lives and now I have a wonderful time enjoying their children. It was a great Mother's Day--one I shared with my children and my grandchildren. We planted gardens and built fairy houses and even had a little time for chicken chasing!
A little time in the evening I spent following my passion--painting. I have an exhibit coming up in July so I began a new painting.
This is the first stages of a painting of a rescued Pit Bull named Charly. Pit Bulls were once called "nanny dogs" because they helped  take care of children. They were and still are very protective of their families. Charly is very much like a little boy--playful and fun one moment and curled up in your lap the next--fast asleep.
He is alway ready to chase a ball.
This painting is oil on a wooden panel I prepared with gesso and sanded smooth.  I do a very rough sketch on the board just to block in some colors.
I am considering a monochromatic color scheme in a sepia tone -just for fun. But this could change at any moment. It is  good  to start with a value study even if I decide to add color later.
We will all be surprised at the outcome!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Summer Yearnings

School is about to wind down--12 days left. Everyone from students to teachers to janitors seem to be less engaged with the present and more speculative about the forthcoming vacation. The weather has been unseasonably cool and wet--it still feels like early spring. But I know just around the corner summer will make her appearance and no doubt rather abruptly. As the sidewalks heat up and the shade seems harder to find I wonder if the West is still as beautiful as I remember. I have been there a number of times but each time is a new experience. Things change. I travel west to collect images with my camera and   my spirit. Next year I will apply for the artist-in-residence program in one of the National Parks.
Colorado River
Many, many words have been spoken and written about Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite as well as many photographs and paintings have tried to capture their beauty. Ken Burns did a great job with his film on the National Parks. It is human nature to express how we feel about things that we connect with--a need to share.
I have Coyote Oldman playing in the Bose and it takes me right to that place where I smell the dust of the trails, the charred remains of the trees that burned years ago on the north rim, and the sound of the vastness that is everywhere.
A favorite experience I like to give  my students is the gift of visualization. It is a meditative practice I learned years ago in my college days. We all get comfortable, play Native American music, and close our eyes. I tell of a journey complete with sounds, smells, colors, temperature changes, and images. Many times they fall asleep they are so relaxed but they can tell me of the many things they saw and felt along the path. This, then transfers to the drawing paper or the canvas, and sometimes in the form of a sculpture. Here is a painting of Andy standing on a rock where the Colorado River and Tapeats Creek merge. It is a dangerous place, but I think he finds it magical--so do I. There are not enough years left to paint all the wild places I  would like to paint.