Monday, July 31, 2006

Hummingbird madness

We have a hummingbird feeder hanging outside our kitchen window. The tiny birds perch in an evergreen tree across the yard and zip in and out whenever they need food, which seems to be about once a minute at times. That feeder is frequently busy. There is one very large male hummingbird who acts like he owns our yard. Let's call him Carlos.

Carlos dominates the situation at our feeder. He seems to have no problem allowing all the lady hummingbirds to eat, but he won't allow any other males around. He is extremely aggressive and carefully watches the feeder traffic from his tree perch. If another male bird even gets near the feeder, Carlos swoops down with a buzz and the two boys fly back and forth bombing each other like miniature fighter jets. Carlos always prevails.

There is one especially cute and delicate lady, I will call her Emily. I accused John of somehow having trained her because last night our grandson Ian (age 2) was here and John wanted to show him the hummingbirds. John picked up Ian and held him near the window. I was thinking to myself, yeesh, what are the chances of a bird showing up while we are standing here. And wouldn't you know it Emily appeared out of nowhere, literally on John's command, and hovered over the feeder, dipping her long beak in and out for nectar or "juice" as Ian called it. She then perched and ate for awhile even though there were four faces peering out the window at her. Ian got so excited seeing the birds up close; he especially loved it when they would speed away fast. He would yell out, "hummybird fly, Papa!!"

Tonight I saw a new little male who I have named Fred. He looks as though he isn't getting enough to eat, probably because Carlos keeps running him off. The red feathers around his neck are drab and he is ruffled around the edges as though he's frazzled. He has a very absent minded look for a hummingbird with a tuft of hair sprouting from the top of his head. He is one scrappy bird, actually skinny and smaller than the females. I feel so badly for him and somehow want to give him the opportunity to feed as long as he likes without being beat up by bully Carlos. Obviously I can't run interference at the feeder, but it just bums me out that poor little Fred isn't getting enough to eat.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I actually slept till nearly 9 am which is something of a small miracle but totally necessary because I was out partying with the girls last night. Claire, Robin and I went to see the Ditty Bops, a group that has been a favorite of mine for awhile. I honestly can't remember how I first learned of this group. I am thinking they were on one of the Kfog Live at the Archives CD's.

Anyway, I just lovelovelove their funky sound - their voices blend so beautifully that you simply cannot tell who is singing at any given moment and some of the most wonderful harmonies result. They did not disappoint last night despite an acoustically challenged location and a sometimes rude talkative audience(what's up with that people, did you not just pay to attend a concert? Why the heck would you talk all the way through it?!?). But wow, they are terrific entertainers - quirky and adorable - they tell stories, they play-act, they engage the audience, and they sing, oh can they sing.

The duo, Amanda, and Abby, are in the midst of a bike tour across the US. They are doing a very fun blog about their travels which can be found on the Ditty Bops website. You can also order their CD's and other products including the pink t-shirt(love it!) that I got last night.

My friend Heidi was also at the show and she and her hilarious husband Kelly sat with us. We were lucky to get seats and this only happened because I tend to be so anal(yeah, I know I'm a dork) about arriving early to these things. But last night my efforts paid off as the place really filled up and a lot of people were standing (the standers were the talkers by the way, I have noticed a trend here in St. Louis audiences, somehow if you are standing to watch the show, you are somehow exempt from normal etiquette. Huh?).

I swear I am going to sign Heidi up as my stylist (when I become famous hahahaha) because she always looks totally cool and hip in the most inspired outfits that somehow successfully combine vintage and contemporary pieces......such as last night's sheer red and white dress worn on top of very skinny jeans, accessorized with a red patent leather vintage purse and little strappy sandals. She is fashion model tall and lean and gorgeous and she and Kelly are a striking couple.

But it's back to the studio for me today. I've been getting a lot done lately which is good. Gearing up for Minneapolis next weekend. It is a BIG show, as in huge attendance numbers(350,000, yikes!), probably will be the biggest I have ever done. Not to mention we are spending a lot of money to do this show, the booth fee is high, travel costs will be very high as it is FAR from home and we will need 5 nights hotel plus the idiotic gas prices. So I am a little nervous. OK. Make that A LOT nervous.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I just finished reading a really good book, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The story is part memoir, part travelogue, part love story - the subtitle is One Woman's Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia and that tells you a little bit right there. This book turned out to be much more than I imagined; it even made me laugh out loud.

I was initially pulled in because the author starts her trek after a divorce when she discovers that she really doesn't want the life she has crafted for herself. Since that has happened to me a couple of times (divorce, life changing events, etc) I could totally relate. Gilbert's path of discovery/recovery however, is more interesting than most in that she takes a year off to kind of figure out who she is and what she really wants from life. Plus she does it through travel to exotic places. There is a secret little part of me that always dreamed of doing something crazy like this but I am too much of a wuss, as are most of us. Which is why we read I suppose.

The writing was a pleasant surprise for me as I had never heard of this author although I have since learned of her impressive credentials and awards. I found myself reading slower than normal so I could savor the words and her turn of phrase. She is really a brilliant writer, but it's more than that. Her self deprecating humor cracked me up; she is so neurotic it is hilarious. Plus she describes many situations she encounters with a terrific dry wit. I so wish I could tell stories in a similar manner.

All in all, the book made me want to write more. And travel more. And read more books by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

When I got home from Madison on July 10th I was exhausted. And slightly disappointed. I had sold a decent amount of work and I made money, but it wasn't like last year and that kind of bummed me out because I had great expectations and had set some lofty goals. As with most situations though, there was an upside.........that being I didn't have to make much new stuff for Geneva. In fact, I did a count and I didn't have to make any new pieces for Geneva, I had plenty of inventory already on hand.

So I decided to give myself a break. I wouldn't push myself with inventory requirements; I would just play, make art if I wanted, or not, just do whatever. Whew, what a relief. I had been moving pretty fast and this just freed me up like you cannot imagine, as though a burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

The first day I sort of putzed around the house, messed on the computer, read a book, caught up on magazines, simply relaxed. Naturally, by day 2 I was champing at the bit and missed the studio so I spent some delightful time working with no particular goal in mind. I started a 30x40. I worked on a 20x20, reworked an older failed piece, prepped some 12x12's. But no pressure, I was truly playing around.

As the week progressed I did a little bit more work, but it was interspersed with lots of other fun activities - I did some Yoga, I saw a movie, hung out with the grandkids, meditated a couple times, watched a little TV, pulled some older art books off the bookcase - many things I don't normally find time to do.

And wouldn't you know it, by the time we were packing for Geneva, I found I had somehow created several new works that I really liked a lot. In the midst of my "play" some real art snuck up on me.

I think there is a lesson in this somewhere.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Geneva here I come!

If you are in the Chicagoland area, come see me at the Geneva Arts Fair on Saturday and Sunday, 10-5 each day. I am looking forward to the show; the organizers have juried quite an impressive group of artists and I am honored to have been selected. I will be showing some new pieces that I just finished this week.

Plus I am hoping the weather will be a bit couldn't be much hotter than it is here......

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Boys on Chairs

I went to a flea market this past weekend and found tons of cool things. Unexpected though were these school chairs that I was compelled to buy for my adorable grandsons.

I think they like them!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The front of my house. Charming, isn't it?

I was returning from my morning walk (earlier this year when I still pursued regular exercise) and I noticed one of the decorative thingies was gone from above the window. It had fallen behind the bushes; apparently rotted. One of those weirdo maintenance things you never imagine. I mean certain things you know going in. Aging roof needs to be replaced. Check. Old furnace due to be upgraded. Check. Oven won't hold its temperature. Check. Moldings will fall right off the front of the house. What the F*$K!?!?!

We considered having just that one replaced, but couldn't find exactly the size, style, etc. to match the rest. After John explored the matter more closely, like from the top of a ladder, he determined the others were pretty decayed too including the wood around our front door. It made more sense to have everything done.

And that's when the real fun started. Because this is a small job. Not something the big contractors want to do. Although personally, I think $2000+ should be enough to make someone sit up and take notice. But I digress.

Have you ever tried to find a reliable handyman?

It's harder than you might imagine. John talked to several people before finally getting a recommendation for Ballwin Handyman LLC. The guy came out quickly and gave us an estimate. We gave him $1000. That was May 2nd. Eleven weeks ago. The estimate says, "Approx 3 weeks."

We are still waiting. Making phone calls every day or so, maybe getting a call back, maybe not, sometimes hearing promises that get us excited for a few days, but then are ultimately never kept. We were told the job would be done while we were in Cincinnati. Then Des Moines then Madison. We are beyond aggravated. And our house still looks like shit.

Monday, July 17, 2006

What's a girl to do

Between clothes with paint on them and clothes that don't fit for one reason or another, I have hardly anything to wear. I know some may find this hard to believe, but it is true. I actually have allocated a section of my closet to my art clothes - meaning stuff so stained it shouldn't be worn in public - and this is now the majority of my wardrobe. All this despite the fact I have one of John's old shirts that I wear on top of my clothing. I am clearly a painting pig.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Working Flat

After viewing my studio shots, Dona asked whether I work flat all the time. What an excellent question.

I own an easel and I have tried to use it. But it just doesn't work for me. I am way too active. I pick my pieces up all the time and move them around the studio. Sometimes I stand, sometimes I sit in a tall drafting chair. I move around to try different light. I paint from all four sides. I'll hang the piece from a nail at the bottom of the stairs and I will go upstairs to clear my head then come back down to view it "fresh." Sometimes I sit on the floor with my legs straight in front of me and the piece propped against my feet. I am up, down, all around. Seriously. I will lean a painting against a table or perch it on top of a paint can. I put paintings in the shower and direct paint with a shower massage. When I drip ink and paint, I hold the canvas in one hand, a brush in my mouth, a spray bottle in my other hand and the hairdryer under my arm. The piece itself is in perpetual motion. I fear an easel would simply hold me back.

Yeah I know it's weird. What can I say?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Not my God"

This is a new 12x12, made especially for a juried
exhibit at Art Saint Louis, "Three Things You Should Never Talk About." Luckily, the jurors picked my piece to be in the show, woo hoo!

The Opening is this Saturday and I am anxious to see what other pieces were selected........religion, politics, sex.......what's not to love about the topics, huh?

I'm pleased I managed to hit all 3 of them. This reminded me of when I studied at UC Berkeley; we were always encouraged to push the limits of thought and process. I'm afraid it's been way too long since I have done that and I enjoyed the experience immensely.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Whew, Madison is over and we are back home. We took the slow, lazy route which means I got to duck into a few antique stores and pick up treasures. This also means we didn't get home till late which sort of sucks. But we also had a quick visit with our new friends Randy and David. They were our neighbors at Des Moines and they live about an hour out of Madison in Mineral Point. It was great to catch up with them and have a chance to see their absolutely faboo home. Which they designed themselves and Randy has decorated in the most amazingly perfect way. They are hilarious guys and we enjoy their company. Luckily we will also get to see them at Uptown in about a month.

Madison was good. I didn't sell quite as well as last year which was a disappointment, but we were profitable and the weather was exquisite, sunny and warm with little humidity. Plus we saw my friend Beth and her husband John. Check out her blog for a picture. We had a lovely dinner with them on Saturday night which was an amazing treat in and of itself; oh how wonderful to sit down to engaging conversation paired up with good food and wine. Oooh la la. Life is good. Beth is such a doll (she and her husband are one of the most adorable couples I have ever known). Seeing her made me sad that she had moved but I feel lucky I can catch up with her from time to time.

I caught John napping on Sunday. He caught a pesky little cold and was resting in this shot. The show is set up around the Capitol building, a really nice location, everything is so landscaped and pretty. And this was the lawn right behind our amazing shaded (!!!) booth.

Madison is a terrific town. I truly think I could live there. Yeah, I hear the winters are bad, but I even think I could manage that (you can always so south if you are wigging out!). I like the walkability of the town. The diversity. The good restaurants. And all the water, oh how I love the lakes. Just amazing!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Madison Bound

On my birthday we will spend most of the day in the truck traveling to Madison. We are leaving early tomorrow. I have heard there is a top notch ice cream place and, well, it's my birthday, I think I deserve ice cream!

John gave me my gift already. Some gorgeous Tahitian Black Pearl earrings made by a jeweler we met at the 4 Bridges Show. If you look at the site under portfolio you will see some earrings similar to mine - the pearl hangs from a yellow gold squiggle/spiral. They are tres chic if I do say so myself, just masterfully crafted and the pearls are stunning. My baby did good.

This weekend I am at Art on the Square in Madison, WI. It you are in the area, come on out, I'll be in Booth #751. I already know I am going to see my buddy Beth, woo hoo, I am looking forward to that.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The New Studio

Ok, here are some photos. The first one, with the Futon, is when you walk down the stairs; this is pretty much the first thing you see. Then you walk past the table (shown in the largest picture) into the actual working part of the studio. You can see the 2 tables where I do most of my work. And the Flat Files of course. Empty at the moment because I haven't had a chance to figure all of that out yet. But I love having those 2 director chairs there as I can finally accommodate people!

These bottom 2 pictures show the guts of the place. The chair on the right is mine, with my work shirt on back of it. The chair on the left is Merlyn's although the two big black floor cushions(if you look close you can see a part of one of them) are really for the cats.

This is actually a lot fewer tables than I used to have. I have tried to streamline somewhat because I was feeling really overwhelmed by too many tables if you can imagine. I want the top part of the Flat Files to remain a mostly clean surface if possible so I can move to that space to do some layout. The surface is about counter top high for me which is nice because I can stand and work or sit in one of the taller chairs.

At the moment the cream colored table is housing prepped canvasses. The brown table at the back is another standing table space. Finished pieces "rest" there for their Isolation and Varnish coats. That is also where I do my Paste Paper painting and all those supplies are stored underneath the table. The black bookcases contain the bulk of my collage materials.

You might have noticed all the white thingies on top of the tables and there is also a large one on top of the flat files. They are THE BEST!!!! I have no idea what they are called, but it's like a huge hunk of Masonite covered with some waterproof (almost like melamine) substance. John gets them for me at Lowe's or Home Depot. They come in a gigantic size that he has cut into 3rds (or bigger in the case of the flat files) and I use them as portable/disposable work spaces. They are CHEAP, perhaps $12 for the whole sheet; I have probably about 6 of them right now that I am using. They are super easy to clean too.

The space is amazing and just instantly felt better to me. It used to be so much different and I can't imagine why I didn't think of this layout earlier. I want to add some color to the walls, but will need to wait until after my show season is over. Also still need to clean my closet, pull all my large papers from my "file" under the stairs, etc, etc. One of these days I will photograph the "gallery" room, but it is a horrific mess right now and not fit to be seen.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I am part of an Altered Book Round Robin. It's the only exchange(swap) I am doing these days as I just don't have enough time. Duh. Anyway, it's an activity of the Collage Club group of which I am a member.........a bunch of incredibly uplifting and creative souls who meet monthly here in St. Louis.

This time I got Julie's book, Favorite Quotes. I was kind of blank on what to do but had this uncontrollable urge to do some weaving. Of course I have never done a weaving before but I tried to channel my friend Nancy, tee, hee, hee. I got some paste paper scraps and cut strips and just started. I wove some burlap stuff and a wild looking yarn in. And then was lucky enough to find a very cool quote about weaving.

I have been doing so much painting and collage lately this felt incredibly therapeutic. So thanks Julie for the opportunity! Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I am in the midst of tearing my studio apart. It isn't pretty. I have stuff absolutely everywhere. Naturally I am trying to do it myself for the most part and a table collapsed on me yesterday. I have bruises everywhere and look like a battered woman (no, not really, I am over-dramatizing the bruising situation).

I have completely flipped the way I use the space. I am optimistic this will be better. I have felt a little "out of sorts" lately with my entire organization. It just wasn't working for me anymore. And arrival of the Flat Files more or less necessitated a change anyway.

So, back at it I am. Pictures later.