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red-bud-leavesRed bud leaves in autumn – watercolor in sketchbook

Where have I been? asked no one.  I haven’t posted since July.

Why?  Two words.

                                     SWING STATE.

Since I’ve previously only lived in NYC, which is decidedly democratic, the experience of living in a swing state with the non-stop barrage of political ads left me in a fetal position and under the covers. And now that the campaign is over I can share an experience or two with you.

As a result of a car accident, The Husband has symptoms of something called meniere’s disease which can cause temporary deafness in one ear.  As I sat on the sofa watching TV one night and he at the dining room table listening to the TV, I noticed him shaking his head and rubbing his ear.  He kept losing his hearing and couldn’t figue out why the meniere’s was so bad that night. Finally he realized that I was was muting the TV every time a political ad came on. He thought his meniere’s was really bad that night and he couldn’t figure out why his hearing kept coming and going!

ppw-and-carroll-street-park-slopeNYC urban sketching  – PPW and Carroll Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

My friend’s husband, John, has lived here for over 20 years but never became a citizen.  He finally became one this year and was so exited to cast his vote for president for the first time.  In an ironic turn of events, he got home that night to discover he got his first Jury Duty notice.

river-oil-sticksRiver landscape – oil sticks

The top watercolor was done in a sketchbook for a class I’m taking called Nature’s Notebook. We hear lectures on plants and then draw and paint everything flora.

The building was done in a sketchbook with the NYC Urban Sketchers in Brooklyn, NY. They are a wonderful group and if you’re in NYC check them out. Anyone can meet up with them and all levels are welcome.

Finally I recently tried oil sticks.  A little different than oil pastels.  They are fun to work with and dry within a few days.  They are made by an artist named Paul DeMarrais.\, http://www.pauldemarrais.com/westminster/index.html

Back to my fetal position for the next 4 years.    Thanks for reading.

chardinOil painting after Chardin – WIP – approx 8 x 10″ on canvas paper

begonia leaf

Begonia leaf – graphite and colored pencil in sketchbook

rhododendron leafRhododendron leaf –  graphite and colored pencil in sketchbook

hydrangeaHydrangea –  graphite and colored pencil in sketchbook

Miss LucyMiss Lucy from the St. Croix markets  – Watercolor for #worldwatercolormonth

The Husband and I recently went to see the band Kansas at the Thomas Wolfe arena in Asheville.  As we were driving to the venue we ran into some friends.

US:  We are going to see Kansas.

Them:  Asheville gets the best bands…40 years later.

I wasn’t expecting much, but Kansas was actually pretty good.  As we left the Husband said “They sounded as good as they did on my 8 track cassettes!”

I’m still taking the “nature’s notebook” botanical drawing class.  I just started an oil painting class. I haven’t touched oil paint since the mid seventies which is interesting because I was only a toddler in the mid-seventies.  🙂

We did our first painting, above, as an exercise in looking at values.  We used one color and white. I used burnt umber and copied a still life from Chardin, suggested by the teacher who is big into the old masters and which auto-correct wants to change to chardonnay.  Perhaps if I had some chardonnay while painting, it would have been easier, but I am not entirely displeased with the result.

I have not been neglecting my watercolors.  Above is a picture of Miss Lucy from St. Croix with a reference kindly supplied by Bonnie Luria, formerly of St. Croix and now comfortably settled into Asheveille, NC.

Happy 4th of July everyone.  (And even if you don’t celebrate it as a holiday, it’s still the 4th of July and I hope it’s happy for you.) Thanks for looking.

caladium leafCaladium leafchristmas fernChristmas Fern
flower - pencil fake sweet shrubVenus Sweet Shrub in pencil

flower pen and inkVenus Sweet Shrub in pen & Ink

branch with lichenTree branch with lichen

I decided to take a drawing class at the local community college.  That class was full, but they offered a class called “Nature’s Notebook” and since I’m now surrounded by a whole lot of nature I thought I’d give it a whirl. The instructor, an avid gardener and artist named Peter Loewer, a/k/a “the wild gardener” brings in items from his garden for us to draw.  He will lecture a bit at the beginning of class about styles of drawing and particular drawings of plants and then we begin drawing.

I was in the art studio one day when some women from NY came in looking at the art.  One woman who had a thick NY accent told us about the NY Accent test.

Wanna take it?  OK, here goes:

Say L-O-G…log

Say H-O-G…hog

Say F-O-G…fog

Say D-O-G…dog

If you pronounced dog just like log, hog and fog, congratulations, you have failed the NY accent test.  However, if you pronounced dog unlike the first 3 and more like dawg, congratulations you passed the NY accent test!

If you’re wondering, I passed the test with flying colors.  🙂

 

clothed model 1-12-16

Last week was the largest lottery drawing EVER in the history of lottery drawings.  A $1.5 Billion dollar jackpot had everyone fantasizing about what they would do with that kind of insane money. Myself included.

ME:  One day I will win the lottery…..

The Husband:  You already won it 27 years ago.

We laughed and laughed.   Yes I did, my dear.  Yes I did.

Still. Stoopid money like that would allow one to do so much stuff.  Help charities.  Travel the world.  Afford tickets to the hit Broadway show Hamilton which I am currently fixated on.

I waited on the Hamilton lottery line twice to try to win $10 tix to see the show. With only about 11 pairs of tickets available and a bazillion people waiting to get them, I probably had a better chance of winning the actual powerball lottery.  At which point I could have afforded to pay for real tickets to Hamilton and get to see it sometime in this lifetime. Sadly I won neither. So it’s back to whatever it is I do all day.

I’m still getting used to this new place and my re-wirement.  I found a drawing/painting meetup group here and went to, so far, one meet-up.  Since it’s been cold they met indoors and had a model,  A clothed model.  And boy was she clothed.  A turtleneck sweater, a shawl over the sweater and a long skirt to her ankles.  My two-minute gestural drawings looked like a potato sack with a head.

I was finally able to get the drawing above even with the handicap of having a fractured bone at the base of my right pinkie of my dominant hand.  The fracture was a result of a fall while walking on an unpaved road.  4-6 weeks from now I should be splint and bandage free and able to draw with more than the first two fingers and thumb.

Once I have all 10 fingers working properly again, I’m sure it will feel like I’ve won the lottery.  Woo Hoo.

 

 

 

 

Inktober leaves 10-4-15Inktober leaves – Pilot ball point pen in a Strathmore mixed media 5 1/2 x 8 12 sketchbookInktober leaves with oil pastel color 10-4-15

Same Inktober leaves – Pilot ball point pen with oil pastel color on top of the ink

I just found out it was Inktober.  Who knew?  Teresa, for one.  She, along with others, have been featuring Inktober on their blogs.  One does an ink drawing each day in October.  Well, that’s not gonna happen here. I got boxes to unpack. Lots and lots of boxes. But a break in unpacking is always nice so I figured I would join in the Inktober fun. I can procrastinate with the best of them!

During a dog walk I found these beautiful autumn leaves which was my Inktober inspiration. Not being able to find any real art implements I used a pilot ball point pen for the drawing.  Then added some color using some kid’s oil pastel crayons I found.  Each day holds new surprises in box opening.

When I was packing up the apartment, everyone was talking about the book “the life changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.  I thought I did quite a bit of life changing tidying up. But not enough.  My sister sent me this cartoon today which made me laugh.

Live changing magic

While laughing I went on Amazon and bought the book.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  I hope I actually read it and not put it on a shelf with all the other self help or informational books that I buy and don’t read thinking that if I own it, the information will magically transfer to me.  I realize now that’s not how it works.

But there’s always a first time!

 

 

 

 

Monica's bulldogHand made card – painting of a bulldog puppy

The asthmatic bronchitis is gone and I can breathe easily again.  What a relief. Breathing is important.

In addition to not being able to breathe I have not been sleeping.  Anyone who knows me will not believe this.  I can always sleep.  I can sleep early, I can sleep often.  I can sleep long and hard.  I can sleep in the daytime and the nighttime. There has never been a time when I could not sleep.

Until now.

Not only can I not fall asleep and am up all night,  but if I am lucky enough to fall asleep I wake up at 3:oo am and walk around the apartment or watch horrible 3:00 am TV infomercials.

As I post this I am drinking Chamomile tea. I was told it was calming and could help one sleep.  We’ll see.

I did have some time to paint a birthday card for my niece.  She’s a big fan of bulldogs.  Since I can’t get her the real thing I found some cute bulldog puppies on-line and painted one of them.  Happy Birthday Monica!

figure 2

figure1

NYC and the northeastern part of the US is preparing for Snowmageddon 2015 (a/k/a snowpocalypse).   Yesterday we were getting 20 – 30 inches of snow, today the forecast is 18-24 inches.  I just went to the store to get some olives, because really, what else does one need whilst snowed in.  Luckily there was no rush on olives.  I don’t know why.

I’ve been figure drawing with K.   We were going to go again tonight but decided that if it’s really snowmageddon, we didn’t want to be trapped in a tiny room listening to the subway rumble until they shut it down and we couldn’t get home.

When we went on Friday the model was Mark and he was very good.  Lean, but not too skinny.   I’m realizing that I don’t like the really skinny models. There’s nothing to draw.  I might as well draw the skeleton that’s in the room with us. K of course is amazing.  So amazing that the model came up and asked if he could photograph K’s drawings at the end of the session.  Lucky for me, I can also learn from K so it’s all good.

Now, why is there no weather on the weather channel?   I wanted to see what was coming and there was show called “Fat Guys in the Woods”.  My brother who does not read my blog loves that show.  Some guy named Creek (I’m already frightened) teaches fat guys how to survive.  Don’t they know that “outside begins with ‘ow'”???  I hope snowmageddon doesn’t require us to become survivalists.  I’d go down in the first wave!  I guess the take away from all of this is, fat guys are more interesting to draw, but don’t expect them to save you during the apocalypse!

birch trees

 Birch Trees – approx 9×12″ on 140# Arches cold press (SOLD)

figures 11-18-2014

figures A 11-18-2014

Many years ago I saw my then teacher and now friend Joan demo birch trees.  I was fixated on them and while I never got a chance to paint them in a class, I never forgot them.  On a recent get together I asked her to show me the demo again.  Finally, I got a chance to paint birch trees.  I have no idea where this fascination with birch trees comes from.   It’s not like there are stands of birch trees in the middle of Manhattan.   I painted this with a subtle background of blue and quin gold.   The trees themselves are painted with a flat brush held flat against the paper and then dragged up the page.   It was so much fun, I’m already planning another one.

More figure drawing with K this week brought us back to the Spring Street Studio. The model was a zaftig woman and was fun to draw.   I got there about 5:20 for a 6:00 pm start and apologized to the owner of the studio for being so early.  She looked at me quizzically and asked if I was the model.  hahahahahaha.   I told that to K when he showed up.  He looked at me and in a droll voice said “those gym sessions are really working out for you.”  Oh that K!  The studio is down a flight of stairs right next to a subway.  You get to hear the rumbling of the #6 train as you draw.  Helps with the creativity.  🙂

 

Rachael 1

 

 

Rachael 2Rachael 5Rachael 4

 

The above were from Friday’s figure drawing with my friend K at the Spring Street Studio in Soho, NYC.  Rachael was our model.   K and I always have a great time when we draw together.  K’s drawings look like Leonardo’s or Rembrandt’s.  Except he often gives the models feet that are too big.  This makes me feel slightly better about my drawings.   LOL!

flowers and foliage Nov.2014

blue vase Nov.2014

Above are a couple of watercolors which are almost done.   I was looking at an old Watercolor Magazine from 2009 with an article by Janet Walsh.   I took some of her studies from the article, changed them up a bit and this is how far I’ve gotten.  I like both so far.    I remember when I was taking figure drawing at the Art Student’s league and the teacher passed around a Charles Reid book of watercolor figures.   She scrunched up her nose like she was smelling gas and said “He was really good until he started doing FLOWERS.”    The word “flowers” should be pronounced in your head while you are reading this dripping with contempt.

Christie’s auction house just sold Warhol’s  “Triple Elvis” and “Four Marlons” for a combined sale of  $151.5 million!!!!! Talk about figures!!! I want to say “don’t get me started” but it’s too late. I got started.   Who has that kind of money?????   And if one does have that kind of money, why can’t one use it to help others?  Give to a charity to help sick people.  I’m convinced the TV show “Breaking Bad” was really about the bad choices one has to make without decent health care.  Walt couldn’t afford his cancer treatments so he started cooking meth.   His brother-in-law couldn’t afford high-level physical therapy and you know what happened to him.

And then there’s this: http://www.npr.org/2014/11/12/363313707/famous-paintings-sell-for-millions-at-auction-but-the-artist-gets-zero.

Musicians and writers can get royalties on future sales.  Not so with visual artists.  Bummer.   Only the collectors make money with visual artists.   Which is why right now I’m pretty much the collector of my art.   I wonder if I’ll get rich that way?  I’m gonna go with no.

Asparagus at Market BasketPhoto by Mary Schwalm

Asparagus is the only thing left in the produce section of Market Basket during the recent boycott.  I wonder what it says about the people in that neighborhood?  If you don’t know the story, Market Basket is a grocery store that treats its employees pretty well and they can actually make a decent living according to my friend and photographer extraordinaire Mary Schwalm. The majority owners ousted the CEO Arthur T. Demoulas and replaced him with Arthur S. Demoulas. Yep,  they are cousins so this wasn’t just business drama, this was also family drama! Customers and workers boycotted until the old CEO (Arthur T.) was reinstated.  Yay Market Basket.  My friends in New England are happier today.

Asparagus

I felt badly for the asparagus.  So badly I decided to paint some.  Now that I’ve painted it, I’m going to steam it with some olive oil and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and eat it.  But only the tips.  I don’t really like the stalks.  So out they go.  Sorry stalks.  (I will put them in the compost pile now that NYC is composting.)