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Water tower with graffiti.  Approx. 14″  x 21 ” on Arches 140# cold press paper

I find the criss-cross of NY buildings make interesting shapes, along with the water towers, vents, pipes, graffiti and iron work.  The husband has many opportunities to photograph quite a number of  buildings all over the City, but mostly in Brooklyn.  Many of the old buildings have now been turned into “luxury condos”  That, apparently, is the only adjective that can be used with the noun “condos”.  Luxury.  I long to see a sign that says “adequate condos”.

I believe I may have a theme going here and will continue with these buildings/water towers/cityscapes. (Until I decide to do something else.) Just like Stephen and his “pipe” series.  (The Pipe is a beach in South Africa.  I hope to visit someday as I’ve seen so many versions of it I feel like I’ve already been there.)

On another note,  here’s a picture of something I hadn’t seen before,  A man completely covered with cans.  The husband shot this photo before the “can- man” hopped on his unicycle and rode away.  He was spotted under the “el” in Williamsburgh.  (The “EL” is an elevated subway line.)  Was he making a political statement about recycling?  A fashion statement?  Or was this just the easiest way for him to get his cans to the recycling center for nickels?  I’m guessing he’s wearing about $5.00 worth of cans. Whatta you think?

Moving on…..   The sketchbook project!   Here’s what I’ve done so far.  The paper is super thin, so I’ve been working on other paper and then gluing that paper into the book.  Sometimes it can get a little messy.  You can see what I’ve done so far here:

And if you want to see another sketchbook in progress, here’s Alex’s (Pencil Scribbles)

If you’ve done anything for your sketchbook, please send me your link or become my friend on the website.  If you don’t know how to set up your profile and upload your photos, just ask.  I’m a pro now that Alex told me how to do it.  🙂

Chelsea water towers 20 3/4″  x 13 1/2″ on 140# arches cold press

Water towers are an iconic image of New York City.    They can be seen everywhere.   Just look up and there they are.  But don’t walk and look up at the same time or you may just walk into traffic and we wouldn’t want that.

Sorry I didn’t get to respond to many of you who so kindly commented on my previous post.   A kidney stone, urinary tract infection and then a major reaction to the antibiotics I took for the infection kicked my butt.  I was out of it for almost 3 weeks.    Green, as a skin color, does not become me.  I’m much better now, thank you very much.

The one thing I did learn from the last three weeks is I do not drink enough water.  I am forcing myself to drink more, although sometimes I feel like I’ve had the equivalent of the amount of water in these 3 tanks.  (And that’s a lot of water.)

I’m off now to drink some H20.   I think I’m growing gills.

7th Avenue Steam Pipes – Watercolor on 140# Arches coldpress

Any visitor to NYC will notice a few things. The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down. The people ride in a hole in the ground.

AND,  there is always steam coming up from the streets.  What is up with all that steam?   It’s a common site and one that doesn’t get noticed too much by us.

But when these two ConEd (our electric utility company) steam pipes went up on the corner of 7th Ave. and 14th Street, they were blowing out so much thick white steam I decided to stop and take notice.

For about a minute.

And then I went into the Duane Reade which is on the corner.

These pipes have been here now for a few weeks.   I do not know why they are there or why all that steam is coming from the street.  I envision someone really pissed off on the subway platform below waiting for the #2 train which is, of course, delayed for “track work”.

I have not seen one ConEd worker at that location in weeks.  Perhaps they are all on their break?  Or in their office making sure my electric bill rivals the national dept.  It always amazes me that ConEd pats themselves on the back every summer if we don’t have a blackout.  It’s not like it’s a surprise every year when NYC gets HOT in the SUMMER.  Duh!

I’m just cranky cause my blackberry died on me tonight.  Bah!  I need that phone.  That is my lifeline.  Grrrr.  Can you see the steam coming out of my ears?

Spilling Strawberries – 13″ x 9″ in 140# arches cold press

I don’t have too much to say today.  I am recovering from passing a kidney stone. And if any of you have experienced that, all I can say is ow, ow, ow.  And I wasn’t even owtside when it happened.

I may add that this kidney stone passing is self diagnosed, but having had one before that was diagnosed by an MD with a degree I have to say that I will put my imaginary medical degree up against any real one in this particular diagnostic situation.

The above painting was done from a reference photo from Wet Canvas.  The lovely and talented Beth Parker had a link to it at her blog.  Thank goodness, because for the life of me I cannot navigate that website.

I forced myself to think “simplicity” when doing this painting.  A sketch, a few washes and I was done.   I used a bit of frisket in the colander, but I used wax to keep some of the highlights on the berries and on the colander hole reflections on the tablecloth.

My friend Judy said to me this week:  I’m going to get my hair relaxed.   Do you think they can do anything for my soul?

If only, Judy.  If only.

Thank You Gracias

watercolor on 140 # Arches cold press – approx.  20 3/4″ x 13 1/2″

A lone musician plays the accordion in Old San Juan while people go to the beach.

I was attracted to this image because of the slope of the accordionist’s body as he plays his lonely tune.  I tried out my new technique of putting some people in the background.  Turns out they are fat.  Bummer.

I am envious of people who can speak two languages.  I have been trying to learn Spanish since my teen years.  High School = 3 years of Spanish (and one year of Latin to help me with all the other Romance Languages I can’t learn!)  College = another year of Spanish.  Adult education lessons, books, tapes and CDs and still I can only ask for the bathroom, the check, or tell someone my luggage is aflame.

I can’t really tell someone my luggage is aflame, but that probably would be a good thing to know how to say if my luggage actually did catch fire.

The Husband used to know a few handy phrases in Spanish.   “Please put your hands behind your back” (he’s very polite) and “Up against the wall” usually worked.   Charlie, my dog walking friend, got a first job out of college teaching prison guards conversational Spanish.  I think they needed to learn the same phrases as The Husband.   I need to do one of those immersion programs where you live with a Spanish family and you only speak and hear Spanish.  I swear, one of these days I will learn Spanish.

On another note,  I joined up for a sketchbook project.  I may have shared this information with a few of you, but if not, here’s the link with all the info:  Sounds like fun.

Yo estoy barracha!

It’s been so hot here (and everywhere in the northern hemisphere I hear) that I have no energy to do anything.  So, there is no painting this week.  Just some comments on death and dying.

Yep,  I figured it’s so hot you would need something really fun to perk you up.

A recent story of a woman who was a hoarder (think Collyer Brothers) fell in her home and died under an avalanche of her own “stuff”.  She was found four months later.   Don’t ask.

I told this story to a friend who said to me: “I always pray ‘God, don’t let me die stupid’.”  What she meant, of course, was don’t let me die on the toilet, tripping over the dog or setting my self aflame because my sweater caught on the toaster as I was making myself some cinnamon raisin toast.

So while I feel for this poor woman, I only hope that when it’s my time to go, it’s not by getting my hair caught in my shredder.

The pictured chair was done for a woman who had a paint your own pottery studio.  I no longer remember why, but she had a contest to paint the white chairs in her studio.  I came in 2nd or 3rd and won something.   So much for my memory.

A random thought:  Law and Order Los Angeles?  Really?

Stay cool dear blog readers.  Stay cool.

I was so enchanted by Leslie’s people that I decided to give it a try too.   They were fun and came out ok, until I added a background. How many people do you know who are as tall as a building?   Clearly I need more practice in the people department.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m really not that interested in doing portraits or paintings of figures.  I have come to the conclusion that it’s because I am surrounded by a crush of people all day long.  I am pushed and pulled and squeezed and pressed on the subway.  (And not in a good way.) I have people calling me and coming to see me at work all day long.  And then when I go outside for lunch the streets are packed with people.

Today I was accosted by no less than 4 people in less than one block.   ASPCA: Do I care about animals? Greenpeace: Would I want to sign a petition. Gulf Oil Spill: Can I help?  I don’t remember what the 4th one was but all I wanted to do was get a sandwich and go back to my office. Give a girl a break!

A number of years ago (before caller ID) a friend and her family moved to a new town.  It seemed like every night the phone rang during dinner.  It was always a telemarketer.  And every night her patient husband answered the phone and politely listened.  Finally one night, the phone rang, as usual her husband answered and politely listened.  She grabbed the phone and yelled “we’re not interested” and slammed the phone down.  Her husband leveled a cool gaze at her and said “that was the pastor of the church we just joined.”   Oops.

I did the figures above which looked ok.   I needed to practice more.

So I did.

I did this one next.  Which I liked much better.  Only thing, you can’t see the person off to the side about to ask this person to sign a petition for Greenpeace.


What to do with my hand-made paper from last weekend?

Make a book.  Kind of appropriate since the paper was made from old library catalog cards.

The bookmaking weekend (not the kind of bookmaking that involves illegal activities) started off with the barfing dog knocking me over with her svelte 98 lb body.  She was just so happy to be in the country with her cousin Gus the golden retriever that she ran right into me knocking me into the side of my sister’s house.   I immediately self medicated.

This book was made using about 7 pieces of the hand-made paper folded in half and attached using some binding strips cut from the paper and then sewing into each folded piece (signature).

Now the question is, what do I do with my book? I don’t think the paper is good for watercolor.  Maybe for journaling? I can write down all the random stuff I think about.  Like why when someone shows you a picture on their phone, it’s not just one picture.   It the modern equivalent of someone taking out their wallet to show you a picture of their kid (dog, cat, car) and as their wallet opens,  a 7 foot plastic accordion of photos falls out.  You know you’re gonna be there a long time.

Why can’t I get enough chocolate?

Why is everyone reading “The girl with the dragon tattoo?”

A friend of my sister’s was showing me his accordion of photos on his Blackberry when he got to a photo he called “girl wearing totally inappropriate clothing for her body type”.  I asked if that was Stieg Larsson’s 4th book.   We laughed and laughed.

Patti’s 50th birthday tray

Walking our dogs along 4th Ave one evening, Charlie noticed one of his dogs sniffing around a small glassine envelope on the ground.  Charlie said “Geordi found a nickel bag.”   As you know if you read my previous post about gentrification, a number of years ago we could have found a number of things on the sidewalk from crack vials to needles to…well you get the idea. 

Now, not so much. 

I looked down and thought  “I wonder what you get in a nickel bag these days?”   Or…is a nickel bag still worth a nickel?  Charlie told me it was now called a venti bag.  We laughed and laughed.  Oh, the times they are a changin’.

What does the above story have to do with the photo of the broken ceramic tray above? 


A number of years ago cousin Patti gave me this huge wooden tray and some left over tiles from her fireplace surround and asked if I could do something with them.  I had them in my apartment for a looooooong time.  So long, in fact that I think it was a few years when SUDDENLY AND WITHOUT WARNING, Patti turned 50 and I was invited to the party.  What to give?   How about a decorative tiled tray?   But how to do it since I never did anything like this before.   I painted the tray to match the roses, did some decorative painting on the sides and then had the most fun smashing the tiles.   Got me some grout, laid out the tiles and voila!   Done.  And it weighs a TON!  Patti loved it and all was well in the world.

Kaiya – 5 years old – May 2010

When I moved into my apartment it was located in a “transitional” neighborhood.  There was a corner bodega with bullet proof glass that did a brisk drug business.  Empty lots dotted local blocks.   And shady looking kids hung out on the corner.  It’s  NOW a very desirable location.

If there was any doubt at all that my neighborhood has experienced full-out gentrification (actually, there was no doubt; it happened years ago), this latest experience sealed the deal.

Time: Evening dog walk (approximately 9:45 pm)

Place: 4th Ave in front of McDonald’s

Situation: A man in a suit is complaining to two police officers that he walked up to the McDonald’s drive through window and the man wouldn’t sell him two cheeseburgers.  AND THEN, apparently the McDonald’s’ employee said something like “you people”  which caused Mr. Suit to feel he was being discriminated against.

Charlie and I were extremely amused by the whole exchange but when a SECOND police car came screaming down 4th Ave., lights and sirens blaring, made a U-turn and pulled up on the sidewalk in front of Mickey D’s  I looked at Charlie and said “THIS is the biggest thing happening in the 78 precinct tonight?”

Apparently it was.

Since Mr. whiny suit wearing yuppie didn’t have a license plate nailed to his ass and the drive-through window guy didn’t want to serve him, Mr. wswy CALLED THE POLICE?  Really?  The police?   And they showed up at the scene of “the crime”.  We were amused for days.  I would have given the employee a frosty glare and gone home.   Damn entitled yuppies.

Another way to tell your neighborhood is too gentrified?  When your dog’s bed looks more comfortable than yours. Here is a sketch of Kaiya, our 5-year-old Akita/Shepherd/Lab(?) rescue on her new bed which is “paprika” and black. Paprika? You bet!  That’s what the catalog said and I’m sticking to it!   She’s about 95 lbs, and is a great dog, is very loving, except when those really yappy dogs start with her (I’m talking to YOU, Mango)  or when she meets another Alpha female.  Oy!

Could be worse.  I could be trying to get two cheeseburgers from the drive-thru at  Micky D’s without a car!

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