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Cherry Blossoms 1-11-15Cherry Esplanade – Brooklyn Botanic Gardens – watercolor on 140# Arches coldpress

Now, I’m not one to complain but…oh wait, I AM one to complain.  So let me begin.  It’s a new year and after we’ve finished wishing each other a happy, healthy and prosperous new year it’s now the middle of January and really, what’s changed?  I work. It’s cold. It’s dark. I haven’t lost the 8 lbs I gained over the holidays.  I’m tired.  Everyone one the subway seems to be sick and breathing on me.  But,  looking on the bright side, the days are actually getting longer.  Yay!

I’ve been working on a few paintings and finishing up other ones. Since it’s been so cold, nothing says Spring to me but cherry blossom trees.  So I decided to paint some.   This is of the Cherry Esplanade in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

reid wine bottle 1-11-15

I also decided to do a painting from a Charles Reid book for practice. It’s a wine bottle with an orange and lemon.  Charles Reid is always fun to study from.  For fun I changed the writing on the label.

I finished FATE on the Gowanus Canal and the Red Tulips.

Fate finished 1-11-15

red tulips finished 1-11-15

Hope you are all hanging in there! Stay warm.  Stay healthy.  Spring will be here soon.

FATE on the Gowanus

FATE on the Gowanus Canal , work in progress- 140# Arches Coldpress

The Husband and I have just returned from a trip to California.   We went for a family wedding and stayed to celebrate our own wedding anniversary.  I have to say, I love California. Other than the mega-drought, earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires, taxes and traffic, it’s a wonderful place.  I really would live there if I could afford it and wasn’t constantly in fear of the above named items.  We were in San Francisco and Napa Valley and did all the touristy things we could in San Francisco including walking the Golden Gate bridge and riding a cable car.

Then we were off to Napa Valley which is gorgeous.   Not a place for a non-wine drinker like me, but I learned a bit about wines. One of the more interesting things, for me at least, was reading the descriptions of the wines or more specifically the “Tasting Notes”.  For example:  brims with classic, savory aromas of boysenberry, ripe red plums and black cherries which is then complemented with hints of vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon. Concentrated blackberry jam, coffee, black pepper and tar.  TAR?   What about the descriptions that include “cat pee”.  Yep, you heard me right, “cat pee”.   Who, may I ask, is drinking cat pee and admitting to it?

Confused and fascinated I finally found this article from The Week which was quite helpful.   Still not drinking cat pee, but was more informed.  17 disgusting descriptions for delicious wines.

What about a NYC wine?  What would the tasting notes be?   Opens with a splash of gunshot residue, followed by the buttery sweetness of hipster beard, ripe, red sidewalk bloodstains and the leathery taste of back-seat taxi sweat.  High kicks of Broadway and soaring notes of skyscrapers & diversity. Hints of subway overcrowding and non-affordable housing.  Finishing notes of  despair.

Finally to add to the list of things I hate (flying was listed in the previous post) we can now add daylight savings time (yes, I know it’s officially “daylight saving (NO “s”) time).   I get home from California which is 3 hours earlier than NYC only to have to change my clocks back for Eastern Standard Time.  “Spring ahead, fall back”.  I changed all the clocks and I bet you can guess what happened! Every clock in my apartment is wrong and now I have jet lag combined with SAD.

The painting above is of the extremely polluted “Venice of Brooklyn” a/k/a the Gowanus Canal, a superfund site of seriously polluted water.  The graffiti on the corrugated metal said “hate” but I didn’t like that so I changed it to “fate”.   Who believes in fate?   Are things destined?    I would rather contemplate fate than hate anyway.   I need to make this painting a little “dirtier” and add more graffiti. Then it will be finished.   Like NYC wine.  I need to finish it with some despair.

Carroll Street Bridge 9-8-2013Carroll Street Bridge – Work in Progress


This is dedicated to my brother who does not read my blog.

The players:
Rob, my brother.
Steve, my very successful cousin who started a business then, planning his exit strategy early, sold it for a bazillion dollars.
Ryan, my nephew who started a business a few years ago and has been very successful to date.
The Scene:  
In a living room at a party.  The three characters are standing around talking.
Rob just reached his 20th anniversary with GE.
Steve to Ryan:
How’s the business going?
I’m doing very well.  My business is growing
Good for you. What’s your exit strategy?
I’m not sure yet.
You have to start thinking about that now.
Hey Rob,  what have you been doing?
I’ve worked for the same company for 20 years.
Yeah…. My exit strategy is death

The End

I started this watercolor to celebrate the reopening of the Carroll Street Bridge, one of only two retractable bridges in NYC.  The other being the Borden Avenue Bridge in Queens.  It was built in 1889 and from the NYTimes:  ‘This relic of the late 19th century, which today connects Carroll Gardens with Park Slope, is not just one of the oldest of New York City’s 25 movable bridges, but also one of its quirkiest. As in a quaint New England covered bridge, its deck is made of thick boards, making it the city’s only wooden bridge that carries cars. The approaches are lined with cobblestones, many of them laid in 1889 when the bridge opened. It even features an old sign that warns: “Any Person Driving over this Bridge Faster than a Walk will be Subject to a Penalty of Five Dollars For Each Offence.” ‘  If you’re interested in bridges, you can read about it here.

 Reflections on the Gowanus Canal on 1/2 sheet 140lb cold press Arches

Ah, the Gowanus Canal.  A local joke.  In 1636, Gowanus Bay was the site of the first settlement by Dutch farmers in what is now Brooklyn.

And look what we’ve gone and done.

Now it is a “Super Fund” designated by the Feds as being one of one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation.  But that doesn’t stop realtors from calling it the “Venice of Brooklyn.”   Growing up it was known as the “Lavender Lake” and it was not unusual to hear about a criminal element getting rid of a body by dumping it into the Gowanus.

I do have to say that the Gowanus, the neighborhood around the canal, has become quite trendy with clubs, bars and restaurants opening all around the canal.  Those hipsters will party anywhere!

The reference photo was taken by the Husband on one of his walks.  For some reason it just struck me as funny knowing the history of the canal.

It’s always interesting when I go for a walk or a drive with the Husband.  On a trip to the Museum of the City of New York not long ago, he and I took the subway to 103rd Street on east side of Manhattan and began the walk up to 5th Ave.  As we walked across a large open parking lot attached to some projects urban developments, the Husband turned to me and said:  “we got called for two people shot here once.”

Yep,  that’s what you get when you’re out with him.  Another time our lovely nieces Caroline and Monica had visited us for dinner.  Since they are in their 20’s they were going out later that evening.  (I was going to bed.)  Monica was going to hear a band in Willaimsburg, the trendiest place in the city and Caroline was going back to her apartment on the lower east side in Manhattan.  As we drove them to their respective locations, the husband gave the girls a tour of a lifetime.  They got to see where their uncle got called for shootings, bomb threats, EDPs (Emotionally Disturbed Person) who barricaded themselves in apartments with weapons, sometimes with hostages.

And I complain about my job.   Hey,  I got a paper cut last week!   And another time I was bored out of my mind.

It’s dangerous out there.

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