Sunday, September 30, 2012

Artful Dumpsters

Las Cruces has some fine looking dumpsters.

Robot or lighthouse? 

Toss No Mas!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Talk to the Hand

Talk to the Hand
Acrylic and Sharpie on paper
11 1/2' x 17 1/2'"

Talk to the Hand, a little goofy cartoon fun, with some '90s flashback slang. Originally, there was another half of this, a woman's face, but she didn't really go anywhere, so a little judicious folding and tearing led to the current size.

The F words seemed to work with the overall theme.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For the Burn Pile

Yes, yes, I do know it's ugly.  But here is the good thing about taking a class: I know why it's ugly (at least in part).
Fugly Veggies with Apple
Oil pastels & pencil on paper
Composition failure: I was trying to go large with pumpkin (it was a small pumpkin, maybe 8 inch, so its relative height to the corn is more-or-less accurate), but somehow I didn't go quite large enough, so it's just floating *smack* in the middle.  Nothing quite anchors it to the edges of the drawing.  The lumpy little white squash, for instance, is more appealing in its corner as filling in the missing pieces gives the viewer something to do.  

Yes, that's supposed to be corn: I attempted drawing the corn at least 5 times, with lots of erasing ensuing.  What's the big deal, you say, it's just straight rows? Nope. Curved rows with all kinds of different shapes and colors, which was somehow made worse by the fact that the corn was tilted at an angle, and I was drawing the corn larger than life.  I don't know why drawing larger messed up my ability to see it, but it definitely did.  I was overwhelmed by details that didn't add up when I tried to connect them.  Eventually, I left the corn undrawn, and just went mad coloring with the pastels, which at least gave the idea of it, albeit a hideous one.  

Don't even get me started on the horrible stalks.  The corn was having a bad hair day.    

Did you really choose that background?: Umm, actually no.  I had turpentine on brush from smoothing out the pumpkin and it sloshed over into the straw-haired corn, and so I ended up just going with the odd orange. It doesn't work, and I don't like it, but I blame it on inhaling too many toxic fumes.  

Have you heard of contrast?: Heard of it, yes, but I clearly didn't apply it here.  Everything is lumped in the middle range, adding to that level of boredom. 

Rotating perspective aka Rotten Apple: That's a fold of tablecloth blocking the apple (yes, it's an apple -- trust me).  A fold only appears at the corner,  and the white squash on the other side is clearly seen from a different view.  Ugh.  

Pumpkin-y: Aren't pumpkins usually more uniform in color?  Yes, they are.  I just wanted to scribble with the pretty colors, so I did. And there is a mild attempt at working with light at the top, but its so mild it falls into the snoozer no-contrast look.  

In retrospect, I should have either avoided the corn completely, or only drawn the corn, since it was making me crazy.  I should have spent much, much more time drawing, and a lot less scribbling with pastels. More planning, more early sketches would have helped, and having some sort of plan when applying color would have been swell. 

On the other hand, some days, you just need to color like a cranky eight year old.  So here I am, tacking my masterpiece up on my virtual 'fridge.  We here in the land of Artful Mistakes believe in letting it all hang out.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Moon Gears

Moon Gears
ink and acrylic on paper
18" x 13"

More fun with abstracts, this one experimenting with acrylic on paper. Soothing, meditative process.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Art Update

I started an art class at the Las Cruces Museum of Art a couple of weeks ago, in an attempt to jump start my art life.  And my creative vibe is starting to come back -- last week, for the first time in ages, I fell into that right-brain zone, where time evaporated and I was simply absorbed in the process.
Go Fish
acrylic on canvas
16" x 20"

The progress in my drawing is modest thus far, but I expected that. Mastery is a long, slow process and I am far from the palace. I'm much more oriented to color than shape, so drawing is, so far, just less fun for me.  But the class is teaching me more about how to see, which is really the point.

While the in-class drawings are clearly strictly practice, they have motivated me to finally return to my painting easel.  Here are some updates on what I've been working on there over the last few months. 

Puzzle Glass
acrylic on canvas
12" x 12"
Go Fish has gone through many iterations, but now finally feels like it has some definition. A murk of seaweed had taken over at one point, which I ditched last night, along with performing a major renovation on the fish himself.  I may still adjust a few balances, but he is on track at last.

Starch Factory, Caribou, ME, 1940
acrylic on canvas
16" x 20"
Puzzle Glass is an old painting from years ago that started out as an homage to my Great Aunt Jeanne and her abstract art. 

I futzed around with it for a while last night, changing some colors, emphasizing some lines, and find I like it much better now. Not having it have to look like anything was a delicious relief.  

Starch Factory was an attempt to make something as a wedding gift that I abandoned, as it never came close to being what I envisioned (I got them something from the registry instead); I may return to it when my skills are more up to the task, but for now, it's shelved.  

The painting was a useful learning process.  I discovered straight lines are a significant challenge and that I really don't find buildings particularly interesting, among other things.  

I do like the shadow perspective on the roof line on the right -- I think that came out well.  

Shadows Bright as Glass

"Nothing, however, remains fixed. Everything is local and always moving.  The whereabouts of the self shift from lobe to lobe, hemisphere to hemisphere; it 'wanders on,' fragile and fitful, the sum of more possibilities than there are stars in the heavens. We are, all of us, an amalgam of associations--what we see and hear, smell, touch and taste--and the memories and emotions they conjure. Our ability to understand the world is limited by our very humanness. We are fragments, our sensation mere splinters of reality. Like standing outside one's home at night and peering through the window, all that we see of the world is what passes briefly into the light of that small frame. The rest remains in shadow."

Amy Ellis Nutt, from Shadows Bright as Glass: The Remarkable Story of One Mans' Journey from Brain Trauma to Artistic Triumph

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dried Up

For swaths of August, I felt like this:

Lake La Mesa, June 12, 2012

All the pieces were in place: the dock, the canoe, the bowl of dirt to hold the water for the lake; and for me, the time and space set up with an easel, paints, a computer, pen, paper, a guitar.

But the underground springs that fed us were dried up.

For the lake, the connection was clear: the Rio Grande River that fed the aquifer, the mighty Rio Grande, was dry, its water held up behind a dam further upstream.  As a result, farmers instead irrigated by pumping from the ground, and so the local water table fell even further. For the first time in the 30 years the owners have had this property, the lake completely disappeared.

For me, the strangling of the hidden spring that feeds my creativity remained less obvious. 

I can tell you that the Rio Grande was flowing in July and August, and so now the lake looks like this:

Lake La Mesa, Sept. 21, 2012
Sometimes you simply have to trust in time and the ebb and flow of nature.  The drought is harsh, but somewhere underneath the desiccated mud and plants, the water still rolls fast and deep.   

Vocal Health and Safety for Female Voice Tour Guides

One hot chick
  1. Stay hydrated! 
A Hydra is a water serpent with many heads, each of which, if cut off, grows. So remember, if one voice is chopped off, two more can take her place. Hercules (so like a man) killed a Hydra by cauterizing the necks as he cut off the heads, burning the witches (how unoriginal), but the genus Hydra maintains and populates, presenting vocal opportunity and many-sided problems for the old boys. 
To maintain hydration, drink plenty of non-caffeinated beverages, and say juicy words like fennel and ferment to keep vocal chords lubricated. If you clear your throat often you may be dehydrated, un-watered, cauterized, or overfull and not knowing where to begin.  Toast a Hydra, start from the center, and speak. 
Caution: Do not drink while speaking, as during deep delving diving, this can lead to drowning -- fear-, exclusion-, and/or love-based. See Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.  Repetitive clearing may also lead to a sore throat, as stuck words fester and clog like Samson’s hair in the shower drain. Drink water, and then speak. 

  1. Avoid Drinking the Wrong Liquids!
Try not to drink acidic juices (apple-flavored greed, sour grapes, patriarchal orange, etc.), milk (excepting mother’s or wet nurse) or other dairy products before giving tours. These liquids coat the vocal chords and muffle sound, which may cause breaks in speech or from reality and the feeling of needing to clear your throat but, again, being unable to speak. 
If you do consume these items, try drinking water from female fountains to thin the stickiness of mucus. Some anecdotal evidence also suggests that gargling with semen may provide occasional symptomatic relief, as physical contact may reduce the explanatory vocal requirements of the tour, but this remains a personal choice for each guide. 

  1. Use good vocal production! 
Enunciate words at the front of your mouth and speak in a comfortable range, neither too high or too low.  Don’t whisper. Whispering stresses your vocal chords and life experience because you have no support. Mumbling is only advisable when plotting an overthrow. 
On average, people use a lower speaking range than is healthiest for them, and thereby fail to ascend to more satisfying, frustrating and complicated realms. If the area above your vocal box (larynx) feels like you’ve been pressing down on it at the end of the day, you are probably talking too long about too little. Try loosening up your need for societal approval, and speaking in your natural range. 
  1. Use your diaphragm for good projection! 
The diaphragm is also a thin muscle that runs horizontally underneath our lungs which we can control for good breath support.  Somehow as we grow up our innate sense of breathing and diaphragmatic support gets fouled up when we find ourselves in situations where we need to project who we really are.  Yelling and straining are bad for the long term health of our vocal chords, resulting in labeling of angry bitch and hysterical feminist.  Enunciate with passion and clarity, and remember to breathe from your belly, the center from which you began, embryonic.   

Remember, squashed language is harmful to the environment. 
Please discard antiquated language in the dictionaries provided.