Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Staircase at Night
22" x 30"
This wasn't actually on Halloween, but I thought it was appropriate for today.
At night, as we drove around town on streets lined with spooky old Victorian homes, if the night was warm, front doors and windows would be open. We could see interiors and, sometimes, the occupants of the homes if they happened to be in those rooms or at the door. There was one home that had been a funeral home for a short while. I remember going to a funeral for a great uncle there about 1960.
Each time we passed by, I was a little startled by the post at the end of the stairs and the decorative ball that topped that end post. At just a glance, it always looked like someone standing there. It was even worse if one of the ladies happened to leave her gardening hat on top of that post! I knew what it was, though, and went on.
My daughter visited there a lot and always returned with stories of strange happenings. Sightings of the original owner of the home, furniture that moved, record players that started playing or turned off without human assistance. She wasn't scared, but was interested.
I thought that doorway with the view of the stairs, the corner of the room with a heavy table behind it, the light dropped from a cord from the upstairs ceiling, would make an interesting picture. I did a pencil drawing in my sketchbook.
Strangely, as I drew the stairs, there was a spot that almost had a glow in it, and a figure took shape in the center of it. It was as if a ghost was walking on the stairs. I didn't plan this at all. It just happened.
Later, I was working on a series of watercolors using only one primary color and a neutral. Blue was my color and brown was the neutral that I selected. I decided to use the staircase sketch for a painting on a full sheet of 300 # watercolor paper. I liked the heavier weight best. I intended to just do the open door with the staircase and entry, with the light bulb haniging.
As I painted, though, the same halo of light happened on the staircase, and the same figure took shape in the center of the light area. I decided that I might as well just go with it, and leave it as the light area would not cover up. I hadn't planned to do a ghost picture or a Halloween picture! It just happened.
Watercolors often have a way of doing things on their own, and that is one of the interesting things about working with them. You put water on the paper, drop in color, and see what happens. This one certainly had a way of working on its own.
About this time of day, each year, as the sun made long shadows on the ground, we would be in high anticipation and a bit of apprehension about Halloween night. We had a fertile place for imaginations in my hometown, with old homes and buildings, and cemeteries, old churches, and an old park, all close to my house. And we had some traditional Halloween parties that would seem like they were straight from one of those old movies set in a quaint town, with kids that were always doing something.
One boy threatened to catch my beloved cats outside and run them up the school flagpole! Thankfully, they only ran someone's underwear up the pole, but I was upset. I begged my dad to let the cats and the dog inside, but he wanted them outdoors. So, I got my great-aunt across the street to keep them on her screened back porch. Some boys did manage to get a car taken apart and put up on top of the school! They also got outhouses up there, when they could find one.
One year, my dad had foot surgery and was on crutches. The high school boys moved the park benches out in the streets, and they rolled our large doghouse down by the school. The worst part was that they let our horse, Flicka, out of her pen and, as she ran through the gate, they poured motor oil on her back. Daddy didn't find Flicka until the next day, about noon. He was boiling mad! The oil and hot sun blistered Flicka's back and we couldn't ride her until that healed. Daddy was in the process of breaking her, so that prolonged our getting to ride her. It ended up that Daddy finally just sold her to someone else. He rode her one time, saying that he could break her for us to ride. The horse took off and ran all the way to town. Daddy walked her back home, when he finally got her to stop, and sold her. But the man next door brought his horse into town and kept her in our pen. We got to ride that horse for a while.
I thought that it was bad that Daddy was on crutches and then had to find the horse and roll things back into place. But, a part of me thought that maybe this was him on the receiving end of the things that he gave out when he was a high school kid!
He had an evil laugh when he would tell of a group of high school boys catching younger kids, alone, trick or treating, tying them to a tombstone in the cemetery, and leaving them there all night. (I don't know if that was real, or if it was just a big tale to scare us into staying together when we went out trick or treating.)
Sometimes, for Halloween, the Methodist Church, in its big, castle-looking building, would have a Halloween party for the kids, complete with bobbing for apples in big tubs. We went out in the street for the messy things like that.
The school always had a Halloween carnival. The spookiest ones would be in the basement, with each room fixed up as some kind of booth. There would be a program upstairs in the auditorium with little dancers and music. Bobbie, a new elementary school teacher, was asked to be the fortune teller one year. She dressed up, sat in the bookroom that was fixed up like a fortune tellers booth. Later, she said that she would never do that again! She just made things up, of course. She told one man that something was going to happen to him. Pretty general, right? The man had a heart attack and died later that night! After that, the Halloween Carnival moved to the gym. There were booths, that were open, refreshments, and games and, of course, a cake walk where people marched around squares to music. When the music stopped, they could win a cake that ladies in town made. Sometimes, there would be a dance using our record players and our collection of 45s or 78s. That didn't happen often, though. Some people tried to tell us that dancing was wicked, along with drinking, playing cards, and smoking. But the grownup 42 and domino games, canasta, bridge, and a bottle of "cough medicine" in the desk drawer or kitchen cabinet, didn't count.
Another good place for Halloween carnivals was upstairs in the City Hall. There are old photos of Halloween Carnivals there. They probably had dancing too. In one picture, they seem to be dressed in formal wear. There was a stage for programs, too. Sadly, there was a fire at City Hall not so long ago. I hope that they were able to restore the building as it was. Kind of spooky, but with great, huge windows that let in lots of light.
We had some great Halloween parties with kids in private homes, too. My friend and classmate, Kathryn's birthday was just before Halloween. She lived out in the country and sometimes we celebrated her birthday and Halloween with a party in someone's home in town. We always had to have refreshments that included cake and punch, and played some games. But the big thing was going out to trick or treat, in the dark, and hoped that the grownups would let us go as a group, by ourselves. I remember one year when we had a large group that went out trick or treating. The grownups hung back from us, and finally went on home when they saw that we were behaving ourselves.
Some houses stayed dark and we knew people didn't want to give a treat. At one, big, old, unpainted Victorian house, that had no lights on, the boys said it wouldn't be fun if we didn't do some tricks. We knew that an old lady lived there. We all hollored "Trick or Treat", and the boys added, "Smell my feet! Give us something good to eat!" and they giggled. A few of us decided that we didn't want any part of any trouble and so we wandered to the back of the group, and went home as the boys took the first floor window screens down and rubbed a bar of soap on them. I guess they went on to do other things that night, I don't know. Those things seem to grow like mob mentality. I couldn't stay out that late, anyway.
Whatever our group did, though, none of it was nearly as bad as the older generations had done! Or said they did.
After trick or treating, if the weather allowed and it wasn't too dark, our party group tried to be sure to have a walk through the beautiful old cemetery near my house. What a treat it was if the night was clear, and, especially, if there was a big moon out, and to hold onto the arms of several friends as we entered a side gate, and walked through to the east gate of the cemetery. All the while, we tried to act fearless, but, inside, we wondered what might jump out at us and grab us, taking us to unknown terrors; or if something terrible would happen to us if we happened to step on a grave ; or what would happen to us in the future for daring to enter the cemetery on Halloween night. We didn't think of what might happen if we ran into some of those high school boys who just had to make mischief in town. We never ran into any of those, though, and, when our group got to high school age, we seemed to favor dates over Halloween parties. We couldn't be so wasteful in those days, to toilet paper someone's house or trees or throw eggs, or water balloons. We thought we were being really extravagant to "borrow" a bar of soap from someone's mother's washing supplies, the year that the boys decided to soap some window screens.
There weren't so many memorable Halloweens after growing up. One year, my son was about 8 or 9, my daughter was in kindegarten and I was taking classes for a Masters degree. My son said he was old enough to go trick or treating around the apartment complex on his own, like other kids were doing. He had a Superman costume and went off to knock on apartment doors. I had warned him not to eat anything or go into any homes, but to bring me his candy to check. I took my daughter walking around where I thought that he might go, following, I thought. It started getting a little dark and I turned a corner on the sidewalk. My breath just left me and my knees nearly gave way when I saw someone with a dirty, torn white t-shirt on, tight jeans, a black face, and dirty looking hair coming toward me. I thought I would just pass by him on the sidewalk, not speak, walk on, bravely, and hope he didn't attack me! I was shaking I was so scared!
"Do you want to check some of my candy now or do you want me to wait until I get home?" He asked.
It was my son! I didn't even recognize him!
"Boy, you scared me to death!" I breathed a sigh of relief, but was puzzled at his look.
"I went around to all the apartments, then I went home and made my own costume and went back again." He explained.
Little rascal! I could have saved money on that Superman costume and just let him make his own to begin with! I'm sure he enjoyed that one more. Sure had me fooled!
Hope you have a good (and safe) time, out spookin' and trick or treating, tonight. Wish we had the full moon still. We just missed it.
We don't have trick or treating where we are. The kids all have to go into town, or to the mall, or to a party somewhere. One grandson is working, the other longs to live in a neighborhood where he can do those traditional things. Going to stores in the mall for trick or treating just isn't the same as the adventures we had, mild as they were. I hope that his mother will take him somewhere, but, most likely, he will have to do homework, then watch a ghost program with his mother, eat popcorn, and play with the new puppy.
As for me, I put on a black outfit today, and slapped on a purple wig, and left off my makeup. That's pretty scarey!
Hope you have some pleasant Halloween memories of your own! And that you will have some good ones from this year. Happy Haunting!
If you are in this area, be sure to go to the First FridayArt Step and Art Auction in downtown Bryan on Friday. Sonny Moss will be there demonstrating his pottery, along with others. Mary Saslow will also be there with a group. I know that Laura Brittain and I, among others, have some pieces in the Art Auction at the Frame Gallery. I just got a list of events and it looks like a lot going on in the evening. You can contact Greta Watkins at the Frame Gallery for more information. There will be lots of things going on from demonstrations, exhibits, live music, readings, a movie in the outdoor theatre, and carriage rides.
Please share with others who might be interested, and let me know if you see something that appeals to you!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
9" x 11.5"
Great Grandpa, Emil, (we all called him Grandpa) had a routine of taking a 15 minute nap, then going for a walk, every day after dinner (lunch, to some of you). Then he would go back to his grocery store to work, or, after retirement, he would sit in his rocking chair in his room reading, or talking with visitors. He was a student of history and current events, as well as languages, and was sharp until his death at age 94. And, of course, he spent a lot of time with me, sitting in his lap in that rocking chair. Sometimes he talked, or read a book, but I was right there with Grandpa as much as possible.
Mama was just 17 when I was born. She and Daddy had an apartment upstairs in "the Big House", or "the Two Story House", as the family called Great-Grandpa's Victorian house on Railroad and Browning streets. We had the upstairs to ourselves, with several empty rooms that had belonged to my grandfather, his brothers and one sister when they were growing up. Great Grandpa lived downstairs. The parlor downstairs was made into a music room where my mother had her baby grand piano. Uncle "Goose", nickname for Gustave, an old bachelor and another of Great Grandpa's sons, made a bedroom for himself in the little basement, where my great-grandmother had stored things like potatoes and filled shelves with home canned foods like tomatoes, preserves, jelly, and chow chow. The basement curved around under the house, and had a door opening from the kitchen, and another one from the outside. Mama later said that Uncle Goose made wine in the cellar, and she didn't want me anywhere near there. Besides, he was a bit gruff, I thought. Goose had a small bed, a wash stand, rocking chair, and a table with a radio on it near the outside door. He also had a mattress on the floor in a room at the end of the upstairs hall, where he liked to take naps, sometimes.
It was nice being a little girl in that house, with my grandparents and another aunt and uncle living just across a corn field from us, and another great-uncle and great-aunt living behind us. I just wished there had been more kids around to play with. Miss Emerick, across the street was another lady who I looked forward to seeing. She made doughnuts frequently, and she would always make sure that I got the holes! I would stand on my tip toes, looking out the wide windows in our bedroom, wondering if Miss Emerick was going to bring some doughnut holes that day.
I remember distinctly wanting to be sure that I didn't miss out on the walks with Great Grandpa. I wanted to be dressed in a pretty dress, and wished for pretty baby doll patent leather shoes with a strap instead of the white high top baby shoes that I still wore. I did get some pretty socks with decorated tops to match my dress. It was so disappointing if Grandpa went on that walk and Mama didn't have me ready to go. Sometimes, I would have to run fast down the stairs to catch him before he went out the door.
We walked around the neighborhood, around a block or two or three. I would always want the walk to last longer, but, sometimes, Grandpa would tell me, "That's enough for today." And we would head home to the "Big House".
Grandpa would dress in his suit, and here I have painted him in a gray suit, with a gray felt hat. The hot sun reflects off the dirt street along the railroad tracks, his hat, and his back. Looking up at him, I couldn't tell much about what his face looked like, but I could see his white mustache. Grandpa was a fairly small man, about the same size as my uncle next door. Most of the time, as we walked, he held my hand. It was a really special moment when he let me walk off to the side of the road, by myself. But that was just for a second. Then he would take my hand and walk more.
In the painting, I am dressed in a frilly little dress, with a sash tied in a bow, and puffed sleeves. I had golden, Shirley Temple curls, in those days. I'm wearing my gold bracelt with the heart on it.
"Grandpa, Don't you think that I should have a parasol, for when we go on our walks? One that matches my dress?" I asked, and begged. I thought that I should have a parasol, with lace on it, like in the movies, if I was going to be out walking.
"I'll try to look for one for you," he said quietly.
I thought that he must not be looking for a parasol because, after several walks, we were still walking in the sun, and me with no parasol. So, each time, I reminded him. He said that he hadn't been able to find one in town, yet.
One day, Uncle Roger came to town from Houston. He was my grandmother's brother.
"Look what Roger brought you from Houston!" another of his sisters told me. She handed me an object wrapped with butcher paper and tied with string. My parasol! He had brought my parasol! And, with that, he took me for a walk, to try out my parasol, but it wasn't the same as walking with Grandpa.
He was taller and bigger than Grandpa. He didn't have a white mustache. Even his clothes were different. He walked faster and talked more. Grandpa seemed to be serious and quiet, and Roger seemed more energetic and in a lighter mood. As if he were trying to entertain me. Roger soon would go back to Houston after short visits.
Grandpa and I would continue our walks, hand in hand, down the dirt street, around the neighborhood, and to "the Two Story House".
Now, I can't help but wonder about this story that I remember so well. So vividly that I did the above painting about it. But, when I thought out the details, and started searching out family history, I know, realistically, that this cannot be true!
Great-grandpa died when I was just one year old, and I was not walking yet!
We moved from that house when I was 3 1/2, over 2 years after my great-grandpa died. So, I'm sure that I did take walks with someone after I learned to walk.
But who was that man that I went walking with? The man in the gray suit with the white mustache? Great Grandpa is the only one in our family who could possibly match what I remember.
Uncle Roger was not there every day, and he did not match the description. My dad and my great-uncles, or even my uncle, didn't ever take the time for walks.
I asked my aunt who I went walking with. She doesn't remember, but does remember the description as being great-grandpa Emil. Photos of him that I have found are the same man.
My dad said that Great-Grandpa and I were very close. He was crazy about me.
Daddy told me, years ago, that when Great-Grandpa died, I was upstairs in my baby bed, asleep. At the moment that he died, I let out a blood-curdling scream that sent my dad running upstairs to see what was wrong. Daddy believed that was Grandpa's spirit telling me goodbye.
So, who could have taken me for those daily walks? Was it Great Grandpa, or his spirit, who took me by my hand and led me around the neighborhood?
I hope that you enjoyed my "ghost story" today. It is actually true, although I didn't really think of it as a ghost story until I started writing it! It is has been one of my memories. But, with Halloween coming up tomorrow, I thought it might be time for a little ghost story. Nothing scarey, though.
I think that I will rework this picture on different paper. I used Winsor Newton watercolors in the painting, but I used drawing paper instead of watercolor paper. The porch on the house extends further to the left in the real "Two Story House", and I want to make his mustche more pronounced. I also think I will change the colors in his suit.
Thanks for reading and sharing my work with others. Let me know if you see something of interest to you!
Monday, October 29, 2007
8.5" x 11"
Don't forget to watch "On The Record" tonight (Monday) on Fox news, 9p.m. central time, 10 p.m. eastern time. Greta Van Susteran is having a special on breast cancer and her trip with First Lady Laura Bush to the Middle East where Mrs. Bush was trying to create more awareness about breast cancer.
Read Greta's blog for more information and wonderful pictures and videos she took on the trip. I feel like I was with them!
Scroll down to my last slide show to see the latest watercolor I added about the space station and space shuttle flyover.I thought that Blue Monday was called that because of the blueing that was used in the wash water with white things to make them look whiter. I didn't know that it might have been because of the sad idea of having to start another long week at work, or the daily grind of housework, or even of a rainy Monday that might make some people feel blue or depressed.
Monday was wash day, all over town, not just at our house. Tuesday, was ironing day; Wednesday was heavy cleaning such as mopping and waxing floors, taking blinds down and washing them in the bathtub, with the afternoon reserved for Bible study groups or some sort of get-together. At night, the Baptists had church.
Thursday was a day for lighter cleaning, sewing, patching, darning and, in the afternoon, the ladies would gather for their sewing circle or, during the War, for the Red Cross Sewing Circle. There they might knit socks or sweaters for service men, or roll bandages.
I can remember meeting on the sidewalk beside the bank and in front of Mack Remberdts Furniture Store with the ladies. I wandered around, while my mother and the ladies rolled bandages, sitting on the wide step in front of the building. When weather was bad, we would either meet inside, courtesy of Jessie Marie, or at Mrs. Wyser's house. I guess we had to stay out of the way of potential customers, or couldn't go in when the owner of the store was around. I'm not sure about that, since I was a kid and more interested in the patterns of the bricks and why they were not level in some places, and the metal in the steps and the decorative panels in front of the building.
Friday was yard work and finishing up the school week with the big football game on Wilkerson Field that night. There was always a big crowd for that, while a lot of the ladies stayed at home and listened to the radio. You could just open the windows and hear the game being announced over a large portion of the town. This was also the day of the big auction at the Auction Barn, with a lot of people going to the cafe there for lunch.
Saturday was the big downtown business day. Maybe some more yard work. Movies and the drugstore for the kids. A trip to the Katy Hamman Stricker Library in the morning, along with radio programs beginning with "Buster Brown", then "Jack Armstrong", "Sky King" and others, until time to walk or ride the bike to the library. Choir practice, and, for my mother, organ practice, was on Saturday afternoon. This was also the day to wash and dry hair. Saturday night was radio while baths were taken and Sunday dinner was started. Daddy always had to work late, as the stores were open until people quit buying, getting ready for church, and the next week.
Sunday morning was Sunday School and Church. For our family, it was Sneed Memorial Methodist Church. The family gathered at one home for Sunday dinner, depending on who wanted to be the host that week. Sometimes, especially if there was illness in the family among the women who had to do all the work, we would go to the White Hotel or the Calvert Hotel for a big family style Sunday dinner in the large dining rooms.
After dinner, and a nap, the men went out to check cattle in their pastures, then we all went for a ride. Then there was supper, often of Red Roast and Red Gravy sandwiches on toast, and we could eat a stack of those! Sure were good. We would eat until we were about to pop, and still wanted more! Then there were Sunday night radio programs. I liked to go over to Edie's house and listen to her big floor model radio in the living room. We could sprawl on the floor and get lost in the happenings on the programs.
Then it was back to Monday, and washing all those clothes we had worn all week!
In my drawing above, I have shown the clothesline in our back yard, which began at the corner of the garage, and stretched across part of the yard to where my dad built a tin roofed shed. Behind the clothesline, you can see the fence which he used to enclose the horse pen, for our horse, Flicka. The trees behind the horse pen separated our yard from the next yard, where you can see a bit of the roof sticking up of the wooden house behind us. The shaded area shows Mud Creek Mountains. Not really mountains, but hills that ran along Mud Creek south of town, separating us from the next town 7 miles away. We could see train lights coming over that hill into town, and, during War years, we could see the search lights during air raids. They were coming from the next town which we thought might be a target due to oil storage tanks and rail lines, as well as the POW camp.
My mother was dressed in her dress, with fairly nice shoes on, while she hung out clothes. Bertie, our helper, wore boots, that hung open at the top, cotton stockings, loose skirt and blouse, a jacket with sleeves, and a sunbonnet. Sometimes, she wore a scarf wrapped around her head. And, of course, she had her dip of snuff in her lip. In the picture, she is mashing the clothes with a broom handle. My sister and I liked to play in the billowing sheets, so I have shown her crouched on the inside of a sheet, with me pushing through the sheet from the outside. She is following Poochie, our dog, who also liked to play wherever we were playing.
Clothes are boiling in an iron wash pot over a fire, fairly far from the house. There are buckets for carrying water from the house to the wash pot. A rub board and a bar of lye soap are on the ground. There is also a box of detergent used in washing the clothes. (One concession to modern times. But, they still thought that clothes were not clean unless you used some lye soap too.)
The heavy pot would have to be emptied and refilled as the water became too dirty, and between the soap and rinse steps.
Prior to this stage of wash day, Bertie and my mother spent time in the kitchen, by the back door, sorting clothes, then washing them in the kitchen sink, with a rub board. Dainty things, like ladies unmentionables, would be first, and those things were hung in the bathroom on the shower rod, where the neighbors' eyes couldn't see them. Those might be done in the bathroom sink as needed, rather than waiting until Monday. Delicate scarves and blouses were next. Heavier, and more soiled things came later. A little blueing was added to the water of white things to make them sparkling white. Starch was boiled on the stove and added to shirts, pinafores, some blouses, tablecloths and napkins, and anything that had to hold its shape and look smooth. Clorox was added to white things that needed bleaching.
The wet wash had to be hung on the clothesline to dry, with wooden clothespins that remained on the line, ready for next week's wash. Rich people might have a canvas bag to keep their clothespins in, and take those into the house after the wash was dry. Our's stayed in place, and the same pieces could be hung there the next week. Sometimes they would break off, which meant doubling up on the pins for the next piece of laundry. It was, for some reason, exciting when a new package of clothes pins would be brought home and placed on the line. The kids wanted to be the ones to put the pins on the line! Simple pleasures. I guess it was tactile and had to do with the feel of the spring and the new wood.
It was a big setback if one of the posts holding the clothesline would break or fall over, and all the clothes fell in the dirt and grass and had to be rewashed. Daddy liked to use wooden posts, or even a plank to prop up the line if we had something heavy like quilts drying. After I was grown, he had someone make some metal posts, which were much sturdier and long lasting. But, I could tell that he didn't really like giving up those wood posts. Mama was happy to get any convenience.
It was heavy work, with a lot of carrying from the house to the back of our yard, and, sometimes it didn't all get done in one day. But, most of the time it did, and things were ready to do all the ironing the next day.
Bertie didn't help us full time. Daddy didn't make that much money, and he was very conservative with his money, anyway. But, on Monday and Tuesday, and, sometimes other days, he would get Bertie to come help out. Some of the homes had regular help, and some, just occasionally.
Bertie was like another one of my mothers, I thought. I always asked her, on wash day especially, when we would play outside, if she would bring one of her children to come play with me. She would just laugh, and I would continue to beg. I don't think she ever did bring one of her children to play while she worked.
Daddy finally bought Mama a front loading washing machine when I was in high school. He put it on the concrete slab outside the back door, where he planned to build another room, a den, onto the house, eventually. Bit by bit. He ran the hose out in the yard to a pear tree, which was also our pet cemetery. During times of drought, he would move the hose around to water some of the trees in the back yard. Mama argued that the hot water was going to kill her trees, but I guess the soap made the trees flourish. That tree had some wonderful pears!
Work was heavy, meals had to be ready on time, children had to be cared for, social and community obligations had to be met. It all had to be done daily, on a schedule, throughout town. The fire whislte blew at noon and at 6 in the evening, so everyone knew to go eat dinner or supper. You could tell the time by the trains that went through town, every 15 minutes.
My great aunt, across the street, had her laundry picked up on her front porch by a laundry and cleaners who came to town each week. She worked hard, and sometimes helped at her husband's store, and her husband wanted her to have that luxury of not having to wash in the back yard. That was fun to play around in the sheets as she prepared them to be wrapped up in one big sheet, and set, like a big bag with ears, on her front porch.
I'm so glad that we have washers and dryers in our homes, now! I don't think I could make it even through one load of clothes like my mother did every week! I have washed clothes in the bathtub and the sink, in a portable washing machine, and lugged things back and forth to the laundromat. I even did the rub board in the sink at my mother's house when my son was small. I thought it was just a step up from a rock in the river!
Hope your laundry is done, and that this is not a Blue Monday for you! My laundry is still going, but, at least, I can do other things while the machine does the hard work!
Greta Van Susteran asked those of us who read her blog and her viewers to spread the word about her special on breast cancer tonight. So, I'm inviting you! Hope you get to watch. If not on tv, maybe you can find something about it online. There was a tv program about breast cancer on Channel 13 out of Houston last week. They had a lot about Baylor Hospital in Houston on that program. That might be online, too.
One question in the blog was whether or not people thought that mamograms should be free. That raised the question about what would happen if something was found and treatment needed. Who would pay for that? And what about other illnesses and diseases? A whole flood of thoughts and questions. Of course, I can't help but wonder about the issues that I struggle with, like treatment for Macular Degeneration, cataracts, knee replacement, medication, visits to doctors, and the healthcare that we all need.
Look at Creative Journey blog, when you get a chance. I like her idea of a weekly challenge, not to mention the creative projects and art work that she is showing. Very interesting. Check it out when you get a chance.
Also, look at Nancy Standlee's blog. She has some very appealing work and ideas, too. You can find a link to her in the sidebar of my blog.
Virginia Vaughan is another busy artist, with some very nice work. Be sure to check out her blog, too. She is painting, "the last", as she winds up her Last Year on the Farm.
Let me know if you see something that appeals to you. Thanks for your comments and your support, and for sharing this with others.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The forecast called for clear skies, cool temperatures, and a full moon just after 7 p.m. Thursday evening. My youngest grandson and I moved our supper plates and went out to the road in front of our house to watch the skies. It was supposed to come from the northwest, fly over, and exit to our southeast. The open field across the street provided perfect viewing of the skies.
The trees have grown up, but we still have a good view, away from city lights, if we go out to the driveway and the narrow country road.
The sky was clear and blue, with an orange glow to the west. A pinkish cloud with a swash of purple made a soft roll across the top of the glow. Green trees in the woods at the edge of the field were growing dark. The "pumper" and oil well across the street were changing from their normal rust color to a silhouette.
"We may see a lot of spectacular sunsets, with the fires in California," I told my grandson. "We always have gorgeous sunsets when there are fires or volcanic eruptions somewhere."
He looked for rocks and I leaned on my cane as we waited.
"I think I see it! Is that it?" he pointed to the north.
"Where? " I asked. "You sure have good eyes. But, then, you know I can't see a bloomin' thing!"
I could hear people in the yards beside and behind us. Others were out looking, too.
After all, Bob French, the weather man on tv, had been telling us about this historic event. The space shuttle and station had docked, with two women in command of the vessels, and would be passing right over us. We would be able to see them for about 5 minutes. We were told to look for something like a white dot that would pass over us. He had hoped that we would see both space crafts, separately, and the full moon on this clear night. But, they had already docked. Still, just to think of people, way up there, in things that we see on sci fi movies, flying by so fast, is exciting enough.
But, no. Not me! I thought that I may not be able to see anything. But this, well, it was different, for sure! What I saw looked more like a white, swept wing bomber from outer space. It seemed to have circles or lights spread from end to end.
"Three, two, one, Blast Off!" A child shouted from another yard as the space crafts passed over.
"I guess that really must be it."
"What do you see?" I asked my grandson as the space craft passed over our back yard.
"It's just a white dot," he answered.
I laughed. "You will have to draw me a picture of what it looked like. You won't believe how it looks, to me! Wow! What a thing I saw!" It seemed to be more like a large, detailed craft, with all the posts, or whatever they are, that connect the parts, and even lights that might be on the station.
When the crafts were out of sight, we came inside and I handed my grandson paper and pencil. We both sketched what we saw. It was almost a little disappointing to see that he only saw a white dot as it passed over.
"Sometimes, I think that you must just be making these things up," my daughter is not very understanding about my Macular Degeneration and cataracts. She is nearsighted, but I'm sure that she doesn't "enjoy" the abstract art that I get to see, especially from a distance. I guess the only people who really can believe me are those who have similar experiences. It is very strange.
Previously, when a group went outside to see one of the shuttles pass over in a night sky, it was very quiet . One of the women in the group insisted that she could hear a whoosh as the shuttle glided overhead. I did listen for a noise Thursday, but all I heard was a rustling in the grass. My grandson said it was a dog.
After he went to bed, I scanned our drawings, then drew mine onto a sheet of watercolor paper.
I wanted to get it done in color, then scanned and put on my blog. But, the paint wasn't dry enough. And I hesitated because I drew my space craft too large. Still, the shape that I saw is there, along with the scene. I just had to play around a little with the oil well shapes, the sunset, and the trees. Streaks of white were placed on the craft with white acrylic paint.
I've spent a while, trying to make the three pictures into a slide show. Finally, I got it done. For some reason, I first made it so that the pictures were flying around and overlapping. I don't know how I did that still! But, I finally got it to do a straight slide show by clicking on the one I had done before of "Deco Street".
I thought it would be nice to show the way the space crafts looked through my eyes, and then show what it really looked like, through my grandson's eyes.
Picture 1 My pencil sketch looking northwest
Picture 2 My watercolor looking northwest
Picture 3 My grandson's pencil drawing looking southeast
(He added an arrow to show where the space crafts are in his picture)
The drawings are 8.5" x 11" in pencil. The painting was done with Winsor Newton watercolors and is 5.5" x 9.5".
One little note. I got a notice of acceptance into the Downtown Art Auction November 2 in Bryan, Texas. More information later. So, if you are in the area, go downtown and enjoy the art, and buy something!
Be sure to check out the links on my sidebar. And let me know if you see something that is of interest to you.
If you are a newswatcher, or have an interest in the subject of breast cancer, check out www.gretawire.com . Monday night, on Fox news, Greta Von Susteran is going to have a special at 9:00 p.m. central time, and 10:00 p.m. eastern time. She has been on a tour with Laura Bush to the Middle East, to raise awareness about breast cancer. They just returned to Washington D.C. Friday night. Greta has an excellent blog called Greta Wire, and she has been blogging and sending pictures and videos all during the trip. She has room for comments with her posts, and she does read them. It has been really great to be able to "travel" with Greta and the First Lady via the blog. Something that I would never get to do otherwise. Greta has a wonderful job! Anyway, just wanted to spread the word so that everyone who can, will tune in and learn more. Greta's program is "On The Record" and it is on Fox News.
The weekend is upon us, so I hope that you can get out and enjoy the fall beauty and have "good golf, good tennis, good painting, or whatever makes you happy." (As Marvin Zindler always said when he signed off for the weekend on his segment of the news program from Houston.)
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
22" x 30"
October was Fire Prevention Month. A time when teachers were called upon to have their students make fire prevention posters. Each year, a contest would be held and the winning entries would go on to area and state competitions.
I usually made some demonstration and sample pieces to use in my classes. We did lettering, including letters cut out from construction paper. Students did a variety of techniques, each child attempting to get over an idea about preventing fires.
I told my little stories and we looked at information about fire prevention. Often, something happened during that time that would make the posters seem more relevant. Students died or were injured when their homes burned, homes or a landmark would be destroyed, there would be an accident concerning fire, or we would have concerns that there would be more fires during extremely dry conditions.
The painting above is one that I used as an idea to go on a poster one year when we had drought conditions and there were many fires in the area. We had been riding on the highway from one town to the next at night, when we could see flames in the woods on the other side of the railroad tracks. I put two silhouetted figures on the left, representing my dad and my son, watching the woods burn. The contrasts of the red and green, along with the solid figures, gives this painting energy and strength.
I don't remember having Fire Prevention Month, or poster contests, when we were growing up. We did have fire drills at school, though. It was when I was a teacher that we began having more fire drills, and the poster contest. I thought it was a good idea.
I decided to post my Fire Prevention Month Painting today as we watch pictures on tv of the tragic fires in California. The extent of those fires is just unbelievable. We hope that those people who are affected, and the animals, are going to be alright.
Thanks for reading and sharing my work. Please pass it on to anyone who you think might be interested.
For those in the area of Bryan/College Station, Texas, be sure to check out the Downtown Art Auction Friday November 2. This goes along with the First Friday event downtown.
The Brazos Valley Art League show ends October 30 at the P.David Romei Art Center in College Station. Go see it if you have a chance. Look at the Art League's website under organizations on my sidebar for more information.
Let me know if you see something of interest to you.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
8.5" x 11"
"Edie Lou's Mama! Edie Lou's Mama!" I stood outside the bedroom and bathroom windows and looked up toward the roof, from the side yard of the neighbor's house, waiting for a reply.
It would have been unthinkable to call the neighbor by her first name, and, as much as I was over at their house, and their daughter at my house, it would have sounded silly for me to be so formal and call her "Mrs."
I wanted my neighbor to come out and play, but what was I supposed to call her mother when I asked. My mother called her by her first name, but then they were grownups. Some of the other kids called our mothers by their first names, if it fit. Other grown ups always seemed older, or they were just the type of person that we wouldn't think of being that familiar with as we talked to them. Some ladies were downright scarey and we wouldn't talk to them at all. But, here I was, a little kid, caught with this quandry. My hands were even sweaty and my throat was tight. I wanted someone to play with so the nervousness was worth it.
I knew that my neighbor was a nice lady, but I just couldn't be disrespectful. And I wasn't going to risk calling her the wrong thing so that my friend couldn't come out to play.
So, there I stood, in the yard, calling her by what I knew she was, instead of by a name, over and over, "Edie Lou's Mama. Edie Lou's Mama". It was rhytmic.
I never really got over that, I think. It just seemed right to call her by the term that I gave her when I was little. When I mentioned her to others, she was the more formal Edie Lou's mother, or Mrs. T. When I talked to her, I just didn't call her anything. I just talked, as I do to most people. They know who they are, so there is no need to say their name, usually. Whew! I avoided that decision and a possible mistake.
I think that, on that afternoon, I caught them at nap time, though, and I went home, dejected, until my friend came over later, or we went swimming, or playing in the water hose on the lawn. We always found something to do, no matter what age we were. And, often we had others in our group to join us.
I remember Edie Lou's Mama resting after dinner time at noon, with a novel to read. I thought that was so nice. My mother was still washing dishes or clothes, or sewing, or ironing, waxing floors, or the other many chores she did, depending on the day. But, often, she did turn on a soap opera on the radio while she finished up in the kitchen after dinner. Sometimes, she would get on the bed and rest, while studying something from the Eastern Star or reading "Readers Digest" or a magazine.
If you have ever seen "The Little Rascals" or "Our Gang" movies, life, for us, back then, was sort of like those movies.
Edie was just a little older so I was able to follow along in her footsteps as far as school and other activities went.
Their home was a neat, wooden house with a fireplace. I thought it was like a city house must be. When people started getting television sets, they built a den where the family enjoyed tv dinners on tv trays, during a night of television. The wonder of it all! That was really something. But so was listening to radio programs on their living room radio. I spent a lot of time with Edie and her family, from the time I moved to the neighborhood when I was 3 1/2. That's when Daddy built his own house, with only an empty lot between our houses.
In the drawing above, I have shown the back bedroom, where the grownups slept, before the den was built and the screened porch became a master bedroom. The back door opened to the driveway, which was bordered by a wonderful grape vine. Previously, I showed this room, in a drawing, when we were a little older, covering our books for school.
Edie and I are spread out on the floor, coloring in a coloring book. I watched carefully and tried to follow what the older kids were doing, even when coloring. Her father was standing there in his golfing clothes, the first ones I had ever seen. I still remember him towering over us, and all I could see was the pants that puffed out at the top of the long, patterned socks, and the shoes with spikes on the bottom. He was going out to the country club to play some golf. I was in awe, but I tried not to look so dumb as to not know what golf clothes were like. After all, I did go to movies. But the men in my family didn't play golf, or dress like that. They seemed to almost always be working at the store, or going to church, or checking the cows, with an occasional community, church, or social event thrown in.
I did this drawing last spring, as I was thinking about the things we did in childhood, and the school reunion that was coming in June.
I was going to post something else today, but I've learned that Edie Lou's Mama died. So, I just had to give her an angel, or something. I thought that sharing some of my memories might be a good thing to do. Certainly she was one of those who gave us a safe place to be children, with the freedom, and time, to worry about things like what we should call the adults, what to play and where, or memorizing multiplication tables.
I hope you look at the slide show that I added yesterday. It took me a while to do it, so I didn't get it sent out. I had not figured out how to put the code in , and write in that space as well. That's another thing to work on. In learning to do the slide show, I added all six of the acrylic paintings of "Deco Street". This way, you will be able to compare all six of them in one place, rather than me posting one or two at a time.
The Brazos Valley Art League has their show up at the Art Center this week in College Station. You can click on the link to the Brazos Valley Art League on the sidebar for more information.
There will be a Downtown Art Auction in Bryan, Texas Friday Nov.2. This is in connection with the First Friday event. More information is available on the Brazos Valley Art League link.
Hope you had a good weekend, and that you have made some wonderful memories of your own.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
8.5" x 11" Acrylic on paper
Deco Street Clear Night
8.5" x 11" Acrylic on paper
What do you think? Which one should I put in an art show? You can see more selections under Deco Street titles in the Archives Section.
This is another version of my Deco Street series. A bit lighter, and loose. A city scene, in black, white, and silver. I've shown a couple of versions of this previously.
The Deco Street paintings were done after I was trying to watch an old, black and white cowboy movie. The stagecoach had passed in the old western town. There was a post with what looked like it might be a sign on the board sidewalk, in front of some stores. Two men, in long, dark coats were standing near the sign. A woman joined them. She was wore a dress with silver spangles on a pointed bodice.
I planned to paint this as a black and white movie, as I saw it, all blurred, and wavey, from my Macular Degeneration and cataracts. I couldn't really make out the characters, either. But, as I painted, what emerged was a scene that looked more like it was from the movie, "42nd Street". I didn't want to name it that, so I changed it to Deco Street. The men in tuxedos, with shiney, black hair, and cigarettes; the woman in her silver spangled dress, hands on hips in a slinky pose; another woman in silhouette, with pulled back hair; an old fashioned street light leads to a park; and a street sign is left blank for the viewer to fill in with whatever they want. It's somewhat of a non-descript street. Fog mingles with the smoke of the city to conceal details of the buildings.
I did keep working to obtain the effect that I was after, and ended up with six different paintings. They all had more detail than I saw and seemed to take on a life of their own!
I'm still struggling with what I want to show in the art show. Entries are due Friday morning.
Besides picking the art work, I'm trying to be sure that I select something that will fit one of my frames. The rules say that they can't be over 38" in width. I have one large frame, ready to go, that is 32 1/2" wide, so I may be able to put something in that. And I have a nice frame that matches "Froggy Went A Courtin'" But, I can't enter two watercolors, I just realized. I may have to just go with the frogs, just to get something in. It would be easier to carry!
I'm also thinking of one of the "Deco Street" paintings. That would be in a different media, since it is acrlyics.
Hopefully, I will have the pictures ready tonight, and can pop them in frames tomorrow. Add the entry forms and I'm ready to go for Friday. But, at this point, I've looked so long that I need a fresh pair of eyes. There is a point when you can't decided which is the best to show. But, after a while, they all start to look bad!
Friday is also the day for entry information to be in for the Art Auction downtown. Actual entries don't have to be in until November 1st and 2nd.
Last night, while trying to watch "The Jazz Singer" on tv, I realized that it is no longer a joy to watch the old silent movies. I can't read what they say, unless I sit in front of the tv. I was kind of interested in this one, since it is so historic, being one of the first movies that "talked". I've seen modern movies about Al Jolsen and "The Jazz Singer", but I had not actually seen the movie. What surprised me was that the dialogue was printed and the "talking" part was the music! I think that I gave up after a while since I couldn't read the words from my bed, and just surfed channels, and I dozed off.
I sort of like those old movies, partly because they show what life was like when my parents were young, and these are the movies that their generation enjoyed. We got in on the "tail end" of those times, in the late '30s and early '40s. And, often, they have really good stories.
Well, back to work.
Thanks so much for your comments and interest. Feel free to pass these along to others who might enjoy them.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Image Size 9"x13"
Paper Size 10"x 14"
Early Monday afternoon, the summer-like skies turned to gray. We heard reports of heavy rain and flooding to the north as a cold front rushed across Texas. I haven't heard this particular front designated as a Norther, but the wind did come from the north, and the temperature dropped considerably. However, there were storms as the front raced south and I'm not sure that there is rain, thunder and lightning with a true Norther. They may just include those fronts that are dry with strong winds and a big temperature drop.
We kept the news and weather on tv and the computer, to watch the progress of the storms.
I've been wanting to paint a Blue Norther for about 20 years now, but we haven't had one, that I've seen. I even asked the local weatherman, "Whatever happened to Blue Northers?". It seems that we now have fronts come in, but they either happen at night, with storms, or, in the daytime, they arrive as storms. (That doesn't happen with a Blue Norther) I think that we have had maybe 3 Blue Northers since I got the idea, but I was in class and couldn't paint then. I thought that, surely, one would come along on a day when I didn't have to teach. After all, I've been seeing them all my life. It hasn't happened, so I guess that I will just have to paint this as one of my memories, if I am going to do it. I really wanted to paint one, and get the colors and the feeling, as it happens.
Through the north side windows yesterday, there were gray clouds, then spots of rain. I took my clipboard to the south side windows and sketched the interesting clouds that were forming there. As fronts from the north go over us and head south toward Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast, the cold air, hitting the warm coastal air probably create these boiling clouds. When there are storms and floods in the Houston area, 100 miles away, we can usually see big thunderheads from our south windows.
I wanted to paint a Blue Norther, still, but this looked like the closest thing I was going to get to one, for now. I took my paper to my drawing table, and did the watercolor above.
Of course, as I started to paint, the electricity went off. I opened the blinds to my wide , north windows and kept painting. So this one was painted, basically, in the dark.
I like to paint when it rains. I seem to have more energy in bad weather. I think it has something to do with the barometric pressure, or it's just the way I am. I get sleepy when it is sunny, wide awake at night and in bad weather. Or maybe it has something to do with the need to be alert for self-preservation.
I may have painted the tag that hung from the bottom cloud a bit heavier than it actually was. My grandson thought it looks like a tornado. It wasn't a tornado, but it was a part of the cloud that looked like one, with little puffs trailing .
"First Norther" shows that time when the cold air from the north, collided with the warm air to the south, with hints of thunderheads and blue skies above the distant trees. Cold, yellow light peeked through the dark clouds. The security light shone through the darkened trees around the neighbor's house and shed. The weeds and grass were still light green and brown. The rain had not started.
Once the heavy rain started, however, the ditch in front of the house filled quickly.
You can't help but be a little on edge about nature when you live in a mobile home. After the lightning strike nearby a couple of weeks ago, we're still a little more nervous than usual when bad weather threatens.
With that big crash, one of my windows cracked and the shelves in my closet, next to the window, fell. We were watching tv when that lightning bolt hit. I saw all the pictures on the wall, fly out from the wall. The hooks held them, but every picture in the house was crooked. I'm just so glad that it didn't hit the house. The family thought it had and went outside to look for damage. My poor, elderly cat, Bitsy, was scared to death, as she always is when it rains. (My weatherforecaster!)
Hope you enjoy this one. "First Norther" was painted with Winsor Newton watercolors on 140 pound Arches watercolor paper.
To see more of my posts on Macular Degeneration, look in the Archives or under Older Posts. Those are all prefaced with the word "Vision".
Also, check out http://www.gretawire.com where there was a conversation on Macular Degeneration. She has an interesting blog, anyway, but I was glad to see the comments on AMD. That would be in the older posts, now.
Enjoy the links on my sidebar.
Some things coming up:
Brazos Valley Art League Show College Station, Texas Entries due Friday Oct. 19
Calhoun County County Fair Art Show Port Lavaca, Texas (entries were due yesterday)
"Last Year On The Farm" show of Virginia Vaughan's recent works Manor, Texas Oct. 20
Chemistry Department Open House and Demos Texas A&M University Oct. 20
(That should be fun and educational for the family)
Downtown Art Auction Bryan, Texas Entries due by Oct 19 Auction Nov. 2
Arts for the Parks National Competition Entries due by Nov. 30
Thank you for your comments and support. Let me know if you see something of interest to you. And thanks for sharing my work with others who might be interested.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Image size 11" x 15"
Paper size 12" x 16"
"Gassin' Up" is a work that has been in progress for a while. I worked on it some more last night. It's a self portrait, actually. This is one of those paintings where it takes two people to do it. One to paint the picture, the other to hit them in the head and make them stop! Trouble is, I keep stopping, put it aside, look at it for a long while, think of a different thing to do, work on it some more, then look at it for a long while.
My sister stopped at a fillling station in Hearne to get gas late one afternoon, headed south after a trip to Calvert. I was riding with her. While she went in to pay for the gas, I was looking at the backs of the old buildings across the alley. I thought those would be interesting to paint, and it would be good to record them while they are still standing. Those buildings have changed so much since I was a little girl, and used to ride with relatives to this town down the highway from my home town. Some buildings are gone and just the concrete slab is left. All my life, the buildings have been a sedate brick color, with maybe some green or white, maybe a touch of black, trim. Now, bright colors have been used, and colors that don't always exactly match, in my view. That kind of grates on my senses. But, then, the buildings aren't mine. I know that those colors are used to attract attention as cars whiz by on the highway, in hopes that travellers will stop, visit, and shop or eat in small towns. I think they would be much more appealing as they used to be, with dignity and charm.
As I looked at the backs of the buildings, I could see the back of an old cafe where there once were outside stairs that led to rooms and offices . Some windows had been covered with wood. My aunt talked about going there to eat when she worked in that town during World War II. And I remember it as being a nice place, with white tablecloths and heavy silverwear, and a black and white tile floor. But, it was closed for a long time.
I can't remember what was in the building where only a slab is left. I do recall offices, and rooms for rent upstairs in buildings and cafes that catered to travellers and people who worked for the railroad, right across the highway . This was a busy little town with a lot of different businesses downtown.
I didn't have a camera with me, so I used a cell phone to take a picture across the alley. My sister got back in the car and we were on our way. Later, when I looked at the picture, I realized that I had a picture, not only of the alley, but also I had taken a picture of myself in the side mirror! That was a surprise.
When I decided to draw the alley, I thought that it would be different to put the mirror with the face in it to help fill the bottom of the composition.
And, as I started painting, I decided that I would give myself purple hair. I like Cobalt Violet, to start with, so I used that color. (I always thought it would be fun to do my hair different colors! After all, Mrs. Slocumbe on "Are You Being Served" changed her hair color for every program, and, shouldn't the art teacher be colorful! But, when I was told that I would need to remove the color to get the shade I wanted, I decided that would take too much maintainance and be too expensive. When it turns white, maybe I could try it. But that is never going to happen. It may turn gray, but no one in my family has ever had white hair-not even at age 96!) At one point, when they were popular, I wore some wigs, and I tried a red rinse on my hair, but it hardly showed.
Anyway, I gave myself Cobalt Violet hair in the painting, added sunset colors to the backs of the buildings, and shadows where the buildings are recessed. The parking area of the filling station was asphalt, so it is black. I left the parking lot a pale blue, and tried to decide if I wanted to darken it, or if I want to keep it all light.
I finally thought, "Just do something to it and see what happens! Finish it and go on to something else! " So, yesterday, I just let some light blues and purples flow into some water, and I added a figure walking in the alley. I had been thinking of someone going home for supper at the end of the day, with a sack of groceries .
It was a bit too dark in the late afternoon to check colors or to paint, so I propped the painting up and looked at it some more. I've turned it upside down, sideways, looked at it in a mirror-all the tricks I can think of to check my painting. I even asked my "critics" (family), whose response is often, "Do whatever you want to".
With a transparent watercolor technique, you start light and build layers of color to darken. So, I can still add more layers of color to darken the paved area. I'm thinking of going as dark as Indigo Blue. But, with watercolors, which are a staining medium, some of those colors are not going to come off or lighten again, once they are down. My next idea to check on whether or not I want to use dark colors in that area, leaving the buildings and sky light, is to cut out a sheet of dark construction paper and lay it over the parking area. That might give me some idea of what I want to do next.
Another problem that arose is that, when I went back to my picture on the phone to check it, my picture, and a few others, have disappeared. So, I don't have my reference photo anymore.
I have tried and tried to figure out how to get photos from a phone, of things I want to draw or paint later, to the computer, without having to buy something else. So far, the people who I have asked, don't know either. I hope I don't lose the rest of my pictures!
At least I do have this painting. I may have to do the whole thing over and just change it all.
In the scan, there appears to be a lot of yellow. In the actual painting, there are more peach and orange tones, instead of such strong yellow. I'm not getting good camera images, so I'm scanning things in sections.
See below to look at a little bit more of the painting.
The Brazos Valley Art League (See their link.) is having a show coming up. I'm trying to think of what I might enter. I don't think that "Gassin' Up" is something that I might enter, but I'm thinking, and trying to finish up some things.
I added a new link under my Interesting Sites section. This one is for Zamykal Kolaches in Calvert. Some good eating there from one of the old buildings! There are also some updates on the Hammond House link and the Calvert website. Calvert is getting ready to have their Victorian Gala with a tea, booths downtonw, etc. Take a look at the website to find out more. The owner of Zamykal's Kolaches was on tv, talking about the event. There are pictures online from last year's Gala. Sounded like fun, and a chance to dress up in Victorian clothes.
Gassin' Up (detail)
Friday, October 12, 2007
Image size 11.5" x 14.5 "
Paper size 12" x 15"
I've been trying to take a good photograph of this painting for a while, but I couldn't get the colors right, or there was a reflection, or blurring-always unsatisfactory. I do have one whole photo of this picture, but it has sort of a white haze over it from sunlight. I finally just took the painting out of the frame tonight and put it on the scanner, which cut off parts of the sides, top, and bottom.
This looked really nice with a black mat, in a frame with marbelized green, and gold trim.
I got the idea for this when I was teaching, and showing students how I mixed colors to get a flesh tone. The small, center mother, holding up a child with a red ball, in place of the nose, just happened. I didn't want just a plain background, but decided to add in many children's faces. The effect of glowing, green faces, as if lit up by a neon light, gives contrast to the piece.
This was a fun piece to do. Even painting all those little faces was interesting and not as tedious as it might appear to be. I always liked to draw "girls", and find myself drawing girls when I am doodling (instead of taking notes for example!). This is not like the girls that I usually doodle, however. I do like to put some drama into my girls. They usually have a cartoon look to them, since this is the way that I taught myself to draw when I was growing up.
"Mothers, Love Your Children" was done on 140 pound watercolor paper using Winsor Newton watercolors.
Please share with others who also might enjoy my work and my stories. I do appreciate your support and your comments.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Image Size 11.5" x 15.5"
Paper Size 12" x 16"
On an autumn night, when the moon was full, Old Mr. Froggy put on his best overalls and his lace-up boots and rode in his carriage over to the holler where Miss Mousie lived. He met Miss Goldie Frog, his true love who lived near the bog. While fireflies danced around them, and stars twinkled in the sky, they spooned by the light of the harvest moon, all on a Saturday night. He gave to her a flower fair and laid his cheek on her golden hair. His grin was as wide as the sky, and , while her smile was shy, her toes curled up as she looked at him.
And who else did he see in the moonlight, but little Miss Mousie, who came out of her door, and old Mr. Grasshopper, who brought a bouquet of posies. Miss Lady Bug came dressed in her finery, but who should she meet but old Mr. Flea.
This is how I pictured the old song, as Grandma and Grandpa Miles sang it to me when I was a child. I thought that Froggy really needed a girl frog instead of a girl mouse to court. And I thought of him riding on either a horse, or taking a fringed carriage to take Miss Froggy for a moonlight ride. "Why doesn't he just hop over there?" I asked. A frog would hop, not ride a horse or a carriage, in my way of thinking. I guess I made up my own story! Grandma and Grandpa had a hard time teaching me this song, because I had my own idea of how the old story should go.
The image I have shown above is a portion of the top part of the painting. There is more which shows their feet, the other characters, and Miss Mousie's house. I know. there could be more characters, but I thought that these were enough. (After all, Miss Mousie needs a mouse boy friend, Mr. Grasshopper needs a lady grasshopper, and Miss Lady Bug and Mr. Flea need them a date, too.)
The colors in the original are a bit different than the scanned image. The purples, especially, are more interesting in the painting.
I started this one by pressing Dewberries on the paper. These are in the distant trees or brush that appear rust colored. Usually, I get a beautiful purple color by starting a painting with Dewberries. But, this time, unlike the way I usually work, I had to stop and put this one aside for a while, after I did the drawing and applied the berries. By the time I decided to finish the painting, a year later, the purple area appered more brown.
It sort of inspires me to see that lovely Dewberry color on my paper or canvas. The next step is to add some Cobalt Violet paint, then use my yellows and work to my darker purples and blues. With watercolors, you work light to dark, while in oils, it is the opposite.
Someone told me that the acid in the berries would damage the paper, and that the sugar would attract bugs. But I use natural materials sort of like watercolors, or, when I do press the berries on paper, I use water on a brush over it, which dilutes the juices, once it has stained to the color I want. And, I have found that, if these paintings, where I experiment with using different natural materials, are framed and sealed in properly, they will last many years. So far, I haven't seen any show signs of deteriorating. This painting is the only one that has shown even a change in color, and I feel that is because a lighter weight paper (140# Arches, while I have used vellum or 300# watercolor paper in the past for this technique) was used, and it was left untouched for so long. Using the water and other colors with it probably helps. And there have been no bugs, at all.
White acrylic paint was used to make the fireflies show up and for the occasional small highlight.
Once I got into this one, I enjoyed working on it. It just took me so long to get around to it! (I am kind of slow-spend a lot of time thinking about things before I actually do them-, and I get distracted, sometimes. So, be patient. I will get things done, eventually.) I have others that I have painted with the theme of old songs that I remember, including "Big Rock Candy Mountain", and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". I even have a drawing of Grandpa Miles, baking in our kitchen and singing "Billy Boy", and other old songs.
With cooler temperatures and the arrival of autumn, I've noticed that other artists are posting some fall themed paintings on their blogs and their websites. So, I thought that this one might be kind of fun to show, with a bit of a fall theme.
Hope you enjoy this one, and share it with others .
Please be sure to notice the new artists and authors that I have added, and the new Organizations section. There are also some new things under Eye Sites.
For those interested in Vision Problems, I noticed that there is a website called Don't Lose Sight, and, on that site, actress Jane Seymour has a page as a spokesman. Her mother, who just died this month, had AMD and she tells a very interesting story. I didn't know that Seymour also is an artist. I tried to add a link to those two sites, but they just wouldn't save. So, maybe, if you are interested, you can just do a search for them.
I also had an e-mail from Prevent Blindness America yesterday, concerning legislation to help prevent and treat loss of vision. I did a Google search for HB 3750, the Vision Preservation Act of 2007. Believe me, I contacted my legislators as fast as I could. I just thought that I would pass this on, in case you have an interest.
Also check out BlogRush in my sidebar. They are making updates and improvements in it. If you have your own blog, and want to add that widget to your own blog, know that they are working on the feature.
Thanks for your comments and support.
Monday, October 8, 2007
8.5" x 11"
acrylic on cardstock
black, white, and silver
"Deco Street" is one of six black, white, and silver acrylic paintings I did on cardstock. The idea for this series came when I was watching a black and white movie on tv. It was a western and there was a street scene. The stagecoach had just passed. There was a sign post on the street, a woman stood near it, wearing a dress with a silver bodice with silver spangles on it. There were two men also on the street, with dark suits on. To me, they were blurred and it was hard to make out details. I intended to show the blurry characters and buildings, but, as I worked, these art deco type characters appeared in glamorous poses, with tuxedoes, slicked back hair with a shine in it, and a woman in her silver dress. These images of a city scene were more distinct than what I saw, and, for some reason, I added a ghost-like figure in white lace. Sometimes, figures and features just happen in my work. They take on a life of their own.
The other paintings show a progression from the very blurry images that I actually see, to the more detailed, decorative pictures.
The silver does show up more in the original than in the scanned copy of the picture. Here, it appears more as gray.
I have posted one in this series earlier in my Vision postings. I thought that you might enjoy seeing another in the series.
If you read "GretaWire", Greta Van Susteran's blog, you can find a discussion there today on Macular Degeneration. Greta is a Fox News anchor, with her show "On The Record" on Fox News tv at 9:00 p.m. Central time, and 10:00 p.m. Eastern time. I had to add my two cents worth, of course.
I'm not sure what comment started the discussion, but I couldn't help but wonder if it was what I said. She said she read the comment last night, but I posted mine a few days back. I told her about the time when I was at the George Bush Library to see Tony Snow and had to sit in the overflow auditorium. We were moved around to make more room and my grandson and I were separated. They directed me to the wall area, but I asked to sit on the aisle because I couldn't see very well . (Because of the AMD in one eye, and cataracts in both of them.) I stayed put. Snow and Bush 41 came into the auditorium and told us they would be back after the presentation in the main auditorium to answer questions. Meanwhile, we had to watch on a big screen. (Which probably worked better for me because I could see more than a doll sized person that way!)
When Bush and Snow returned, I leaned out into the aisle to see them , with several Secret Service men facing us and standing in front of the two celebrities. I thought that Tony Snow looked so much better than he had when he had been so ill. And I was suprised that he had brown hair instead of the gray that I was used to on tv.
"Whoops!" I thought. "I had better quit doing that!" I caught myself closing my bad eye, the one with the Macular Degeneration, and trying to see better with my good eye. Something that I noticed I was doing more and more.
I could envision myself being thrown on the ground and hauled off somewhere. No telling what they all might think that I was doing, winking at the former president and the Press Secretary!
That didn't happen, of course. They probably didn't even notice me due to the stage lights, but I felt like I was right in front of them and didn't want to appear weird.
Anyway, I'm glad that Greta started the AMD discussion today. So many have struggled and suffered from it, and so many more are going to have it. Maybe, with some national exposure, more help with be forthcoming. I had never heard of it before I was diagnosed with it months ago.
It's been about a year since I noticed the first symptoms of Macular Degeneration, wavey venetian blinds, a wavey handrail down a hall, and wavey telephone poles and street signs.
Look at my older posts that are prefaced with the word "Vision" to see my other posts on Macular Degeneration. And notice the links under "Eye Sites" for more information on this disease.
Saturday afternoon turned out to be a pretty good time. Lots of memories of a Saturday afternoon at the Eloia in Calvert, Miss Mollie's hamburger place, and Henry, the man who sometimes brought a sack of hamburgers to the picture show to eat while he sat on the front row with the little kids. Two Tim Holt movies, "StageCoach" and "My Darling Clementine" on tv, and I made myself a hamburger for lunch. Pulled my chair right up to the tv set, and it was like the old movie screen.
I clearly remember seeing "My Darling Clementine" and going back to my grandfather's dry goods store (Conitz Dry Goods Store, now Mud Creek Pottery), across the street, and spending the rest of the afternoon in the men's department, standing by the men's blue jean jackets and blue jeans, trying to get up nerve enough to ask Grandpa if I could have one of those men's jackets, like Tim wore in the movie. Of course, when I did, I got a big "No" from Grandpa, Grandma, my uncle, my dad, and my mother.
"Girls don't wear those kinds of things! Go to the ladies department and find yourself a nice pair of girls' jeans!"
That just wouldn't do. I envisioned myself, someday, riding the range, checking fences, and all with Tim-a sidekick, kind of like Chito, even if I was a girl. I could ride a horse, too, if I had one!
There was another Tim Holt movie this afternoon, "Fifth Avenue Girl", and "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" will be on in the next few days. Today I just made baked potatoes to enjoy with the movie. Any day with a Tim Holt movie has to be a good day!
Hope that you are having a nice Columbus Day! I just can't imagine how anyone could be so brave as to get on those little ships and sail on the ocean into the unknown. I would be terrified to even get on a big ship, or an airplane, today! I guess that it is good that some people are brave and adventurous, or we would all still be living in caves. Unlike when we were in school, it was just another school day here, and a day of sales when stores try to have Columbus Day specials. Kids probably didn't even get a special coloring sheet to color today, like we used to do for any special days that taught us about history. I know that they did math, though! Oh, those times tables! (And, if you read my blog, you know how I feel about math, and why.)
Friday, October 5, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
8.5" x 11"
We were really cooking, there on our little porch. My sister, my friend, and I. Maw, the part Blue Maltese cat, that had many, many kittens, lounged over the brick work, and watched. Poochie, the black dog that looked like a Spitz, watched from the flower bed behind a low cedar bush by the steps.
We made a fire in the little wood stove that I had found in the mud at my grandmother's house. Sticks worked for firewood, and my mother gave us small amounts of food to make soup and french fries with. Soup was water, onion, potato, a bit of soup meat, roast, or steak, with canned tomatoes. We had little metal cookware and dishes to use.
Our food sure tasted better than mudpies and weed soup! And, if Mama was too busy to make us a plate of french fries for a snack after school, we could make our own miniature french fries. As we grew older, we could go to the City Cafe for a platter of french fries for 10 cents and a Coke for 5 cents. We could stop by the drugstore and get a funny book for a dime, then head for the cafe, to while away the afternoon. Or, we could stay at the drugstore and read comic books and movie magazines, and sip a Coke or eat a dish or a cone of ice cream. A nickel would give us an afternoon treat, and we could get a movie magazine for a quarter, if it had someone special in it. Hanging out at the drugstore with other kids was the best, but the cafe french fries were really tasty. A lot of grownups were in the cafe, though, for pie, coffee, or a sandwich. They did have juke box music, and we could ignore the adults while we relaxed after school.
I told about finding the stove at my grandmother's house in my last post. In the drawing above, you can see it from the back. Someone told me that it might have been a salesman's sample for selling wood stoves. Or, it could be a child's toy. I don't know. When my grandmother was little, another girl, who had outgrown the toy, gave it to her. I belive that stove may be close to 100 years old.
It is a pretty little thing, and certainly is sturdy. The covers for the holes in the stove top were lost over the years, the little metal thing that lifted the covers is gone, and the inside of the oven needs to be repaired. It's given a lot of pleasure to generations of little cooks.
It took me a while to do this sketch. The thing that gave me a little trouble was Poochie, the dog. I wasn't going to add her, but decided to since she was part of the family and the neighborhood for 20 years. Where my sister went, Poochie followed. Poochie is another story.
Don't forget to check out the links on my sidebar. And, if you haven't joined my Google group, I hope that you will do so. That will let you know when I have updated my blog.
One little note that I thought I should add. Last week, I sent out an angel and called my post An Angel for Laura. Sadly, it was only a few days later that Laura died. That is so hard to believe. She will be forever young, to me, with a dry wit and a Texas drawl.
While Laura probably never saw the angel I sent her, the thought was there. I know that the angel painting touched others. And that is part of the purpose of this blog.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Image size 8" x 11"
Paper size 9" x 12"
In case you missed the answer at the end of yesterday's post, the title of the movie that I was watching was "Judgement at Neuremburg" starring Spencer Tracy, Marlene Dietrich, Richard Widmark, William Shatner, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, and others. The name of the actor I was showing was Richard Widmark, as he was talking to a witness on the stand. The courtroom audience was behind him. The painting showed the light rays I see coming from the tv set in a dark room, my foot hanging from the edge of the bed, and, on the screen, there was Widmark, with his face distorted and discolored from my AMD in one eye. Through my eyes-the way that I see things.
I got tired of trying to straighten out all these distortions and see what was going on correctly. So, I closed my eyes, hoping to sleep. "No rest for the weary," as the old saying goes.
With my eyes closed, this is what I continued seeing-the design in the painting above. White rays shot out, almost in a cross design, in the dark, from a center of yellow light. Purple surrounded the circle of light and that was outlined with a transparent green color. Short spikes of light blue shot out of the circle into the rays.
I opened my eyes to watch more tv. The design with my eyes closed was worse than watching distorted tv. It's a good thing that they have good movies on all night, now.
I thought that I might as well get up and do something. I could work on the computer, or paint something. But, I knew that I needed to have my feet up. My eyes were tired, but I couldn't sleep with all the designs going on . I should sleep, but that meant hours of tossing and turning, and trying to get the designs and distortions to go away. If I turned the tv off, there would still be distortions to contend with, in the dark, in lights outside, even in the stars and moon.
I had read that, sometimes, with Macular Degeneration and related problems, that the foggy, purple or dark spot just won't go away, even when the eyes are closed, making it difficult to sleep. I hoped that I wasn't going to have this spot before me all the time. So far, it just happens sometimes. At least that spot is not usually the same. The shape and colors change. More abstract designs.
I added a fun little "test" for you to try on my sidebar. I got this from Dianne McGhee, who does creative things with stained glass. Look under "What Color Are You?" and try the quiz. Just click on the link below it to take the quiz. I thought mine fit, although blue isn't my favorite color at this time. I do use a lot of Indigo Blue and the blue shade of Cerulean Blue, though. For some reason, when I added it, part of it is hidden under the border of my page. I don't know how to fix that. The same thing happened to my subscription button. The links do work, though.
I also added a link to a singer who uses her first name. She uses an 'i' while I use an 'e' in my name. You can hear her sing by clicking on the Youtube link on her page. Click on Cecilia under Interesting Sites.
Also under Interesting Sites, I have added a site called "Melody Lane", where they have old songs, to enjoy as you go down Memory Lane. I believe that you have to join that one, but it looked interesting.
I guess that I have watched so many Gene Autrey movies during the western channels' 100th birthday anniversary for Gene, that I'm really thinking about those old songs. I've just been singing along with Gene and Smiley Burnette, the Sons of the Pioneers, and all the crew since last week. I may go through withdrawel when they finish this series as I've had it going night and day, since it started.
Those of you who know me, and who read my blog, know that my hero was Tim Holt. Gene wasn't my favorite, but I still love those old westerns. I don't like many of the newer ones. The old ones seemed more real, the way that cowboys and the west should be. I wasn't a big fan of country music, either, but these were more swing and folk songs, even church songs. I sing along a little bit, then don't know the words for a while, so, at those forgotten parts, I have to just hum or put in "dum de dum" or something of that sort. I just do this around the house, since my voice is so croaky. Worse than Smiley with all his high and low ranges. My voice hasn't been the same since thryroid surgery a few years back.
I was remembering a time when I was probably 3 or 4 and was playing at my grandmother's house under the china berry tree. I wanted to make mud pies while Grandma was cooking. I wandered over to Uncle Rudloph's house across the pasture, where his wife, Pearl, was feeding chickens. I told Pearl my plight and we went in the house, where she checked her cooking on the wood stove in the kitchen.
I sure did want to make mudpies, but Grandma was busy and I didn't have any jar lids or anything to make my pies in. Pearl took me into her living room. We stood beside a table with a light bulb hanging from a single wire hanging over it.
Pearl opened a cabinet beside the stairs. There were no banisters or any kind of railing, just bare steps leading to the second floor. The cabinet was dark wood with cut out scroll work on the front. Behind the cut out area, there was a deep red fabric. The cabinet opened from the top, and looked like a 1960s stereo, except for the decorations on the front. Inside, there was a record player that played 78s. I was fascinated and had not seen anything like it, for this was only the early 1940s. There were no stereos, yet.
Pearl brought out albums and stacks of records and put them on the table. Gene Autrey and Tex Ritter were just some of the recording artists. There were also a few operas and symphonies. I knew the Gene Autrey records from the Saturday picture shows at the Eloia.
"Here, you can take these, " she said as she stacked a big pile of records and albums in front of me.
"But, won't you miss them? Won't Uncle Rudolph be mad?" I didn't want to take them, ruin them, then have an angry adult after me later.
"Nah," she said. "Those are old. We won't miss them. We usually listen to the radio, anyway. It's too much trouble to have to keep cranking that old record player, so we don't use it anymore. Besides, you need some dishes for your mudpies." She put some of the records back inside the cabinet and pulled the string on the light bulb. The light went on, then off, and she urged me toward the back door.
"You just go on back to Hermena's and make your mudpies, and don't worry about it. I've got to cook dinner, now."
I went down the steps slowly, thinking that she would change her mind and ask for the records back. I shuffled my feet through the dirt where the chickens were pecking, crossed the alley where an ancient plow was parked by a tree, and balanced the records over my head while I went through rows of corn, climbed through a barbed wire fence that separated the field from Grandma's driveway. I opened the gate to the white picket fence of the back yard, and looked back at Pearl's house to see if she was following me, wanting her records back. She wasn't there. I stepped on the concrete sidewalk, passed my aunt's collection of petrified rocks, the old cistern where Grandma had planted Cannas, and settled into my place under the wide windows of Grandma's kitchen, shaded by the China Berry tree. There was water in a faucet that stood up from the ground, lots of dirt to dig in, as long as I didn't dig where Grandma had flowers, or in her Victory Garden behind the clothesline. And, I sure didn't want to go in the back yard area where the chickens were without Grandpa or Grandma with me.
As I made my mudpies, diligently, I decided to use only one record for a dish, and made several pies on one dish. I thought that those records were too much of a treasure to ruin with mudpies. The dirt might wash off, but what would that do to the record.
One day, Grandpa was working with cows in one of the back yards, and he had to go to the toolshed. I was following him. As he went in the shed, I was looking around at some things that had been tossed out of the storage shed beside the tool shed. Buried in the mud was something metal. I dug it out and found a mud-covered, little wood stove, similar to Pearl's.
"Grandpa, can I have this?"
"Ask your grandmother," he answered from the tool shed.
I took it to the kitchen window. "Grandma, can I have this?"
"Sure you can. That's an old toy stove that a little girl gave me when I was a little girl. We used to cook on it. You can really build a fire in it and cook things. But, you will have to clean it up." She went back to the sink.
I took the stove to the faucet and washed the mud off, then left it to dry on the sidewalk. Then, when I visited, I played like I was cooking on the stove. Mudpies weren't all that great, now that I had something to cook real food on. Of course, I couldn't play with matches to light it, and the bottom of the oven was rusted almost away. But it had places to put your pies to cool, a tank for hot water, and holes with covers where you could cook food.
Eventually, I took the stove home and my sister and friends and I would put it on the front porch. My friend, Edie, had some little metal dishes and we put two plates inside the oven to make a floor for the wood. A melted candle held it together for years. We gathered sticks to make a fire in the stove. Then we cut up a potato for french fries, or got little bits of food to make soup with. It really worked! We had sturdy metal cooking utensils then, and dishes that were also sturdy. That was some good food that we cooked as little kids. It sure tasted better than mud pies and the soup we made from weeds and things that grew wild in the lot between our houses. (Of course, everyone had to eat some of what the group cooked, mudpie and soup wise. I wouldn't. Everyone knew I was a picky eater. Daddy told me that some of those weeds were poisonous so don't eat our creations. I didn't. I would run home, instead.)
I still have that little stove. At one time, I put an artificial ivy in it. The inside of the oven, the two plates, rusted away years ago. To keep it from rusting further, I painted it white. I've looked for information on that little stove. Possibly, it was actually a salesman's sample. I still think it would be fun to cook on!
Funny what Gene Autrey's songs led me to think about! "Back In The Saddle Again", "You Are My Sunshine", "Tweedleo Twill", "When It's Roundup Time In Texas", "Sioux City Sue", "Mexicali Rose", "That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine"and all those good old songs. "When It's Roundup Time In Texas" is another story.
My favorite of his movies was the one in 1936 when it was the State of Texas Centennial. That movie was filmed at what is now the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas. I love those wonderful old Art Deco buildings, the way that I remember the fairgrounds. It was so interesting to see how it looked. And, so far, I haven't seen that movie in all the selections they have shown. It may have been on the other channel while I was watching something else. Incidentally, the State Fair of Texas is going on now.
Another one in this series that I liked was the one that he made just before going into service in WWII. That one is appropriate today.
I feel like I am thoroughly saturated with Gene Autrey movies. The stories and songs are all running together. I wish they would do that for Tim Holt movies. I could really watch those 24 hours a day, every day! It is nice to be able to count on seeing a good old western instead of things that you couldn't pay me to watch. I am amazed that they rate some of these movies as Parental Guidance. Those are wonderful old shows that had high morals and guided generations of youngsters as they grew up. We could use more of the Cowboy Code these days. I'm glad that they are giving "The Code" in between movies.
Let me know if there is something of interest to you. It helps to get your comments. I welcome your inquiries. Please share this with anyone who you think might be interested.