Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's done...

Or, more accurately, I'm done with this blasted painting.

And these sketches...
are from a group of drawings out of my sketchbook, finished in Photoshop, based on characters in this Terry Pratchett novel I've been listening to, these tiny, warlike fairy creatures called Feegles.

One of my Starbuck's sketches...
On another note, I was listening to this podcast and speaker what's his name, recounting a lesson he likes to give his students, said, If there was a button you could push to make it so that the person you can't stand the most suddenly becomes your best friend, would you push it? One would think, yes, of course, all hands up. But usually only a few out of forty or so of his students raise their hands to say yes.

And this made me think about a certain woman I still can't stand to be around. No, not the person I mentioned in the last post. She's funny and sweet and wonderful but also kinda not the best communicator of what she's really thinking or feeling which means she finds other ways to get her point across which can really hurt when you're not looking, like walking into a steel pole that wasn't there a moment ago. But I'd never say I can't stand her. No, I mean another woman who, in relation to me anyway, has revealed herself to be a microwave oven of awfulness, a porcupine of negativity. (Hey, I gotta get my word fix, give me a break.) Would I push the button to become comfy close with this person? Well, I wish I were Eckert Tolle's top pupil, I'm working on it, but for now I'm one of the thirty eight out of forty. If I could fix it that easily, I still wouldn't bother.

But the other woman? The funny but not the best communicator woman? I'm vacillating. I woke up the other morning and immediately the grief hit me, oh my God! V.! Am I really letting her go? Then this morning I read her most recent letter and got mad all over again. Then I heard that podcast and softened. Yes, I must speak with her! With true compassion and egoless love this time! How will I feel tomorrow? The same I hope. Or am I asking for more blame, more miscommunication? I'll give it a few days. Or weeks. If she and I are each other's true friend, then a bit of time off won't matter.

There's other things I keep vacillating about. I keep having this fantasy of just packing up and taking off somewhere...Seattle?...NYC? Somewhere where my dream job and my husband to be has been waiting all this time. Then I got another call yesterday, a possible animator's position at some start up here in SF. I'm both extremely hopeful but also thinking but what about Seattle! NYC! Chicago? If you're ever gonna fly the coup for places unfamiliar, before you're completely rooted to the earth here, now would be the time to do it. Because the two dreams I've been pursuing the last ten or so years has been to either work for Disney or Pixar or elsewhere equally awesome or to sell my paintings for thousands of dollars each. Since neither is happening at the moment, I'm feeling rather stuck. I'm longing to pull my feet out of the ground and fly off. Am I following the wrong dream?

I'll give it a day or two. At least until after the interview.

Oh no! One more thing! I've been meaning to do this for ages...This is an interesting custom. When I first noticed these award thingies on other blogs I had no idea where they got them from. Was there some blog award committee? Now I know. Okay, I dub...hmm, let's see, who doesn't already have one or both of these awards...oh, I'll just guess:

1. Helena Halme - - people, read her blog! Her How I came to be in England series will hook you from the first paragraph.
2. Elizabeth Bradley - - for her lovely short fiction, etc.
3. Maia's Into The Moonlight - - for her brilliant blog.
4. Mirth in Manchester - - for being so mirthful and nice.
5. An Officer and a Garbage Can - - for her warmth and sense of humor.
6. The world according to donut girl - - because I never know what I'll find there but I know it'll be witty/funny/interesting.
7. Shanster's Goats N More - - for her always hilarious, always sunny, occasionally touching anecdotes.
8. BooksEtc. - - because I love to read her blog...lame way to put it but gosh it's late...
9. Beth and Writing - - exquisite poetry.
10. A Writer's Journey - for showing me that being close to Eckert Tolle-hood is possible.
11. Meris's Vienna For Beginner's - - for her gorgeous images and poetry.

I was supposed to limit the list to ten (or was it five?) so I suppose I'm pushing it here already, (totally arbitrary rule, feel free to break it those of you awardees who want to pass it along) but I also want to add a 12. Everyone and anyone on my blog list who wants a blog award. We all deserve to be awarded. K, done.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bloggy friend love - i. e. blog awards!

Thanks Shannon!!

Thanks Celeste Maia!!!

Thanks Theresa!!!

Thanks Elizabeth!!!

Thanks Mara!!

Thanks Lianne!!

Thanks Helena, Sharon, T. and La Belette Rouge!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Waking dreams of beauty

Ever looked at someone and guiltily wondered how they bear up looking like that? Some years ago I contracted a severe case of chicken pox. It was so bad that within a week I would need plastic surgery. Until then I still, periodically, had to come out of my hiding place for food and other such necessities. But since I'd depleted my strength in recovering, and because I cried every time I looked in the mirror, it took hours to get ready, hours to gather up the nerve to show my face in public. Once a double take in my direction was enough to make my day. Now I devised ways not to be seen. But when I was, my survival instincts would kick in in the form of acceptance and defiance. Because to react otherwise meant a short walk into the ocean with some rocks in my pocket. Yes, I would think whenever my face caused the dreaded look in a stranger's face, this is what I look like for now, this shell, this mask you take to be me. What of it? And, oh by the way, eff you.

I counted the days to my surgery. That was when everything would magically return to normal. Well, hopefully not everything. A few weeks prior to all this my sister rang me up simply to tell me that her misery was all my fault. Afterwards, my fuckwit of a brother, the person who gave me the pox, only laughed at how much more severe my case had been compared to his, which, in his mind, proved how much better he was than I. Such dysfunction had to change. Physically, emotionally, I couldn't handle it anymore. So I wrote them an eff you both letter, an impassioned and thorough explanation of why they would no longer be a part of my life until I decided, if I ever decided, that they could again consider themselves lucky enough to know me.

Surgery day the doctor cut around my facial scars, seven in all, then sowed them back together. Despite the painkiller he'd injected all over my face, I still felt nearly every cut and stitch. But I didn't care. Every slice of the knife, every prick and pull of the needle meant hope, long life, renewal. For the next two weeks I had to keep my face as still as possible which meant no laughing (not that there was any danger of that) and chewing (protein shakes morning, noon and night. I haven't had one since). And now, except for a few minor scars, there's no sign I'd ever been struck by the pox. And my relationships with my brother and sister - especially with my sister, thank goodness - have been reset to a course more to my liking.

What brought that up? Only this...
an etching by Max Klinger (from his On Death, Part 1 series) I saw at the SF Legion of Honor last Sunday. I know, I know. Just be glad I didn't dwell on any of his other images. Like the sleeping mother unaware Death has walked off with her baby. Or the live and very bewildered looking baby sitting on his mother's grave. Fun stuff. Anyway, this image, to me, is a reminder against the attachment to youth and beauty and all things ephemeral. And how detaching from these things is inevitable and necessary if the normal cycle of life is to continue. (What would I have done if I'd been unable to let go? If the doctor had said there was nothing he could do? Would I still be here?)

Still, who wants to think about such things when you don't have to? Here are images to counteract any possibly negative effects from the first part of my post, images of pure loveliness. Careful! Don't get too attached...
This painting (Jose Jimenecz y Aranda, Holy Week in Seville, 1879)) takes my breath away, it's so gorgeous.
This one too. Oh, those textures and colors! I love the expression of the woman in this portrait (Portrait of a Lady, 1591). And the way she proudly proclaims her age, 54, for everyone to see. This should be every woman's conception of growing older.
Here's a couple of works, both by Monet, I could get happily lost in ... Sigh...if only one could camp out overnight in a museum. I'd sleep under this painting...
Oh, and here is me in my new dress that I mentioned in my previous post...This is how it makes me feel...
Thank you God, universe, whatever, for Ann Taylor dresses, plastic surgeons, beautiful paintings, museums my art will one day be in...brothers and sisters...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stand by me /War no more

Sorry, no time to write a proper post. More, hopefully, by tomorrow with a recounting of how I set L. up with a stranger I met at Starbuck's. Or this weird theatre I went to yesterday. Or maybe another Sunday at a museum with my dad and the ongoing feelings of guilt, obligation and annoyance this causes as well as a growing degree of compassion and understanding. Or, I know you're all dying to know, whether or not I get this lovely blue dress from the Ann Taylor outlet I've been dying to get. It looks so cute on me. I nearly cried when I had to put it back for a more financially fruitful day. It will be, if it's still there, my reward for being me.

Anyway, will leave you with these gems. Though with more than 12 million views, you might have already seen them. Thought I'd share these anyway...

Bono! I love you. I want to have like ten thousand of your babies. (Obscure reference only those who've watched the American Beauty director's commentary will recall)

Friday, July 17, 2009

More works in progress

I'm always a bit squeamish about posting works in progress. For one thing they never end up looking the way they do mid process. Also, at this stage, they're often driving me nuts. Like this one for instance... I'm tempted to scrap it and start all over again. It's far from...great. I could have pushed things here, been braver there. And now it just looks funny to me and not because this illustration is funny. But it was good practice and I want to move on to another (and much better) piece (after this one is painted) sooner rather than later and without too much inner drama.

This one, which is a few days away from completion, I'm much happier with...

By the way, have you heard of Zac Sunderland, the seventeen year old who just sailed around the world? His story raises a lot of thoughts and feelings in me - gosh, what have I accomplished so far? I'm going to be such and such years old soon and I still haven't finished that darned novel or worked for a major animation studio yet or on and on and how could his mother let him go off by himself like that he could have been kidnapped by pirates, etc. and so on.

But, really, I'm feeling pretty mellow these days. Everything, some kindly inner voice keeps whispering to me, will be alright. Take your time, eat that ice cream, read that book, stop pressuring your self all the time because everything will be alright. So mostly I think, wow, how cool is that. A seventeen year old just sailed around the world. When I'm in my seventies or eighties, maybe I'll do the same thing. If I'm no longer prone to seasickness, that is. Otherwise I might set off on foot around the world instead, camera, sketchbook and super light mini laptop in hand.

So many wonderful adventures to choose from. Anything is possible.

As this guy...
the newly minted Senator from Minnesota is proof of.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

High and low, near and far

Friday night L. and I danced in the sky. The 46th floor of the Hilton, that is. Because L. and I are on a quest. The quest to find true love, career satisfaction and full self acceptance at last. So of course a place pervaded with deafening music, alcohol and misleading darkness, not to mention the alarming number of men who think an acceptance to dance is the same as saying yes a casual f--- (hello, some respect, please) yes, this is the sort of place we go to every week hoping to make a meaningful connection with the ones we might have been fated to be with. No, not really. It's just fun, occasionally flattering (occasionally not) and it keeps us in the habit of staying open to possibilities. So that when we are standing in line for coffee and the guy in front of us looks promising we will, by force of habit, flirt for God's sake. Instead of doing what we've been doing the last few years. Playing it safe. Somehow licking our wounded, bleeding hearts had become playing it safe. But no more! Because, like I said, we are on a quest.
This photo (Grand St., Alameda) reminds me of my rather forlorn Fourth of July. I took this photo during a group hike in San Bruno last Thursday. With the fog turning the trees into enchanted tree spirits and the strong wind causing a sad and eerie moan all around us, I was relieved to get to the other side of this high hill to see this... the mighty gorgeous Pacific. Alameda again, a near half moon and a far away full moon. Isn't that neat? Alameda, yet again, a bird bath down the street from where I live. The real bird suddenly taking the same shape as his stone neighbors just took my breath away. A moment later it was standing on one of their heads.

The writing (in my imagination, anyway) is going well. I was in a cafe Sunday meaning to make a good start. I had my laptop, my coffee, everything just so. On pleasant afternoons I love working in cafes. Somehow, all the activity around me makes it easier to narrow my focus. (Mornings, as I slowly wake up, I prefer the comfort and quiet of home.) But this afternoon I just sat there staring at the screen. After a while I typed out a few words which I knew I'd later delete just so I wouldn't feel so idle. The trouble was even though I could see and hear the whole story more or less, including the ending, the beginning still eluded me. And I need, or I prefer, starting with beginnings. So, I worked on some sketches instead. Then, wouldn't you know it, I was walking to my car and the story's beginning suddenly played out in full.

Stories, I guess, are like potential future husbands. Easier to find when I'm not looking for them.

Friday, July 10, 2009

In a thoughtful mood

After the emotional turmoil of last week - most of it self inflicted - I am busily trying to make concrete the fantasies that I thought were my mind's attempts to escape my current condition. A new painting is nearly complete, a series in the works. And several short stories are slowly forming into full being. I never thought I would dive into the short story form. But some ideas I can't think of any other way to express them. Will keep you posted.

In the mean time, here's a song that more or less expresses my mood these days.....

Hope you have a great weekend!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunday at the Museum

I'd planned to post 4th of July photos. But my 4th did not go as hoped. It was another typical Saturday, sketching in a cafe, a matinee, etc. A wonderful day, really. But since this was the fourth, a major holiday with long standing traditions I felt obliged to partake in, I was utterly miserable about it. (I cried halfway through the matinee, the Pixar movie Up.) This is not how fourths are supposed to go! And what am I doing home on a Saturday night!? Painting!? Sure I could have gone off on my own, enjoyed the fireworks at least. But, for long and various reasons (I blame it on a severe case of PMS), I was feeling rejected and lonely. Not the sort of mood one should go for a night on the town in.

So when my dad suggested a Sunday at the De Young I was glad to accept. Glad to spend the day at the museum for free. But about spending the day with him, my feelings were more mixed. He's grumpy. He smells. He's rude and he farts and burps in public. Not to mention the role he played in my childhood. And how he treated my mother. But I gave up hating his guts a long time ago. It's too damn exhausting. Now I just worry about being the one stuck taking care of him in his old age and am, even as he pays for expensive lunches and exhibition tickets, devising strategies to avoid this feared scenario.

But anyway, the De Young is worth a visit from far and wide if only to enjoy the design of the building itself. It rises above the trees like a space station in some Star Wars universe. And from the tower you get a truly stunning view of the city with all its 360 rolling gentleness. And the ocean, and bridges, and mountains beyond.

A few images from the De Young...
Lillie May Nicholson, Boats, Belvedere...
Everett Shinn, Outdoor Stage, FranceThis is gorgeous...This is not. I can't stand this painting by George Luks, Innocence. Reminds me of the the evil little girl from that 1950's B movie the Bad Seed. Hideous...
A few works by one of my all time favorite artists, John Singer Sargent...
Jefferson David Chalfant, Bougereau's Atelier at the Academie Julian, Paris...Frank Duveneck, Study for a Guard of the Harem...Don't know if cute is what the artists were going for here, but these are awfully cute...Not cute...This is a headdress from Nigeria, Ejagham or Okoi people. No description on the card, unfortunately, for it's scary design.
Another really good reason to visit the museum would be the King Tut exhibit currently showing there. No photography allowed. Which, for me, meant I walked through this beautifully staged exhibit (reminded me of waiting in line at a Disneyland ride) wondering how many photos could I get away with before they threw me out. The blasted guards were everywhere! So, alas, this is my one and only photograph from the exhibit...
King Tut furniture for your home, if you have a spare fifteen hundred or so...I couldn't end this post without showing you what I had to eat at the De Young...Only the coffee was disappointing. But the food was excellent, all organic and supplied by local growers.

It's Monday and I'm feeling rather silly over how emotional I can get sometimes. I blame it on my artistic temperament.