Oct 09

Changing Seasons

Apricot Triplets

Apricot Triplets

Brushes: Apricot Triplets.  Three gorgeous apricot roses.  These were fun to paint, with all their curled petals and all the variations in color.  In a week where we’ve had light snow twice and then 20″ of heavy, wet snow, and I’m feeling a sense of dread with the approach of winter, this painting reminds me that spring really isn’t that far away.

Books:  In one of those interesting twists of fate, the book that I was reading this past week while visiting my parents and my in-laws was Richard Russo’s That Old Cape Magic, a book that’s all about family and the competing desires to return to the best of our childhood while simultaneously distancing ourselves from our parents.  Russo is one of my favorite writers; I love his ability to tell a compelling story based on ordinary lives, his effortless command of the English language, and his inclusion of goofy slapstick scenes that make me laugh out loud.  As soon as I had read the last page, I turned back to the beginning to reread my favorite lines:

“That, he now realized, was how he’d been feeling two days ago when he’d packed that bag and headed to Boston alone—thirty flours up and half a bubble off.  Plumb the last time they checked, but no, suddenly, plumb some.” P.66

“The problem seemed to be that you could put a couple thousand miles between yourself and your parents, and make clear to them that in doing so you meant to reject their values, but how did you distance yourself from your own inheritance?” p. 70

“Attempting to corner her was like trying to put a cat in a bag; there was always an arm left over and, at the end of it, claws.” P. 77

“Late middle age, he was coming to understand, was a time of life when everything was predictable and yet somehow you failed to see any of it coming.” P. 248

“All your father’s pleasures are guilty,” his mother claimed, “and deserve to be.” P.11

And during the climactic comedic scene, which involves a wedding, an old man in a wheelchair, identical twins, and a thorny hedge, you’ll find my favorite line:

“Had the bush been burning, the whole thing would have been biblical.” P. 210.

Lucky me—I had another of Russo’s books in my ever-growing “to read next” pile, so I’m already halfway through Bridge of Sighs; that mitigates the feeling of loss that I had when I finished That Old Cape Magic!

Oct 09

A Kitten’s Journey

We’ve been traveling again, so I don’t have a new painting to post this week. However, we had an amazing adventure while in Arkansas and Tennessee visiting our daughter and our parents, and that’s what this post is about.

After a quick visit with Tom’s family in Dyer, TN, we loaded up Emily’s Prius and set off to visit my parents, who live about four hours away, in Stuttgart, AR.  We had already made one stop for gas along Interstate 55, somewhere in northeast Arkansas, and then stopped at the Subway in Brinkley, Arkansas, for lunch.  While we were eating, I glanced out the window and noticed that a car had pulled up next to ours and the driver and passenger were intently examining our car.  I commented that no one had been so interested in our Prius in years, and I wondered whether something was wrong with the car–a flat, perhaps?  As we left Subway and neared the car, it quickly became apparent why they’d been so interested in our car.  Something under the car was meowing. Loudly.  Anxiously.

We peered under the car and saw a tiny, fluffy yellow tail hanging down from a ledge (maybe the engine splash shield?) between the two front tires. Tom, with the longest arms of the three of us, laid down on the ground and tried to reach the kitten.  He could touch it, but couldn’t grab it to pull it out. We sent Emily into Subway to buy the kitten a tuna sandwich…the kitten wasn’t interested.  We unloaded the trunk, got out the jack, and jacked up one side of the car, hoping that a little more clearance would enable Tom to capture the kitten. The kitten proceeded to scoot all the way to the other side of the car.  We took the jack off, and tried the same thing from the other side.  The kitten finally jumped down and ran to hide behind one of the tires–which I was crouching behind.  I grabbed her; she grabbed me (I have the claw marks to prove it!).

The kitten was fine.  Not a scratch on her.  A bit grimy and scared, but who wouldn’t be after 199 miles and three hours of clinging to the bottom of a car seven inches above the interstate at 70 miles per hour? A phone call to Tom’s parents confirmed that yes, Fluffy was missing.  (They have a clowder of barn cats, which at the time included one small yellow kitten, about six or seven weeks old.) Fluffy had been observed eating solid food, and seemed old enough to be weened, so we continued on to Stuttgart.

This kitten survived a 199 mile trip clinging to the underside of a Prius!

This kitten survived a 199 mile trip clinging to the underside of a Prius!

The kitten has been adopted by my parents and will probably end up with a new name.  We’re voting for Brinkley, since she was on the brink of disaster and was rescued in Brinkley.  Other suggestions are Stow, Hitch, Miracle, and (Un)Easy Rider.

All’s well that ends well, but how many lives do you suppose she has left?

Oct 09

The weather outside was frightful..

Autumn Leaves I

Autumn Leaves I

But the Open Studios visitors were delightful!  Although the weather in Boulder was cold and snowy this weekend, we still had quite a few people who visited the studio this weekend.  Overall, it was a great experience, and well worth the effort.  Help from friends and family was really essential.  Thanks so much, Alex, Anne, Barbara, Cindy, Courtney, Robin, Susan, and Tom (especially Tom!)!

I spent some time this week working on small paintings of autumn leaves.  Around here, most of our fall color is yellow, so I particularly appreciate finding some red leaves.  I’m glad I spent some time with the leaves this week; our snowy, cold weekend finished off a lot of the fall color.

I’ve been listening to the new Dan Brown thriller, The Lost Symbol, this week.  No, it isn’t great literature, but it has certainly kept me glued to my ipod.  I always enjoy books that are set in places that are familiar to me, and since we lived near D.C. for about seven years, we spent quite a bit of time there.  The reader did a good job with the different voices, but he mispronounced ‘disoriented’ several times–I rarely hear readers mispronounce words on audiobooks. I enjoy all the discussions of symbols and their meanings in Dan Brown’s books; I think most artists use a lot of symbols and metaphors in our work and our thought processes.

I’ve also been reading Tongue Tied by Peter Griffiths, a multi-generational family saga set in Wales during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Although Tongue Tied has little in common with The Lost Symbol,  a symbol (a small Welsh dragon) plays a central role in the story. The story was engaging and immerses the reader in Welsh life and culture. .  I had not been aware of the tensions between north and south Wales, and the conflicts that arose due to the decline of the Welsh language.  I know that some of my mother’s ancestors immigrated from Wales during this time period; I wonder whether or not they spoke Welsh.  Tongue Tied is a first novel, written by a man who was born in Wales and now divides his time between Denver and Wales. The book could have used a little more editing, as Griffiths seems to occasionally try too hard to create parallels and connections between the lives of the two families. However, the characters and the setting came to life for me, and I felt transported to another place and time.

And now I’m back in Boulder, bundled up against the cold, and watching the Rockies on TV!

Oct 09

Open Studios is here at last!

My gallery set up for Boulder's Open Studios Tour

My gallery set up for Boulder's Open Studios Tour

The first weekend of Boulder’s Open Studios Tour has come and gone, and I felt that it was quite successful.  The week leading up to it was hectic, and I spent the final hours before noon on Saturday in a state of high anxiety.  Would anyone come?  Would anyone buy anything?  Would I have anything to talk about if a few visitors came? Would our brand new credit card system work?  People did come–a steady stream of them!  People bought paintings and prints and cards!  And I had fun talking to our visitors, especially the aspiring watercolorists who came through.  And, yes, the credit card system worked!

So all that work was worthwhile, and I’m looking forward to the second (and final) weekend of the tour.  One of the most memorable moments happened on Monday morning.  I went to pick up some art supplies at a local store, and a woman who had come through my studio over the weekend stopped to talk to me.  She had a couple of sketchbooks in her hand, and she said her visit to my studio had inspired her to try her hand at a travel journal.  It was exciting to find out that I had inspired someone!

What I haven’t done much of this week is paint.  There was just too much to do to get the studio and my paintings, prints, and cards ready for the tour.  So no painting this week, but you can see a bit of my home gallery space in the photo above.  I did have time to listen to Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France, while I cut mats and packaged prints.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and found it  inspiring that Julia was not an especially young woman when she discovered her life’s work and immersed herself in something that truly inspired her.

If you are in the Boulder area, drop by my studio on Saturday, October 10 or Sunday, October 11, noon to 6 pm.  I’ll be here, and I’ll be a lot less nervous this weekend!