7

C R E A T I V I T Y

Summer is winding down, and we’ve been having cool evenings that feel like fall. September is still to come though, and this is Southern California. Historically, it is by far the hottest month of the year. But the old predictable weather patterns no longer exist, so we will see what September brings.

I have no creative endeavors to share, but I do have some from other people, and some of nature’s creativity I’ve noticed recently.

Here is a a collaged mini dresser, my journal making friend Toni Mattock made from matchboxes.

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And the latest from Anonymous Starbucks artist.

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Creativity in Nature.  This was blossoming out of a palm tree.

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Bird of Paradise.

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A dragonfly with those sparkling, transparent wings.

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A piece made from nature that I saw at a local nursery.

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This last one does not fit into a creativity category, and my phone could not capture or do it justice.  So you’ll have to believe me that it was an enchanting sight. I was walking at night down a hill in a residential area. The moon was orange and very full.  There were millions of lights from homes spread out in front of me.  The thought of the amount of electricity used in this one spot multiplied by homes, offices, and streets around the world was boggling.

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Reading or watching news to stay informed, is a constant reminder of all the sorrows in the world. The painful reminder is difficult sometimes. I was also reading some quotes by Mark Twain (so funny), and watching old Seinfeld episodes (so funny), and decided that this quote of Twain is so true, (although not funny).

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

I hope you are enjoying your days.

 

 

 

3

Legos In Nature

These are tiny blossoms and seeds from my neem tree. It’s a native of India. When the seeds drop to the ground, a few germinate.  My giant tree started that way from my mom’s tree, and hers came from her neighbor’s tree. I liked how the light fell on the wall behind the vase. The walls look like three colors, but the whole area is actually the dark brown you see on the right.

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I liked the warm light in this photo that I took on a late afternoon walk.  It almost makes the rabbit look real.

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On a morning walk, I spotted these patterns created by the light coming through the tree.

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Practicing again with my Pentel watercolor brushes.  I was painting this nasturtiam flower outside, in the sunshine.  So the paint dried VERY quickly.  Trying to add layers, and get the colors darker, got a little too muddy looking.  I decided to do a second one inside, adding layers while the paper was wetter.  I think I like the flower on the first one, and the leaves on the second one.  Sigh…

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We’ve been having some warm sun and cool breeze, so it was an ideal time today to go to a local garden that was originally started on a landfill.  Also, they are currently having an exhibit of lego garden-related sculptures by artist Sean Kenney.  It took him 173 days using about 500,000 legos. There were 15 sculptures in all.  Here’s just a few.

Hummingbird

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Monarch

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Lawnmower

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Koi

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And a couple scenes from the garden. (No legos involved).

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And as I love meaningful quotes, I’ll leave you with this.

“There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against the other.”   Edouard Manet

Have a beautiful weekend.

 

 

4

Spring Stuff

Charlie pretending he’s a RABBIT.

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SPRING colors

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SPRING decorations

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SPRING in the air (that’s the Pacific Ocean beyond the park).

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I saw an exhibit of California Faience pottery and tiles yesterday. California Faience potteries was established in 1913 and came out of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Photos were not allowed, so I took a couple from their brochure and cards I bought.  They don’t do justice to the originals, so if you’re interested, you can google California Faience.  A lot of Art Deco style in the pottery.

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Also on exhibit were the gorgeous watercolors and block prints of William Rice, a painter and printmaker who was part of the Arts and Crafts Movement at that time. Most of his watercolors and block prints are of National Parks and other scenic areas in California. Again, these photos of block prints are just from cards I bought. The originals were brilliant, the skill astounding.

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A small mixed media piece I finished today, using some leaves from one of the Rose of Sharon trees in my yard, also known as Hibiscus Syriacus.  Acrylic, fabric and stitching.

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In an email from Save the Chimps, there was a wonderful quote I want to share, so appropriate at this time, when life has become so difficult for so many.

“What do we live for; if it is not to make life less difficult for each other.”     George Elliot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

Being Fully Alive

For Sunday Sketches at Blue Chair Diary Blog, a little watercolor (below).

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There are some days in which the air takes me to another place, time. Yesterday was just such a day.  As a teen, spending a day at the beach, making my way farther out into the cold ocean, laying in the sun, the midday heat would take on a different feel by 3:30.  The slightly cooler but still warm air seemed to flow over your skin. I could sit there soaking it up forever.  As I walked through neighborhoods yesterday, I felt that same air and was taken back to those beach days.

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I saw an exhibit here in LA recently of artists who had attended Black Mountain College.  It was an experimental arts college in North Carolina that opened in 1933 and closed in 1957.  It was short lived, but the alumni (teachers and students) included among others, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, John Cage, Josef and Anni Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Albert Lanier, and Ruth Asawa, one of my very favorite artists. The time and place seemed like the perfect combination to learn, and be creative. You can check it out online.

Here are a few of the pieces I saw.

An old photo from the exhibit of some of the students with Josef Albers.

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Joseph Albers   (Oil on masonite)

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Robert Rauschenberg   (Collage with fabric, paint and found objects made for a dance of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company).

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Ruth Asawa  (Woven metal sculpture)

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The photo came out fuzzy, but the effect of Ruth Asawa’s sculptures looks like crochet.

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Walk in nature, make art, look at art, or whatever makes you feel alive.  Enjoy your week.

“It’s not the meaning of life we’re after, it’s the feeling of being fully alive.”     Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

 

8

Going the (Twelve Mile) Distance

A small watercolor for Sunday Sketches over at Blue Chair Diary Blog.

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I can never decide which direction to go in creatively.  I’ve signed up to take an online watercolor class with illustrator Alexandra Mac Vean at Blue Chair Diary Blog. I love watercolor used with sketches and illustrations. But I also love the colors and style of painters like Matisse, Auguste Macke and Vanessa Bell. And I love mixed media.  I need to get a few supplies for the watercolor class, so in the meantime, I played around with some acrylics yesterday.  I’m not finished with the curtains and table, and I’m going to add some fruit. If I put it aside for a bit I can look at it with new perspective.

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This is an acrylic I did many years ago.

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I found an article in The Huffington Post with photos of absolutely amazing street art done by a FEMALE street artist in Afghanistan, Shamsia Hassani.  It is worth going to Huff Post for the article and all the photos.  Here are a few.

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We actually got a day of rain this week following one that was 93 degrees. I think everything in nature must be somewhat confused.  Signs of spring are appearing, but we’re all hoping for a little bit of winter before winter is over.

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Preparing for the Camino today, I rambled along pedestrian walk ways that run along the sand while looking out at the ocean, through the beach towns of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhatten Beach to El Segundo.  For middle of February, it looked like a typical summer day.  People flocking to beaches to lay in the sun, walk dogs, and ride bikes. We ended our twelve miles here at this little side street where the walk ways stopped.

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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”   Marcel Proust

Enjoy a new week of discovery.

 

 

2

Day Into Night

There is a house near me that has always reminded me of a Cezanne painting called “The house with the cracked walls”.  Not that it has cracked walls, but my mind always connects the two.  Here’s the one in my neighborhood.

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The sun was shining really brightly on it here, but normally the color is duller like this photo, of a picture, of Cezanne’s painting. (below) I should probably take one on a cloudy day so the resemblance is more apparent, but the sun made a photo irresistible.

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More of my neighborhood, stretching out five miles in various directions, as day turns to night.

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I’m enjoying my walking routine.  I notice so many more things than when I’m in a car.  And the weather has been scrumptious.  When I start out, the sun is shining. I get to watch the colors change and feel the air on my skin go from warm to cool.  And with Christmas around the corner, houses are decked with twinkling lights.

I’m working on some small pieces inspired by vintage fabric I found at a thrift store.  Hopefully I’ll soon have a few to share.  In the meantime, a sampling of the cloth.

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While I’m walking, it is easier to stay in the moment.  And maybe because it’s an everyday thing, it seems to carry over into the rest of my day.  With the upheaval that is happening near and far, trying to stay in the moment is a good antidote.

 

 

 

2

Walking, Walking and…Walking

I’m going to walk The Camino!

Tickets in hand, and departing in April with two friends.  We’ll start in Pamplona and walk 453 miles to Santiago de Compostela. That should give me time to build up the amount of miles I am able walk in a day.  Right now I’m walking four miles every evening, and soon will add four miles in the morning for a total of eight each day. When we get to Spain we’ll be walking twelve to fifteen per day, but stopping for breaks and lunch.  The weather is good for practicing now.  Although one cloudy morning (I had planned on two walks that day), I set out with a warning of rain from my husband.  If it rains I thought, it will be drizzle.

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Wrong.  After two miles and my Starbucks hot chocolate in hand, DOWNPOUR! I looked like I’d jumped in a pool with my clothes on.  Since I was only wearing a t-shirt with jeans, it was cold.  I called my son to pick me up, but by the time we found each other, the sun was out.  I sent him home and I continued on foot.

Since the rain, we’ve had some cold wind.  But the cold air, combined with warm sun shining on my face while I walk, has been kind of heavenly.  Some photos from my walks.

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Below are two residents of a house with nine cats.

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Besides walking, I visited a new museum in LA called The Broad.  A contemporary collection of the man who built it, Eli Broad.  Below is a graphite drawing by Ed Ruscha.  Phenomenal.

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“Tulips” by Jeff Koons.  (out of focus, but I liked the photo)

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One of El Anatsui’s pieces that looks like cloth but made from the foil on wine bottles. Gorgeous

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The architectural elements on the building were also very contemporary.  Here is a window looking out at the Disney Concert Hall downtown with the San Gabriel mountains in the background.

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There was a small dark room covered with mirrors and little hanging lights. The platform that you stood on was surrounded by water, so even the floor was sparkling.

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If you are interested in reading about The Camino, there’s an entertaining book written by a German comedian describing his walk from the Pyrenees in France to Santiago de Compostela.

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Finally, as excited as I am about my travel plans, it is impossible not to feel grief about the insanity permeating the world.  One of the victims of the Paris assault was a young woman from the same university that my son graduated from in Long Beach, Ca.  I can imagine how excited she was to be doing some of her studies in Paris.  How unimaginable that she would die in this horrific way.  I’ve read that one of the intentions of the terrorists was to create a backlash against the flow of refugees pouring into Europe.  I hope that governments continue to see these tired and desperate refugees, who have been forced to leave their homes, with compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

“Los Angeles Is 72 Suburbs In Search of A City”

After a lot of heat, it was cloudy enough to go on a stair walk today.  They are historic stairs built on LA hillsides, before there were streets in those neighborhoods. The one today was in an area called Silverlake.  Up and down we went along the edges of front and backyards of old cottages surrounded by green.  It’s a different world from the flat world of suburbia that most Angelenos live in.

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This particular section of stairs had 183 steps.

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I love climbing these stairs, looking out over the city, being surrounded by so much green, and enjoying the styles  of old cottages and homes.  Some of them were designed by famous architects during LA’s early days.  It’s also a good workout.

When I went to the Folk Art Museum a couple weeks ago, there was a second, less impressive exhibit than Binh Pho, but it had some interesting pieces.  All were made using only paper. This first one had the pages removed from a book, and then reinserted as strips.

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Lino stamped paper made into lamps.

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Almost continuously throughout the year, there are small-ish lemon yellow butterflies in my yard. They are a joy to watch.  There’s always a pair, or pairs.  One time I counted ten.  Their flight patterns are different than Swallow Tails and Monarchs.  The movements are like ballet dancers or those acrobatic airplanes that make circles like the hands on a clock.  They’ll sweep right past your face.  They appear happy to be alive.  I came across one of the cocoons.  It is only attached to this plant holder at the very tip, but neither rain nor wind can pry it loose.

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Lastly, (wasn’t sure if that was a word, but I looked it up and it was), I have another fabric house I’m working on.

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After my stair walk I was looking for a nice quote about Los Angeles.  I couldn’t find any.  People seemed to have a lot of negative things to say.  I liked the one I used for my title, by poet Dorothy Parker.  And I found an interesting one by the artist Ed Rusha:

“I’d read about LA and this fact stuck in my mind: That the city gained 1000 new people everyday. In 1956! A thousand people everyday! I felt: I want to be a part of that.”

That still seems to be the case.  Most Angelenos have moved here from somewhere else.  I rarely meet someone who was born in LA.  But the diversity keeps life interesting.

 

 

 

 

2

In The Details

This is the exterior of the Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles.  You can see a reflection in the door of the La Brea Tar Pits across the street.  Tar has been seeping up from the ground for tens of thousands of years.  Bones from animals such as mammoths and saber toothed cats have been found in the tar dating from the last glacial period.  Pictures of the tar pits in a future post.

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The exhibit inside the museum was maybe one of the most uniquely beautiful I’ve ever seen.  Artist Binh Pho spent one year in a reeducation camp after the fall of Saigon, seven days floating in a small boat in the gulf of Siam, and eight months in a refugee camp on a deserted island outside Kuala Lumpur before arriving in the U.S. He makes intricate  wood sculptures using dental tools.  I took photos of some of the details on the large pieces.  So many of these individual details could have stood on their own as works of art.

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The color was added with acrylic, but so often looked metallic.

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Some of the pieces were a collaboration with glass or metal artists.

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All the pieces together told a fantasy adventure story written by Binh Pho.

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Well, my small creative contribution seems even smaller after seeing that, but I guess we make “art” in our own way with the skills that we possess, and what it brings to our life.  Often just for the sake of satisfying the yearning to create.  So with that idea in mind, I’ve been finding myself sitting with a “sketchbook” and “sketching” more.  Still a long way from my intention of loose sketching.  But here’s a couple.

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And one more stitched acrylic and applique.  Still need to put a backing or border on the applique.

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No post would be complete without an LA weather update. We had a couple days of cool air, that even brought a ten minute down pour.  But today we are back to 90 – 105 degrees.  A photo taken before our ten minute storm last week.

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Details can be seen in different ways, depending on the situation.  The details in a sculpture or painting can make a huge visual or textural difference.  But in life, what sometimes appears worrisome or trying, is in fact a minor detail that doesn’t really make any difference at all.  When I read Binh Pho’s story, I was reminded of that again.  And everyday when I read about the unimaginable challenges of the world’s refugees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Carpet Weaving

I saw some inspiring pieces at a museum in LA a couple days ago. It was also a good place to escape the heat.  This first one, my photo of a photo, looking through a window, could have passed as a painting.

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One of the exhibits was called the Afghan Carpet Project which was a collaboration between a non profit group, American artists, and Afghan carpet weavers to help revitalize the traditional carpet weaving industry in that country. This first photo is a segment from a carpet called Blue Burqa.

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An entire family works together weaving the yarns to make one carpet.  The next photo is a segment from one called Kite Fight.  Amazing skills…and patience.

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The monthly book sale at one of the nearby libraries was yesterday.  This particular one has a considerable amount of very old books.  And even though I have read the ones I purchased, I was so drawn to them, I bought them anyway.  A whopping $1.00 each.  Not only is it extremely interesting to me that they are so old, and that they survived to this point, and I like to wonder who else has owned them, but they are like little art pieces.  Old leather covers with “Ernest Hemingway” embossed in a 1940 edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls, and an ancient photo of Robert Louis Stevenson in a 1928 mini edition of Treasure Island.

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Working on my 10×10 panels.  In the meantime, this is a larger one I did a while back, using leaves for stamps.

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I’ll leave you with a little LA sunshine (with a small amount of heat relief under a table umbrella).

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Hope you are enjoying your September days.