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Playtime

I’ve been noticing a slow rhythm in each day’s flow.  The weather has been fairly mild for August, but the lawns are dry.  They remind me of my childhood, growing up in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California.  Summers were extremely hot, no humidity.  They were carefree days, our tract of homes being the last built in the area at the time.  Beyond, were orange groves and corrals filled with horses.  There was even a drive-thru dairy. The cows were across the street.  The neighbor kids, my brother, and I would walk there, past tall eucalyptus trees, to get a popsicle.  Banana was my favorite.  It was a time when kids could roam free. That sense of freedom along with the Sunday drives my dad took us on, gave me wanderlust that started at an early age.

But right now, I’m working through the day to day.  Morning changes into afternoon, and afternoon into early evening.  I notice the subtle shift in temperature.  Mid day I retreat to the “little house” (art studio).  I’ve been “playing” with different ideas trying to find a creative direction.

Some pencil drawings on brown paper.  The last one also has brown pencil and ink added.  The ideas are from a book of brown ink wash drawings by Claude Lorrain.

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A tiny watercolor and a whimsical watercolor with pastel and ink added.

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Finally, back to my mixed media using acrylic, leaf prints, and stitching.

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As the days have been mild, the evenings are beautiful.  Gorgeous air.  Summer.  Still free to roam… and play.

I hope you have time to play.

“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Henry James

 

 

 

 

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Fortunate

Woke up, fed the dogs, ate my cereal, and decided to hit the road.  Wasn’t sure exactly where I was going, but leaning towards Barnsdahl Art Park in Hollywood.  There was an exhibit I wanted to see there, plus it is one of my very favorite places in LA.  The freeway traffic for a Sunday was excellent.  But once I got to downtown I drove right past the freeway to Hollywood.  Had to keep going, circle around, and finally made it to Barnsdahl.

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There was a huge variety of mediums used in the exhibit, and a lot of color, but the few I selected to share are all black and white.  The first is a pencil drawing.  I can’t believe anyone can do this.  Phenomenal.  I usually write the artist’s names down, but unfortunately this time I forgot.

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This next one is an ink drawing, on a bus route map, of the riders on the bus.  I only got part of it in the photo.

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This last one is a photograph printed on brown paper (the kind used for mailing packages). The effect of the paper gave it the feeling of a mysterious place.

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The gallery is on a hilltop surrounded by pine and olive trees.  Once you start making your way down to the parking lot, this is the view you see.

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I recently watched a foreign film on Netflix called “The Lunchbox.”  Very good.  It was about a young Indian woman who tries to get the attention of her uninterested husband by sending an elaborate lunch to him at work each day, but it goes to the wrong person.  What makes the plot possible, is a complicated lunch delivery system that seems crazy, but seems to work.  After the husband leaves for his job, the wife makes a lunch that is picked up by a courier on a BICYCLE, and delivered with thousands of other lunches by TRAIN to the offices and places of employment.  It gives the viewer some insight into Indian culture as well as having excellent character development.

A few days ago I was watching the news, and a reporter was interviewing a a distraught migrant woman from Somalia. She and other migrants had been pepper sprayed in Calais, trying to cross to England, desperate for a life without war. She told the reporter, “We are human, we are not animals.”  When dinner time came, I barbequed some chicken, and sat outside, and ate, and was safe…and fortunate.

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“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Albert Schweitzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everyday

There are things that most of us get to do everyday, if we’re lucky, if we’re healthy.  Everyday things.  I recently stumbled upon a radio interview with the photographer who started “Everyday Africa,” photos of people living in Africa doing everyday things.  From that, other people have started “Everyday Brooklyn” etc. etc.  It’s interesting to me when I think of everybody everywhere going through their own “everyday” routines.  So I took notice of what I was doing the past two days.  The weather has been what you would call “ideal.”  Everything sparkling in the sun, a warm sun, not hot, and the leaves of trees rustling in a cool breeze, the kind you find on an ideal day at the beach.  Yesterday I spent some time in the little house, since it is open to the elements, and made a few very tiny sketches, put some watercolor on them and added a little oil pastel.

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The light on my neighbor’s tree gave it a softer shade of yellow than the leaves actually were.

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All of this gave me an idea for a series of tiny sketches and linoleum stamps of trees, leaves, plants etc.  Which I started, but will be working on for a while before I post it.  Which then gave me an idea to clear the weeds and plant something in a small area of my yard that was originally for growing vegetables. So today I stopped at the Farmer’s Market.

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But didn’t get anything there.  Instead I went to a nursery and purchased a tomato plant and some bachelor’s button seeds.  When I got home I cleared the area, and decided I also need some hollyhocks.  Below shows the area, but  with two lilac bushes included that were supposed to be temporary, when they weren’t doing well in their original spot. I decided to leave them there.  Update to follow when everything’s blooming and growing.

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I realized in the past two days that Easter is approaching very soon.  I got out my favorite seasonal delights, these tiny pipe cleaner chicks that my mom started putting in my siblings and my baskets when we were kids.  Originally they were blue, pink and pale yellow.  I’ve seen some new versions in recent years.

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And although I have a sufficient amount of pipe cleaner chicks, I can’t resist sometimes when I see them in the stores each year.  Especially when a whole legion of them is a mere 99 cents.

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Because I’m retired, I have more choice of how I spend my time.  But there are many memorable moments that stand out from my school/work days, even though at the time it seemed like I was just going through my everyday life.

Enjoy your day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Random But Connected

I was glancing through some photos I had taken and noticed a lot of orange.  And as I was doing this, the sky outside was getting orange as well.  I ran out to take a picture before it went away.  As the sun is setting, that brilliant color seems to vanish very suddenly.  Now I have one more random picture to add to the others, with color being the only thing tying them together.  While teaching ESL to adults for many years it was necessary to plan an evening’s lesson using a theme.  Usually it was a particular part of speech used in different ways such as conversations, stories, and actual grammar practice. The repetition helped them to grasp it and remember more easily, as well as seeing how it was used.  When I write posts for my blog I find myself still needing a theme.  So maybe for this post, the theme will just be the similar color in each of these disconnected images.  Here goes.

The first is a watercolor I painted a few years ago from a photo I took in Hawaii.P1020946

Next was an exhibit at the Los Angeles Folk Art Museum.  This “pile” consisted of 2000 hand stitched objects symbolic of actual people’s wishes, needs, and ideas of personal happiness.

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A mural on a restaurant wall in downtown Los Angeles.

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The setting sun this evening.

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I went to the animal shelter today.  Sometimes it’s difficult to get the the sweet faces with their hopeful energy out of my mind.  Perhaps that’s why I was looking at random pictures, until I could get a flow going again.  Random but connected.  Like everything in life.

 

 

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Beautiful Day

There are two Getty Museums in Los Angeles.  One of them overlooks many parts of LA.  The other overlooks the Pacific Ocean.  Today I went to the one overlooking the Pacific.  From Santa Monica, you have to go north on Pacific Coast Highway.  Here is a painting I did many years ago of some bluffs in Santa Monica above the highway. The location at the top is very popular for strolling or jogging. The photo I painted the picture from was taken on a cloudy day, but today was bright sun and the ocean was sparkling.

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It was so bright it was difficult to get a shot facing the ocean.

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This Getty has Greek and Roman antiquities.  The marble to build it (originally the residence of J. Paul Getty)  was all brought from Italy as well as all the plants.  There are fountains and columns and as many things to wonder at outside as there are inside.

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This next picture is of a marble gravestone from Athens dated 320 BC.

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Below is a Roman glass vase dated AD 50-100.  Amazing that it has not broken with all that it probably went through, along with many other pieces that were still intact.

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Here is a statue of a Harp Player made from marble during the early Cycladic period.  The date on it is unbelievable.  2700-2300 BC.

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All of the planted areas at the Getty are very manicured but lovely.  But my favorite is the small and less manicured herb garden with it’s very Italian looking grapevine.

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I am fortunate for such a beautiful day to be out driving along the coast and soaking up not only the sunshine but the inspiration that comes from ancient art.

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Some of the Best Things

My book club got together recently to discuss “The Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys.  The story follows the life of a Creole girl growing up in Jamaica after the abolition of slavery in 1834.  It is somewhat autobiographical being that Jean Rhys was the daughter of a Welsh doctor and Creole mother and born in 1894 in the Windward Islands of the West Indies.  Because it is the holiday season, my friend went all out and prepared not only a delicious meal, but a gorgeous color coordinated one served on fine china.  The following pictures were taken by her, Alex Alexander.

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Our plates looked like a paint palette.  The purple is actually purple sweet potatoes.

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The centerpiece was incredible “flowers” that looked like cabbages.  These are REAL.

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And since we recently had rain in LA, there were beautiful clouds that made shadows on the mountains behind her house.

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A day of creativity, literature, color, nature, and friends.  Some of the very best things in life.

 

I have driven the route from my house to Koreatown in Los Angeles many times to visit a friend who lives there.  Most often the street light at Pico Blvd. and Normandie Ave. is red, so I gaze upon a particular mural while I wait.  Today I decided to park my car and take a picture.

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While I was out of my car, I crossed the street to get a shot of another one on the wall of a restaurant called Papa Cristos.

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I couldn’t resist this last shot as I got back to my car.  I decided to go another day and take more pictures of the area.  So much catches the eye.  The patterns, textures and colors are very creatively inspiring.  I can always use that kind of inspiration.

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“If you really want a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.”

Cesar Chavez

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Creative Beginning

It started when I was a child with coloring books and construction paper.  Playing with crayons, pencils, and paper.  That sense of creative play has stayed with me, but throughout my life it has become food for my soul.  When I could make time to create, or even go to a place and look at other people’s creations, it brought a sense of joy, especially during life’s challenges.   Being in a museum and looking at my favorite paintings is like entering a Medieval Cathedral.

Awe.  Peace.  Beauty.  Quiet.

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This is St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.  My husband and son and I were lucky the day we visited.  The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was actually rehearsing for a performance they were going to do that night.

Painting of St. Peters in Rome by Giovanni Pannini 1735.

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All my life I have been influenced creatively by everything around me. One idea leads to another. In my blog I want to share my ideas and some of the people and places that have inspired me and continue to feed my soul. I hope in reading it, that you will be inspired to find what feeds your soul and pursue it. When I attended California State University Northridge I took some printmaking classes. In one of them we cut images into squares of linoleum. Ink was rolled over the linoleum, paper was laid over that and both were put through a printing press.

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Years later I experimented again with linoleum. A friend had brought me an apron from Paris and it came with a small catalog of the company’s tablecloth designs.  An Idea. I would make some repetitive patterns of my own using canvas, acrylic paint and linoleum. I wanted to experiment with colors, and I wanted the areas in each painting to be separated by sharp lines like you would find on a tablecloth.  Each painting represents a section that would then be repeated, like squares on a quilt. One of the designs on the pink canvas is sewn using embroidery thread.  This is a technique I continued to use in later pieces.

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One of my favorite painters is Paul Cezanne.  I like the wide brushstrokes in many of his paintings of nature.  They look like cubes of color.

“View of Chateau Noir” by Paul Cezanne.

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The warm colors he often used inspired me to do a couple of art pieces but rather than paint I used fabric.

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Here I appliqued a still life scene from his painting titled “Basket of Apples”.

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The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (in Hollywood) is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles.  You drive up a hill planted with olive trees.  At the top you can see L.A. in all directions, but once you are outside the gallery, you’d never know the city was so close.  There are rows of pine trees and you are at once transported to a meditative environment.  It’s quiet.  You cannot hear the city below.  Across from the gallery is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House built in 1921.

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The gallery exhibits the work of contemporary L.A. artists.  I went to an exhibit recently.  Here are a few of the pieces I saw.

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“Early Girl” series by Jessica Roth 2013.  Monoprinted lithographs taken from ads in the Burpee seed catalog.

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The following are beaded works by Cory Stein titled Gray Bear and Donut Nation.

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My yard provides ongoing inspiration.  It is like a constant work in progress.  A canvas that is never finished.  This plant is a Mexican marigold.  When I am out watering and I spray it with the hose it has the most phenomenal smell.  It is very difficult to find a comparison. The closest thing would be lemon, but sweeter.

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I made some planters using many different containers as molds.  For the square one I used a plastic box that Legos had come in.

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Dogs.  I love them.  They are such a wonderful presence.  So peaceful (the older ones) and so boisterous (the young ones).  I had three incredible shelties who have passed away.  Now I have three lovable mixed terriers, in large part because I volunteer at an animal shelter.  The story is long, so I will  share it in another post.  But for now I will introduce you.  Lucy. Charlie. Maggie.

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