Finally, after 5 years of saying I’d like to try it I did a “night” painting. From 10-12midnight I stood under a yard light and painted the attached study of a shed on the site. There is a floodlight on the corner of the shed that gave some illumination to the scene. It was in front of this shed on the gravel driveway under the shade of this big tree that Maynard Dixon painted some of his later year paintings. The temperature was perfect and the light never changed. Couldn’t tell what my colors looked like so depended on a study of values. At first when I would hear a twig snap behind me I was startled into fantasies about what could be creeping up behind me. But interestingly enough, the night time traffic on a nearby road began to be a comforting rhythm to me. Like waves in the ocean.
Susan Bingham painted some great florals from life at the studio with us. One day we were talking about her grand vision for the Maynard Dixon site and I suggested that she come up with some good ghost stories in its background to draw visitors. She replied, “As a matter of fact . . .” She showed us a stone Maynard had begun carving as his headstone. He had carved “MD HIS PLACE” on it. You could only see “MD”. Most of “HIS PLACE” was buried in the dirt. The next day or two, at Barb’s suggestion, we dug out the rest of the stone and provided another tourist attraction at the site. Attached photo shows Susan, me, and Barb at the stone.
The beginning of the week at Mt. Carmel was a pleasant temperature. But about Wednesday afternoon the heat began to descend. At one moment while all three of us were painting in the Maynard Dixon studio one of us spoke up and observed:” I don’t know if I am having a hot flash or it’s just warm in here!” This is a sketch of a cow’s skull hanging in the studio and these are photos of Barb and Roxane working in the studio. My work station shows a blue cloud formation on the painting to the left. Thank heavens the nights were cool.
I sat by an irrigation ditch on the Dixon home site and sketched while listening to the slow gurgle of the water. When I woke up this morning into my head had poured a possible story line for a children’s book I have been working on. Funny how flashes of insight come unexpectedly. Sitting by the ditch reminded me of my early days on a farm. Playing with my sisters and friends in the local irrigation ditch. While I was sitting there I sent my sister, Deon, a text to follow through with a weekly call we have. (It had to be text because my phone wasn’t getting reception in Mt. Carmel.) Her reply text said: “Let’s you and me meet up by a stream of water under a tree and sip some tea and talk about life under the moon.” She did not know I was sitting by a stream sipping my herbal concentrate, always contemplating life, albeit under the sun, lol.
Each year for the last six years I have journeyed with art buddies, Roxane Pfister and Barbara Edwards to Mt. Carmel, Utah for a week’s art retreat at Maynard Dixon’s home site. This year we went for the last week of June. Rox, Barb, and I have wandered in the world of art together since middle school. It is a precious long term friendship that has only deepened over the years. Paul and Susan Bingham, owners of the Dixon site and an accompanying prestigious art gallery have been very generous in providing this art opportunity for us and others. Even as I am writing this I am struck by my good fortune to have dear friends that I can share my passion for art and life experiences with, paint and draw to my heart’s content, adventure in the semi-wilds, laugh a lot, be under the influence of the ghost of Maynard Dixon, and be inspired by the quality art of the Bingham gallery. Following are bits and pieces from the week. This first sketch is of Diana’s throne. Waking up with a full bladder, hunger pangs, and the anxiety of making a living with my art, I climbed the 4 minute hike to an overlook that inspired Maynard Dixon. Sitting on a rock in the early morning quiet, amazed at the enduring magnificence of the landscape, the anxiety took a backseat and I started the day’s “work”.
“Stable Ghost”. On a more serious note with animals, I strolled past the stables after a local horse race. The haystack was a beautiful blend of shadow and varied color hay grasses. The stable window was empty and intriguingly dark. I was pleased to get a photo of this horse, resting after the race, a few windows down.
Continuing to pursue the dream of publishing as an author/illustrator! Introducing Driz and Siz, little starlets of stories, “Around The Corner” and “It Is What It Is”.
Today, with trepidation and relief I clicked the “submit” button on my story submissions to a literary agency in New York. I am pursuing the process of getting an agent to represent me as an author/illustrator. It has been a year since I sent three publishers a rough outline of one of my stories, “Nightmare Roundup”. I never heard back from any of them. I am wiser and my stories are more refined this time around. I will start with finding an agent. I am reminded of a clever dialog that passed between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her friend, Willow: “How do you get to be RENOWNED? I mean, like, do you have to be NOWNED first?” -Buffy. “Yes. First there’s the painful NOWNING process.” -Willow. It WAS painful. After the writing, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting . . . and drawing, redrawing, redrawing . . . I thought I had all that I needed to submit my stories. Sat down to submit my stories online and remembered to make a copy to mail to myself for copyright purposes. Copied and packaged stories and sketches. Drove to post office and discovered I was 14 minutes past their closing time. Went back to the computer to attempt submitting again. Carefully worded and filled out the electronic form to the point of submitting when our cat, Frankie, chose that moment to jump up on the computer keyboard and erase all my work. I burst into tears. Composed myself and started again. Pushed the submit button and got an air message that said my 8000KB file was too big for their requested 800KB attachment size. Was really bummed. I am not so computer literate that I could fix that on my own. That was Saturday night. Was inspired Sunday in church with this line from a speaker: “Recognizing something’s potential and not giving up on it.” Monday I got help from a very generous Alphagraphics computer tech, Kathy, who reduced the sizes of my attachments. Have spent the day, today, Tuesday, submitting three stories for consideration. Now the waiting. I feel peaceful. God called and I have just been picking up the phone . . . pursuing the inspiration of these stories and the desire to be published as an author/illustrator.
Katie and I invited our next door neighbor, AJ Hurst, to join us in creating these posters for the new year. Therefore, these 2013 posters were produced by a 15, 22, and 60 year old. These can be an art project with any age. I think even younger children would enjoy creating a visual of their hopes, dreams, and possibilities for the new year.
1. Take some time to write down your 2013 possibilities. What projects, intentions, goals, etc. do you have for the new year? Really throw your hat over the wall and write down those things that are always nagging the back of your mind but never get handled. This could be the year!
2. Pick a poster size and color. Our posters were 13 1/2 x 21 inches on colorful art paper. You could use white poster board, but, a bright color background seems to get the art juices rolling.
3. We took a photo of each other with a digital camera. Could have been with our phones. Transferred the photos to the computer and printed out a black and white copy to paste onto our posters. Last year my poster had a color photo of me. This year a black and white allowed me to do some creative coloring. Putting your face into your 2013 possibilities is a great place to start the planning from. After all, this is a visual of your intentions. I put my face upside down, Katie used just her eyes, and AJ not only used her head but several little full figures in various poses of herself.
4. Materials: photo copies, magazines, color cardstock, markers, color pencils, scissors, glue. I’m sure that 3-D items would work too. Whatever you wanted to put into your collage. The collage items will represent your goals, thoughts, themes for the year. I picked an overriding thought from the musical, “Les Miserables”, to headline my year: To love another person is to see the face of God. There are also “charts” on my poster that I can mark off as I accomplish them. My column of “the unexpected” is my longest column. The poster will also become a history of 2013.
5. Hang the completed poster in a place that will keep it ever present!
Basic directions for creating paper sculpture masks:
1. Use cardstock. Bright colors and black. Black cardstock is a great foundation for color pencil work and background for bright color attachments.
First decision: pick a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 inch color cardstock. It is always fun to see what color different children pick. Cardstock can come in such intense colors.
2. Fold your piece of cardstock in half: will you be a long face (like a hotdog) or a wide face (like a hamburger)?
3. From one of the corners of your folded cardstock to the opposite, diagonal corner, tear or cut the paper. Tearing leaves an organic rough edge, cutting leaves a smooth sharp edge. When you open your folded paper you should now have a basic triangular shape. The beginning of a face!
4. Poke holes in your mask where you want the eyes to be. You can do this with a pair of pointed scissors by drilling carefully into the cardstock. With a little hole poked you now have room to insert your scissors or fingers and cut or tear an eye shape.
5. Paper and cardstock can CURL as well as bend, fold, twist, crinkle! Look at your left over pieces and also pick some other color pieces of cardstock to experiment with. They can be attached to your basic mask shape with a glue stick or hot-glue gun.
6. Get into your craft supply box and also decorate with feathers, glitter, rope, trim, etc. Colored pencils on cardstock create some great tapestry and texture.
7. When you are done you can display your mask on the wall or bulletin board with push pins. It is important to pin one side of your mask to the wall and then bend the mask a bit at the fold before you pin the other side. This gives a 3-D look to your paper sculpture mask. Don’t hang it FLAT against the wall. A 3-D mask is more interesting as light in the room casts shadows and accentuates shapes.