Thursday, February 26, 2009

Petroglyphs in the desert

On Monday, Matthias and I went with a group of friends, to bounce along a dusty desert road in search of some petroglyphs in the Rodman Mountain area in Johnson Valley. It is not too far from Joshua Tree, and of course, we love to explore. I posted about petroglyphs in Arizona about a year ago, but for those of you who didn't read that post, petroglyphs are drawings that were actually etched into the rock. Pictograms, on the other hand, are pictures that were painted on rock, and tend to not last as long, unless they are found in caves or a sheltered location. (Probably the most well-known pictograms are the Lascaux cave paintings.)

I love all kinds of art, including pre-historic art, so this was a trip that was really exciting to me. As I wandered along the basalt, looking at the petroglyphs that were created by ancient desert dwellers, all kinds of questions arose. We will never really know what the people were thinking about while creating this wonderful rock art, but I discovered one theory with the help of google that I found particularly compelling. This article, written by Susan Hough, explored the idea that the wavy lines found in many of the petroglyphs in Southern California were portrayals of the geologic disturbances common to this area. Since these petroglyphs we visited on Monday were on basalt, near what looked like a lava flow, it was not hard for me to find Ms. Hough's theory to be a good one. If I were living in a time before anything was known about earthquakes and volcanoes, I am sure I would have thought the gods were angry, or trying to communicate with me. Of course, there were other shapes and some animals in addition to the wavy lines. I find it really intriguing, trying to discern the meaning of these ancient symbols.

Here is a photograph of the basalt where the petroglyphs were carved into the rock.

In addition to the petroglyphs, some of the rock had the most incredible orange lichen covering it.
Nature certainly has a way of supplying me with a lot of creative impetus.

We had a good day, and ate a picnic lunch before our short hike to the petroglyphs. The weather was a bit undecided, changing from cloudy, cold and windy to sunny and warm in the blink of an eye. I am always happy to have layers of clothes. After our exploration of petroglyphs, we also stopped to see some intaglios. Our friends Nora and John had been there before, which is how we found out about all of these exciting examples of pre-historic art. They said the intaglios were much more easily visible on their previous visit. I didn't even take a photograph, the images were so hard to see. We weren't sure why this was, unless a recent rain had made the intaglios invisible. If anyone else has clues regarding our inability to see the intaglios, I would be interested in knowing about them. Apparently, intaglios are found in the desert "pavement", where darker parts of the rock were moved aside. The images are seen most easily from the air. I wished there had been something to see, but maybe we will return and find them next time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Opening

Saturday night's opening was a success! There was a great crowd who came. I was surprised at how vibrant my art was on the walls of the gallery. I had a lot of fun, met a lot of wonderful new people, and even enjoyed some sales. What more can an artist ask for? My girlfriends and I went out for sushi before the opening, to celebrate. They stayed with me through the entire opening, which lasted until ten o'clock, and I can't tell you how much it meant to me to have their support. I am so fortunate. Here is a photo of the three of us, in the gallery.

I took some photos of the gallery, before people started to show up. Once guests started to arrive, I forgot to take more photos. At one point, the gallery was so crowded you couldn't really move. It's a small space, but still, it was nice to see it filled up.

Thank you to all of you who came. I am grateful to you, for your support. Most of all, a big thanks goes out to the owner of True World Gallery, for giving me such a wonderful showing of my new art! Thanks, Bonnie! Here she is with her husband, George, and the gentleman who bought the first piece. Yay!!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Bunny Update

Hello all! Well, we have some very good news regarding our baby rabbits. When I came home from class on Thursday night, the bunnies were still in the yard, right where I had left them. I lined a small cardboard box with soft towels and fabric, and went outside to pick them up. I thought there were only three little bunnies, but I ended up finding four with my flashlight. Four baby bunnies slept in a cardboard box in the laundry room Thursday night. When I got up Friday, I went to the feed store (Cowboy Corral) and bought some kitten formula and two tiny little bottles to feed the bunnies. I tried to get them to eat, but only two of them would suck, and they only took a drink or two before turning away and squirming. I got on the internet, and did a lot of reading about wild baby bunnies. The internet is such an amazing thing. I found out that baby rabbits only eat once a day for maybe 5 minutes. So if you are trying to raise them yourself, you only should feed them twice a day, since the kitten formula is less caloric than rabbit's milk. The bunnies went back into the box for the morning.

Later in the afternoon, it warmed up nicely, and I decided to give the mother rabbit another chance to claim her young. So I took the whole box outside, and put it near where the original nest had been. I laid it on its side, so that the mother rabbit could get inside to her bunnies. I had an appointment for a haircut at 5 pm, and when I drove into the driveway after my haircut, I noticed the mother rabbit leaving the front yard. So Pono and I used the back door the rest of the evening. When my friend, Lily and I went out with flashlights after dark, the baby bunnies were all gone!!! Mama rabbit came through, and moved them to a new location. Yay!!!

I felt so much better knowing that they were with their mother, in their natural home. This morning, Pono and I were returning from our morning run, when Pono cornered something under a bench in our front yard. Imagine my dismay when I realized it happened to be one of the baby bunnies, who had a broken leg. I couldn't let Pono have it, so I ended up taking it inside. I knew what I had to do, but it was hard!!! I took little bunny to the vet, and asked them if they could put it down, since I couldn't bear to do it myself. They kindly agreed to help. As soon as I turned over the box with baby bunny, I cried. I pretty much cried all the way home. Of course the bunny would not survive with a broken leg, but still it was sad for me to let go of that exquisite little baby bunny. I have consoled myself with chocolate chip oatmeal cookies from the local bakery. I do take comfort in the knowledge that the other three bunnies are safely ensconced in a new home.

Opening exhibition for my show at True World Gallery is tonite!!! 7 pm. Perhaps that will take my mind off of the tiny ball of fur I left with the vet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Drama in our front yard

As much as I love my beloved dog, Pono, there are times when I wish he wasn't such a DOG. Case in point: this morning he dug up a rabbit's nest that he discovered in our front yard. There were three baby rabbits in the nest. He got one in his mouth, but when it squeaked, it startled him and he dropped it. I managed to swoop in and grab his collar. I had thought he was digging to find a ground squirrel. So when I had him around the collar and saw that a tiny bunny was hopping away, I was so surprised! I didn't really know what to do, at first, because the little rabbit hopped right to our front door. So there was no way to get in the house without going past the bunny. I knew I couldn't hold onto Pono within such a close range of the rabbit, so I dragged him over to my car and put him in the car while I figured out what to do. These rabbits have fur, their eyes are open, and they are (obviously) locomoting. And let me tell you, I have never seen anything so cute in my entire life!

Well, Pono had destroyed their nest, so there was no way I could hope they would hop back into the nest. I decided to leave with the dog, and I hoped that while I was gone, the mother would come back and rescue her babies. They all were hiding in various corners of the yard, so I figured it was somewhat sheltered from predators. (Except Pono.) Well, two hours later and the bunny by the front door was now in the threshold of the door. I couldn't leave him (her?) there, so I called a whole bunch of people to get an expert opinion. I was told that if I wore a rubber glove, I could move that bunny over near its siblings. So I did that. When I set bunny #1 down next to bunny #2, they both started hopping around, and then they parted ways. Bunny #2 settled back in to the hole it was in before, and bunny #1 went into a corner and tried to disappear into the side of a wall. (I know exactly how bunny felt. When I am terrified, I want to disappear into a wall, as well.)

I have talked to some animal rescue people. We all agree that the best thing to do is to wait and see if the mother bunny will come and get her babies. We think there is a good chance she will come when it gets dark. So, I am going to wait and see. I have my drawing class in one hour. If the bunnies are still out there when I get back from drawing, I am going to go out and get them and put them in a warm place for the night. It has been freezing at night, so they would not survive otherwise.

I will keep you all posted, of course!!!

So much for blogging about my upcoming show. It opens Saturday night, and I am excited, but somehow the bunnies have overshadowed the art exhibition.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Yesterday, I went to the Palm Springs Art Museum with a friend. It was spur of the moment, but we both had a great time. We specifically went to see the Wayne Thiebaud 70 year retrospective. Thiebaud has always been one of my favorite painters. This was the first time I had ever gotten to see one of his paintings in person. As expected, they are so much more impressive in person, and I was not disappointed in the show. His handling of paint, and his mastery of color are certainly two of the reasons to love this California painter. I am so glad I got to see the show! In addition to the retrospective of Thiebaud, there was also a show of Mapplethorpe's portraits. Wonderful! Even though we have lived here for over a year, this was my first visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum. Now that I have been there, and seen what a great facility it is, I am confident I will be back. Palm Springs is only about a half hour drive from Joshua Tree.

While I am blogging about sources of inspiration, I have been putting off telling you about an exciting event from over a week ago. I love sweaters, especially cashmere ones. I tend to be cold-blooded, and cashmere is perfect for me, since it is really warm and soft. Once I have a cashmere sweater, I will wear it until it is frayed and holey. Well, I found out about an artist who makes teddy bears out of old wool sweaters through my blogging friend, Melissa, over at Pugnotes. (It is actually Melissa's twin sister, Melanie.) So I sent her my old sweater, with the desire for my beloved sweater to be given a second chance on life as a teddy bear. Much to my surprise and delight, Melanie made a bear for me out of my sweater, and mailed it to me!!! The day I received my bear, I had other errands to run. My bear rode around in the car with me, propped up on the dash. Every time I looked at him, I smiled. He is wonderful! Thank you, Melanie, for my bear! If you are interested in seeing more bears created by Melanie, you can visit her etsy shop here. What a wonderful new form my sweater has taken, all thanks to Melanie.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Drawing with a stick

Last night in my drawing class with Luther Broome, he had us draw with a stick dipped in ink!!! It was so much fun! I had never done anything like that before, and even though I struggled at first, I stuck with it, and towards the end of the class, I really started to feel like I was getting the hang of it. He told me to try to capture the pose of the model with the least number of lines, and that really got me to streamline my drawings. Even though it looks like there was no effort involved, in some ways, this was harder than how I usually draw. Usually, I "scribble" a lot, making lots of lines and I really "search" for the pose that way.

For those of you who don't know this, when you draw from a live model, many of the poses the model takes are held for only a short time - perhaps a minute or maybe two minutes. The purpose of doing these quick drawings is to force you to really capture the "gesture" or essence of the pose. When you draw quickly like this, it also prevents your brain from getting in the way of the drawing. I find that it also helps me with proportions. When I do quick gesture drawings, I like to alternate drawing with first my right hand, and then my left hand. I normally draw, paint and write with my right hand, so the left hand doesn't have the same confidence. What I find interesting is that I tend to prefer the left handed drawings! If you have never tried this, I highly recommend it. It really loosens you up!

Below, you can see one of the first drawings I did with the stick, before we sharpened the stick, and before he had me simplify everything. (It was also done on a different kind of paper.) I can see the value and beauty in the way he had me draw, but there is also something very expressive about my original approach. The struggle is much more evident, and for me, there is a truth in that. Think of how life is often a struggle, and yet, when you persevere, it pays off. The more simplified approach has a confidence and elegance that is not there in my more agonized approach. I like them both, for different reasons. Which do you prefer? I am really having fun, trying new things in this class. It just goes to show you that learning new things is always a worthwhile endeavor.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Block Printmaking

I am excited, because yesterday, I printed my very first linoleum block prints! I have never done block printing before, and I wasn't really sure if I could produce something I would like. It took me a while to work out the composition. I had to remind myself that I was carving away the white areas and that the parts I left uncarved would be black. That was almost too much confusion for me, but I did finally figure it out. I decided to try a little composition with my favorite funny desert quail. I have had a bunch of them visiting me in the mornings, so I watch them while I eat breakfast. The best thing about these timid birds is the feather on top. It reminds me of a fancy lady with a feathered hat, and when they turn their heads, the feather bobs this way and that. It makes me laugh, every time I see it.

The photo above is a photo of the linoleum block after I printed it. You can see how the image is reversed. I printed ten of this block, and of the ten, I got eight prints that I was pleased with. The first two I printed were blurry, because the paper slipped on the block when I was applying pressure. So I had to figure out how to make the paper stay put. I am pretty happy with the results, and I am excited to try carving another one. It will have to wait, because I really need to focus on getting all this new work ready to show. That means framing, mounting, signing, and coming up with titles. I will admit that this is my least favorite part about doing art, and I am hoping I start to make enough money so that eventually I can pay someone ELSE to do my framing. One can dream.

Yesterday, we finally got some rain! We always welcome rain here in the desert. Everything looks different when it is wet, even the creosote! You can see all kinds of little green things growing at the base of it. My theory is that the seeds get blown all over the place, and they collect where there is something that will catch them. So that is why all the little green plants are usually found underneath a bigger bush or cactus. I could be wrong.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A rainy day in the desert

I think I forgot to mention that I am taking a drawing class! There is a community college nearby, and a friend told me about this four hour life drawing class that was being offered on Thursday nights. So every Thursday night for the past four weeks, I have been going to school! It's actually kind of fun, after being out of school for so long. (over a decade, and I won't be more specific than that!) I decided it would be good practice for me in case I actually get accepted into graduate school. I have to see if I will be able to attend classes and be a student again! So far, so good!

The top image is another new monotype. I am not entirely sure, but I think the title is "Cosmic Landscape". I am open to suggestions, if anyone has some. My show at True World Gallery opens February 21st, so I better start selecting the best work, framing and mounting it, and getting everything ready. It's a big job!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

At long last

I am sure by now you think I am a tease. That isn't it, I am just unorganized.

Here a couple monotype prints from Saturday. They are both 8 x 10 inches. The top one is called "Nocturne" and the bottom one I titled "Stardust".

I photographed them, instead of scanning, like I usually do. I have always told you I am not much of a photographer, and now it is evident! You have to believe me that they look better in person.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Sixth something

I have been tagged by Priya, of the Plum Tree. I think what I am supposed to do is find the sixth photo from my sixth folder. As you can tell, I am too lazy to verify I am doing this correctly. Sorry. I'm just a little tired! What the sixth of the sixth ended up being was a photo taken in 2008, when we still lived in Salida, Colorado. This is a photograph I took on one of the hikes with Mr. Pono the fuzzy dog. I had intended to paint a pastel painting of this, but I haven't yet. It was very beautiful there, in Salida. The Arkansas River runs right through town, and it is surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks! The lower forests are juniper - pinon, and that is what you are seeing here.

Kay, I'm getting a little homesick here. Gotta go before I tear up. Bye.

oops. I forgot. I have to tag six others!
Here you are:

High Desert Diva
Melissa and Emmitt at Pugnotes
Nancy Medina
Carla Sonheim
Patricia Scarborough

The rules (I checked now) are
1. post the 6th photo from your sixth folder and tell the story behind it.
2. tag six others
3. let them know!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Saturday

I went to my friend Shant's house yesterday to use his press. I had the most magical day with monotype printmaking I have had in a long time!!! It was such a great day. I had so much fun, and I really love what I did. I was going to quickly scan a favorite from the day, to post, but apparently, my scanner is on the fritz!!! Oh no! I am not happy about that. I hope it isn't broken.

I guess I will have to post some other photos, to tide you over until I can figure out what's wrong with my scanner. Even though I am seeing more and more green things poking their little heads out of the desert sand, I am still photographing the dried flower bracts that remain from last summer. No one knows why.

I have been making a concerted effort to stop eating all the junk food that the holidays got me into the habit of. Unfortunately, I suffered a major setback today, when I could hear a pint of Ben and Jerry's NY Super Fudge Chunk calling my name. Yes, I went to the store to purchase ONE THING - that aforementioned ice cream. I then drove home and proceeded to eat half of it!!!! So much for my efforts at healthiness. Already, my pants feel a bit tighter. I will have to run far tomorrow, to make up for my food indiscretion. I think I am going to blame it on hormones.

Here is a monotype I reworked with pastel. I printed it just before the end of 2008. I don't think I've posted it yet, but if I have, I apologize! It measures 8 x 10 inches, and I titled it "Unforgettable Fire".