Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Take a break

I meant to post once more before leaving home, but somehow, it just didn't happen. I am visiting my parents in Colorado for one week, and I will post again when I get home.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Two reptiles and a painting

I took a break from the studio today. I should have spent the day cleaning and organizing my studio, but instead, I spent the day outside, digging in the dirt and working in the yard. It was a good day to be outside, since it isn't too terribly hot yet (about 88 degrees F for the high). Plus, I had a few plants that really needed to get into the ground. I pretty much wore myself out, but you will be happy to know that I was wearing sunscreen and lots of it. Maybe tomorrow I will manage to clean the house and the studio.

We have seen tortoises pretty much every day. I LOVE that. I think I am addicted to the tortoises, because even with two or sometimes three sightings a day, I cannot resist squatting down to say "hello" and take a couple of photos. Yesterday, we also saw a horned toad. They are so well camouflaged, it would be easy to step on one. Even in this photo, you can see how well they blend with their environment. They aren't as quick as the other lizards I see. Obviously, or I would have photos of other kinds of lizards. These horned toads are the only things slow enough (besides the tortoise), for me to get a photo. Hmm...I wonder if a horned toad is considered a toad or a lizard?? They look more like lizards, even though they are called "toads". I will do some research and get back to you. I haven't given up on the idea of a nice lizard photo. If I get one, be assured that you will be the first to see it!!

Yesterday was another long day in the studio. It may not have been as triumphant as the day before, but I managed a slightly overworked third painting to act as a triptych with the two I posted on Tuesday. I will post a photo when it dries a bit. I also mangled a small painting, and then did this one. It is oil on canvas, measuring 16 x 12 inches. I used the same colors on this small one as I did on those larger three, and I must say I am enjoying the colors.

A special thank you goes out to my friend, Nancy Medina, for mentioning my work in her blog and for all of her incredible support and comments. Thanks, Nancy! You rock my world. Welcome to all of you who find me through Nancy's blog!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Growing Pains

Today I completed two new oil paintings that are different from what I have been working on up to this point. These have been painted on top of other paintings, so there are at least 2, if not 4 layers of paint underneath the final layer. Somehow, the texture and color underneath seems to make everything work so much better. Just think, I nearly threw away all of my old paintings, so that I could start fresh. If I had done that, I am certain these two paintings would NEVER have been painted.

What I learn from art can also be applied to life. Sometimes, we think we need to discard the old places, old clothes, old friends, etc. in order to have a fresh start. Has that ever happened to you, when you were so miserable you thought if you just moved to a new place, your life would be better. I am sure there are times when that may be true. Yet, there is merit in finding the fresh start within us. A new attitude makes everything that was old look new. That attitude can be applied to the things, places and people we were going to discard. Then those old things are made new once more, just because we are seeing them with fresh eyes.

These measure I think 25 x 25 x 1 1/2 inches. (I am too tired to double check the measurements. If that is wrong, I will fix it tomorrow after a night of sleep.)

I also have a nice orange desert mallow photo to share with you. This was taken in my friend, Marjorie's yard. I will most likely have some desert tortoise video footage for you in the next day or so. Stay tuned!! Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Desert goodies

I have been busy all week, but if you asked me what I have been doing, I am not sure I could tell you. Just bits of one thing and bits of another. I did spend some time working on my sketchbook, because Thursday was the last class we had for the semester of figure drawing. I spent some time in my yard, I swept and mopped the floor, blah, blah blah. I have neglected my studio time terribly, and I hope to remedy that condition this weekend.

We have had the pleasure of many tortoise encounters on our walks. I also have a fun tortoise story for you. My friend and neighbor, Marjorie Franklin, was out in front of her house with her son and husband, when a tortoise marched right up their driveway. The tortoise walked past her husband, who was sitting in a chair, past her son. A tortoise with a mission, it trucked right on by Marjorie, who had camera in hand - attempting to film it - and through the gate to the backyard. Apparently, it has been there ever since!!! I guess they have been adopted by this tortoise now. I got to see a few of her videos of this tortoise, and it is a hoot to see how fast they can actually move. I may see if she will allow me to post one here on the blog for you to enjoy!

I have taken a photo of the fuzzy green creosote fruit, so you can see the next step after flowering.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Welding with Mike Smiley

One of the local artists here in Joshua Tree, Mike Smiley, offered to have a group of us up to learn a little about welding and plasma cutting on Friday. Of course, I was one of the first to jump at the opportunity. Mike is first and foremost a stone carver, but he does wonderful things with metal. The Smiley's yard was filled with his sculpture, and I am sure it will take me more than one visit to drink it all in. They have also adopted two desert tortoise. (Tortoi???)(Tortoises?) hmmm... well, whatever it is to have more than one tortoise...

We had so much fun! Scott Monteith, Lily Stockman, John Lauretig and his wife Nora Lousignont, Matthias and I all got to watch Smiley in action. We even got to try it ourselves, if we were so inclined. We started with a tour of the house and yard. We even got to feed the tortoise some desert dandelion. THAT was fun. We then began by watching Smiley expertly wield the plasma cutter. Then, I jumped to be the first to try using it. BOY, is that ever fun!!! I think I need to sell a big painting, so I can by a plasma cutter all of my very own. Lily was the natural with the plasma cutter, and she managed to cut out a tiny rabbit from our practice sheet. (Sorry I didn't get a photo of Lily's rabbit.)

Then, we went on to the welding. Smiley's welder is similar to our wire feed welder, except that it has about twice as much power as ours has. Therefore, it feels much different than ours, to say the least!!! I can see that I need to spend a great deal more time practicing my welding. Matthias and I need a gate to enclose the courtyard in front of our house. HE seems to think I am capable of creating such a thing. I have serious doubts, especially after spending an afternoon with Mike Smiley, who has been welding for over a decade. Nevertheless, I still want to learn to weld, and I am not ready to give up yet.

In completely unrelated news, I got my hair cut short on Saturday. I love the cut, and there is something really enlivening about a new hairstyle. Pono wasn't very excited about it, but I give him kisses anyway.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Orange Desert Mallow

7:30 pm, 84 degrees.

One of the native flowers I looked forward to seeing in bloom this year is the orange desert mallow, sphaeralcea ambigua. I loved it so much last year that I have been searching for some at the garden center to plant in my yard. I had no idea that the search would be such a challenge. I really wanted ORANGE ones. They also come in pink, red and white. I found the other colors, but for some reason, it was the orange color I had my heart set on. I finally managed to find one orange one about a week ago. I bought another one that the lady at the garden center thought was orange, but when the buds opened, it turned out to be pink. At first, I was going to return the pink one, but now I have decided I like it, so I am going to keep it after all. I am thrilled that I found an orange one at long last!

The photo of this particular mallow was taken near an empty lot down the street from us. Funny how they seem to grow everywhere except for my yard!!! I am glad I took this photo when I did, because yesterday when I walked past it, I noticed a jackrabbit had eaten off the top part of it. It doesn't nearly look quite this good. Well, jackrabbits have to eat, too. I can't really blame them, this flower does look good enough to eat!

Another new oil painting.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Mohave Indigo Bush

8 pm, 76 degrees F. It has been warm and windy the past few days. Some of the new plants I recently transplanted in our yard are suffering from the drying winds. I just hope they make it! I hope to have some front yard photos soon. I keep thinking the yard isn't ready to be photographed yet, but maybe you would like to see the work in progress. I am finding that gardening in the desert offers a set of challenges that are new to me. I am making an effort to chose native or at least drought tolerant plants as much as possible.

Just this past week, the Mohave Indigo Bush (psorothamnus arborescens) began to bloom. I would love to have this bush in my yard, but so far I have yet to see it for sale anywhere. Maybe I can keep an eye out for seeds in the fall.

I have managed to carve out a tiny bit of studio time. Not nearly as much as I would like, but better than nothing. Here is one of the new paintings. This is oil, paper and window screen on canvas, and it measures 12 x 24 x 3 inches. I'm still thinking of a title, and I am not quite sure if it is finished yet, but here it is, regardless.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Desert Tortoise Love

We saw another desert tortoise on our morning walk yesterday. This was a fairly large one, and I squatted down to take photos and admire it. I don't like to get so close as to frighten them into their shells, and this one simply looked back at me and blinked. You wonder what sort of wisdom this ancient looking creature could offer you, if you could speak its language. (At least, that is what I wondered, as I gazed at its blinking eyes.)

We also saw our first Desert Mariposa Tulip yesterday. I have been scanning for them in the places I remembered seeing them last year. This one was discovered on our way back, and I almost wonder if it bloomed during the time we were out walking. Hard to say, but I like to think it bloomed just for me. How selfish is THAT???

We have a busy weekend coming up, and Matthias will be home for it!! Cool. Most of the things I want to do are art events, so he may not come with me to all of them. The first event is my friend Marjorie Franklin's lecture tonight about the digital side of contemporary art. I am really looking forward to it. For those of you who live here, it starts at 7 pm, at the Copper Mountain College in room 219.