Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our Art Critique Group in it's 22nd Year!

Yesterday Jay and I had the pleasure of hosting the Third Annual Overnight for our Art Critique group at our home. This is a group of women who have matured together - both in our art and our personal lives. We continue to love and supported each other through good times and through the challenges that occur in life. A huge thank you to the women in this photo and also to those of our group who couldn't join us on this day.

Kay Dewar, Sheila Theodoratos, Teri Hamilton, Iris Stripling, Sueellen Ross, Paula Parks and Barbara Benedetti Newton.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Gone but not forgotten.


I'm not certain what this post is about but I feel compelled to tell you this story. My husband collects stuff. The other day, among his newly acquired treasures was an old paintbox and brushes. He gifted them to me and I put the brushes to soak in vegetable oil while I cleaned up the paintbox, all the while wondering about the artist. I know his name was Jerry. He is recently deceased, his relatives are selling his belongings.

His brushes are scrubbed and frazzled but when I hold them, I feel the determination of his grip. Like all of us who paint, I know that he experienced elation and joy as well as frustration and doubt as he used them.

The point of this story is the connection I feel to him. I am honored to be the caretaker of Jerry's palette and brushes and plan to use them. We live on through each other.

Later:
I used Jerry's brushes to finish this frosty morning scene and I signed my name with what I believe must be his "signature brush" because of the way it is cut down and the worn shaft. Though I don't know you, Jerry, I hope you are painting with joy today.

Frosty Morning Abrams Road, oil, 6x6 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Everything old is new again

Many long years ago (actually it was five years ago), I painted the first of what would become a series of paintings originally based on a reference photo of a marshy field.


First painting: In 2012 I painted Lowland, pastel, 10.25 x 10.25 inches. Collection of the Artist: I have this painting hanging in my house.

Second Painting: Then I painted Lowland II, 10 x 8 inches from the same reference photo but this time in oil.  Sold by Cole Gallery.

Third Painting: In the summer of the same year I painted Golden Afternoon, pastel, 20x20 inches. Sold by Jeffrey Moose Gallery.

So, at this point I had painted the scene 3 times - twice in pastel and once in oil. Then last year, Wendover Art Group contacted me about reproducing my work as prints and when they saw this one online, they requested a really high resolution image of it (larger than the 300 10x10 dpi I had).

Fourth Painting: So, I painted it again just for them in a 25 x 25 inch format and titled it Golden Afternoon II. I tried to maintain the colors, composition and emotion of the painting shown above.
After the Golden Afternoon II was photographed by Art & Soul for Wendover, the painting came back to my Studio. It is too similar to the original Golden Afternoon for me to make it available for purchase but I can't resist reworking it to yet another painting of the scene. The new painting will reflect my current work - looser, brighter, more color and a wider range of value.

Fifth Painting: A small pastel study to work out colors and composition is my first step. I prepped a piece of Colourfix with an oil wash and printed a small color copy of Golden Afternoon II to use as my reference though I would be updating my impression of the scene. I'm happy with the result and am excited to move on to the 25 x 25 inch format.

Golden Afternoon III, pastel, 6x6 inches.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sixth Sense

I shouldn't be sitting here typing this today. I should be at our Art Critique Group meeting.

But...early this morning (I think I was awake but maybe not) it occurred to me that I really can't see well enough to drive without my glasses. What if I was on the road and couldn't see? I can't imagine what would have happened to my glasses...maybe they would just fly off my head. So, one of the first things I did today was hunt around for an old pair of glasses to take with me for what seemed like a imminent emergency...being on the road and not able to see clearly.

Got ready, packed up everything including my lunch and two paintings to discuss with others. Took the dog out to go potty, brought her in because it is pouring rain today. Put the address in my iPhone and off I went. About a mile down the road I thought a rock hit my windshield. It was my wiper blade breaking. Big screeching noises. Turned the wipers off. Now I can't see the road because it is still raining hard. Pulled over and tried to put the blade back on. Look at the other blade, back around the car, look at this one. Back and forth. Got it on but it is not looking right. Looks sort of sprung. Ah ha! There is a screw object but it looks like I'm missing a piece.

Back inside the car. I have two pair of glasses but I can't see for another reason. Hmmm....I'll have to think about my intuition and gut-feelings. And, maybe I should carry a spare windshield wiper blade.

And, because this blog should be about being an artist, here are the two paintings I had with me. Both were painted from the same reference photo of Grinder Creek. One is pastel and one is oil. The oil was painted first then a few weeks later the pastel. I'm very happy with both.

Grinder Creek, oil, 10 x 8 inches
Grinder Creek 2, pastel, 10 x 8 inches



Thursday, February 9, 2017

What's up with that?

Five days ago I declared I would paint only when I felt like it (besides Friday afternoons with my painting group) because I was more interested in gardening than painting. But, since then, I've painted three 8 x 10 paintings, two in oil and one in pastel. So, I'm asking myself, 'What's up with that?'

Grinder Creek, oil, 10 x 8
I didn't feel like painting so I began cleaning. I came across the beginning of an acrylic still life from last summer. Oh so bad. I had to cover it up with oil paint. (See my Art Journal blog for photos of that.) Love the result and LOVED working in oil again.

Rock Creek: Winter
 I thought I was done with Rock Creek but wanted to try it in oil. FUN!

Grinder Creek 2, pastel, 10 x 8
Back to pastel for Grinder Creek 2 because I was interested in comparing how I handle the same subject in oil vs pastel.

So, I don't know what's up with this unexpected time at the easel but I'm happy to have these three new paintings. Now, back to cleaning and realizing I have to move some paintings out of here to make more space. I will go through my inventory and offer some older work online at unframed prices.




Saturday, February 4, 2017

I hereby declare...

I remember the good old days. Days when my primary focus was making art, selling art, hauling work around to galleries, entering competitive shows, teaching art and writing about art. I loved doing all that...THEN.

When we moved here nearly two years ago, I disengaged from art to focus on the move and the move-in. I remember how free I felt being on a declared sabbatical. The new gardens and the new house had my full attention and I didn't feel guilty about not painting. Slowly I renewed my online subscriptions to art blogs and began visiting Facebook and other sites again to get my daily dose of communication with other artists and by the end of 2016 I once again felt like making art was a job that required my participation every day. I don't want to have a job. I don't want to make art every day. I want to do whatever I want in my Golden Years.

I hereby give myself permission to have a more balanced life. Sometimes right brain, sometimes left brain. I'm happiest these days if I can focus on one or the other. I like the business of art: it took a couple days but I updated my art database. Knowing how many paintings I have sold and gifted is of no interest to anyone except myself but knowing makes me happy. It also encourages me to find homes for the paintings I have through online venues.
2016 tax prep during a power outage.
Another aspect of the business of art is taxes. A couple days ago we lost power for a windy afternoon. I spent the time working on tax preparation. Fortunately, I had already completed the computer work of Profit and Loss.
2017 flower and vegetable garden planning
And now, here comes spring and gardening. Today I'm sorting saved and purchased seeds and planning the gardens and pots. I declare (to myself) Friday of each week as my Make Art Day. I will leave the rest of the week to whatever I feel like doing (Tuesday is toilets). Some days, I may even feel like making art.  Happy Spring to you!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Journaling my day

My life seems to be zipping by in 24 hour increments. Some evenings, I wonder what I did all day. I mentioned in a previous post about Jay's Nutrition and Exercise program. One of the things he does is write down every food he eats and it has really kept him on track to be accountable to his goals. A couple weeks ago this article was in our Seattle paper:


It started me thinking about applying the concept to my day and my decisions of how I spend my 24 hours.  Can journaling help me discover my true Studio habits and set reachable art goals? Yesterday I wrote down what I did and the act of doing that kept me going. Last night, I didn't have to ponder where my day went and that felt good.

I don't want to do this every day because, after all, I AM in my Golden Years and I guess I'm supposed to be relaxing. But relaxing might be over-rated. To me, this is fun.

Everything old is new again

A follow-up to my previous post about repainting an old painting. It interests me to see how my pastel work has changed in the past 10 years. The maturity of the pastel mark/stroke makes all the difference.


Wild Meadow Lights, pastel 7x5 inches   Available

Wild Meadow Dream, pastel 5x7 inches  Sold

Monday, January 2, 2017

Taking my own advice

"Blessing all around if we pay attention." That is what I wrote in 1983 in the book I talked about several days ago on this blog. The trick is to know if I am getting side-tracked from my goals or am I looking at an opportunity (blessing)?

I had to make a decision this morning. Read about it on my Art Journal Blog
 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Reflections and 2017 Goals

This morning I accompanied Jay to a meeting with his Nutritionist (Jay has enrolled himself in a 16 week exercise and nutrition program!). Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Sara spoke of balance in meal planning. Protein, grains for fiber, healthy fats. We also spoke about moderation. OK, let's do it! This change in eating habits comes at a good time - I can add it to my list of personal goals for 2017.  Through this meeting I am reminded (duh!) that balance and moderation in all things is the key to a healthy life. I will try to put balance in my art goals as well.

To begin my new art list, I reviewed the list that I posted on this blog a year ago.

My ART goals for 2016 were
1. Cut back on competitions and shows - done
2. Retire myself from several galleries - done
3. Cut back on online art-peer browsing - done
4. Try a new medium - done
5. Teach in some capacity - done
6. Paint for fun with others - done
7. Author a book - Move this goal to the top of the list for 2017!

I am happy and a little surprised that I actually accomplished most what I set out to do but a couple art opportunities came to me in 2016 that I would not have imagined: Two art-print publishers contacted me to create new paintings for them. - done

Those opportunities remind me of the book I first read in 1983 - a book that literally changed my life because I began to take my power back from others and create the life I wanted. For next year I will add, "This, or something better, now manifests for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways, for the highest good of all concerned."


My ART goals for 2017

1. Author a book
Note from last year: One of my long time goals has been to self-publish a book. I thought it would be about my life based on my nearly fifty years of handwritten journals but earlier this year when I began to review them I realized that to get to the happy and funny parts of my life I would have to plow through the sadness and struggle. I didn’t want to revisit those times so I shredded all but a few journals from the early years when my babies were born. I think a better idea for a book is to focus on my art journey illustrated with images.

2. Improve my online presence
My good friend, artist and web designer Kay Dewar, reinvented my website this year to make it interactive for me. In 2017 I will learn more about Wordpress so I can fully utilize this opportunity to communicate effectively.

3. Evaluate my online sales to increase revenue
Because I no longer want to spend my time rotating art at galleries, I depend upon online and Studio sales. Review and restock my stores at Daily Paintworks, Etsy, and Ebay. Add additional sites if needed.

4. Work with other artists to further their successes
This goal springs from last year's goal to paint for fun with others (goal #6 from last year). Because I am the artist with the most years of painting consistently, I am the default person to ask art questions in our Maple Valley Community Center Painting Group. As our group grows with additional full time artists, my instructor role will diminish. Currently, they are painting for fun, I am there mostly to support them. I do enjoy the discipline of going to the group each Friday afternoon but I will look for new ways to support other artists. Online mentoring? Private Lessons in my Studio?

5. Try new mediums or new techniques.
I look forward to more work in oil in 2017!

6. Bookkeeping: Quarterly 
I used Quarterly Profit and Loss reviews most of 2016 to track my business and simplify quarterly reports to Washington State and yearly to the IRS. Works well, keep it up!

And now, the additional text for gifts from the Universe: "This, or something better, now manifests for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways, for the highest good of all concerned."

My online presence is important to me both as a communication tool and as a retrospective view. I plan to continue posting on my Art Journal and on my Golden Years blogs. Thanks to all who have followed my work this year. Let’s keep in touch!
Wishing you a wonderful 2017,
Barbara




 






Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Eating my words

OK. I'm eating my words. When we moved here 17 months ago I blogged about separating my office from my Studio. I probably spoke of left-brain right-brain and about how focused on art I planned to be without a computer in my Studio. Right.

Since then, I have posted several times about my lack of bonding with my new Studio and my efforts to correct that. I painted one wall pink. I installed additional track lighting and held small workshops here. I began using a laptop for a few things.

I give up. Today Jay carried my 7-year old iMac downstairs and I'm posting this from it now. For me, this makes my Studio complete and it will be where I head each morning instead of to my upstairs office/sewing room. Once in here, there is a better chance I'll make it to my easels more often.

My pastel commitments are complete for the year with my Loose, not Labored workshop two weeks ago and Judging the NWPS Member Show last weekend. I'll still paint with pastel each Friday afternoon but I look forward to spending the rest of 2016 exploring other mediums. Another end of year project is cleaning up my FileMaker Pro Art Database and working with my Web Designer, Kay Dewar, to create a new website.

While working on images for my website Archives, I came across perfect examples in my work of the roundy-marks that identified me then as a pastel novice - the every-little-leaf problem with the end of the pastel stick. If you were at my workshop or the NWPS Member Show opening, you may have heard me talking about those kind of marks in pastel work. More about that later in a HOW TO PASTEL post on my Art Journal Blog. Until then, I'm a happy camper in my Studio.




Friday, October 7, 2016

The Prune Tree

From the West Unto the East, pastel, 13 x 14 inches
The backstory of this painting.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 2016 update

Dog Days of Summer. I should be relaxing with Annie because I just completed my August 2016 Project. Instead, I'm beginning to focus on my upcoming Workshop for the NWPS.

2016 Nuance, pastel, 20 x 20 inches
We are having a wonderful summer, especially now that the warm (too warm!) weather has arrived. My July workshops here were great fun; I hope to continue teaching from the Studio. 

Earlier this month Jay and I hosted the Second Annual Overnight Critique. We had a great time, despite my subdued expression in this photo.


Incidentally, in regard to my last post: No more Blue Apron. One of us doesn't want to follow directions which makes the other one turn into a Micro Manager. Yummy but not fun. Wishing each of you a joyful summer.








Thursday, June 9, 2016

More Time to Paint

I am WORKING at learning to paint with acrylics AGAIN. This time through an online course. It is an eye-opener about this interesting medium. It is also challenging and I sometimes paint for hours totally absorbed in learning until it is time to make dinner.

MAKE DINNER. I am really tired of thinking of what to make for dinner. If I were alone, I'd eat pasta every night. Oh...I forgot, I'm trying to eat very few carbs (I'm down 6 lbs, YAY!). Anyway, back to that meal planning thing. Here's something I'm trying which gives me more time to paint. Blue Apron. We made our first meal last night. Tonight we'll make their pork chops. I didn't see a can of cream of mushroom soup in the box so this will be a new experience.

Our first Blue Apron Meal: Steakhouse Salmon with potatoes and green beans. Delicious!

Monday, May 30, 2016

End of May 2016 Update

We recently passed our one-year anniversary at our new house. Best year of my life!
Robotic surgery at the end of March followed by eight weeks recovery - no vacuuming or lifting more than 10 lbs. Without this, I would never have known what a great vacuumer Jay is! I could not be happier with the results of my surgery. On Mother's Day, I got a kayak and a pink dogwood tree!

I've cut back on gallery commitments, paint only when I want to, garden and play online Words With Friends with my adult children. Additional track lighting in my studio. I'm happy.

During my years of teaching art I learned so much by sharing my trials and errors in several mediums. Now, I'm coming out of retirement to teach an end-of-summer workshop for Northwest Pastel Society. To warm up, I'm also teaching four one-day workshops at my Studio in July.

Jay is walking Annie so it is quiet here. When I first sat down to write this post, I planned on an introspective theme about painting but now the sunshine on this Memorial Day is calling me for my morning walk around the garden. I wish you every blessing for a great summer.


Monday, March 7, 2016

A change of medium

My life can be divided into decades by the mediums I have worked with. Those mediums include spinning wool and knitting as well as two-dimensional art. I know there are other artists who have similar experiences with changes in their creative process.

Last year my friend and fellow artist Kay Dewar took off in a new direction that is exciting to watch. Who would have suspected her talents with beads? One of my favorites is her Spring Green Nile Necklace which I just learned sold before I could finish this post! I'll bet she can make another just for you. See more at her Etsy Store.

Spring Green Nile Necklace by Kay Dewar

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Right brain, left brain: Tax Time


I think this post really belongs here, on my Golden Years Blog, but I started typing it on my Art Journal and couldn't stop.  It's tax time. You can read the text here.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The importance of an inviting workspace

One of my favorite times each day is early morning when I first wake up and I have some time to plan the day ahead in my mind. The very best is when I don't have to be anywhere else except home/studio.

I might be planning to do the laundry (image of laundry and laundry room come to mind). I like to do laundry and I love my laundry room so that's a happy thought.

I might be planning to paint (image of studio comes to mind). Hmm...sad to say that in the nine months we've been here, I still hadn't totally bonded with my studio. I finally figured out it was because of the off white walls. My former studio walls were seven different colors over the 27 years I was there. I loved that studio.

This week, a HUGE difference was made by painting one Studio wall Resounding Rose! I can't explain why this has affected me so positively but I imagine if you are reading this blog you are a creative person and I don't need to explain. With the addition of my rose colored wall, my Studio feels warm and INVITING. Finally.

I look forward to the time I can spend there each day.





Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Friday Painting

I have found an unusual pleasure in painting with others who paint only for fun at the local community center. It's a different world - totally non-competitive and low key.
This is my view of the room as I stand at my easel near the windows. Instead of painting with show and gallery deadlines looming, I use these Friday afternoons to paint two small pastels as my weekly contribution to my Daily Paintworks Gallery.

This group welcomes suggestions so it also satisfies my love of giving advice when I take a break from painting. Here are the two paintings from last week.



Friday, January 1, 2016

On the Accumulation of Years

My thanks to everyone who emailed me or commented on my recent post about my Reflections and Goals. I was surprised to hear from other artists in my age group who feel much the same and I am understanding now that it is a by-product/side-effect of getting older. Wanting to continue to paint or create in some form but for different reasons than when we were younger.

One response to my post was from my artist friend Sue Gill Rose who sent me a bit of beautiful writing done by her then eighty-year-old mother who continued to live a good life for another eighteen years after penning this. I love these thoughts, thank you Sue for your permission to publish this. Note: Sue and her mother share the same name.

ON THE ACCUMULATION OF YEARS
Sue Gill Rose
September 15, 1993

Old age is not a rumor.  It sneaks up on you when you are not looking.  My youngest grandchild is six.  “You are really old,” she says as she looks me over.  For me, it seems like nothing at all.  I am the same person I have always been - only more so - the little girl walking to school, the busy housewife and mother, the working woman.  Each step has made me more accepting and understanding, hopefully a little wiser.  At least now I’m able to cope.  Experience has taught me about the natural goodness of fellow human beings.  I value these eighty years.  They have gone by far too fast.

I live alone.  There are close friends and neighbors nearby.  We live alone together, sharing meals, movies, ideas, good talk, joys, and sorrows.  All people should do that everywhere.  These life-affirming connections sustain us.  My children are grown, there is no husband to nurture, no employer to cater to.  Nothing, no, nothing, in the world could be more liberating.  Work and study command some time, but travel, good food, and above all, good friends are my treasure.

Life has always led me where things were happening.  I have petted whales in the Baja, gone back to school for my master’s degree, become a late baseball fan, met fascinating people including two U.S. presidents, had my 78th birthday in the African outback, broken both arms at the same time, and found hundreds of four-leaf clovers.

Old age is opportunity, not a biological process, but a psychological one.  If one has the slightest urge to do something, just do it.  Keep your bag packed.  The right time to travel is when you have the chance.  On trips, you do not have to walk endlessly or see every museum.  Just sit on the plaza, have a cool one, and get the feel of the place and the people.

The meaning of life must be to be endlessly grateful for it.  Fresh perspectives are always there if you look for them.  Energy and hope are on the other side of disappointment and pain.  Suffering is basic and a part of humanity like sharps and flats are to music.  The point is not to single out individual notes and debate the whys and wherefores, but catch the melody of the whole.  When you live a long time, you acquire patience and passion.  This is a legacy of aging.  Don’t pass judgement, accept things as they are.  Did I make mistakes?  Hundreds.  I did the best I knew at that particular time.

The present is what counts.  This very moment is the only time I have.  I intend to enjoy it.  There is no way I can lose faith and I don’t want to lose steam.  Now - NOW - is the time to go for it.
There is a sacred commission to be happy, to breathe and move and bless our own lives and leave a foundation of genuine hope for our children.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reflections and Goals


End of 2015 - my studio is clean and waiting for me.

Today, at the end of 2015, I am setting goals for the coming year. Perhaps a reflection of my age, I want to spend more time with family and friends and my flower garden. That leaves less time for painting. It has taken awhile for me to figure out the best use of my painting time but I have listed my thoughts below.
1. I find I am no longer as interested in comparing my work to the work of others so I have drastically cut back on entering competitions and exhibits.
2. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been represented for many years by six good galleries but I am now reluctant to use my time traveling to the rotate my work so I have “retired myself” from several of the galleries.
3. Painting pretty pictures has become less interesting to me. I find myself gravitating to the essence and emotion of a visual story rather than a detailed description of each word/stroke. I know how easily I am drawn back into detail and traditional painting. To maintain my focus of how I might paint in the coming year, I have unsubscribed/quit following the online work of many of my peers.
4. For each new medium there is a learning curve, then a time that is comfortable with enough surprises to keep me on my toes. That is followed by a settling-in and a productive time when I think of it as my primary medium. This period may last for years but eventually I become bored. I seem to need a new challenge and switching to a new medium does that for me. I like to start a new medium with a know subject so it is only the handling of the medium, not the subject of the painting that I struggle with. I plan to try a new medium in 2016.
5. Painting is a solitary business. Teaching satisfies the need for interaction with other artists and I truly enjoyed my twenty years of teaching workshops. The past few years, I have mentored several students in person and online. I’m still interested in doing that in some capacity for those experienced with pastel. Perhaps a Suggestion Session for paintings near completion?
6. Last Fall I saw a notice in our local paper about a painting group at the nearby Community Center; the group turned out to be two people who paint “for fun.” I spent most of the first session asking myself what I was doing painting there, under fluorescent lights, amidst tables of chatting/card playing seniors instead of in my lovely studio. I was uncomfortable at first; it felt like I was giving a demo that no one was interested in. But once I let it go and focused on my work, I found that painting outside the security of my known space made me a more careful painter. Each Friday for several weeks I painted small pastels that I was very pleased with and I became acquainted with the other two artists whose attitude and perseverance I admire. I look forward to continuing the challenge of painting there.
7. One of my long time goals has been to write a book. I thought it would be about my life based on my nearly fifty years of handwritten journals but earlier this year when I began to review them I realized that to get to the happy and funny parts of my life I would have to plow through the sadness and struggle. I didn’t want to revisit those times so I shredded all but a few journals from the early years when my babies were born. I think a better idea for a book is to focus on my art journey illustrated with images. I’m working on it.
My online presence is important to me both as a communication tool and as a retrospective view. I plan to continue posting on my Art Journal and Golden Years blogs. I also will have paintings available for purchase through several online venues. Thanks to all who have followed my work this year. Let’s keep in touch!
Wishing you a wonderful 2016,
Barbara

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The tree is up!

I have NEVER put the tree up this early but here we are, the Saturday after Thanksgiving and our great room is all festive. I may even get Christmas cards out this year. Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Inspire Yourself

On my Art Journal Blog I've posted many ways I keep myself motivated and inspired to paint. I've spoken of keeping a computer file labeled "Inspiration" where I place images of other artists' works and recently I wrote about being inspired by the painters at my local community club. This week I discovered another source of inspiration and perhaps this is the most valuable...myself.

Six months ago when we moved to our new home, I purged art supplies, books, frames, and 25 years of painting history including show acceptance (and rejection) paperwork, award certificates and ribbons. Two items I kept are a Best of Show ribbon and my IAPS Master Circle medal. I also saved my art journals of notes, sketches and printed images of my work. Now, as I organize my studio to paint again, these objects have become my inspiration. When I peruse early journals I am happy to see that my work has matured and it inspires me to continue my painting journey to see where I might end up.

In the years ahead, I will continue to need inspiration so I've started a new journal with notes and current images. It takes a little time to print images, make a few notes or jot down thoughts but I believe that documenting your art life and work is part (an important part) of being an artist. If you sometimes feel you need inspiration, instead of looking outside to the work of others, review your own work and look how far you've come!

Monday, October 26, 2015

A special birthday gift

Our view of the lake this late October morning shows the shockingly low the water level. After a record-breaking dry summer the lake is the lowest it has been in more than 25 years. We could probably walk across the "Boot" from one side to the other if we didn't get stuck in the mud. The photo above shows high muddy ground where water should be. We're looking forward to January and a full lake again.

This is always a reflective time of year for me because I celebrate another birthday. Seventy-two years ago, on the day of my birth, Grandma and Grandpa Benedetti and my aunts and uncles each thought of me for a moment because they got the news that I was born. My birthday seemed like a good day to visit their grave sites at the nearby Black Diamond Cemetery.

I paused at each of their headstones, pulled a few weeds and stood by Grandma and Grandpa for a prayer and one verse of Holy God We Praise Thy Name. I thanked them for living so that I might live. I felt close to them as I remembered each one.

As I was walking back to the car, I was contemplating that I have lived 72 years! That seems so long. I know Grandma was 98 when she died but I wondered how old grandpa was. When I got into the car I tried to do the math of 1950 less 1866 with my finger on the steering wheel but couldn’t so I reached for my cell phone intending to find the calculator icon. I pulled the phone out of my purse, looked at the black screen and touched the button at the bottom to bring up the Home Screen so I could search for the calculator (which I never use). However, immediately after I touched the bottom button, the next screen image was the Calculator, open and ready to go.

WHHHAATT?? Who opened it for me? Grandma? My Aunt Evie or Aunt Nita? I sat staring at it for a minute trying to understand what just happened. I've heard spirits can communicate through electronics (as Ida the Ghost did at the Glidden House where I stayed in Cleveland) but cell phones? Hmmm...

I wanted to hold onto the moment; to share and document the experience with someone who knows me well, so before heading home I called my daughter, then my sister. At home, I told Jay what happened. He said, "Consider it a birthday gift." So I am!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mid September 2015 Update

Shortly after my last post here, I jotted down thoughts for the next post but suddenly, it is the middle of September, we have been in our new home 4 months, and I never got back to posting.

My thoughts then:

I have down-sized my inventory of art supplies and I am fairly clear on how I want my art business to be structured, at least short term. I don't plan to enter competitions and will cut back on gallery commitments to concentrate on smaller work for my Daily Paintworks Gallery.

I love being here on Lake Sawyer and am amazed at the varied moods of the lake as the weather changes. Sunny, bright and sparkling. Gray and drizzly and cozy. Serene, or busy with activity. I should paint that! The problem is, I can see it, feel it, enjoy it, LOVE IT but I can't imagine painting it. I tried yesterday. It was artist torture. This morning, while preparing breakfast, I imagined a painting. I could see a mental image of a painting.

That's where I left off. I went on to paint that imagined painting and spent the month of August painting many more local scenes. I posted them on my Daily Paintworks Gallery and sold most. Yesterday I shipped the last one, a painting of one of the old local houses that has been overtaken with brambles.

Brambled, pastel, 6x6 inches
Our lake water level is very low due to the long hot summer. Our noxious weed lily pads are on the way out (forever, we hope) so painting lake scenes is on hold until later in the year. Our grandsons returned to school, both at Kennedy this year, and are celebrating another birthday. Life goes on.

I continue to love my new community. We went to our first Sons of Italy meeting last night at the lodge where my grandparents were Charter Members and it was all I expected it to be. In fact, my feelings were in print in this morning's newspaper about the Colbert interview with Biden. Biden, in speaking about his religion: "...an enormous sense of solace. Some of it relates to ritual, some of it relates to just comfort in what you've done your whole life." Being in a room full of Italians reminded me of Sundays at my Grandma Benedetti's house near here in Morganville. Comforting. Familiar. A part of my childhood that made me who I am today.

Tomorrow, we will attend a neighborhood gathering here on the lake. We have great neighbors and a sense of community that is new to me. Next weekend we will host our first "To Family" gathering. I hope to make that a tradition. Life goes on and we cherish each day. I paint when I can and look forward to teaching art again in one form or another.