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.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

First Critique at the Lake

Seven members of our Critique Group spent the day together at our new home/studio on Lake Sawyer. We met here for lunch then spent several hours in our usual critique. After a walk to the nearby boat launch, we went to a local restaurant for dinner and four of the group spent the night.

These are good women, good friends, good artists. I am lucky to call them my friends. Left to right, Teri Hamilton, Paula Parks, Kay Dewar, me, Sueellen Ross, Sheila Theodoratos and Iris Stripling.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Our Critique Group: 20th Anniversary Show

Twenty years ago three of us started a Critique Group of about a dozen artists. A few members have left us and we have invited others to join our bimonthly meetings. When we began the group everyone worked in colored pencil and even though some have gone on to work in other mediums we continue to value input from all and enjoy the camaraderie of long-time friends. Many thanks to American Art Company, Tacoma, WA for hosting our show.

They were accomplished artists when they first got together, and when they joined ranks, something magical happened. They met in each others’ homes to give and accept advice and encouragement. They honed their skills, appeared in shows, wrote and illustrated books, taught art, won awards. They shared contacts and opportunities. They commiserated, they supported each other. They became life-long, close friends. And now their Artists Critique Group proudly presents Pencils and Palletes 20th Anniversary Show.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

shredded

When I started this blog in November 2013, I gave up writing in my paper journals but I kept them - boxes and boxes of them! I thought I might like to read them when I am old. I moved them to our new house and after two months of looking at them stacked in my little office I started going through them to pick out funny stories about our two grandsons. The problem is, the funny stories are sandwiched between all the other stuff and all the other stuff is either boring or brings up feelings I don't want to experience again. So, above is a photo of all my journals except a few from when my children were small. I gained a little space in my office and I'm happy no one will read all that tedious contemplation of life. Getting rid of STUFF.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Being HOME

Being Home. What does that mean? It means knowing in your heart that this is where you belong right now.

I grew up in Auburn, WA in a little house my father built on "M" St. Definitely home to me as a child, it is where I felt safe but when I turned 21 years old, I couldn't wait to move to Seattle to attend Burnley Art School where, when I walked into the classroom and saw easels and all things art, I almost wept with the feeling of belonging. When I married, had children and moved to our 13 acre Vashon Island farm, it quickly became home to me. I remember sitting in the tall grass of one of the pastures feeling so happy that the farm was ours. We belonged there.

Now once again, here in Black Diamond, WA I have that blessed feeling of being home. There is no place I would rather be. I am slowly learning where rural roads go and connect. I know how to drive to Morganville and past the house where my Grandma and Grandpa Benedetti lived. I hold dear the memories of being "up the house" with my Italian relatives and remembering the sense of belonging with those people.

This weekday morning I attended Mass in the 1911 St. Barbara's Church in Black Diamond and then drove the short distance to the Black Diamond Cemetery. While I was there, I received a nice cell call from my daughter on her way to work. The nostalgic past and the present. The sweet, bittersweet and the difficult. I find perspective and comfort in being home.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Uncle Sam lives here

I finally cleaned up the Studio enough to post a few photos. Here is the link to the first Studio shots.

Hot, hot, hot days on the lake and we are loving our lives. This morning I attended mass in the 1911 St. Barbara's church in Black Diamond. It reminds me of the church of my childhood.

I find it pretty hilarious that Jay is going to be Uncle Sam in the Lake Sawyer Fourth of July water parade. I guess he is supposed to throw candy and apparently he can expect to be pummeled by water balloons. Happy Fourth of July to you!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Sluggo and Marci

So much has happened since I posted last, I don't know where to start. We moved to our new house and have been unpacking, hauling dirt and planting ever since. This is s a photo of me and our neighbor Marci (Marci and Ken). She is nice, she is clean. I'm holding my container of Sluggo just before application to my new lettuce bed.



Saturday, May 9, 2015

Milestones!

One of my art goals has been to earn the title of Distinguished Pastelist with the Northwest Pastel Society. That happened yesterday when Juror Michael Chesley Johnson awarded my painting "Path to Gold Creek" the Directors' Award at the NPS 29th Annual International Open Exhibition. I'm happy.

To obtain DP status is especially meaningful to me because I have long felt that once I accomplished that goal, I would quit entering NPS competitions and instead, sponsor an award. I put it on my to-do list with our tax man for next year.

Another milestone this week: our house has passed the final inspection! I spent yesterday weeding the flower garden under the maple tree near the lake. The French doors to the lake were open and I could hear the business of the painters inside. I am in awe that I will get to live there! I'm not sure how to explain the contentment I feel knowing that my Grandma, Grandpa, aunts and uncles rest in peace in the Black Diamond Cemetery not far away. Also, I know what roads to take to drive by Grandma's house in Morganville. I'm happy. Mill Pond Cottage Blog

Another milestone: Years ago I discovered Frappe mix at Costco. YUM. caloric. YUM. I began making coffee in a French Press to mix with the Frappe for a morning mocha. I became one of the those people who HAD to have my morning mocha before anything else could happen. Then, one day, it was GONE from my local Costco. When I inquired I was told it was discontinued at all Costco with the last delivery at a Costco about 20 miles away. I called, they still had some; I raced there and bought 18 lbs of mocha mix. At checkout, the Costco employee told me a woman was in the store buying multiple 3-lb bags because she couldn't live without it. That was my story too.

I have always kept a backup bag (or two) so when I began packing up for our move, I packed the 18 lbs in a moving box and took it out to the garage to the growing pile. Then, last week I ran out of mocha mix. Aarggh. I found it on Amazon but it is $28 for a 3-lb bag. I just can't do that but I also can't find the box in the garage. Jay saw my pain and ran to the store and bought me a substitute. Not the same, not even close.

So the next morning, I made a cup of Lipton tea with sugar and the only milk I had - Evaporated Milk. Voila! It is the exact cup of tea I remember from my childhood at my Aunt Evie's house (312 J Street - within walking distance of our house at 509 M Street). Now I think of her every morning and am beginning to crave the sandwich she made for me: a piece of Wonder bread with real butter and sprinkled gritty, granulated sugar, folded in half.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Happy 27th Wedding Anniversary

Surprise! Early morning flowers from Jay. They sit beside the sawyer man wood carving we unearthed at our new home on Lake Sawyer. I imagine someone carving and painting him in honor of the saw mill that was nearby, long ago.  He was buried in our mud but he will sit on our fireplace mantle in a few weeks.

We had a wonderful 27th wedding anniversary. I spent the day inside, packing up the pantry - in part to avoid Jay's 3-day garage sale going on outside. We also had a surprise visit from our grandson William (Noah) and his father, Drew. They are logging driving hours in preparation for William's drivers license at the end of summer. He is driving my 1993 Volvo 940 station wagon - my favorite car ever - the color of my tricycle, and this day complete with sticky cherry blossoms. Drew has been keeping the car in good repair the past 12 years for this day.





Monday, April 13, 2015

The Rosewood Rocker

My latest furniture repair - the Rosewood Rocker. When my first husband and I purchased a 1903 farmhouse and 13 acres on Vashon Island in 1974 from Mr. Art Shane, we also purchased his round oak table, roll top desk and the rosewood rocking chair. My daughter has the table and desk and eventually the rocker will go to my son. I am finally getting around to doing something about the horse hair and miscellaneous stuffing in the seat. I left the horsehair in place but removed the hay/straw, dirty rags and other strange fabric.

Original stuffing Rosewood Rocker
Original seat stuffing
Rosewood rocker with new stuffing, leather-like cushion and small back cushion.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My biggest fan

Illusion, colored pencil, 2002
Yesterday, Jay and I had the pleasure of meeting with my biggest fan, Ginny, and her husband Bill to deliver my colored pencil drawing, "Illusion" to them. Over the years she and her husband have acquired quite a number of my paintings and drawings and I am so pleased to have Illusion join their collection.

Ginny surprised me with a gift of one of her beautiful silk quilts embellished with glass beads. Thank you Ginny!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bookcase...the end.

I've come to the end of my furniture refinishing for now - two weeks was long enough. Besides, how far can one can of red paint go? Mama's bookcase - after and before (see photo below). Everything old is new again.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Maple Table Complete...whew!

Ten days ago I started work on the maple table and today I'm finally done. This has been a labor of love that included a lot of trial and error. I thought I could use MinWax Polyshades Maple but it looked terrible so I had to strip all that off, wash the table, sand the table and begin again. I finally bought some MinWax Wood Finish Maple stain then a coat of Johnson's Paste Wax on top. There is also a leaf that isn't shown in this photo of the table in the waxing stage. I'm calling the table good for the next 50 years.