Friday, December 30, 2011

The Tenth Song and Texas

A Christmas trip to Texas is just what the doctor ordered for this confirmed northerner.   The weather has been glorious, perfect for morning coffee and reading on the patio and a day wandering the Museum District of Houston with 'da kids.  There's no time for painting and that's ok.  

Visiting art museums with teenage grandchildren is a rare and special thing.  Amazingly, there were no "I'm so bored"moments and plenty of "that's so cool" moments.  We all loved the Art Car Museum in downtown Houston in the Montrose area.  It was so accessible (they even allowed you to photograph the art)  and didn't take itself too seriously, a perfect art experience for teenage grandkids (and antsy husbands).   The beer can house down the street made beautiful music in the breeze, though its inclusion in the "art" category may be questionable.

On our museum day, we also discovered the DeMenil Collection, an amazing museum of modern art collected by the architect and his wife.  Included in the museum complex were several other buildings, including the Rothko Chapel and reflecting pool and a Byzantine Fresco Chapel exhibit.   What an amazing collection, including everything from Picasso to Pollack to a 5th century icon exhibit.  I think the grandkids enjoyed it too, if for no other reason than the opportunity to make irreverent remarks about the art.  Kids are so great.
There has even been time to read an entire book this week.  Kelly recommended for my Christmas vacation read, The Tenth Song by Naomi Ragen.  There's something a little amazing about finding just the right book at just the right time in your life. I think they call that 'serendipity.'  Some books really change the way you think about life and others confirm a direction that your heart and head have already been leading you.  This one was the confirming/affirming kind.  Ragen's books have so many layers.   I'm sure many people could find themselves identifying with her characters at some level.

All the things that make for a happy grandma are here.... grandkids, art museums, funny beer can houses, sunny days antique shopping in Old Town Spring, really good food, soccer and basketball games, and my rockstar husband who for supper last night, made the best curry soup and crabcakes, assisted by sous' chef, Maranda.  Life is good in Texas.  But I miss you, Minnesota.      

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I hope everyone will be able in this crazy busy season to take a little time to woolgather. We can rediscover the joy of finding beauty in the very simplest things around us and friends, is the spoon that stirs a great big bowl of hopeful!

My studio classes have finished for the year and I while I can't wait to see everyone back in January, I also love this time of woolgathering in the studio. I can daydream about the upcoming summer season of travel workshops, spring shows and gallery trips and do lots of painting in my head.

This painting of the poinsettia is a work in progress. Before I began applying paint, I did my drawing (taken from a photo of the beautiful poinsettia show at the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul), spattered the whole paper with Miskit, let it dry, then proceeded painting the poinsettia petals one at a time, wet-in-wet. As in all my watercolors, I need to see an "explosion" of color somewhere in the composition and I lucked out with that upper left corner. It's always a breath holding situation when you paint that wet, with that much pigment on your brush. But what fun when the adrenaline kicks in!

I've been invited to be demonstration artist/speaker for the March meeting of Minnesota Watercolor Society in Minneapolis so that will be my first order of business in the New Year. The butterflies have already arrived, but they'll be flying in formation soon, I'm sure. The ideas are dancing around in my head just like the "sugarplums" that my son-chef Ben and I spent several days last week baking (and I've spent every day since then, trying to AVOID!) Eeeek! The calories this time of year.

Please have a Merry, Merry Christmas and a prosperous and beauty filled New Year.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside...but warm in the studio.

There's something about that first substantial snow that kicks my creativity up a notch. How about you? Time to light a candle, turn on the twinkle lights in the studio and grab a cup of good Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Setting the stage for the arrival of "the muse" is a huge part of the process of getting down to work. A little Burl Ives playing in the background, the brushes all washed and I'm ready to go.

There are only 2 more classes before the Christmas break so this week we'll be fine tuning the designs on our Christmas cards and perfecting our snow scenes. For last year's card, I painted dancing Christmas teacups from my Mother's beautiful teacup collection so maybe this year I will do Christmas cookies to go with them....just to keep that food theme going. Having a live-in chef has inspired me to see the beauty of food in a new light. At least I'm assured that PAINTING food is perfectly calorie free! What could be better?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Beginnings

What a great day to begin a brand new blog! I just finished two days of teaching in the studio with some of my favorite watercolorists and as always, I'm pumped to learn more just to stay ahead of them. I often find myself wondering who is teaching whom. Their weekly injection of enthusiasm and inspiration never fails to get my creative blood pumping. As they say, "If you want to learn, teach" or in my paraphrase, "If you want to be inspired, teach."

Today we focused on perfecting our snow scenes. Not as easy as you'd think! We had some success using the 'meditative' approach, building layers of glazes to SLOWLY achieve our values. Next week, we'll try the opposite approach with lots of pre-planning, pre-drawing and maybe we'll even dig out the masking fluid, and THEN.....look out! Throwing caution to the wind, we'll let the colors fly...splash, spill, flow and mingle. I get an adrenaline rush just thinking about it. This, my friend is why we paint.