No, that is not a euphemism or a witty title for a profound post about going anywhere. It's just the title of my latest watercolor. But it IS a good title though I can't take credit for it. I owe that to my friend Barbara whom I've known for longer than we care to admit (ok, 5th grade) if only because it makes us feel old. I posted the painting on Facebook when I was at a loss for a title and it prompted a stream of interesting suggestions, many of which I almost used because they made me giggle. I think my favorite of those was a team effort between two people who don't even know each other with one posting her suggestion of "The Hills are Alive" (perfectly fine title) and the next friend posting "With the sound of mooing". I loved it. And since the painting is of countryside between Bath and Stonehenge there was a stream of bath-related titles that were amusing as well—some with a French twist such as Aprés Bath Vache. It was fun but I settled on Greener Pastures because it seemed to fit both the scene and my thoughts about England as well. And I guess when it gets right down to it I would love to head back to those greener pastures where the hills are alive with the sound of mooing.
Here is a painting I did a couple of weeks ago that has an interesting origin. It was inspired by a friend that I met on Twitter who lives in Chiswick, England. Ian Wylie is a journalist whose blogs I thoroughly enjoy but he also takes beautiful photos. Many of his photos are of scenes along the river Thames and being a guy that also loves trains he often shares photos of the Orient Express. I find this exciting. But his images of the skies always inspire me to run into my studio and throw some paint around and this particular painting was a result of that:
In the course of finding out more about the location, Strand-on-the-Green, I have gotten to know a bit more about Ian and discovered that he is as he puts it "an exiled Geordie" (I had to look that up) hails from an area—Newcastle-Upon-Tyne—that is a stone's throw from Jarrow, England, where my dad was born. So I guess makes me half Geordie. Such a small and interesting world we live in.
Ian, if you are reading this, thank you for the inspiration! Here is Ian Wylie's blog if you would like to check it out.
I have started a new series of paintings. Actually, these began last year with "Home Before Dark" and "Sunrise" when I made a little detour from water in my paintings. People seemed to like them so I began to take more of an interest in the dramatic sunrises and sunsets with the contrasting silhouettes of trees framing them. There seems to be no shortage of inspiration out there and the medium of watercolor just begs to do colorful skies.
Last night I was trying to think of a good title for one of my latest watercolors. I was on chat with a dear friend who suggested that this (imaginary) scene conjured up the feeling of kayaking on a peaceful river at sunset. So I am calling it "Along the River" and you can click that if you want to see details of it over at Etsy.
I have no idea where this river might be because it came directly from my mind with a lot of help from my paintbrush, but I want to go there. This made me realize that the only paddling I've been doing lately is life. More like trying to stay afloat in the state the world is in.
I think I need to go kayaking again though and do some real paddling.
Long ago and far away (during our 11 month exile in New Mexico to be exact) I did a large acrylic painting of a square rigger ship at sea. When we returned to California we had no place to put it and so it lived on my in-law's living room wall. I was not particularly attached to it but Don's parents thought it was some kind of masterpiece so I said they could keep it. They had it framed and kept asking if I was sure I didn't want it back.
Fast forward to present day. 92 year-old father-in-law moves into assisted living. We put the painting up in his room in a place where he can see it from his bed and anyone walking down the hall can see it if his door is open (it usually is). He told us that people are always asking to come in and see it (unbelievable to me but what the heck, I am flattered) unfortunately he tells everyone that is it worth $5,000. Believe me, it is NOT. I've told him that he really shouldn't be telling people that but he thinks it is fun so he continues. Today he called to tell me that another lady came by and wanted to see "The Painting". I said maybe he should start charging admission. He thought that was a good idea. I was joking. I only hope he he was too.
I know some of you want to see what it looks like. I can hear you wondering that. I know I took a picture of it hanging on the wall when we "decorated" his room but for the life of me I can't find it. Maybe you should consider yourself lucky. At least you were able to dodge that "admission fee."
So it turns out our daughter had the picture so here you go. For free.
Road trips that is. Several years ago Don and I made an epic road trip in the dead of winter from San Diego to the Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood in Oregon to go skiing. I won't tell you how long ago because it will make me feel old but the fact that we did this in our little orange (yes, orange) Datsun pick-up truck with the camper shell on the back should give you a clue. That and the fact that we were childless at the time.
It was a fun trip and the fact that it was in November meant that we had most of the camping all to ourselves. We camped at wonderful places like Bodega Bay, Russian River, and Cape Lookout along the way. We took lots of pictures because those were our "photography days". Much later I used our photos to do a few paintings of the places we visited.
One of my favorite places was Cape Lookout is located near Tillamook, about an hour and a half west of Portland. It was such a dramatic beach to come upon after winding through the old growth forest. We were the only ones there and its stark beauty as stayed with me all these years. A couple of years ago when we drove back from Washington we took a little side trip to see it again. Unfortunately it was getting dark and it was not the same experience but I hope to visit again.
Today, I finally got it together and listed one of those paintings.
I am SO excited! We just booked a spring vacation in Yosemite. I estimate that it has probably been at least 15 years since we've visited the most awesome national park in California. Even better, we will be accompanied by a close friend whose never been there.
We have some fond memories of YNP over the years but this time I am looking forward to gathering inspiration for paintings. The first time we went was when our daughter Karin was about two. We camped just below El Capitan and that night Karin accidentally touched the top shade of the propane lantern and burned her tiny hand. I say accidentally but two-year olds are curious so obviously it was our fault for not being more cautious. Bad parenting! The park was dead quiet but for the howling of a toddler. We took her to the "hospital" in the park and they told us all we could do was put ice water on it. So all night we held her tiny hand in a stainless sierra cup filled with cold water. In the morning she was fine and acted as if nothing had happened. Crises averted!
That same morning we woke to voices of camp neighbors preparing to climb El Capitan which for those unfamiliar is a sheer vertical rock face rising to a majestic 3,000 feet above the valley floor. The acoustics in the valley are such that you can occasionally hear people on the rock but when you look all you see are tiny specs moving up or down or swinging from their sleeping apparatus stuck to the side of the granite monolith.
I can't wait to see everything again and feel that sense of awe when we come out of the tunnel at Inspiration Point and the whole valley is spread out before your eyes. It is going to be awesome!
Happy New Year loyal followers. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas (or however you celebrate the holidays) and I apologize for being lazy these last few weeks. I am sure you understand though. Christmas kind of sucks the life out of most of us at least for a while—as enjoyable as parts of it are. Anyway, I am back and determined to make this a better year.
I even have a list! I find that I do better when I can check things off. Or more often move them to the next day at times. Just being honest. So today my list has nine items.
Last year was my year of being set free. And I am not talking about retirement from the county office. THAT was the year before. 2011 was my year to forget about old ideas when I paint and not to be so worried about ruining a sheet of paper. And more importantly to paint for my own satisfaction and not just to please someone else. Although I did do three commissions. I guess in a way that is being set free too since I usually say no to those. That is only because I have to love what I am painting or at least connect with it.
This year I am determined to make my Etsy Shop grow and to be in the studio every day. I find I am happiest with a brush in my hand and several sheets of pristine Arches paper stretched and waiting for me to throw paint on. Although this year I am going to be playing around more with my three new things—Yupo Synthetic Paper, Aquabord, and Watercolor canvas as well as enjoying the new porcelain palette that *Santa* brought me.
I have also decided that I want to explore portraiture. This was brought on quite unexpectedly as I became smitten with a watercolor portrait of my favorite actor, Tom Hollander. It was in a news article and I decided to look up the artist, Michael Frith. I even emailed him to find out if I could buy a print. Long story short: I can't afford his work though he was very kind to chat with me about it. After putting that out of my mind (I was determined to own that painting) I decided I would make my own. I did paint Tom a couple of years ago in the character of John Ruskin when he was playing the role in Desperate Romantics but was not very satisfied with the results. So, THAT is on the agenda. Meanwhile I decided to try my hand at another face I love. That of our 3 year old grandson, Colin. I will share that with you here as I am pleased with it so far. It is not quite there but very close.
For any other watercolor artists out there I highly recommend Aquabord for portraiture. It is nearly impossible to ruin it.
Before I put everyone to sleep here I will wrap this up and wish you all a very happy, healthy, productive 2012.