Sunday, December 30, 2007

time management

Some weeks back I lied when I titled a post 'I used to be disgusted'. In actuality, I still am disgusted but if I weren't a little bit hopeful I wouldn't post at all. The problem I have with writing a reasonably entertaining and informative politically derived blog is one of time and leisure. I have little of either since I do have a full-time and frequently irritating job in which I'm responsible for obtaining insurance authorizations for people needing surgery. No more need be said about that at present. My paintings take ages to plan and uninterrupted time to actualize even though (if they work) they look as if they were dashed off with the speed and grace of a skilled calligrapher.. or so I'd like to think. I enjoy reading, so besides novels, philosophy, science etc., I also read 20-40 pages of editorial stuff daily. I know it hasn't shown in my posts but doing any kind of well thought out overview requires even more time as well as some ability to be clear and concise.. funny helps too. But at the moment Fairlane at Jonestown appears to be unavailable, Gary of Withinsight is sunning himself in Mexico and I think Scarlet at Invisiblewoman may have overindulged in ale last night - so maybe this is my opportunity to rant a bit..

The photograph above is of our old favorite monster cum dictator, Adolph (why didn't they love my art?) Hitler and his very talented and adoring chronicler, Leni Riefenstahl. In 1934 she made a film called 'Triumph of the Will' which was a loving testimonial to the delights of Nazism and the powers of mass persuasion. It came to be extolled as one of the most extraordinary examples of political propaganda ever produced and one I believe everybody should attempt to see. It's available on dvd and would make a very lively evenings worth of entertainment and a good focus for anyone wanting to compare what happened then with what's going on now. Fascism didn't die at the end of WWII.

Check this out for instance:

It's a still from the film showing the crowds assembled at the Nuremberg Nazi Party Congress in 1934. Now check this out and see if you notice any similarity:

Why it's none other than little George's Inauguration in 2004! Isn't that amazing? From what I've read no previous inauguration was set up in just this way. Naturally, we were told it was specifically to keep terrorists at bay but it was one of the scariest things I've seen in my life.

Anyway, I wanted to point out that all of this happened in Germany after the great Reichstag fire of 1933 when the Parliament was burned and an unemployed Dutch worker was blamed. He was said to be a Communist although that was never proved. Soon after Hitler made short work of either getting rid of or co-opting his opposition. Should I post a picture of the Reichstag next to one of the World Trade Center or would that be too obvious?

Of course, I have no more idea of what really happened on 911 than anybody else does but I do believe it was nothing like what we were told by the 911 Commission. 911 Truth has a lot more plausible suggestions.

This may seem to have little relevance to what's going on now and an upcoming presidential election year but a lot of people lost faith in our government when the tragedy was used as an excuse to grab an unprecedented amount of power both abroad and domestically. To a large extent the MSM has become more like Pravda than an honest and open forum for disseminating real information. This morning, along with my morning coffee, I got the news that William Kristol (famous conservative pundit of The Weekly Standard and Fox News as well as chief apologist for attacking Iraq etc. etc.) has been named to the editorial staff of the NY Times where he can help sustain the reporting balance of Thos. Freedman et al. If they wanted some balance, why didn't they invite Noam Chomsky or David Ray Griffin or just about anyone we could name that they will never consider.

Yeah, I'm disgusted.. but I'll continue to be hopeful too.
Now to find a cup of tea...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

tagged? moi? oh well..

Since it's Gary by way of Sera who's proposed the tag - eight random facts or habits I'll try - even though I thought that's what blogging was about in the first place.

1. I love Japanese video games. Sometimes I even get to play one like the RPG pictured here - Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. My character was Castra, the skinny one on the right with the bullet bazoombas, a Yuke magician. A couple of times a year there'll be a game we can share.

2. I'm a coal miner's daughter. My Dad went to work in the mines in northern England when he was 13 - the oldest son when his father was killed in a mining accident and there were 10 sisters, a brother and a mother to look after.

My mother once danced with Maurice Chevalier. Her name wasn't Gigi.

3. I wear black clothes (although sometimes they're dark gray if they've been washed a lot) since I can't be bothered color coordinating my wardrobe.

4. I rarely drive. I got my licence at 32 and a car 10 years later but since I've always lived in big cities I prefer public transit or walking.

5. I still smoke which probably means they won't allow me to move back to Canada since I hear it's become a non-smoking country since I left.

6. I was once the youngest artist's model working in Toronto. I spent 2 years in Europe and worked in art schools to fund the journey.

7. I have a small gold-plated lion's head from the Buckingham Palace gate. It fell off in my hand (honest!) and my uncle wrapped it up in his raincoat before the Palace Guard could take me away to the Tower.

8. Every morning I get coffee in bed.. even when we travel and the closest good coffee shop isn't necessarily in the hotel lobby. I know how lucky I am.

Since I never pass on chain letters I'm afraid I can't pass this tag on either. Besides, I don't know enough other bloggers to send one to - so for me the tag stops here. It was kind of fun just this once. Thanks Gary :-)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Christmas - War is Over

I painted this one ten years ago after reading about a mother's march in Belgrade against the war that was being waged then in Serbia-Kosovo. The women carried brightly colored plastic toy swords and shields as symbols of their opposition to the carnage. Those who weren't arrested were tear-gassed, beaten and dispersed. Yet it was a very brave thing to do. I wish there was a huge Christmas march planned that we could all join to voice the dismay of good people everywhere about the current meaningless war in Iraq.

Please only watch this if you're ready for something that's very sad:

John Lennon died very suddenly and unexpectedly more than twenty years ago in another Christmas season. I still miss him along with many more - perhaps you too.

I have my purple and yellow plastic sword freshly polished. Let's all Imagine Peace on Earth in our time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

the meaning of life

Every morning I walk to work and today the sun was actually visible as it rose above the distant mountains and I found myself singing this song in my head. Really, it's better that way since I can remember Eric Idle's voice and not listen to my own or have anybody staring at me or dialling 911 on their cellphone.

I also remembered a talk I had with a doctor friend a few years ago when he was stressing the importance of stability. Easy for him to say. At the time I couldn't help but point out the fact that although we tell ourselves day and night follow one another in regular patterns as the seasons change that what is really happening is this: The earth is spinning around fast as hell and also wobbling back and forth while our entire galaxy is heading for an eventual tug of war with another that will cross our path in a couple of billion years. So where's the stability? The only place I can think of is in our hearts.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I used to be disgusted

now I try to be amused. My wings have gotten rusted and the angels have stolen my red shoes. Elvis Costello is surely one of the best song writers of our generation and his "Shipbuilding' explains much about our common history. I thought about posting a link to it but it's easily found on youtube if you're interested.

The picture posted here is part of our collection and was found during the last presidential election. It seemed pretty apt then and perhaps even more so now since a lot of my American friends have expressed interest in moving to Canada - including us considering moving back someday. The problem for us and for some among our Canadian friends is that most of the country - global warming or not - is so damn cold most of the year. The islands of British Columbia are lovely and the weather is milder there than anywhere else but it's not Orange County. Toronto is huge and has spread like a fungal infection of housing developments and strip malls across the remembered farmland and woods of my childhood. Imagine, if you can, Los Angeles with snow and ice seven months of the year and you'll have a close approximation. Montreal is great and even has underground access to most of the downtown buildings but the only French speakers most Quebecois will converse with are native born ones. I don't even want to think about living in any of the Prairie provinces since winters there make Minnesota and N. Dakota look balmy. The Maritimes can be compared to Vermont and New Hampshire but colder, damper and darker by the time November rolls around and the ice doesn't break til May. Brrrrr

Therefore, I think we should start a petition to switch around some of the unnatural lines drawn on political maps. After all, a map is not a landscape. The problems of having an Electoral College decide the presidency would be moot since we'd have a parliament and as many 3rd, 4th and 5th party candidates who felt like climbing on a soapbox (what's a soapbox?). The Canadians could enjoy a warmer retirement and we could all use some free health care. Anybody feel like contacting Michael Moore?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

in case of emergency

Okay, holiday parties are coming so here's a story that's worked for me when the conversation lags or turns to uncomfortable subjects like - "Have you gained more weight?". If you've already heard it..

A duck walks into a bar, hops up on a stool and says to the bartender "Got any grapes?" The bartender says "No" and the duck leaves. Next day the duck comes back, hops on his stool and says to the bartender "Got any grapes?" The bartender says "I told you yesterday we don't have any grapes and we still don't have any grapes". The duck left. The following day the duck comes back again, hops on the stool, looks at the bartender and says "Got any grapes?". The bartender gives the duck a long stare and says "I keep on telling you we don't have any grapes and if you come in here one more time asking for grapes I'm going to nail your bill to the bar". The duck left. Next day the duck walks back into the bar, hops up on his favorite stool, looks at the bartender and says "Got any nails?" The bartender says "No, I don't have any nails". The duck says "Got any grapes?"

Sunday, December 2, 2007

what next?

Some days I can't help but make unfavorable comparisons of this little blog I've been playing around with the past couple of months with others I've got into the habit of visiting. My early posts were an attempt to show the best of my artwork done in the past decade and since I work slowly, deliberately and intermittently, the gallery show aspect came and went fast. So what do I dedicate this blogging time towards? I wish I could rant to great effect like Fairlane and his friends at Jones Town but I'm no ranter and worse, unless you get to hear me at work, I'm not very funny. It would be wonderful if I could cartoon like Seraphine at Encore Seraphine or Kathie at Crazy Irish Chick but those talents aren't part of my repertoire much as I admire them. Scarlet at Nvisiblewmn is hilarious when she gets on a roll and although I've had my own semi-disastrous dental appointments I've been too traumatized and angry afterwards to write anything amusing that everybody could relate to. Gary at Withinsight has a gentle and lovely way with his blog where everyone is welcomed and praised. How I admire that. Kalyan with his Heaven's Garden blog shows some of the most beautiful pictures and descriptions of India, its places, people and customs that one could hope to see. I used to travel a lot but was too intimidated to go that far on my own and there were too many stories about people who never came back. There are a couple of other blogs on my favorites list (and some I look at that aren't listed) and all are worthy of attention but what's my contribution going to be?

I read a lot - books as well as news and science articles - but if I want to do book reviews I can go to Amazon or Epinions (something I've been known to do). It's the same with movies and since we rarely watch first run that would be pretty boring and irrelevant. I do have a job but spend too much time there already without writing about it too. The family is very small at this point in time and members distant in the physical sense so there are no big in-house events to plan for and gifts get mailed at appropriate times. Visits are a rare delight.

A lot of the news upsets my tendency to find equilibrium but I find a need to at least witness the events of our time. Lots of times I find hopeful and challenging ones like this man who is planning to walk from Boston to Washington to convince Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against the administration immediately. Why else were they elected in 2006 if not to do that?

Yes, I tend to get as irritated as anyone else about our consumer society and the especially relentless and desperate advertising that goes on at this time of year. December has become the least likely time for us to browse our favorite bookstores, gamestores and moviestores. We've been known to have soup on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day just because we either forgot to go shopping or just couldn't bear to stand in line with people buying tons of processed junkfood. See, I'm opinionated and not always very nice. Nevertheless, I do have hopes that the current mess can be ameliorated if not completely turned around since it seems to be a natural fact that if so many people in the country are aware of the illegality of the Iraq war and all its byproducts that perhaps something will change. It would be nice if television went away so people would talk to each other, wouldn't it?

So I'll go on posting when time and inclination permit. It's never likely to be a particularly focussed blog although the idea of doing one from the point of view of someone who has been kidnapped from a sane world and dropped off on Earth at this particular time is appealing.

Stay well, everybody.

Friday, November 30, 2007

there ain't alf been some

Here it is - end of the week - end of the month - days getting shorter in every definition and yet.. here's somebody who always makes me smile. It's Ian Dury and the Blockheads!

I'm still processing the fact that the media seems to be deciding for everybody that Hillary and Rudy will be the presidential candidates next year... and we know who owns the media or at least we know it's not us.

Good night all you clever bastards.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Utopias big and small

As far as the big literary Utopias go there's nobody better to describe a brief history than Margaret Atwood in her article published this weekend in the London Guardian. In our longing to have everything, and to have it all be perfect, human beings have a strong tendency to build imaginary worlds. It could be argued that most creative activity, albeit some with much more skill than others, is based on our individual visions of a better world. In the article she discusses the diverse possible futures foreseen by two of the 20th centuries better known authors: George Orwell's '1984' and Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World'. Both of them wrote about future Dystopian societies growing out of the industrial and war profiteering cultures that were burgeoning between two world wars. As the Utopian dreams of the 19th century were being made irrelevant there were many who saw limitless expansion as a Utopia yet to come. Orwell and Huxley both provided excellent forewarning of the price to be paid for allowing optimism to overcome understanding.

It's always a little too easy to imagine the past as having been better than the present simply because we can't go there. It's over but since we can look back while wearing any style of rose colored glasses we choose we can make any time period into one that would have suited us, as we know ourselves now, quite admirably. We like to daydream and there's nothing wrong with that but we should keep in mind that life is always imperfect and our real choices are few no matter when or where we live.

So far as small Utopias are concerned this is one we've been enjoying for nearly two years. The story was written by a young Korean and is from one of the game pages my husband frequents. It reminds us that the best presents don't have to be real in the physical sense and that the only true Utopia is the one that feeds your heart.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to come.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

He read all the papers

and forgot everything immediately - clever boy. There are times when I really worry about all the things I have to remember - pin numbers, log-ons, passwords, names, addresses, phone numbers, friend's dietary restrictions etc. etc. You get the idea. Then we worry about getting senile the minute we can't remember where we put our glasses, or car keys, or did we turn off the iron, lock the door and where the hell did I park the car?

It seems to me that not too many generations ago we didn't have to remember so much stupid stuff to be able to get along in the world. You always knew where you lived and, so long as it wasn't your town's turn to be burned, raped and pillaged, you could be pretty sure of not losing your way home or getting killed on the way. Even senility probably had its advantages since everybody knows old people remember every little thing that used to be including where everything goes, when it's the right time to plant the crops and the names and habits of all the locals who were young when he/she was also young. These reminiscences provided a lot of entertainment on long summer afternoons and cold winter nights. People weren't looking at their watches and wondering if it was too late to get Grandpa signed up at the nursing home and still be able to catch David Letterman.

Although people didn't have to remember new log-ons every other time they signed on their computer at work what's really amazing is the things some of them did remember. The Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and longest stories in human history, wasn't written down until a couple of thousand years ago when it was finally transcribed in Sanskrit after about four thousand years of being memorized by one generation of priests after another. Until Gutenberg, if you wanted to know bible history or how to build a ship, you had to memorize it and even then you couldn't very well walk around with a fifty pound book.. or three. People, lots of people, remembered things. I sometimes wonder, if we lost all these high and low tech memory aids, if we'd revert to just remembering the important stuff.. like how to bake a cake for somebody's birthday rather than sending an e-card?

The picture here lives on our wall - a print by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo - who really got it right with the following:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

art for art's sake 2

Last year I was asked if I'd be willing to make a scarf for a long-time 'angel friend'. Now I really don't get the whole concept of that kind of friend since as I recall it was some weird market ploy developed by a company to sell base metal pins - but what do I know? My concept of angels isn't one that allows them to be anything other than enormous, magnificent beings totally beyond imagination.. frightening, in fact. Who in their right mind would want to meet the archangel Gabriel? But the lady who asked is a sweet woman who explained her friend was going through a very bad year and that she would dearly love to give her something special.

I must explain that I've never felt good about commissioned work - passed up an offer by Hallmark cards once because I knew I'd never be able to draw to order. I've never offered my services as an illustrator for the same reason but the lady talked me into it and so, in a fit of enthusiasm, I agreed. Right from the start I knew it had been a bad decision but I was stuck with having made the promise. The first scarf was so awful I threw it away after two weeks of salvage work. These are the two 'angels' that eventually looked okay enough and I handed the piece over with the promise to self never to make anything to order again. I've wondered if I'll see a stranger on the street and recognize her simply by the eight foot long silk scarf she's decided to show the world that day. It would be interesting.

Meanwhile it's much easier to work at a full-time job and save the creative side for when the time and inclination arrive.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

an old favorite

Robert Crumb has always been one of my favorite artists and certainly one of the least appreciated American cultural chroniclers, at least in this country. He gave up on the place years ago and very sensibly moved to the south of France - nice climate, good cheese, great wine and a population who know how to treat a genius.

Of all his characters Mr. Natural is the most profound example of a practitioner of crazy wisdom. His perpetual idiot student is Flakey Foont who knows Mr. Natural has something special going on but is himself far too literal minded to actually get any of it. No matter how many times Mr. Natural whacks Flakey with a stick or shows him how to get along in the world Flakey always misses the point entirely.

When R. Crumb developed Mr. Natural a lot of people I knew were reading the Carlos Castaneda books about the Mexican mystic Don Juan and his attempts to teach Carlos to be a warrior. Carlos was much more successful than Flakey and in actuality probably invented Don Juan after stealing research done by other anthropologists but that's another story. I think Crumb understood that aspect as well as the basic misapprehension by naive 60's youth of just how tricky the tricksters actually are.

I think if more people had paid attention to R. Crumb's assessment of the state of American culture back then instead of writing him off as an eccentric cartoonist we'd be in a lot less trouble now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

baby days is up

The picture here is just so there's a visual from my limited electronic photo files to introduce baby days.

It took several years to complete the story and not because it took so long to draw and write but simply that I kept finding other things to do. What began around 1990 was finally done by 1994 and except for a few photocopied versions sent to friends it's never been outside it's portfolio.

If you go next door to take a look please remember to click on the entire archive or it will stop after 6. It's an odd and very sentimental piece so if you're prepared for such a thing I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did when I decided to look at it again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No results yet but..

You probably weren't wondering how a silk painting gets done but I've had this one underway for the last couple of weeks and it will be a few weeks more before I know whether or not it was worth the time. The original inspiration was Tibetan thankas but there's no way I'm the least bit qualified to try painting a real version since the symbolism of every line and color is ruled by ancient tradition. I may not know much about it but I do respect the theory. So instead, I decided to try a tribute to the form.

We have little old lady (drawn from an old photo taken of one of my English aunts on a visit to the London Zoo in 1947) and a little dog holding a traditional Tibetan parasol. The words in blue are the Tibetan script of the great compassion prayer - Om Mane Padme Om and the working title of the piece is 'Going Om'. Okay, it's a bit corny but it's my painting so I can do what I like and I rather like the idea that Tibetan Buddhism is getting incorporated in the western world. I also like the thought that any of us can become realized - not necessarily enlightened but open to those indescribable moments of grace.

May all sentient beings know happiness and the root of happiness; may they be free from suffering and the root of suffering; may they not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering; may they dwell in the great equanimity, free from passion, aggression and prejudice.

The four Paramitas are a good meditation while painting or otherwise engaged. What an amazingly different world this would be if everyone understood we keep on coming back til we get it right.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

there was a time..

A long time ago a woman who'd had a child almost an equally long time ago found herself reminiscing about just how wonderful it had been to be a young mother and just how beautiful babies and little children are. So she sat at her table one day and started drawing a book.. not a children's book but more like a grandmother book. Now she's thinking about a whole separate blog so that anyone who's interested can read the story and maybe have some good memories too. Or maybe this is just a silly idea that's come up on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Time for a little musical visual interlude.. mmm Cornelius... tonar

Saturday, October 6, 2007

making friends

He's called Baba Ganoosh - a little guy who pretty much demanded a physical (although limited) existence a couple of years ago. He can't stand up because his legs are too wobbly but he can sit in full lotus position (which I never could). He also has a wonderful and enigmatic smile.

I won't describe the torture involved in manifesting his little form - sculpture wire, bandaging, clay, carving, hair, beading, hand sewing, leather boots, painting - well, okay, I pretty much did describe it and it took a long time. Difficult as the process was it's nothing to the time and effort it takes to make/keep human friends. I hardly ever know where my friends are but I always know where Baba is.

Books can always be relied upon to provide distraction, entertainment and instruction so I read quite a lot. Occasionally I read one written by somebody I'd really like to have as a friend and so on behalf of Barry Hughart I'd like to recommend his wonderful novel, 'Bridge of Birds'.I've linked to an old interview with him since he's a most elusive man and difficult to catch up with but you'll get the general idea. The book is a delight - hilarious and often profound - but rather than writing a lengthy exposition, I'll end this post with a few words from Master Li, he who has a flaw in his character:

"The world of men is a world of incomprehension. Our senses are woefully limited. Our brains are but tiny candles flickering in an infinity of darkness. Our only wisdom is to admit that we cannot understand, and since we cannot understand we must do the best we can with faith, which is our only talent. The greatest act of faith we are capable of is that of loving another more than we love ourselves."

We could all do with flaws like that. Happy autumn or sad, reflective autumn - whatever feel best, my friends.

Okay, that was boring. Why would anybody be inclined to read a funny book having read such a serious paragraph? So here's another:

"Well, beauty is a ridiculously overrated commodity. Over the past eighty or ninety years I have known a great many beautiful women, and they've all been the same. A beauty is forced to lie in her bed in the morning in order to gather her strength for another battle with nature. Then, after being bathed and toweled by her maids, she loosens her hair in the Cascade of Teasing Willows style, paints her eyebrows in the Distant Mountain Range style, anoints herself with Nine Bends of the River Diving-Water perfume, applies rouge, mascara and eye-shadow, covers the whole works with two inches of the Powder of the Nonchalant Approach, squeezes into a plum blossom patterned tunic with matching skirt and stockings, adds four or five pounds of jewelry, looks in the mirror for any visible sign of humanity and is relieved to find none, checks to make sure her makeup has hardened into an immovable mask, sprinkles herself with the Hundred Ingredients Perfume of the Heavenly Spirits Who Descended in the Rain Shower, and minces with tiny steps toward the new day, which like any other day, consists of gossip and giggles."

"That's part of it!" I cried. "Lotus Cloud hops out of bed and plunges her head into a pail of cold water, bellows 'Aaarrrggghhh! runs a comb through her hair, and looks around to see if there's anyone handy who feels like making love. If such is the case, she hops back into bed. If not, she jumps into whatever clothes are lying around and leaps out the door - or window, it doesn't matter - to see what wonders the new day will bring, and since shes views the world with the delighted eyes of a child, the day is bound to be marvelous."

That's better! Have a marvelous day yourself.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dark rainbow over Pdx

In a city known for rain there are also a lot of rainbows most of which are of the standard breathtakingly beautiful kind you see when the clouds blow away and the sun returns. This one, however, reminded me of a dream I'd once had where a rainbow appeared in a night-dark city sky. The colors were wrong, portending some huge and dangerous event. This time it was a rainbow before a storm and when the storm arrived it was ferocious, uprooting trees and taking out power lines all over the city. The transformer near our place was struck by lightning and the post supporting it lay in the street for hours afterward.

There are a lot of things that strike me in a similar fashion when I look at what's going on in our world today. How is it that Bush and Cheney haven't been impeached? Why is the American military still in Iraq? Why was 911 never properly investigated? Why don't millions of Americans have health care? Why is it that 70% of the population is in favor of all of the above and nothing gets done?

For a long time I kept hoping that events and disclosures would force a change - that Abu Ghraib, the Downing Street Memo, Guantanamo, Enron or Something would force a turnaround. We've witnessed outsourcing, economic meltdown, infrastructure collapse and multiple massacres under the current administration and things only appear to be getting worse. Nothing has been enough so far to produce some kind of shift and the marines haven't landed on the White House lawn carrying fresh orange suits for the occupants.

There are a lot of desperately poor people in this country as well as far too many who are preoccupied with taking more than they need. Divide and rule is the name of the game. It's so much easier to channel people's anger towards others who look different or who have different beliefs than it is to take on the real problems. I'm afraid that when the storm hits this time it will take out a lot more than a few trees and lamp posts.

This does all sound pretty negative but considering that the metaphorical train is still building up speed and the track has almost run out, my only option was to get off when it slowed at the last bend and wait in resignation for the inevitable result. In the meanwhile I'll do my job, donate as I can to chosen charities (including change to the guys downtown), read, paint and keep on trying to influence a few hearts here and there.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

one bookstore incl gods

Powell's - a big reason for living in Portland. A clerk once mentioned she's noticed us there every Sunday for years and my husband quipped 'It's cheaper than church'. He was right.

Reading is certainly one of my favorite activities and a book I'm reading at present which I'll recommend even before I've finished it is by Alan Weisman and called World Without Us. Without a doubt we've become a force of nature on this planet, not so much with our numbers, since it's been said we wouldn't fill the Grand Canyon, but with our lifestyle. Where animals take what they need where they can get it and move on, human beings eventually discovered we could manipulate our environment and stay in the same place year round. I won't attempt to reiterate Mr. Weisman's well developed descriptions of the course we've taken to get us to the point where not only our survival as a species but the survival of sentient life on the planet hangs by a thread - and unfortunately not even necessarily a biodegradable one. But please don't think of it as a depressing book since it isn't and that's not his intention; instead it's something to help us envision our options. It's also enjoyable taking the long view and imagining just how fast strip malls and office buildings would deteriorate and disappear. He also tells some extraordinary stories about what the world looked like before we became so numerous and industrious.

Strangely enough yesterday this article about the 3 Gorges Dam in China made me feel just a little bit better in that we as a race may be coming to understand some important points about how we treat the earth. It's remarkable the officials were allowed to say that. Of course, we're a LONG way from getting done what needs to be done but at least we smartass westerners with our opinions about how everybody else should conduct their lives may not be the only ones who have the beginning of an inkling of a clue about what's going wrong. Thanks to the internet we can see people everywhere learning to cope with change.

The one thing that will never make the world a better and happier place for all species is the continuation of war and mayhem. Yes, lots of people die in wars but every single time that happens more people are born afterwards and with that comes more poverty, disease and stress on the environment. Although I haven't finished reading the book yet I'm fairly certain that one conclusion he'll draw is that education, healthcare, and birth control will help us realize the necessity of stabilizing our population. Groups like Heifer may be our best bet for helping the world to become a better place. Or maybe we'll all get spirited away by a Rapture or aliens (as a zoo exhibit) and the planet will recover enough in a few millenia for another curious adventuresome species.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What's past is done

At this point I've pretty much decided blogging is probably not for me although I'll continue to look at other people's efforts with greater interest and respect. If, on the other hand, I do continue to share insights, opinions and musings at least this personal art history stuff is done with for now.

The silk bits below were the end result of a year long exploration of the charms and techniques of the medium. I began with big scarves and covered the livingroom floor with drop cloths and newspaper so there'd be no spraymarks, drips or splotches on the landlord's carpets. There I was pinning, painting, drying, steaming, washing, pressing and sometimes doing the whole process over again on single large pieces of silk. Once the colors and designs were satisfactory I'd hand sew each one. It was fun and some friends as well as a few almost strangers got some interesting presents. My favorites were the banner scarves - close to eight feet long and doubled over to eight inches wide - where I got to write silly comments like: 'just an analog girl in a digital world' or 'occupation: quantum mechanic preoccupation: untying superstrings'.

Then I got tired of crawling around on the floor or, more to the point, once you get past a certain age it's harder to stay on your knees for hours at a time and in the real world I enjoy walking too much to risk further joint damage. That was when I went back to my work table and painted the little bags. They're quite nice and just big enough to carry my i-pod (which can be a problem when most of your clothes don't have pockets).

So that's where I am at the moment. There's a frame set up with a piece of heavy charmeuse and a couple of drawings underway that may get transferred. I'm interested in Tibetan thankas but so far very daunted by the prospect of trying to paint one myself. If so, and if it works out and if I'm still posting, there may be a future picture but in the meanwhile I'll be doing (or talking about) other things.

Touching water

Bali dancer

Who me?

Pink perplexion

Blue lady

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Space mandala

You think that I know what I do; that I belong to myself for one or even half a breath? As little as a feather knows what it writes; as little as a ball can guess where it flies.

World mandala

Love comes from primeval eternity and goes to eternity. In eighty thousand worlds, there is not one who drinks a sip from it and does not go at last to God.
Rabi'A Al-Addawiyya

Hummingbird mandala

The beauty of a thing lies in the fact that the possible perfection, corresponding to its inner nature, emerges.
Al Ghazali

Heart mandala

Every time when a light rises from you a light comes down toward you.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tiger Stop

Last of the lady and big cat images.. the road has ended and there's a hole in the floor. Painting the borders has become more entertaining so we'll have to see -

what's next?

Tiger Walk

A tiny world where the old tiger's walking. When this one was painted I was wearying of the symbols.

Once there were dragons.

Tiger Tale

You can look in a pool and see the moon reflected but it's not the moon.

The lady is blind and needs a guide.

Garden Cats

I've often thought about a world at a slight remove from this one so there was more than one series of painted ladies with non-domesticated pets.

It wasn't until recently that I tried digital photography. I'll be happy never to scan the 35mm slides of long ago so don't worry.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Astute reaction

Perhaps it's the fact this date has fallen on a Tuesday again as it did in 2001 that makes me feel a little extra queasy a certain Commander in Chief still has a finger close to the button of doom. The way things have been going, the little guy he's holding will be rigged up, loaded down and wondering why he's spending the best years of his life in the middle of Baghdad.

Nowadays we have a nice little townhouse apartment overlooking a forest - quiet and peaceful until our neighbours downstairs bring out their air rifles and shoot at anything that moves. It's just kind of bizarre since most of the people who live in this building are medical students and you don't expect that from young men deep in the study of healing. Every so often we think they've grown bored of the senseless exercise and are surprised all over again when they get a fresh supply of pellets from home. Maybe they should go and spend some time here. I'm sure the locals would find them something useful to do.

It's nice to get away from the Culture of no culture every so often and a favorite respite is foreign films and especially, Japanese ones. This was the most recent one. The reviewer preferred Hidden Blade to Twilight Samurai but that could be argued.. may just have to watch the latter again soon.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Trying new things

can be trying. Okay, so there's an author whose books I enjoy but who is perhaps not as well known as I'd like. The point of this exercise is to see if I can actually make a link to his web page.. and I think it's done. More later.. maybe.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

art for art's sake

I like to paint or perhaps I should describe it as more an urge to see something that appeared in my imagination made manifest. I've had some success in resisting this urge in recent years but every so often I'll wander over to my work table and find a piece of unmarked, unstained, unsullied watercolor paper and try not to stare at that frightening blankness for too long. It's a challenge, and as often as not I'll go back to my book (whose blank white pages somebody else struggled over), or will call a friend, or write a letter, or have a nap - anything not to be faced with actually attempting to draw an image whose form has now slunk from the mind's eye leaving one tabula rasa to stare at another. So if I don't run off to make myself a cup of tea or see what the new headlines are on one of my favorite web pages, I may just sit down with a pencil and mark up the paper. It's important to draw anything at that point - lines, crosshatches, hints of faces, words even.. but all destined to be erased so I can hope to see in the shadows left, what it is I'm supposed to be doing.

This particular example was done some years ago and was an attempt to represent a young woman dreaming herself over and over, perhaps to wake up to something real about herself. It may or may not have been successful in that regard but I liked it enough not to throw it away. The colors were nice. Drawing drives me crazy but I really do like colors and sloshing paint around haphazardly just seems wasteful. I was raised to be neat and it's stayed with me.

All this brings to mind some thoughts about impermanence. When we look in the mirror every day, unless we've had an accident or discovered a huge pimple, we look the same. Yet it can't be denied that if we meet an old friend after a long abscence they look different and we can tell from their brief (though, hopefully, quickly hidden) shock that so do we. As we age every cell in our bodies changes and is replaced so how can we think we're the same? We're not - but if you stop to wonder where the bits and pieces of us went.. well, the only logical answer is they went back to the world. Maybe once what was a part of me is now a piece of you and vice versa. I don't mind, do you?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A spot to call home

When it's necessary to communicate with someone in particular about a subject or event that requires the written form I have no qualms with writing. There have been many years of happy correspondance that I can look back on and things I wrote that seemed to be the right thing at the right time. An online journal is a different thing to contemplate and since my favorite way of communicating is in the visual realm there may be more pictures than words. Time will tell.