Friday, July 30, 2010

The Childish Joys of the State Fair

I have to confess that I am a total sucker for the state fair. I'm fortunate that Sacramento is home to it, and cheerfully go every year to be talked into the "fair specials" in the sales and technology buildings, eat corn dogs, get pricey creams rubbed into my hands and face, and otherwise walk around with a silly grin marking me as the perfect "rube".

The colors, the scent of cinnamon rolls and roasting meats, the sounds of music, kids, rides, hawkers... all blend to a heady, multi-level froth that I breathe in. I didn't bring my camera this year, (dumb!) and I had only the camera phone to grab one shot of some brilliant red tables and umbrellas that caught my eye.

So I am guilty: we walked away with a neat-o glass and tile cutter (for my mosaic gazing ball project), aloe skin cream for Jim (ok, I'll probably use it too...), a facial skin system, some lids that go on every container to seal them, and a thingy that you put on your neck to keep cool (like ice cubes in a rolled bandana). There was so much more, like the killifish that you could hatch yourself, and that back thing that you hang in and looks like an oversized fanny pack and tools and fair trade fabrics and jewelry and and and... sigh.

We will get silly, persistant phone calls from vacation companies, strange advertising via email and things that will drift in for months to come, but it's all good. I wish the vendors good sales in this economy, and know that I did my part to help. It's all we can do.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What I Did Last Week...

Just to get it out there, this is what I did last week. I started another, but it's more like a working study than one that I will finish, because I'm not happy with the texture of the surface... live a little, learn a lot. (sometimes).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Art Adventure - Taking the Train

Yesterday was a wonderful day. No kidding about that. All the elements of fabulous were included: friends, art, travel, food, good conversation, new discoveries, beautiful weather, wonderful things to look at, good books and coming home to the man who loves me. Did I mention good friends...

I took the train to Oakland, which was an adventure all by itself. While I sat in the upper deck and watched the world go by, I realized that this was the first time that I had taken a train all by myself. I felt like a very grown-up 12 year old, venturing out in the world, and experienced the same type of naive excitement I did as a kid. That was so much fun, my cheeks were tired from grinning for two solid hours.

Shallow marshy lake
I watched out the window as the scenes rolled by, like a slice through the middle of California. The central valley is a beautiful place, with lush green farms and towns dotted along the track. We passed Davis, Martinez, Fairfield, Benicia. There were marshes, small shallow lakes, golden rolling hills, and then we hit the bay.

Along the tracks there were strange outcroppings in the water, consisting of rotting pilings sticking up out of the water like jagged teeth, and buildings falling down. It was difficult to take photos out the window, but still, fascinating views of the world. old pier

By this time, the weather had changed from the hot valley sunshine, (even for early morning, it was warm) to the lovely marine layer that cools the coast. The whole area was softened by a grey mist, with occasional patches of sunlight as we entered another micro-climate.

all fall down Was there a home here once? A business like a cafe and boat dock? I can spin romantic scenes in my head and daydream about sitting on the pier and watching the lights across the water. Meanwhile, it sits there like a tumble of pick-up-sticks left behind by a careless giant.

I could find things to paint for the rest of my life here in the hills, valleys and bays of California, without ever leaving the state. I'm going to have to live to 105 to get it all in... and even then, well, there would always be more.

ground squirrel at Crab Point
Marla took me to a little place in Alameda called Crab Point. We set up our easels and played with colors for several hours, having a ball. Ground squirrels and groups of children, bicyclists and walkers passed us by, sometimes stopping, sometimes just peering quickly at what we were doing. You can see the little poser sitting on top of the rock.

We stopped for lunch, and then set up in her backyard for another quick session before I had to hop back on the train. I was hoping that Paddy, Marla's lovely ginger colored Maine Coon would pose, but he had other plans.
This day filled up my cup. My senses are charged, my heart is full, my brain is energized with ideas about art, things I want to try, new colors to play with, images that delight me and time spent with people I cherish. This is what I love. Oh, to top my bowl of happy, Marla lent me a great new book, called "Sleeping with Schubert" by Bonnie Mason, which is a hoot. I started it when it got too dark to stare out the windows. This is enough for me. Je suis content.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


This week ahead has me bouncing up and down with anticipation. I am going on an adventure that includes good friends, a train ride and painting. A journey from Sacramento to Alameda/Oakland (Jack London Square) with my easel, to be met at the station by a long time friend (Marla) to go off and paint outdoors.

Marla has been creating beautiful artwork consistantly during the years that I've been in art-hibernation, and has generously offered to share her knowledge of oil pastels with me while we are out playing with our "paints". She really WORKS at the craft, and the results are enough to make one drool.

So, art, good friends (I'll get to see her wonderful husband, another bonus), a train ride (I love trains, or traveling almost anywhere). Oh boy.

Happy Days

Friday, July 16, 2010

Working With a Live Model

So, I have come almost full circle in my own art history. Back in the early 70's, my first official art education was a life drawing class with Byron Rodarmel, at San Diego City College. It was the beginning of a lifetime journey and the inspiration that would direct my life. The tools he gave me are still relevant today, and the exercises that I dismissed as busywork are the ones that I do decades later, to keep my skills sharp.

There are weekly life-sessions at one of the local galleries, simply pay the model fee ($10 - cheap for what you are getting), and you have three hours to draw or paint. The model keeps the same pose (or as exactly as can be reproduced after breaks) and you work. I've done one session just drawing and now, one painting.

This is the first time I've painted live for .... too long to count, and never with a model that was there for three hours. I looked at my work, and don't remember having this level of competence before.
Somewhere along the line, drawing pictures of fruit and vegetables must have done some good. I wish I could share this with Byron: my delight and excitement about working again. I know he would have been pleased.