Thursday, July 25, 2013

Super salad

So we make this great salad that the kids call super salad. It's mostly lots of lettuce, arugula, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes--whatever fresh veggies are around. But what makes it super are avocado chunks, crispy-chewy bacon and a homemade olive oil and vinegar dressing with bacon grease added. There are never leftovers.

Here it is in process. Those blue flowers are borage blossoms. They taste like cucumber, but mostly they are there to look pretty.

A friend brought her nice camera to our house yesterday and took this picture. She also took pictures of some of my painted ornaments, so I can get them onto my Etsy store.  I'll be posting those soon. But the main reason she came was to take care of our kids so my husband and I could have a date. What fun.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wedding invitation design

This is a wedding invitation, sans words, that I designed for a friend. I've known her all her life, and she is marrying a wonderful man this fall. I'm very happy for her.

I had planned to combine watercolor and colored pencil in this piece, so I drew it on Arches hot-pressed watercolor paper, but I ended up only using pencil. I had never used this pricey paper for colored pencil before, and I like it more than any other paper I have tried. It just figures I'd love the expensive stuff.

I'm fairly happy with this piece, though of course there are always things I wish I had done better. I think it communicates the feeling of a warm, slightly hazy fall day, a jewel-like day that is extra precious because so few are left before winter.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Why should your heart not dance?"

I went out to my garden this morning to pick a few tomatoes to put in scrambled eggs. The sun was already hot, so I took a few minutes to water the lettuce. I want to keep it going as long as I can before the heat makes it go to seed. The hay-covered path felt warm and smooth under my bare feet, and the sunlight went right down inside me. The air was sweet with the smell of mint, hay mulch, tomato plants, and that summer-time smell of green things growing fast. The cool water leaking onto my hands felt good, just as the hot sun felt good on the rest of me and in my eyes. My pole beans were a lacy wall of leaf and blossom, the chamomile was tall and crowned with daisy flowers and the borage was spreading blue stars all over. It's always hard for me to leave my garden once I'm there.

Then I had an annoying little thought: what if the economy crashes right down to the ground? This garden wouldn't be enough to feed us. And here I am taking my pleasure. What about all the evil and corruption in high and secret places? What about all the suffering in the world? A warped piece of my conscience acted as if dismal thoughts would bring peace and prosperity, when the opposite is closer to the truth, and I knew that piece of my conscience was wrong.

So I took pleasure again in the water freshening my lettuce, and I thought about Jesus, who said "Don't worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Rejecting delight in a sunlit garden because bad things might happen is like going to a feast and not eating because tomorrow you might not have food. Take joy whenever and wherever there is joy. It will make your soul strong and healthy, and you'll be in better condition to face the troubles of today and tomorrow. You'll have more love to share with those who need it.

I also thought about a line from C.S. Lewis' novel, Till We Have Faces. At one point the main character, who has suffered a devastating loss, is returning to the scene of the loss. When her heart is uplifted by unexpected beauty on the way, she feels guilty, duty bound to maintain her grief. Then she hears in her mind the words, "Why should your heart not dance?"

Why not indeed? Why should evil and trouble get to extinguish your joy and pleasure in good things? Why should evil get that too?

  Bees love borage flowers.  An old time name for it was bee bread.
Borage and arugula flowers. The arugula leaves are still tasty in salads even though it has bolted.
 Carrots, mainly. This is the first year I've had any success with carrots. I wish I had planted more. Eggplants are in the background, conspicuously lacking in fruit. Actually, there are teeny little eggplants which just might get ready before frost so we can make ratatouille. Eggplants like a nice warm, long summer. These plants suffered in the many cool days we've had this year.
  Chamomile. I need to harvest those blossoms for tea before they turn to seed.
 Tomato blossoms, Jericho romaine lettuce, and pole beans, looking slightly chewed by Japanese beetles. I love the lettuce. It's a kind that was bred in Israel to be tolerant of heat and dryness, so it lasts a long time into summer, especially when I keep it moist.
 Little baby cucumber with young bush beans, zucchini  and assorted weeds.
Yes, we've got ducks. The idea is that someday they'll lay eggs and maybe even reproduce so we can have home grown, free range duck to eat. So far they just walk around and look cute, and I can't foresee a day when my kids will knowingly eat a duck. I think the real reason we have ducks is because they always look cheerful and have a funny waddle. 

My husband took these pictures for me with his phone. Aren't they nice?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thoughts about making art

Another post without pictures. My borrowed camera is taking a long trip to Montana with its owner, and what with one thing and another, including carelessness about my chemical sensitivities which led me to an ear infection and fatigue, I haven't pulled it together with my husband to get pictures with his phone of the few ornaments I've done.

But I've been doing some sketching and thinking long thoughts. I've been taking note lately of my fear of drawing, my fear that this time I won't be able to do it, that my art was all just a fluke. I think this fear might be universal, or maybe it's only universal among us fake artists. (Just kidding.) The thing about art that is so scary is that you can't control it into existence, like you can maybe control an orderly kitchen into existence. An artist is pursuing something, collaborating with something, dancing with something that is bigger than himself. An artist is more like a surfer than a typist, more like a tightrope walker than an accountant. The control that an artist can develop is a dynamic, responsive control that enlarges the artist and in no way diminishes the meaning, beauty and holiness that the artist is trying to engage with and express. When I forget this and try to anxiously control an image into existence my art diminishes rather than grows.

So I'm making sure I'm sketching more, especially that I'm sketching things I fear that I will draw badly. I'm sketching badly and moving on to the next sketch. I read in Danny Gregory's blog an encouraging insight: bad drawings are the grandparents of good drawings. I can't give a link, because I don't want to learn how (how's that for truth in advertising?) but you can just Google his name. That's what I do. He's very encouraging.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What's next

I took last week off from art, mostly. My husband's parents were visiting from the south, staying for a week in a local resort. We had good times visiting with them and all their children and grandchildren. I tried to squeeze in some sketching and design, but I finally gave it up.

Now I'm working on  my next series--Christmas ornaments made of an air-dry paperclay. I'm going to make as many as I can for a week or so, and then probably go back to drawing. Right now, I'm hand modeling them into rough shapes. Tomorrow, they will be dry, I hope, and I will refine them with a file and Exacto knife. (The fun part.)  Then I will paint them. (The even more fun part.) Then I will take really good pictures and put them on my Etsy store, which is and always has been empty. (The scary and not fun part. That's why my Etsy store is and always has been empty.)

 I like the idea of someone touching what I've made, looking at it really closely and seeing all the imperfections but loving it so much they buy it anyway. I feel weird about selling something that has only been seen in a photo. What if they actually don't like the real thing? I guess what you hope is that they will like it even better than when it was just pixels on a screen.