Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Was I Supposed to Do...?

How many lists of goals and "to dos" have you ever made and then not followed?  Or have forgotten all about and then had an, "Oh, yeah!" moment when you found the list, again?  Too many? More than you can even remember - or will admit to?  Yeah, me, too...

In the beginning of the year I made lists of goals for the year: daily, weekly, monthly, and for the year.  I figured what I had written down was fairly doable and I wouldn't be sabotaging myself by making lofty goals that end up being "pie in the sky" type goals.  Overall I think I've done pretty well.  I did miss a couple of exhibits that I wanted to enter, because I simply wasn't ready with anything, but that's okay.  There are plenty more this year and I did enter a new one at The Scarab Club, which I have been accepted into, so that's all good.  The goals though that are making me nutty are the daily goals.  They've actually become laughable because if I manage to remember to do one in a week's time, I'm rockin' the list! LOL

The one daily goal that really bothers me though, is the "Do at least one pencil sketch per day."  I really wish I could remember that one...

Sometimes I write things on my left hand with a permanent marker, if it's something I simply cannot forget to do that day or the next.  Did anyone see the movie, "Memento"?  I'd been using this method for years!  It works great because all day long, it's right smack dab in front of my face!  I've also had people "remind" me throughout the day with the comment, "What's that on your hand?"  I just tell them, "It's my day planner."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning Trouble

I kept my promise to myself and Trouble... a petting and sketching session was in order, since last week was devoted to "Nick" and replacing ANOTHER rear truck window - the second in five weeks time - but that's different story of trouble.  My Monday this week was devoted to a furry kitty Trouble.  Once again, she greeted me in the kitchen, purring and rubbing her head against the spokes of the chair.  She's got the routine figured out now: Human with black bag and small black book has come to rub my head and talk to me! Purr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r... twirl... purr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r... rub... twirl... purr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r...

This week I decided I was going to try to get some full body sketches.  HA! Ever try to sketch an entire cat in less than 7 seconds?  I managed to get a number of them done, miracle of miracles!

First up, Purring and Twirling - she always looks like Batman's kitty with her black mask...

Front view, still purring and twirling

Okay, she's been presenting me with her rear for weeks now...

Tough one, all bunched up in a purring ball. She's in constant motion.

Sweet face kitty

And finally, she got annoyed with me and turned her back to me, but her ears kept turning around.

Friday, March 18, 2011


How does one define a "working class hero"?  For me, the definition is embodied in my son-in-law, Nick... honest, hard-working, a man of principles, willing to stand beside his fellow workers and fight for what he believes in.  A man of integrity, Nick.

My portrait of him has been accepted into the upcoming "Working Class Hero" exhibit at the Scarab Club, in Detroit, Michigan, March 30 - May 15.

"Nick", oil,  34" x 64"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've Returned to Trouble!

Have you missed a little Trouble lately? Yeah, me, too... I've been feeling guilty about the amount of time since I last saw Trouble. It's been over two weeks, I think. Damn snow... kept me away from Trouble and then other days I'd think, " Man, I've got to make sure I see some Trouble today!" And the next thing you know, I'd get to painting in the studio and totally forget about Trouble. But, not today! I decided I would get my fill of Trouble in the morning BEFORE I started in the studio. And I did...

It had been a while and I was a little "rusty". I captured her hind feet first. Her profile, that leads this post, was done second. I like the way she tucks her head into her chest.

A couple minutes after I arrived, Trouble stopped her usual twirling and butting my hand and looked toward the back door. I looked outside and saw that another friend, John, had arrived. Oh, man! Trouble was going to be in heaven! TWO cat petters! Hot diggitty dang! Trouble was happy as a cat in a patch of catnip! She paced between the two of us as we chatted and I sketched. If one person stopped petting her, she walked over to the other one - purr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r... one happy kitty :)

I realized as I was sketching I hadn't brought a sharpener and my 3B pencil was dull and my 4B was MIA. Hm-m-m... digging around in my pencil bag, I came across my water soluable graphite pencils! And a traveling watercolor brush AND even better - a wet sponge in a small bottle! Cool! I've only used them one other time. Now I can "play" with them again. I used them for more "Purring Toes". She was facing me this time, but it was hard to catch her form because she would alternate feet so quickly! What I found amusing is that on the paw, on the left, that's raised, one of the toes looks like a thumb, like she's giving a "thumb's up'!

One thing I did notice with the water soluable pencils is that I can get a little shadow in here and there. In this last sketch, she had her head down, lower than her shoulders, which I show as the lighter graphite wash.

John had left by now and I spent a little more time with Trouble until I figured I'd better wipe down my coat and hands and head on over to the allergist and get my weekly shot. Ha, ha!

Don't worry, Trouble... I won't stay away so long next time. Promise.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sharing My Studio Space

I've spent the whole day cleaning and reorganizing my office area in the studio. Since I've occupied this space now for about 5 months, I'm finally figuring out what I really need and what needs to to go away because it's just filling space and not of any purpose. I've gotten my phone/fax machine finally up and running after wrestling with the coils and "snakes" of power cords behind the desk. I reconfigured the desktop a bit, got rid of a couple items to make room to actually be able to work on the desktop, if I want. Wow! What a concept!

I bought and assembled a small, two-shelf bookcase to tuck back in what used to be "junk corner". You know, that corner of your office where your desk ends and the wall is still a little bit away, so you pile "stuff" in there. Now that corner will house all the notebooks filled with art related articles I download (yeah, I'm "old school"... I like the printed word as opposed to always looking up file on the computer.)

What I'm actually getting around to with this post is, as I was putting the finishing touches on the desk and surrounding area, I picked up the little, blue photo album that has the photo of my mother that I used in my last post. As I started to close the cover, I looked at her standing there, all dressed up, with her artwork, looking pleased and I felt like she was looking at me. Like she was pleased with me, for putting together the life she wished she could have led. So, I guess instead of tucking her away in a drawer upstairs with the other photo albums, I'll buy her a little frame and she can share my studio with me. After all, two of her best paintings hang on the walls down here.

"Transparent Boxes", acrylic, 20" x 24",
by Gertrude Scott

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Requiem in Verse" Revisited, For My Mother...

Gertrude Scott with her art, "Color Trek" on the wall, an untitled piece on the bench
and her wild flower hand-drawn and then embroidered quilt on the left.
This photo must have been taken at her church.

I'm about to get real serious here, folks....

I pulled out a journal that I'd bought years ago. It's beautiful, red leather bound with a stamped Celtic-type design on the cover, held closed by a strip of the same leather and a wooden bead on the end that one draws tight to keep it closed. The pages are lined and of good paper stock with a red ribbon to mark one's page. It's really quite lovely. I've held onto this journal for years thinking it was "special" and I should save it for a - well, lack of a better word - special purpose. I decided to use it with my "Artist Conspiracy" free writing and focus this month of "Words and Writing". (In case you're wondering what the "Artist Conspiracy" is, it is a program that Alyson Stanfield, the art coach of Art Biz fame has put together. More info can be found at if your interested.) Afterall, this is the year I really am getting serious about this "artist's life" that I've slowly been crafting, so what could be more "special" than that, right?

What I found tucked inside that journal is even more poignant than I can almost describe here. It's a yellowed, battered, some edges and sections missing, held together by Scotch tape, fragile piece of a newspaper. A column written by Phyllis Battelle, I'm guessing maybe in the '60's or '70's judging by the portion of a car ad on it's tattered back. Hand written in pencil, by my mother's hand, is "Beaumont 2250". Obviously, this is a room number at the local hospital, but who was in the hospital at the time, I do not know. But knowing my mother and reading the words of this column breaks my heart a little because you see, my mother was also an artist. An artist who never fully followed her passion for art because "life got in the way". She lived to be 92 and painted for herself. This column must have touched a part of her soul and that's why she preserved as best she could.

I want to share this column with everyone - artists and creative souls of all genres, but especially with those who don't quite "understand" the "why" and the "need" of these souls... If I could, I would try to get permission to post this column, but I have no idea where it was published. There are a couple spots where, as I stated before, the newspaper is literally missing, I think I can surmise what the missing words were and I will put those "words" in italics. And with that I give you:

Phyllis Battelle

Requiem in verse

NEW YORK - a boy student in the 12th grade, starved for attention, parched for understanding, handed in the following poem to his teacher:

"He always
He always wanted to explain
But no one cared.
So he drew.
Sometimes he would draw and it
wasn't anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or
write it in the sky.
He would lie out on the grass and
look up at the sky
And it would be only the sky and
him and the things inside him
that needed saying.
And it was after that that he drew
the picture.
It was a beautiful picture.
He kept it under his pillow and
would let no one see it.
And he would look at it every
night and think about it.
And when it was dark, and his
eyes were closed, he could
still see it.
It was all of him.
And he loved it.
When he started school he
brought it with him.
Not to show anyone but just to
have it with him like a friend.
It was funny about school.
He sat in a square, brown desk
Like all the other square, brown
And he thought it should be red.
And his room was a square, brown
Like all the other rooms.
He hated to hold the pencil and
With his arm stiff and his feet
flat on the floor,
With the teacher watching and
The teacher came and spoke to
She told him to wear a tie like all
the other boys.
He said he didn't like them.
And she said it didn't matter.
After that they drew.
And he drew all yellow and gold
the way he felt about morning.
And it was beautiful.
The teacher came and smiled at
'What's this? she said. 'Why don't
you draw something like
Ken's drawing?
'Isn't that beautiful?'
After that his mother bought him
a tie
And he always drew airplanes and
rocket ships like everyone
And he threw the old picture
And when he lay out and saw
looking at the sky,
It was big and blue and
But he wasn't any more.
He was square inside
And brown
And his hands were stiff
And he was like everyone
And the things inside him that
needed saying didn't push
any more,
It had stopped pushing.
It was crushed.
Like everything else."

The teacher couldn't help but be surprised. Such creativity. Such flavor. Could this 12th-grade boy really have composed such a poem?

It is not known today whether he actually wrote the poem by himself, all alone, or not.

It is known, however, that he committed suicide shortly afterward.

Nothing needed saying any more.

For my mother...