Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sneak Peak

With Labor Day comes the last of the season's art festivals, for me at least. I'm a lightweight when it comes to outdoor events. One I'm pleased to attend as a participating artist is the FamFest in Aurora, Nebraska. This is a great event full of music, good food and excellent art.

I'll be showing a few new pieces from my plein aire painting trips.

I'll give you a sneak peak to temp you into coming to Aurora (as if coming to this great little community weren't enough!)

Painted early in the morning, the coneflowers this year were gorgeous.

I planted sunflowers this year, for no reason other than I love them. These mammoth variety are over 15 feet tall. The heads are at least a foot wide, plenty big enough to feed the finches.
These plein aire pieces are 5 x 7 inches and beautifully framed. They're available for $200 each. To see them in person, and to see other new paintings, stop by my booth in the artist's tent at Famfest in Aurora and introduce yourself.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Measure of Time

It's that time of year. The point in my summer when I realize the earth has shifted without my noticing.
The sun set a good 30 minutes earlier last night than it did the night before. Suddenly cicadas are fillling the air with a tremendous rhythmic zz-zz-zz-zz that is supposed to mean frost in 6 weeks. Six weeks! School busses are rumbling down the streets, brakes squealing as they pull up to load children born just yesterday for their first days of school. The sky is even a different color, just a bit bluer than before. The coneflowers are fading from their rich lavendar to a dull grey. Sunflowers that just yesterday were hilariously yellow are now bent under their heavy brown load.
My friend is writing a book. Her goal is a chapter a month. Suddenly she realized, like I had, the changing of the season. Months had gone by - what month was it? She couldnt say, but she knew she had 6 chapters written.
Another friend passed away recently. She'd lived 78 years. I'm certain that she saw her life as ridiculously short, although the last days were probably endless. At her funeral her life was recounted in laughter and tears, lessons learned and shared rather than units of time.
I'm setting a goal for myself. I'll share it with you when the time is right. Four days ago I was behind, yesterday I'm ahead enough to feel comfortable.
How do we measure time? It's a season, it's a goal, it's the number of ticks my clock makes in the earth's ciruit around the sun. When the kids were home it was measured in homework and grades and days left before leaving the nest.
Now it's measured in sudden moves of the earth. In chapters written, lives ended and paint tubes squeezed dry.
How do you measure time?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monet Meets Curly Joe

After reading Christine Kane's blog about expanding vs shrinking I shrugged off all shrinkiness (read stinginess) and purchased a really lovely plein air easel. Painting in the open air, away from the studio, sounds so romantic and, well, just plain fun. Turns out it was more like Claude Monet meets Curly Joe.

Becuase I am fairly new to painting away from the studio, I traveled only as far as my back yard.

It's a good place to start, actually. The sun on my black-eyed Susan's was really gorgeous. (That's my sister's really awesome chain-saw carving you see there in the background.)

There I stand, just like Claude Monet. The warm sun, cool shadows, brilliant yellows, purples, birds and cicadas breathing life into every stroke of my brush.

Things begin to go awry fairly quickly. Monet steps aside and Curly Joe moves in. Somehow I managed to flip my 5 x 7 board upside down, onto my fresh palette. The backside is now decorated in great gooey globs of cadmium orange and scarlet. Not to worry I tell myself, I'm outside. Wipe it off, put the board back and get back to work. I notice a bit of red paint on my brand spankin' new pochade box. The pochade box is supposed to carry the paint in it, not on it. Stop painting, wipe it off, gotta keep that new pochade box shiney and clean.

It's not long before I find I'm holding in my left hand a paper towel full of red paint, 4 brushes and a palette knife. Yes, my paint box came with a brush holder. It's just that my hand is so, well, handy. And yes, I have managed to get red paint on each and every brush. Oddly, the hair part is clean.

About that time a cute weiner dog strays into the yard to check out the Lady in Red. We introduce ourselves, and he leaves a moment later with a red stripe behind one ear.

An hour later, I've got red paint on my hands, brushes, pochade box, up my arm, on my shorts, the back door, my left sock, and on my right cheek. My hair is highlighted in - yup, you guessed it.

But I've also got 70 square inches of really lovely flowers painted, and I'm thrilled.

And now, as I'm typing, I see cad red scarlet on my keyboard. And up my arm again, and on my right knee. What would Monet think?

I'm thrilled. I survived my first real plein air session. I expanded my horizons, all the way to my back yard. Maybe tomorrow I'll expand them all the way to the end of the block.

How far will you expand your horizon? And what color will it be?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Birthday Gratitude List

Today is my birthday! I'm pleased to tell you I'm 52 years old. F-i-f-e-t-y-t-w-o. My first thought when age is brought up is often to cough my way through the number. You've heard it before. I'm f-cough cough-ti-cough arhum years old.
This past year has been as challenging as it has been great. I'm celebrating my birthday with a gratitude list. One for every year.

I'm grateful for:
My husband.
My sons.
My family.
The rest, in no particular order:
fresh tomatoes
modern medicine
the internet
my friends. You know who you are.
good music
fresh clean water
comfortable shoes
long walks
warm blankets
my Hundai Santa Fe
fresh popcorn
my house
art supplies
Graham Gallery
a good cup of hot coffee
any reason for a good belly laugh
a good haircut
good books
the time to read them
my cell phone
warm socks
egg rolls
my garden
fresh sweet corn
fresh bread
talk radio
long walks with Dan
college opportunities
a comfortable bed
good teachers
The Office television show
air conditioning
my house
grocery stores
my studio
Far Side cartoons
pineapple smoothies at Geneva Java Coffee Shop
sunrises in Nebraska

Gee, that was easy. Truly, I've got alot to be grateful for.
Take a moment to make your list.
What are you grateful for?

Monday, August 4, 2008

CASA Donation

True to my belief in giving when you can, I'm donating another painting to be raffled off for a really good cause. The over $1,000 in art I've given away this year is about $900 more than I could give in real dollars, so I'm pretty pleased. This painting will be given to a lucky person sometime in November (dates are still being settled on). The real winner will be CASA, a national child advocacy program using trained volunteers to act as advocates for abused and neglected children in court.

It's a really lovely framed 8 x 10 oil. Haybales are a favorite subject for me. Their warm gold hue and solid form speak to safety, comfort, and warmth against the long cold winters we enjoy. Under any other circumstance, I'd sell an 8 x 10 for at least $250. That's a potential savings of $249!!

Funds raised will go toward supporting CASA volunteers in Fillmore County. These folks use their own cars and gas, time etc. and funds raised will go directly to helping them out. I can't think of a better group to support.

How can you help? Send in $1 for each chance to win. Your name will go into a big hat, or bucket or whatever, and during half-time of a Geneva Panthers basketball game, we'll grab a name out. Along with your $1, send your name and address so we can get the painting to you if (when) you win. Send your bucks to:

Amanda Miller
Director Fillmore County CASA
2471 Rd 550
Carleton, Nebraska, 68326

Lest you think I'm secretly a Nigerian Prince, well, there are precious few Nigerian princes in Nebraska. None, actually.

Good luck to you! Your donation can help children get a better life. Not bad for $1.