Sunday, November 30, 2008

Recipe for Thanksgiving

This is the best recipe ever.

Gather a bunch of siblings...add a Mom...swish in the loving memory of a Dad...

sprinkle liberally with sons, wives, husbands and special others...

add a wiggly dog...

stir in an extra curricular activity...

and nap for one hour at room temperature.

Season with hugs and fond memories of a truly lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

Love you all-P

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanks Dr. Z

I shared a Grateful List for my birthday, and it really hasn't changed much. I'm a pretty grateful kinda gal. To that list I've got one more addition to honor the holiday.

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks in my studio. Some ideas that have been floating around in my head don't seem to translate onto paper or canvas. Inside my noggin, they're beautiful renditions of the acres of birches we saw in the U.P Michigan. On paper, well, it's another story. It's been frustrating, to say the least. Especially since I saw a really beautiful exhibit by Hal Haloun at Kiechel Gallery in Lincoln, Ne. Achingly beautiful.
Deep sigh.

So many people have said to me "Oh! It must be so much FUN to be an artist!" And I smile and mumble something about it being better than kick in the pants. Satisfying, certainly. But fun? Playing cards with friends is fun. Sharing a meal with family is fun. Being an artist? Mm, not so much.

When I was in college, I had an instructor who was refreshingly honest with me. During our last conversation, while I picked up the last assignment of the year, I asked him whether I should pursue an art degree, or get a 'real' job. Of course, I was hoping he would smile sweetly and tell me how wonderful an artist I was.

He didn't.

What he did say has stayed with me all these years (and it's been alot of years).

He said, "You've got the talent. You can do it if you want it, but it's going to be hard work."


I didn't understand the hard work part. For me, just like those people, painting was FUN! I hadn't yet spent hours trying to make the perfect mark that would hold a painting together. I hadn't spent days working on one small painting, wondering how to get oil paint to look like air. I hadn't yet spent hours in a studio, alone, facing the fear that I had no idea what I was doing. And doing it anyway.

I get that art is not like hauling rocks from one site to another, or saving babies from burning buildings. No one has ever used a canvas of mine to protect themselves from an assassin's bullet.

I'm grateful to Dr. Z for being honest with me, and telling me that being an artist is hard. Not saving babies hard, but ego-bruising hard. Not back-breakingly hard, but intellectually hard. Inventing a new language hard. Sharing your private thoughts and hopes with strangers hard. Had he not been honest with me and shared that little nugget of truth with me, I'm pretty certain that I'd be working in the food service industry, or the local Shop-n-Drop. It may yet come to that. But until then, I'm going back into my studio and face that canvas one more time. Dr. Z will be standing with me, shoulder to shoulder.

I'm grateful for that.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No Grumps Allowed

Okay, I've had it. I'm not playing along any more.

As far as I'm concerned all the Talking Heads have yelled their last yell. The guys at The Weather Channel have, uh, weathered their last hurricane. In my world Christiane Amanpour has moved over to the cooking channel and is helping Duff decorate wedding cakes.

I'm ignoring warnings of recession and crashing markets and iron poor blood and cellulite. I absolutely will not participate.

I have heard my last dire warning. Play along if you like. Winter is not on it's way, and Thanksgiving dinner has no calories. I can already taste that second piece of pie.

So what gives? Well, it's been a long time since we have had much good news. And I'm weary of it, so I'm creating my own.

I'm bringing back summer. I'm bringing back those lazy days by the river, when the sun was just going down and the cicadas were beginning their rhythmic song. (I'm not bringing back mosquitos.) I'm bringing back the cool breeze whispering 'goodnight' in the trees.

Come get some for yourself. When the going gets tough, when the Talking Heads shout one word too many or that crazy Jim heads outside for the next huge storm, put your eyes on this momento of quieter, softer, warmer times.

And have a second piece of pie.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Great Expectations

A couple of days ago I took the trip to Graham Gallery for the purpose of delivering new artwork for the Christmas season. This time of year is a big deal at this gallery, as it probably is in most galleries. The walls are cleared of artwork that's been, well, hanging around, and new work is hung ceiling to floor. The aroma of cider and cinnamon will soon permeate the air and holiday music will be heard playing from the corners of the room.

Despite the fact that the year is aging, and time for all we were going to get done is running out, it's hard not to feel excited about the coming holidays. Even though the decorations being strung from the street lights in my town are nearly antique, they inspire a fresh look at the town square. The sky is that particular tone of blue that is startling in its intensity. The air is clean, the breeze chilly and brisk and the holidays are just around the corner.

It's a hopeful time, this end-of-the-year season.

There is the obvious, the hope of a successful economic up-tick for sellers of various stuff. (This includes yours truly here.) This season carries the entire year for some.

There is hope for those whose candidates won, to have their dreams met, or at least recognized. There is hope for those whose candidates lost their races, hope that fences will be mended and cold shoulders warmed.

There are great expectations for families to gather around a common table and share not only turkey and pie, but laughter and love, or at least a feeble joke and a momentary truce. I hope I have enough silverware to go around.

Some hope for snow, but not me. I'm past my sledding prime.

I hope people buy art. Not just mine, although that would be really, really great. I hope folks do not become paralyzed by the constant warnings of dire times from the Talking Heads. I hope people turn off the negativity and look up at the aging street decorations, and the families gathering and the clear blue sky and feel good about where this year has been. And where it is going.

And where we are.

By the way, if you're in Hastings Nebraska on the evening of November 20th, stop by Graham Gallery and see what's hanging on the walls. I'm sure there'll be a cup of steaming cider for you.
Hope to see you there.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Name Change

I've often wondered why Vincent Van Gogh signed only his first name. After this weekend, I think I know the reason.

Let me just say that I love my last name. Scarborough.

It sounds good. Rolls off the tongue in a nice way. You can even get a little snooty with it if you like: Scahhhborough.

It's problematic for some folks, however. They give it another couple of 'o's, an extra 'r', or even another 's' in the middle. As for me, I've never had a hard time with the spelling. The letters come together just like it sounds.

Until recently.

Let me just say that I have been a pastel artist for nearly 20 years. After a pastel piece is finished, I sign it using a school bus yellow, Ticonderoga #2 pencil. It lets me almost draw the name out, even allowing for a little flourish at the end. P Scarborough. I skip most of my first name. Twelve letters is enough to scrawl across the bottom of any painting.

A year and a half ago I took up with oils after a very long absence. The issue of my signature became, well, an issue.

Managing P Scarborough with a pencil is one thing. Getting it out of a size 0 paintbrush dipped in oil paint is another thing entirely. It requires a great deal of concentration to match up dipping/holding on to the brush properly/spelling the name/using readable penmanship skills.

It happened first a couple of months ago. Marcy, master framer at Graham Gallery, noticed first. There were only eleven letters in my signature. I had misspelled my own name.

Concentrating so completely on getting the brush to make all those curly lines, I neglected to actually read what I'd written.

Okay, hardy-har-har. So that painting is now worth a million because the artist didn't get her own name correct. But the thing is, that only works one time. And I did it again this weekend. Twice.

So, I appreciate Vincent's approach. However, I can see the same problems arising with my first name, Patricia. And using just my initial doesn't seem like a good idea. One lonely P on the bottom of a painting just seems to invite trouble. I'm thinking of changing my name to something more easily spelled with a brush. Maybe a symbol, like Prince uses. A swoosh would be excellent, but I think it's taken.

Would a thumbprint work?
White Bark, 5 x 7 oil, P. Scarborough (spell checked)