Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Winnah Is...

As you recall today’s post is number 200. Woo hoo!  I have posted nearly every Sunday for 4 years.  To be honest, I’m pretty impressed with myself. 

As you know from last week’s post, to celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m giving away a 6x6 oil painting. According to the rules,  the names of those who commented this past week were deposited into a hat, from which Handsome Husband has agreed to pluck one lucky name.

I'm just plain giving it away! You didn’t have to sign up for new windows and siding, car Insurance, or lower mortgage fees.  All you had to do was poke the comment button. How easy was that?

Handsome Husband draws a name from his hat. Notice the lovely pastel painting behind him? It will be part of an exhibit titled "Land Marks" which will show at Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, Ne. from Feb 17 through April 1st. More on that coming soon...
Without further ado, clamor or tumult, the winnah is…

Vickie!! Vickie, email me at and tell me how to deliver your brand new painting!!

(And by the way, thank you all so much for commenting in such delightful and kind ways)

Many of you have been very supportive and complimentary of this accomplishment.  I appreciate your kindness and interest.  Several readers have asked how I have managed to pile up so many thoughts and ideas.  As my friend Sheila said to me recently, “Inch by inch is a cinch. Yard by yard is hard”.  That pretty well sums up how I managed to write 200 blog posts. 

That is the secret to my accomplishment. I wrote them one at a time.  That may sound like a Big Duh; try it though. Imagine sitting down to write 200 posts.  Kind of make you shaky, doesn't it?

Now imagine sitting down to write just one. Its doable. In fact, its doable 200 times.

 And here’s another secret:  I don’t worry about how good my post will be.  (You may have noticed that already.)  If I burdened myself with the specter of my high school English teachers grading my blog posts I’d never get beyond the first word. My hands would turn to ice, sweat would trickle from my brow and my brain would cease to function.  I write because I enjoy it.  Putting thoughts into words has helped me figure out a few things.  I write about what I know, or what I think I know and hope you'll be forgiving. You are invited to read what I’ve shared, or go wash your car. Either way, my goal is to poke the publish button by 9 pm Sunday evening. 

The 9pm Sunday limitation comes from the fear that if I didn’t corral myself with a time frame, I would never  actually get the job done. Oh sure, I’d think about it a lot, and probably even get a good start on a post, but my experience tells me I’d be distracted by important issues like birds outside my window, or looking for that sock I lost last week.
Another secret? I’ve got Handsome Husband in my camp. When I’m tempted to skip a week, or re-post an oldie, or simply run away from home, HH offers ideas, support, and patience. Thank you, sweetie.
Books and essays have been written about how to accomplish a task or reach a goal, and most of them come down to this essential nugget:  Take a breath and just do it. 

And I did.
200 times

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lucky 200

Greetings All-
It’s hard to believe, but next week I will file my 200th post. 

Every Sunday for nearly 4 years I have written a blog post for your perusal.  To be honest, when I started this endeavor it never occurred to me that I would write 50 posts, let alone 200.  I’m pretty impressed with myself if the truth be known.
I believe a little celebration is in order.  With gifts - for you! 
Here’s the deal:  If you leave a sweet little comment, or any comment at all, I’ll put your name into my lucky plein air painting hat. On Sunday January 29th , 4 years from the date of my first post, at 9am in the bright shiny morning, Handsome Husband will pick out a name, and before you know it a lovely little oil painting will be in the mail addressed to the winner. 
6x6 Elms at Dusk by Patricia Scarborough could be yours!
I‘m getting chills just thinking about it. 
Quick!  Comment!!
(Btw, what a time to not be able to publish comments immediately!  Hang in there, and do comment, and I'll get this computer situation taken care of asap.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why Oh Why?

Fellow blogger and watercolor painter extraordinaire Nanci Hersh is doing a series of posts called Artists Collecting Artists. The point is to see what kinds of artwork artists themselves collect and treasure.

 I was pleased when she invited me to participate. As I surveyed our small collection of original art I easily chose some and not others to carry the starry “favorite” tiara. It was a quick decision to pick my favorite corner in our home.
On a desk my grandfather made over 60 years ago sits these 3 pieces:

The collectibles box was made by Mary Linnea Vaughan. Lathe-turned bowl by Harry Adams.  Alcohol reduction vase by Leroy von Glan. Goofy feathers are mine, lending a Dr. Seussian sensibility to the arrangement.

 Then Nanci asked the Sixty-four thousand dollar question: “ Why?  Why are these your favorites?”

Hmmmmmm. Now that I think of it, why did we buy any of the art we own?

Handsome Husband and I discussed this at length. I do know that nothing was matched or accented. Nothing was mentioned regarding any deep meaning or intellectual construct. We own watercolors, photographs, ceramics, and consistency there. Subject matter and style have no thread either. Nor was it the name or reputation of the artist. There seemed to be no real rhyme or reason to our selections.     (Just an aside, several years ago we did purchase a piece based on a growing reputation. I hardly notice it anymore.)
One consistent fact is that we know each of these artists. There is something to that. 

There is a mystique about the pieces we love. I believe it is a connection to a back story, something we share with the artist that neither of us can plan ahead for. It’s something, an immediate knowing that I am willing to empty my wallet to be able to call a hand crafted item mine. The indescribable “It Factor”.

I find myself saying, “this reminds me of…” or “I think I’ve been there…” or “this feels like…” The word resonate comes to mind. A sort of deep oscillation with a secret rhythm that just feels right.

Visual constructions are beyond our limited vocabulary. Isn’t that obvious? We create art and share it to connect in a way beyond words, beyond description, beyond expectation as if there is a delicate web of experiences united unexpectedly across time and language.  There are no words to describe the why. There is no need.

What art do you love?  Do you know why?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lightbulbs and Fond Memories

In one month I deliver paintings to Stuhr Museum in Grand Island for my  upcoming solo show to be held in conjunction with the annual Wings Over thePlatte juried exhibition.  All of this celebrates the annual  sandhills crane migration through our state. 

In addition to the work, I’ll need a mailing list, an inventory list and of course, The Artist’s Statement. Cue the scary music. Haul out the dictionary. This will take some time.

 The theme of this exhibit is the Platte River Valley, its environs and the wildlife that inhabit this ecologically valuable area.  As the Featured Artist I get top billing, which means I’ve got to have a killer statement.

So here I sit, toiling away trying to understand and validate my continuing love affair with landscapes and most especially trees. In the spirit of all I learned in art school I’m using language like juxtapose, elicit and ethereal, balancing those words with some  philosophy that would give this collection of paintings a deeper validation as art. Spelled with a capital “A”, spoken in whispered tones with a tight jaw: A-h-h-t.  

This morning, after 30 years of writing statements, after a jillion words and hundreds of pages of baloney , a lightbulb went on.
 Trees and tangles of bushes and the hollows in between are a major part of who I am today. In painting them I get to revisit my glory days.

©2010 Patricia Scarborough  Thicket  12 x 12 oil
Back then I was a cowboy on a fast horse,  being bucked off or leaping over obstacles only a daring rider on a masterful beast would dare to attempt, all under the canopy of trees in our backyard.

 I, along with my siblings and various neighborhood kids, climbed high into the branches topping our yard, Sherpa’s on a path into Valhalla. We flung ourselves off the first heavy bough Tarzan-style not realizing that the ape-man was a fiction and that Johnny Weissmuller had a net.  It might not have mattered if we had.  We were heroes in the making.  Really awesome ones at that. 

Trees and bushes in our neighborhood provided us with a backdrop of intense imaginative play.  We were pioneers and pirates and international spies chasing and being chased, fighting over who got to be the Mom, the Dad and the baby; the outcast, the hero. Freud’s laboratory tucked into the hedges of my own neighborhood.

©2010 Patricia Scarborough  November  9 x 12 oil

The sky of my youth was divided by branches and sprigs. I see that now in many of my paintings.  Funny how I’m just now realizing that. 

How that translates into a statement for an art exhibit I have no idea. The grown up part of me gets to wrestle with that. The fact that I was once a rodeo queen with ties to an international syndicate who routinely saved damsels from distress and escaped certain capture by leaping out of trees will most likely be left out.  Even if it’s the truth.

©2010 Patricia Scarborough If I Were There   8 x 10 pastel

With effort and a thesaurus I'll create a document explaining my collection of paintings with grown up words, knowing all the while there's a little kid lurking behind the shrubs, looking for a steed on which to gallop into the sunset.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Word 2012

Happy First Day of 2012.

It’s a new set of months, 12 of them coming at us all shiny and new, unbent, unbroken; hopeful like a brand new pair of jeans.

It’s also the day we dread.  It’s New Year’s Resolution Day.

I'm suggesting you try something different.

 For the last 4 years I have followed the wise guidance of Christine Kane, counselor and visionary to millions.  Rather than start the year with a resolution, which feels all burdensome, more of a millstone than a touchstone and generally doomed to failure, Christine offers a kinder approach: the Word for the Year.

Having a Word for the Year is more like having a guide than a goal. It’s a word you can whisper softly to yourself multiple times a day, or rattle yourself with when necessary to get on track. There is no use-by date, no shelf life, no feelings of failure.

The first year I replaced my resolutions with a simple word, I chose “engage”. It was a beautiful word to accompany my journey through a year of immense growth and change as I developed my art practice.  Engage worked so well I used it a second year as well.  Using the word engage was infinitely more powerful for me than any resolution charging me to Do Better, Try Harder, Achieve More. Engaging was measureable immediately, kinder to myself and others, and useful in nearly every situation.

 Engage, as in connect, involve, mesh.

Last year I got flashy and chose moxie.  Originally a name for a soft drink years ago, it became synonymous with spunk and courage.  I had spent weeks looking for a good word, sounding them out and imagining their usefulness.  Moxie sounded dashing and fun. The image in my mind was of a certain artist in 6-inch heels and jaunty beret, striding confidently through each doorway swung open just for me.

If you’ve ever worn 6-inch heels, you can see right away what a bad fit that was.  My rakish beret was more Princess Beatrice  than courageous, although now that I think of it, wearing that hat took guts.

In other words, moxie was fun to think about, but just not … real. At least not for me.  Moxie will be relegated to list of Not So Good Ideas along with the “new” recipe for Coca-Cola and my stylish Crocs.
There's just no excuse for this.

This year’s word is a better fit. Interestingly, it seems to have found me.  In a weird sort of way I have become aware of the word “awareness”. I accept that it’s been following me around for quite some time and expects to be invited in to stay. Rather than look for a flashier, sassier more interesting word, I’m going to accept the kindness and guidance of the universe and go into the year 2012 holding hands with awareness.

 I’m framing awareness as a call to enlightenment, appreciation and understanding, all of which I could use a little more of. It’s also pretty open ended and useful in many contexts. I can hear it being used by our local deputy (Ma’am, are you aware of the speed limit?)  or by Handsome Husband (Hon, are you aware of that thing on your forehead?).  I’m really hoping to hear it whispered to my deepest self, shedding light on my motives, my attitudes and my preconceptions.  It’ll be interesting to see how this concept infiltrates my actions and supports/challenges/awakens or otherwise lifts me to a higher level of being in the world over the next 52 weeks.

Think about it. What word will guide you through the coming year?