28 Days of Grey

25 02 2015

All discussion of long-term climate change aside, it’s been stupid-cold for too long now.  I, like many folks, wilt during winter’s weak and brief periods of sunlight and severe and extended periods of frigid temperatures. With that admission on the record, here are

The Top Ten Reasons It’s Time For March.

10. Daylight Saving Time arrives, dropping the green flag on the race to spring!

9.   Dressing like Michelin Man to get the mail is getting exhausting.

8.   Static electricity:

I can fry the TV with an index finger, if I forget to touch other metal first.

7.   Fewer snotty noses . . . can’t vouch for attitudes . . .

6.   I look less crazy at the ice cream shop.

(I will eat ice cream in any weather; I just look less abnormal when it’s not two below.)

5.   The end of the mattress sale (and mattress commercial) season.

4.   The top news headlines won’t be dominated by meteorologists.

3.   Cars can begin to return their natural color, instead of road salt gray.

2.   February Funk replaced by March Madness.

1.   Mad Mildred (my mom) will celebrate her 85th birthday –

2-25-15 probably by bowling a 200 game.


February, it’s not you; it’s . . .  wait, it IS you.

You are a cold, menacing, ugly, grey jerk and I won’t miss you one bit!


Has the Jury Reached a Verdict?

18 02 2015

For my friends who participate in the work and full-contact sport of fine art and craft shows, this is the start of nail-biting and calendar-reconfiguring season: applications and acceptances for all the important 2015 shows are in play right now.

As hard as it is to make art, it is also hard work to get accepted to a show. The artist must complete forms, submit photos, pay application fees (most of which are non-refundable, without regard to whether or not they’re accepted into the show), and wait for the verdict, at the mercy of nameless and faceless show jurors, who may or may not have a particular bias for or against their medium or style.

The opportunity to sell work and earn income is, of course, a big part of needing to be accepted into these shows.  The need to be accepted is also tied – even though we know better – to our self-esteem. When our application is declined, our first thought is not the right one, which is, most often, that our work and the show are not a good match. We think nobody loves us. It’s a natural and irrepressible reaction to rejection. Some of us are better able to get our perspective back, but for others, especially newer artists, it can be crushing . . .

Which brings me to the inspiration for this post. This brilliant comment came from a Facebook art group participant in response to another member who was in the throes of “Why (not) me?” after receiving a rejection notice.

Just keep moving. Artistry is mastery of your medium; if they can’t handle that, then give them the best possible image of you walking away.

This advice is good for way more than craft show applications; I think it’s a pretty fine way to cope with pretty much everything.

You are the master of your life. Don’t explain yourself; just BE yourself. Folks who can’t appreciate you don’t deserve you. Really. Oh, and if you smile as you wave goodbye, it will make them crazy.


Cheshire cat grin, courtesy of my lovely niece Katy.

I certainly appreciate your acceptance of this post. Thank you.

Do You Have to be Such a Tool?

11 02 2015

Besides her art, one of the things I like best about watercolorist and teacher June Rollins ​ is her never-flagging positive and generous attitude about her art and art, in general.

In one of her recent posts –  https://junerollins.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/be-careful-when-drawing-on-watercolor-paper/ –  June opened up an interesting side discussion of camera obscura and other tools artists use to aid in their process.

The argument – carried on across a number of articles, blogs, and other threads – boils down to two factions:

1. Real Artists always free-hand draw their subjects. Anyone who uses a tool (camera obscura, overhead/opaque projector, grid – you get the gist) to help them draw is a cheater and should not dare call themselves an artist!


2. Artists have always adopted tools that make them more able to produce better (in their own eyes, for that’s all that matters) art. Get over it!

As with a lot of arty things, I formed a pretty quick opinion, but – as with some of my other hastily-formed opinions – after more thorough consideration of the big (overhead-projected-traced) picture; I’ve changed my mind. ( I love that about the older me, by the way.)

While I initially sided with the “must free-hand to be artist” argument, some brilliant counterarguments began to overtake me.  We do not doubt the physician’s commitment to his art because he chooses to use a stethoscope, instead of relying on his unaided ears.  Prima ballerinas are not less magnificent because they wear pointe shoes.  Beethoven was not diminished as a composer because he used more instruments than had been available to his predecessors.

Common sense led me to conclude that artist’s tools are no different: brushes, hammers, cameras, rulers, pigments . . . they are tools.

My now-well-considered opinion is that, to be an artist, simply have your own original thought. Once you do that, the manner in which you render that idea doesn’t really matter.

Engage brain.

Drop barriers.

Make art.


Phil, Pete, and Preposterousness

4 02 2015

Today’s post is courtesy of guest blogger,  roommate to Facebook cavy sensation Pig Newton, Mr. Simon.

Good evening. I have been retained to offer a second opinion as to whether we, as predicted by that fame-whore woodchuck Punxutawney Phil, will be experiencing six more weeks of winter weather.

My conclusions are thus:

You’re an idiot. I’m a guinea pig. I have no idea what the weather will be. Now give me a carrot and ask the dog who will win the 2016 presidential election.




Oh, while I have your attention, let me tell you that Pete Carroll’s decision to not call  Marshawn Lynch’s number with the game and the ball on the one-yard line was not the most ridiculous decision ever made. The most absurd decision is to not vaccinate your children. Sorry Pete, you take second place (again). Better luck next year.


Before and After(math)

28 01 2015

Today, while I was lifting “old lady” weights at the YMCA, something deflated my enthusiasm for my workout faster than a New England Patriots football.  A woman – a warrior goddess – entered the weight room.

She was amazing . . . Strong . . . Ripped . . . Not a wrinkle in sight . . .

She was also young enough to be my granddaughter.

I slapped myself back to reality.

Yes, this young woman deserved – and got – my respect for what I know was a lot of very hard work and dedication developing and maintaining that race car chassis.

I deserve my respect, too, though, for the effort I put into keeping this old jalopy of a body healthy. I have some dents and rust and my upholstery’s a little bit worn, but I can still get where I need to go.

There is great beauty in youth. It should be celebrated while it lasts. That does not mean there is nothing to celebrate after time and gravity have their way with us, though.


I miss my younger body, the one with fewer aches and age spots; but my sixty-one-year-old body, wrinkles and age spots and cellulite and all, is still a wonderful place to live. It has given me a child. It still sings and dances. It makes art. It hugs friends.

It eats too much ice cream, but, everyone’s got a vice or two.

So happy I was with myself after sticking it out and finishing my workout, in spite of Warrior Goddess,  I – in a very that’s not how girls behave way – paraded into the ladies locker room shower, towel-less and proud (not to mention flabby), smiling smugly at young women whose physiques have caused me serious bouts of envy, filled with joy at the knowledge that they knew THIS was to be their fate in thirty years.


1-28-15 2

I am the Ghost of Warrior Goddess Future.

Original Sin

21 01 2015

I am an artist. I have lots of artist friends. One of the things we spend a lot of time discussing and reading about (and whining about) is originality.


Undoubtedly, this is one of the cornerstones of being an artist. Everyone knows it is essential for artists to be original. There is no argument. It is required.

It is also impossible.

Wait. What?

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

Carl Sagan


We are all influenced by what’s come before; it is inescapable. Many of us will find others whose muse was sparked by a similar experience or vision or point of view – or what we ate for breakfast. That we share inspiration, medium, style, or vocabulary does not make us forgers, plagiarizers, or pretenders. To be deserving of those epithets, one must be guilty of simple and thoughtless copying; mimicry as straightforward and meaningless as the words “spoken” by a bird who is not conveying ideas, just making sounds.

Now, in the middle of my writing about originality, in just the last four days, I have read posts – from two people whose work I love – about this very subject!

Crap! It’s not ORIGINAL.

Great! It proves my point.

I will admit I had a few bad thoughts:

  1. People will think I copied.
  2. The others (might) have stolen my thunder.
  3. My post won’t be as good as theirs.

(Originality is not required to be artistic, but insecurity . . . got that in spades.)

Then I looked at who had shared the same bit of inspiration as I have and I realized that I am in really fine company. Further consideration revealed that, even though our muses attended the same dance, no toes got trampled.

One of the most enjoyable things about making art is the making itself. That someone else might serendipitously fall into a similar way of working should not bother us; even if they copy us intentionally and flagrantly, they do not stay our hand or rearrange our workspace or think our thoughts.

Now that I’ve thought my thoughts and shared them with you, I encourage you to check these two brief presentations on originality by these always-thought-provoking women: Gwenn Seemel and Marie Forleo.



Now, enjoy some apple pie, courtesy of Mom and the Universe.


Who Knows What Evil Lurks . . . Who Cares?

14 01 2015


I just listened to a new NPR radio broadcast, a show called Invisibilia, which is described on the NPR website as:

Invisibilia (Latin for “all the invisible things”) explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.

The first program was titled The Secret History of Thoughts.  It might have been more aptly titled The Secret History of BAD Thoughts . . . First story focused on inappropriate thoughts, dark thoughts, what having them means (Spoiler – nothing much, apparently), and how we manage them. The program was interesting and informative, but I could not help wondering why take such a depressing angle. Why not do a program about how we cope with random happy thoughts, instead of random dark ones?

I know. Bad news grabs attention and attention-getting is the first step to audience-building, but does that make it a good thing?  I don’t think so!

We are too ready to search for meaning in a nightmare, a blip on the old mental radar that involves committing some gruesome crime, or just wishing (for an instant) that lightning would strike someone whose presence just bugs us; yet, we dismiss the unexpected (undeserved, of course) little wisps of joy that float in and out of our consciousness as static or misinterpreted signals.

I’ve decided to ponder the meaning of all the wild and out-of-context happy thoughts that cross my mind with the same deliberation and investigation as I, and many others of my age and experience, have grown accustomed to doing to our unpleasant ones.

My mind’s eye is focusing on a big-old ice cream cone. (Spoiler – I know what that means – go to ice cream shop.)

Keep thinking happy thoughts.


Image from Massey’s Frozen Custard https://www.facebook.com/MasseysFrozenCustard?ref=br_tf



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