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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mezla 2

Once again I am representing the spiral energy of the Universe, this time as it flows between two spheres.

Following the method I found in the earlier drawings, I took the components of the first mezla painting and rearranged them and changed their relationships. Two hemispheres with spiralling energy flowing between them, and a universal grid formed by the radiations from the spheres (hemispheres but spheres are implied).

The underpainting showing the drawing faintly.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cartier-Bresson Online Photography Book

This book, The Decisive Moment, by Henri Cartier-Bresson, has been uploaded by Simon Cherpitel. He apologizes for the graininess of the photos online; the images are unforgettable and the photography is sublime.

For many, inlcluding myself, this is the first time I have seen all these photos together. Some are familliar, others not. I am so glad this got uploaded! If you want to buy the book, they have used ones on starting at $795.00 USD, or a collectible copy for $1500. *shudders to think of paying that for a book*.
Thanks to Osprey Therian and Molly Montale for this web address!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Drawings from 2000

In August of 2000, my father had died that Valentine's Day, and my mother-in-law had died the July before. We had had to put my mother into the county mental hospital geriatric ward; I felt my heart was a stone inside me and all the warmth of the sun could not get at it. I read some book about getting over artistic blocks, and it suggested I draw my problem. This is the drawing.

then it suggested I make variations ... this one is the stone heart radiating, like the sun.

the vesica pisces now encloses the radiating stone heart, the eye of the stone.

the stone sheds light

the stone connecting with the light

light inside the stone

the dark crystal expanded

the image reversed, the stone trying to reach the light

stone and sun combined
these are the negative shapes from the first drawing, variations. Some of these remind me of the Mezla painting. By the way, "mezla" means the spiral energy of the Universe.


According to the blog Amazing Facts, people are paying to have their corpses frozen until ... well who knows when. It makes me think of Sleeper of course. Then I remember how they were going to revive the Leader from his nose by cloning, or was that in another movie?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Early Work

This floral still life was set up by my mother, and I remember the joy of painting it. She was limited by her illness, and unable to practice her own artistic endeavors in any consistent way, but she was one of the most important teachers I have had.

She taught me to use watercolors, charcoal, conte crayon. I recall many instances of her setting me up to draw something, and giving me very good constructive criticism on my efforts. In conte crayon she would have me do drawings using colored charcoal paper and white crayon only. What lovely effects that produced. She had a collection of porcelain figures, and I recall drawing them with highlights only, and the magic of seeing the entire piece appear as the eye filled in the rest of the figurines.

Mother taught me to see nuances of color in skin, though I was blind to them for years. She would say, "look, there is green under the chin there!" I would stare and see only plain skin. It was similar to looking at books before I could read. The type was a plain grey block to my eye. Then later, when I began typesetting, letter shapes began to be visible to me; rather than simply conveying their meaning, they were an art unto themselves!

Mother believed in talent and did not convey to me the need for consistent and deliberate practice. It is late in life for me, but it is well worth doing even now. I have a lot to build upon, and this practice will enrich my work and my life considerably.

Thank you Young Geoffrion for your comment and your post on practice.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Deliberate Practice

In his book Abstraction in Art and Nature, Nathan Cabot Hale (what American Revolutionary names!) explains to us that abstraction is the representation of the essence of things perceived.

He suggests graduated projects, starting from the very ABCs of drawing. That makes his book perfect for deliberate practice.

He points out that the line does not truly exist in nature (as Mother told me long ago), and then we practice the four basic varieties of line:

1. straight
curved (PLUS 1,2 subsets: straight then curved, or curved, then straight)
3. broken
4. line

Of course all these basics can be combined, and are, in drawing. I spent a very satisfying hour reading, listening to BrainBaths on the iPhone (Superlearning tone plus the sound of water), practicing drawing lines, stick figures, and finally my drawing projects, a quartz crystal and my hand, both of which models were willing and readily available.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In Bruges

Two hitmen on vacation in Bruges. Grim, funny, well made, beautifully shot. Five stars. No, four I guess. If I tell you more ... I will have to kill you.

Traveling Companion

This pleasant young woman is Savanna Leigh, who lives in Baltimore. She does sculpture, and you can see some of her work here.

Talent is Overrated

I am in the middle of reading this book, which says that great performances in any field have more to do with "deliberate practice" than with talent. We tend to believe that prodigies, like Mozart and Tiger Woods, have innate talent that is well beyond that of others in their field.

In truth, these two both had fathers who were determined to train them to excel in their fields. Early performances from either one would be considered ordinary, but their constant training and honing of their skills led each of them to extraordinary heights of mastery.

How can I use this information in painting? I have bemoaned the lack of inspiration during dry periods. During these periods, I can hone specific skills. In other words, I can do painting exercises designed to improve areas of weakness, and maintain areas of strength. I have plenty of books which suggest specific exercises for just that sort of thing.

Classically, artists have used the copy method of gaining skill. That is just what athletes and musicians do, and it is valid. To repeat what someone else has created gives the eyes and hands the experience they need; then variations on a theme can be developed, to enter into an expanded endeavor.

Painting teachers gave us exercises, yes, but the impression I had was that those exercises were for beginners, and that once one had the skills, one simply came up with one's own projects. That is not quite the way it works. Exercises accumulate experience in a specific field, and though it takes many hours to develop any one skill, it is built upon, hour after hour. Though I am learning this lesson late in life, it can still improve my work.

Mezla Painting

I don't know if this is finished, or if I will add more. It started out (sorry, no pics) as the wavy lines the same width from top to bottom, to show the movement of mezla through everything in the universe. Then, because that was boring, I made it into a sort of horse's tail shape, and darkened the area outside the shape. Yesterday I decided to make it come from the hemispheric shape at the top.

I used the sun from this older painting to make the shapes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Duty Calls!

Here is the 0° Aries chart for the Vernal Equinox, 2009. 0° Aries as the ascendant is symbolic of a chart for humankind in general. The Sun was exactly at 0°0' Aries. According to some this equinox chart indicates the tone or direction that humanity will be taking for the next six months, until the Autumnal Equinox.

What it symbolically shows is the upper left, or Southeast quadrant highly emphasized, and Saturn in Virgo in the 6th house (natural house of Virgo), in the Taurus decanate of Virgo (10° to 20°) but retrograde, which is a more inward direction.

OK so what does that mean? The quadrants represent areas of life and activity. The southeast quadrant indicates an emphasis on the individual in relation to the (much) larger whole. The 10th house cusp is the highest point in the chart and it is symbolic of our aspirations. Having Pluto there, in the very earliest degrees of Capricorn, shows us that we aspire to change the institutions we have built in the past, permanently, in a very deep and thoroughgoing way.

All of the planets fall within slightly more than 90°, in the signs on Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces with only the Sun (Higher Self) and Venus (Creative Imagination) in the initiating sign of the Equinox, Aries. These signs are very much concerned with the collective. CAPRICORN: the collective institutions, business in general, the past way of doing things; AQUARIUS: the brotherhood of mankind, the future, friendship, and group activities; and PISCES: the collective subconscious or unconscious mind, our hidden shared feelings.

As a distinct handle to all this emphasis on the collective, is Saturn in Virgo. Saturn sets limits, calls for discipline, and is concerned with duty and karma. In Virgo, in the 6th House, it gives a clarion call to duty. In retrograde, a planet is said to be reiterating the points it has gone over. Typically, outer planets make three passes over any point, one in "forward" motion, one in retrograde, and the final pass in the forward motion that moves onward finally, having taught us the lessons it has to share. In this case, it is on the second pass over the middle of Virgo, which in a sense is the most intense pass, because the first time, the lesson is new to us; the second time, we must face it; the third and last time, we finish with the lesson.

The situation for humankind is more shared than ever before in recorded history, and we simply cannot afford to ignore any group's situation, as we are all directly and obviously affected by it. What this chart states is that we will all have to focus on the collective, from our individual points of view (all necessary and valuable), to find how each of us can help the collectivity by acting in a more disciplined and responsible manner towards the whole.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Visitor

This movie takes a sad, gentle professor who has given up on life into the lives of a young couple who are in New York City illegally, renting his apartment without his knowledge.
Of course the plot thickens ... and all their lives are transformed.

Vegetarians and Pigs, Avert Your Eyes!

American Bacon 101: take 3 strips of "streaky" bacon, cut in two, place in COLD iron pan.

Heat pan over medium heat and put "bacon weight" on strips to prevent curling, and mitigate spattering.

Stay close, turning strips ever more often, until they are a medium brown. Drain (place on paper paper towels or on a cooling rack over a baking pan), and serve.

Pour off most of drippings (grease) and put in beaten, seasoned eggs, scramble with silicone spatula, and cook til firm but not hard.

Eat; my tummy says omg that is heavenly!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Believe in [Insert Your Beliefs Here] or DIe!

Today on Twitter a good friend asked, "Why does me not wanting to believe in any god or fly my country's flag anger people? I don't care if they do..."

It got me thinking about the black and white belief systems presented to me as a child. For example, I was told, very seriously, that if I ever set foot in a Protestant church, I would be damned to hell. Seems a bit harsh, eh? I was told that there was only one way to live, and that was as a devout Catholic. Anyone else was damned. Seemed absurd to me, so I left that church when I was old enough to be in control of my own actions.

It is not only the catholics who promulgate that sort of idea, it is pervasive.

A lot of us believe, secretly or openly, that "my country is the best, the rest are no good at all"; "my religion is the only true religion"; "my way of eating is the only correct way to eat"; "my children are good, the others are bad"; "my sexual preference is the right one for everyone"; "my gender is good and the other gender is evil"; "my political party (or system) is good, the others are evil and should be annihilated".

Now that we live in a very closely connected world, these sorts of beliefs are being challenged on a daily basis. Thank you, dear Universe!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To Live (Huozhe)

I put this movie review up on Sisters Book and Movie Exchange (a blog I share with my sisters to review what we see and read). It made me think about what we call good and evil in everyday life, so I thought I would re-blog it here.

The old story about the man whose son gets a horse, and all rejoice, then the horse throws him and he breaks his leg, and all are sad, then he is kept out of the army because of the broken leg, is very much like this movie, in which good and evil intertwine and cause one another, as they do in our lives.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cesar Millan Is Now a US Citizen

I am a devoted fan of The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic channel. I have learned so much about how to train and work with our dog from Cesar Millan.

I am grateful he wanted to become a
citizen of our country, and I celebrate with him.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lighting Does It All ...

Here is the painting in its current state. It is nearly finished now, just a few tiny awkward spots.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lost Rig Resolved in Tanker Crash

Tanker pumps oil from sinking tanker successfuly preventing any oil spillage.

A 900-foot Norwegian tanker filled with crude oil smashed into a missing jackup oil rig (see definition here) which had been missing since Hurricane Ike tore it loose and sunk it in the Gulf of Mexico. The tanker was damaged, but its double hull prevented an oil spill and no one was injured.

Story here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One Step at a Time

Today Bear and I took a five-minute walk. First, to the mailbox ...

Thence to the shady bench ...

back to the mailbox ...

home across the cul-de-sac. Not a lot of walking for one who was doing a minimum of 30 minutes of walking each day, but it is a start. I tried walking ten minutes a couple of times and my feet were sore after each try, so this time I am starting smaller.

Thanks to Young Geoffrion!

World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.

Young pointed out this video in her blog, Tempietto. I wanted to re-blog it for you.

Tree of Life

This version of the Tree of Life is from Builders of the Adytum. The glyph itself is from the Qabalah, and represents the All.

At the top is Kether, The Crown, Unity. This is the innermost point of the Universe. Some say that God is a circle whose circumference is nowhere and its center everywhere. Thus the center of the universe is the center of your being. As my yoga teacher said the other day, "the Seer wants to experience everything, all points of view, and never judges."

Forming a triad with Kether, at the level just below it, are Chokmah (the Divine Father) and Binah (the Divine Mother), the eternal opposites. Their polarities express throughout the universe as projective and receptive, light and darkness, male and female, good and evil. Their interplay is what creates our experience of differences. Remembering that those differences are essential to life and movement, yet always knowing that they are relative, not absolute, is an important point. This is known as the Supernal Triad, because these Sephiroth are abstract and nearly unknowable for a human being.

The next level down is another triad, known in some traditions as the Egoic Triad. This is what we call the Higher Self, Tiphareth, Beauty, and the pair of opposites are Chesed, or Mercy, and Gevurah, or Severity. The enlightened human being lives from this triad. The balance between justice and mercy is maintained in the sphere of Tiphareth, the sphere of the Sun, the center of our solar system, and the Heart of a human being. Living from the heart means sometimes expressing mercy, other times severity, but always with love.

Down farther we come to what is termed the Personality Triad. This is where most of us experience ourselves. The pair of opposites are Netzach, or Desire, and Hod, or Intellect. They are resolved in Yesod, the sphere of the subconscious mind, where the patterns are formed that eventually manifest themselves in physical reality. Balancing these opposites involves breaking our old and unhealthy patterns by making new and healthy ones, be it psychologically, physically, environmentally, or spiritually. Whatever we believe is taken in by Yesod and manifested for us automatically. Therefore we must take care what we believe.

Finally we come down to the fruit of this Tree, Malkuth, the sphere of the elements, where all that we experience in physical life is laid out before us. This is the sphere of constant change; all that we see now is a result of past patterns we (human beings) have formed through the ages. All that we are setting into motion now will manifest in time. So what we see is always passing away. The surface is not the truth.

Right now we are in a very deeply materialistic phase of philosophical belief, no matter what terms are used to express it. The underlying belief system currently is, "outer conditions create inner experiences and from that come actions".

For the Wise of every age, the truth is the opposite, "inner beliefs and patterns create outer conditions". Reversing the flow of energy is the first stage of enlightenment. Becoming a center of light, love and unity, and no matter what comes, bringing that energy of Unity downward and outward, is the task of the Wise.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Old Friends, Old Movies

I watch certain movies many times. Black Orpheus is one of those I love to see again and again, usually once a year or so. My husband does not want to see a movie if he knows what will happen (but let's face it, if there are no car chases or explosions, he is bored to begin with!). Friends have said, no I have seen that one. Perhaps for each of us it is such a different experience that few have this (ok I will say it) Obsession.

The first viewing of any movie, I am swept up in the events and images and I cannot see the nuances for the main points. The second time, I watch the people in the background more closely, notice the color schemes more fully, and of course enjoy the movie again.

A movie that is worth seeing many times is a jewel. Some present me with their mood, others with the sheer artistic quality, others with how they are directed, sets, and so on.

My list of these particular movies is short:

Black Orpheus (the entire thing is a work of art)
To Kill a Mockingbird (simply everything about it, but particularly the objects in the tree)
The Professional (redemption theme)
Young Frankenstein (egads I love it when they say Blucher and the horses whinny!)
Eraserhead (not for everyone ... I laugh through it all)
Amalie (Le Grand Destin de Amalie Poulin) (the colors! the colors!)
Earth Girls Are Easy (OMG Julie Brown!)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Gort, Klatu barada nicto!)
Lost Horizons (a weepie for me)
Brazil (the desk shared by two offices, Robert DeNiro swinging in to fix things on the sly, the cosmetic surgery woman ... the list goes on)
King of Hearts (Alan Bates of course)
My Man Godfrey (love Carole Lombard in this ... her best I think)
Wings of Desire (the angels listening to people's thoughts ... so tenderly)
The African Queen (always ....)
8 1/2 (the characters at the spa)

There may be others I am forgetting (how could I, but I do).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Still Not Finished ... but ...

All the color has changed, even though all I worked on was the foreground grasses, which I made much less orange. I should cut that part out and fit it into the other photo but that is too much trouble. Still some awkward passages.

Grand Tetons I ...

Grand Tetons I, acrylic on canvas, 18"H x 24"W x 1.5"D. It is nearly finished now. A few awkward passages to rework, then I think I will let it be.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Grand Tetons I

I'll have to dedicate this painting to Young Geoffrion, because she said "a painter is someone who paints, so just start painting". I may have to split the dedication, because Torley's Talks on creativity also helped me a lot.

I did this underpainting this morning. As always I have changed the photo image, exaggerating certain shapes (photo on wall at right). I am using a double-complementary color scheme of Blue Violet - Yellow Orange and Blue Green - Red Orange (color combination basics below photo).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cloud Streets Over Hokkaido

This video — a follow-up to a previous post [on
Pink Tentacle] about strange cloud formations seen over the Sea of Okhotsk last summer — provides a rare close-up bird’s-eye view of cloud streets, which are created when convection currents cut low-lying cumulus into long, clean strips. According to the video narration, these clouds floated just over the sea surface, stood 300 meters tall and stretched for over 100 kilometers.