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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Night of the Armadillo!

Bear got extremely worked up watching this creature (well, not THIS one, but one of his or her cousins) waddle/scamper across our lawn tonight. I had not seen a live armadillo for a couple of years, so I ran right out and watched him go across the street (yes I DO SO have a life!). This neighborhood is a relatively safe place for wandering armadillos, because we live on a cul-de-sac. The dead ones I see are roadkill.

Swine Flu in Houston

H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)
Swine Flu website last updated
April 30, 2009, 10:30 AM ET

U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
(As of April 30, 2009, 10:30 AM ET)

# of laboratory confirmed cases
Arizona 1 Deaths 0
California 14 Deaths 0

Indiana 1
Deaths 0
Kansas 2
Deaths 0
Massachusetts 2 Deaths 0
Michigan 1 Deaths 0
Nevada 1 Deaths 0
New York 50 Deaths 0
Ohio 1 Deaths 0
South Carolina 10 Deaths 0
Texas 26 Deaths
109 cases 1 death

Wash your hands and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing, then wash your hands again, darn it all!

*This is your mother speaking*

TED Talk about Flu Pandemics

Omnomnomnom ... Today's Underpaintings

As always, I find underpaintings nearly edible, and I eat them with my eyes. MMMM Omnomnomnom! As always I am tempted to leave them this way, but my painting experiences would be drastically limited, and I like more in a painting, so on I will go. The photo references are on the wall to the right, the upper the blue painting and the lower, the purple. EGADS I love red with purple (Osprey avert your tender eyeballs)!

The upper painting will have similar colors in the finished painting, whereas the lower one is going to be yellow-green and red-violet.

Li, The Clinging, Fire

My husband phoned and said that three local schools have closed because of the Swine Flu.
The I Ching hexagram Li, The Clinging, Fire, comes to mind, in particular the changing line, nine in the third place:

Nine in the third place means:

In the light of the setting sun,

Men either beat the pot and sing

Or loudly bewail the approach of old age.


Here the end of the day has come. The light of the setting sun calls to mind the fact that life is transitory and conditional. Caught in this external bondage, men are usually robbed of their inner freedom as well. The sense of the transitoriness of life impels them to uninhibited revelry in order to enjoy life while it lasts, or else they yield to melancholy and spoil the precious time by lamenting the approach of old age. Both attitudes are wrong. To the superior man it makes no difference whether death comes early or late. He cultivates himself, awaits his allotted time, and in this way secures his fate.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Train in Vain

It would be great to see this video performed internationally by all sorts of musicians, as the Stand By Me video did, but this time, how about utilizing the other half of humanity? There must be lots and lots of women musicians who would love to jam on this song. It is a natural for women. Annie Lennox covered this song on her album Medusa, but I could not find a video version online. However, I HOPE you can listen to it here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't Mourn, Organize!

Giving us a perfect example of fighting evil by making energetic progress in the good, Majora Carter lives in the South Bronx and has a green-economic development group that is working to transform that area of New York City into a place that sustains nature, people and the economy. My hat is off to you, Majora Carter! Many thanks to Young Geoffrion for posting the link to Ms. Carter's TED talk!

Breakthrough (Resoluteness)

From the Wilhelm-Baynes translation of the I Ching, or Book of Changes:

Even if only one inferior man is occupying a ruling position in a city, he is able to oppress superior men. Even a single passion still lurking in the heart has power to obscure reason. Passion and reason cannot exist side by side -- therefore fight without quarter is necessary if the good is to prevail.

In a resolute struggle of the good against evil, there are, however, definite rules that must not be disregarded, if it is to succeed.

First, resolution must be based on a union of strength and friendliness.

Second, a compromise with evil is not possible; evil must under all circumstances be openly discredited. Nor must our own passions and shortcomings be glossed over.

Third, the struggle must not be carried on by force. If evil is branded, it thinks of weapons, and if we do it the favor of fighting against it blow for blow, we lose in the end because thus we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion.

Therefore it is important to begin at home, to be on guard in our own persons against the faults we have branded. In this way, finding no opponent, the sharp edges of the weapons of evil become dulled. For the same reasons we should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them, they continue victorious. Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.

City of God

"Based on a real story", the credits tell us at the end of City of God. Set in a housing project in Rio, the movie recounts events from the early life of the filmmaker, and the parts are played by residents of the projects.
It is extremely violent, although the violence is real and simply reflected in the movie. Character determines fate as we follow the lives of gangsters, especiallly one, Lil Dice, who wants to be the crime boss.
Our hero, Rocket, wants to be a photographer. All around him friends and relatives are making choices that mean life or death for themselves and those around them.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Thousand Charging Tigers ...

This is what the world feels like for many of us, these days. This is only the image of 25 tigers charging. Imagine it as 1000, and coming from all directions, and you have "modern life". Threats are ubiquitous, and multiplying. Good news seems harder and harder to find. We are implored to help by many organizations and individuals every day, and we are asked why we do not have outrage, why we do not act now, to end the crisis.

So I ask you to imagine as vividly as you can possibly do, what you would (or, indeed, could) do if 1,000 tigers were converging upon you with intent to eat you. Let's say you are even formidably armed. Would you be able to kill even one of the tigers?

Most of us are overwhelmed by the threats to humanity. Global warming, terrorism, overpopulation, poverty, slavery, war, famine, pestilence and disease. As no one is alone facing these tigers, we do have the ability to mitigate our circumstances, but everyone cannot fight every tiger.

Each of us must choose one or maybe several of the tigers and do what we can to fight that tiger or group of tigers. Ignore the rest; others will fight them. And if a tiger kills us, someone will take up our fight. Humanity is interconnected and interdependent. We always were, but now it is obvious to most of us.

And, as the I Ching says, "the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good". Being against something does not always help mitigate that crisis. One must be for something that is the opposite. So, for example, one could do work that helps the poor to gain power over their lives, or helping with efforts toward peace, environmental activities that not only preserve what we have (recycling) but actually produce more for the future (setting aside land for the wild creature).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Emma Looks for a Goddess

The tempietto is empty, the sky is dark, and I go inside with some trepidation. I am hoping Ms. Geoffrion will put a statue in, probably Athena. For my writings, though, I need to pray to Aphrodite, goddess of love and prostitution. Oh, did I say that aloud? Tsk, tsk.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sister Grids...

In time management, this grid is ubiquitous. It is very easy, as we all know, to attend to the Urgent and Important tasks; firefighting must be done. The real focus of great performers in any field must be on Window Two, the tasks that are Important but not Urgent. This is proactive work, work that takes us into the future. The grid has a little different focus from the creative flow grid, but the important square is the upper right.

This grid is concerned with product placement in advertising. Literally, if your product has high emotional value and is very involving for the consumer, you place it in your ad, on the upper right quadrant of your layout. This can be translated visually to any form.

Stand By Me International Jam

I can't find a way to embed this music video, so there is the web address.

Go With The Flow

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Creativity, fulfillment and flow is a TED Talk I am requested to review. The speaker begins with an explanation of the creative state as being ecstatic, the ancient meaning being to be outside oneself. Many creative minds experience this state in the process of working on something new, whether it be scientific, artistic, communicative or really anything.

This is a chart of people's experience of the state of FLOW or ecstasy in performance. Interestingly, it is very similar to the grid I found in Drawing on the Artist Within, but with a significant difference. The grid in the book was designed for placement of the focal point in a visual presentation, with high involvement and high emotion on the upper right section. In this case, the vertical axis is challenge, and the horizontal, skill level. When great skill meets great challenge, one experiences flow, or ecstatic creativity.

He also states that it takes about ten years of saturation in the endeavor to be able to get to that highly desirable state of FLOW that produces innovation in the area of expertise. In the meantime, one develops skills and uses whatever level of challenge is appropriate to current skill levels to hone them in preparation for the ultimate state.

Just at the very end he realizes he has used up all his time and it is frustrating, because he is about to help us to access that area of experience.

I would wish for a more down-to-earth talk that tells us the steps for achieving these higher states. (the ABCs of doing that are covered well in Drawing on the Artist Within, so the information is available).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Emma Thompson's performances are always a pleasure to watch, subtle and well worth seeing. In Wit, her character speaks to us directly, narrating her own illness and its progress. She understands her situation perfectly well and explains it to us in a horrifyingly articulate manner.

As a professor of 17th-Century poetry, who especially analyzed and taught John Donne's works, Vivian Bearing is theoretically and poetically aware of Life and Death and God. As a woman who went from being a student, then a professor, then a cancer patient, never really forming relationships with other people, she finds her isolation in illness and experimental treatment devastating yet ironically fitting.

An Admiring Crowd Gathers in Bodega

What a gem of a temple my alt family and I found this afternoon! Apparently Ms Geoffrion has been at work again. Round is a really beautiful shape for a building, especially if it is some form of sacred architecture. We were wowed.


This underpainting rolls my socks up and down! I love it just the way it is. I am not sure I can do anything to improve this image, but I will probably want to do more with it anyway.
*note VERY suggestive sky shape*

Return to Red

For many years I used a solid cadmium red ground to begin my paintings. Then I fooled around with other colors (sorry, red, nothing personal); now I crave that red underlying everything again. I got Winsor Newton Galeria Cad Red Medium and slapped it on there with a housepainter's brush. YEAH that is it! Mmmmmmmm ...

Now I have to let this stage dry, but I have four supports ready to go. Still removing canvas and staples (found a 14x14 to recycle as well). As I have said before, a lot of a painter's job is physical labor, and not terribly exciting, but it makes all the rest possible.

Cropping Options

This crop is based upon a 3:4 ratio, because I have a 30x40 canvas ready. This is a dramatic crop, and it is exciting. Decision still not made, but this is definitely in the running.

One Down

... and only six to go! Some of the staples are seriously embedded in the wood. The power staplers make my work very difficult, but like a bulldog, I am unwilling to let go of the project. If I leave staples in the wood, I could hit one with a new staple, which could be dangerous.

I bought some new canvases as well, so that I have instant supports to work on while I continue to remove staples, stretch canvas and gesso these old stretcher bars. Feels good to be working again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recycling Canvases

These canvases are about to be recycled. Removing the staples from manufactured canvases is very difficult. I guess they use staple guns. My hand-stapling is much easier to remove, but hey, that is the price of recycling these unsatisfactory paintings and making new canvases out of them.

I am about to begin some major production. The two galleries that represent me are seasonal, and I want to be able to send them at least a few paintings apiece.

Snake River Painting Preparation

This is the next painting image I will be working on. Once again, I am using photos I took with my iPhone on our vacation last September. This one was the view from our raft trip down the Snake River.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Waiting in A Darkened Room

After hearing, belatedly, that Young was inworld today, I went to her house and boldly rode into the central room, but she was not at home.
Perhaps later we will be able to make the connection. I waited a short while but no Young ...

Forgotten Bits of a Set

I found this image in my Second Life folder, where it lay moldering. I need to incorporate it into the Apothecary Act set for The Show Must Go On in Second Life. From now on I am posting here as all my shards, Enjah Mysterio, Ed Manray, Fuzzy Bunyip, and so on.

Older Work

Oil paintings from the late 70s and early 80s. Top: Self-Portrait with Cocktail Fork Earrings; Middle: Still Life with Plum; Bottom: Green Nancy Z.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Artist Can't Bear Fussy Details

I went berserk and painted out all the smaller shapes and I feel much better now.

Rigoletto Set

This is how the set looked when it was fully open. The outermost parts had a set on either side, the left, the house of the assassin, and the right hand side, Rigoletto's house where he kept his daughter hidden.


This is the view from our front door currently. It looks darker than this to my eye, kind of green out there, dark as evening. We could lose power any moment.


Last night was the opening night of the opera Rigoletto, which in itself is quite an experience. I had never been to an opening night. All went well! I was fully engaged in the story, but the music was beautiful, moving and extremely demanding of the singers. The stars of the opera are Rigoletto, played by Scott Hendricks, the Duke of Mantua, played by Eric Cutler, and Gilda, daughter of Rigoletto, played by coloratura soprano Albina Shagimuratova.

The set was very intriguingly done. A hard "curtain" with a storm-clouded sky greeted us. When the opera began, the center receded like an old box camera seen from the inside, with smaller and smaller parts, til the final square was at the rear, which then opened to reveal a red lit room, from which poured the courtiers.

Later two of the other sides moved to center stage, to reveal Rigoletto's house (simply a door, a window, a wall and a staircase), and Sparafucile's house, which was composed of wooden shutters, revealing all inside yet giving a sense of enclosure. When these sets were not in use, they receded to leave the space open for the main settings. This was designed by Michael Yeargan for the Dallas Opera, I believe. When the cloudy parts moved, there were clouds projected onto it, giving the illusion of moving clouds.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I am currently doing value studies of masterpieces from Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces, and I did one of "The Dream", Picasso's painting of Marie-Therese. While I was perusing the book I also found this gorgeous painting titled "A Blonde Woman", by Palma Vecchio. I noticed a lot of similarities in the images. I assume Picasso knew the work, and refers to it in his painting. He exaggerates the curves, puts in his own cubist sort of head, but when I look at both paintings, I see they are related.
Both are very lyrical, both emphasize the curves of womanhood, both are, in a sense, devotional, and both have that peek-a-boo neckline that exposes one nipple.

Wooden Books

In the attempt to find reasonably priced Golden Mean calipers, I ran into this book, and then I found several others that are simply enchanting. They are from Wooden Books, in the UK, and I am determined to get at least some of the titles.

These books are, as they say, right up my alley (or street, in the UK). Just a few of the titles: Earth Grids, Nature Spirits, A Little Book of Coincidence, Symmetry. OK now I am thirsting for these books, but I am trying not to spend so much on books these days (drat!), so I will wait and get them later.

Hop on the Table, Would You?

I literally threw everything off this table and painted the edges of the canvas with a black-blue violet. It is signed, the edges are finished. Now for the varnish, and then to have slides shot. I will take it to a photo place where they will make slides and load the images onto a disc so that I can upload it. Last time, the disc images were way too light, but I can manipulate them back to a semblance of the real colors, in Photoshop.

I will take several paintings when I go to the photo place; it is less expensive that way, per painting. Mezla I is finished, but I am still working on the Grand Tetons painting, so I will wait a couple of days. Plus that allows the varnish to dry (I hope ... it is very humid here at the moment).

The Postal Service

Iron and Wine

Savanna Leigh posted a video of herself and a friend performing a cover of this lovely song. It is one of my favorite Iron and Wine songs--I have it on my iPod--though I find most of Iron and Wine a little dark in mood. This particular tune expands upon the point that when we commit ourselves to a lifetime of love and/or friendship or giving birth to a child, we are also committing to one having to live through the death of the other.

We do not know who will go first, and it is hard to say which is the more difficult, surviving or dying. Death is a painful ending, and sometimes anticipating that end is disturbing, but a long term relationship is worth the price. It refines both partners, as we come up against one another's needs, idiosyncracies and rough edges.

The Pie Shot

Osprey was working on a 50s ad for Patch Lamington's cartoon bed. She asked Ed to come in and be the husband; I made the cherry pie, and she bought the hair and apron somewhere or other. Ed experimented with his face and form, and had to change his mouth so that he could smile without looking really bizarre. Finally Osprey built a set for the shot, and here is my take on it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Better and Worse

In the midst of painting, changing anything changes the whole. In this case, I like the sky changes, and the less regimented trunks (they were all in a horizontal row at their bases), but I need to make more changes; now other problematic aspects have appeared. The mass of aspen leaves does not have enough variation in value; the little trees at left are too much alike in height, the thickness of the aspen trunks needs variation. These are the thoughts of a painter at her craft. Not lofty, but workmanlike.

Side by Side

Ah, the joys of Photoshop. I worked on this drawing so that it looks more like it does to my eye. Then I inverted it in both senses of the word, turning it upside down and making it a negative of the original image.

Funny thing, I finally saw something incongruous about it. The most compelling part is the highest contrast, which is the fangs or waves at the lower left (upper right in the negative), because that is where I put the ONLY true black area, contrasted with a very bright white.

Visually speaking, the left is the past, or the direction from which one is moving, in this culture. On the grid of understanding visual images, according to some sources, the toothy part of the positive image is on the thinking side of things, rather than feeling, and it is in the lower half, so low emotional involvement.

What I get out of all this is that my fears are not all that important to me, and I am moving from them into the upper right quadrant, my goals and dreams. Yet, the high contrast contradicts that, making me focus on past fears.

*mumbles to self, "let go, just let go and soar*

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wolf Loves Pork

A really fun animated video posted by Pink Tentacle.

I HATE Coupons

Coupons are evil. Let's face it; they are a barrier to lower pricing. They are a hurdle the customer must leap before getting groceries or whatever for a slightly lower price. They are a shill, luring people into buying things they do not really want (or they would be buying them already).

Today I stopped off at the grocery store for a few things, and when I got to the express lane, someone had stopped progress by writing a paper check (ooo! I hate them, too!); the next guy was whipping out his store discount card in advance (I think maybe I hate those too), thank you, sir. However the one in front of me had more than the allotted number of items plus a fistful of coupons. I was snotty (yes, I know I should not mouth off); I said, "over 15 items and a bunch of coupons too? PLEASE!" He, affronted: "17 items!"

I went to the self-checkout aisle (now these, I like), and was waltzing out with my purchases before that man even started paying for his groceries. W00T!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Night Studio

Taking the trash out I saw the studio through the window and wanted to immortalize it *heh*.

Visual Thought

This is a new problem analog. I really love looking at it. Drawing is the right-brain equivalent of writing. You know, on a deep level, exactly what I am saying here.

*don't you?*


Last night we saw the fourth preview performance of Mauritius at the Alley Theatre in Houston. There were only five characters and two sets. The characters are: a girl who may have been abused, her half sister, a stamp expert, his knowledgeable but not terribly honest pal, and a wealthy stamp collector. The play, by Theresa Rebeck, was on Broadway two years ago.

Apparently there are these two extremely rare old stamps from Mauritius, a one penny and a two pence "post office" (for the error of Post Office written on the side of the stamp). That is the focus of a lot of greed and emotion amongst these five people.

It is a dark comedy and the cast did a superb job of pulling us into their emotional tangles, while giving us a good laugh as they twisted things around.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cocteau's Les Enfants Terribles

I liked les enfants at first. Brother and sister, they had no visible father, an invalid mother, and they were close, with their own world and language. It seemed they would form good relationships with others. But then, gradually, it became clear that was not to be.

Belle et Bete

Jean Cocteau's version of Beauty and the Beast follows the story faithfully, for the most part, though there are small but significant changes. The magical palace the Beast inhabits is quite ingeniously created, and considering there were no special effects as we know them today, it is really amazing.

The effects used could be reproduced on a miniscule budget. The lighting, camera work, editing and imagination create so much mystery and beauty. One sees how Belle goes from fear to horror to pity and thence to love. Of course the magic mirror fits right into Cocteau's style.

In the DVD was a quotation from Philip Glass saying he was inspired by Cocteau. It is not surprising; Cocteau was a seminal influence in several arts.

My Croc

Yes, Snaskers de la Rue, my crocodile, adores me. HA! (Human Age, Age Three, Egypt)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Let's Not Forget Thursday Nights!

Yes, this is about teeeveeee again.!

One show I will be seeing tonight is My Name is Earl. Earl's life was going downhill fast, until he was hit by a car and decided to look into the concept of Karma. He has a list of people he has wronged, and he tries to make amends in a sort of warped trailer trash world.

For a while I lost interest but then they began fleshing out the ensemble characters and it revived my flagging tv-weary mind.

Another show I will view is Eleventh Hour. Dr. Jacob Hood is a science consultant for the FBI, and his handler is the blonde. There is also a new agent, Felix, who lightens the atmosphere considerably. Dr. Hood investigates scientific mysteries: outbreaks of unknown diseases, substances appearing in people's water or food and making them die or act strange, that sort of thing. Interesting, and though it is a bit darkly dramatic, watchable (so far). However, it is on probation as far as I am concerned.

And, speaking of shows on probation, I watch 30 Rock. I was flabbergasted to see Alec Baldwin in a sitcom at first, but he is the best! He really delivers, comedically. The writing is uneven, though, and the plots are not as amusing as they were at first. The Tina Fey character was always neurotic, but the thing with her obsessing over children got really old. They seem to have moved off that now, I hope permanently.

It reminds me of Northern Exposure, in which the quirkiness of the residents began to assume gargantuan proportions, and finally there was nothing left.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Reaper ... Mentalist ... Life

Confession: yes, I watch TV. There are shows I love, like I said about The Big Bang Theory and Chuck, on Mondays. Now, on Tuesdays ... REAPER!!!!! Sam's soul was sold to the Devil before he was born, and now he is the Devil's bounty hunter. The Devil is WONDERFULLY portrayed. Perfect casting. It is a comedy from hell (sorry I could not resist)!

... and The Mentalist! In spite of my Lancashirean friends' schoolyard interpretation of this word, the Oxford Dictionary agrees that a mentalist is someone with mental powers of observation and persuasion (I am paraphrasing wildly). The smirky dude actually kinda grows on you, believe it or not! He is a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation (does that exist? I doubt it), and he can tell you that you had a small dog who disobeyed you when you were seven. Well, not quite, but he is an astute observer, and figures out who done it way before the police do. Fun. Really!

On Wednesdays, I have to see Life. Yes partly it is Damien Lewis, my Favorite Redhead, but it is gritty without being overwhelmingly so. He was framed for murder and spent 12 years in prison, and he got through it using a combination of Zen and the ability to strike quickly against an opponent. Tonight was the season finale, and it was a Killer!