Monday, August 25, 2014

Capturing a Golden Moment

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

--Robert Frost
My favorite time of day, those few moments of golden light that one sees most commonly in a late August evening just as the sun makes its descent, feel both beautifully warming and ultimately sad. I am always reminded that the season of growth is drawing to an end, and that life itself is so transitory and precious. Frost's poem, made popular to generations of teenagers in the story, "The Outsiders," the coming of age novel by S.E. Hinton, speaks literally of spring and dawn, and yet, for me, just as appropriate to the year's wrap-up when the leaves begin to turn gold again, and the sky is awash with a fleeting magic. With each magic moment, I think, "This may be the last time I see this here for we may have moved on by this time next year." But in truth all moments are seen just once, and we never know when something like it will come again. So as always, I try to just be with it for a while. The heart will always want more, and "Again!" but it's probably wiser to count only on the moment, and see as much glory in it as we possibly can.

Pausing after a walk to see my everyday world in a different light.

Kitty wants to come out and be part of it.

The tea ritual: berry for him and ginger for me.

The fragrant leaves of the pineapple sage will soon be joined by brilliant red flowers. Such a feast of texture, color and scent.

The sunset sky reflected in the window or seen through it. This window has brought me much joy over the years.
The man says a bunny and a bear are having a conversation. Just enough clouds to bring the magic. It lasts but a minute, but the warmth lingers and inspires.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Last Chance

Haven't I been telling them for years? Come to Chicago! We've got a world class city here folks. People travel here from all around the world to see the grandeur, the art and architecture, the famous streets and stores, the lake that looks like the ocean, such that the city has actual sandy beaches right here in the middle of the country. But no, twenty-two years and I could count the visitors on just my fingers, no toes needed. Well this time, the suggestion was firmer: you are running out of time, because we have soaked up as much mid western love as we can, and we are ready to move on to a new coastal adventure. Not sure the exact date of departure, but sometime before the weather turns colder in 2015. So let's do this town together one more time.

This summer we had two sets of company in quick succession: reunion of high school besties on my side, and reunion of childhood besties/first cousins on his. I was so occupied with being hostess and tour guide and enjoying myself in the bargain, that the photos caught on the run or in a few quiet moments in the hotel room will have to serve as the evidence of what I said: this is a special place with a kind of energy that will either invigorate or suck you dry. Luckily for us, it has inspired and refreshed and now we are ready for a city of more personal dimensions. But that is a story for later.

The images here aren't necessarily in a chronological (or logical order), but represent moments on the fly of playfulness, companionship with company, strangers, and the city itself. It is a place that invites awe: so often you must look up to behold it, but also, it invites participation.

We see ourselves reflected in an iconic sculpture.

Sometimes we are lost in the image.

Sometimes the image seems illusive to capture.
The view in summer is complicated with foliage and people. Winter, though difficult on some levels, is the ideal time for broad expanses.

Unless you stand on a bridge high above the fray.

Short among the tall, but I can aspire to their heights.

From the river, a juxtaposition of old and new. The best way to view the history of architecture and commerce: a river tour.
Trump's tower was just as easy to spot without the monster sized letters. It was far more pure and beautiful a design without.

But this water garden in a plaza at its base is peaceful and low key, and  invites even those of us without the "bucks" to pause and reflect.

A typical architectural tour boat ready for a spin.

I can never get enough of Marina Towers, either day or night views.

Too busy enjoying my company and my food experience, this shot of a typical food station at "'Eataly" is the only one to survive the day.

Back at "Cloudgate," aka "The Bean," I take delight in images and the joy of other visitors as we each dance the same dance with reflection, distortion, and imagining.

For just a moment I feel so connected to the joy of art, the crowds, and the city.

The "Crown Fountain" by Jaume Plensa bears the images of hundreds of real Chicagoans on its two 50 foot towers with cascading water and a shallow wading pool that draws children and delight.

About every five minutes the face of the moment becomes a gargoyle as it "spits" water from its mouth onto the waiting crowd of little ones.

The Art Institute is a favorite stop and this summer we twice attended the amazing exhibition of works by Surrealist, Rene Magritte. But almost as surprisingly arresting was the free exhibit of sculpture and mixed media painting by local artist, Hebru Brantley, called "Parade Day Rain." It will be on display at the Cultural Center through September 23, if you plan to be in town.

A view of an apartment balcony along Wabash with the resident in residence brought out my longings for the soon to be relocation to city life.

In recent years we always stay at the Hotel Monaco with the pillowed window seat views of Wabash and Wacker, the Chicago River, Marina City, Trump Tower, the el train, and my favorite city clock with a winged father time, and his lantern.

The Water Taxi, an efficient way to travel in this city that seems to have enough roadway taxis to accommodate every person who desires one.

A magic hour.

Inside the room, a mellow vibe and a goldfish. Unfortunately, this one did not survive the night. Just like in the stories where parents don't wish to traumatize their children with the reality of dead pets, my "fixer" had the floater replaced while I showered unaware of the switch.

The elevated train performs its wheel squealing turn around this bend all day and (seemingly) all night.

The girl in her window seat, the man relaxing with his Internet browser and some mellow music from "Austin City Limits" on the tube. Perfect down time after a frenetic day.

Darkness descends on a beautiful summer evening.

In this bowl there is no real day or night.

But out here the magic begins. Standing at the base of the towers across from the famous "House of Blues," we prepare for a bit of ten pin fun.

A favorite restaurant, but not this evening.

A hotel that can't settle on a name or an owner, although seemingly it has kept the same identity through recent changes. The cool and modern lobby of what was for a time the Hotel Sax.

And just next door our destination, an upscale bowling alley with music, food and alcoholic libation, a party for rent (along with the shoes.)

And so ends the day, watching the pleasure boats, and floating parties as they pass below on the river.

Surveying the dramatic skyline and taking in the energy of this beautiful night.


The company has gone and we are on our own, taking a breather at a local historical park. 

A profile I love and that brings me peace of mind.

This is a popular place for weddings, but today we are alone enjoying the mature plantings in and around the gazebo and gardens.

Pretty soon I will be surrendering my own personal gazebo and garden for the life of sharing public spaces. I am sure there will be some sadness and nostalgia, but I doubt there will be regret. My last summer of "suburbia" is almost under my belt now. Pretty soon we are off to pay a visit to our prospective new home. I look forward to sharing that story with you soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Wow! Where does the time go? Has it really been another six months? And how busy can a person be not to write a little roundup? If you are out there making art, you'll understand. Time gets away from you, and the only place you really want to be is with sticks of color in hand, applying dreams to the page. As usual, I can be found in any one of a dozen online classes or subgroups on Facebook. I must be meeting deadlines I set for myself, because, after all, there is no grade or punishment for tardiness or incompletion in the virtual classroom. But I feel the clock ticking, and I know what I need to accomplish to make me happy. And it does. Make me very happy!

In just a year I have come so far in my skills and knowledge, it is starting to feel like a college degree and more. I can't imagine I could have possibly had the time to make this much art in college, what with all the "core" courses and the outside work, and the clubs and friend time, and hanging out. No, I am in a different frame of mind and I am driven, and it feels so good.

The End? No, it's time for a restart!

You may recall that in 2013 I was taking the giraffe as my muse in Carla Sonheim's "Year of the Giraffe" class. This is a frame from a class video animation I contributed to. My portion was titled "Spot Goes Spot Shopping".

In October we did four "mini" projects. This was "Cardboard Giraffe" week, made entirely from boxes I had sitting around in a box, and old fashioned brass paper fasteners.

Another October week was "Famous Artist Giraffe". "Frida Giraffe" was one of my favorite creations of the year.

But back to the blogging and why I haven't kept a schedule there. I think it has to do with a big change in the way we are relating out there in the ether. I notice fewer and shorter blog posts by many of the artists and friends that I followed. Generally, I am not finding the time to read them and unless a post is under my nose with a link on Facebook, I'm not seeing it. Most of the time I only go looking if I want to find a tutorial, or just check up on an old friend I've lost touch with. I am also finding that while Facebook is the social medium we love to hate, many of my teachers are finding it the most expedient way to connect their students' work and commentary to the class.

In addition to giraffing in 2013, I continued to stretch my mixed media drawing talents and imagination for visual storytelling with the Jane Davenport class, "Joynal", nine weeks of fairytale type characters from fairies to unicorns to mermaids. This altered photo of my toddler self was the basis for a "fairy godmother" illustration.

"Joynal" was inspired by both joy and journaling, part of which was creating an altered book in which to do some of our artwork. I also created a larger format book out of several types of watercolor and mixed media papers. Both are still be used in my current Jane classes.

Since we were encouraged to draw characters, the classmates began to collect not only myriad art supplies, but shelves full of studio muses. The "Monster High" dolls are great posable tools for use as manikins.

A journal page showing my research in the shapes which fairy wings can take was a lot of fun, with a few tongue-in-cheek references.

Over the three and half years I've written this blog, sixty-four posts, I have only received 339 legitimate comments, an average of five per post (and some of those are my replies). So I am often left to wonder, who exactly is reading it, and would they notice or care if I stopped writing? When my original intent was for this to be a diary of artistic growth that I didn't mind sharing with the general public, I guess I was really satisfied just to know I had a running record for myself of what I'd been up to. If I touch or inspire others along the way, so much the better. But really, why should I always be filled with angst that I am not making my "story" a well crafted piece of literature, or making it too long or short, too frequent or sporadic?

For the week on fairytale heroines, I chose Alice, and later did a "tables are turned" illustration of grownup Alice judging the Queen of Hearts in her courtroom.

Galadriel served as inspiration for this elfin queen.

For those old enough to remember the movie, South Pacific, you will recall the intro to the song "Bali Hai".
After drawing two unicorns based on horse photos, I went on to create this creature totally from my imagination.

Our parting lesson was based on a painting Jane had designed of "girlimal" twins. She invited us to create our own combination of animal and female. What else could mine possibly be to end "The Year of the Giraffe"? This is a digitally altered version of my full color Copic marker painting.
The complete set of all the classwork can be found here on my flickr page.
So in the spirit of fairness to all, I'm going to try to post more often in whatever form strikes me creatively that week, and I'm going to be very happy to read and respond to your comments about what reading blogs like this means to you and consider that we could make this a dialogue, or not. I am finding that most of that is going on over at Facebook, and if we are connected in any way in the real world, (say, we both love Jane's classes) you can contact me over there. If you "like" my page, Second Part Art, we can be in touch without that friending business. Oh, and it still makes me glad that you stopped by for a visit. 
Kitty and I showing you a miniature journal we made with instructions from Tracy Moore in the Artstronauts club, one of our new online inspirations.