Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Time of Thanksgiving

With this page, I swell with gratitude. That's what I find happens on many pages of my journal . . . I see my life more from a removed vantage point, and with that comes the clarity of what an amazing world and life I have around me.

My first entry blossoms from the joy of sweet, simple magic of living in a small town (pop. around 2,000). Locals have taken the iniative to have a "local's movie night" monthly in the historic, brick City Hall. They had inatially formated the movie to center on a theme that "some aspect of the movie include a relation to our town of Jacksonville". So they have had movies that were filmed, in part or wholly, here in town or movies that have people in them that live in our area - and - of course, there would be a cartoon beforehand. But in November, the regular master of ceremonies was away in Hawaii or Mexico (awwwwwwwwwwww . . .), and "sparkplugs of innovation" stepped in to fill the movie selection and commentary prefacing the movie. When their dialogue was finished, we'd heard about mysterious "reported possible sightings" of Johnny Dep in the town of J-ville (to fulfil that requirement for the movie have some connection to Jacksonville) and the movie started. It was like being in a old, small town movie theatre ... charming, ended-too-soon kinda feeling! The only bad part to the entire evening was that Cody, our golden-retreiver, who had waited in the car during the movie ... had eaten ALL of our friend Mike's leftover Mexican dinner. To replace the leftovers, meant to be lunch, we took Mike out for his noon time meal :)

The remaining images were from our trip up to McMinnville to celebrate Thanksgiving. Roland had long been researching restaurants and was jazzed to find one well reviewed in this rustic lil town in which we'd wanted to spend more time. We drove directly to the restaurant, Bistro Maison, after checking in to our lodging. Even in the grey rain, the ole' Victorian resonated warmth and charm. Quickly we were seated in a quaintly crowded room and felt like we'd joined several families for dinner. Our review of the food rated the dessert "the best" part of the meal but were contentedly full ~ and grateful for the multitude of our blessings! We took an evening walk in the sputtering rain and nested in for a cozy night. The next morning broke crystal clear and blue skied and we romped off to our favorite coffee shop and what delighted us was the "hummmm" of families and friends rejoicing a day off together. Town was a-bustle with preparation for (apparently) a main street parade. We trekked some of the old neighborhoods, discovering great architecture and plumply healthy foliage. Leaving town to head back home was a bit of a challenge as most of the streets in our route, were blocked off for the parade. We mastered the maze and traveled south, towards J-ville. We passed thru some of the most lovely rolling hill country with orchards, farms, churches with cemeteries and nurseries. All glistening after the evening rain showers and me, snapping photos out the open car window.

One of my favorite was this leaning old building with SO much character.

It was hard to leave the beauty but, schedules required us to keep driving and finally arrive home, feeling even more blessed to return to our awaiting, home-sweet-home.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Autumn Remembered

I have been doing some updating in my journal and as I wander back, I wanted to share my pages with you. These pages pretty much encompass my fondest memories of our Fall Season. As I drive into my Ashland Studio, one of my favorite streets is Oak Street. It's the way I weave into the city from it's northern streets. I love the way it moves gradually from rolling agriculture pastures, then to a few buildings sprinkled with cattle, some chickens and a pumpkin grower. Of course, the autumn brings out this growers finest jewels. All along this cheery picket fence, dance this wide variety of orbs, like a chorus line. One day as I was leaving town in the early afternoon, I caught the sun just where it spotlighted the pumpkins while starting to shed delicious blue-purple shadows down from the nearby trees. I'm really enjoying spreading illustrations across the full or near full double spread pages of my journal . . . it seems to give you more of a vision of what I'm experiencing. Hope you get the joy I felt from this warm, celebratory scene.

You'll see my annual collection of "Autumn Leaves" glued to the page too. It seems, even tho I mentally agree NOT to paste those silly dead leaves in my journal again this year, I'm walking along and look down to see the most incredible, amazing color display that nature has painted on a simple gorgeous leaf. And there I go again, "paste those silly dead leaves in my journal again this year". Mother Nature never fails to thrill me, again and again, over and over. One of the many pleasure of the Autumn Season.

Later in the fall season, we arranged to go see a radio show, aired frequently on NPR, entitled, "West Coast Live" that came with cast, to our Ashland Bowmer Theatre in Ashland. The theatre was the perfect open, curved stage for the performance. Dotted across the stage was various aspects of the live radio show: the piano and player, the open stage for entertainment space and a mic for interviews. We found the show enlightening and entertaining, but, I have to say the most memorable part of the evening show, was the announcer's red shoes. Sometimes being "visual" leaves me with an entirely different perspective of situations than others who visited the same place.

Isn't that what Life is ~ ~ a marrying of different perspectives, hopefully into harmony? I'm pondering that today . . . perhaps food for thought for you too?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The JOYS of Mentoring

Middle of November I received a rather odd phone call message. My husband had taken it, and when giving the message to me mentioned, the young was very "wary" about giving out any information. When I returned the call, it was an Ashland Student who's class had an upcoming project.

It required each student to find an artist who would mentor them for a period of 40 hours, culminating in early February. The student was to complete a project in their chosen medium that would also benefit or include a "service" aspect. I was blushingly thrilled!! Of course, I accepted and have been meeting 2 nights a week, for a total of 5 hours weekly putting together this project.

First we have been adding to her repertoire of skills since most of her school experience was using watercolor rather loosely. I had her work on this little painting that combines wet-into-wet washes (the sky), aerial perspective (different planes of foreground, mid-ground and background), light source and some color balance. She's including some frisquet and wax crayon for resist. Both of us were very pleased with her first exercise.

One of her favorite watercolor subject matter is flowers. I'd seen her portfolio and she does them well, but could really make the floral glow if she incorporated more glazing. So our second project went on to "glazing" techniques. Here she is referencing the partial demo I'd done for her while she works on her own piece. I'm also having her use my palette and some of my brushes to give her a taste of different materials and different qualities. She's been very diligent and dedicated to finishing projects and I've been so impressed with the quality of her finished work. I can't wait to see how her completed projects comes out.
Since her focus for the "service" aspect will be around the forests, she has begun designing a fascinating piece (I'll keep secret for the completed debut). Here she's started with some reference photos and is sketching up her first designs. I've gained so much introspect into the children's world of 2009 and gained immense respect for this dear girl and she travels through her life.

Having no children and few interactions with kids, it's been very sweetly revealed how much I've missed not having children and how much I relish this growing relationship. I've had the pleasure of meeting both her mom and dad, and even the older brother. To my sheer joy, last night I attended the local school's Christmas Play, featuring my new friend. It was just amazing, the talent, the props, the acting abilities (and the quality with which characters were performed) and the enthusiastic rejoicing after this first presentation.

Can you sense how much I am enjoying this special gift to my "plate"? It may be time consuming, but the wealth of experience I've gained and look forward to ~ ~ are immense. So sometimes when you think your plate is too full, just be open to the gift that may be waiting on your doorstep. Again, I urge you ~ ~ take that leap!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Teaching and Beyond

It can't really be almost an entire month since I made an entry can it? Apparently, it is true. Not that I haven't thought of you all many times . . . being in my new studio space in Ashland Art Center has taken on a life of it's own. All good and growing and educational . . . but time swallowing.

Besides the added commitments of rotating shows, additional group meetings, "First Friday Artwalks" and "Holiday Open House" events, I've been nearly inundated with students requesting classes! Oh, I know, what a compliment to complain about. But I'm really NOT complaining, I'm SO honored. And just going with the flow.

I taught a "Beginning Watercolor Journaling Class" middle of October with 3 sessions. We began back with plenty of basics, first of course, the "Upsidedown Drawing" which totally enlightened one of the students who'd been affirming, "I can't draw"! Even tho she'd been making magnificent stained glass for years, she didn't realize this capability within her. We proceeded with different drawing techniques, which actually had ME modeling for their "gesture drawing" - getting some laughs and comments like "nice buns" from the group. We finished up with some into to pigments and very rudimentary watercolor techniques. Here's the pages where I'd painted/sketched examples for them.

I've also been blessed to have requests for private lessons in watercolor journaling - and I'm finding this quite exciting and interesting. It gives me a chance to review the art and skills of my interested student then, following their requests and gaps I attempt to fill in their exposure, we formulate a class together, the two of us. Sometimes the class morphs as the class proceeds. Just last night at our first physical meeting and first class, I was working with a gentleman, looking thru his journal. He'd requested some drawing work and then reviewing his pigments and palette. As we paged thru his journal I saw very little use of glazing and some tweeking that could help him with compliments and opaques vs. transparent pigments. We worked a color wheel and then, I went digging in my pack for something, anything that would serve for us to paint using glazing. Thank goodness, I'd brought an apple. So here's the "worksheet" I whipped up, painting alongside him.

I'm sometimes feeling gratified and it alternates with feeling unorganized. But, it's spontaneous and ... hopefully working for every one's good.