Thursday, April 26, 2012

Autumn's Activities

As crispness invades our bones and surroundings, focus often moves inward. But I tend to alternate back 'n forth between still lovin' being outdoors and hugging the warmth of inside cozieness.

 My rich interior came from the opportunity to see a friends band at a local venue. I'm always drawn to extreme darks, affording me the opportunity to delve into strong contrasts. Boy, these interior shots are so fun to get the mood, dimension and intimacy. It was a guys band replicating Bob Dylan music and was definately a sing-a-long crowd. I selected this image, relishing how the guitar clearly showed the band taking a break. I had some difficulty establishing a foreground but when I pulled the background color down just south of the beer glass' rim - it clarified the positioning.

This gem of a leaf my Roland found outside our home. He's learned to appreciate these weird patterns in nature and always shares them with me. Of course, I love it!! The calligraphic pattern looks like someone or something took silver ink and scribbled across this leaf. But upon closer inspection, I can see/feel that the pattern is "in" the leaf, under the upper skin of the leaf. My precious botanical friend, Irene Brady ( was consulted and she told me the leaf shows evidence of a leaf miner. The dandy fellow is apparently hatched inside the leaf, and as hegrows he nibbles his path of food from the interior of the plant. When he was smallest the made the most tiny calligraphy and as he grew, the bigger. He probably exited out the broken edge of the leaf. I researched the fellow and they come in many colors. I chose to illustrate the one I found prettiest! Fascinating nature!

The final image residing top right ... is the silly decoy duck that's been with us since we moved in. Some
previous owner or friend of the owner left this lil' guy behind and we adopted him. He's moved several times in the front yard and now sits atop a fenced container my hubby built to keep deer from our tomatoes. I offers a fine view for him :)  And as Autumn progress toward Winter, he gathered a nice dusting of the early mild snow fall we received. I just love the white snow contrast with the duck's dark butt!

I'm always a-smile when I see the lovely images simple things in our life provide us to appreciate. I often tell my journaling classes ~ my journal ends up being my "gratitude list". And what a gift!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Autumn's Flavors

As September 2011 approaches, there's a nip of Autumn in the air. Leaves begin to change and fall traditions come to mind.

One of my favorite is seeing my beloved Aspen trees coming into their full golden regalia. In our area they exist only at higher elevations. Well, mostly ... I do have one we planted right outside our front windows. And Annie (that's her name) is thriving with all the love and joy I sent her as she quakes back at me. But Ro & I head up towards Klamath Falls and catch some early girls in their glory. They just shimmer up against the dreamy dark greens of the evergreens. This sketch was from a sunny bend we came around. The following week we took an adventurous drive up behind the Mt. Ashland Ski Area, ending up in Hilt, California. It's a very "back woods" drive with several grand views and some sparkling yellow aspens as our daring rewards.

As October comes and goes, of course, Halloween is a playful endeavor. I've only gotten my hubby to dress one time in costume so, now the celebration is mainly about the kids. But it was extremely fun when my neighbor came a-looking for costume possibilities from me. I dug out my two favorites and she and her mom donned the outfits. Mary went as the feisty black cat (yep, that's a rhinestone collar!) and her mom became the black bear I'd made for Roland's sole costume escapade. I got shots of them before they went to their party - and at first, when I was working on this image - was bummed I'd cropped off Mary's head. But in the end I really felt it was about bringing joy to her mom. And she's surely in the spotlight!

I always say I'm not gonna paint fall leaves again, but when the colors come I just can not resist the brilliance. This year I'd heard about this process used in creating fabric designs. What you do is pick a brightly colored leaf and place it on your empty journal page, place a piece of paper (I used our plain computer paper) over your leaf, then, using a hammer, pound away. Peek under the paper occasionally so as not to make pulp of the leaf. But, as you can see the transfers are exquisite. Very delicate with lots of detail. I've noticed they have begun to oxidize so it might behove me to spray or paint with a fixative next year. Try it out, pretty fascinating process!!

The full page spread feels rather cheerful and dancy - - but not too surprising - - autumn brings on that energy for me :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mexico Artist's Ceramic Mural Class & School Tour

We'd nearly exhausted our visiting Mexican artist and friend, Efren Gonzalez, with touring him around Southern Oregon, and finally mid-week, we delivered him to his Ashland home stay family. He'd be closer now to be able to teach his upcoming Ceramic Mural Class at the Ashland Art Center ~ but we dearly missed the fascinating flavor he brought to our home.

I continued my usual schedule, coming in to work in my studio at the Ashland Art Center, as well as watch the illuminating progress in Efren's daily mural class. First day, he coached them on designing a practical, functional and beautiful flat mural with 3-dimensional aspects undulating from the surface. Next day, was the beginning of the process with the clay. I watched as some of the student's designs continued to transform as their visions changed (like so many of us artistic-types) or, as they were advised by their experienced instructor, for better outcomes. Over the remaining days of the Mural Class, I observed lovely detail and imaginations become physical in the diverse pieces. Then . . . they need dry for weeks. I would pass them each day peeking at their drying progress on the shelves in the Ceramic Lab as I entered thru the basement doors. And Efren, released his students and their pieces to follow and fire with his instructions, as he moved on to other projects.

We'd arranged thru the Medford Schools, to have Efren do presentations to several different schools. A priority in Efren's life is to educate and inspire children. In his own Art Center, he daily furnishes classes for children, where they are instructed in painting and in English. Not to mention the role model Efren, his family and his career offer the children! So, of course, he wanted to touch the children here if he at all could. The first day we visited four schools, the second two, where Efren spoke of his dedication to becoming an artist (his first opposition came from, of all places, his mom) and then did a slide presentation of his multi-medium creations with time for "question and answer" following. The children were wow-ed!!!! So many of them came up to him after the show to get more personal questions answered or just to thank him.

I believe he especially touched the Hispanic children and the High School students. I was especially touched during a fire drill which took place at the end of one of Efren's presentations. This young man came up with such intensity, tenderness and sincerity in his face (yes, it brought me to tears) I could read how Efren had effected him. It was transformational!!

Efren had several days to recover from the whirlwind "School Tour" and relaxed into some of the other treasures of Southern Oregon. He visited wineries, lunched with local Hispanic leaders and, had to, of course, attend one play from the internationally known Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He was gifted three tickets to the "The Imaginary Invalid" and was so kind as to invite Roland and I to attend with him. He doesn't know my gratitude for this privilege as I've never attended a play here either ~ and what a creative's delight. The color, the costumes, the quality of acting and singing . . . t'was a perfect finale' for Efren's visit.

A late evenings flight took Efren on wings into the night sky, where he stopped in Los Angeles and emailed that next morn, letting us know he'd safely arrived home. He'd talked about all the stress, pleasure and abundance of exposure he'd had while here visiting Oregon. And finally home now, he could release the tension and share with his dear wife and family his treasure of experiences.

Little does he know the depth of experience it was for me to have him come stay with us . . .

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Showcasing Oregon's Beauty for Mexican Guest

Of course, we had to show off to Efren, our visiting Mexican artist, the amazing beauty of Southern Oregon. First on the list, of course, is heading to Crater Lake. But some of our favorite spots are sprinkled along the route - so naturally, we stop there too. The Rogue Gorge is breath-taking even though the two rivers merging before the deep ravine are less than at their peak this time of year. Finally, after remarks from Efren like, "it's so green", we arrive at the brilliant blue waters of Crater Lake. It truly is a wonder! Then, on the return drive we hike into Takelma Gorge, another magnificent natural site. Here, Efren and I took out our paints and worked on capturing the image.

We lunched overlooking the Rogue River at Miguel's in Shady Cove, preparing our energies for the busy upcoming evening. Efren was showing slides and a narration of his works at the Ashland Art Center. Here you see a shot of the Art Center from my second floor studio, looking down to the main floor. I was lucky to coax from Efren, this notes for the talk - - I love that it is in Spanish and flavors my journal with the elements present during Efren's visit!!!

On the adjacent page in my journal we wake to the following, more relaxed day. After a leisurely morn, we artists head out to the wide-open arms of the Applegate Valley. I totally by mishap, land us at the lovely Red Lily Winery where we spend most of the day sketching and painting. Serendipitously, Efren strikes up a conversation there with workers who actually are from the same area in which he currently lives. And in the time I get this sweet sketch completed, Efren has completed two oil paintings. Yep, he's fast and talented! Amazing!

We return home to a rich, well appreciated meal, once more magically whipped up by my dear Roland. And we settle in the living room to chatter and relax. Til tomorrow . . .