Thursday, August 30, 2012

Coyote with Thistles 2012

In November of 2011 I posted a blog with an image of a coyote that I photographed
This is one of several images that I made this year using my photos of the coyote.  Recently, while teaching at Penland School of Crafts, I gave a short presentation on my work, and included this image.  It was only when I was prepping the morning before my talk, running through the images on my assistant's computer , that I remembered the memory that must have generated this picture:

Several years ago, while driving down our quiet, semi-rural road, I noticed a dog trotting in the middle of the road.  It was about 10:00 in the morning, a typical, bright. sunny, New Mexico day.  Dogs, for the most part, don't run loose in our village, so I was curious to see who he was.  However, as I got closer, I realized it was not dog at all, but a coyote.  Held firmly in his mouth was a large, fat hen, clearly no longer in the land of the living.  The coyote moved to the shoulder to get out of my way, never interrupting his brisk, efficient trot. When I remembered that morning, I was glad I could bring the memory back to life:  his insouciance, his pleasure, and most of all, the fact that he had been alive and well and taking such good care of his coyote business(of course it wasn't my hen).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Big Tears 2012

I just returned from a two week workshop that I taught at the Penland School of Arts and Crafts  called Solving Problems:  Paint and Collage.  It was a wonderful group, 12 students plus my assistant, Chris Peregoy.   When I teach at the longer workshops I will sometimes try and do my own work, something that I have to be very careful of.  Once I start working on my own pieces I can go from being a kind and helpful teacher to the snarling, testy, and moody animal that is often part of my creative persona. And in an instant, I can morph from testiness to neediness, wanting to know what everyone "really" thinks about the piece I'm working on.

I prefer not to take any of my own materials, and I borrow or scrounge everything I use.  In this case, the background color was from a tossed palette full of lovely yellow paint. The bar codes in the body were from a FedEx label, and the tears and blue hat were all scraps of magazines or paper that I found floating around the studio.  The head was from an old magazine from the 40's which showed a disturbing photo of two men involved in some kind of unpleasant activity on one side and on the other were photos of concentration camp prisoners waiting to be released.  Chris had bought in a box of material that once belonged to Stan Vanderbeek, the American experimental filmaker, and I pulled it from that box.

As I was working on the piece a family came through, a father with two young girls, probably 7 and 9 years old.  They stood as a group around my table and watched for a moment .  Then the father commented with some alarm, "Oh my, he's crying, isn't he?"  With that, he quickly turned to the girls and said, "But we're happy today, aren't we?" The next time I looked up, the girls were being hustled away, their father's body shielding them from any more glances at my collage.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bird with Black Lungs 2001

Pulmonary fibrosis is the formation or development of excess fibrous connective tissue (fibrosis) in the lungs. It is also described as "scarring of the lung".  Wikipedia

My husband's father, Bill, died from complications of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis on the day that George W. Bush was sworn in to office.  A dedicated liberal Democrat, we always thought it was his final comment on just how much he resented the Republicans taking over. Never a smoker, Bill was in his 70's, and had been having trouble breathing.  For the last years of his life he had been on oxygen, a tank at home, a portable device for when he was out.  The week before he died he hadn't known that he had confused the tubing between the two when he went to change from one to the other, and for about an hour hadn't received any of the supplemental oxygen.  When he got up to go to the bathroom, he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.  My husband, Bob, was with him the entire week he was in the hospital,  sleeping on the floor of his hospital room at night.  When Bob came home for a short break, Bill died.  I think Bob was keeping him from going, holding him with his love and concern, and it was only when he left that Bill could take off for parts unknown.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Horse with Birds Resting 2012

Earlier this spring I posted a blog about working in my studio . This is the painting that I was working on at the time, now finished.  Most of what I do in the studio, I love. However, the last stage, adhering, I don't love.  It calls for another kind of personality than mine.  That person needs to be meticously careful and able to think things through ahead of time. She should be cautious, precise and able to delay gratification.  In other words, not me.

While holding a large, wet, curling-in-on-itself piece of paper, which needs to go down very quickly or the adhesive will dry, I suddenly can't remember which way is up and which way is down.  And the bubbles--oh, the bubbles.  If worst comes to worst I can always pull the piece back up, reprint it, recut it, and then glue it back down, but that often means not just pulling up the bad piece, but anything on top of or around it.  The photos are pieces of things and I have lots of photo folders and files(approx 24,000 at this writing).  Where did that particular tree bark come from anyway?  While fussing to get it perfect, the paper tears and I'm left with a gaping hole.  I stand while I work and my back, neck, and jaw hurt, not to mention my legs, after several hours at the salt mines.  When I'm done, I put the piece up on the wall  and I can see only errors.  My stomache churns and I walk around for several days trying to decide whether to do  it over.  Usually I don't, and later can't even find the error that was screaming at me the week before.  But the best part is that I get to teach all of this to my students, and then watch them suffer. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Seven Deadly Sins: Carelessness

Carelessness:  Marked by or resulting from lack of forethought or thoroughness: a careless mistake.
Showing a lack of consideration.  Unconcerned or indifferent; heedless.  The Free Dictionary
While avoiding attending to one of many important things on my list, I came across a posting on my Facebook news feed.  The comment was, "friend, teacher to our son, running partner to my wife" and it showed a picture of an attractive you woman and a link, which I followed to a article about a young woman who had been killed while riding her bicycle.  Since I ride bikes so much, I am always drawn, morbidly and with much trepidation, to these stories.  Here is what happened:
A woman was driving down a road(I think this was in New Hampshire), and by her side, on his motorcycle, her boyfriend was doing wheelies and surging forward as they progressed.  The boyfriend decided to come alongside on her right(that center position may have felt a little dangerous), so he slowed down, got behind her truck, then pulled up rapidly on the right, hitting and killing the young woman bicyclist who was riding on the shoulder.  The woman driver was booked for DUI and the man taken to the hospital where he would be charged later with reckless endangerment  and involuntary manslaughter.