It's busy around here. Already, I'm making runs to Goodwill, clearing out closets, rummaging through boxes, saying out loud "Get rid of it!" I'm not a pack rat. If I haven't worn it in a year and a half, I really do get rid of it. I've always thought that if we just had one or two 'outfits' to wear, I'd be just fine with that. Those pioneer women wore the same dress everyday! I'd choose my baggy jean overalls and a peasant top. My Levi 501 hole-y cut-offs (they're dreadful) and that very thin off white T-shirt (that I wear three times a week) that reads 'Earth Day Everyday'. Oh, and the Navy Blue sweater my mom knitted and my Chuck Taylor's. I'd have to keep my UGG's and all my do-rags. Well, that's not bending the rule too drastically. So, now that Spring is here I'm boxing up clothing, an assortment of coffee mugs and baskets of pinecones that I've collected and saved for twenty years. Like Lucy in 'The Long Trailer', she hauled around rocks. I have a thing for pinecones. But, now I'm giving them away, along with the three hundred maps I stashed in that cupboard. And maybe it's time to say adios to that dying Totem cactus there in the corner. Spring cleaning is taking over.
I have this weird way about me. My house has to be semi clean, bed made, chores done before I start any project. Like painting. Or writing letters. Or reading for that matter. So, after I crawled around on my hands and knees, swiping up the constant dust bunnies that collect along the edges of the hardwood floors, after cleaning up the kitchen, feeding the squirrels, and taking the trash out, I set up my table easel, grabbed my palette knife and starting squeezing tubes of paint.
All winter I've been staring at a Gustave Baumann woodblock print. A pure golden scene somewhere in New Mexico, a pueblo or a small village at the foot of the mountains. I wanted to paint that postcard. I was eager to start blending color, building texture, scraping in a mountain crevice using the flexible metal blade. I couldn't wait to smear a mixture of yellows into the foreground. To add some turquoise doors to the adobes.
It's easier for me to press paint into the canvas using a palette knife rather than a paintbrush. My hand trembles when I use a brush. It's more lightweight than the knife and sometimes the brush shakes right out of my hand. It goes flying in the air, landing on something nearby that you don't want paint on. Like your cat, or that nice hand woven Zapotec table runner from Taos. Whereas with the knife, I can really grab hold of the handle and be firm and intentional, creating the texture I want. I don't know why my hand shakes. Like I've said before, it could be from drinking coffee, the beloved brown serpent, but even in the afternoon when I don't touch the stuff, there's still some shaking going on. One thing is for sure, I am not giving up the bean.
I get the urge to paint sometimes. The hopefulness of turning a stark white canvas into a masterpiece. Ha! It's the process of mixing creamy colors, smearing on a bright green tree, slicing an edge to mudcap, becoming more alive in creating a turquoise sky. There will always be a turquoise sky.
When we moved to Wyoming over a decade ago, I was so taken by the scenery and all the wild animals, I started sketching everything I saw while sitting on the banks of rivers while C fly-fished. I was using charcoal sticks then. Black ash lines of canyon walls and blending in shadows with my fingertips. Then C surprised me with a wooden box of oil pastels. I had 200 colors to play with. Determined, I became a pastel artist and some of my best artwork resulted in using chalks.
Then I discovered Jennifer Lowe. You've probably heard of her. She is a well known artist from Montana. She tells stories with her whimsical drawings, using vivid color and texture in the most unique way. By that I mean, she uses livestock (cattle) markers to paint! Take a gander > kneelandgallery.com/jennifer-lowe/
I was completely inspired and impressed with this woman's imagination. Her subject matter spoke to me. I became obsessed with her paintings and ideas, her playful pictures of wild animals frolicking under the moonlight.
Naturally, I was gifted my very own set of "hide markers" by my sweeter-than-pie and always encouraging husband. He knew I just had to try that. I admit it, I'm a 'borrowing' artist. Pablo Picasso is widely quoted as having said that "good artists borrow, great artists steal."
Who doesn't borrow ideas, anyway?
If you aren't familiar with who Jennifer is, she also wrote a beautiful memoir of the times before and after the tragic mountaineering accident that took her husbands life. He was the climber Alex Lowe. I won't reveal any more than that. You just need to read her story.
I brought this book home from the library. It has some of the most INCREDIBLE photography I have ever laid eyes on. I sometimes forget how lucky I am to be able to live on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains.
A particular image in the glossy pages of that book remains open on the table. I love moose. As much as mustangs. My game warden friend, Bud, gave me this moose antler for my birthday last year. His wife is one of my best friends. We all get together and have lunch at the gas station and then go for drives along any old dirt road we can find. Bud knows where all the animals are. He's a good friend to have!
I'm thinking of painting that antler turquoise, hot pink and tangerine.
How could I resist bringing home coffee with the name Kicking Horse? Lingering on a Sunday morning C and I drank some (it's delicious) and talked about our upcoming summer plans with the Red Desert Mustangs.
Silver Stag Protector necklace. A gift to myself. I needed him, those antlers, powerful and protecting, hanging around my neck. I already feel the sacred energy of the crystal head. Handmade by the sweetheart-silversmith-of-the-desert-oasis, Ashley Weber http://www.ashleyweber.com/ And...before they were all gone, I snagged a Rain in the Mountains T shirt in gray, my favorite color. Well, besides turquoise. Brittan's designs are rocking and rolling big time right now! http://littleowlarts.blogspot.com
It's 60 degrees outside today. There are no icicles, no patches of snow but plenty of birds singing praises to spring and a sky the color of Paul Newman's eyes.