Friday, March 13, 2015

While The Icicles Melt

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 >

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.

Forget Me Not: A Memoir

by Jennifer Lowe-Anker and Jon Krakauer
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 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!
Check out those icicles! They were thick and five feet long, hanging right outside the bedroom window. Our house is old and poorly insulated but it's unique. It's not every day you find a Santa Fe Style adobe on a street on a prairie.
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.


  1. I am so inspired...ditching things that are not doing anything is the best feeling..I have been doing the same and feel still not enough.

    Love your painting, the knife streaks, had to laugh when I saw the brush on the cat.

    Amazing that I too cannot start working or reading or getting on a project until there is some order in the house. If I cannot create that order then I leave because I cannot sit with crap all around me.

    Spring has come to lovely...your painting tells me so.


    1. LOVE it when you're here. Your perspective always says with me. I may just have to split because of all the crap.

  2. Same here! When the house is a mess, my mind is a mess! I love the process of sorting and parting with the things that no longer serve me. (The rocks and bones and feathers always stay.)

    But I do believe letting one thing go makes room for a new thing, or thought, or idea to come in.

    And it looks like the ideas and inspiration are definitely coming your way right now! Your paintings are beautiful! So full of color and life and love. Spring has arrived in your heart!


    1. It SO does seem that all of us feel the same about clutter and letting go of it!
      Yes, spring makes my heart sing. I like to slather on the brightness!
      Love ya, Sagey.

  3. I can tell you are happy - spring is nigh, your mom is walking a bit (yay!) and you're painting and planning horse trips. I love your Gustave Bauman-inspired painting! I have two boxes of notecards of his works (I know you're not surprised), so you'll see those eventually. And I've been tossing and spring-cleaning, too. A fresh start so to speak. I like Jennifer Lowe's work, too!

    1. I think you know me better than anyone. ;)
      TWO boxes?! Come on! I think he's the best.
      I am happy, Diana. Every day my mom tells me over the phone how many blocks she walked with her walker! I am ecstatic!
      I get to see her prove it in May. :)
      I knew you were familiar with JLowe.

  4. i'm glad you get the urge to paint sometimes. i like hearing about your process and i love the colors you choose. strikes me as funny that your personal color palette is muted naturals and yet you pull out all the stops when you open your tubes of paint!

    our snow and ice have all melted and the muddy patches are getting smaller. i am loving the warmer days and longer evenings. there is horse hair all over the ground which is really quite pretty on frosty mornings when it looks like lace work coating the frozen ruts of mud. im anxious to grab the shedding blade and clean them all up yet mindful of spring snows and cold spells yet to come. i feel like the gardener who can't wait to get those seeds in the ground but knows it's not yet time!

    are you planning to get back to california any time soon? how is your mom doing? i may go home over Easter.

    good luck with that spring cleaning and surplus shedding. i am no good at that at all. my collections just keep getting bigger...


    1. Haha! Yes, gimme beige, taupes, and grays. I don't wear too many bright colors. I like my horses muted, too. Hehe.
      Love how you describe horse hair as lace!
      I will be going back to the Central Coast in May for Guitar Whiteys 94th birthday!
      And, to watch my mother walk again. :)
      Going to do some camping while out there. I hope you have a great time at Easter in Monterey. Ideal!
      Thank you for all your support. You are the kindest woman I know.

  5. love the image of you boxing-up and crawling around gathering dust bunnies in preparation for making art.

    i'm with you on the clothes. although i do have several simple dresses i sewed for myself, i do change them out occasionally, but always a dress and leggins.


    1. Haha! I know! Can't you see it, Bernard!
      I am so weird.
      I too wear dresses and leggings and my clod hopper boots.
      You sew your own dresses?? Hello! That is the most awesome thing I've heard all winter.
      Love you, you sweet ol bear....
      Red dirt.

  6. Oh my gosh, there's so much to love in this post! I love, love, love seeing your painting process and getting a glimpse of the thoughts that go into it. (I also used the palette knife in my ever so brief foray into painting.) Love hearing about your process of discover and the artists who inspire you.

    I think I might have heard of Jennifer Lowe's memoir before, but now I'm certainly going to check that out!

    Here at Casa de Tiger Food we've been clearing out years of collected and lazily disregarded stuff. I'm like you in that I don't like to hang on to unnecessary things, duplicate things, stuff I haven't used in a while...but it still accumulates! Where do all the things come from!?

  7. i just ditched so many things in my place! i was surprised that i had that much of stuff. it's crazy. glad that now at least i've got rid half of it. and you my friend,, is very talented. i love the colours in your painting. especially that blue. reminds me of the ocean.

  8. Can I just tell you how excited I was to be paired with Brittan's tshirt!!! The same one I have, isn't it the BEST!? Woman, you are so lovely. I just got your postcard today. We just did a big purge last month ourselves and plan to get rid of more- how do we acquire so much? We don't even have storage spaces in our house hiding things... and yet there is all of this...stuff. Too much stuff! No more STUFFFF! :) Paint away, darlin' - paint those blues and greens into life! <3

  9. Also, you crack me up- I'm never giving up "the bean" either.