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Monday, June 9, 2014

June, June, June, Just Because it's June

The 9th - to be exact - and zipping by like a comet.  It always does. I always think I'll get So Much Done now that it's summertime but then I wake up one morning and it's September and what do you know - the spare bedroom is still a wreck.

Thank goodness I have girlfriends coming the end of this month. I may not have totally organized that space but I sure will have made a dent in it before they get here. It might be a good idea to apply this sort of carrot and stick motivation to some of my other procrastination projects.

Like organizing/scanning the family photos & letters.

I'm always thinking I need to do a better job of this sort of thing. 

Okay - enough TheQueen bashing. I have been productive and busy and even fulfilling my June Resolutions. The itty bitty bites thing has earned me $23 towards the new camera. It's still something I have to remind myself to do - but it's getting easier. And more fun! Yesterday I took my time with a delicious salad lunch, on the back porch, with birds singing and summery breezes wafting across my skin, with white dogs at my feet, snoring. With peaceful conversations.  It was a wonderful experience, tasting everything in the bowl just one tiny bite at a time. 

So - I will continue to practice till it becomes the new normal.

As for the drawing - ah well. Yes. That is coming along too. I spent a good part of the weekend drawing another face out of the hair-do magazine. This is one of the most fun very hard things I've ever done. And it's sheer delight to watch a face slowly appear on the paper. 

The hardest part is the accurate line drawing. This is what you have to start with and to make it accurate is nigh on to the biggest challenge I've ever faced. (ha ha. punny me)  I use a clear plastic grid to lay on the original and then draw a light pencil grid on the paper and try to recreate the image, one square at a time. So far - I have had only middling success. I'll erase and draw and erase and draw till frustration sets in ... usually after about 2 days ... and then stop fiddling and finish the face I've drawn.

The shading is like putting on makeup - and is deliciously fun, but takes a long time. So here is what I've done so far, this month:

I know - her mouth is too short and her eyes aren't quite right but after a while you just have to move forward. Eventually I will get good at this... at least I'll get more accurate - and when I am perfectly satisfied that I can make copies using the grid system - I'm going to pop the big bucks for this:
So that's how it is - today - at Tara. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I Resolve for June (and a little May recap)

Oh la - June already. I want to shout "WAIT! STOP! I'm not done with May yet!"

Only we don't get that chance. Sigh. And it's not that I am not looking forward to June. I just need a little more time to finish May.  June is the last month of the fiscal year and I have to scramble to make sure I spend all my library budget but not spend a penny more than my library budget. And I need to do it, or at least encumber it, this year by some ungodly date like June 9 or 10. With much new paperwork.

Then there is some staffing activity - which also involves new paperwork and new procedures. And the last week of school tours. And the summer reading program. I feel like a cartoon character.

Okay - time for a deep breath. 

It is all going to work out just fine. And the reward at the end will be GIRLFRIENDS VISITING!!!!!! That's not us - but there will be photos. Ha! I should have thought of this first since just thinking about it now is making me happy - and relaxed.

But with a new month it's time for new resolutions. Last month I was supposed to draw for an hour a day. I didn't quite make that but I did put in a goodly amount of time on drawing. The funny part was that - as my drawing got better I became afraid of it. As long as it was amateurish I didn't seem to mind practicing - but once it began to look like someday it would become really good - I quit drawing. I left the project I was working on out on the dining room table, always reminding me that I was supposed to practice - but I backed off of it many days.

Well. Any quest involves some doubt. That's the purpose of a quest. And even if I didn't draw 31 days for 1 hour a day - I did get this much done:

I have no tutor right now - but then - I am a librarian. I believe if it's in a book you can learn it and the book I'm using is by Lee Hammond.  I like her straightforward explanations and solid, simple advice. She says that when she wanted to learn to draw people she bought a hairstyle magazine and drew every face in the book. Brilliant idea! So I bought one too and I picked the back cover photo because it was big and the woman has unusual lines in her face.  

Why, yes. Of course we have her books in the library. 

So. You can see that I am moving in the right direction. This isn't really an art discussion post - it is my June Resolution post so I won't go on about what I've learned - I will only tell you I have two resolutions for this month. 


The first resolution needs no explanations. I want to get better - I need to keep practicing - besides - it's really fun. I learn stuff about myself even on days I don't draw - and eventually I will develop courage. 

The second resolution has to do with a trait I would really like to eradicate - even at this late date in my life. Yes. Of course TheQueen has room for improvement. And a few days ago I decided that I would do something about my bad habit of gobbling my food. I know it stems from letting myself get so thirsty I feel RAVENOUS. EMPTY. ROAR. COOKIE MONSTER HUNGRY.

So I set myself a little goal - to go 5 days - 3 meals and a snack - eating only with itty bitty bites. If I succeeded (I did!) I could put $100 into the New Camera Fund. Alas. My beloved camera has a dog hair underneath the lens. To get it out I have to send the camera to the manufacturer. That costs $200. A new camera as good as this one costs $300. I did the math. I started saving. And on Saturday I had achieved my goal! (see those dark smudges? dog hair)

But 5 days did not a transformation make. It merely showed me that I can eat more daintily. To reinforce the new skill I will do this for every meal and snack for the entire month of June. 4 times a day, 30 days, 120 little check marks in my Daytimer. And each check mark earns one dollar. I think I shall go shopping in July. 

So - there you have it. Coming in July! A New and Improved TheQueen.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Halfway through May

And nothing much to show for it. What a month this has been. The intention was to continue plugging my way through the knee-wall closets, draw every day and, oh, I don't know - lose 10 lbs and contribute to world peace.  The reality is that I have been spinning my wheels, avoiding the drawing pads, (congenital chicken-itis disease), and pretending that I'm not stressing over End Of  Fiscal Year Issues. It comes hard on the heels of Personal Income Tax Wallet Robbery, with nary a moment to catch my financial breath. Anyone who is in charge of a government budget knows the strain of having to spend all your money but not one penny more or There Will Be Consequences. This year there is a new head on the local governmental shoulders and it is riding herd on us Cum Diligentia. He understands what shifty ground we are standing on and he is very patient, but he's also set the bar high. We will not go into the last month of the fiscal year with sloppy budgets. So - unlike my cluttery knee-wall closets - this area of my life will be in good order. Hmmm. Wonder if I can hire him to ride herd on my closet project.
Other angst causing things have contributed to my un-glamorous and un-blogged-about month but some very nice things have filled up the hours as well. My Mother's Day weekend was incredibly sweet. It began with a 90th birthday celebration of a dear friend at the elegant Tides Inn in White Stone.  Stuffed with both crab and birthday cake I didn't feel like making dinner so ThePrince and I just snacked on cheese and crackers up in our exotic, newly air conditioned bedroom. That was so much fun we did the same thing on Saturday, only with even more party food - crudites and shelled walnuts and wine, of course. There was wine both days.

We love lounging upstairs, especially because it feels like we're' in a tree house.
The evening blew in with rain somewhere, creating vivid shadow images in the forest top.  Eventually we were lured outside to watch the last of the daylight dip beneath the cloud banks, illuminated by golden sunrays. It was utter bliss.

Mother's Day itself was another warm one and I was off to visit Mama. Honest and true? I never have felt quite right about Mother's Day. I've always loved giving my own mama attention on that day and remember wheedling and nagging my dad about him doing something special for her. I also remember him saying huffily "She's not MY mother" but we knew he was teasing. Most of the time. But at the same time I always felt creeped out about expecting my own loved ones to make a fuss over me on Mother's Day - sort of like asking for a present. Just - um - well - ick.  Or maybe I just like to keep Mother's Day for me and my mama in a greedy sort of way or maybe it's so I can pretend I'm not turning into an old lady. Who knows? I know this. I was mighty glad I got a card from TheDarlings. But I love anything to do with them.

Here I am showing Mama how to make a selfie. We had 2 beautiful hours together looking at old photos and reading old letters and newspaper articles she'd saved over the decades. And you Richmond folks - how do you like that painting of the railroad bridge over the James! Viewed from the south side of the river. I mean - my mama is just SO cool.

The Cousins J had 4/5ths of their progeny graduating from something this spring so they held a party at my sister's house on Sunday too. I thought I'd be clever and take I64 out to P's place but I didn't have a map so I didn't realize just how far north it would take me. Next time I'll take the 288 exit and then go on west on Rt. 6. It was sweet to see all the graduates, hug all the cousins and siblings and then crank up the Oldies Radio 107.3 to tool on home through the beautiful green Virginia countryside.  Not to be too smug about things, but honestly - there is nowhere on earth so beautiful as Virginia in May. Absolutely Nowhere. Here's proof:

After that tribute - there's really not much more to report except the cool thing I stumbled upon at the last intersection before I got home.Yes. Right at the corner of Lloyds Road and Highway 17 - at Champlain - where MsMac's old store used to be. Purnel Reynolds and his wife were cooking take-away dinners!!!! Now - TheQueen does not cook on Sunday night. Someone can make popcorn or there can be snacking in the kitchen, but there will not be any cooked meals flowing from the royal fingers. What a treat to find potato salad and snaps and bbq chicken or fried fish for sale so close to home it was still hot when I got there. $6.50 each! He says he's going to be doing this twice a month on weekends. I just love it when somebody else cooks my dinner! Treat yourself.

So that's how May is going - here - at TheCastle. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

And Play

I have been practicing my drawing every day - but all werk and no play makes a wouldbe artist drift away. So I am also playing with fairies. Deep in my secret quiet soul there are some fairy tales a'borning and I want to do my own illustrations. So it's not just play but ...what might I call it? Plerk? After all, I am a Virgo.

And here are some more playful shots of TheQueen and her retinue playing.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Thing About Practice

If you were a musician you would know what I mean by scales. Not the balancing ones of justice or the dividing ones in the kitchen but the diatonic ones from C to C up 3 octaves and back down again. Some are harder than others but the point is to teach your muscles what doing it right feels like. 
I am sure, and have even read, that it's the same with art - and I am determined to do this every day till my hand knows what it's supposed to do when my eye sees a shape. The thing about practicing is that, as long as it's something you want to do - it's not work - it's play. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend when I had a large elaborate garden. We were walking down the paths and he asked me how many hours I worked in the garden every week. 

"Oh - about 2 hours" I told him and he gave me a disgusted look and said no more. But that look haunted me for months till one day I realized that I think of work as "werk" ... that stuff you don't want to do, but have to. The next time I saw A I told him "You know - I do only werk in the garden 2 hours a week but I PLAY in the garden another 18."

So. I am actually playing - but it's play with a purpose. I want to learn the muscle memory to make the shapes I want to make - so that I can draw the pictures I want to draw. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tra La It's May - Resolution Time

YOU must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;
To-morrow ’ll be the happiest time of all the glad new-year,—
Of all the glad new-year, mother, the maddest, merriest day;
For I ’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ’m to be Queen o’ the May.

                                                             Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Only I don't plan on dying at the end like this girl in the poem did. I plan on dancing o'er the fields. Or at least watching the wheat dolphins gambol through the wheat on sunshiny afternoons, walking with my dogs.

If it ever stops raining.

The month of April felt exactly like you'd expect a month with, not one, but TWO!!!, eclipses. It was stretched, busy, strange, complicated and demanding. I am ready for a sweet soft sunshiny May and today, at least, the weather dot com guys say it will stop raining. That's good enough for me.

In April I resolved to clean out at least one knee wall closet and tidy up the Heap-0-Clutter in the corner of the guest room. I accomplished the minimum if one counts beginning to tidy up the H-0-C. It is better. It is not done but it is better.  And now that the room has AC (we still can't get over the idea of air conditioning at TheCastle) I can continue to plug away at that corner. Perhaps I shall be in a position to sit at a desk and write my Christmas cards come this December. Is this the glimmering of a goal?

So what will be May's resolution? Ah well. My inner artist has been clamoring for attention this winter - and in fact, I've been drawing a good bit recently. But that inner artist (mostly my wild child right brain) has been longing for the structure of real art practice (mostly my school marm left brain)    And so, for May, I plan to put in one hour of drawing practice a day. 30 minutes of drawing technique and 30 minutes of whatever I'm in the mood for. It can be More Technique or something more free form.

In another life I was a performing violinist and I know that scales and exercises are the foundation for all the concertos. I am sure that technique practice plays the same role for paintings that those scales do. Those to brains need to get together, pool their talents, and make some progress.

Yes. Of course there will be pictures.