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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.