Saturday, August 26

Juan Sanchez Cotan Still Life with Hanging Cabbage c.1600

"I am curious to see/hear/read who everyone takes their inspiration from - an artist of traditional media, multimedia, craft world, living or dead. Who would we like to have the chance to meet and speak with, or to thank for inspiring us?"

My first thought is to feel overwhelmed by the scope of this question. We are all constantly influenced by each other and by our image-laden society. By life itself! Anyway, there is no one person I look at as my sole source of inspiration and too many people to list properly. But I can name a few names if pressed:
STILL-LIFE: Spanish still life painters of the 16th and 17th century like Juan Sanchez Cotan and Francisco Zurbaran, also Raphael Peale, Giorgio Morandi and Wayne Thiebaud.
FIGURATIVE: some influences include the Flemish masters like Memling and Petrus Christus, Grant Wood, Balthus, Georges de la Tour, and the scandinavian painters of the late 19th century, including the Skagen colony. Plus probably the guy I would most love to meet (were he still alive) and humbly take lessons from: Jules Bastien-Lepage.

Friday, August 25

This is probably the first self-portrait I have posted on this blog in all the years I have been posting photographs. But today's Photo Friday challenge is circle and my mind flew instantly to this shot. I was so delighted by the reflecting circles of light in this place and I had my camera with me and there was nobody else around and so...

Thursday, August 24

Hard to get your head around the idea that each of these massive trees sprouted from a small seed, just like all other plants do. I could not resist posting this shot from my recent trip to the west coast. Muir Woods, surely one of the most beautiful places on earth. I was happy that I managed to press the shutter just as my son H and niece D were pressing their hands to the bark of one of the giants as they passed.

It is really hard to capture the look of this place, even with a good camera. I was using a Nikon D70, which you think would have done the trick, but the height of the trees is so staggering, the light in the woods is so spotty: only a handful of shots were even half good. Part of the problem was we went mid-day, on a somewhat hazy, bright day. So there were no dramatic, golden shafts of evening or morning sun. And I think maybe a different lens and filter would have helped. I was using a Nikkor 24-120 mm lens with a Pro-Master UV filter. Any suggestions for next time?

Wednesday, August 23

I was putting Henry on his camp bus this morning when I heard the most incredible racket coming from my neighbor's henhouse. Sure that a murderous raccoon or dog had broken in I raced to the fence to take a look. Fay's hens were going crazy but they were the murderous ones, and their ire seemed directed at a lone black hen strolling around free in the back yard. Where they couldn't get at her. Still, stray chickens are not a normal sight in our little town so I hurried back home and called Fay. We met in her yard and spent several hilarious minutes, which included failed lunges ("I got her, I got her...ooof!") and pratfalls, until Fay made a beautiful leap and caught the speedy little stranger.

Turns out that Fay has been trying to introduce this bird into her regular flock and that the flock will have none of her. They aggressively attack her at every turn so that she has to be sequestered in a makeshift cage, from which she had escaped. And boy is she speedy, too. I can't decide if she should be named "Houdini" or "Flash"!

Monday, August 21

H won the third grade multiplication bee at the end of this past school year. He worked hard studying for it, and entirely on his own initiative, which made me so happy. But he was intensely modest about his "win". He kept telling me, "Aw, Mom! It is not such a big deal. There were three First Place winners!" Three boys who just could not be "spelled down" (multiplied down?) It took so long that the administrators finally had to declare a multiple tie. H is always so modest about his achievements: it took me all summer to persuade him to pose with his medal. And I do apologize for bragging. Just could not help myself when I saw that the Moody Monday challenge for today is PROUD.

Sunday, August 20

green tomatoes. Came back from vacation to find my small tomato and herb garden has become a small tomato and herb jungle. Complete with scary monsters! H saw a praying mantis in the undergrowth this morning. I'd have loved to have included the mantis in the shot, but I guess she saw me coming!

Friday, August 18

This week's photofriday subject is "friend". My friend Sonia now lives in France but a few weeks ago she came back to the area for a short visit and I had the chance to see her and meet her latest creative project: baby S! Who was the most friendly and engaging baby I have seen in a long while. After spending just a short time in her company I felt like little S was my friend too.

after a wonderful visit with relatives out on the west coast. I'll restrain myself from forcing you guys to watch all my "slides". It'll be hard, as I shot at some very beautiful sites. But I don't want to turn this blog into a travelogue: postcard-like views of gorgeous lakes, beaches, deserts and mountains. Speaking of mountains, I am off to tackle the laundry!

Tuesday, August 8

Just a quick post to let folks know I will be away for about a week starting today.

Monday, August 7

Today's Moody Monday theme is devotion. Being a parent, I have an embarassment of photo riches from which to choose, since being a parent is all about devotion... Above is my friend Shawna with her daughter, pausing for a cuddle and maybe trying to feel the baby move. In a matter of weeks that new baby will be here and this shot will be too dated to ever see the light of Blogger!

But here is probably my truest photograph capturing parental devotion:

Paul with our son Henry. Paul is such a great Dad, and stepped right up to the autism plate without a moment of hesitation. Of course, we sometimes bicker along the lines of "OK, you change his clothes while I clean up the mess." "No, you change his clothes and I will clean up the mess!" but usually only when particularly stressed or rushed. After being the parent of a child with special needs, I often think how restful a monastery schedule would be. Up three times a night to sing? Cool, much more fun than getting up three times a night to change dirty sheets or soothe a screaming child. Simple food? Hey, as long as I don't have to cook it, or if ALL I had to do was the cooking, sounds great. No money? No problem. We are already there with that one.

Sunday, August 6

Saturday, August 5

"Baby Bruce", Pen & Ink Sketch, William D. Miller, 1960

This week's theme on Studio Friday is "Your Creativity Roots". I immediately thought of my first moments of being aware of art (standing horror struck to my very bones in front of a Hieronymous Bosch painting, age four or five), my first moments of being aware of the art-making process (the pungent smell of Tempera paint, the annoying waxiness of crayons that didn't let me do with them what I wanted to do) , and my first moments of realizing that I was really good at art in a way that made me different from most everyone else in my class (a seminal moment in kindergarten among the crayolas...)

James Miller at the Family Easel, 1967, New York City

But when I looked at the other Studio Friday entries I found that most everyone else had interpreted the the theme differently and wrote about their family art heritage. Beautifully, eloquently and in some cases quite touchingly. Very interesting. Not unlike my kindergarten realization, this is one of those moments when I suddenly become aware that something I think of as the norm, so obvious as to not need mentioning, is actually a little out of the ordinary! (Just when you think you are all grown up...) Because, in my experience, family just equals art. My parents actually met while taking classes at The Art Students League in New York City in the 1950's. Dad was already a Chouinard Art Institute (CalArts) graduate, working in commercial art to support himself in the big city and my mother was an art-loving R.N. looking for a creative outlet. I believe this picture was taken on one of the summer painting workshops in Woodstock, NY, run by the League.

Beatrice Carlson and Bill Miller, Woodstock, New York, 1956

They got married and had three children, all of whom are artists. Makes sense since we are here on earth thanks to the romantic atmosphere of the Art Student's League! Plus of course, the piles of art supplies lying around our apartment, the towers of art books, and regular visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters and The Whitney. So nature and nurture I suppose. Here is a shot of my parents at a show (Painting=Poetry) I was in at Sherry French Gallery last April. I like this shot even though we are in front of someone else's paintings. Matriarch (my mother), crowned with apples and leaves, flanked by Attendants (my father and me), winged with Painting and Poetry.

Friday, August 4

My friend Katie is renting a beach house this week, and invited us to visit a few days ago. We are in the midst of an extreme heat wave, but the ocean was deliciously cold and the rental house had central air! What luxury. A great time was had by all, and as the sun began to set, the adults had cocktails while the children played in the yard. Katie's daughter H was pootling around at the bottom of the garden next to the shed, momentarily lost in the private world of a small child. I remember such moments so clearly: the feel of the cool leaves under your toes, the gleam of the day's sun still prickling along your skin, the smell of dinner cooking in the air, while you hunt for bugs and wildflowers.

Thursday, August 3

with love. What a way to go. This puppy (I originally thought he was a bear but was summarily corrected by those who know) has had many a year of fun and adventure. Now he is "retired" and lives quietly in my studio, watching me paint and dreaming of days past.

At my friend Ellie's the other day. She lives high up, relative to the land around her, and her sky views are magnificent. Especially framed by the tall trees at the edge of her property.

“Why are there trees I never walk under, but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?”
-Walt Whitman

Some skies have that effect, too, I think.