Hi. I'm a painter, a writer and a mother of three teenage sons, one with a severe disability. This is a journal: riotously disorganized, full of art, food, children and everyday domestic events. Unless you are a friend or family member you may not be interested, but you are welcome to look. Artists who are parents may find some common ground here, as well as parents of children with special needs. For art only, see my site: nancybeamiller.blogspot.com
Wednesday, December 31
Somehow this shot seemed appropriate for the last day of 2003. Henry has a faint air of the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian about him, as he attempts to navigate through the elaborate string web woven (for another reason) by his brothers. Farewell to 2003 and a Happy New Year to us all!
Tuesday, December 30
Although Hugh is seven, today was his first visit to the Barber. His father has quite the amateur talent for haircutting. But I finally could take the thatched roof look no more, and bribed Hugh to accompany me to the local barbershop. The two barbers were really funny and nice and one even played the accordian for us. The whole trip so successful that now Peter is begging to go too. But now, perversely, I kind of miss my little haystack-head boy!
Monday, December 29
And yet more life. An old college friend Ned Batchelder just found my blog and e-mailed me enthusiastically. His own blog is great! Ned is the parent of three young children, and one of his boys has autism too. He was happy to see all the Real Life with Autism stuff, and also mentioned his particular interest in the few more specifically artmaking posts. I started thinking about it and realized that I make almost no distinction between the artmaking part of my life and any other. They all flow into and through each other. Sort of like this still life with onions, a pretzel and a baby toy (chime bird): all objects strewn about my house which sort of drifted together for a "group portrait".
Sunday, December 28
Nothing gives Henry such a complete sensory "hit" as does water. It is like a sensory envelope of touch, sight, sound, smell and (unfortunately) taste (he drinks all kinds: bath, sea and pool and cannot be stopped). We were visiting Paul's father this weekend and Henry became extremely distressed: new situation, lots of people and kids and strange confusing rules etc. So we looked up the local community center and went to the pool. Instant bliss.
Friday, December 26
This is one of Henry's newest sensory discoveries. He sits down in front of this particular bank of drawers, yanks them all out then slams them all back in. Crash! Crash! Crash! Crash!...."Henry! Stop!" The drawers have already started breaking, but at least we can hear what he is up to.
Thursday, December 25
Well, I guess this says it all. Happy Holidays everyone!
Wednesday, December 24
This year I decided that I could not face my usual holiday baking marathon. I normally look forward to it with great enthusiasm, but this year it just seemed like an intolerable burden. So I threw away my rolling pin and told the kids "Sorry". They were surprisingly OK with the no-bake plan, and we all agreed that Santa could have an apple this year instead of the usual plate of cookies. As Hugh said, "He's pretty fat anyway!" However, several wonderful neighbors must have sensed the cookie-less state of our house and came bearing plates of home-baked confections. This is Nina, our neighbor across the street who came over with gifts of fruit, wine and cookies. We do have a star in the window...
Saturday, December 20
OUR WIFTY TOOTH FAIRY
Well, at least she pays up.
The remains of a mid-morning snack. All clues suggest that the perpetrators are three young boys, under the age of ten.
Henry has certainly expanded our definition of the term "mouth feel". Who needs fat? Henry has pioneered the use of hacky sack balls for that satisfying sensation. Low-fat and high-fiber, too!
Wednesday, December 17
I have seen the maniac in the house and it is me! Actually, I asked Peter (age 9) what he was thinking when he drew this and he said he wasn't thinking about anything, he was just enjoying the way the liquid ink pen flowed into the paper. Time to enroll him in the local chapter of FAA (Future Artists of America).
Monday, December 15
I always associate this time of year with lady apples. It is such a fleeting season, just before the holidays. I like to paint them and then eat them. Kind of cannibalistic.
Saturday, December 13
After a day largely spent amusing or managing the amusements of all three boys, I selfishly retired to the kitchen to amuse myself by starting dinner. Henry went up to his room. There were some unusual noises, but then, that is not unusual in this house. After just a few minutes, though, I stopped chopping parsley and went to check. Wow. I've omitted the scene on the left side of the room: unclothed Henry standing on the radiator, pressed up against the cold glass of the window, a sea of string-a-beads and game pieces at his feet. To add that extra layer of surreality he is smearing a mouthful of chewed-up oats (uncooked oats are one of his favorite snacks) all over the window glass. Is it Autism or is it Performance Art?
Thursday, December 11
I've been dipping into Vasari's Lives of the Artists as my bedtime reading. Came across this info nugget while reading about Piero Di Cosimo:
"Piero was indeed so earnestly devoted to his vocation that he forgot himself and his convenience. He allowed himself, for instance, no other food but hard boiled eggs...Nor did he cook them six or eight at a time but by fifties. He kept them in a basket and ate them when he felt hungry. This mode of existence suited him perfectly: any other seemed to him the merest slavery." Sure sounds good to me. And they are so convenient for those lunch boxes!
Tuesday, December 9
This is a painting of the Twins, and I can't decide if it is done or not. I showed it in my last exhibition, at Artists House Gallery, but then when I got it back I cut it down several inches and re-worked it a bit. It is much improved, and was accepted into a local group show like this. But the piece still feels "open" to me. Open isn't necessarily a bad state. But I guess I am secretly wishing I could channel Velasquez to finish it for me!
Hugh in a pensive mood after lunch.
Monday, December 8
A happy morning, playing with balloons and static electricity.
Saturday, December 6
This what the world really looks like today. Way more snow than expected: where is the rain they predicted? I guess these are "les neiges d'antan" we will look back on so fondly someday.
Friday, December 5
Finished this painting recently, obviously from last spring. First big snow today.
Thursday, December 4
Here is a group of my artist friends having breakfast together. Far left are Giovanni Casadei and Frances Galante, whom I've known since art school! The group meets once a month in Reading Terminal Market, although my attendance is spotty due to childcare. It is amazing how often there is a school in-service day, a field trip or a childhood illness on that one morning of the month.
Tuesday, December 2
This is the sight that faces me each night: the gaping lunchboxes of the three boys, empty and waiting. I feel a little like a mother bird, as I fill each one up bit by bit. They all have different food preferences, so its a fairly complex process. I realized this when I was going to be away and my husband asked me to write out a list of lunch prep directions for him: I practically got writer's cramp.
Saturday, November 22
This is a work in progress, a portrait of my son Henry. I am calling it "Light Headed" for the way the light catches in his hair, and other reasons.
Wednesday, November 19
A quick study of boys swimming done at my friend Eliza's pool this summer. I was so frantic to paint, but with the boys on summer vacation I had very little studio time. So I filled a gardening bag with paints, an old folding palette, and scraps of gessoed wood and started toting it around wherever we went. When I got the chance I painted, even just for a few minutes. I wasn't worrying about results: I just needed to paint. This is 4 1/2 x 9 inches.
Sunday, November 16
A quiet Sunday night. The boys are in bed, Paul is reading, and I am too wiped out to do any more studio work. So I'm blogging instead!
Here are Paul and the guys, snug as 4 bugs in a rug. TV is a great way to get all of them (except Henry) to stay still, and many artists swear by it as a posing aid, especially for children. I dislike the vacant expresion on a TV-watching face however.
Friday, November 7
A small oil sketch of boys fighting in the woods. One of those moments:the other parents ran over to intervene, and I ran over to take pictures. I did the sketch, thinking I'd rework it later. But I like it as it is, despite its roughness. So I guess I'll just think of it as notes for a larger piece. Is that when a sketch becomes a study? When the "big" picture it was used for is completed?
Friday, October 31
Getting primped for Halloween. The house is awash with demons, vampires, ghouls and one lone coyote.
Another Henry moment. My front porch (concrete thank goodness) is a regular palimpsest of milk stains! Oh well, no use crying...
Tuesday, October 21
This is another quick portrait of one of my son's classmates. His class was studying the U.S. Westward Expansion and I volunteered to come in and give a short talk on the western artists, and then pretend to be painter George Catlin visiting a native American tribe. They drew lots for one girl and one boy to be my subjects. I painted each portrait in about 30 minutes, with a gaggle of interested "tribespeople" at my elbow, noses and fingers in my palette. It was surprisingly fun!
Saturday, October 18
A typical moment in our household; didn't watch my autistic son Henry like a hawk for about 2 minutes and he dumped the Anniversary roses all over the kitchen table.
Friday, October 3
Here is a work in progress from my just completed Artist's Residency. I was out in Newtown Square surrounded by horse farms. I've never been horse-crazy, but I found myself coming to appreciate the grace and beauty of these animals. They all seemed to have such strong and distinct personalities too. I took to bringing the next-door horses a few apples each day, and they responded just like my cat does, following me around and fixing me with the unblinking stare which means "More please".
Posted by Nancy Bea Miller at 4:48 PM
Tuesday, September 30
Here is a fast portrait of one of my son's classmates...
Sunday, September 28
This picture DESIRE is painting of a friend's child. It was an iconic moment at playgroup, showing the typical human dilemma of choosing.... and then wondering if the other choice was better.
Posted by Nancy Bea Miller at 3:42 PM
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