Friday, October 29

This is part of a still-life set up I am currently working on in my studio. I took the photo of the nasturtiums in case they fade before I can finish. The nice part of still-life painting though is that for the most part your "subjects" sit there patiently waiting for you whenever you are ready and never move even a fraction of an inch. It is like that song by the Talking Heads, "Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens." That is, unless Henry has made a studio raid. He knows that many a tempting treat is in there and he is ever alert to the unlocked door and the unguarded moment. Nonetheless, I think of still life painting as the eye of the storm that is my life.

Thursday, October 28

These were advertising an after-school architecture club at the High School where I was taking an adult ed night school class in HTML for website design. I liked the inspirational exhortative quality of them. The orange sign was for a school election, not as interesting except for the color.

Wednesday, October 27

towards my least favorite holiday of the year: Halloween. I am revealing my true grinchiness here. I dislike almost everything about it: the hype, the gore, the enforced "almsgiving" of sugar products, kids running around in the street in the dark, and I don't care much about costumes either. I really hate that it becomes in effect a school holiday with parade and party and pressure on parents to help with these activities. Things I do enjoy are watching the boys create their own costumes (they have to with a Grinchy-Mom like me), and watching them do the traditional candy "gloat and trade" when they get home, rumpled and red-cheeked from excitement and cold . Oh, yes, and I like sneaking SweeTARTS out of their loot later.

Tuesday, October 26

Peter logs on to his exciting new "Leaf Green" game. For some reason I keep thinking of Petit Ecolier cookies, and how they could update the image. Instead of a little boy wearing a voluminous cape and carrying a basket, the contemporary American version would show a little boy wearing an enormous back pack and carrying a gameboy.

Monday, October 25

Somebody once sent us a beautiful fruit basket, piled high with luscious tissue wrapped fruit interpersed with foil wrapped goodies. That gourmet largesse is long gone, but the basket lives on. We eat a lot of fruit in this house due to Paul's "Fruit First!" policy. Whenever one of the kids asks for some ice-cream or cookies Paul says they can have it if they first eat a piece of fruit. Due to this system most ice-cream turns into sticky hoarfrosted sludge waiting in our freezer, while the fruit basket needs replenishing two or three times a week. Handy for those sudden urges to do still-life painting too!

Sunday, October 24

My cousins the Wilburns came to the USArtists show yesterday. It was a real treat to see them. I'd last seen Opal about three years ago, and in the way of all children she was a different person back then. Now a sophisticated eight-year-old she improvised a performance piece in front of the Fifteen Exposures show using only an empty cool-whip tub which she had scavenged somewhere and a limited array of javanese dance hand positions. Her audience was dumbfounded.

Friday, October 22

of appreciation from the Tooth Fairy. She had come four times to Hugh's pillow in two weeks, and I guess she felt this level of tooth productivity deserved a letter of commendation.

Thursday, October 21

Paul got his new commuting jacket from a company called "Alert Shirt". Aptly named. And I am grateful that such products exist, especially when he rides his bike to work on a grey rainy day. He has refused to go for the little orange flag on the pole, so I guess this is the next best thing.

Sunday, October 17

A terrible bad cold has been working its way through the family. We all went down, like dominoes in slow motion, so were in different stages of coldiness at the same time. I thought Hugh had escaped with just a slight cough, somewhere in the middle of the plague's progress through the ranks, but it turns out that must have been something else. Now he is last man down (I hope). Nothing like a nap on the sofa, just inches away from Mom as she slaves over a hot keyboard (I've been working on my website all weekend).

Saturday, October 16

Not sure why, but I have been on a non-fiction jag lately. I really enjoyed all three of these books:
"Among the Bohemians" by Virginia Nicholson
"Fairfield Porter: A Catalogue Raisonne" by Joan Ludman (mostly pictures and blurbs and a great essay by Rackstraw Downes)
"Piano Lessons" by Noah Adams

"The Wisdom of Crowds" by James Surowiecki is something I'm currently reading (it is so good that I am taking notes as though there is going to be test at the end or something-duh!) and dipping into
"Salt: A World History" by Michael Kuriansky (The cover really intrigued me).

Friday, October 15

I went to see the Bo Bartlett show at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. I was surprised to see students copying the pieces for a class assignment. Somehow that seemed to my mind to be an honor accorded only to old, dead masters, and this artist is relatively young and definitely alive. But why not?

It was an odd day. I was actually at the Academy to be interviewed by a journalist about my own show at the Academy, a more modest affair of eight pieces and a pinned up statement, in the school library. We'd had a fun interview and she then invited me to join her in visiting the Bartlett show. So we went, and it certainly was impressive! I tried not to make the very obvious comparisons between my own little fledgling Academy show, and this major Blockbuster retrospective, but I did keep thinking "Oh, man." One of my painter friends had been talking about the show before I had seen it saying,"Bo is like the 800 pound Gorilla of contemporary realist painting. You see the work and say "I surrender"". Or else, "Please pass the bananas"!

Thursday, October 14

That is the first word out of everyone's mouth when I show them this photo. I took it yesterday at the Reading Terminal Market, where I met a couple of artist friends for breakfast. (Whenever I go into the Reading Terminal I feel like I am entering a game of Monopoly!) No, we did not actually eat candy apples first thing in the morning.

Tuesday, October 12

As beautiful as a dream, and yet they were, fleetingly, right here in front of my house.

Monday, October 11

I have to admit I felt a little lonely this day. And I think the picture looks lonely too. I'd walked Hen over to our local playground. Mostly younger Moms congregate there, with their toddlers and kindergartners. I'm sure to them, Henry must look like a Goliath; at ten years old he stands well over 60 inches high, and has a husky build to boot. I think they know something is "off" too, and this makes some of them suspicious and nervous. What they don't know of course is that Hen is the proverbial "gentle giant", and that their three year old could run mental rings around him and probably take away his candy too! This day when we went over to the swings I noticed a couple of the mothers shooing their kids away and making them play elsewhere. I tried to make eye contact and smile reassuringly but they just wouldn't comply, so by the unspoken rules of human social behavior I couldn't start talking to them and go into my "Henry is just autistic" spiel. Sigh. We had a little swing and then went home.

Saturday, October 9

A friend invited me to do the Philadelphia Open Studios Tour, using an empty space in her studio building. I agreed blithely, thinking mainly that it would be a good opportunity to spend some time with this friend. The reality is that I now have to haul all my paintings etc. and even tables and chairs and all paraphenalia (of which there is a surprising amount necessary) into this bare space, set it all up and then haul it all away again! For two days of showing. Argh! Never again.

On the other hand, maybe I will actually get to spend some time with this friend, and maybe I'll make some contacts. And it was very nice of the landlords to even lend the space! So I am being a bit of a surly dog to complain.

Here is the info if you wanted to come cheer me up in my "cell":

October 9th and 10th
12-6 pm
Studio 206
The Mills at East Falls
3502 Scotts Lane
Philadelphia PA 19129

Friday, October 8

Actually, it is Hughie's little toy kitten, bought on a trip to Chinatown. Daisy occasionally shows interest in it, but probably just because of the rabbit fur from which it is made. We sometimes like to pretend it is her kitten, but her tolerant glance says it all: "Sure, go ahead. Have your fun!"

Thursday, October 7

I was at the Wayne Art Center and saw that they have a magnificent example of what I know as a Citron Tree. However, I am not entirely sure that is what it is. An old neighbor of mine had one in his front yard, and he called it a citron. Who knows? Anyway, it is a beautiful thing, and the velvety textured fruits (citrons?) have an incredible fragrance. Once I needed some objects to balance a composition in a painting, and I ran across the street and picked up a handful of these little things off the sidewalk, and painted them. I wanted something bright and spherical, like a lemon, but not as large. These were perfect. And their refreshing odor was a nice addition to the sharp cacophony of smells in my studio.

Tuesday, October 5

but beautiful. I grew at least three different varieties of nasturtiums in my garden this summer. Kind of a Lazy gardener's trick: just push a seed into the ground and walk away, and a few months later you have mounds of elegant foliage and splashes of intense color. My friend Jan calls them "Lily pads for aphids", and she is right, but if you grow enough of them it doesn't much matter. Nasturtiums are also one of the only flowers I love that Henry will not eat. He has eaten or otherwise mangled my daisies, peonies, and rudbeckia. But, despite their being very edible, he does not seem to notice the nasturtiums. There is safety in being ordinary!

Sunday, October 3

I wonder if this is the only birthday cake ever decorated with a picture of the Titanic? Hugh was taken by a friend to the Franklin Institute last week where they did the whole Titanic exhibit/experience. It made a huge impression on him and along with requesting books on the subject and a model, he asked if I could put the Titanic on his birthday cake. I did my best, despite my personal feelings of horror. I feel so anguished by the whole story of the Titanic, that I was never able to even watch the movie. However, in our house,on your birthday, you get whatever you want on your cake! No iceberg though.

Friday, October 1

is everything when you are playing three-man baseball. This was taken just a few weeks ago: one of the last moments of summer. Today we woke up and it was suddenly Autumn: long pants and sweaters had to be rummaged for, and I suddenly was made aware of our dearth of cozy slippers. Just a few weeks previously bare feet and swim suits were the costume of choice! The season's continual whirl seems to me to be speeding up. But I think it is really just my perception that has changed.