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
Tuesday, October 28
claws scrabbling for a stronghold-
sharp bite of the beak
Monday, October 27
the way this little tree looks like it is finally getting its turn on the playground carousel. Now that all the big kids are in school!
Saturday, October 25
LOU, IN MEMORIUM
This is from the beautiful funeral of my teacher, Louis B. Sloan, who died last week. It was amazing to hear his family and other friends testifying as to his rare character and the huge impact he made on their lives. He was such a wonderful guy. I was too shy to seek out a mentor among my teachers when I was a student, but Lou often reached out the hand of kindness and encouragement to me in a way very few of my other teachers did. It's a difficult business, being an artist, and learning to be an artist is also fraught with peril. People who go out of their way to be kind and helpful appear in memory like angels of light. Such was Lou!
I transferred to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) after a semester at another local art school. At that first place, I asked my painting teacher to show me how to set up my palette and he looked at me and said "Just FEEL where you think the paint should go, m'dear. No need to get too technical." Same for stretching canvases. "Oh just buy them ready-made. We are artists, not artisans!" After less than one month of this gruesome regime I'd had enough, and I secretly sent for an application to PAFA.
Lou was my very first teacher, on my very first day of classes at PAFA and thank heaven for that! Maybe I imprinted on him or something. But he was such a godsend! This was a still-life painting class (landscape came later) and when I confessed very little prior experience of oil painting he calmly took me under his wing, showed me how to set up my palette and clean my brushes and how to stretch and prime a canvas. He recommended books, and places to buy art supplies. And showed me how to accomplish dozens of other such small but important things. He also cheered me on and encouraged me, in his gentle way. I will be forever grateful to him.
My first class with Lou was that still-life painting class, and only a few months ago I myself started teaching a still-life class. It feels like some part of his spirit is with me, or within me, as I teach. Thank you dear Lou!
Friday, October 24
OFFERING TO THE GODDESS
From an Introduction to Drawing class this morning. I had affixed the cast head of Athena to the wall for my class to get a little practice in portrait drawing proportions and after they had practiced on her for a while (they did beautifully!) then I set up the fruits and gourds for a different, more organic type of drawing exercise. It's funny how it ended up looking like a sacramental offering!
Athena is the Goddess of of Wisdom, so it would not be entirely inappropriate for a drawing instructor to make her an offering, would it? She is also the patron Goddess of Craftsmen and Artisans, so maybe I should lend her to my husband Paul to hang up in his furniture design shop!
Monday, October 20
A Papillon meets a Springer Spaniel...oh dear! They went nose to nose outside the Lupine Gallery on Monhegan Island. I never saw so many people bringing their dogs with them on vacation as I did on Monhegan. Although the booklet published by the Island Association suggests that pets should be left at home, it seemed as though every third visitor had a dog on a leash. Perhaps the island has been listed in Dog Fancy magazine or some such publication as an ideal place to vacation with your pet?
As I myself did not have to break up dog fights or pick up dog droppings, I enjoyed the continual canine showcase. They are such beautiful creatures. In fact, I took so many shots of dogs that I could easily put together a photo calendar called Dogs of Monhegan!
Sunday, October 19
Painting in the graveyard,
overlooking the busy town
and the endless sky
I heard today that my first (and only) landscape painting teacher, Louis B. Sloan, died just a few days ago. Although Lou was getting up there in years (I think he was 78) he was as active as ever. In fact, I was told that he died very suddenly as he was preparing to go out for a day of autumn painting with students. What a wonderful man, gifted artist and devoted teacher. I can just see Lou settling down before a canvas in heaven with a happy sigh. "Now that's beautiful!"
Louis B. Sloan, Self-Portrait in a Field of Flowers, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches
Friday, October 17
doesn't only mean gold and red. Today it was my turn to go out to the farm and collect my CSA group's weekly boxes of produce (and incredibly delicious cider!) As an added bonus, the person who drives out gets to pick a bouquet from the Cut-Your-Own patch. At this time of year it is mostly all Cosmos, in gorgeous hot pink and magenta.
Wednesday, October 15
It's that time of year! I was inspired by a blog friend, Sandy of Gardenpath, who talked about it here.
Tuesday, October 14
I've decided to go back to my old bread-baking ways, at least for a while. Unfortunately, in the decade or so that has passed since any regular bread-baking I have lost the old, esoteric cook-book from which came my basic all-purpose bread recipe. Any suggestions for a good, basic sandwich bread recipe?
Yesterday I used the "Wheat Bread" recipe from my Breadman recipe book, and I even made the dough in the machine, but then baked it in a pan in the oven, to get the loaf shape I wanted. It came out fine, and the house smelled like heaven, but it seems a waste to run the oven for 40 minutes for one rather small loaf of bread. My old recipe made two large loaves, one of which I would freeze. And I always enjoyed the alchemy of the bubbling yeast and the various kneading and risings...since I work at home and take frequent breaks, the timing of old-fashioned bread baking is not a problem.
In this picture you can see the bread being made ready for the nightly lunch box routine. If anyone reading this has a good sandwich bread recipe, please let me know!
Monday, October 13
GIFTS FROM NORWAY
My blog friend Renny Amundsen, of RennyBA's Terella, recently sent me a parcel of Norwegian things as part of his ongoing intercultural gift exchange. Renny's motto is "Make Blogs, Not War!" and he is something like an international blogging diplomat! In the package I found a grotesquely cute little Troll, a CD of very fine Norwegian Classical Music and a box of candy: some chewy mints (yum!) What a lovely surprise it all was. Tusen takk, Renny!
Now I have to think of some cultural goodies to send to him! US culture is so wildly divergent, making it a little harder in some ways, but I will do my best.
Sunday, October 12
GLUTEN FREE PUPPYDOG
Never thought I'd see a sign for gluten-free cookies outside our local French bakery! C'est vraiment incroyable! What can this mean for la cuisine française!?
It was a golden autumn morning in our little town. Normally, being a late riser, I would never have seen it this early, but young H signed us up to sell popcorn for his Scout troop and we got the first-thing-in-the-morning shift. Turned out to be very pleasant. Of course, I had to go home afterward and take a nap! (Still recovering from bronchitis.)
Friday, October 10
Taken two weekends ago at the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival. This was the winning boat in the first race: they were simply amazing and beat their competition handily, but I don't know the name of their team. The Super Uber Dragon Slayers or something like that I suppose.
My team was less about winning and more about the pleasure of being on the river, being together and raising a little money for charity (Ronald McDonald House): in other words, we lost every heat we paddled in. It was totally fun anyway! I think we are partly handicapped by our name which is The Dragon Ladies. A coach who once came out to watch a practice and advise us urged us to stop being so lady-like and really get down into it but I am afraid that is simply not the team zeitgeist. (At one meeting I jokingly suggested that we change our name to The Dragon Bitches, but only one person laughed, so you get the idea!)
Still, winning the races or not is almost beside the point on a morning as beautiful as this one was. It felt like a crown of laurels, just being there on the river in the glorious glow of morning light.
P.S. Sorry for the lag in posting. The whole family has been sick with a terrible cold virus (possible even an early flu) going down with it at staggered intervals, toppling into illness like feverish dominoes, one after another. My cold then evolved into bronchitis, just for a little extra fun and variety. On the mend now (knock on wood!)
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