Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Loving Lilies and Drawings and Sunflowers

Summer is coming to an end. I can not yet come to grips with this fact. This has been almost a non-summer. Good for air-conditioning bills. Not so good for the soul. Yes, there have been those  days of delicious warmth and calm air and blue skies. but not enough. visions of Light Box on kitchen table are already sneaking in to mind. Not  good. Not good.

So - Hoorah for a bit of Brightness in the patio flower garden this season. Yes, most has been usurped by milkweed, and, yes, we have seen a few Monarch butterflies, but now I look at out Fall masses of spent foilage, speckled with small yellow mums trying to raise the spirit. the coleus and geraniums are giving 'er the go, and the sedum are holding their own. I rushed through gardening this year. No, the hanging planters have yet to be planted. That sort of thing. And yet, because of the many big rains, much of thriving green instead of crunchy brown as is often usual this time of year.

To remember 2014 here are images from earlier in this Summer:

These are common varieties , their names I have forgotten. Nevertheless, their vitality and color brighten early summer mornings, and knowing their bulbs are undergrounds prepping for SPRING truly helps one get through these ever longer Winters. So, YAY, Lilies!! And Yay for peekings of daisies brave enough to live in this not-summer garden. Thanks, Daisies! Life Lesson: Sometimes we have to live in less than perfect conditions, but we might well at least attempt to blossom as best we can. Yes, tired cliche, but true, non-the-less.

As this is typed the sun has hit the high points of back lawn. A friend and I have morning plans to view a rare Drawings Exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts -  "Marks of Genius - 100 Extraordinary Drawings." Do you know how much I've wanted to see this show? Two weeks ago I had a Serious Nightmare that I'd missed it. THAT'S how much I WANT to see these drawings. I am not a painter. I am not a pastelist. I am a Drawer. I LERVE Drawings! And the drawers who draw them.

(Just back  from - yup- breakfast might burn but sun on sunflowers can't wait- trip up to glowing garden. Got some nice shots to keep us through the white and grey of Winter.)

This might not be the best prepared we have ever been for this weekend's Artstreet in Green Bay, but sometimes priority is to become refreshed and have soul  refilled so later work is possibly new and vital.
So am "ignoring" Priority One stuff at home to see Priority One PLUS stuff in the Big City.

Celebrating our first Ripe Tomato - harvested yesterday..  Life is O.K. Hope yours is, too.


"The beginning is always today." - Mary Wollstonecraft

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I try to remember and live by this. However, I most often forget as soon as I remember.


Easy is right. Begin right
And you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.

- Chuang-Tzu

from "The Little Zen Companion"


Wishing I could stay staring at Yoda and water and sky and sun, with Mr. Mozart's piano music  continues in the foreground, but tasks are the order of the day.

This is not all-together a bad thing. But placing priority and giving the right amount of time to each thing "needing" doing can wear a person out WAY too early in a lovely morning. In fact the greens and eggs, and once-hot tea, are cooling as this is typed. The curse of the accidental multi-tasker.

(Excuse me while I partake of this tasty and "good-for-you" breakfast.)

And, because of a few posts on the Facebook  we may have accidentally made today Happy Shiny Pony Day. Make of this what you will.

On to shipping orders, picking orders, matting and framing a "Hudson," working on two or three new original pieces, working at American Gothic Antiques, and a bunch of etcs. A sort of normal day.

Wishing the powers of Samantha on "Bewitched" were mine - a twiggle of the nose and CLEAN ORGANIZED HOME and STUDIO.  "It is to laugh...."

But BLOG can now be crossed off yesterdays list - huzzah!

And on to preparing for Green Bay's Artstreet this coming weekend. We did not get juried in last year, so am looking forward to being in Lambeau Land again. With good weather and cheerful crowds.

"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone." - Lin Yutang

Decisions.... decisions...... Let the Listings begin!

Oh, and the bears and I are a feature story in "Stillwater Living" this month. If I can make it into a glossy lifestyle magazine ANYBODY can! It is a nice article, but, if you read the article please note that I spelled "bridle" correctly (not "bridal", and that Todd has been a local since forever.

Fare-thee-well, and it's the mixed emotions of State Fair Time!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Try Something Different

Once upon a time, I made tiny leather saddles and bridles for tiny model horses for people to use ON those tiny little horses - whether simply for pleasure in displaying or in fierce competition with fellow hobbyists. This was my fun and this was my business. This, more or less, was my life.

Then the lure of the "dollhouse" world beckoned. Our "Classic" scale Breyer model horses were used often in the most popular 1:12 scale (1 inch = 1 foot) set-ups and vignettes. Many people dealt primarily with Victorian-era themed doll-houses. Victorian era people used horses like we use cars and trucks. Ever onward!

After doing some mail-order business through magazines such as "Nutshell News" and doing a few local miniature shows I was ready to brave The Big Time. Big Time was the National Show held each year by the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (NAME). Each year it was held in a different  region of the country. One had to be a member of NAME, stay at the Hyatt, pay booth fee, travels expenses, and, most important of all, get juried in! This happened long ago - 1995  or 1996. I was an innocent. I sent in my application in and was Happy when receiving word that I was a vendor. I think this show was in Kansas City, and it was the week before Breyerfest in Lexington, Kentucky. Hoorah. A family "working vacation." Again, but doubling up the "fun" this time.

We packed the station wagon and off we went!

While registering at the Hyatt I received two info badges. One read "Vendor." One read "First Timer." I thought nothing of this...UNTIL getting many curious stares from folks walking nearby,  or riding next to us in the hotel elevator. I learned that THIS JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN. People apply for years and YEARS to vend at this event. The innocent became slightly less so. Life Lesson: Find a Niche. FILL IT.

Anyway, the next year we also did the national show - this time in Crystal City, MD (I think). We never did great, money -wise, but we made expenses,new friends, saw AMAZING craftsmanship - down to 1/144 scale (think dollhouses for your dollhouse's dollhouse), and all in all had a great time learning about a new world at it's highest level. Or close. Some day I might write about making Artisan status in the International Guild of Miniature Artisans, and the next year missing Fellow status by two or three specks of glue on leather... Oh, well, life goes on.

This is the LONG way around to showing off another short-lived facet of my miniature work. Saddles and bridles were "work." I needed a Hobby. Yeah, right. Well, I tried. For the tiniest while I sculpted beasties, made them stand on their hind feet and dressed them in clothing as befitted the situation. Here are three hippos that started life in a sketchbook and ended up living at the home of a lovely friend, living in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who is more than fond of collecting hippos.

The story, as I knew it, had the young sister hippo dealing with her "evil" older brother. He'd taken her red ball and was hiding it behind his back. Dad hippo was dealing with this bed-time trouble as best he could. (No, I do not know out-come of this situation.)

Getting these three from sketchbook to actual hippo-ness required at least the following:
1) the will to succeed
2) basic knowledge of hippo anatomy and color
3) dealing with moveable wire armatures (yes, these three can pose)
4) learning more about oven-baked clays (I'd sculpted a few small equines earlier)
5) messing with fabric (not my favorite thing) and leather (one of my favorite things)
6) painting human emotions onto hippo heads
7) patience in making them able to balance on their own
8) CARING about doing a good job
9) respecting each as an individual
10) carrying through to finished scene

And, after many many many hours -  "Ta da!"

I also did a lovely porker in 1950's red dress, heart-decorated apron, and leather handbag. I don't know where she is. My favorite is still in our odd collection. He is The Guinea Pig Baker - based on our beloved " Gingersnap" and sporting white apron while carrying cookie sheet.

For money I was asked to create a cigar-smoking, derby-hat wearing, vested Spotted Bulldog. He turned out great and the client loved him, but I knew that sculpting these one-of-a-kind pieces was NOT a career path. (I've never HAD a career path...) The wire and clays and paints got put away and have never again been touched. Except to be moved in the rare event of art supply shelves getting cleaned.

But here's the Life Lesson. I'd TRIED Something Different. Different Shows, Different Ideas, Different Results. And no, if I can recall them, I have great memories, a few different skills, and ideas for even more different things.

Dare to have a go, yourself? Hip, hip, hooray!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

If You Wondered

At every art festival we are asked, "Why bears?"

This is why:

This is the Introduction to my first book, "Just North Enough." Had any one of these things not happened I'd most likely NEVER have drawn ONE bear, much less thousands.

Life Lesson: You Just Never Know. Pay attention. Allow yourself to be bored. Find inspiration in strange places. Keep going.

On to the rest of this waning Thursday. The head is "loud." Basil is begging to be chopped in to pesto. (Yes, really. I can hear it through the roaring chimes.)

But first dinner has to be attempted. Any ideas? None of us here have any.... That makes making a meal a wee tad difficult. Rice cakes and almond butter? 

Off to find out - 


PS: Duluth's (MN)  Brighton Beach will be the home of a new Art Festival on Saturday, August 9th. Come join the fun!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Speed Blogging - 1

No, this is NOT how one SHOULD write, but it IS how stuff is getting typed today.

I want to blog. I have "no time" to blog. Today I am giving me ten minutes - on to them!

This Summer, such as it is, our local art center, ArtReach has been holding open it's doors for extended hours on Thursdays. I have been busy and so have missed all so far. Last night I forced myself to go there from about 7- 8 PM. It was a night of poets reading their work.  Four of them. I got in on part of 3rd and all of 4th. And am sorry now that I didn't get to hear the others.

There was a chair in the back and I sat next to a guy in a blue and white striped shirt. I did not know that he was Matt Rasmussen, the final reader of the night. His collection of poetry, book title I now cannot recall, dealt completely with work connected to his brother's suicide by gun. Poems were made of short lines but held much power. Small things like changing voice recording on family phone - once his brother's voice, now his - at father's request.

One minute to go -

We will be Booth 89 at Powderhorn Part Art Fair in Minneapolis this weekend. And soon the Chimes will start. Seventeen seconds , and ten, and five. I've blogged today. Sadly, Matt's brother cannot do the same.

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