Thursday, April 27, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
My life drawing class this semester has been a mind-blowing experience. We are learning so much anatomy along the way, and being asked to accurately draw the skeleton, the musculature, and learn all the "bony landmarks" and "muscular landmarks" and how the light and shadow is impacted by what's in the body.. Just to give you some idea of the learning curve, I'm posting here my first drawing and my latest one. As you can see, I still have trouble getting the proportions of torso to legs right, but it is coming along and soon I expect to have that nailed. Now we're working on how to draw shadows and highlights and to show how the skin looks in particular lighting situations. It's all about practice, not perfection!
Friday, April 21, 2006
This week we watched an awesome DVD, The Best of Youth (La Meglio Gioventu), a two-part, six hour film from Italy. I cannot recommend it highly enough. This is a story of a large, extended Italian family. The action stretches from the early 1960's through the present, following several generations of the family. The film focuses particularly on two brothers, Matteo and Nicola. It's in Italian, with subtitles, but one quickly forgets about that because it is so totally engrossing, and the acting is superb. Everything about this film is smart, passionate, in-depth. If you check the link to the film (above) you can see a number of one-liner reviews that amply sum it up. If you want to watch something great, run to your nearest video outlet and demand this film!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
P.S. Hot off the press - I just heard a leak that President Bush is choosing a new Defense Secretary to replace Rumsfeld. He wants a "kinder, gentler" image to sell this war to the American people. Here's a clue....
Monday, April 17, 2006
20 Years Ago I...
1. Was enduring the first year of a bad new marriage, and had already taken one of my children and run away from home for a week!
2. Was working full-time at the university.
3. Was commuting twice a week to JFK University in Orinda to take classes in “interdisciplinary consciousness studies”, (woo woo) but it was actually terrific!
10 Years Ago I...
1. Was celebrating a 4 year anniversary with my new love thang…
2. My children were moving out, going to college, getting jobs.
3. Had finished treatment for breast cancer and was feeling good again.
5 Years Ago I...
1. Began visiting Whidbey Island, where my sweetie bought a vacation home. Fell in love with a place, big time.
2. Was thinking about retirement after 20+ years.
3. Had moved to a new job at the U, and was refreshed by the change!
1 Year Ago I...
1. Was retired (as of July ’04) and getting excited about my new life style (slowing down!)
2. Began taking art classes and learning how to draw and paint.
3. Celebrated having owned my home in Santa Cruz for 30 years!
So Far This Year I...
1. Have begun blogging.
2. Have have been studying life drawing and beginning painting.
3. Lost our wonderful dog, Lola, after 13 fantastic years of her company.
1. Took several walks with our little dog, Zuma.
2. Began a new painting.
3. Was treated to a FABULOUS and extravagant 'tapas' dinner at the home of some lovely friends.
1. Am working on a little part-time job.
2. Will go to class later tonight and draw somebody’s beautiful body.
3. Am wearing a watermelon-colored shirt, mmmmm….
Tomorrow I will ...
1. Celebrate my birthday..
2. Go for a hot tub and dinner out…
3. Hope my kids remember me….;-)
Sunday, April 16, 2006
a) staying at our friends home, about 100 feet from the beach, and being able to walk out the door and onto the beach several times a day.
b) a terrific lunch at a place called "Tutti's" in downtown Ventura. Every bite was a melt-in-your-mouth moment.
c) hours of stimulating conversation and laughter with our friends.
d) dinner at a Chinese restaurant (name withheld, I don't know why!) where the food was just awful, and the service so laughable that we felt as if we were in a Saturday Night Live piece. Our waitress slammed trays, ran back and forth past our table, put other people's dinners on our serving table and then shook her finger at us "don't touch, it's not for you!". She borrowed one of our dinner forks to serve something, then dropped the dirty fork back onto our friend's plate. She served our rice in an upside down bowl, on a plate, spilling out in all directions. She brought our water on a tray full of dirty dishes from another table, and shoved it in front of us. "You want water, take it, take it!" It wasn't clear if the water came from the other table or from the kitchen. She told us we couldn't order Mu Shu Pork because she didn't have time to serve it, "unless you want to make it yourselves". Otherwise we would have to wait at least 20 minutes. Sometimes such an outrageous experience can be a highlight - it provides laughter and stories for a long time to come, and this one certainly fit that category!
e) On the drive home yesterday, we stopped in Paso Robles, a former cow-town and rodeo center, now morphing into a little "Calistoga"-south. Probably the movie "Sideways" has changed everything in that part of the world. From King City on south, the former agricultural fields along highway 101 have suddenly all become vineyards. Anyway, Paso Robles now is full of boutiques, patisseries, cafés, French restaurants, wine tasting salons, and little inns. It is nearly unrecognizable from what it was 10 years ago. The barbeque pits and steakhouses are being elbowed out of town by the clink of wine glasses and the aroma of baguettes baking in wood ovens.
f) In the town square in Paso Robles, we noticed something else interesting. A family had brought their boxer dog and her 7 puppies (all six weeks old) out into the park. All the puppies were dressed in various pastel doll dresses - pink, yellow, aqua, mint green, etc. From a distance, it gave the impression of some kind of wierd easter egg event going on, with these little pastel fluff-balls running in circles, and tumbling on the grass as they tripped over each other. Closer up we got to have some puppy-breath kisses from these little wonders. Didn't have our camera handy, darn!
g) back in Santa Cruz, a little sunshine, our wonderful home! But that was yesterday. Today, I'm sad to report, it is raining again. Oh well......
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Listening to this morning's Weekend Edition on NPR radio I was jarred into alertness by a report on the return of Der Struwwelpeter (Slovenly Peter). This was a book we had as children, so terrifying that when I think of it I sometimes tell myself that I must be making it up. But it was a real thing. The book was first written in 1845 by Heinrich Hoffman. The color illustrations were magnificent, but they featured children having their fingers cut off with giant scissors because they had not been good children, stuff like that. It was all about frightening children into behaving. I suspect our book was from around the turn of the century. Artistically, it would probably be worth a fortune today. I have no idea what ever happened to it. Perhaps one of my brothers has it.
I tell of naughty girls and boys,
Of ill-bred children, full of noise,
Who play with lights and fire when able,--
Who rock their chairs beside the table,
Till falling down the dinner comes,--
Who suck at once at both their thumbs
Who would not let their nails be cut,
Until at last so long they got,
That from the hands away they stretched,
Until the floor below they reached.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Miss Trimmer’s barn and house was next door to our farm. It had been empty for as long as I remembered. I had no memory of any Miss Trimmer, but I pictured her as a tiny, white-haired lady who had mysteriously disappeared. Probably the reality was that she had gotten too old to live alone and was off in a nursing home somewhere.
Her beautiful whitewashed stone house sat on a slight hillside, gently set back from the road. It had windows trimmed in light blue paint, and a decaying roof. The lawn was green and old roses had gone out of control on the perimeters, lavishing their abundant vines and blooms in every direction. The lawn was cut occasionally by someone, but the rest of the property was badly neglected. The photo below is NOT her house, but it has something of the feeling of it, if it were whiter and surrounded by luscious green growth.On the side of the property, almost hidden by a heavy overgrowth of berry bushes, roses, and trees, was a collapsing old barn. It was dark brown and 3 stories tall. Some of the boards had come off the sides, and part of the roof had fallen in, so that shafts of sunlight pierced through.
The ground floor appeared to have been a garage, probably for carriages. It had an open garage-size door that faced the street, but no vehicle could have driven through that tangled overgrowth in those days. Above the garage was the fabled hole through the ceiling where someone was reputed to have fallen through from above. At the back, in the darkness, was a rotting stairway to the upper floors. Some steps were missing, but my brothers and I made our way through the cobwebbed darkness, across the dirt floor, and up those stairs. We held our breaths with fear of death, expecting the whole building to fall on us as our dad had predicted. But our sense of adventure carried us over our fear.
Inside, on the second floor, was the most exciting place. It was an abandoned country store, cash register on the counter frozen in time, rusting items everywhere, a glass Mr. Peanut jar, empty but enchanting to us children. Mr. Peanut seemed to be watching us sneak around as he reclined in his top hat and monacle!Rusty kitchen utensils lay about. Old signs were decaying on the walls. Cabinets and drawers were full of spools of thread, thimbles, canned goods, fabrics, tools, buttons. Everything was the color of rust or dust, layered in cobwebs and dirt. Whispering, we fingered each item and rummaged through each drawer until we knew the place by heart. We tiptoed gingerly across creaking boards, always watchful not to be the next to plunge through the flooring to the garage below.
At first we only went into the barn, and it was enough. But eventually we began to wonder about the house and to creep through the yard, around to the back, and peek into the windows. With our childish imaginations, we were never sure that someday Miss Trimmer, or someone or something even more scary, would be inside peeking back out at us.Photo by Graeme Kerr, 2006. I think it is England, but it reminds me of the countryside near our home and near Miss Trimmer's place.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
It has been fascinating to watch my classmates grapple with trying to paint something that works for this assignment. It has been a huge process of trial and error and trial and more error watching myself grapple with it! I originally thought I would do a close-up of a cactus plant, and started out painting in greens and blue/greens. A bit of purple began drifting in, and several rows of wire bristles were placed down the spines. More layers, more hours of work. After awhile, everything looked flat and colorless and dark, and dull. I had gone way too far. I began to place a few dots of lighter color on the surface, and next thing I knew the painting took on a life of its own. It now is a predominant blue/violet, with tiny bits of magenta and golden yellow. Most people who see it think it looks like some under-sea creature, or a starfish, or an imitation of an aboriginal work. It's not what I had in mind, but I sure learned a lot in the process - I guess that's what it is all about. Oh, and mine is 30" x 48" and weighs almost nothing!
Sunday, April 02, 2006
tumbles again in the foam, the waves stain us, the moon is spattered.
These faraway agonies are our agonies
and the struggle for the oppressed is a hard vein in my nature.
Perhaps this war will pass like the others which divided us,
leaving us dead, killing us along with the killers
but the shame of this time puts its burning fingers to our faces.
Who will erase the ruthlessness hidden in innocent blood? "
Pablo Neruda, The Water Song Ends, 1967