Saturday, July 15, 2017

The New Easel



I used to paint small watercolors on paper. College training. And then the art suppliers came out with watercolor canvas. And I could paint larger.

But my studio furniture was all designed for small works. Most watercolors are painted on the flat because water drips. I expanded to folding tables which seemed to never get folded up and were sometimes still too small. And as I got bigger I expanded into more mixed media like oil sticks. While my flat work was poured and so took less time.

I am creative. I jerry-rigged an easel using my flat shelves and clamps. I finally gave up and bought an adjustable easel. It will lay flat but also stand up. It frees up a lot of work space in my studio. Work space which seems to be constantly over run with other projects like painted chairs.


And dogs I take in for vacations while owners are away. Every once in a while it occurs to me I was going to make this studio at one time half the size it is currently and only had a 3 x 4 foot stoop to sit and have my lunch on. Currently wondering if I made the deck too small also.

The new easel had demanded a rearrangement of art supplies and a cleaning out of my flat files. Now to clean off the L shaped table where I once painted so it can be used more for photo editing and drawing.

But first I have eight photographs on canvas coming early next week. All need to be stretched so the matting table needs addressed. I have a flat surface malady. I will walk into a room and deposit something on the first flat surface I come too. This usually seems to plague the living room and the kitchen. But since I built the deck I tend to use the studio entrance so all flat surfaces in that room are covered.

Which brings me to why the easel is such a good deal. It is seldom flat and when it is there will be a painting on it I don't dare stack things on. So if you are wondering why with a new easel I am not painting up a storm it is because I am once again cleaning up the studio.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Late Great USA



I think this is it. I believe it is the last time 50 states will celebrate Independence day together. It is clear we are no longer independent. And we are no longer together.

The divisions have been widening for some time now. It began in very quiet ways. The mountain west does not feel represented by the eastern establishment. And now that DT has declared war on our western lands more openly the chasm is growing. They believe they can sell off our public lands to foreign mining interests (including Russia) and then allow them to ruin the water. Since we won't let them steal the water they will poison it.

There is a phrase about being related to people you would not cross the street to meet. As citizens we are united to people we really don't want to know. We don't hold the same values, watch the same television shows, go to the same movies or sports events, even eat the same foods.

A  friend from another country asked what is American food? I found a list forming in my mind and realized it was comprised mostly of things I don't eat. Oh, I love how Savannah does shrimp and grits for breakfast. I can devour mud bugs with Cajun spices. I love how Kansas City does barbecue but North Carolina not so much. I love how major cities have ethnic food available. And I live in New Mexico where the cuisine is New Mexican and not American. It may have more to do with First Nations or Mexico than the USA.

And I increasingly do not think of myself as a citizen of the USA. Since Trump took office I find I cannot support the policies of this trashed government. So this 4th of July I will be wearing black.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones

Storm Coming by J. Binford-Bell

In my family I was the crazy one. I know because my brother told me so. A lot. In fact, I stopped talking to my brother decades ago because of that. A psychologist told me to. No body needs someone who constantly tells them they are crazy. Words have power. There is no truth to the childish chant of Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Words hurt. Words sting. Words heard often enough re-shape us. Some call it brainwashing, some re-programming, some the truth. Jackie Gleason was very popular when I was young. I was taunted in during recess as being Jackie Gleason and being too fat. I graduated from high school weighing 85 pounds. I believed an art teacher who said I had no talent. A fifth grade teacher who said I was too lazy to excel. Mother convinced me to never attempt to be a writer because I could not spell. I knew I should take the first offer of marriage (if indeed I got an offer) because I was ugly or so pep squad had told me when I tried out.

Mother enrolled me in college and sent me off to earn my MRS degree. I was a townie until Dad was transferred mid term and I moved into the dorm. And somehow I knew this was my one chance to survive. Nobody there knew all my truths. I shoved those to the back of my mind, changed the spelling of my name and began the process of remaking myself. Well, mostly remaking myself. An upper classmate told me crazy was good. Especially if I was going to be an artist, and if I didn't do that I was crazy because I was talented.

The truth can set you free. That and spell check on a word processor. Not talking to those toxic relatives doesn't hurt. I truly believe only dogs and cats tell you the truth. All else is faux news.

Note: A friend on social media mentioned she thought the opening photograph was a pile of mash potatoes. I knew they were clouds. I knew everyone else was raving about the photograph but I went back and looked at it to see if I could see the mash potatoes. Maybe I don't know clouds at all.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tears for the Polar Sea - DTJ

Cimarron Cemetery
January 2017 
Just finished watching the documentary The Polar Sea. I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately. When I am not watching the news. The news, my sister informs me, just makes me depressed. And I find that my love for who done its has waned unless they are British or Canadian. I am just so tired of the killing in US films. No, it is not the killing. I think I have become immune to that. Tharned out to the body counts whether it is real or make believe. 

It is the meanness of spirit which seems to pervade fiction. And sadly reality.  It is not just the people who do not care but those who must blame others; make it someone else's fault. Abuse others for what they have done themselves. It is a waste of time to play chicken vs. egg. I find it creeping into me. And so I avoid the question by watching documentaries. 

This morning I finished the series The Polar Sea which is available on Netflix streaming. The photography is awesome. But I cried through lots of it because the Northwest passage is something only possible without an ice breaker because all the ice is melting. The plight of the Inuit peoples and the animals of the Arctic touches my heart. It is for them I cry. Maybe watching the news is better. The news where our current president has denied climate change and left the Paris Accord?

I have written in the past about compassion fatigue but this is more. It is the Watership Down rabbit frozen in the middle of the road tharned out by the huge mechanical machine racing to mow it down. I no longer yell at the TV screen, "Move, damn it, move." We are all that rabbit. Or the woman in the dark house walking down the stairs in high heel mules toward the noise that went bump in the night. 

"Don't do that." 

"At least take off those heels and run, stupid."

And you know in the audience somewhere men are laughing because they just decided being raped is a pre-existing condition and they get a bigger tax break.

Once, I seem to remember, when politicians did something awful they apologized for it. "What can we do?"

Now they go to the Rose garden and through a beer party. And the other house decides to seal our fate in secret. Even those who vote to pass it won't know what is in it until the idiot in the Oval Office signs it with a Scripto with a signature which defies translation. I long for the days of John Hancock. I used to try to sign my name like he did the Declaration of Independence. Just in case I needed it after Nixon left the White House because of Watergate.

And even that memory of youthful aspirations brings tears to my eyes. 

I was kicking off those damn heels with the feathers and making a run for it. A run to save our planet and our democracy. But I woke up this morning and knew that was all a dream. So I watched the last episode of The Polar Seas and cried for the Inuit.

I know the mean spirited are laughing in the Senate Chamber meeting room.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Life in a Tourist Town



When I first moved back to New Mexico I lived in the small town of Questa. It was on a state highway from Taos to Colorado but if tourists stopped it was just for lunch at the Seville Restaurant or gas at one of three stations. It had no visible means of support beyond the Moly mine, some small town ranchers, and a barely under the radar drug trade.

When I had lived in New Mexico before it was mostly in Albuquerque which was on Route 66, which became interstate 40. It had two bases, a major federal laboratory, and the University of New Mexico. And sure, some tourists. But they were under the radar like Questa's drug trade.

In short I was totally unprepared for Angel Fire, New Mexico, especially since I had not moved to that town but a small rural backwater five miles south. I was looking to hide out in Black Lake. Silly girl. Income depended to some degree on Angel Fire. I taught skiing there. In Black Lake I made Mardi Gras masks which I shipped around the country at the Angel Fire Post Office. My social life was in Red River. It was where all my friends lived. Except for four or five ski instructors who moved to the area about the same time I did.

I suppose that was how I got involved in the tourist season thing. Angel Fire has no means of support beyond the resort and the tourist season. First it was just the one season - Winter. Then everyone was into building a tourist season beyond that. Skiers buy nothing beyond lift tickets. It is difficult to survive on just four months of fickle winter in a town where the skiers even bring their food from home.

So every organization in Angel Fire started some event which was in July. The one art event I had participated in before moving to the east side of the mountain had been in September. And they moved that to July. And there was Wings over Angel Fire, golf tournaments every weekend, and theater, and opening events for Music from Angel Fire (which has since moved to August). All depended on volunteers. And given the small amount of full time residents the same volunteers for everything. Forget having a life. But I did. I did art shows outside the valley. First with masks and then paintings. I treasured my time away from a town built for 1400 making room for 10,000.

But I got guilted into volunteering for the planning and organization of the July events. And, of course, I had to be home for ArtsFest, and donate art for the chamber music festival. One day I realized I was no longer invisible so I agreed to serve on the board for the local arts organization. Which is where I remain today. But I don't like tourists any more today than I did when I moved here. Maybe less. They want everything but are not willing to pay for it.

They come to town and cell phone service tanks, the internet slows to a crawl, at least one or more power outages on the big weekends and everyone griping because we should serve them better. No way am I shopping at the local market which goes Texan with all its food choices, and I only eat at the restaurants during off seasons. Summer tourist season is longer than July now. But off seasons seem to get shorter. I am not all together sure there is a fall off season but I like the breed of tourists that shows up then. They are artists or appreciate the arts. They want to see the aspens and the ghost towns and take in a concert or two and do an art tour.

I can see myself hanging out with the fall tourists but I am usually so exhausted from the summer tourism I want to hide out in Black Lake. And my studio is on tours so it must be open.  

This weekend is the kick off of summer. I got a new art exhibit hung on Thursday and then slipped off to my studio in Black Lake. There was a Friday night concert in the park, today there are balloons and tamale contest. Tomorrow the first of the summer Arts and Farmers Markets. I may sneak in early for the market. I can get edibles without going to the local store or over the mountain to the next tourist town. I need to conserve energy because Wednesday begins the planning for July. And did I mention I am an introvert.

I sometimes dream of a little mining town off the beaten path which hopefully does not have toxic water.


Monday, June 5, 2017

When It Rains, It Pours - DTJ



As an introvert artist I have the tendency to live a very quiet life on the rural fringes of a small village. I like it that way. I don't even get many visitors to my open studio. Social interactions seem to be limited to talking to pet sit clients and the monthly meetings of a couple organizations I belong to. Oh, and chance meetings at the market or post office.

June was looking to be so overloaded with pets to sit and art events I chose to bow out of a part time job I had managed to not quit over the winter. I thought I was making space for me. But it seems it is for more of the above. New tenant bowed out of agreement and so I was thrust into interviewing new possible tenants. And then suddenly a new pet client. And an art student. And then extra meetings with one of those groups I belong to. And new tenant wants to move in tonight.

And ran into that tenant who bowed out at the post office and she wants to sue me. Other friend in line acted as a buffer. Then off to market because I absolutely could not survive without caramel and sea salt ice cream. In that line i ran into neighbor up the hill who was buying his sort of rescue potion. Both post office and market were being swamped by tourists and part time residents arriving in for this coming weekend. I think I must have looked like one of the rabbits of Watership Down staring at the headlights.

I really can be easily overwhelmed since the head injury in 2001. My sister believes I give that singular event too much credit. But she wasn't around me in my corporate girl engineer for international construction firm days. But maybe alcohol was a better coping mechanism than ice cream. But then you don't get arrested for driving under the influence of Butter Brickle. 

And to make matters worse the 45th president is going on a tweet storm and raises all sorts of parallels with Nixon in his Watergate mania days. I am suppose to be in charge of the progressive news letter for the week. Beginning Today. I suppose running and hiding in a rabbit warren is out of question?

Speaking of rain it is about to pour. And only half the yard got mowed.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sitting on My Deck/Upside in the Dark Times



This morning I sat on my deck and drunk a cup of coffee while updating my garden journal. Hard to express what a joy this is. I have not had a deck for decades. Last one was in North Carolina. And I think it was no sooner finished than I was transferred. 

When I built my studio in Black Lake there was to be a deck. That was 2007. Mechanics lien by the fired contractor put all plans beyond finishing the studio on hold. I thought as the money came in from art sales I would be able to destroy the temporary stoop and make my deck. But GW and the Great recession of 2008 had other plans. Besides why spend money on something a bad contractor and a court could take away from me.

The summer of 2016 I finally decided to use pallets. Lots of work but cheap. And then I was given enough lumber to make a 10 x 12 food deck. I used the pallets for a lower deck and a boardwalk to the driveway.




Then came winter. Spring is all about garden. Then it dawned on me I needed deck chairs. Today, Tuesday, May 30, 2017 was the first day I could sit on the deck and enjoy that cup of coffee.




In addition to catching up with the garden journal I watched new pet sit client, Murphy play with Magique, and worked on plans for the north deck wind break. The coffee and sunshine was so good I had two cups.