Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The winter storm arrived...

... and decorated everything!

It's windy outside - and really cold - but so beautiful. Since we don't get much of the winter stuff :-( I just had to get some photos. I love the almost abstract quality of close ups, and with the added allure of sparkling ice.... well, it was worth my poor fingers almost getting frostbitten! Earlier in the afternoon I made a Blueberry Cobbler. So after my fingers thawed out... yes, you guessed it... a generous serving of still warm cobbler. Yum!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter storm on the way!

No art today! There's a winter storm forecast for our area (Snow? Woo Hoo! I sure hope so!) so I'm busy in the kitchen instead of the studio. Not sure if we'll get snow or sleet- probably a mix of both, which means there's a good chance we'll lose power. So I'm getting prepared. I'm catching up the laundry and preparing comfort food; namely hearty potato and ham soup, a generous batch of chicken salad and a pot of chicken and macaroni. If we do lose power we have a generator so I can use the microwave to heat food. I can almost taste the soup now! Yum! We've also stocked up on Fancy Feast ("for those among us - the cats - who prefer the finer things in life" - as the Fancy Feast commercial says in that rather snooty voice) and rock salt to prevent slips and slides on the steps. I'm going to search out my booklight and plan on hunkering down for a cold weekend. Yay! I love it!

If you're in my area and also in the storm's path, take care and be safe!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Commission

Well, I've finally made it back into my studio and may actually do some art this week ;-) Anyone else hit a post-holiday creative slump? I'm feeling the itch to get some brushes and colored pencils in my hands - thank goodness - I was beginning to wonder if I was a hopeless case.

I read with great interest - and admiration - Ann's goal of completing 100 paintings this year (read Ann's blog - Blue Bird Hill - here). Wow. 100 paintings. Hmmm... I wonder why I'm so hesitant to commit to a particular number of paintings in a limited amount of time. I've read enough times that quantity equals quality when it comes to art... in other words, the more art you make, the better you become as an artist. And I do believe that's true. So why the hesitation on my part? I shall give this some thought and see if I'm bold enough to commit to a painting schedule!

I'm starting on a new commission. The client wants it to match an early sketch I did (see that sketch here). It's to be more of a colored sketch than a finished painting. The actual image size has to be close to the original sketch, so I cropped the photo to get the required dimensions and moved some elements around for balance, even though there won't be much of a background. I've received client approval to go ahead with the sketch. The top photo is the cropped, rearranged photo, bottom photo is the original.

Now, if I can just remember how to use a brush, watercolor paint and my colored pencils!

Newspaper Column for January 2010

A Treasure Recognized... Finally

Each time I enter a Barnes & Nobles bookstore (coffee and books - how much better could it get?) I’m taken aback by the sheer volume of books. New books, old books, books for kids, books for adults and books for every age in between. Books on when to and why to, on how to and how not to. Books on every subject imaginable. And always, the colorful, heavily laden “New Arrivals” table introduces with great fanfare the latest tomes fresh from the presses.

The limelight doesn’t last long. In years to come most of these books, long forgotten, will take their place among thousands of others in musty-smelling overstocked used bookstores.

For all the staggering volume of words people write, most are very forgettable. Few works earn the honored status of being popular lifelong favorites, and even fewer stand the test of the decades or centuries.

In the early to mid seventies, influences from the sixties Flower Power era lingered on. During that time a little poem became quite popular, and posters bearing the verse popped up everywhere. The poem seemed to me to be closely associated with the Flower Power movement, with which I could not relate at all, so I pretty much dismissed it out of hand as vacuous hippie-inspired prattle. At the time I was too young and untried by life to appreciate such a work.

A couple of years ago I rediscovered the poem and found out how wrong I had been.

The poem is “The Desiderata of Happiness” by Max Ehrmann. Penned ninety years ago, it’s as relevant today as then. Since it was written we’ve become more technologically advanced, but taking a world view, we’re still dealing with the very same problems that have historically faced all people. Which is why the wisdom in this simply-worded poem is so profound, so inspiring, so practical. If I could live my life from this day forward following the principles so gracefully set forth here, I think I’d consider my life well lived. Below is the poem. Don’t skim it. Focus on what it’s saying; read it slowly and deliberately. Thoughtfully consider the truths it offers.

The Desiderata of Happiness

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

For such scarcity of words, it really covers a lot doesn’t it? No “here today, gone tomorrow” work, this one has firmly held its place in hearts and minds as the years have passed.

The truths it encourages: “Go placidly”; “speak the truth quietly and clearly”; “enjoy achievements as well as plans”; “neither be cynical”; “take kindly the counsel of the years”; and “be at peace with God” are even more enduring than the work itself. If we take time to cultivate these truths in our lives they will serve us well- for this year and for many years to come.
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