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Posts Tagged ‘Painting in Realism’

Once, through a totally insane decision, I was involved in rehabbing a house. The only good part of rehabbing a house, is burning the scrap wood when you are done. The worse part of rehabbing is when you are stupid enough, or desperate enough, to live in a house while you are rehabbing it. There is absolutely nothing exactly like listening to a table saw eighteen hours a day. Thank God!

 

The tenants had moved out of my house; taking the interior doors, cabinets and water softener with them. I don’t even want to know what they were doing with them. When I called her to inquire into her health and what I thought she could do with it, her response was, “Just try and find me.” 

 

The insurance company told me that someone had to live in the house to insure it and I didn’t intend on returning to Indiana for six months. A young man needed a place to stay and was (Ha! Insert me laughing insanely at this point.) going to pursue a life in the building trades, so might prove helpful in exchange for a free place to stay.

 

The problem with this was, well, EVERYTHING! The boy was lazier than mud and he was totally insane. He got up around two in the afternoon, and would walk in the room, would hip chuck me out of the way, and grab whatever I was holding to make it look like he had actually lifted a finger to help. He obviously has a problem with women because I was the only one he physically pushed/shoved, told filthy jokes to and laughed at. I have since started lifting weights and it will never happen again.

 

An hour later, he was off to a class, which he was most likely failing, as it took him six years to complete an associate’s degree. I was going to help him once with a problem he was having in class and asked to see his text book. He told me he didn’t buy them because the teachers all told him that books were optional and you didn’t have to read them. I guess, that is why education is so expensive. The publishers are able to sell books the professors never have you read.

 

When he arrived home from evening classes, he cooked himself a meal which consisted of cooking the vilest smelling wine poured over what must have been rotten hamburger. And, the above, lists the good points of having him live in my home.

 

His stay in my home ended because he had taken to damaging the stuff I worked on. This led me to believe that the kid had some type of mental problem and one of us had to go or the other would end up in jail. 

 

 

His damage consisted of: I finished mudding the bathroom and the next morning someone had taken a flat head screwdriver and dented the ceiling in numerous spots. Since there were only three of us in the house, I was able to isolate the cause. There was no way that was an accident, nor was it an accident several days later after I finished sanding drawer fronts, and stained and applied urethane to them, only to wake up the next morning to find a nickel size, deep gouge out of one drawer. It was right in front, of course. I could never have missed seeing that.

 

By this time, I figured the kid was just plain mean and stupid. Other things were damaged, but the final straw happened as he was moving out. I had sanded a door down to fine grit, stained it and applied urethane to it. It was ready to be hung. Since it was the front door, I had been extra particular with it. We were outside seeing him off. I went inside to crack the champagne I was going to celebrate with when he left, and there, on my beautifully finished door, was a line of black marker from top to bottom.  Luckily he had driven out of the driveway already, thus saving me from a murder rap.  

 

When a rehabbed house you are living in is complete you have the joy of sitting around, in a near empty house, and waiting for your realtor to call. The good part is that it is much easier to keep a nearly empty house spotless. The bad part is that there are a lot of hours after that and only so many relatives you want to visit. I purchased paints and canvas, set up a still life and painted. The odor of solvents is not the odor you want people to associate with your house when they have a decision to make between one house and another. That is when I began to take my writing seriously.

 

I had read every Mystery that the Lake County Public Library stocked during the remodel.  I often found myself saying, as many writing inclined people do, “I could do this.” I did. It needs some major work, but at the time Eleanore Taylor Bland, critiqued it at A Dark and Stormy Night Conference in Chicago and gave me the name of her agent. They were not interested. I did so many things wrong, from plot to final edit to critique letter. I was so excited, I didn’t take it seriously enough. 

 

The house sold. We drove back to Wyoming with money in the bank and began looking for a new house. The first property we viewed was fifty-three miles down the road, twelve miles down gravel and three miles down dirt. I got out of the car, let out a deep breath of air, for the first time in years, and listened to the sound of silence. No table saw in sight. It wasn’t the property we could get but I took out my camera and my soul thanked me.

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Thursday in Chemistry of Photography was a day for making prints without a camera.

 

We used Nature Print paper. Nature Print Paper – BLICK art materials shows a sample of what the end product looks like.  This requires only the sun and found objects, including negatives, to create designs. Using the darkroom, we placed found objects on the paper and then exposed them to the sun. While some students were doing this, others used my enlarger to create photo-montage images by placing objects on print paper, exposing and developing.

 

This is a good lesson in design and what makes a good picture.

 

Friday was a good day to have fun using up any extra developer and fix and have. We did Chemistry Photographic Painting.

  

Designs can be painted right on photographic paper with developer solution, stop bath and food coloring.

 

 Chemistry painting image

It’s a good idea to set up several separate trays at different stations. I was using 5X7 print paper so I was able to use a lot of small trays. Painting with fix can contaminate the Developer, so I had developer trays that were labeled “developer only.” These were at the sink and students were instructed to do a quick wash of their print, or at least let it drip off, to get rid of excess fix before developing.

 

They used q-tips, string, shish kabob sticks and any number of items to paint with water, developer and fix on their print paper.

 

Painting with fix causes a white image against a dark background. If you immerse it in clear water before developing, it will cause grays to blend into the black background.

 

There was one last experiment though, after their photo painting was exposed, developed, stopped and fixed and with a quick wash.  We mixed one tablespoon of food coloring to sixteen ounces of water. Then dip the print briefly into clear water to take off excess hypo. Paint the color on or dip it but let it get a little darker than the intended shade.

 

This was a very popular day and a great way to end a fantastic week of Chemistry of Photography

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I grew up with a small black and white picture of my Grandmother Parker as proof positive we had Native American heritage.  Unlike earlier generations, who felt the need to deny being Native, my mother was proud of this photo.  It was said that Grandma Parker was a daughter of Quannah Parker.  My mother has the love of all things Native, so it was natural I would turn to painting Native Americans.  What was not natural for me, was to paint deceased children.

When I began oil painting, I found that my love was painting people. If I would have had the money for models, I would have painted the nude human form exclusively. Since I needed to stick to clothed forms, I began accepting commissions for children.

The problem with painting children is that, in the economic circle I have floated in most of my life, the only commissions I was getting were in the $300 range and were people who wanted to remember their children who had passed away. At first I felt as if I was doing a service. After a time, it just became depressing.

The final straw was the woman who came to me with a snapshot. Her sons face was the size of a dime. He was a cute little boy with freckles and buck teeth and ears that stuck out. She requested that I give him a Heavenly background, an angelic smile without the buck teeth, and please pin his ears back. The heavenly terms kept coming and I knew this woman was not ready for this painting. It would not bring her son back and she would never be happy because it would not look like her son; even if I could paint it from that size of photo.

My two years of pre-law, and ten years of law office work kicked in and I drew  up a four page contract. Giving me say as to when the painting was complete.  I took the sign down and dedicated myself to painting Native Americans and Revolutionary recreationers. 

I traveled coast to coast, marketing my art work for many years.  I loved the times I exhibited at Native “Pow Wows.”   I exhibited at an inter-tribal school in Bismark, North Dakota and did some things with schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation. 

At the Bismark Pow Wow, I sat up my display and went to move the van (a normal thing for a show). When I turned around I saw a sea of cars. There was no way I was going anywhere, even if I wanted to, till the Pow Wow was over. We were treated like family. Another vendor brought us lemonade shake-ups every few hours.  We purchased typical fair food. One man had come up to my booth several times a day and stood in  companionable silence. The last day of the show, he was in his dance clothing. He took his full eagle feather headdress off and asked if we would please watch it. It was a great honor.  I was also given red-heart trade beeds by the Chieftan, and, my memory being what it is, I cannot remember his name.  But, they are my most valued piece of jewelry.

It was a wonderful weekend, sleeping in my van, going to sleep and waking to the rhythm of the drums. That is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. 

I have always had a sign on my booth. “I PAINT WITH RESPECT. Should you see me photographing in your direction and you do not wish me to, please tell me and I will make sure not to. If you do not mind, please talk to me and I will send you copies of any photos I take with you in.” People would come up and give me photos to keep and paint from. Rarely was I asked not to take a picture, but I always honored that request.

If you treat people with respect, they will treat you with respect and the world will open up for you.

 

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I spent several days at my oldest daughter’s house last week.  I love education/learning, and  could be a full time student. So, I was very excited to attend my daughters “Master of Education” graduation ceremony at Notre Dame. She actually received her Master’s degree from Indiana University but the pomp and circumstance was at Notre Dame. The trip was my mother’s day gift to myself.

I love solitude and the four hour drive was great. I listened to one CD Cannonball Adderley’s finest hour, and drove in silence during the rest of the trip.  I am the kind of person who needs quiet time. I disappear during family reunions to recharge. The amount of noise produced by a room full of people is incredible and I sometimes think my head will explode if I don’t get away. I’ve always felt that I would thrive at the top of a mountain by just sending my work down. It should speak for itself anyway.

The solitude of my childhood may have contributed. My brother was six years older, and my sister did not grow up in our home. We lived semi-rural, with a farm behind us and empty lots on each side. TV was a constant. One of my favorite things to do now, is to turn off the tv, the minute other people leave the house. I do love movies though and Sharon, my daughter, and I spent the time together watching “chick flicks” and knitting.

Knitting is a new passion for her. Her teaching partner got her hooked and she is determined to do it with perfection. I take a bit more of a relaxed attitude with knitting. It is a hobby. I am perfectionist in my painting, and make many things I do more difficult than they should be, but have found out that you may see every imperfection, but others don’t usually. It doesn’t stop me, but I try. At this time my daughter  has four tiny needles surrounding the opening of a pink sock. She gave me a sock kit for Mother’s day. I usually knit sweaters. So, I strained my eyes with my new book, needles and fantastic yarn.

The yarn is varigated and I love the colors. “No” I answer my daughter, “I do not care that one sock is starting blue variegated and the other is starting more green.” (As I said, I am not a perfectionist. Intentionally, not. We did go visit a yarn shop and it was a feast for the eyes. I love colors anyway. I begin my paintings with washes of pure color. When I was “on the art circuit” and painting ten or more hours a day, I would be talking to someone at a reception but my mind would be painting their face. “Hmm, a bit of Thio Violet here and a shadow of green there.” I have been told that other people do not see these colors in flesh, but the world is a riot of color for me.

And, one more thing, as long as I am rambling. My daughter’s sixth grade “gifted” class has done some reviewing of my young adult novel. Good reports so far and some wonderful critiquing. My daughter has also made some suggestions and I was able to come home with a new idea to add to the book. Thought of, during the quiet moments in my car.  Hope you all take a few moments of silence to recharge your brain.

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