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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

one word paintings

Text, literally, a word drawn out of a hat, demanded the subject. Don't want to say too much! It was the lesson of the week. These are just a few of the 50!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A new painting

A friend of a friend was killed a few weeks ago and I was asked to do a memorial portrait. It is a tricky thing to do... I had never met the guy, and I only had some small images to work from. In the process I was drawn to learn more about the lost life... and it is life history on the internet. I learned of his accidental death because of a careless, rushed, driver passing on a double line... his passion for motorcycles, mountains, caves, nature, his surviving wife, his son... his heroic brotherhood in the police force... his youthful determination to serve and protect... his wide, often spell-casting, laughter. It is painful to think of his wife facing her days without him and I tried to convey that she would never be alone. He is behind her.
By the time I finished the portrait, I felt more honored than challenged.
Called Dave and Crystal, this painting is on 8 x 10 inch stretched canvas.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Repercussions of cultural exposure

Taking Michael to a Siempre Flamenco show was the equivalent of taking my sons to Cirque de Soleil. Usually, after an afternoon at the circus we could plan on making a trip to the E.R. for a broken bone, as Kent or Max would try to swing or jump or leap across distances that defied their training.
Last night the dancers at the Pinecrest Garden show hypnotized us with their stepping, stomping, their castanets, clapping, snapping, their wrist and arm movements, and the guitar wailing. I think the neighbors below us are in misery as Michael leaps and stomps across the floor, up half onto the coffee table and down. He can't climb the stairs without jumping crab like, and tapping both his feet in a heel toe rhythm. It takes forever and I feel neighbors coming to the door. He wants me to do the wailing and I would, if I could stop laughing.
Beware the hazards of inspiration.
Vicente Escudero- a famous flamenco dancer. Look at the shoes!!! Now where do I buy those tight high waist pants?
Ahhhh. Even I can get carried away. Inspiration. Siempre Flamenco. A great show.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Painting Ben

Since Ben's eleven hour surgery started, I have been applying paint to this canvas. He has survived with indomitable strength and will. Even though the surgery is over, and was successful, Ben still has to push through pain and healing and wait for further tests, more chemo, and radiation to be at rest.

Sometimes when I paint it is in a form of prayer to God. I call on angels to watch over Ben and his doctors, and picture green healing wings. From my vantage point in Miami I am surrounded by a regular pandemonium of parakeets. It seemed natural to see Ben in the birds. The palm fronds could be angel wings. Among the stack of debris at Ben's feet are the letters to "HOPE" which Ben clings to, and the exercise weights that define his determination, the doctors in masks to represent the medical theater he exists in, the skeletons to remind us of our bare bones and fragility and the colors of life. The clouds above his head have a silver lining, like all tragic moments must eventually reveal. I am so grateful for Ben's spirit, his capacity for joy and his parents nurturing care. My paint strokes, and my prayers overflow the edges of the canvas.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sculpture installed to honor legacy of aunt Lois

"Lois" a sculpture by Clayton Swartz, was unveiled outside the Lois Cowles Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts High School in Lakeland, Florida yesterday. A large multi-media abstract form, it symbolized the legacy of my mother's sister who died last June at the age of 78. According to a passionate speech by Lakeland's Mayor Howard Wiggs, Lois' lifelong contributions to the arts and youth and justice will not be forgotten.

Family lore has it that years ago, when the school was founded, they called my aunt up and asked for permission to name the school after her. She demurred. Then they said their next choice would be to name the school after a football coach. Aunt Lois quickly changed her mind and said, "name it after me!"

The school, a public charter with admission by audition only, has a great school motto: "better artists, better students, better people".

In an article in the Lakeland Ledger the following was best described about the sculpture:
"The three pillars represent Lois' commitment to her family, her community and to young people," Harrison Principal Daryl Ward said during the closing of the cere­mony.
"The upward reaching arch of the sculpture reminds us how Lois was never satisfied with the status quo and was always striving for a better world. The inside ring represents Lois herself, always colorful, high-spirited, her arms reaching out to embrace the pillars in her life.
"And finally the outside rings — red, yellow — symbolize how Lois' passion for justice and art connected all pillars of her life."
Her children and grandchildren under the shadow of "Lois". She must have loved the pink neck ties!

I am so proud to have this great spirit as part of my ancestry. She continues to inspire me and a lot of others. I like the ideal way she stood with such grace and beauty for what she believed to be important, for the needs of her communities far and near. She was beautiful inside and out.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Read my ellipse: lesson of the week

My classes cover a wide scope of lessons that can be practiced regardless of sequence because I have beginners and more advanced artists in the same class. My goal is about trying to get kids to see how circular objects contract and expand as elliptical shapes in space... so that they can doodle in restaurants, at the dinner table, and even in their math classes with accuracy. With skills like these they should be able to win over their enemies and wow their fans. ;-)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Seven Studio Packing Basics for Journaling your Vacation

1. A willing partner (helps to keep the drinks flowing, or to model, or to fill in pages as collaborator)
2. color pencils (I love Prismacolor brands... and bring a sharpener or a blade depending on TSA)
3. watercolors or gouache
4. cup of water or bottle top
5. glue sticks
6. paper and string, if not a bound sketchbook
7. a blade for slicing, dicing, collage and pencil sharpening...

Directions- start right away, while ordering your first beverage. Never know what you will see once you start to look!
No need to be picky about your subject matter, any detail, from the night sky to the glass in your hand will capture the flavor of your holiday.

Imagination and an appreciation for the detritus of any tours adds a bit of spice  to any journal. I found it relaxing and mischievous to tear holes, attach tickets, and add thought bubbles.

And Michael added pages... drawing some glorious sun goddess, and a view of our room as we caught the last night of Olympic couple skating on the television as the sun set.
Now that the holiday is over we have a keepsake to remind us of the fun times, the odd moments, and the fact that we really DID get away.

Painting my bahama mama

There are very friendly lizards in the Caribbean seas.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Carribean cruise here we come!!!!

Rolling out of bed and heading to the loading docks! Another perk of living in Miami. Sunglasses? Check. Novel? Check. Forget the cell phone!

We had a good valentines party at the Bakehouse Friday and it took most of yesterday to recover.