Limitations

September — ahhhhhh….. The Sainted Scarlet Emperor Beans have already given me 3 beautiful seeds and there could be more, depending whether frost is lurking around the corner. Yesterday, thinking about freedom, I thought about limitations. As an artist, I find liberation in limitations. Maybe that’s a paradox, but the limitations tell me what I can do, what is possible. For now I have abandoned the Rainbow Girls in Wheatland Wyoming, 1957 because I don’t know what it is. I can’t see it any more. Maybe I will see it down the road (ha ha). I hope so because I really love the idea, but I’ve learned not to force anything. Moments like this are as important as moments spent painting because sometimes you just DON’T KNOW.

And I don’t know…

Limitations are directions. It’s like a maze. If you hit a dead end here, you go another way or you stop and reconnoiter. A long time ago, after I’d had my one person show in Denver, and I felt that, for then, I was done, I started doing linoleum cuts mainly because I was terrible at it and there was only so much I could do with linoleum. I had been inspired by seeing Picasso’s linoleum cuts in the National Gallery. It was fun not to have any sense that I could possibly do well. Ironically, I kind of did do well, but it was a different kind of doing well. When I came back from China I did some more (featured photo) and cheated a bit (features on the baby’s face).

But right now my limitation is I will soon be having house guests, one of whom will sleep in my studio, so the challenge is to renegotiate the space so there’s somewhere for him to sleep.

In Covid news, it seems that the hip problems are really gone. THAT was a long battle there. 2 1/2 months, but this is fine. It’s in time for all the important things — fall cranes and later, if it snows, Langlauf.

R-e-s-p-e-c-t

Just now I was packing up a painting I just framed — not one of my favorite paintings but it has some merit and some people like it very much. So, if I get a chance to exhibit, I will exhibit it. As I packed it — knowing I’m not crazy about it — I thought of how I honored it anyway. I tried something and had joy in the attempt. That’s a WHOLE lot, and, out of my not-very-large income I provided materials for it to exist.

Then my mind wandered to an open show I hung a few pieces in last year. I respect my work very much and I respect the work of other people. I can’t judge what goes into their work, but I can’t imagine it’s anything less than goes into mine. This is irrespective of whether I like what they’ve done or not. As I struggled with the painting to get bubble wrap between it and the sides of the box it hit me.

I really hate being disrespected. Doesn’t everyone?

Last summer when I went to pick up the paintings from the show (a three hour drive each way) the people who ran the museum/gallery/school whatever it was said, “Oh yeah go get your stuff.” I had carefully boxed each piece and left the boxes there assuming that they’d take the show down and put the work into the boxes and get ID from the artists coming in to claim their work. None of that happened. I would have done that, at the very least brought the boxes into the gallery for the artists — but maybe I was the only one with a long drive? I don’t know. I certainly would have ID’d the people who came in to be sure the paintings they were taking belonged to them or they were representing the artist? Maybe I would’ve thought the work was shit, but that would have been irrelevant. I would have felt that the facility owed the artists respect if for no other reason than that for 6 weeks they’d had a show with no effort on their part.

I was angry.

I thought today also about my “friend” Perla, the talented fabric artist. Sometime in the next couple of weeks Colorado Central Magazine is going to run an article about her and her work. The article was my idea and I thought, “This is great. Perla will get publicity and I’ll get to write an article. The timing is perfect; right before a fiber art festival in the town of Salida where the magazine is published. Perla participates in that show.” I queried the article, got an OK, interviewed Perla, wrote it, sent it to Perla to review, and I submitted it. It was sent back for “more personal” stuff.

Then…

I got Covid and my brain hurt a lot; I suspected I was contagious and my ability to focus was registering in the negative numbers — if that’s ever measured. I texted Perla and told her what the magazine wanted but also said I wasn’t up to another interview. I asked if we could do it in writing. Sure no problem. I sent her questions (6 or 7) three weeks before I needed the responses. She immediately answered, “Good questions. OK.” I never heard anything back. I thought, “Well, she said she liked the questions and would get back to me. I’ve already put at least 8 hours of my life into this. This is for her benefit. Why should I chase her down?” I didn’t care much at that point (as I was still sick) if the article ran or not.

Then, the magazine wrote and said, “We really want that article.” I pondered contacting Perla again about it and decided not to. Why?

I felt totally disrespected. Because I want the byline, and I hate leaving things unfinished, I did research and a rewrite. All is well, and Perla will get the publicity, but she’s lost a friend.

But respect. I’m a ridiculously gullible person, and I don’t notice these things quickly, but when I do? How do you deal with this kind of thing if it happens to you? I won’t deal with the gallery, but a friend?

I’ve also realized (today) that what has disturbed — disgusted — me most about Old 45 and all of that still going on is his and his followers’ total lack of respect for our government, for the people in this nation, for institutions that have made this the world’s oldest continuous government (it is — our government existed before anything anyone would call American culture), disrespect for education — everything. It’s personal to me just as the disrespect shown my work by that “gallery” and my “friend.” I realized today that the reason I used to beat up the kids who beat up my brother was that; they did not respect him. Wow. 70 years old and now I know the Red Button of Martha Ann Kennedy.

Teaching People To Draw

I can’t. I’ve tried, even making “educational” videos to demonstrate the process, but nothing has ever succeeded in teaching anyone to draw. I couldn’t teach the kids (though they would draw if we played the drawing game — an important message about how to draw which is forget you’re drawing but never mind). I haven’t been able to teach anyone else. These efforts and these failures led me to remember my college drawing classes — probably the only formal drawing classes in my life. We did everything; blind contour drawing where you look at an object and draw it without looking at your paper to see if you’re getting it “right.” Value drawings where you only draw the shadows, no lines (which is valid since stuff isn’t made of lines). All this was just unfathomable to me, but I did it. The classes I liked best were the timed gesture drawing in life drawing classes which were just a naked person on a stage and me with a giant news print pad and a timer. The goal was to capture the motion and the life of the figure without getting every line in each eyebrow. These are normally used as warm-ups but for me they were the whole point. BUT there was ONE class where I learned something about how to draw. I can share this method, but did it “teach” me to draw? I can’t say it did, it just made me a better human being.

I was standing very close to a piece of drawing paper using a number 3 pencil to draw a couple of tiny figures. My teacher stood behind me and watched, then, utterly frustrated, she ripped the pencil out of my hand and said, “Wait!” She returned with a little can of black tempera and a can of white tempera and a 1 inch brush. “Now DRAW!!!” She didn’t say anything about how, she just told me to do it. Then she said, “Get some decent paper.”

That was a life changing moment. Everything I needed to learn as an artist happened right then and there. Risk it. Risk something. Risk certainty. Risk control. Risk. I felt a sense of freedom I had never felt before and I never lost it. In that moment, even though I could draw already, I had the key.

I’ve thought about why it’s so hard — impossible? — to teach. Now I think it’s inside each person, talent, maybe (I don’t know what that is) and the drive to represent the world in images (I believe it’s a drive), but more; the willingness to pick up a large brush and risk. In my teaching attempts that’s what I’ve seen. I think a teacher can teach technique and the use of materials, but somewhere in there a person has to be ready to risk something. I can’t even explain WHAT a person risks because I’m not ever risking anything. To me the danger has always been not doing it. That’s the risk. I WILL get stuff wrong. I have told my “students” “Don’t worry about making mistakes. Just draw. Look at what you’re drawing and draw.”

Completely useless, unconvincing instruction.

I look at the work of some artists and see they are not risking much. I can see that in the fact that their paintings — beautiful paintings — are feats of technique. They know how to do what they want to do, and they do it over and over and over. I respect that. Other artists push against something and I hope I’m one of those. Is it better? No. It’s just…

The other day Ancestry informed me that based on my DNA I’m 60% more likely to take risks than other people. My first thought was, “That’s fucked up. Risk taking isn’t a DNA thing,” but then I thought, “Martha, what do you know? Maybe it is.” There are people who are reckless risk takers (my brother) and there are people like me who take different risks, more measured risks. One thing I could never understand about my immensely talented artist brother is why he would risk himSELF and sacrifice the possibility of making art. Pondering the differences between us I make a division between recklessness and risk; counting the cost.

I choose. One day in the mountains of San Diego County with two dogs a couple of women stopped me on the trail and asked if I wasn’t afraid to hike alone. “There are mountain lions up here.” I knew that but I figured the greater risk was missing out on a beautiful autumn afternoon hike. We all die, anyway. In my mind, solo hiking was not dangerous, but it was. I also figured my dogs were decent insurance against a cougar; at least they’d warn me. Here are the dogs who were with me that day. Ariel, my wolf dog, and her little Aussie/Chow sidekick, Matilda.

So teaching drawing. I tell my “students”, “Don’t be worried about getting it wrong. You will get it wrong.” I think for many of them it’s a risk they don’t want to take. They might take risks in other places, but not there.

I’ve been working on the Rainbow Girls in Wheatland Wyoming for more than year now and I still don’t have it right, but what difference does it make? It will matter when I start the real deal because I’m not using a forgiving medium like oil paint, and everything I’ve had to buy for the project has been expensive for me. Money is probably the biggest risk here.

In art, what you get from making mistakes is knowledge. To draw, a person has to fuck up. There’s no other way to learn. It is a risk.

I’m kind of happy to know that there is a DNA contribution to this, though I’m sure environment has a lot to do with it, too. Do I think it’s a good thing? I don’t think it’s good or bad, but it is informative.

Eureka!!! (More on the Rainbow Girls in Wheatland…)

Ballet Practice, Edgar Degas

Having a “Covid Day” — no energy, lots of hip pain. Decided to see what I could learn about using pastels (in my case, Conte Crayons) over gouache. I found this ^ 😃. What an affirmation! It also has some similarities to the composition of my painting — not the same, but not totally different. Kind of a mirror image.

Then I watched a little video about “how” and it’s just as I thought, and the best part was the lady ended it, “I wanted to show you just how fun it is to use pastels with gouache.”

Degas’ use of pastels has always amazed me [ I suck at them (but maybe I’m learning?)] I read about the shop where Degas’ pastels were made then saw it on a Waldemar Januszczak documentary. It’s still there. “La Maison du Pastel” You can read about it here. Here is their online shop.

Artist Brains…

One of the ideas of God I got in American Baptist Sunday school that I loved as a kid was that God made — carved? — each one of us individually for a purpose. However and whatever we were, we were meant to be that way and, therefore, worthy of respect as God’s handiwork. That is a beautiful notion and I’m not sure I ever fully let go of it.

Over the last few days I’ve read some interesting articles — one came my way accidentally and the other I found more-or-less on purpose. The first dealt with the role of gossip in human interaction; the second dealt with research into the “artist brain.” The two articles — actually more than two — shared as a theme the idea of belonging.

I don’t like gossip. I’ve seen it destroy organizations. It destroyed the artists coop to which I belonged soon after I first moved here. The article explained that gossip is not all bad because it’s a way humans have of establishing identity, belonging and territory, in other words, establishing who is “us” and Who is “them,” a way of reaffirming bonds. Somehow that all seems obvious. I read the article not so much out of a feeling that I needed to learn about gossip, but because it showed up on Social Media and I’d just attended a tea party where gossip was a primary feature. I understood what was happening (the “meta” message?). We hadn’t seen each other in a month or so and were catching up, not only on the news, but on “us.” As I read about gossip I thought, also, about social media. It’s brought the whole gossip mode of human interaction to a new place, given it a new importance, and it threatens the stability of this nation.

The other article(s) I sought brought me some pretty disturbing information/speculation (not sure). I began thinking about “Rainbow Girls in Wheatland, Wyoming, 1957” more than a year ago. Maybe even seven years ago when the memory wafted through my mind and captured my imagination. I wrote about it here “Going to Billings with Hank, Mom and Kirk.” In that post I wrote about the wonder of seeing Aida performed in Verona. The scene in Wyoming has been like a friendly splinter in my mind.

Anyway, the articles were about research done into the minds of visual artists. Apparently science has found differences between artist’s brains and, uh, other? normal? brains. Two basic differences came out in the articles. First, and most disturbing, is a chemical similarity between the brains of visual artists and schizophrenics. Second, there is a structural difference:

In a study published last year in NeuroImage, researchers looked at the brains of art students and non-artists using a brain scan method called voxel-based morphometry. This type of scan helps scientists look at specific brain structures, and the images from the brain scan look like this:

1-s2.0-S1053811914002237-gr2

When the brains of the individuals in the two groups were compared, it was discovered that artists have significantly more neural matter in the parts of their brain responsible for visual imagery and fine motor control. Specifically, those who were better at drawing had more grey matter in the precuneus of the parietal lobe. Unsurprisingly, this region has been linked to creativity and being able to manipulate, combine, and deconstruct visual images. There were additional increases in grey and white matter in the cerebellum and the supplementary motor area, both involved in fine motor control.

Source

There’s also the old song about being an artist and being mentally ill. I read just one article (didn’t want to pursue it) on this topic saying that new “discoveries” connect the brain chemistry of artists to the brain chemistry of schizophrenics. The voices told me not to go into this too much 😉

The popular perception of creative thinkers and artists is that they often also have mental disorders—the likes of Vincent van Gogh or Sylvia Plath suggest that creativity and madness go hand in hand. Past research has tentatively confirmed a correlation; scientific surveys have found that highly creative people are more likely to have mental illness in their family, indicating a genetic link. Now a study from Sweden is the first to suggest a biological mechanism: highly creative healthy people and people with schizophrenia have certain brain chemistry features in common.”

Source

The title of this article is, “The Mad Artist’s Brain: The Connection between Creativity and Mental Illness.” Well that sets it up…

It’s been “proven” that artists have higher rates of mental illness than do “normal” people, but is it a result of their brains or is it a result of the objective challenges artists face in society that non-artists don’t? Is it the result of the way non-artists respond to artists which, I can tell you, is a little strange or, worse, the way artists often respond to OTHER artists? No amount of friendly gossip in the world is going to make artists “belong” with all of these objective obstacles.

I laughed to myself then I thought, “What is it that makes people curious about this at all? Do we smell weird or what? Why is it even interesting? Why am I even READING about it?” At that I took my “extra” gray matter into the kitchen and warmed up left-over enchiladas.

We might not fit in even with excellent gossiping skills; we might smell weird or something, but damn. Without visually creative people I think our world would be greatly diminished. Being an artist is not a pathology, however much science might like to study “it.” Among all the bizarre “determinations” of “science,” they’ve also determined that we can’t help it, which is good. First, our “weirdness” gives the “normals” something to worry about and to keep them busy, and we give the world new ideas, paintings, sculptures, innovations, and visions.

What Do I Paint?

I’ve been thinking about this since my friend asked me, “What’s your obsession with reality?” First, everyone has an opinion. I have opinions, too, about what artists paint, but generally I keep them to myself because there’s something behind every painting that I cannot possibly know. Second, what moves a person — person A — might not move person B. That’s obvious.

What a person sees in a work of art can change through their life, too, depending on who they are, how old they are, where they are in that moment, their mood, their physical health, biases, expectations, education, good god…

One of the paintings that moved me most deeply is a fresco panel I saw in Milan. I am pretty sure it was painted early in what is known as the Renaissance. It’s a painting of Vulcan. I am the first to admit there is nothing spectacular about the painting which is why it was in one of the many storage/display rooms that exist in the Pinacoteca in the Sforza Castle. But it said everything to me. Besides being a nice painting, it was painted mostly using green earth. Why would Vulcan be painted with so much green? I have no idea. Maybe the artist had a lot of it? But I saw in that fresco (the first one I’d seen in very close range) how magical it was to paint with dirt on plaster — gypsum, crystals, basically. Dirt came to life. I had not yet been to fresco school and had no idea that I might go someday. But colors — where they came from and how they worked — fascinated me.

I went back to see Vulcan I think three times while I was in Milan. Other paintings I liked during that long peregrination in that fantastic city??? I can’t even remember them all. It was beyond description and if I’d gotten what I went to Italy for? I never ever would have had all that — and before 9/11!!!! ❤️

Well, for a long time most painting was religious art. I’m OK with that. Painters need to eat and God is worth the time. Some of these paintings were just paintings, some of them were more than that either spiritually or because of the world they showed. Sometimes their paintings said, “This is what I see in my life every day.”

I like those paintings. They are offerings across time, letters in bottles. One such painting is in Verona, Saint George and the Princess, a fresco by the Italian painter Pisanello. It’s in the Church of Sant’Anastasia. It’s very difficult to see in the church because it’s way up there near the ceiling, but it’s a world. Who’s world? St. George’ world? No. Pisanello’s world (and some fantasy??).

St. George and the Princess Pisanello


I have tremendous respect and gratitude for these messages in bottles. When I was writing Martin of Gfenn I spent a lot of time looking at a copy I have of a medieval book of hours. These are books for meditation, but the most beautiful ones (usually commissioned by some noble person) have scenes from daily life painted around the meditations. And why? To me this is beautiful — because the person who owns the book isn’t in Heaven, but in the world. There are seasons, and within the seasons particular necessities — harvest, boar hunting, apple picking, spring flowers. These books were little gifts to me from past centuries. “Here, Martha. This is what we saw in our time in our world.” OUR world because now I’m living in it.

I paint two things; landscapes and self-portraits. The self-portraits have been labeled “expressionistic.” And, they are a little odd. I thought about them all as a (so-called) body of work the other day and realized they are all about seeing. Every one of them.

The first one is about seeing what’s out there. I’m wearing my all time favorite Halston wrap dress given to me by a friend in the 70s. The shoes are red heels. The sofa began as an experiment to see if I could paint velvet. The panel all this as on? A failed painting I wiped off. The flowers, bunnies, all that, is straight from a medieval tapestry. When it came together it was a big surprise to me. Until I moved here and hung it on my living room wall, I didn’t know what it was.

The second is before seeing everything I saw in Verona. It is me in a hotel in Munich the night I arrived, so tired that I went to sleep before I even knew it. A couple of days later, I got on a train for Verona where I stayed a month. The light from an Indian restaurant across the street was coming in the window. The name of the painting is Danae. Danae was one of the women Zeus raped. He came to her in her sleep, raped her, and left behind gold. There is gold on those sheets…

The third is me looking for something in the gigantic grave that is the earth. The strange part of this painting is it IS the Refuge, but I had not yet ever been in the San Luis Valley and the new plants coming up from this vast decomposition are — BEANS. If you look, it’s the same landscape as in my newest crane painting. The fourth is literally me looking in a mirror, but with a twist. I’m holding my cellphone to take a selfie. My phone cover looks like a watercolor set (it does) and I painted this with oils. It’s a little arcane, but I was amused. It’s a representation of a representation of myself. It was fun.

There is a lot of symbolism in these paintings but it was all accidental. I was, “Huh? Where did that come from?” Painting activates, involves, the unconscious. I guess that’s what gets people all jazzed about finding “hidden meaning.”


Seeing is not that easy for me (for everyone?). First it’s mechanically challenging. I’ve worn glasses since I was five. And, one of my eyes has a condition called “asteroid hyalosis” which means it has all sorts of gunk inside. You might remember when it looked like I’d need retinal surgery because my eye doctor couldn’t see into that eye to see if there was a detachment? I have to look OUT of that eye. I think most people get floaters over their lives. Just think of an eye that is MOSTLY floaters with a few little windows of clarity. It’s no biggie for me, but it sure freaks out eye doctors. Second, seeing what’s in front of me — maybe for all of us? — isn’t easy. It’s a discipline, a quest. Seeing a landscape, even photographing it, is, for me, incomplete. Painting it is seeing it. If — as I have a couple of times — I inject myself into a landscape it’s me seeing me seeing the world.


Putting a person into a painting changes it. It gives the painting an “actor,” and that opens a whole world of stuff to people looking at the painting. I realized that when I started the tree painting which was originally going to have my friend not me. But at the moment I started it Covid started and I realized that if I put her into this painting, it would become not her looking at a tree which she absolutely LOVES — and we go visit it from time to time — but my friend looking off into a scary unknown, an infinite, dangerous, horizon. If it were Bear and me? It would no longer be a scary painting because this is where we go, what we do, what we love and share with each other.

I also know that this kind of landscape — even as a photo — scares very urban people. I’ve been told and I’ve witnessed it with my friend Pietro (who lived in Zürich and grew up in Bari) when we were in the wilds of Arizona, looking for a ghost town. He found himself in the middle of nowhere and was terrified. “Ho paura, Marta, per favore, torniamo a Tombstone, ti prego.” For Pietro, tombstone was great. It was a town he’d been in love with from movies, but the REAL Arizona? It terrified him. I remembered how I felt the first time I was alone on the convoluted streets and lanes Zürich old town. Avuto paura. We turned around.

One of the things I like most about nature is that I’m not the boss of it in any way shape or form, so painting nature (my obsession with reality) is a record of my surrender. They are also “religious” paintings in their way, or my way. I cannot know what will happen when I’m out there except for a few simple things like the shoes I wear, where I go, who goes with me, if I have water, something about the trail. Once anyone is ON the trail the trail is the boss, friend, ally, challenge. OK, this is less true about the gravel road I walk at the Refuge but still true. The trail is itself. Since most of my journeys into the natural world have been solo (with dogs) I’ve had the chance to fully be wherever it is I am. Dogs enhance that because of their complementary senses.

There’s a self-portrait I would love to paint, but I don’t know how. It’s me on a single track on a sharp rocky hill with my dog Truffle. We’re being dive bombed by a red-shouldered hawk. It was a crazy moment. Wondrous and scary. Of course, we got out of the way. Maybe the hawk’s baby had somehow gotten on the ground? It could have been that it had dropped a prey animal and didn’t want my dog to get it. Red-shouldered hawks are noisy when they hunt, too, so no way to know. If I paint it, it will be because I saw it — but the painting will say weird shit to people who haven’t been there. I imagine it painted from an angle above the hawk, but not that far above the hawk. From the height of, maybe, a second hawk.

Another is me and my wolf-dog, Ariel, staring eye-to-eye at a mule deer doe in a thicket from a distance of about 18 inches. How that happened? It was a cloudy August afternoon, cooler than usual, I’d just finished reading Riddley-Walker which is a fascinating, mesmerizing book. I wanted to get out, so Ariel and I headed out. The novel was still filling my mind. We took a narrow trail across a hillside, turned a corner, and saw the doe. She took off. For some reason, I decided to follow Ariel instead of her following me. It was an interesting walk and a little iffy (rattlesnakes, but…). After many twists and turns and odd stops there we were, looking at the doe who had hidden in the sumac (lemonade berry) bushes.

I know that if I paint these they will change from landscape to something else because a figure will be in them. It is not then “This is what I saw.” It is “This is me seeing what I saw.” When I paint I am conscious that I am offering my eyes to the person looking at my painting, like the wonderful artists who gave me the 13th century book of hours. People who buy my paintings (if I meet them) usually say things like, “I’ve seen that!” I love that. What a miracle to see something. What a miracle to share a vision.

Is every painting trying to “say” something? I don’t think so, but every painting will, even if it’s “only” (ha ha) “I saw this.” Some paintings hit us over the head with their symbolic meaning. Others are (god forbid) just “pretty pictures.” I’m pretty happy painting a pretty picture, honestly, I’m grateful that (so far) nothing has inspired me to paint Guernica. Or Dada, which I love, (and the reasons behind it)and have made several pilgrimages to the Cabaret Voltaire in its honor, but I’m grateful nothing in my world has driven me to represent anything like it. I’m no revolutionary. I’m just a person with a paintbrush alive on this planet with (finally) time to paint.

Renoir once said, “For me a picture has to be something pleasant, delightful, and pretty — yes, pretty. There are enough unpleasant things in the world without us producing even more.” Renoir suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Painting is a kind of medicine for me, certainly. I have a friend who’s a painter, but now he’s blind and he has rheumatoid arthritis and STILL he wants to talk about painting more than any other subject so we do. I describe everything to him. He would rather hear my paintings than not know them at all. He gave me my first (and so far only) big canvas. This is what is on it. It is a Sandhill Crane walking among some young willow trees. It’s 4 feet wide by 3 feet high. It represents a sandhill crane walking among willow trees. I saw this. No one else did. No other human was anywhere around.

“creative expression is not just a means of getting attention, although some have approached art that way. think of art as a way of connecting, of sharing your insights with others.”

-nita leland

Quotidian update 4,021.a.iiv.$

I don’t know if I outfoxed the fox, but I’m happy to say, I got my old WP plan back. I think they probably reasoned that $48 is better than nothing. Of course, when I thanked them, I got a response advising me to add an automatic payment to my new/old plan. Sometimes I find our brave new world entirely too helpful. So much coaching, so much advice. A gracious, “You’re welcome” or “our pleasure. Thanks for your 10 years of loyal whatever!” but no, “Here’s how to give us your money.” 🤣 Meanwhile, I now have a lot of room for photos.

I reasoned similarly yesterday when I ordered more notecards. The company had a deal on, I set up my order, priced it with shipping against what I can reasonably expect to charge for the notecards. It’s a 30% profit so I went for it. I’m such a minuscule retail producer (is that a thing?) that 30% is $20.

That said, life is small windfalls like that in an economy like we have today. Yesterday I got 40 cents off a gallon of gas, and gas has gone down in price a little bit so it was a boon. I’m clipping store coupons (electronically) and driving less. It’s fine. I’ve been here before. Times like these sent the Good X and me to California back in 1984.

I watched the most recent January 6 hearing. I think things are just going to keep getting weirder (ha ha THAT’S an easy prognostication). In a way, I felt that the two witnesses were saying what they knew they should say, but maybe? I don’t know. Life in these untied states in the past — well, almost a decade now — has made me very skeptical about what people say. Having heard so many lies I mean, seriously? But (as with WordPress and my puny $48) it’s not to their advantage to lie, so why would they? The dumb guy from Ohio’s story was sad, but? As a result of his involvement in the insurrection, he lost everything. As it should be, but still sad. The other guy. Wow. I haven’t even been able to totally wrap my head around his story (I kept thinking of Squeaky Fromme for some reason) — as I listened,I thought, “Why do all the weirdos go to Montana?” thinking, of course, of the Unabomber. I remember how my best friend in CA was worried every time I went “home” for Christmas because (in her provincial mind) only weirdos like the Unabomber lived in Montana. I was constantly trying to explain that it wasn’t true. A wide variety of weirdos lived in Montana and they weren’t all like the Unabomber, but she never got it.

A small laugh for you from my Facebook. I ordered a few copies of Shit, Fear and Beauty for the museum who decided that the word “shit” meant they shouldn’t, no, seriously, I mean? The money was going to the museum, but whatever so I had all these copies. I put them up on Facebook for friends if they would pay shipping. Because of Covid the whole thing was delayed. I mailed them this past Monday and posted this. I love my friend’s response. I laugh whenever I think of it. Now you can, too

Introvert’s Lament

It’s been a busy few days with lots of human contact working to solve problems.

Friday I spent the morning in the museum helping the new director edit a slide show so it would reach people more effectively. Yesterday I spent the morning with my friend Perla doing an interview for an article for the Colorado Central Magazine. I like people, and the people I spent time with over the past few days I like very much. I believe in the projects we were working on, too, so everything was wonderful. But afterward I was utterly exhausted.

As a “reporter” I have a goal which is to write an article people will want to read with the possible ancillary goal that Perla will have success at the upcoming fiber festival in the town where the magazine is published. To me that means I need to depict an interesting person who does beautiful work and sells it.

The last two years have shown me how much people like knowing the artist behind the picture they’re looking at. I’ve sold two paintings based on someone’s momentary attraction to a painting followed by a story — one told by a fellow artist to the customer who then met me, and the other because I lost myself and started telling the buyer about the pigments behind the paint. The stories and contact with me sold the paintings.

It hit me that the colossal fascination with Van Gogh — whose work is brilliant and beautiful — is partly based on stories about his life. People “know” Van Gogh and they feel sorry for him and, in a way, want to make up to him for the suffering and slights he endured in his life. Of course, to ME Theo is the victim there, but… Same with Frida Kahlo. The stories behind her life bring out something good in people. Great artist? IMO, no. But what a story. So…

So I’m off for what I hope is a quiet day with (godwilling) a walk at the Refuge. Thunder for the last two days made that impossible. Bear endured and Teddy didn’t care. I discovered with Bear that staying near her and being extra affectionate seems to keep her calmer. OK. Like that’s hard. ❤️🐾

Featured photo: a detail of one of Perla’s creations, a long scarf

Creating…

The Scarlet Emperor Beans are creating my summer garden, and they are doing it with passion. These hot days (88 F/31 C) are just what the beans love most. And I? Well, I don’t love the heat but (as every summer) the initial shock is over and I begin to adapt, I know I’ll be shocked when fall arrives and the first cold nights. Then I’ll just be happy.

Meanwhile…

I’ve read a few articles about what makes a person creative. They seem to take one tack or the other. The first is that “everyone is an artist.” No. I’m not sure I know what an artist is, but I know not everyone is an artist. To be an artist, a person has to make art which, right there eliminates a lot of people. As for what is “art”? Another wormhole I don’t want to crawl into, and who cares? The second tack I’ve encountered in my reading is that creativity is the ability to solve a problem with the resources at hand. Yes.

I’m tangled up in a painting right now, and I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m doing it. Why? I started it. That’s one reason. The studio is the coolest (in all senses) room in my house (north side). I’m fascinated by the struggle. I started it in a way I only started one other painting, and that painting was a lot smaller and the argument for the underpainting was more legitimate than with this painting. The light in the painting is the strange, unfiltered, angled light of late winter which gives the feeling that one is walking on shadows. There’s also the sense that the earth — the dirt under everything — is thawing, about to wake up for Nature’s Great Beanfield. When I began the painting, I had a strong sense of that. So I took out my trusty Natural Pigments and painted dirt with dirt. It’s set me up for a different kind of painting than I’ve ever done, but I think I like it fine, so far. Besides, who really cares? THAT is, I think, the bottom line for anyone doing creative work. If the artist cares too much it won’t happen; it’s paralyzing.

That’s been my experience in attempting to teach people to draw. I’ve had so many friends who want to draw, but who are afraid they will get it wrong. It’s a conundrum because in a lot of other subjects we learn the emphasis is on “trying hard” to “get it right.” I think creative work is a little different. Technique matters, but I think it’s secondary in the learning process. Primary, I think, is joy, the way kids have fun drawing and painting. There is a potential internal reward to any creative work, and that’s the pleasure of doing it, even if it doesn’t turn out the way you (think) you want it to. And this one? Well, I still can’t say…

After today’s work (6/11/2022)