Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hope You're Enjoying the Leftovers

Pumpkin Pie
12x24, oil on canvas
We had a glorious Thanksgiving. In the truest sense of the holiday, all 20 'feasters' contributed food or spirits and we ended with a bountiful spread. Lavagirl picked up the torch her Grandmother always carried and continued a well-loved tradition of chocolate cake. Our now-sixteen-year-old Sharkboy has been making the pumpkin pies in our family since he was a kindergartener. He long since stopped needing my help with that project so this year I painted the pie. And doesn't it all -- the stuffing and the cranberries and the mashed potatoes -- taste even better two days later with a paint brush in your hand?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Searching for the Gravy Boats

Preparing the Feast
18x18 oil on canvas
Painting stripes again - this is a remnant from a quilt top my mother-in-law made that I found among her things recently. Luckily we're having a crowd for Thanksgiving - the perfect excuse to use a few of her fall decorations. It was challenging to get the fabric to "sit down" rather than float above the table and I didn't even attempt the fabric patterns fearing I would get much too tight and fussy. Now, put away those brushes and go rattle the pots and pans. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How Do You Spell R-U-S-T-Y?

Earning My Stripes
8x8, oil on canvas
email for info
After 2 weeks of not painting I can quickly see that practice, practice, practice is the order of the day. The experts say painting stripes is a great exercise in finding and relating values. It feels great to have a brush in my hand.
I want to say thanks to all of you for the care and friendship you've shown during these past weeks. Each email, card, visit, hug has been such a genuine comfort and we are blessed to be living amongst you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Passing of One of My Favorite Artists

The Homemaker
18x18 oil on canvas

A remarkable thing happened Tuesday – we lost two beloved family members. Mr. Right’s treasured great-uncle passed away about lunchtime and, by the following morning, we lost Mr. Right’s mother. These two were always very close. She was the daughter her uncle never had. When talking to other people, they referred to each other as Jean and John but when they were together it was Unk and Little Girl. She was only 67. He was 103.

From the time she and I met twentysomething years ago, we clicked. We had a lot in common, over and above loving her son. She was an exceptional combination of mother and friend – a twisted sister of the highest sort. There was never more than a pinch of the stereotypical mother-in-law-ness. She and I always had a pile of something – books, magazine articles, projects – we were saving for the other one. I loved it when she visited for a weekend – even better when she stayed a week.

She was an artist with a rare, natural sense of color and design that cannot be taught or learned. She sewed – everything from quilts to Christmas dresses to diaper bags to altar cloths. She could make lace. She was a talented mosaic artist and she painted anything and everything that didn’t paint her first.

What fun she and I had painting a set of bar stools together – they’re good-looking: Oriental rug colors with leopard skin seats and corded tassels draped on the backs. And the week we decoupaged the bookcases onto the door of Mr. Right’s “secret room.” And the days we spent setting up nurseries.

She was an artist in her home as well. A 1964 home economics graduate, she was the definitive resource on recipes, holiday d├ęcor, laundry, etiquette, the proper pairing of shoes and bags, and what one should and should not wear before Labor Day. She advised countless nervous brides for her church. She made Unk a batch of his favorite ginger Christmas cookies and packaged them in the same treasured box every year since…well… forever. I can’t dream how many of our phone calls began with me saying, “Now, how do I make….?” A visit to her home was always warm, comforting, and inspirational.

She was the family historian. She tracked the genealogy of every piece of furniture, war relic, cup and saucer. She was the type who could put her hands on the fabric scraps left over from Mr. Right’s 3-year-old Tigger costume. Give her 24 hours and she’d have them sewn into a quilt. She framed family photos and wrote the names and dates on the back. And so, it was no challenge this week to find the photo of her with baby Mr. Right shown in the painting. Nor the photo (left) of her, at 1 year old, with her beloved uncle – circa 1943. Via con Dios, sweet friends.