Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I love oranges

My first use of proper Etegami gansai paints.  Rich what the orange and yellow colors can do.

Friday, April 23, 2010

NEW url for this blog!!!!

This blog has officially MOVED to a new site:
I am able to eliminate the word "my" in the title.
So reset your link and join me. I have a new series of posts on Everyday Life is the Way.
Join me!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 4: My Chair

A few years ago I found myself struggling with back pain. Doing some research I found that IKEA made a sensible reading chair that supported the lower back while holding everything else in a comfortable way. We positioned the chair with the window light behind and the gas fireplace nearby for cold or rainy mornings. Sitting in this chair and having a cup of tea is one of life's deep pleasures. Currently I am preparing for a trip to Sedona, Arizona to study watercolor with Jeanne Carbonetti. Her style is wildly colorful. I look forward to learning how to play with color in an expansive way

Sitting in this chair returns me to my true self.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What are you grateful for?

This sturdy yellow bowl is today's object of respect. It comes from the San Francisco CAFE GRATITUDE. Rimming the interior of the bowl are the words: "What are you grateful for?" I uncover this query whenever I get to the bottom of a hearty bowl of miso soup or a rice bowl drenched in peanut sauce. (My husband contends that cardboard would taste good covered in peanut sauce.)

But I don't need to be at the bottom of a one dish meal to ask and answer this question. If you attend to life carefully it is hard not to be virtually overwhelmed with appreciation for the people and things of this world that serve us and make our own daily life possible and often, easy.

I've written about this in my book, Improv Wisdom in the chapter titled: "Wake Up to the Gifts." When we fail to notice the gifts it is likely that we are in the grip of our natural self-centeredness. When it occurs to me that "it is not about me" I am able to see how densely Reality is supporting me all the time. Cultivating an eye that looks at the world gratefully may be the single most potent vitamin for the happy and satisfied life. Even the stuff that drives us crazy can be torqued to reveal a gift.

I am grateful for so much. I am grateful for this moment when my eyes can see, when my limbs allow me to type, when my mind seems to be functioning normally and I can parse sentences. I am grateful to Google for the technology of the Blogger that allows me to put these ideas together easily and post them "out there" for anyone to see. I am grateful for the rain today which is helping the plants to grow and is washing off the needles of the pine outside my window. I am grateful for problems to solve, for laundry to do, for the time I have to reflect upon my life.

And, by the way, the Cafe Gratitude has wonderful food if you are in the San Francisco area. Stop in for a meal or to buy a bowl with the words: "What are you grateful for?" in the bottom. Or simply etch these words in your heart and let them appear when you look at anything carefully.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 2 The Volunteer Mimosa

The window directly next to my bed faces our neighbor's house. I usually sleep with the wooden blinds closed, opening them to let in the morning light. Recently I've been keeping both the blinds and the window open to celebrate my new friend, the Mimosa tree. The volunteer Mimosa tree.

The sliver of land between our house and the neighbor's house is only about twelve feet. We have a raised planter box along the wall next to our house. We garden in these boxes, although we aren't always attentive gardeners. The box below this window has been tended sporadically by Ron's sister, Joan. Two years ago we noticed a tiny Mimosa tree that had sprung up on its own. It was a happy little plant and both Joan and I remarked that we "should pull it out before it gets too big." Well, we never did and now, two years later, the tree is over twenty five feet tall. This is a second story window, by the way. And, as you can see from this photo it is a healthy, happy tree. Today we have high winds and rain, so our Mimosa friend sways and tosses itself. The trunk is extremely flexible and dances in the wind seemingly unstressed by the violent gusts of spring wind.

This tree made me think about the "volunteer" attributes/things of our lives that appear. I did not plant this tree. I contributed nothing to nourish it. Nature was at work "doing its thing" and this tree grew and grew. Now it stands outside my window to delight me and to provide a reminder of nature in the narrow corridor between properties.

How much of our lives are served by "volunteers"? I marvel at the tenacity of plants, weeds especially, as they break through a sidewalk to reach toward the sun. We try to control so much of life, forgetting that life may have its own ideas of what is needed, of what will grow well in a given spot.

Thank you, Mimosa tree, for your labor in growing tall outside my window.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 1 My Teacup

“Everyday life is the way.”

A wonderful PBS program on “The Life of the Buddha” reminded me of this central tenet of Buddhist thought: The path to wisdom is found in our ordinary activities, in the way we make our meals and fold the laundry, sweep the steps and feed the cat. I know this, and I forget. I want to live this truth and also to reflect upon it. Starting today I vow to spend some time each day to consider this.

I plan to choose an everyday object to start the conversation.

On this “Day 1” of my project I picked my favorite teacup. This cup was made by the potter, Sandy Kreyer . It is beautifully made, exceedingly strong. The enamel finish is thick and shiny. It is not prone to chip or crack and feels good as I hold it. It is a sturdy cup and deep. The hand painted design is lovely. Each time I use it filled with Earl Grey tea with milk and sweetener I can't help but smile. Such beauty arouses my pleasure. Form, color and function join to bring me a happy moment not only while drinking the tea and holding the cup, but also when washing it or hanging it on a hook in the kitchen.

There are so many objects in my world that stand ready to serve me and to delight my senses. I've never noticed the teacup complaining when I leave it dirty on the side table. It "lives" (if you will) to serve me. So it is fitting that I treat it with respect and consideration. It even makes sense to me to thank it. "Thank you, teacup, you are always there for me." And, thank you, Sandy Kreyer, for sitting at your wheel to make this cup.

Begin to look around and notice the objects that are "there" for you.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Half Moon Bay Library Art Show

Our Plein Air Painters of Half Moon Bay have just hung a show at the Half Moon Bay Library. I have four paintings on display.

Two of these are done in the "Judi Whitton" style leaving light and air around the paint and striving to allow the colors to mix on their own. The first painting is titled: "Orchids on the Porch". I took a bamboo basket of orchids and posed it on the porch wicker settee. The composition is interesting, I thought.

In the second bright painting "Purple Vase" (9" X 11") I was trying to see how dense I could make the color. One truth about watercolor is that the values are often pale and subtle. Inspired by an artist names Jeanne Carbonetti whose work is almost "day glow" in intensity I tried to paint and overpaint to achieve a vivid color balance. She recommends splattering as does Whitton.

Once a year there is a field near the high school that is flooded with yellow mustard. The hills behind are dark evergreens. The contrast is really striking. This was a Wednesday morning painting a few weeks ago
titled: "Mustard Field in Half Moon Bay."

Last summer my dear friend Victoria Labalme invited me to her family estate in the Adirondack. It was a magical week with a house party of the famous and talented. I was rubbing elbows with filmmakers, architects and writers. On one rainy day a glass vase of roses caught my attention. This small piece (7" X 9") titled "Eagle Nest: Roses on a Rainy Day" is the result. It was done with a Sharpie ultra fine pen and watercolor.