Art, not drama….

Dec 15, ‘14

Learning to make art rather than make drama from a heated imagination is a skill best learned early and practiced fully.

Julia Cameron


From Dec 12,’14


Dec 15, ’14

Cherries in Pussy Willow Bowl

Sunny today, and in the low 40’s.

The mailman has come and gone; the ‘check in the mail’ has yet to come….  Feeling quite uneasy….

Working hard to keep my mind in the moment, not allowing it to leap into the fearful territory of the ‘what if’s’.

I’m enjoying my morning in the sun, working the painting of the cherries in the blue bowl.  Albert is sleeping in a patch of sun on the floor.  Birb, the parakeet, is in her cage on a small table near the window.  She’s also enjoying the sun.

I’m listening to Rigoletto as I work.  This is one of my favorite operas because there’s not one song that I don’t like.  I have no idea as to story line and don’t understand a word the singers are singing.  What I enjoy is the sound of the instruments and voices arranged in music that evokes so much feeling and passion.  It’s calming as well as inspirational.

As much as I love my R&B and my R&R, I love other kinds of music as well.  Opera is one, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, another.  I also love Gospel and Soul, Disco…!

A few weeks ago I decided I needed a musical change so went online to do some shopping.  I found an affordable Mozart CD – a  ‘best-of’ – on *Bay for Ninety nine cents + $2.85 shipping.  I won the bid and it’s now mine.

The Rigoletto CD was not to be found on *Bay at this time, so I went to Am*zon and purchased it for less than $5, including shipping.  I would have been very happy with any old Rigoletto but as luck would have it, this one stars Luciano Pavrotti, whose beautiful, emotive voice was what initially attracted me to opera, many years ago.

I once had the good fortune to have seen Luciano Pavrotti, at the Hartford (CT) Coliseum.  His voice so strong and sweet, was so powerful it threatened to lift the roof off the Coliseum.  A quite elderly Katherine Hepburn was sitting in a seat a few rows behind me.


I’ve done much work on the cherries in the blue bowl painting this past weekend.  With Kleenex and Q-tip, I’ve taken off much of the original paint — as close to white paper as I possibly can.  In many areas that I’ve taken down, I’ve also built back up.  The work has kept my mind off my fears and woes and in a state of serenity for hours.

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Gloom and a Smile

Dec 11, ‘14

it takes courage to grow up and be who you really are.

ee cummings

Feeling a bit testy today due to having been rudely woken quite early in the morning for the past 3 days.  A check that should have been here by now, hasn’t come.  My mother is a constant & growing concern.  There was snow on the ground this morning.  Etc, etc…..

The weather today and the color of the light is nothing other than glum.  Had  sun been shining, my inner weather would still be glum.

Work to me, this morning, was Therapy & Meditation.  Once I set myself down in my chair at my table, it’s as if some outer force takes over my body and a part of my detached mind that knows what to do, how it wants to do it takes over and does it, and the rest begins to happen.



Gloom, Culvert St. “11 or ’12 BEFORE



The gloomy outlook of today is well matched in this painting from Culvert St, done I know not when.  It’s a corner of a house and a garage on the south side of my former home.  I’m not sure webn.  I think it was 3 or 4 years ago.

Today seemed a perfect opportunity to take advantage of this particular  light and intensify the gloominess of this painting.  I had to remove a great deal of built up paint, do some scrubbing with q-tips, allow it to dry and then rework the tints and tones.  I then worked on another painting while this one dried, before I went back to finish it as much as I have.


The Day Cindy Smiled, early Jan ‘12

An uplifting moment at a point in my life when the burden seemed heavy and sorrowful….

This was a time that actually was heavy and sorrowful.  Cindy’s brother had ALS and was constantly in our minds, hearts and prominent in our lives.

A friend of mine was having a show of photography in a town about 25 miles southwest of Torrington.  I wanted to go and invited Cindy seeing how this was a good opportunity for a mini-getaway and a change of perspective.  We decided to make an afternoon of it and go somewhere for lunch after we went to the show.

On our way to the show, we decided to take one route over the other.  The route we took was down into a valley and then up a series of winding hills with a spectacular view to the southwest at the top before going down winding hills on the other side.

All the way, we talked about our heavy thoughts and feelings.    Cindy shared that she felt it had been a long time for her since smiles didn’t come naturally – spontaneously!

Until we reached the top of the hills, we were in a gloomy half-light due to murky cloud cover.  Closer to the top of the hill, we were aware of more light.  As we rounded the last corner and approached the top of the hill, the cloud cover had miraculously dispersed.  Spontaneously, Cindy smiled.

We pulled the car off the road and into a field at the top of the hill to sit there awhile and take it all in.    It was an uplifting moment.  I did a small sketch, took a photo with my cell phone and later, did the painting mostly from memory, the memory of the day and the sketch.

This morning I added as much more Light as I possibly could, until it felt right to my eyes.  Hopefully a future viewer will find this combination of color and shapes uplifting in some way.

After we had the moment where the sun burst through clouds onto a field of yellow and dried grasses, our spirits were lighter and we set off to the show.  My friend’s photographs were wonderful, a photographer from a local paper photographed me and Cindy admiring one of the images, I encountered a friend I hadn’t seen for years, one I knew when I lived in Vermont, I saw other people I knew….  Whew!

After the show, we went to lunch.  By this time, our troubles are behind us and our perspectives changed.  We ordered lunch, we waited, talked about our time adventure of the show and people we’d seen – and laughed.  A few people came in the door and sat at tables near us.  A short while after they were seated, a gentlemanly appearing man got up from his chair and approached our table, wanting to say something to Cindy.

He said “I just wanted to tell you, I think you have a beautiful smile.”

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More Parcheesi and a House-warming gift

Dec 9, ‘14

I know not how such things can be;   

I only know there came to me

A fragrance such as never clings       

To aught save happy living things;              

A sound as of some joyous elf

Singing sweet songs to please himself,           

And, through and over everything,     

A sense of glad awakening.    

From Renascense by Edna St. Vincent Millay


Mood is a slippery thing and what it tells you cannot be trusted– but process can.

Julia Cameron


Dec. 9, ‘14

A blissful hour and a half of Mozart on CD, reworking more old paintings….

Today is in the low 40’s and all is wet from a huge rain storm that blew in overnight.  If it were snow…..  (I shudder to think….)  Earlier this morning it was cold; I watched cars and people slipping and sliding on the icy sidewalks and roadway.  School openings were delayed 90 minutes.  I planned on driving 25 miles tonight to see friends but am loathe to go as the rain, possibly mixed with snow,  is scheduled to continue through tonight, all day tomorrow and into tomorrow night.

I have yet to make my final decision but in interest of caution, am leaning toward “no”.



Parcheesi #4, Jan ’09 BEFORE


Parcheesi #5 AFTER

Leafing through the pile, I discovered Parcheesi #4, begun in Jan ’09 while healing from a leg injury.  I’ve given it a face lift using deep grays and increasing the intensity of light colors.  As I go further into the pile perhaps I’ll discover #3….  I’m still think of #4 as a work in process but am putting it aside as I think it doesn’t need too much more….



Parcheesi #5 (from a few days ago)


Parcheesi #5 After a few changes Dec 9, ’14

A few more repairs to Parcheesi #5….



Peaches in Blue Bowl Before


After a good cleaning with tissue and q-tips

As I’ve work on the paintings from the scrap heap I gaze over others that are spread on the floor around my chair.  This one has caught my eye several times and my initial thoughts on it have been that it’s too far gone into mud, I may as well scrap it; the paper is clogged with the hard-shell of glue and paint turned to mud I made by using a great deal of Burnt Umber.


There are possibilities of saving this painting, so I spent more than a half hour washing it down with tissue and q-tips.  It still has a dirty appearance but also seems to have possibilities of a ‘save.’

Back story on the bowl.  I’ve always loved this bowl since I first saw it in a store in Waterbury CT.  I was a bank teller at the time and usually lunched with 2 friends.  After- lunch window shopping was a favorite pastime.  One of our favorite places was a store that sold kitchen and dining items.  I loved the pattern on this dish and while I couldn’t afford this casserole dish I’d already started a collection and had 4 of the smaller bowls that matched this large one as well as a few matching coffee mugs.  I loved the blue glaze and I  loved the pussywillow pattern from the moment I first saw them

One day, after lunch, my friends and I went to this store because one of the women needed to buy a wedding gift.  I remember her questioning me about the bowl and why I thought her friend might enjoy it.   In my mind’s eye, I can still see her face and her serious expression as she listened to me.    She thought about it for a bit and then went on to purchase something else.

A few weeks later, friends and family threw a surprise house warming party for me and my (now ex and deceased) husband.  We were totally shocked and surprised when cars started filling our parking area and the sides of the street and it turned out to be family and friends bringing a picnic and housewarming gifts.  It was a wonderful party in every way.  One of the gifts was this casserole dish, from my friend Marie.  She told me she’d had it set aside the day we were at the store together and had picked it up later.  It gave me great pleasure that she had tricked me so and that she wanted me to be so surprised and happy.  I never use this bowl without thinking of her and the moment she quizzed me and the housewarming party so long ago.   The top has been broken, but I continue to use it with a hunk missing.  The bowl has seen many casseroles and shows some wear, but to me, it’s always beautiful.  I no longer recall Marie’s last name, nor have I seen her in many years but I’ll never forget her kindness in giving me this bowl.

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Pear, Shell and A. Getz

The longer you do creative work, the more you realize mood has nothing to do with it.

Julia Cameron

Dec. 8, 14  Noon:  22 degrees and cloudy. Not an exciting day, weather-wise.  Plus, it’s cold.



Pear, Shell and A. Getz AFTER



In the waning sun of yesterday, I started cleaning-up an old painting, one that was still taped to the board but which I never finished after I’d begun, or bothered to remove from the board.  I’m pretty sure that it was begun early in the Summer  of ’08, which suddenly turned out to be my last summer on South Lake St.**

In this painting is my dear old dish towel with the big blue checks and a thin yellow stripe in the white and gray areas surrounding the big squares of blue.  I discovered the towel on a rack at the supermarket and for some reason, it ‘spoke’ to me and I wanted it.   I bought it and I’ve used it frequently, since.

The pear was not artificial.  I bought it to eat and used it as a model until it ripened.  The post card in this set-up was one sent to me by The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT, advertising a show in a gallery at the school featuring work by Arthur Getz.

Arthur Getz was an artist I admired and respected and for a few years, had the pleasure of being his student in a watercolor painting class at the Washington (CT) Art Association.

From an early age, Arthur Getz was well known to me as an artist whose work was often featured on a New Yorker cover.  My mother, a dedicated New Yorker reader, has had a subscription to the New Yorker since she was a young woman.  Before she married and began receiving her own copies, she lived with her parents and read their copy of the New Yorker.  I don’t recall exactly what day of the week The New Yorker was delivered but I do recall feeling anticipatory on the day it was to arrive and eagerly waited to see each and every one.   Arthur’s covers were high on my list of favorites.

Arthur’s last New Yorker cover (#213) was published on Aug 29, ’88, my birthday.  I still have the copy that he gave me in the watercolor class that day.  I wish I’d thought to ask him to autograph it.  I didn’t know Arthur well and I didn’t know him long but when he was my teacher, we had some conversations about art and being artist that impacted me and I remember (and hopefully use) to this day.

I’m a life-long and dedicated New Yorker reader but being frugal-minded, do not have a subscription.  I get my copies from my mother when she’s done with them.  When I’m done with them, I leave them in a magazine rack in a nearby waiting room.

Arthur died in Jan, 1996.  I’ve paid homage to Arthur in one or two other paintings with postcards.  I started this particular painting because I so enjoyed the image created by Arthur that was used on the postcard from The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville CT that was showing his work so many years after his death.

I went to the show in Lakeville with Dan, who had also known Arthur.  Dan owned 2 paintings by Arthur; one an original for a cover and another, a large oil painting of flags outside the UN building in NYC.  The flags are multi-national — so multi-colored  — and were done with such skill, passion and feeling by the artist that the viewer can almost hear those flags snapping in the breeze.  I don’t know what became of the original New Yorker cover when Dan’s estate was divided-up but I do know that he bequeathed Arthur’s large oil painting to the New Britain Museum of American Art.  I’d love to see it again, someday though I feel it will be difficult to see it on view in a museum where it once hung in the intimacy of Dan’s dining room overlooking so many parties, dinners and other good times with good friends.

** whole other story….


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Bowl of Cherries and White’s Wood Barn Updaate

Survival Rule: Do it, don’t judge it.

Julia Cameron

Dec 7, ’14

Sun today!

And updates on the two paintings I started re-constructing yesterday.





Much of the background, behind the bowl and cherries,  has been pushed back, using a variety of grays applied with a very water wash.  The pussywillow pattern on the bowl has been defined and the bowl as well as areas in the background have been given a new layer of blue to work into.  I also deepened the contrast areas in the cherries and gave them more definition  by outlining them in a dark gray/black made from Alizarin Crimson and Viridian (Green).  I also spent a lot of time cleaning and softening edges with wet Q-tips as well as using wet Q-tips to lift ‘mud’ out of light areas.





The thickest paint on the barn has been scrubbed down and lifted.  The remaining green of the barn – shadow and light – has been given a very watery glaze of Cadmium Red, which, to me, has alleviated the greenness of the green.  The skyline was given the palest tint of yellow on the right, red closer to the barn.  The roof was given a thin glaze of Cadmium Orange.   All lines of the barn have been straightened and the forest behind the barn, especially in the roof area, has been more clearly defined, mostly by using a cool blue.  I added a bit more pure Cadmium Red to a few of the trees near the barn, which also helps to counterbalance so much green.

I’m much happier with these paintings, for today, although I still consider them Works In Process.  Happy Sun Day!

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A Bowl of Cherries and White’s Woods

Dec 6, ‘14

As creative beings we must learn, and therefore practice, patience.

Julia Cameron

A wet and rainy day here today with gray skies and 37 degrees a bit before noon.  A good day to sleep-in, which I’ve done.    A good day to laze about and have another cuppa coffee, and peruse the news on Facebook, which I’ve also done.

The light is so gray I decided not to apply paint to old paintings but to remove a few muddy layers on these two.  When they’re dry and some day when the sun is shining, I’ll do more work.



Cherries, Blue Bowl BEFORE



This small painting of cherries in a bowl on an embroidered cloth was done in June ’05, while I still lived on South Lake St.    I don’t remember much about the why’s and wherefore’s of this particular painting because at that point in my life, I always had a painting or two in process at the same time.  All of these items are familiar and have been used often in my work.  I still have the cloths and the bowl but the remaining artificial cherries are few because they were objects of delight to past and present cats who stole them from setups, played with them until they were lost under the stove or refrigerator and then stole the remainders in the same way and to the same purpose.  First Rollo and Fidel (who both died in ’08) and now, Albert.

The murkiness I see in this painting doesn’t show up at all well in the photo, but trust me, it was there.  I held the painting under running warm water in the kitchen sink and then wiped off much of the paint from the bowl, through the cherries and all the way to the top of the painting.  I didn’t touch the two cherries and the cloth in the foreground.  To dry the painting, I placed it in the oven, which is always warm-ish because of the pilot light.


Barn, White’s Woods Memorial Center, Litchfield CT, BEFORE



I don’t recall exactly what year this was done but I do remember that it was a day in early spring that was warm, sunny and without wind.  The grass was turning green and trees were sprouting new leaves.  There were bright yellow dandelions blossoming in the brown and green grasses of the lawn.  By car, this spot was 5 minutes from where I lived and I went there often, in all weather.  On this particular occasion, I brought a lawn chair and planted  myself in a sunny spot on the wide lawn seeing how there was no need to sit in my car to keep warm and out of the wind.  Because this is a large painting and would need a few hours work, I brought a thermos of coffee and my lunch.  I brought my Walkman and ear buds and a tape to listen to but after I placed an earbud in one ear, I didn’t turn on the tape, just worked happily, listening to Birdsong, which was rampant seeing as how it was an exhilarating spring day, seemingly for every living thing.  I often used my Walkman to make it appear as if I was absorbed in the music as that discouraged visits from passers-by from interrupting or startling me at a bad time.

There were blue birds at this spot on that day, there often were.  The first memory that sprang up when I came across this painting, was the bluebirds, the picnic, the sun and the scattered dandelions in the grass that I saw that day.

This scene is at the Center of the White’s Woods Memorial Foundation.  White’s Woods are to Litchfield and the surrounding area what Central Park is to NYC.

The barn was a problem that day and to this.  My perspective was ‘off’ and the sloppy application of paint made it worse.  What I did this morning to change the barn was to wet down the entire barn area with clean water, let it sit for awhile and then worked off excess paint with a tissue and a few Q-tips.  And a few more applications of clean water….

The next step is to let these paintings dry and then take on the task of fixing them to my satisfaction.

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Dec 3, ’14


“In Tibetan Buddhism there’s a set of teachings for cultivating compassion called mind training, or lojong. One of the lojong teachings is, “Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.” This means if a painful situation occurs, be patient, and if a pleasant situation occurs, be patient. This is an interesting point. Usually, we jump all the time; whether it’s pain or pleasure, we want resolution. So if we’re happy and something is great, we could also be patient then, and not fill up the space, going a million miles an hour—impulse shopping, impulse talking, impulse acting out.”

(Pema Chodron; From her book Practicing Peace)

Dec. 3, ‘14

Gray, foggy, wet and a penetrating 37 degree temp.  The snow showers forecast for yesterday afternoon and through the night was more like rain than snow.  Where I am, anyhow.

I made sure to get up early this morning so I had time to chip away at the growing pile of paintings in my work area.  Soon, I’ll need to get cooking and then pack the soup I plan to make, then get myself ready to leave to go to my mother’s house for lunch.  I’m making one of our favorites, Cream of Tomato.



Uptown Feb ’06 AFTER



I have little recollection as to the actual day I did this painting.  In the margin I’ve called this painting an ‘experiment’ but have no recollection as to what the experiment actually was.  I know where I was parked because of the angle of the buildings and because I know what side of the street they’re on.  I’m thinking that the day was a Sunday because the light in this painting seems to be morning light and because I also know that I had Sunday’s off from work and was free to go somewhere to paint morning light.  And because I’m parked on the side of the street where I’m facing the buildings, it’s a time of day when a parking space is actually available.

I’m fairly sure that I saw the Town Parking officer who patrolled the streets, marking the tires of parked cars with chalk, ready to issue a parking ticket in case that car was still there when he came back in 2 hours.  I saw him just about every time I was there.  He never chalked my tires when I was parked and working on a painting.  We exchanged pleasantries, sometimes I’d show him my work and ask his opinion, he’d offer a few encouraging words and then he’d tip his hat and was gone.

The Litchfield Green is a place that was always attractive to me, since I was quite young and went there on an outdoor painting adventure with a friend who was in art school and this was her assignment.  It was a wonderful experience.  We’d both been raised in the area so had been on the Green many times before but this day, it was if we’d caught some kind of euphoria and were seeing the Green with different eyes – the good, the bad, the ugly…. – and it was all wonderful!.  I think this experience was enhanced because we were both becoming more aware of ourselves as artists and saw so much around us with which we identified and wanted to use in our art to say what each of us needed to say.  So, perhaps I view the Green as a wellspring….

The most I can remember about this painting is that it exists because I needed to say something about these shapes and the color of the sky – or perhaps I needed to say something about how the color made me feel.  I know that when I was done adjusting the color, it made me feel great.

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