I had a thought at about 3:00 this morning which might help you if you are trying to find your one true love.
It's been a long month over here at Castle Teel. Nothing unusually tragic, just a lot of stress from our "real job" at our handyman business, complicated by the usual stuff. This month has been the first time in a long time that we've both just wanted to give up, except that there's nothing to give up on, no easy escape.
We've got a really good marriage. Which helps. Which is a lifesaver.
And that got me to thinking about the idea of a "happy marriage," which is a totally misleading term. There's no such thing as a 'happy marriage.'"
True love does not mean having an easy life and living "happily ever after" like in the fairy tales. You'll still have bad days.
Sometimes the days will be bad because you will still be two individual souls with your own thoughts and feelings, with your own goals and desires, with your own individual ways of communicating.
But at other times, the bad days will come simply because life can be incredibly hard.
I have been fortunate to know several couples with very happy marriages, and although their love brings them joy, it does not bring them an end to suffering. They still experience tragedy and heartbreak just like everyone else.
I've seen couples weather addiction, deployment, the loss of a child, poverty... on and on.
So why get married? Why take all that risk of heartbreak, if your life will still be painful and difficult?
Because some day, if you are very very lucky, you will have a true friend who is with you every step of the way. A friend who does not desert you in times of suffering, but walks beside you, picks up your burden, and helps you carry it a little bit further.
Which is all a way of saying, Thank you, Arthur. I still love you more and more each day.
Oh, I'm such a romantic at heart, so I just adore this painting.
It started out like this:
(Forgive my bad photography, but sometimes when I'm painting, I'm so into what I'm doing that I'm lucky just to get a terrible snapshot.)
For some reason those romantic leaves reminded me of this famous album of lithographs by Maurice Denis, which is called simply "amour." He made them in 1899. I particularly love the blue cover.
Now that I see them together with my picture, they don't have any resemblance at all! I think I just had a similar mood in mind. And so with the letters drawn, I pondered what technique I could use to add a soft blue background. (I was thinking of the white spots of the roses in the "amour" print.)
I remembered a technique which I've read about, but never tried: drops of rubbing alcohol to repel the paint in places.
What an effect! I liked it so much, I made it into a bag and a phone case!
And of course, you know the painting is named after the famous line from my Hollywood boyfriend...
(Oh Bogie! Do the soulful eyebrow thing. Yeah. That's what I'm talkin about.)
This picture really does remind me of the movie Casablanca and all the rain in the characters' memories. I just want to gaze through the window, smoke a cigarette and brood about Paris. You know what I mean. Here's lookin' at you, kid.
It's time for a new political party in America: a party that eschews all political policies. And I don't just mean that we should drop out of the national discourse. I think it's time to stand up and defend the increasingly radical idea of political moderation.
With that in mind, I propose the following
The Radical Moderate Platform
If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself.
I preach to myself more than anyone else. Let's get this party started!
I was looking at this painting and wondering what to call it, and it seemed to me that it sort of floats tentatively in the air like a mist. It almost seems like it's not really there. And that reminded me of the way a soft whisper makes you question whether you really heard it.
The five-petaled rose is like a cherry blossom, which seems fitting since this series is inspired by Japanese crafts. The cherry blossom or sakura is a common symbol in Japanese art. Here is its meaning as explained by TV Tropes:
Cherry trees bloom en masse in early spring, usually in the month of April, but the white-to-coral petals shed and rot very quickly and the peak bloom is only a week or two. There is a celebration called hanami associated with the peak bloom, which often entails picnics and drinking with old friends under the cherry trees.
Well, that just about fits the mood of this painting, doesn't it? Romantic, yet fleeting...
So maybe you're wondering how I got this look. I mean, I didn't paint all of these little dots by hand!
I had a secret weapon at my disposal: my handyman husband gave me some of this special mesh tape for finishing drywall. It made a glorious stencil.
See if you can find the paintbrushes palette notebooks martha stewart magazine actual art (which only gets a corner of the desk) ink water painter's tape empty bottle pencil sharpener greeting card with a bunny rabbit knitting needles felt flower ball of yarn bolt-nuts pen nibs makeup (because this is also my dressing table) irrigation syringe (so handy for watercolor) seed packet tubs of paint pens compass ......
Clearly I need to declutter or something. Unlike this perfect room, which is the sort of place I imagine for this painting ...
Really serene art is so comforting, isn't it?
If you read my last post, you know I had a grim week, but this morning I woke up feeling great, and not to brag or anything, but I got nine hours of sleep! So I am back in the saddle again and ready to share some beautiful art!!
This one is really elegant, for once. I don't usually think of my stuff as elegant. Other adjectives usually spring to mind, like happy twee joyful wow is she on drugs?
(No, she isn't, for the most part, in case you were wondering, unless you count herbal tinctures. Because who needs drugs when you have art?)
But I digress.
This painting is based on arashi shibori, which is a style of shibori that's done by bunching or tying fabric around a pole, then dying it in indigo dye. If you really want to know how it's done, check out this excellent video by Ana Lisa Hedstrom. (Opens in new window.)
The technique results in long, beautiful watery blue lines. In the Japanese tradition, it's often done at an angle to suggest driving rain, but in my piece, the vertical lines are more like rain running down a window pane.
This piece looked good right from the beginning, and the wavy lines were so beautiful that I could have stopped halfway. But I didn't.
Since I'm feeling more cheerful, I didn't want to name this one after rain, and the blue stripes reminded me of ribbons, which reminded me of presents, which reminds me that love is a gift that we give to the people around us, and which we receive in return.
Read this if you ever ask God WHY? because maybe this will help you.
Me and God have been duking it out.
Because hey, I'm all about LOVE and LIGHT and HAPPINESS but on the other hand, sometimes we need acknowledge the reality of life sucking.
I've been carrying a lot of guilt over not being well by now and over having gotten sick in the first place. I blame myself for every misstep I take. I've been feeling like it's my fault for not figuring it out and fixing it!
But two nights ago I realized that I know a drug addict who does everything wrong, and has nearly died of an overdose, but is in better shape than me in some respects.
And I said, "Hey God, I wasn't so bad! No worse than anyone else I know! Why is this happening to me?
"I WAS A BEAUTIFUL BUTTERFLY, God, so why did you pull my wings off???"
And I realized that bad people who do bad things are doing them because they have incomplete information or poor resources.
I felt forgiveness for every human, including me. Including the worst. Because who am I to judge them? Who knows what kind of crap life has thrown at them?
As Jesus said on the cross, "Forgive them. They don't understand what they are doing."
That led to more thoughts:
Then I started crying and my dog and my husband tried to cheer me up.
And I understood a little better. Everyone is suffering, and we all have a choice:
Either suffer alone, or support one another and ease each others' sufferings. And maybe be happy together sometimes for awhile.
Is there a good and omnipotent God? I like to think so. I'm holding out hope! Because when I read the Bible, I see one message over and over again: help one another.
Not out of guilt...
not out of shame...
but because out of all possible choices, kindness is the best choice for a good life.
If you have never seen the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," please go do so immediately! ;-) Then you will understand the source of the title of this painting. Or you could watch this clip. (The famous bicycle scene!!)
Paul Newman, you are almost as handsome as my husband. You'd do in a pinch.
ANYWAY... where was I? Oh yes, art.
In high school, when I was first learning to draw, I was fascinated with mud puddles. (Ha! I almost typed "muddle puddles" there, which is a good phrase. Could it be a band name?) I loved the ripples they made when I stepped in them, and the little ripples which raindrops make. I drew several mud puddle pictures back then, so this painting is a bit nostalgic for me.
But I didn't start out with the idea of mud puddles. I started out with the idea of using a hexagonal metal bolt (which I swiped from my handyman husband) as a sort of stencil. But when I lifted away the bolt, it left a circle instead. So I went with it.
I love the way the rose stayed so pure and bright against the soft denim blue of the background.
Speaking of denim, this painting goes with everything, just like a good pair of jeans. I love it!
This is my first post that's going out as a newsletter, and I know I should be talking about art, but here's something beautiful for you instead!
This was happening in my front yard, all over the place! Butterflies everywhere. (Yes, I took this picture. I feel like a National Geographic photographer. Where is the "smug" emoji when I need it??)
Every year I wish I had a great big flower garden and then I mope around about my fatigue getting in the way.
But then August comes and the wildflowers take over and the butterflies come out to play and it's like God said, "VOILA! Wish granted!"
I filmed it, too. I love the part in the middle where the bee is bumbling around in the jewelweed. Here's a direct link in case the video above doesn't work: Butterflies and Bees.
So that is all... no art for now... but I hope this bit of Nature has brightened your day. It certainly inspires me to paint!
This is my first piece in the new "Shibori Amori" series, and I'm already loving it.
As I've explained before, shibori is a traditional Japanese method of dyeing fabric, usually with blue dye on white fabric.
A striped effect like this one would be achieved by folding the fabric and clamping it between wood blocks, like this:
Only the edges that stick out would be dyed, although the effect is sometimes softened by the watery nature of the dyebath.
But since this is a watercolor painting, that's not how I did it! I painted the stripes onto paper, naturally. And first I laid down some calligraphy, which seemed appropriate since this piece is inspired by Japanese art. Here's a work-in-progress shot, with a bonus sneak preview of my next piece:
In fact, the calligraphy in that rose is what gave the piece its name. I like the relaxed curves.
I'm really liking this blue, too. I love me some bright colors, but this blue is so restful. The stripes remind me of a duvet I had once. It makes me want to chill out and maybe take a quiet nap. (Possibly because I had insomnia last night, but that's another story!)
Could you use some rest in your life? If so, take another look at this one. It might be just right for your bedside table.
Sometimes I ask God the "hard question:"
Hey God, if You're so great, why do You allow suffering?
(I've been asking that one a lot, groaning aloud at 5:00 in the morning after long sleepless nights.)
My interpretation of the Bible suggests that the answer is that we humans can't hear the complete answer to that question, because we're too limited to understand it. If we could answer that question, we could answer every question. It is the essential question.
But we get a few partial answers, like these beautiful passages from 1 Peter 5:
13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
So the answer is to trust. Trust that God knows what He is doing. Lay yourself in His hands.
When I finally did that, I fell asleep, surrounded by a feeling of love.