Sunday, August 31, 2003

Life has been good. I advertised some goats for sale in the newspaper, and sold two today, as well as arranging a barter for another, and it looks like the others have buyers lined up, too. It's a relief, since I really didn't want to send them to the sale barn. When you do that, you never know who is going to buy them and what sort of life they'll have.

I just finished another painting- this one of three plums. I'm not sure why, but I'm having a difficult time blending one area of color into another. It's not that it can't be done or that I cannot do it, but it doesn't agree with me much. Plums don't generally have broken color, as would say, a peach or nectarine. The colors in a plum flow smoothly and subtly. Not my plums. Oh well. I like them. It seems that I've blended and gradated colors in watercolor before..,maybe not much though. I tend to break the subject down into shapes dictated by the color areas and natural lines, and then fill these in with solid colors. They make have slight variations in tone, any more than that is broken off into another fragment. Anyway, I like the plums. They've got personality, more than the actual fruit did. Which remings me- painting fruit is almost as bad as painting cyclamens! It doesn't move and twist, but it *does* change color, appreciably, from day to day. I'd expect this from a banana, but never before realized a plum did it until I looked, carefully, at the same three fruits over a weeklong period. By the end of the week they were hardly the same, because the shape changes too as they ripen and soften.

The lady at the library really wants me to bring in my art so she can take down some of the other stuff. ;^) And, my friend found a horse trailer I can use to haul the goats to the fair in. Yeah!

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Well, I've got about a gazillion things to do. There are goats to tattoo and clip before the fair, as well as other preparations in that arena, a chapter of a book that I got drafted into assisting into editing-the deadline is sometime soon, a very banal piece of cross-stitch that I owe as barter, and the list goes on (and on, and on, and on, like energizer batteries). Therefore, what am I doing? I've been painting. Yeah, been painting up a regular storm here. I actually like some of it, too. And I don't think I've felt suicidal even once in the last, what?, four or five days. And that, my friend, is progress! No, you don't need to call the funny farm for me. For one thing, I'm fine right now. For another, melancholy seems to be a normal state of mind at least part of the time, or maybe I've become accustomed to it. At any rate, I've lived until now with it, so.....

About the paintings- most of the recent work is fruit or botanical. There was a library book sale last weekend, and we bought up a _lot_ more books. More on that later, perhaps. While there, I checked out the art that is displayed there, as well as the library books in that vein. The art on the walls is for sale. Some of it sells for upwards of $150, which surprised me. I mean, this is rednecksville! To behonest, the work was of that genre. Which is to say, it tends to be trite and shallow, without much depth or thoguht into the subject. Some of the artists have their technique down better than I do. I only started oils this year, and being self taught, it's pretty much trial and error for me. Apparently these artists have a club, as the quilters have a quilt guild (which I'm still part of although I hardly ever quilt these days), and they display their art in the library and local businesses and sell it. There is no commision taken and there is a high turnover- most of the work gets sold! (This is truly incredible to me, having seen the work. Sorry, but it's the truth.) I'm going to have to look into this further.

Other, extraneous thoughts: I wonder how other people think. How do their minds work? It's become apparent to me that my mode of thought isn't at all standard. For example; a single thought or subject can (and often does) torment, niggle, and weigh heavily upon my mind for days, weeks, even months or years on end. People tell me to 'quit thinking about X'. Huh? Quit thinking? How do you do that? The only easy way for me to quit thinking about one thing is to adopt another, different thought, and the new thought has to be pretty captivating. Then, I'll think about that for a long, long time, wear it out, and move on to something else, or mull over one of the old subjects again. What do other people think about? Do they not concentrate on one or two subjects? Their minds simply flit from one thing to another, never delving deeply into any of it? Do they *think*? Or do they react to whatever external stimuli they encounter throughout the day and that's all? Wouldn't it be sort of annoying to surrender one's thoughts in such a way? I mean, I react too, but only if it seems more important than whatever is on my mind, and even as I'm reacting, my mind is likely to still be churning over some interesting subject while my body deals with the humdrum everyday stuff. Ahhh...introverted thinking. Absent minded professers are not at all absent from their minds. Absent from conventional reality, perhaps. But who gives a damn about conventions, anyway? Not me! ;-)

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Music- Today I painted a peach while listening to this song. It's perfect, the song that is. The peach turned out well too; nectarines are OK but they can't even approach the passionate luciousness of a peach. I love that song, it expresses everything so perfectly- the wistful, breathlessness of it all. :sigh:
Where was I? Oh yeah; so that was what I listened to earlier. Right now it's this. I can certainly relate to _that_. Sometimes I think we've been led astray and ripped off by our culture. I mean, maybe love is a pipe dream that most of us will never realize for any appreciable length of time. Perhaps if people weren't brought up with stupid fairy tales and hopeless ideals, they'd be better prepared for happiness in the real world. It could be asserted that the problem has to do with so many children growing up in broken homes and longing to find healing and fulfillment in a mate; however the truth of it is that even at the beginning of the last century, it wasn't uncommon for one of the parents to die due to various reasons, and of the ones who did have two parents, who's to say their life was actually happier than the average single parent child today? The fact that these fairy tales have been around for so long tells me the idealized love isn't a new fad, yet I still maintain that our culture weights love too heavily with too many expectations that it can't even begin to fill. Companionship, for example: if you can't be close friends with someone before falling in love with them, why in the heck should it be assumed that hormones will result in a friendship? And there are all sorts of other considerations and criteria necessary if a long term bond is desired. OK, so maybe I'm cynical. Whatever. Unfortunately for myself, I do still believe in love (Hey, yet another Elton JOhn song). It's just that, to borrow a line from another of his songs: "Tell me how does it work? How do you make things fit? Spent all my life trying to get it right, I put it together and it falls apart..."

Monday, August 18, 2003

Current mood? How about a weather forecast: Severe storms culminating in hell and despair through Thursday and Friday. By early Saturday morning the storms had abated somewhat and the skies remained darkly overcast with frequent showers of anxiety throughout most of the day. Saturday evening showed us a few lightning strikes and thunder in the distance. Overnight, a northern front moved in and the temperature dropped resulting in cool, clear resolve throughout most of Sunday. Forecast for the next few weeks: the cold front is expected to remain for some days with a high probablity of ice storms. Preperation and precautions for this are advised. As the cold front and severe weather recedes, we expect to see partly cloudy skies turning to mostly sunny after several weeks. There is a possibility of more hellstorms around that time, but currently it is too soon to tell.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Finished the nectarine painting. It isn't perfect, but succumbing to the temptation of overworking a piece tends to ruin it completely. The essence of the idea is there, which is what counts (I guess). The other oil painting, the one with the tree, may have to wait a while longer. I want cerulean blue for it, and can't get the color locally. I could settle for lightening up the cobalt blue, but it wouldn't be the exact color I want, so i'll wait.

I've reconnected with several old friends/family members in the past week and a half. It makes me feel profoundly depressed and lonely; they have so much feeling and richness to their lives, and here I am like some sort of an emotional retard. I mean- they gush, they've missed me, one of them had been 'mourning' for me, and what do I feel? Very little. It's hard to know how to respond to that sort of thing, but it does make me feel guilty. I try to think of the people I do care about enough to really miss (more than momentarily), and I can count them on one hand or less. It's true that there's a depth there that could be missing in those who have many connections, but who am I to determine or compare that? Can one go through life like an android or the Tin Man? Sometimes I don't like myself very well. :-/

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Full moon tonight, and meteorites, too. I'm getting tired of the banner ads here. They're boring. Let's see if I can change them: Renew rational thought process! Revolutionary breakthrough proves herbal formula causes impotence! Jungian type tests show that there aren't nearly enough NT's in the world, and altogether too many extraverts! Self help manual for over sexed INTP s! Ancient formula for love and aphrodiasiac capsules has been proven to be as ineffective as we all suspected in the first place! MBTI and IQ analysis indicates intelligence can be a contraindication to romance! Better than viagra! Meet sexy nerds now!!!

Let's see...did I miss anything? ROFL.... I get such a kick out of spam even as it annoys me. There must actually be people in the world who fall for it, or it wouldn't still be around.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Well, it's 1:21 AM and I'm still up and only moderately tired. The pony arrived today; he's quite small but very gentle. I don't think it'll be any trouble at all to train him. I cycled into town, got groceries, and after dinner and milking started on two oil paintings. One is of a tree/landscape, the other is a large nectarine. I used to think of nectarines as sort of androgynous, but I've revised my opinion of them. They're quite sensuous fruits that simply get overshadowed by their very female sister the peach. They've got a little more acidity and firmness to them, too. Maybe I could actually grow to prefer them to peaches. Perhaps.

Random thought for tonight- when people feel driven to fulfill societiy's expectations and demands, why do they do it? Do they feel obligated to do so out of duty? Who defines these epectations? Consensus. Why would anyone want to live that that and how can they bear to do it?? If they want to do XYZ that's fine, but simply to do it because everybody does XYZ and that's the way it's done? What do they have to look forward to or to strive towards? Why don't they ever question it? Are they afraid? Or merely complacent?

My dad always told me I had to be conventional. I couldn't do it and never actually tried...He used to say that wherever I went, it'd be the same, that people wouldn't accept me, that I'd have to jump through hoops and do things the normal way. Being stubborn, I had to try to prove him wrong. The truth of the matter is that I've got no tolerance for people who don't make the slightest attempt to think for themselves, and I care very little whether they approve of me or not! Except, he was right. in a way. It is lonely, and I don't fit in anywhere. His mistake was in thinking I could be anything else.

Yes. The reason they do it, the reason they conform, is that life is less kind for the outsider. They're bound together by a sort of permanent, pervasive, and lifelong peer pressure. Herd animals.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Something lighter for a change. ;-)

Coral Castle
Luna Parc
Forestiere Baldasere

Three inspiring dwellings; They're all neat but I tend to prefer Baldasere's underground gardens.

Somewhat less inspiring: In my old home town, Harvard, Illinois (former milk capital of the world), they're going to build the nation's largest indoor water park. It'll be six stories tall and include a vaariety of other diversions. The site where it will be was formerly a Motorola plant, which I didn't find all that inspiring, either. I remember the area for corn and soybean fields and Holstein cows, not tourist traps. :-/ It could be worse: the Motorola plant can be seen easily from my Grandma's back yard. The last time I was there, she insisted on driving me to it and all around it (why??). She was quite proud of it. Then, it almost got turned into a state prison facility and she was pretty upset about that. So she's thrilled about the water park. Maybe I'll go visit it the next time I'm out there. Since it's there, you know (or will be).

Saturday, August 09, 2003

I've been looking for a picture on the computer, and somebody moved it. :snarl: I know it's here somewhere. It doesn't matter. I've got a practically photographic memory. All the same...irritating! A person can become accustomed to physical objects being moved (mostly by children), but you still expect things to stay where there are, here, at least I do.

Anyway, moving on to other subjects; on Monday we'll be getting a pony in exchange for boarding a pair of goats that I just sold a few months ago. It's only a year old, so it will need several years of time and work before it can be ridden. Right now it's no bigger than one of the goats. I've wanted a horse for some time, but if the kids were to ride it, it has to be tame and gentle. This way I'll be able to do that myself and there will be no bad habits to break. I actually wanted one that I could ride, but there's not really time for that now. Someday...there are a lot of things I'd like to do someday. If I don't start on it none of them will ever happen.

Some aquaintances with a whole herd of children are getting a divorce, and it's been really messy. She calls the cops on him, he denies charges, they go to court, it's a real disaster. I can understand that it's not always possible for two people to get along for their entire life together. What I don't get is why they have to end that time in such an angry, negative way. I mean, why don't they just sit down and say, 'this isn't working anymore, we've had some good times togther, let's part as friends' ? Particularly when there are children involved, why does there have to be such an excess of hatred? I suppose they're defensive. Divorce still carries a stigma and each party wants to blame it on the other person. Or, maybe they postpone the parting until they absolutely, positively cannot stand the sight of one another and are *really* angry and bitter. Waiting one is overwhelmed with irrational rage and emotion to make a life changing deecision seems very unwise, but that seems to be the way it's done more often than not. :-/

What else...we finally got an amplifier for the record player. It's laughable- everyone else is out getting the latest technology and here I am buying up old Peter, Paul and Mary albums. Having bought them, I needed a way to play them and two years later, I can. There are also some classical records including one of Bach. I put it on today- talk about a blast from the past. I recognized almost every piece, I'd heard them since birth and quite possibly before. My dad is a musician. My earliest memories of him are of his music, of him practicing the organ while he played in the church balcony. As the music played, I could hear the soft flapping of the pipes in the little room they occupied, smell their scent, the scent of music, feel the vibrations of sound through my body. It took it all for granted then. It was a part of my life and at times I grew very tired of it. I miss it now. When other people play the piano or organ, I just smile and nod. They're good, but not like dad. Other people's music is jumbled, emotional, the notes mess and slop against one another. When he played, it was like the sound of mathematics, every note clear, clean, precise. The notes were brilliant, they didn't just pile up against one's conciousness like a pile of debris. He played a lot of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, but I think more Bach than the others. The highest compliment I can pay a piano or organ player is that they sound like my dad, and it's funny because in his mind he's not good enough. I miss his music, and I miss him. Unfortunately we don't seem to get along well enough to spend very much time together. I'm too opinionated, too strong, too unconventional. Regardless, nobody can substitute for him.

And that's the way I am: within me there are compartments, and once a part of me is set aside for someone, nobody else can fill that place. Is everyone like that? Maybe I'm just more stubborn and adamant about it than most folks. Will have to think about this.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Life is better tonight (although somehow, everything is pretty much the same. It just doesn't bug me as much.) I did another watercolor, and this one turned out well. It wasn't the disembodied sort, for a change.

I sent in the entry forms for the fair, so it looks like I'll be taking about 16 goats for a four day vacation. Sort of...if you call camping out and showing dairy goats such. It'll be a *lot* of work. But, it'll be fun, I'm looking forward to it, as long as it goes better than the last show. That time, I was simply unable to do the amount of work necessary in order to give the girls a fair shot in the ring. Half of them were not clipped, and....there were a lot of things that went wrong. It was really embarrassing, and being a public performance made it worse. :shudder: I'll have to do better this time.

What else; I found two fairly amusing origami sites. This one is simply hilarious! If you're sensitive or prudish you should probably skip this. Honestly, I would never have! I like origami. It's cool. I've been meaning to make a mobile for my baby boy (Noah), with a variety of origami animals. I'll have to look around for some ideas. The ultra simple ones aren't any fun.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Current mood: groggy and tired, the detritus of dreams floating around in my dehydrated brain. Some are like jewels fallen from my grasp, others like faded shreds of old cloth or sinister nothings hiding behind a dark corner of my mind.

I've been watching a movie about Jackson Pollock (the movie is, appropriately enough, 'Pollock'), mainly because I wanted to better understand his work. In all truth, this is one artist whose work I never understood at all. In short, it looks like a mess. Actually, the impression I had was that the guy has chewed up a bunch of paint and then gotten sick and vomited all over the canvas. Why anyone would want to pay for it was clearly beyond my comprehension. Now that I'm halfway through the movie, it comes into focus. This guy was a mental and emotional _mess_. He was an alcoholic completely out of control, unsure of himself, insecure and clingy. He was disposed toward sudden outbursts of rage and inappropriate behavior. His work only expresses his inner turmoil and confusion. We all- artist or not- express our personality in everything we do (or don't do). I think of Piet Mondrain- a precise, tidy, and rather ascetic man; his works reflect his personality. Van Gogh- a tormented dreamer and romantic bordering on madness; his paintings reflect that.

I've been working off and on, not as much as I'd like because I require a certain amount of solitude and time for thought and quiet in order to work at all. This isn't easily attained in a house with five children. Much of what I do these days, and indeed, for the last ten years, seems tentative and rather forced. I used to be able to work without really caring what anyone else thought, used to be capable of whipping out fifteen or twenty drawings before I came up with one good one, and didn't give the failures a second thought. They were necessary and I recognized that. Now, I'm afraid. I don't want to waste the paper. I want every stroke, every mark, every line to be perfect, the first time. If it doesn't work out, and it doesn't, because it's too planned, too staid, I pick it apart and it torments me. Every once in a while I let go and produce something confident that's actually decent.

So- of the work that I do have; the latest is one of a single walnut leaf. It's pretty hideous. The colors- bright green against a rose pink background, are simply awful. I wanted chartreuse against fuchsia/magenta, but the green turned out too strong and I had great difficuly attaining even a faint approximation of magenta. If you knw how to get this shade in watercolors (or purple for that matter), please let me know! Before that, there was the oil painting of the skunk cabbage flower. I'm happy with that one, except that again, I wanted some purple in the background. Before that, there were at least three with a double theme- two cyclamens (twice), and two segments of an orange, two failed oils (again with a solitary image) and an oil pastel with a single comet against a black sky, inspired partly by this song. My watercolors are almost always done in a very controlled style in which the subject is broken down into segments of color. The segments do not touch and are seperated by margins, the white of the paper. It isn't a very spontaneous technique.

A single leaf, bloom, or peach, I hardly ever draw or paint a group of anything; in some way perhaps the single theme expresses isolation and aloneness. People often tell me that I must feel isolated because I rarely get out or see other people: this is a line of crap. Whether I'm with someone or not, I'm usually alone, and it's much more pleasant when I'm also physically alone. There have been a very few times when I've felt close/ in harmony with another person, and they are some of the happiest times of my life. There is always the temptation to prolong them, to try to make it a permanent state, but inevitably the moment passes and I'm alone once more.

The margins and spaces- in a way these echo the single theme, but there is the added element of detachment, of seperation. The pieces fit togther like a puzzle, forming a whole, yet each retains it's own shape and individuality. The thought of being swallowed up into another's identity, of boundaries being erased, gives me a panicked, claustophobic feeling. So perhaps what my art expresses is this: there can be beauty in detachment and solitude.