calligraphy, desert landscapes, odd animal portraits

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we built us a patio

11.2.2020

Creative expression- a giant wood pile we converted to a sunny 9.5×10.5′ “patio”, two folding adirondack chairs I found on the street and painted, a flying model Spitfire I got from a gardening client, and my new blue blockers.

weirdly clumping paint

9.23.20

There is a strange thing I am experiencing with acrylic paint. 

Early in the day on Wednesday September 22 I brushed a glaze of gloss medium and phthalocyanine blue onto an old canvas, and also did some collage with a different bottle of gloss medium.  

That afternoon I was using Liquitex chromium oxide green that I had earlier transferred to a jar, and thinned with medium and a bit of local spring water (w/ iron and who knows what else!).  The paint in the jar was creamy consistency, but when I put my wet brush in it, the paint on the brush came away clotted, like miniature cottage cheese curds.  

I put that aside, put a bit of fresh tube chrome green in a clean dish, and used a clean brush with distilled water-  the same thing.  I tried a clean, dry brush, other paints, other brands, so far, everything immediately turns to clots.

Golden fluid acrylics green-gold
reacts to a clean brush w distilled water.

I am trying to paint without brushes –or painting the clumps out with a stiff brush, as in painting on bare wood which I did last night.  In the case of the gold paint suddenly skinning over – no.  After a few minutes exposed to air, mixing turned it to a strange solid mass without any sticking power.

a clump of Liquitex BASICS tube gold-
a small bit of Golden interference blue cottage cheese on the right side.
Daler-Rowney bottled Phthalo Blue seems ok! Very liquid. Very old.

So far Palette knives seem ok.

So, What? Extreme heat this summer? dehydration? sunspots? ash from the fires? redwood pollen? Three outer planets retrograde in Capricorn . . ? activated the polymers and caused them to clump, and/or quickly skinning over. 

I had seen a similar reaction once when I accidentally put rubbing alcohol in paint.  I have a lot of (mostly) old paint, never had this happen before, except thickening through evaporation, often resolved by thinning w/ medium.  Old paint just dries up.

I had used windex on a sheet of glass nearby last week, and am feeling some kind of residue on my hands today. So, cleaning all brushes, palettes, rags, glass working surface with clean water.

Meanwhile, cottage cheese might be a fine texture/technique, worth playing with, until I get this sorted, and/or, go shopping.

 

Life on Mars

9.9.20

California is aflame- we went camping but had to head north because Yosemite was booked and the forests were being evacuated. After a smoky and daunting Monday and night at 9600+ feet- -Pacific Coast Trailhead parking at Sonora Pass- -we came home Tuesday, to awake Wednesday September 9 to Mars Stationing in Aries, and a red-orange sky that lasted all day.

“Sinister!” “Apocalyptic!” shouted the headlines– Dorcas posted an interesting article about the scattering of blue light by the amount of ash in the air. There was little smoke at this altitude (600 feet, about) and for me, it was “Beautiful!” “Fascinating!” and that sort of thing. I only wish I’d spent more time out in it, maybe get a blue tan?

facing south 9 am, a true color, and ash falling
9 AM, facing east
channel 2 news- we had camped just south of the clear spot below South Tahoe/Markleeville

Zebra Meatballs

8.23.20

more experiments with color- my special simple meatballs and zebra farfalle. the original vodka cream sauce was much more orange, but then I added a can of diced tomatoes. The peas make it, tho.

switcheroo

7.30.20

Remember when there were gigs? On a fifth Thursday, we used to be the Polka Cowboys.

On July 17 I got notice to vacate my studio garage. It was such a shock, so unexpected, especially since I had just made headway cleaning up the mess after the dog-crap-and-snarling people had moved out, and able to get into the swollen-concrete-impeded door for the first time since late January.

I IMMEDIATELY went over to load up all the paint, brushes, tools, small canvases, and tchotchke that would safely fit in my truck, and headed out to Canyon, to tuck into the Roofing House as best I could.

I called Joanie and asked if I could take her up on her offer of a place to store my tables and frames, tools and glass- yes- so Art and I caravanned to Howe and loaded up as much as we could, and then to Richmond to unload my precious cargo to–Joanie’s Concrete Patio! Oh dear.

I had hallucinated a space in her giant garage where I had stored my camping gear and toys after Steve’s death–but it is full of another malingerer’s massive mouldering pile of god-knows-what . . A realization came that the lovely dark knotty-pine room was not really Available, either. Over a few visits I was able to tuck one table, easel, the frames, canvases and framing tools indoors, but I felt all at sea.

The day after Jude called I had a meltdown and a literal physical collapse on Art’s kitchen floor over a mis-communication about our relationship. I suddenly was unable to stand up or breath correctly- a complete existential panic that I had nowhere to be, that these little slivers of space I carve out in my life were all an illusion–and fading fast.

We worked things out, better than ever, but for a couple of weeks I was losing my mind- hell, it was half of August and September . . . except for the Lakes.

And then, the helpful words of a “mentor”, teacher, about, uh, Framing? and having a Studio? Why? and what For? made me really look at What The Hell Am I Doing . . . threw it ALL up into the proverbial air. For reassessment purposes only.

So, really, am I BEING AN ARTIST, or just Doin Stuff, and what difference does it make, except–what to do with all the physical Product, weird format frames and glass that are not fitting together, my actual Clean worktable outside by the trash bins. I am seriously addressing what all this stuff is really for, and why I have it- It’s so uncertain, but sorta fun.

When I had the shop, I gathered things with a hunger I no longer have room for, and don’t really know what the future holds. I am doing so many tiny bits in sketchbooks and corners and scraps of wood.

So what to do, but just keep on keepin on.

belvedere

7.1.20

Throughout spring and summer I have been doing a lot of work on the Roofing House, while unable to get into Howe- scraping plaster off the plywood interior, I scrape, dust, then patch with Zinsser 1-2-3 in short rectangular brush strokes , sand, touch up with paint patches of color, purple sky, blue sky, pink sky, as I go along.

With Art’s help, moving out about 2 dozen motors, machinery, dozens of cans of dead house paint, spray paint, tubes of caulk and construction adhesive and the like–and there is more–oily, filthy, nasty stuff, much of which went to hazardous waste recycling. Recall we had leveled the supports after the Incident of the Falling Tree.

We reconfigured some of the shelving to make a long tall work bench, and have developed a fantasy of installing the 58″ square sectioned french window we bought for the house-that-became-a-deck. It would be nice to have some natural light, and a reading chair back there–maybe next year.

where the magic happens

I have started taking advantage of three empty filing cabinets that aren’t going anywhere soon, and plan to keep one that has cool half-deep drawers.

Stuff in, stuff out. It keeps shifting and getting a bit clearer, and is so special to have all my things right at hand, nobody chewing on my brushes and peeing on my art while I am gone. I can see down the tracks and up the path, and no one knows I’m here.

Goodbye Kitty

goodbye kitty apron

6.17.20

Somewhere in here I lost my faux enthusiasm for things I did twice weekly in the Before Times. Playing music for beer and french fries, struggling to herd cats and possums and hippies without a paddle, etc. I knew right away the RELIEF!!! of not having to Stop whatever I was doing, Stage myself in Berkeley, Pack and Haul equipment up and down stairs and around the corner to play for two hours to an empty venue for a half-cheeseburger, half-pitcher of beer, and $3 in tips. Well, it was a good run, mostly fun until the backstabbing started. What a relief, yes, three months in, to say I am done, and DONE.

Tara and I have been working on new material since shortly after the shut-down-in-place began, me taking the lead vocal on several of her tunes, almost out of my range. My voice is getting stronger and clearer, and I have managed to maintain calluses on my fingertips. Since his arm injury from the Serenellini at the last Polka Cowboys gig, Art has taken up electric guitar with a vengeance.

Var Mints LIVE! (not)

Gomer and Tara came to Canyon last Sunday to join in a live facebook event, and luckily I was unable to bypass my three Apple devices’ security filters to broadcast. We ended up with six delightful–to me, anyway–recordings that I was able to post later. Had it been live, considering the difficulties, it would have been worse than unwatchable. My hair was clean and fluffy, the weather sublime, Art’s wacky shack a perfect backdrop–plastic window and all. I was in fine voice, and did a song of Tara’s, sans bass, that I barely knew: Twilight Moonrise. She did Love of a Good Cat. Gomer was the grip and tech advisor, and positioned my iPhone behind the Woodstock wood stove, cutting off our legs. The quality of the iPhone 4 voice recording was astonishing.

check it out- Var Mints on facebook. I won’t go, but you can.

I don’t see any venues opening anytime soon. Even then, how will people react to a SINGER? Run in horror? Come at me with torches and pitchforks? Mask-shaming on facebook? Yes, I have seen it.

I can barely picture sitting in a window box, like at Giovanni’s, as customers drift by or stand on line to pick up to-go orders. Maybe a stage way at the back of an empty 30-foot patio? There are no festivals for the foreseeable, even outdoors. The sandwich board at Caffe Chiave still says “Live Music”, but it is only a shadow of the past. The Missouri Lounge is gone.

It is a New World.

please wait here–forever

shelter in place

5.12.20
We are livin the life here in Canyon, I planted two apple trees and a bunch of pepper and cherry tomato plants, beets, onions and whatnot, wiring everything against the marauding deer.  I am scrounging soil from everywhere to build up terraces over the rocky subsoil.  Art built a sawbuck and uses my chainsaw to make firewood (and sawdust) of the many redwood and bay branches and random long pieces of old lumber that are scattered everywhere.  It’s great to be able to get so much done, without all the pesky distractions of public life.  new garden

sawbuck

Art and I joined an online video chat/party with some other folks, they gather often but we only attended once,  for about an hour.  Some people go on and on, some not speaking at all, devolving into the same talk of cures and illnesses and other distressing foolishness I prefer not to partake of.  When I go to a party, I usually hang out in the garage with the stoners– a group of 12 people is too much.

pink chairNow and then I spend two or three days in Berkeley, where it is clean civilized and quiet, mostly (avoiding the front doorknob is a challenge)-Stuff to do there, too!

I do a little garden work, though with not much enthusiasm.  I am enjoying being retired, cutting back but not eliminating.

I have been visiting back and forth with Joanie and working up more of her songs.  Art injured his arm just as the lockdown happened, so he has barely played his accordions since, daily practicing electric guitar on youtube.

As I have the Capricorn stellium moving into my 12th house, I am setting up my retreat, practicing hermitage in my understory studio, befriending little black scorpions that live under every wooden structure here–plus moles? voles?

roofing house

birthday

5.4.20

out my window 4.16.20

prompted to draw “from my window” for a Canyon Draws facebook site, here is the view from my chair by the woodstove.

Meanwhile, starting a sign to hang down the road, thanks to radio podcasts about the history of Canyon, and random people driving through to see the hippies.

This about sums it up.

no exit

On and On

What day is it?  No one knows.  Oh, my computer knows–4.12.20

The shelter in place has been extended, the Plough has a go-fund-me site, and raised $30,000 to keep from going under.

moon trees

I secured a slightly-used sketchbook Art had as a travel journal while on tour with Those Darn Accordions, and then abandoned.  The art stores are closed, and I have not ventured out to the one possible stationers that might be open, and I do not like to shop online if there are Options.  So, drawing over partial pages, then writing, writing, writing.

Parks and beaches and campgrounds are also closed, so there goes my spring camping trip.

Trying not to get caught up in the madness, making polenta and stews on the woodstove, sitting for hours with a warm cat on my lap, reading.

smoky

Moving art supplies back and forth, I am getting an idea of where things work.  I am firmly established in the Roofing House, since two incidents where it was made known to locals that it is my art studio–particularly the day the tree fell while I was there, and Ian happened by with a chainsaw and cut it all away.

Art and I ventured out to Joanie’s house in Richmond for music and food and an artichoke plant, and an avocado tree, seedlings from her childhood home in Hayward.  We are working up some tunes of hers with me singing lead.  We also stopped at Annie’s Annuals, I got two blueberry bushes, peppers, onions, to plant in Canyon.

The novelty has worn off–we would have been at the end of this strange confinement by now, which has been extended  .  .  .  The Plough is in danger of not reopening.  Caffe Chiave- most small businesses and venues are closed indefinitely.  Honestly, I am ambivalent, but like, YAY!  I don’t ever need to go back to the Lost Hippy Hour, or some of these gardening jobs..  Schedules!  I’m done!  Shopping is disturbing, people are rattled, clerks feel endangered, the protocol is curious, confusing, changes daily, and from store to store.

Just before it all closed down, Art had suggested we go to a movie.  The next day, I drove by the Shattuck Theater to see the marquee blank.  We have taken to watching Youtube videos of black and white movies at night, usually with buttered popcorn.  Life is good.