Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dressing for success

"90% of life is just showing up" - Woody Allen

While I have always agreed with Woody's quote and even repeated the quote to my students on many occasions, yesterday taught me that maybe the sentiment is a little too simplistic.

First you have to get dressed.

Then, you may need to encourage yourself along the way. Possibly many times.

Yesterday was a murky day. I wasn't feeling great. I've been battling a nagging infection that just isn't responding to antibiotics and an annoying headache that seems to accompany it. No big deal but enough that my normal energy and enthusiasm were lacking. After spending the early morning in the studio, it was time to run some errands and go running.

I didn't feel like running. It was understandable. I had a good excuse. But, since I had errands to run anyway, I had the possibility of running on the Centennial Trail...even running my favorite route since one of my errands took me out that direction. So I told myself to dress for running. What if I was on the errand, all the way out near the trailhead, and was suddenly filled with the zest for running? If I wasn't dressed I'd be irritated with myself.

So I got dressed in my running clothes, filled my water bottle, stuffed Kleenex in my pocket, (didn't want to allow myself any excuses to not run), got my running dog ready to go and headed out. I took care of the errands first. On the final errand I told myself I still didn't feel like running.

But I was dressed! I was almost there! Sprecka expected it!

"OK", I tell myself, "We can just walk a bit".

Once there, I got the dog ready, locked the car and immediately regretted the whole thing. It was cold. I didn't have gloves. My hands were frozen.

"Just run to the next mile marker", I told myself, "Sprecka hasn't run for a week. She needs it".

I start running. I'm cold. My fingers hurt. It's incredibly deserted. Even with Sprecka, the wonder dog, I am uncomfortable with the feeling of isolation.

"Just run to the next mile marker", I tell myself.

We run to the next mile marker. "Let's run a little farther", I tell myself. We keep running. Two miles into the run, I notice my fingers feel warm, I see some people on the trail. We exchange greetings as we pass. I realize my pace is pretty good and I feel even better. By the time I reach 4 miles, I've done a personal best for the season.

I finally broke the 11 minute per mile barrier! OK, so it took me until October but who cares? It was a great run.

And I almost didn't go. Several times.

Gives a whole new context to the phrase "dressing for success".

I took some photos later of some unassuming weeds that I have great plans for. Here they are.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Raindrops on roses

Centennial Trail - October - Mile markers 9 - 11

Actually, it's more like raindrops on weeds, or at best, raindrops on wildflowers. Somehow it doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it?

But the fact is that this flower/weed is actually one of my favorite things about the Centennial Trail.

Unlike some of the other plants I've painted, this one is harder to find. I've even found some of the other plants in my neighborhood once I had the eyes to see them. But this one...just on the trail and in only a couple of places. They also grow in an unusual way. There are tall stalks of beautiful yellow flowers with purple/pink buds and purple in some of the leaves. The really striking think though is somehow as a part of the plant, there is a stalk of what I call "chocolate pearls". I'm not quite sure what stage of the plant these are, but they always catch my attention. At the base of the chocolate pearl stalk are sword leaves that hug the stalk tightly.

These equally interesting parts of a tall plant made it difficult to photograph and presented challenges to paint if I wanted to include all of the components. I still haven't decided it I was as successful as I would have liked.

Unfortunately, that's usually the case with me.

I have another plant from the Centennial Trail series that I'm looking forward to painting. They are sweet white flowers, but what really strikes my fancy are the buds, which are still visible when the flower is in full bloom. The buds reminded me of a woman's piece of clothing from the early 1900's...maybe bloomers or something. They remind Norm of watermelons.

The weather has definitely turned here but, while I probably won't be running the trail as often I am committed to visiting different parts of the trail during the winter to add to my series. I'm also working on designing a new painting to go in my "Take Out" series.

The painting looks really good in my mind right now.

That's usually the case with me too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy Trails

Running on the Centennial Trail has been such a blessing in many ways. Here are my latest two paintings from mile markers 11 - 13.

The leaf painting was technically quite difficult so I am very proud of it.

I had painted a little bird study that Norm liked a lot. I decided to paint a particularly pretty weed/flower around it. The buds of these little flowers are quite lovely.

Right now I'm beginning a new trail painting of my favorite flower/weed that has been difficult to photograph. We'll see if it is difficult to paint.

Who knew that a trail full of weeds would be so inspiring?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Making Mulch

We composted this week-end. So did many other people from Spokane!

Our beautiful Finch Arboretum offered a master composting class Saturday. We used to compost quite a bit when we lived in California, but have not done so for many years.

We visited five different stations learning about what materials to compost, types of bins, the value of worms (that was the best station), and finally saw a short video.

After all of this, we were awarded our own bin.

Our most difficult decision was where to put it. Our plan is to build some raised beds in the lower level, so we put the bin there. We also finished cleaning out the garage (YEAH!!!), and moved all of the gardening tools to the old play structure.

It was a beautiful week-end and the forecast is for a beautiful week. I'll have new Centennial Trail paintings for you to see tomorrow!

(Kate, here are those photos you wanted to see. Sorry about the blurry border photo.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Evolution of a painting

Studio Update

It's been quite awhile since I let you peek into my art studio. I've been busy!

Let's start with the "Sentinels" painting from my "Warped Nature" series. I was unhappy with my first version for several reasons. First, the birch trees looked too cartoony. I have nothing against cartoons, but it was not the look I was going for. Second, I didn't like the outer area. So, I put it on the back burner for awhile, letting my brain work on it when I wasn't looking. Don't you love it when your brain does that?

One thing my brain suggested was to create leaf prints from my birch trees in the yard. I just felt like playing around with leaf prints - remember doing them when you were a kid? Then, I decided to play with masking techniques, trying some new ways of using a liquid frisket after I had applied paint. This was the fun result:

My brain suggested trying the "Sentinels" painting again using leaf prints as the outer area, clustering the birch trees rather than spreading them apart, and painting them a little more realistically, but still emphasizing the human quality of their "eyes".

So here is the new version of "Sentinels". I'm much happier with it.

I've also started painting my Centennial Trail pieces, starting with this one:

I used my new masking techniques on the background. This close up shows the background a little more clearly. I'm very happy with this little painting.

I'm working on a couple of Centennial Tail pieces right now. These pieces are all from September/October, between mile markers 9 - 13. My plan is to visit the trail at different times of the year. One of the blessings of this project is that I have grown to appreciate the complexities and color of even the most mundane plants.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Signs of Fall

Well, it's unmistakable. Fall is really here. Which means...winter is gaining speed and will be upon us soon.

This week has been so enjoyable. Long hours spent in the studio, tinkering around with leaf prints and masking techniques, wonderful time spent running on the Centennial Trail, working with Norm in our new yard, decorating for Fall.

I am so thankful for the structure and form of my days right now.

And the Giants are in the playoffs!! We've been careful to drink from our lucky GIANTS cup for the last few days.

Life is good.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Taking Flight

Centennial Trail: mile marker 13 - 11

It seems that Ginger and I have something in common.

Apparently, we both wish we were birds. Who'd have thought?

I've always wished I could fly.

Kind of ironic given how much I don't like to get on an airplane. Watching birds fills me with a sense of jealous admiration and appreciation. Nothing delights me more than watching the seemingly impossible aerial maneuvers of the hummingbirds that visit my feeders. My summer hawk family treated me to displays of power and strength as they effortlessly soared through and above our backyard trees. On my run Friday, a blue heron glided in slowly to land on the shore of the river right in front of me and minutes later two golden pheasants flew just above the wheat-colored weeds alongside us as we ran. I wish my eyes were a camera so I could have included these visual images for you.

Maybe my running is my feeble attempt to take flight. I have a visual picture of a possible painting in mind as I run...a runner surrounded by birds in flight, one shoe above the ground, the other...maybe or maybe not touching the ground.
I've even dreamed numerous times since childhood about discovering I could fly. For now running will have to do.

After our Friday run, Sprecka and I took a couple of pictures and even stopped to sketch the islands in the Spokane River at the trail head at mile 13. Another glorious day to be treasured and remembered through the cold winter ahead. I wonder if I would appreciate it so much if I didn't have the winter to serve as a contrast?

And what about Ginger, you ask? What bird yearnings does she hold? Well that's ironic too considering how much Ginger hates her baths. Norm and I were working in our beautiful new yard, when Ginger decided to climb into the natural birdbath. A little awkward, but apparently comfortable enough.

That's one big bird!